On May 19, Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan signed into law House Bill 336, which had the support of 167 of Maryland’s 185 elected representatives. Americans are politically polarized, but agree on one matter: they do not like it when government steals from innocent people.
The Maryland bill further curtails the state’s civil asset forfeiture programs. Civil forfeiture, at least according to the Justice Department, “deprives wrongdoers of the proceeds of their crimes.”
Civil forfeiture does not require proof.But there is just one glaring omission from this definition—civil forfeiture does not require any proof (or even claim) that people committed crimes for the government to take their property.
By the twisted logic of civil forfeiture, property itself is charged with the crime. This is why civil forfeiture cases have absurd names such as United States v. One Solid Gold Object in Form of a Rooster or United States vs. $35,651.11 in U.S. Currency.
Since the Bill of Rights covers property owners instead of property, victims of civil forfeiture are forced to prove their property innocent in order to get it back. And they are not entitled to legal assistance. This is why many people do not fight back after their property is seized—it is simply too expensive to win a court case against the government.
Read the full article at FEE.
Two days have passed with no Uber or Lyft service in Austin, Texas. Local policymakers blame Uber and Lyft for pausing their operations in the city, but the Austin City Council pushed ridesharing out by regulating in search of a problem.
In December 2015, the Austin City Council approved an ordinance that would require ridesharing drivers to go through fingerprint background checks. The ordinance also included restrictions on picking up and dropping off passengers and requirements on maintaining a physical presence in the city, fee payments and proprietary data sharing.
Though the ordinance went into effect on February 1, 2016, the fingerprint requirements were given steadily increasing compliance rates, which had to reach 99% by February 1, 2017. Rather than altering their business models, Uber and Lyft took their protests to the voters by setting up a challenge to the ordinance called Proposition 1. Their efforts were rejected by voters last weekend, and the companies pulled out of Austin on Monday.
Read the full article at Forbes.
The Food and Drug Administration released its long awaited e-cigarette regulations on Thursday. E-cigarette users’ worst fears are confirmed—these regulations will destroy the burgeoning industry, leading to increased mortality and higher healthcare costs.
Though the FDA marketed its regulations as restrictions on minors who purchase tobacco products, the 499-page release contains far more. Perhaps the most ridiculous FDA claim is that these regulations will lead to increased innovation—even though the agency admits that 99 percent of the market will not be able to comply.
As stated on page 267 of the regulations, “FDA believes that [premarket review] (and the deeming rule as a whole) will not stifle innovation but could, instead, encourage it.” This is a nonsensical claim that could only be made by a government agency.
Through these regulations, the FDA “deems” that all tobacco products are under its regulatory scope. Hookahs, cigars, pipe tobacco, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) were not previously covered under the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco, which began with the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Now, all tobacco products that were not commercially marketed on February 15, 2007 (the predicate date) are required to gain FDA approval. Tobacco products that were available on the predicate date are exempt from the FDA approval process.
Newer tobacco products will be able to stay on the market if they show that they are “substantially equivalent” to a product that was commercially available on predicated date. Virtually no ENDS were available to American consumers at that time, meaning each currently available vaping product will have to go through the FDA’s other path to market, the premarket tobacco product application process.
Read the full article at Economics21.