Brooke Starr

ATR Supports Leaving Sports Betting to the States

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Posted by Brooke Starr on Thursday, September 27th, 2018, 9:22 AM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, urging the federal government to leave sports betting to the states. Mr. Norquist agrees with the Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively dismantled the federal ban on sports betting. A one-size-fits-all federal approach to this issue simply doesn’t work.

There are huge potential economic benefits to legalizing sports betting, as far as revenue and job creation are concerned. Therefore, as this issue is being considered in the Judiciary Committee, ATR urges them to respect the Supreme Court decision as a restoration of, “the Constitution, federalism, and the equality of the states.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.


Dear Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

We urge the federal government to leave questions on sports betting to the states.

The Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was correct. There is no need for federal regulation in the area of sports betting. States have historically regulated various types of betting and are more than capable of formulating their own rules and regulations in this area without federal government intervention.

The 1992 law that banned states from regulating and taxing sports betting except in Nevada and three other states with more limited betting – Oregon, Delaware and Montana – effectively said ‘some states are more equal than others.’ The Court ruled instead that all 50 states have to be treated the same, and that the federal government cannot tell the states what to legalize or ban. While gambling can be a contentious issue, this makes it even more appropriate for states to decide, rather than a one-size-fits-all federal approach.

Congressmen and Senators should not cast a shadow over this good news for self-government by suggesting that Washington should regulate what they can no longer ban—betting on sports. That includes the threat of a government mandated payout to the NFL, NHL, and NCAA at the expense of fans coyly called an “integrity fee.”

The so-called integrity fee is classic rent seeking behavior – asking the government for economic resources from another business without benefits to wealth creation. The various leagues and sports betting businesses are more than capable of setting up their own agreements in the free market. We have already seen one such agreement between MGM and the NBA.

Meanwhile, a May 17 study by Oxford Economics predicts that legalizing sports betting nationwide would create more than 200,000 jobs and increases the Gross Domestic Product by $22 billion each and every year. Further, an estimated $4.5 billion was spent on legal sports betting in Nevada in 2017. By comparison experts think more than 20 times that amount was spent on illegal sports betting in the same year. Adding a federally mandated integrity fee would detract from wealth creation and inhibit legal enterprise.

The Judiciary Committee should be able to clearly see that the court decision restores the Constitution, federalism, and the equality of the states. Meanwhile, the free market is allowed to take its course, and wealth is created within the states


Grover G. Norquist

Photo Credit: Lionel Roubeyrie

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Self-Driving Vehicle Bill Hits a Speed bump: the Senate

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Posted by Brooke Starr on Wednesday, September 5th, 2018, 5:24 PM PERMALINK

A year ago, the SELF DRIVE Act (H.R. 3388) passed through the Energy and Commerce Committee with a unanimous 54-0 vote, as a result of over 250 meetings dedicated to bipartisan bill-drafting. Shortly after exiting committee, the SELF DRIVE Act was passed by a voice vote on the House floor. Why then has it taken the Senate a year now to act on this crucial, potentially life-saving, legislation?

The bipartisan SELF DRIVE Act lays out a clear, federal regulatory framework to ensure safe testing and deployment of self-driving vehicles. Most notably, it gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the regulatory power to ensure the safety of the design, construction and performance of the vehicles. The SELF DRIVE Act also enhances protections for cybersecurity, privacy, and consumer education, which is especially important in today’s internet age. These are among a few of its many provisions centered around ensuring consumer safety and security.

The proliferation of self-driving vehicles is inevitable at this point, and the United States is unfortunately falling behind Europe and Asia when it comes to developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for its self-driving cars. As Digital Liberty has noted, it is too difficult and burdensome for industries to comply with 50 individual regulatory systems at a time. With that in mind, the Senate needs to move quickly to pass the SELF DRIVE Act, and send it to the President’s desk. This will allow for the continued limitless innovation of self-driving vehicles, while ensuring consumer safety is the top priority.

Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) confirms: “Our aim was to develop a regulatory structure that allows for industry to safely innovate with significant government oversight- as safety must be the chief priority.” Self-driving cars are projected to reduce traffic deaths by 90%, which will save 30,000 lives a year. Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH) said it best: “We don’t have to accept a world where millions of accidents and thousands of fatalities on the roadway are a necessary evil of driving.”

See ATR’s letter to the Senate Commerce Committee for more information on our position.

Photo Credit: Kevin Trotman

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New Jersey raids 911 fees, then asks for 911 subsidies

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Posted by Brooke Starr on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018, 12:42 PM PERMALINK

The New Jersey state government is currently under fire for diverting close to $2 billion since 2004 that were intended to go towards improvements to the state’s 911 call centers. Representative Leonard Lance has introduced bipartisan legislation to put an end to this practice, and is working closely with one of the FCC’s Federal Communications Commissioner, Mike O’Rielly, to find a solution to the problem.


Commissioner O’Rielly recently wrote an op-ed for the Hill, proposing to have the states under the regulatory umbrella of the FCC so that this kind of gross misappropriation of funds no longer occurs nationwide. In 2017, there were a total of 12 states and territories identified by the FCC that had issues with 911 fee diversions. Of those 12 states, 7 of them have said they do not intend on making changes, New Jersey included. These ‘diverter’ states then become ineligible for the NG911, an existing federal program that provides states with grants to upgrade their “next generation 911.” By choosing to explicitly divert these specific funds, and subsequently being disqualified from receiving the NG911, New Jersey is putting its own citizens at risk by not having the funds to periodically upgrade their 911 centers. Furthermore, lawmakers have not been transparent about where all the extra money is going, saying they are simply “balancing the budget.”


Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ) introduced the 9-1-1 Fee Integrity Act (H.R. 6424), alongside Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) on July 18, 2018 to empower the FCC to issue rules to prevent states from diverting 9-1-1 taxes, fees, and charges. The bill will work through the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Chairman Greg Walden (OR-2) sent a letter to the FCC recently asking for an update on 9-1-1 diversion nationwide.


Diverting tax dollars away from the advertised purpose and then asking for federal dollars to fill the short fall is serious malpractice. New Jersey citizens should be outraged.

Photo Credit: Tomas Del Coro

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