Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

The market for bigness: economic power and competition agencies’ duty to curtail it

Source: Adi Ayal, Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, Volume 1, Issue 2, October 2013

From the abstract:
In its early days antitrust policy was motivated largely by public fears regarding economic power, the excess influence owners of large businesses might exert over political and commercial markets. Over time, antitrust enforcement has come to focus exclusively on market power, the ability to raise prices or reduce output in narrowly defined product markets. This article calls for a return to the wisdom of days past, less for the populist reasons then articulated, and more due to the ‘influence effect’, the scale and scope economies in procuring political influence and their detrimental effects on democracy. After delving into the market and political effects created by big business, the recent financial crises and Too-Big-To-Fail (TBTF) dynamic are discussed. The main problem, it is argued, is not potential business failures and resulting bailouts, but the influence TBTF institutions exert ‘while business is going well’. Preventing excess economic power and TBTF firms is a task originally entrusted to antitrust agencies, and this article calls for reaffirming this obligation. There are practical difficulties and political risks inherent in combating economic power, and these are discussed. In the end, such difficulties are very real and require careful formulation of enforcement strategy, but antitrust agencies should not shy away from the task.

Middle-Out for Millennials: Creating Jobs for Young People

Source: Sarah Ayres and Molly Dillon, Center for American Progress, November 4, 2013

From the introduction:
…In this brief, we discuss policies that Congress can enact now to put young Americans to work. Lawmakers can boost jobs for this generation by expanding national service opportunities, which give workers experience serving their communities; by implementing a summer jobs program such as the one in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which successfully created jobs for hundreds of thousands of teens and young adults in 2009 and 2010; and by investing in broad-based job creation that reduces our overall unemployment rate and hastens the economic recovery….

Out For Blood

Source: Mary Winter, State Legislatures, Vol. 39 no. 9, October/November 2013

Growing numbers of bed bugs, mosquitoes and tickets are spreading misery and frustrating lawmakers. … Experts can’t say with certainty what’s causing the increase, but blood-sucking vermin definitely are on state lawmakers’ minds. In the last four years, NCSL data show states have seen more than 100 bills on bed bugs and 92 mosquito-related bills. Nine states have enacted roughly 18 laws pertaining to Lyme disease, according to the Lyme Disease Association. …

Everything That’s Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled on Voting Rights Act

Source: Kara Brandeisky and Mike Tigas, ProPublica, November 1, 2013

Last year, we wrote extensively about photo ID laws and the Supreme Court’s decision to strike a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, with gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and the debt ceiling and healthcare debates already shaping the 2014 midterms, we’re revisiting voting policies to see which states have enacted tougher restrictions since the Supreme Court ruling in June….

…This map tracks state voting laws before and after Shelby County v. Holder on four key issues: photo ID, early voting, same-day registration and voter roll purging…

Pivot Point: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2013

Source: Karen Schulman, Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center, 2013

From the summary:
…Despite the importance of child care assistance, families in twenty-four states were worse off—having more limited access to assistance and/or receiving more limited benefits from assistance—in February 2013 than in February 2012 under one or more child care assistance policies covered in this report. But families in twenty-seven states were better off under one or more of these policies in February 2013 than in February 2012. The policies covered are critical in determining families’ ability to obtain child care assistance and the extent of help that assistance offers—income eligibility limits to qualify for child care assistance, waiting lists for child care assistance, copayments required of parents receiving child care assistance, reimbursement rates for child care providers serving families receiving child care assistance, and eligibility for child care assistance for parents searching for a job.

This year’s trend—with the situation for families improved in slightly more states than in which it worsened—was more positive than in the previous two years, when the situation worsened for families in more states than it improved. In February 2012, families in twenty-seven states were worse off under one or more child care assistance policies covered in this report, and families in seventeen states were better off under one or more of these policies, than in February 2011. In February 2011, families in thirty-seven states were worse off under one or more of these policies, and families in eleven states were better off under one or more of these policies, than in February 2010.

Infographic on States Trying to Restrict Minority Voting Rights

Source: Rick Cohen, Nonprofit Quarterly, October 25, 2013

North Carolina has become “ground zero” for states trying to restrict voting rights, but it is only one of many. In a press briefing on Tuesday, titled “Leveling the Playing Field,” Judith Browne Dianis, the co-director of the Advancement Project, said that 36 states have introduced restrictive voting bills this year alone. To Browne Dianis, these states and others are working from a “playbook” that provides a “laser-like focus” on restricting the voting rights of people of color. … During the press briefing, Advancement Project managing director and chief counsel Eddie Hailes noted how complex it really is to deal with these restrictive laws. According to Hailes, there are 13,000 political jurisdictions in the nation with the ability to interpret and administer voter qualifications and the right to vote. As a result, Hailes advocates an amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing every citizen over 18 a fundamental right to vote. Examples from the press briefing showing how frequent and diverse the state efforts have been toward voter restriction included the renewal of the voter ID law in Texas and the attempts by Florida to require eligible voters to prove anew their voter eligibility….

making it harder to vote

Illinois legislation fights fraud, protects workers

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, September 25, 2013

A new law in Illinois is collecting millions of dollars from business owners who sought to defraud the system.

The law, dubbed “the personal liability legislation,” has led to a voluntary increase in funds paid to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). 

The law allows IDES to hold business owners personally liable for cheating on their payroll taxes, according to the Morris Daily Herald. This shift from penalizing the business to fining the owners themselves has lead to increased compliance and more funding for state unemployment protections.

The Power of Coalitions: Participation and Governance in California’s Public-Private Welfare State

Source: Charlie Eaton, Margaret Weir, UC Berkeley, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper No. 150-13, August 2013

Between 1980 and 2010 California’s health care policy field shifted from a business-dominated, closed-door pattern of decision making to an open political arena in which a wide-ranging and diversely resourced coalition advocating on behalf of beneficiaries had become an accepted partner in policymaking. This article examines this transformation, considering its broader implications for the political dynamics of the public-private welfare state and the role of advocacy groups in defending beneficiary interests. Our argument emphasizes coalition-building, probing not just which interests combine forces, but also showing how coalitions can expand over time and build their range of capabilities. We focus on three processes that build effective coalitions to influence public private policymaking: 1) an initial link that joins previously unconnected groups in umbrella organizations; 2) resource expansion that enlarges the engaged base by funding more diverse groups and expanding alliances with those organizations; 3) institutionalization of coalitional engagement by changing the rules of the game using such policy levers as regular hearings, provisions for participation, and transparency. We conclude by showing how these capabilities have positioned California to implement the Affordable Care Act and consider the implications for other states…

Everything You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act

Source: Stateline, Featured Collection, September 23, 2013

The Affordable Care Act is one of the most far-reaching laws in American history and is likely to affect almost all Americans in one way or another. It is also one of the most complicated laws, with repercussions that were little understood or appreciated at the time Congress passed it in 2010.

Three years after its passage—and almost 18 months after it was largely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court—it remains the subject of enormous division in the country, with many Republicans still hoping to stop it.

These Stateline stories help explain developments in the leadup to the Jan. 1 implementation of the most sweeping provisions of the law: the expansion of Medicaid eligibility (or not, in states that said “no” to expansion) and benefits for those who buy insurance on the new health insurance exchanges. Those exchanges open for business Oct. 1.