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Out of Control Policy Blog Archives: 3.30.14–4.5.14

Comment Period Re-Opened on Proposal to List Rufa Red Knot as Threatened

Fish & Wildlife Service has reopened the comment period for proposed listing of red knot, a species of sandpiper that migrates from South America up the East Coast in the spring and takes a variety of routes south in the fall, including along the Gulf Coast. While officials in Delaware like the red knot, because it congregates there and is a tourism draw, officials in North Carolina and Texas are worried if the bird is listed under the Endangered Species Act it could interfere with economic activity, such as dredging shipping channels and home building.

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The Prairie Chicken Ruling Doesn't Make Sense

An editorial in today's Odessa American laments that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service went ahead and listed the lesser prairie chicken. The editorial notes that the plan was unable to accomplish its goal of preventing the prairie chicken's listing; even though it has significant support (five oil and gas companies--Continental Resources, Devon Energy, Apache Corp., Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation, and Samson Resources--along with the five state fish and wildlife agencies in the bird's range (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, led by their trade association, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Associations) and raised $21 million and enrolled nearly 4 million acres. Unfortunately, now these companies have committed themselves to this very expensive plan, which will cost an estimated quarter-billion dollars over just the next ten years. Yet there is another plan, known as the Stakeholder Conservation Strategy, that is much cheaper but is still waiting for Fish & Wildlife approval. Stay posted, this is going to be an interesting story as it unfolds.

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Latest Articles on Reason Foundation

Sasha Volokh on Pension Protection and the Detroit Bankruptcy

Sasha Volokh has a new article on Reason.org today that explores how constitutional pension protections interact with bankruptcy law in the context of Detroit's ongoing bankruptcy. Here's an excerpt:

On March 13, 2013, after the release of several reports on Detroit’s finances, the governor of Michigan had announced, consistently with Michigan law, that a “financial emergency” existed in Detroit and appointed an “emergency manager” to run the city. The emergency manager met and negotiated with creditors, but ultimately recommended bankruptcy, which led to the governor’s decision to authorize the city to file for bankruptcy.

Many parties filed objections to the bankruptcy in federal bankruptcy court. On December 5, 2013, bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes issued an opinion taking up about 95 pages of the Bankruptcy Reporter and discussing over a dozen separate state and federal legal theories, including federal constitutional objections to Chapter 9 on federalism grounds, federal constitutional objections to the use of bankruptcy courts (which are executive tribunals, as opposed to regular courts) on separation-of-powers grounds, a variety of state constitutional claims, and a variety of claims under Michigan law, including challenges to the authority of the emergency manager, as an unelected official, to file for bankruptcy.

Judge Rhodes rejected all the arguments and concluded that the city was eligible to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy; this post will focus solely on the arguments related to public-employee pensions...

Read the rest of the article here. Volokh's other legal analyses written for Reason Foundation are available here.

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Privatization & Government Reform Newsletter #5 (Mar 2014 edition)

The March 2014 edition of the Privatization & Government Reform Newsletter is now online. Topics covered in this issue include:

  • MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCY: Detroit Seeking Private Water/Wastewater Partner
  • PUBLIC HEALTH: States Consider Counterproductive E-Cigarette Taxes
  • INNOVATORS IN ACTION: Pontiac, Michigan Transforms Into Contract City
  • INFRASTRUCTURE: Privatization Developments in Highways, Aviation
  • TRANSPORTATION: Value-Added Tolling
  • ASSETS: Privatized Parking a Win-Win in Indianapolis
  • CONTRACTING: Washington State Legislature Rejects Anti-Privatization Bill
  • News & Notes

The full newsletter is available here, and previous editions of the newsletter are available here.

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