The First Step Toward Creating the Administrative State

February 9th, 2012 by NC Tea Party Staff Categories: Hot Topics, Regulations No Responses

Saturday marks the anniversary of the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act, which in 1887 created the first federal regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Although those who created the ICC had no intention of establishing the modern administrative state we now have, the creation of the ICC was an inadvertent first step toward the federal leviathan that governs us today.

The ICC was originally created to address growing problems created by the expansion of railroads in America. It was the outgrowth of the “Granger” movement, which took hold in many Midwestern states such as Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas. The Grangers were farmers who were angry over the immense power held by railroads, banks, and other economic combinations as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

While some of the Grangers were radical, they were as fearful of unaccountable bureaucrats in centralized agencies as they were of centralized economic power. (One might even say that the Grangers were the first “occupiers,” but unlike today’s Occupy movement, the Grangers did not think that big government was the solution.)

Since there was little clamor for big government during the 1880s, the ICC’s powers were carefully limited. For years after it was created, the ICC did not have the power to set railroad rates. The main powers held by the ICC were investigatory. It could investigate railroad abuses and corruption and could issue cease-and-desist orders, but courts were charged with enforcing those orders.

The turning point for the ICC came in 1906, when Congress passed the Hepburn Act, which gave the ICC the power to set railroad rates—essentially a legislative power to set standards for action that the railroads had to follow. Theodore Roosevelt campaigned extensively for the Hepburn Act, circumventing Congress and going straight to the American people to lobby for its passage.

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Ellmers Op-Ed: A price to be paid with over-regulation

February 8th, 2012 by NC Tea Party Staff Categories: Hot Topics, Regulations, US NC Congress Watch No Responses
Ellmers Op-Ed: A price to be paid with over-regulation

For over 150 years, our nation’s economy has thrived off of an efficient energy system that has provided for our basic needs. From the coal that powered the first steam engines to the petroleum that breathed life into automobiles, our forefathers have built on the technologies that have come from the demand of consumers and led to the innovations that we see today. Each generation’s industry has evolved and the energy that fuels it has become cleaner and more effective. But this progress remained sustainable due to its ability to develop gradually and according to the demands of a free market.

Over the past three years, this responsible flow of progress and business development has come under attack by an administration that seeks total control over the private interests of our nation’s small businesses and job creators. Through unprecedented power granted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Obama administration has sought to impose arbitrary guidelines on every entity that uses energy to create its products. This started gradually, with new mandates over carbon dioxide emissions, and now – three years later – has coalesced into a nightmare of complicated standards which have forced thousands of small businesses to devote time, money, and massive cuts to their production in order to comply with new regulations.

One of the affected industries that has a strong presence in my home state of North Carolina is forest products.  Forestry, wood products, and pulp and paper operations account for more than 41,000 jobs and over $2 billion in annual income in our state.  Imagine if any of those jobs were threatened simply because of a process gone wrong.

As our state’s unemployment rate hovers at 10 percent – well above the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent – now more than ever North Carolina needs to grow the number of good-paying jobs that manufacturing provides.  Unfortunately, this administration’s tendency to regulate job-sustaining industries into the ground is making it increasingly difficult for us to do so in this state and across the country.

Last March, the EPA was rushed to issue a set of regulations – known as the Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rules – which set emission limits for boilers used in manufacturing facilities, municipal power plants, hospitals, universities, and any other facility. EPA officials have estimated that the capital cost of implementing these rules will be $9.5 billion, but a recent study prepared by IHS Global Insight puts the figure at $20 billion. The precise cost of these stringent rules may still be unknown, but they will undoubtedly impose significant new regulatory costs on employers and small businesses that could lead to factory closures and job losses.

Because they were hurried by the court system to issue the final rules, the EPA admitted that the resulting rules were inadequate and delayed implementation while it reconsidered them. The rules were re-proposed in November and are expected to be finalized in the coming months.

Despite all of that, last month U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled that the March 2011 regulations were to take effect immediately, putting those affected in a difficult position: comply with an old set of rules, or gamble by planning for compliance with the pending set of regulations that would override the previous set.

Here in the House of Representatives, we are taking action to protect American businesses and job creators from this unnecessary government interference. In October, we passed the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (H.R.2250), which I co-sponsored and was included in the payroll tax holiday extension bill that passed the House in December. This bill directs the EPA to re-propose new, less harmful rules within 15 months and extends compliance time from three to five years, giving businesses more time to prepare, sustain jobs, and prosper.

EPA mandates are driving up the cost of production and causing greater pain throughout our economy. We need to balance our energy and environmental concerns in ways that will not punish job creators and this legislation is a step in the right direction. This is solid, bipartisan legislation that would provide the certainty businesses need to plan investments for compliance as well as for future growth and modernizations to remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.

To be clear, I support clean air and realistic air quality standards. However, I also believe that good legislation can serve the people by protecting the environment and public health while promoting economic growth and stability.

We need to balance our energy and environmental concerns in ways that will not punish job creators. This starts by rolling back the predatory regulations imposed by the EPA, and by doing so, we will find ourselves moving in the right direction toward a more efficient, environmentally-friendly road to prosperity.

Rep. Ellmers, a registered nurse for over 21 years, was recently appointed to the joint conference committee tasked with negotiating the payroll tax holiday extension. She is serving her first term as U.S. Congresswoman representing North Carolina’s second district in the House of Representatives.

As found on The Hill

SOPA and PIPA Would Destroy Internet Freedom

January 16th, 2012 by NC Tea Party Staff Categories: Hot Topics, Limited Government, Regulations, Uncategorized 3 Responses
SOPA and PIPA Would Destroy Internet Freedom

Two pieces of dangerous legislation are currently being debated in Congress that could forever change the Internet: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). The proponents of these harmful bills claim that it is necessary to stop online piracy, the illegal sale and/or distribution of copyrighted and trademarked products on the Internet. Regardless of how well-intentioned the pieces of legislation may be or one’s perspective on intellectual property laws, SOPA and the Protect IP Act would severely cripple free speech and stifle innovation online.

The Internet is a prime example of what Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek called spontaneous order. One single institution does not control the Internet. This is primarily what makes the Internet so great. Billions of individuals all over the world are free to spread unrestricted information on the Internet. I actually became a libertarian largely because I was exposed to ideas that I never heard before on the free Internet. Can you imagine how terrible the Internet would be if it was centrally-planned by the government? A centralized institution cannot possibly know or satisfy the unique wants of billions of individuals across the globe.

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article by By: Julie Borowski, Freedomworks Staff Writer

Interview with House Speaker Thom Tillis

January 29th, 2011 by NC Tea Party Staff Categories: Hot Topics, State, Education, Elections, House Session 2011-2012, Reform, Regulations, Taxes No Responses
Interview with House Speaker Thom Tillis

RALEIGH — Newly elected Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius sat down with Carolina Journal reporters on Tuesday for a wide-ranging interview on the 2011-2012 legislative session. Excerpts from the interview are below:

On cooperation between the House and Senate on budgeting:

On when the session will wrap up:

On how the first week will pan out legislatively:

On legalizing video poker and having the government run it:

On eliminating the charter school cap:

On reducing the number of government-run boards and commissions:

On addressing underfunding of the state pension system:

On abortion-related bills:

On a marriage amendment:

On cooperation between the House and Senate on budgeting: “We are inviting the Senate to be actively engaged in all of our deliberations. We think that by doing that we can minimize the amount of time that will be required once the Senate ultimately gets [the budget], and virtually eliminate the need for conference.”

On when the session will wrap up:
“I was told as a speaker you need to be careful and not stake yourself out. There are a lot of things I’m going to stake myself out on, and one of them is that we need to get out of here sooner. We’re starting a month earlier than we normally have, so as far as I’m concerned we’ve gained a month just by organizing as quickly and starting … We want to get done and get out of here.”

On how the first week will pan out legislatively: “We have a 100-day agenda. We intend to fulfill the promises that were made in that 100-day agenda. Now, whether that is legislation that is filed and moved over the next two weeks, or begins to move in the 90th day of that agenda, with the goal of getting it introduced and moved, we’ll work that out as our legislative agenda takes shape, as we get a real understanding for what we need to do with the budget, what we need to do with redistricting, the capacity that we have to move the other bills and in what sequence. We’ve had people come out there and say, ‘You ran on jobs and the economy and redistricting, and now you’re going and talking about another agenda item.’ Although I want to be lean, the expectation that we would only pass two bills this cycle is probably not right. We will pass several hundred bills, and there will be far fewer introduced than in past sessions.”

On legalizing video poker and having the government run it: “We’ve got to take a look at it. We have a number of members in our caucus that are uncomfortable with it. We have a fair number of members who think that this is at least on the fringe of the whole idea of limited government and free market principles. So we’re going to have to have those very valid arguments weighed in the caucus and then in the committee process.”

On eliminating the charter school cap: “We will send a very clear message that we believe public charter schools are an important part of the options we provide families to get our kids educated, and to be in combination with continuing to make progress on our traditional public schools.”

On reducing the number of government-run boards and commissions: “I think that it is wise to reduce the number of boards and commissions, and it is intuitively obvious that we have too many of them. We’ve just grown. Some of them have a difficult time getting members, I understand … I haven’t seen the governor’s proposal. We applaud her for the thought process. But if we see boards and commissions that are more likely to promote free enterprise, business-friendly policy, we’ll have to take a look at that, because we may see that there are suggested for elimination that may have a real value.”

On addressing underfunding of the state pension system: “It’s part of our overall fiscal strategy. It is just bad management to leave that out there and to not fund it. The other question is, long term, how do we manage those decisions? To what extent do we have to look at alternatives to the current pension system? We’ll have people look at that.”

On abortion-related bills: “We have members in our caucus who have very strong feelings about those bills. We’re going to look at them and give them serious consideration. Again, it all has to be in balance … Those sorts of bills that we believe, first, will be of value to the expectant mother, and may also save a few lives, I don’t think that’s limiting abortion. We can’t, by law, limit abortions. What we can do is provide expectant mothers additional information that may cause them to exercise a choice that is beyond the only choice some people want or expect a mother to have.”

On a marriage amendment: “The marriage amendment is something else we’re looking at. We’re conferring with the Senate. It will be a product of our caucus, and I have encouraged all of our members to sit down and talk about our legislative agenda, make recommendations. You’ll see those recommendations come out over the next several weeks.”

David N. Bass is an associate editor of Carolina Journal. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Article originally posted January 28, 2011 on Carolina Journal.

Connect with House Speaker Tillis on Facebook, and Twitter

NC TEA Party takes no credit whatsoever for the writing of this article.

Internet ‘kill switch’ bill will return

January 29th, 2011 by NC Tea Party Staff Categories: Hot Topics, Regulations No Responses
Internet ‘kill switch’ bill will return

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyberemergency,” and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“We’re not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone,” said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.
Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those “crucial components that form our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government’s designation of vital Internet or other computer systems “shall not be subject to judicial review.” Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include “provider of information technology,” and a third authorized the submission of “classified” reports on security vulnerabilities.

“Declaration of a national cyber emergency”
The revised Lieberman-Collins bill, dubbed the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, works this way: Homeland Security will “establish and maintain a list of systems or assets that constitute covered critical infrastructure” and that will be subject to emergency decrees. (The term “kill switch” does not appear in the legislation.)

Under the revised legislation, the definition of critical infrastructure has been tightened. DHS is only supposed to place a computer system (including a server, Web site, router, and so on) on the list if it meets three requirements. First, the disruption of the system could cause “severe economic consequences” or worse. Second, that the system “is a component of the national information infrastructure.” Third, that the “national information infrastructure is essential to the reliable operation of the system.”

At last week’s event, Milhorn, the Senate aide, used the example of computers at a nuclear power plant or the Hoover Dam but acknowledged that “the legislation does not foreclose additional requirements, or additional additions to the list.”

A company that objects to being subject to the emergency regulations is permitted to appeal to DHS secretary Janet Napolitano. But her decision is final and courts are explicitly prohibited from reviewing it.

President Obama would then have the power to “issue a declaration of a national cyberemergency.” What that entails is a little unclear, including whether DHS could pry user information out of Internet companies that it would not normally be entitled to obtain without a court order. One section says they can disclose certain types of noncommunications data if “specifically authorized by law,” but a presidential decree may suffice.

“No amount of tightening of what constitutes ‘critical infrastructure’ will prevent abuse without meaningful judicial review,” says Berin Szoka, an analyst at the free-market TechFreedom think tank and editor of The Next Digital Decade book. “Blocking judicial review of this key question essentially says that the rule of law goes out the window if and when a major crisis occurs.”

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Do you believe what has happened in Egypt with the internet being shut down, could happen in the United States?