Legislation worth watching: 5/14/2013

In addition to writing my opinion on a number of issues, I’m also going to start posting some of the legislation I’m paying attention to. It’s not comprehensive, but it is a few bills on the Federal, (NY) State, and maybe local levels I think deserve notice.  I wrote some of these as Facebook book calls to action and others are just me riffing about them for a paragraph or two, so bear with me on the conflicting language and style.

Market Fairness Act

The Market Fairness Act (Passed the Senate 67-29) would require online retailers to pay taxes in every jurisdiction where they sell something to a customer. Instead of taking the sensible route by implementing an origin based system, entrepreneurs will have to bear the cost of complying with thousands of different tax codes.

This is an attempt to level the playing field for “Brick and Mortar” Stores who have to pay taxes wherever they’re located. Online retailers often only charge taxes for goods for customers within their own states. The burden of responsibility for paying taxes outside of that state falls on the consumer, though many people fail to comply with this rule.

New York State Drone Privacy Bill

This bill would require New York State to get a warrant before collecting evidence using unmanned drones. It’s common sense legislation to reign in the growing surveillance state and reinforce that our privacy rights are still relevant in an age of unmanned drones.

http://blog.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2013/04/new-york-act-now-to-say-no-to-drone-spying/

New York Legislators want to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21

Following a recent New York City proposal, New York State now wants to have the highest smoking age in the nation. You don’t have to like smoking to think 18 year old men and women are old enough to make their own decisions on the matter. This is another legislative overreach that limits the choices of free adults; as advocates of liberty, we need to roll back the nanny state, not pile it on.

http://www.13wham.com/news/local/story/cigarette-smoking-age-21-new-york-18-law/0xxv8HOEtkq9QFseTGIgTA.cspx

Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 2013:

U.S. Senate bill S.607 updates and clarifies privacy protections for electronic communications.  Essentially it clarifies that law enforcement needs to get a warrant before looking at any type of electronic communication. Shouldn’t be necessary, but that’s the type of government we live under. Apparently the bill fails to fails to the address law enforcement utilizing electronic correspondence obtained without a warrant as evidence in trial, but people can still pressure their Senators and Representatives to rectify that before final passage.

The Immigration Bill

Some kind of immigration reform is necessary. The system is a mess. But the Immigration Bill has a provision in it for the Department of Homeland Security to create a biometric database of everyone in the US with a government issued ID. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Fortification Bill in NYS Assembly:

This one was introduced just a short while ago by my hometown assemblyman, Anthony Brindisi. The Bill would make it a felony to fortify a home when it impedes the execution of a search warrant on a suspected drug house. The text defines exactly what they mean by fortification and make clear that it is meant as a way to further criminalize the actions of drug dealers who don’t want police to raid thier homes.

Bill Text of A05709:

News Source where I found this story

Authors of the bill hope this new legislation “will deter the use of such barricades, and provide a method to penalize those placing their illegal interests above the safety of the police and community as a whole.” I’m skeptical that this will work.

My gut instinct is to say that people should be able to fortify their home as much as they want without suspicion or criminal charges. After all, the bill even reads “Barricades also increase security by preventing home invasion robberies by other criminals…” and that seems like a perfectly good reason to have a well locked home.

Right now, I’m not sure if this bill is a bad idea or merely a useless one. Still mulling it over.  Would love some comment on it.

There’s similar legislation in Illinois and Oklahoma.

Two more major pieces of legislation coming up in the next couple months:

Student Loan Bill:

Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill will probably exacerbate the Student Loan crisis. Intro:

To prevent the doubling of the interest rate for Federal subsidized student loans for the 2013-2014 academic year by providing funds for such loans through the Federal Reserve System, to ensure that such loans are available at interest rates that are equivalent to the interest rates at which the Federal Government provides loans to banks through the discount window operated by the Federal Reserve System, and for other purposes.

So more artifically low interest rates, now funded by the Fed. Can’t see how this will end badly.

At best, Warren’s bill fails to address many of the numerous root causes of increased student debt and instead throws more money at the problem. This bill has a ton of great stuff in it to irk even the mildest free market advocate paying attention to higher-ed.

New York State Fair Elections Act:

Revamps campaign finance rules and creates a 6:1 public matching funds system. A04980 already passed the Assembly and now the fight will be in the Republican controlled Senate. The left is gearing up to put a ton of resources into this one. I started writing a longer post on this legislation and hopefully I’ll get to posting it before the story becomes irrelevant.

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