Emerging Iterations on State Free College Policy in the 2019 Legislative Sessions

Source: Sarah Pingel, Education Commission of the States, January 31, 2019

State legislatures are officially in full swing, with 44 states plus the District of Columbia in session. At Education Commission of the States, we’re cleaning our glasses and diving into the thousands of pieces of education-related legislation spilling into our inboxes. Not surprisingly, free college maintains its position on state legislators’ minds. We are already tracking 45 pieces of legislation in 19 states plus the District of Columbia…..

Mixed Signals: What Can We Expect From the Supreme Court in This Post-ADA Amendments Act Era?

Source: Nicole B. Porter, Touro Law Review, Forthcoming, Date Written: January 29, 2019

From the abstract:
The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 was intended to breathe new life into the ADA after the courts, especially the Supreme Court, had drastically narrowed the ADA’s protected class. But since the ADA was amended in 2008, the Supreme Court has not decided any ADA cases. Thus, there are many ADA issues, especially in the employment context, that remain unresolved. This paper will attempt to determine whether we can expect a disability-friendly Supreme Court or whether the Court will once again narrowly construe individuals with disabilities’ rights under the ADA. In doing so, I have uncovered some mixed signals. On the one hand, the body of Tenth Circuit ADA cases decided by our newest jurist, Justice Gorsuch, suggests an anti-disability bent. On the other hand, one possible source of good news for individuals with disabilities are two recent IDEA Supreme Court cases decided in 2017: Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools and Endrew F. ex rel. Joseph F. v. Douglas County School Dist. RE-1. Both of these cases were very plaintiff-friendly and both were unanimous (the Fry case had a two-justice concurrence). But are these plaintiff-friendly cases signaling a disability-friendly Supreme Court? Or is the plaintiff-friendly outcome of these cases not because they involve individuals with disabilities but because they involve educating children? And if the latter is true, what can we expect from the Supreme Court if and when it decides the unresolved ADA employment issues? This paper will attempt to answer these questions.

A New Look at the ADA’s Undue Hardship Defense

Source: Nicole B. Porter, Missouri Law Review, Forthcoming, Date Written: January 29, 2019

From the abstract:
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide accommodations to their disabled employees unless those accommodations cause an undue hardship to the employer. When the ADA was being enacted in 1990, many thought that the undue hardship defense would be hotly debated in the courts and by academics. And yet, the undue hardship defense is very rarely outcome determinative and has not been the subject of a significant piece of scholarship since the mid-1990s. This article takes a fresh look at the under-developed case law surrounding the undue hardship defense. From a data set of over 1,600 potential undue hardship cases, I identified only 120 that address undue hardship in depth. These cases reveal that cost — which both the statute and conventional wisdom suggest is the focus of the inquiry — plays only a minor role. Instead, these cases revealed three recurring themes: (1) courts often confuse or conflate the reasonable accommodation inquiry and the undue hardship defense; (2) whether an accommodation places burdens on other employees (what I call “special treatment stigma”) frequently is relevant to the undue hardship defense; and (3) the phenomenon of “withdrawn accommodations” often influences courts’ analysis of the undue hardship defense. These themes not only provide a deeper insight into the undue hardship defense, but also help to more broadly illuminate the scope of an employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations.

Women in the One Percent: Gender Dynamics in Top Income Positions

Source: Jill E. Yavorsky, Lisa A. Keister, Yue Qian, Michael Nau, American Sociological Review, OnlineFirst, February 8, 2019
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From the abstract:
A growing body of research documents the importance of studying households in the top one percent of U.S. income distribution because they control enormous resources. However, little is known about whose income—men’s or women’s—is primarily responsible for pushing households into the one percent and whether women have individual pathways to earning one percent status based on their income. Using the 1995 to 2016 Surveys of Consumer Finances, we analyze gender income patterns in the one percent. Results show that women’s income is sufficient for one percent status in only 1 in 20 of all elite households. Although self-employment and higher education increase the likelihood that women will personally earn sufficient income for one percent status, marrying a man with good income prospects is a woman’s main route to the one percent. In contrast, men’s one percent status is most closely associated with their own characteristics (self-employment and higher education). Importantly, the gender gap in personally earning one percent income has not narrowed since the mid- to late-1990s, indicating another area in which gender progress has stalled. This research suggests that men retain most of the primary breadwinning positions in top income households and that a financial glass ceiling remains firmly intact at the one percent level.

Local Governments and Economic Freedom: A Test of the Leviathan Hypothesis

Source: Adam A. Millsap, Bradley K. Hobbs, Dean Stansel, OnlineFirst, February 6, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Brennan and Buchanan’s Leviathan hypothesis states that “potential for fiscal exploitation varies inversely with the number of competing governmental units” (p. 211) and that “total government intrusion into the economy should be smaller, ceteris paribus, the greater the extent to which taxes and expenditures are decentralized [and]…the smaller the jurisdictions” (p. 185). Using data for US metropolitan statistical areas, we provide the first local-level test of that hypothesis (that we are aware of) that uses “economic freedom” as the dependent variable, which provides a better measure of “total government intrusion into the economy” than the less comprehensive measures (taxes or spending) used in the previous literature. We find mixed support for the Leviathan hypothesis. The number of competing jurisdictions is positively associated with economic freedom, driven largely by the labor market freedom component as opposed to the government spending and tax components (the very measures used in the previous literature).

State Rainy Day Funds and Government General Fund Expenditures: Revisiting the Stabilization Effect

Source: Wenchi Wei, Dwight V. Denison, Public Finance Review, OnlineFirst, February 8, 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study explores the stabilization effect of state rainy day funds (RDFs) on government general fund expenditures (GFEs). We discuss and explicitly illustrate the concept of stabilization effect. Moreover, we utilize the current year’s actual RDF usage as the explanatory variable of interest rather than the previous year’s RDF balance, which most existing studies focus on. A panel data set of states for fiscal years 1998 to 2014 is used in the empirical analysis. Due to the pro-cyclicality of the defined GFE gap and the countercyclicality of RDF usage, their positive correlation revealed in the empirical results demonstrates that the actual RDF usage helps to stabilize state government GFEs in both economic recessions and expansions. We also verify that the previous year’s RDF balance, when interacted with RDF deposit and withdrawal rules, can influence government GFEs, thus demonstrating the importance of RDF rules.

Managing traumatic stress in the workplace

Source: Samantha Brooks, G James Rubin, Neil Greenberg, Occupational Medicine, Volume 69 Issue 1, February 7, 2019
(subscription required)

Recent years have seen a growing number of traumatic incidents occurring across the globe, with both natural disasters and acts of terrorism occurring more and more frequently [1]. Understanding the psychological impact of experiencing such an event, and how best to support people who may be suffering with post-traumatic distress or mental ill-health, is now more important than ever. While much of the research in this area focuses on trauma at the individual level, there is a growing literature which explores the impact of trauma from a group perspective [2].

Why the Seattle General Strike of 1919 should inspire a new generation of labor activists

Source: Steven C. Beda, The Conversation, February 6, 2019

It shut down a major U.S. city, inspired a rock opera, led to decades of labor unrest and provoked fears Russian Bolsheviks were trying to overthrow American capitalism. It was the Seattle General Strike of 1919, which began on Feb. 6 and lasted just five days.

By many measures, the strike was a failure. It didn’t achieve the higher wages that the 35,000 shipyard workers who first walked off their jobs sought – even after 25,000 other union members joined the strike in solidarity. Altogether, striking workers represented about half of the workforce and almost a fifth of Seattle’s 315,000 residents.

Usually, as a historian of the American labor movement, I have the unfortunate job of telling difficult stories about the decline of unions. However, in my view, the story of this particular strike is surprisingly hopeful for the future of labor.

And I believe it holds lessons for today’s labor activists – whether they’re striking teachers in West Virginia or Arizona, mental health workers in California or Google activists in offices across the world….