• June 10, 2016    |   Economic Liberty

    In Florida, the law requires 2,190 days of training to become an interior designer and a government license. It takes just 34 days to become an emergency medical technician. Something is wrong with this picture. And one Florida high schooler has a solution. The problem is occupational licensing run amok. Occupational licenses are just what…

  • February 25, 2016

    The Maffucci Fellowship is one of the best opportunities in the liberty movement for students and recent graduates to turn their passion into concrete results. Although IJ is best known for its litigation, our grassroots activism program—Liberty in Action—plays a crucial role both in the cases we litigate and in situations where the problem demands a…

  • February 10, 2016

    Last month, the Institute for Justice and local property-owners-turned-activists struck a decisive victory for property rights in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This fight provides a perfect example of how threatened property owners can employ grassroots activism to quickly defeat redevelopment projects. Here’s the blow-by-blow: In the center of Mt. Airy lies an abandoned factory known…

  • February 3, 2016    |   School Choice

    IJ is committed to defending the right of parents—not politicians, not bureaucrats—to choose the education that best fits their child’s needs. When needed, we defend this right in court, and we’ve been doing so for 25 years. We also support a parent’s right to choose outside of the courtroom, from legislative chambers, to the halls…

  • January 22, 2016    |   Private Property

    In far too many states, civil forfeiture enables law enforcement to take ownership of property without even charging its owner with a crime.   And some states make challenging forfeiture cost-prohibitive—so innocent owners can never even get their day in court. Michigan and Illinois require property owners to post a bond equal to 10 percent of the value…

  • December 14, 2015    |   Private Property

    The overwhelming majority of states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government allow law enforcement to use civil forfeiture to seize and keep your property without even charging you with a crime, much less convicting you. Worse yet, the very government officials who take your car, home, or cash often get to keep it…

  • December 2, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Food carts—selling hot dogs, tamales, and other delicious foods—are a staple of urban life. Yet until recently, Chicago banned the sale of any sort of prepared food from carts in the city. Street vendors, who are most often immigrants on the first rung of the economic ladder and willing to work long hours in search…

  • November 20, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    This week, San Diego won a major victory in its bid to deregulate taxicabs. A California superior court judge ruled against a group of taxi companies seeking to prevent the city from issuing any new taxi permits. IJ intervened in the case to represent two taxi drivers who simply wanted to work for themselves. In…

  • November 20, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Sidewalk vending gives aspiring and hard-working entrepreneurs a chance to provide for their families and pursue the American dream. But Los Angeles bans the practice, turning tens of thousands of Angelenos into criminals. With its low capital and training requirements, sidewalk vending can be a chance to earn a living for people with few other…

  • November 4, 2015    |   Private Property

    As Oklahomans debate civil forfeiture reforms, there have been calls for more facts and fewer hypotheticals. The debate is welcome news as civil forfeiture is one of the biggest threats to property rights in Oklahoma and across the United States today. Civil forfeiture is a law enforcement tactic that allows police and prosecutors to seize…

  • October 23, 2015    |   First Amendment

    The Potato Man lives, but he almost got mashed. The cheerful, anthropomorphic mascot of the Potato House restaurant had been threatened by the Downtown Revitalization Board of Sulphur Springs, Texas. His smiling mug didn’t fit their image of the downtown. But after locals rallied to his defense, the city relented and allowed him to stay.…

  • September 18, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    In a bold move last Tuesday evening after just one hour of discussion, Sarasota City Commissioners voted unanimously to deregulate all for-hire vehicle services in the city, removing the barriers that taxi drivers complained gave ridesharing services like Uber an unfair advantage. Now all drivers, including taxi cabbies, can conduct their business without government interference. The…

  • September 18, 2015    |   Private Property

    A team of investors led by soccer player David Beckham may be granted permission to construct a newmajor league soccer stadium in Miami, regardless of the human toll. Before the construction of the soccer stadium begins, the city of Miami will have to acquire acres of land in the middle of Miami. To get the…

  • August 20, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Regulatory busybodies in Longmont, Colo., want to destroy Raymond “Rich” Smith’s windshield chip repair business. Why? City officials can’t decide. For years, Rich has managed the operations of Longmont’s Countrywood Inn & RV Park. As a side job, he repairs chipped windshields from a van parked at the inn, which a police officer gave Rich…

  • August 20, 2015    |   Private Property

    Property owners who have had their cash seized by police in Wyoming face a low chance of ever recovering their money. Since 2010, police have seized nearly $1.3 million in cash, but returned a mere $190,000 to owners, according to new data provided by the Wyoming Joint Judiciary Committee. In other words, less than 15…

  • August 20, 2015    |   Private Property

    When it comes to warrantless searches, the Fourth Amendment is making a comeback. Last month, privacy rights activists claimed victory in the landmark Supreme Court decision City of Los Angeles v. Patel. Thanks in part to the advocacy of IJ and other organizations, the Court ruled 5-4 that a city ordinance requiring hotel owners to…

  • August 17, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    After three years of debate, Florida’s craft beer aficionados will finally be able to purchase their favorite brews in common, refillable, half-gallon jugs called “growlers.” And Florida brewers are ecstatic about the long-overdue change. Luis Brignoni, owner of Miami’s Wynwood Brewing Company, sees benefits for his customers in the new size, “It’s the industry standard,…

  • August 7, 2015    |   Private Property

    Hinga Mbogo immigrated to Dallas from Kenya to live the American dream—but Dallas officials had other plans for him. City officials are demanding that Hinga stop repairing cars at his popular shop, Hinga’s Automotive Company, because it doesn’t fit in with their plans to reimagine the up-and-coming neighborhood. The city barred Hinga from using his land…

  • August 6, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Thanks to entrepreneurial successes like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, and (if you’re in Boston) Bridj, most people think of ridesharing apps when they hear about changes in transportation innovation. But two of the Institute for Justice’s most recent economic liberty cases show exciting things are happening in the industry beyond ridesharing. John Rinaldi is a serial…

  • July 28, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Under Minnesota’s cottage food laws, enterprising bakers can legally sell a wide variety of “not potentially hazardous food” made at home, like certain baked goods, jams, jellies and home-canned pickles, fruits and vegetables. While nearly every state now has a cottage food law on the books, until recently, Minnesota’s was one of the most stringent.…

  • July 28, 2015    |   Private Property

    California is one step closer to sending a major civil forfeiture reform bill to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk after the Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety voted unanimously (7-0) to advance SB 443 to the Committee on Appropriations. The Appropriations Committee is the bill’s last hurdle before a vote in front of the full California State…

  • July 8, 2015    |   Private Property

    After fighting the federal government for more than 15 months, El Willis will get back his seized cash. Like many others who have faced civil forfeiture, the government never charged Willis with a crime. In late May, federal prosecutors agreed to return all of his cash—$18,480. But as part of the settlement agreement, Willis will…

  • June 12, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    In March 2013, Wolf Antoni, owner of the Bratwurst King food truck that frequents Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, Va., was slapped with a fine totaling almost half of his daily earnings. Why? Until this summer, food trucks were not allowed to operate on state-maintained roads. At the time, Antoni wondered, “We’re all small businesses.…

  • May 28, 2015    |   Private Property

    Nasrin Kholghy and her family could soon lose their carpet store to eminent domain abuse, after 25 years at their prime location in Glendale, Colo. To rally opposition to this government land grab and to support the Constitution, Nasrin’s family will host a “Blighted” Block Party on June 13 from 3pm to 6pm at their…

  • May 26, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill last month that saves dozens of yoga schools from onerous restrictions. Last fall, the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools sent letters to over 80 yoga teacher-training studios demanding that they comply with the law: to become legally certified, these schools would have had to pay nearly $2,000 in…

  • May 5, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    People have many reasons to work at home: rearing children, physical disability, age, little startup capital to rent office space—and, of course, who wouldn’t want to work in their bunny slippers? So it should be unsurprising that the arrangement is popular. In fact, the US Census Bureau reports that 51.6 percent of all businesses are…

  • April 26, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    After eradicating all crime in New York City, the NYPD can finally stamp out the real threat to New Yorkers: churro vendors. In late March, the NYPD arrested three women at the Union Square subway station for peddling churros without a license. Each woman was arrested, ticketed and is due in court on May 14.…

  • April 25, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    Carrying a badge as an armed “special conservator of the peace” requires 40 hours of training in Virginia. But getting a license to cut someone’s hair takes 1,500 hours of training—almost 40 times as many hours. Welcome to the absurd world of occupational regulations. Currently, Virginia law lets private citizens become SCOPs, which have the…

  • March 6, 2015    |   Economic Liberty

    African hair braiders have safely twisted, weaved and braided hair for millennia. Yet Iowa forces these entrepreneurs to get licenses in cosmetology, even though braiders shun the use of chemicals and dyes. Read More: Texas Hair Braiders Win Right to Open Braiding Schools By requiring 2,100 hours of largely irrelevant training, Iowa is actually tied…

  • February 27, 2015    |   Private Property

    As a neurologist at Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, Iowa, Alireza Yarahmadi has helped patients with epilepsy, sleep disorders and strokes. Now he can add another line to his CV: civil forfeiture victim. Last June, the IRS seized $344,405 from the Iowa doctor’s account, alleging that he frequently withdrew cash in amounts under $10,000 to…

  • January 28, 2015    |   School Choice

    Last Sunday kicked off National School Choice Week 2015. School choice is what it sounds like: the ability to choose which school your child attends, regardless of school district or income. Click here for more information about National School Choice Week I consider myself very lucky. Both of my parents have a considerable income, giving…

  • January 9, 2015    |   Private Property

    On February 10, 2014, civil forfeiture claimed yet another victim. But now he’s fighting back. El Willis hadn’t been charged with a crime. Nor was he carrying any drugs. But when police stopped his car last February, they didn’t need any evidence of criminal activity to take almost $20,000 in cash from him. Under civil…

  • December 19, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Yard sales: as American as hot dogs, baseball and apple pie. But like so many other innocent activities, yard sales are getting swept up in the ever-growing blob of government regulation. Towns are increasingly requiring permits for such sales, limiting their frequency, and even restricting their advertising. That’s what is happening in Highland, Calif. The…

  • December 18, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    If Bank Street Brewhouse’s sleek exterior and silver siding in New Albany, Ind., doesn’t catch your eye, its unusual menu might. Loaded with sarcasm and bite, the menu offers “Chef Campbell’s Soup of the Day,” helpfully “served in a bowl. Your choice of whichever can is on the top of the stack.” Alternatively, a hungry…

  • December 11, 2014    |   Private Property

    Below is a statement from Melinda Haring, activism manager at the Institute for Justice, on today’s statement from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, announcing its decision to reverse the condemnation of James Dupree’s Mantua art studio. The city was attempting to forcibly seize James Dupree’s studio through eminent domain in order to replace it with private development. Today…

  • December 10, 2014    |   Private Property

    Monday evening, after months of living with the uncertainty that they wouldn’t have a home for Christmas, the residents of Pleasant Ridge scored a major victory against a mayor who sought to bulldoze 354 homes in Charlestown, Indiana. At a city council meeting that went late into the night, the council rejected the mayor’s plan…

  • November 12, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    By a vote of 6-1, the city council of Austin, Texas approved a new ordinance that legalizes Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services as “transportation network companies”. To operate legally, and to cover bodily injury and property damage, TNCs must have commercial automobile liability insurance coverage of at least $1 million. Moreover, drivers have to…

  • October 9, 2014    |   Private Property

    Mandrel Stuart used to own the Smoking Roosters, a barbecue restaurant in Staunton, Va. But one night in August 2012, police pulled him over and seized $17,550, without even bothering to charge Stuart with a crime. Unable to pay his bills and rent, Stuart had to close down his small business. On the night of…

  • October 8, 2014    |   Private Property

    In late September, I packed my megaphone and took the next flight to Indiana to deliver fighting words and reassure property owners that they have the right to keep their homes. The city of Charlestown plans to seize and demolish 354 homes in order to build newer homes and retail—even though the plan grossly violates…

  • September 17, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Washington, D.C., is home to one of the best food-truck scenes in the country. But last year the city’s mayor asked the council to approve new and sweeping restrictions that, if enacted, would have made D.C. one of the worst cities in America for mobile vending. This was a story we were all-too-familiar with—and if…

  • September 11, 2014    |   Private Property

    When police and prosecutors can seize and keep cash and property without ever charging anyone with a crime, there are bound to be abuses (just see here, here or here for a small sample). But if recent allegations are true, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland may have taken this “policing for profit”…

  • August 26, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    When most people think of California’s Napa County, they imagine the sight of beautiful hillside vineyards and the smell of grapes. For many engaged couples looking for wedding venues, those hillsides seem like just the sort of idyllic backdrop they want behind them as they say their “I do’s.” Maybe that’s why in 2013 over…

  • August 22, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    NOT THE BEES!!!!—At least that’s what some local governments are saying in response to the growing urban beekeeping phenomenon. Just last month, Wisconsin’s Racine County informed Debi Fuller that she could no longer maintain beehives on her property, even though the county’s zoning board initially OK’d Fuller’s request to construct the hives. Their reason for…

  • August 21, 2014    |   Private Property

    You might want to avoid driving through Estelline, Texas. This tiny town (population: 141) on U.S. Route 287 pulled in a staggering 89 percent of its gross revenues in fiscal year 2012 from asset forfeiture and traffic fines. Under civil forfeiture, someone does not have to be convicted of a crime, or even charged with…

  • August 12, 2014    |   Private Property

    In the suburban Long Island town of Brookhaven, N.Y., there has developed a Bermuda Triangle of property rights defined by the three corners: warrantless rental inspections, eminent domain abuse, and civil asset forfeiture. “There used to be a system in place where you could work with the city to get things fixed. But now, I…

  • August 11, 2014    |   Private Property

    If you have ever rented out a room in your home for the weekend to earn a little extra cash and make a new friend, you may be a criminal. If you have taken the effort to fix up an investment home and believe you can make a higher profit renting it to people on…

  • August 7, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Opportunities for mobile food entrepreneurs seem to be on the decline in Rhode Island. Although the Ocean State has minimal licensing requirements for food trucks and carts, a number of cities are trying to muscle vendors out. The city of Cranston recently added a slew of new regulations to what was already one of the…

  • August 6, 2014    |   Private Property

    The congregation of Faith Deliverance Temple has just scored a property rights win that gives opponents of eminent domain abuse reason to sound a victory chorus. The group stood to be unceremoniously ejected from the Orlando church where faithful have worshiped for more than 30 years. City officials demanded that the church hand over its…

  • July 30, 2014    |   Private Property

    This past week has been a major one for advocates of civil forfeiture reform. Within a few days of each other, two bills were introduced in the U.S. House and Senate which would help limit “policing for profit.” Sen. Rand Paul’s FAIR Act and Rep. Tim Walberg’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act represent major steps…

  • July 25, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    You’ll pry food trucks from our cold dead hands. That’s one of the takeaways from a new Reason-Rupe poll that surveyed 2,000 young adults for their thoughts on politics and government regulations. Among millennials, 81 percent want to legalize food trucks, making them the most popular of the 13 activities and products Reason-Rupe asked about…

  • July 25, 2014    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    Jorge and Maria Ramos have held daily garage sales out of their rented home in Houston since 2011, as a way to supplement their disability income. Due to glaucoma, Jorge is blind in both eyes. “They barely even make [enough] to pay the bills, the rent, the food and all that,” said their son, Robert…

  • July 23, 2014    |   Private Property

    On Tuesday’s episode of The Daily Show, correspondent Jordan Klepper exposed the bizarre world of civil forfeiture, where people who have never been charged with a crime can lose their property to the police. Not only that, but once the police seize your property, they can keep it, sell it and use it to pad…

  • July 18, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    You may have caught wind of the big stink in the headlines recently over artisanal cheese. The traditional, handcrafted fare nearly became the latest casualty of overzealous food regulation when the Food and Drug Administration announced that cheesemakers would no longer be allowed to use wooden boards in the aging process, as they have done…

  • July 8, 2014    |   Private Property

    Scouring I-85 and I-26 for motorists, almost 90 officers from 21 different law enforcement agencies conducted their annual “Operation Rolling Thunder” last October in Spartanburg County, S.C. Every year, police stop well over a thousand cars as a way to combat drug trafficking and get tough on crime. But the vast majority of drivers caught…

  • July 2, 2014    |   Private Property

    A 9-year-old boy had a heart-warming idea for a Mother’s Day gift, one that would be sure to make any mother proud. Now he and his father are forced to appear before the Leawood City Council for the right to keep it. Spencer Collins of Leawood, Kan., worked with his father and grandfather to construct…

  • June 25, 2014    |   Private Property

    A glitzy casino once praised as a way to revitalize Atlantic City has filed for bankruptcy. Again. Currently losing $2 million a week, the Revel Casino Hotel filed for bankruptcy last week. With almost $450 million in debt but only $9 million in cash, Revel said it would shut down if they don’t find a…

  • June 24, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Street vending is an integral part of the New York City experience. From I ❤ NY shirts, to hot dogs, to American flags and everything in between, street vending has been a fixture of New York City life for centuries. Why then do the city government and the NYPD make life as difficult as possible…

  • June 23, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    The Food and Drug Administration shook up the artisanal cheese community earlier this month by announcing it would no longer allow cheese makers to age their product on wooden boards. For the uninitiated, aging cheese on wooden boards is a centuries-old practice, one that many small American cheese makers employ and how much of our…

  • June 13, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Miami-Dade County is slamming the brakes on Uber and Lyft, two popular ridesharing alternatives to hailing a cab. Police have already been running sting operations, impounding cars and threatening rideshare drivers with thousands of dollars in fines. But apparently that’s not enough for some in the taxi industry. During a Miami-Dade commissioners meeting on Wednesday,…

  • June 6, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    The DMV isn’t doing itself any favors. Yesterday, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles sent cease-and-desist letters to Uber and Lyft, two popular ridesharing services, asserting both companies are breaking the law. The DMV previously fined Uber $26,000 and Lyft $9,000, but the department is doubling down on the crackdown. Rideshare drivers themselves now face…

  • June 4, 2014    |   Private Property

    After reportedly spending over $1 million from asset forfeiture funds on a political consultant for over 10 years, former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes may now face felony larceny charges. Click here to help end policing for profit

  • May 28, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Last week, the lower house of New Jersey’s legislature unanimously passed a “cottage food” bill, which would let people sell baked goods like breads, pies, cakes and cookies prepared in their home kitchens. To sell legally, one would need only a “clearly visible placard” saying the food was prepared at a private home. The bill, A-1244,…

  • May 16, 2014    |   Private Property

    The smallest state in the Union can rake in big money from asset forfeiture. Since 2003, law enforcement in Rhode Island has hauled in $15.7 million using the state’s asset forfeiture laws. But most of the cases were not targeting drug kingpins. Between 2003 and 2013, the average value of forfeited property was $4,142. Almost…

  • May 14, 2014    |   First Amendment

    “It takes more time to get a sign permit in the city of Raleigh than it does to get an ABC permit to sell alcohol,” explains Raleigh, N.C., City Councilor Bonner Gaylord. That helps explain why the city’s small business owners have long resented their city’s unnecessarily expansive sign code and arduous permitting system. Businesses…

  • May 10, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    The Institute for Justice is working with the DMV Food Truck Association, a group of more than 75 local food-truck owners, to bring food trucks and the good company that follows to George Washington’s hometown.

  • May 9, 2014    |   Private Property

    Three steps backward, two steps forward. Last year, the Utah legislature voted unanimously to make it easier for cops to seize innocent people’s property. Lawmakers passed HB 384, which drastically weakened legal safeguards against civil forfeiture. Unlike criminal forfeiture, civil forfeiture allows police to seize and forfeit cash, cars and homes from people, even if…

  • April 23, 2014    |   Private Property

    A Minnesota couple is suing the Iowa City Police Department to return almost $50,000, arguing police wrongfully seized that cash. Kearnice Overton was driving with his four kids on I-80 when Iowa City police pulled him over for speeding. Police brought a K-9 unit and based on the dog giving a “silent indicator on the…

  • April 17, 2014    |   Private Property

    SAVE DUPREE STUDIOS 3617 Haverford Avenue In 2012 Philadelphia City Council gave approval to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to acquire Mantua properties–including the studio of prominent artist and Philadelphia native, James E. Dupree–in order to clear an unnecessarily large parcel for an apparently undetermined private development. We believe this action is part of Philadelphia’s unfortunate legacy of unjust…

  • April 16, 2014    |   Private Property

    Like thousands of others in San Francisco, Jeffrey Katz has rented out his apartment on Airbnb. The popular booking site lets tourists find a cheaper place to stay and hosts earn some extra income. That certainly helps in San Francisco, the city with the highest median rent rate in the nation. But earlier this month, Katz…

  • April 15, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    The Schnitzel King is dead. Greg Burke and Kristin Casper, the regal duo behind their food truck, the Schnitzel King, announced the news on Facebook yesterday. “With the harsh food truck laws in Chicago, coupled with some kinks at our storefront location, we’ve been forced to close down our schnitzel operations here in Chicago,” they wrote. Greg…

  • April 10, 2014    |   Private Property

    Law enforcement in Shawnee County, Kan., has been on quite the shopping spree. This money came from both criminal forfeiture (which requires a conviction) and civil forfeiture, which does not require owners to be convicted, let alone charged with a crime. Using money gained from asset forfeiture, the district attorney’s office has spent almost $12,000…

  • April 9, 2014    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    When Jacoyia Wakefield decided to create her own daycare business, she did everything right. She read up on Knoxville’s business regulations, consulted with a city official, and obtained a business license per the official’s advice. As long as she cared for less than five unrelated toddlers, she technically did not even need a license, but…

  • April 7, 2014    |   Private Property

    When Sam Fish got home on a brisk day in October, he was greeted by a letter pinned to the front door of his Cortland County home in upstate New York. It was from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and concerned the expansion of Route 281, a road that passes by Sam’s…

  • April 3, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    During the past three years, the Baton Rouge food-truck scene has expanded from one food truck to 14. Driving this mobile explosion are entrepreneurs like John Snow and Jared Loftus. After travelling to various food truck hot spots across the country, they launched their award-winning food truck, Taco de Paco, in 2010. Taco de Paco…

  • April 1, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    A new bill would expand Louisiana’s “cottage food” law, which lets home-bakers and cooks sell their tasty treats with minimal government hassle. Currently, the state’s law is pretty limited and only allows jellies, jams, honey products, cakes and cookies to be sold. But if enacted, HB 775 would expand the types of “low-risk” food that…

  • March 20, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Monday, March 17, 2014 – 10am to Noon Central For the first time in over 20 years, Milwaukee will issue new licenses for taxicabs. This victory for economic liberty is a direct response to a hard-fought case won by the Institute for Justice. The lottery was held at Centennial Hall on Monday, March 17. Each…

  • March 19, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Dog Days, a documentary film about street vending in Washington, D.C., recently received its much-anticipated D.C. theatrical premiere. The movie, which was produced in association with the Moving Picture Institute, tells the classic American tale of entrepreneurs struggling to get their businesses off the ground in the face of endless bureaucratic rules and regulations—which shouldn’t be…

  • March 18, 2014    |   School Choice

    Faith Perry is a second grader who lives in Wake Forest, N.C. She has struggled with reading comprehension since kindergarten, despite having attended summer school the last two summers. Faith’s mom, Cynthia, is understandably quite worried about the impact that this will have on Faith’s confidence and future academic prospects: “I don’t want her self-esteem…

  • March 15, 2014    |   Private Property

    Does the Fourth Amendment apply to renters? The city council of Waterloo, Iowa, doesn’t think so. An expanded rental inspection program, going into effect next January, ignores the Constitution’s guarantee against searches without probable cause by requiring landlords open their tenants’ doors to Waterloo’s Housing Authority. Under the city’s warrantless rental inspection regime, criminals enjoy…

  • March 15, 2014    |   First Amendment

    Last winter, Deltona, Fla., imposed a fine on Corey Marion’s Happy Tails pet grooming business. What dastardly deed had Cory committed to incur the wrath of Deltona’s code enforcement officers? She ran afoul of the city’s sign code when she posted a sign to let other Good Samaritans know that her business was a Toys…

  • March 14, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    For the first time in over 20 years, Milwaukee will be issuing new licenses for taxicab drivers. This victory for economic liberty is a direct response to a hard-fought case won by the Institute for Justice. Back in 1991, Milwaukee capped the number of cab permits and banned issuing new ones. So if a driver…

  • February 26, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Nostalgia for the good ol’ days of economic protectionism has inspired a licensing resurrection in Alabama. The state deregulated barbers over 30 years ago in a move that also saw the demise of state professional boards for auctioneers, funeral services, floriculturists, “tree-surgeons” and others. But things are now changing quickly for barbers. Passed last May,…

  • January 31, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Currently, Georgia state law requires unpasteurized or “raw” milk producers to label their product for “pet use only,” when offered at farmer’s markets or food stands. But a new bill, HB 718, would legalize selling raw milk for human consumption. Unpasteurized milk enthusiasts may soon be able to drink out of a glass, instead of…

  • January 29, 2014    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    While a man’s home might be his castle, his yard is often covered in red tape. A yard sale might seem innocuous since it allows families to earn a little extra cash and rid their homes of unwanted items. But in Newton, N.C., the city council has restricted residents to holding only four yard sales…

  • January 29, 2014    |   Private Property

    The “eat local” trend sweeping the nation touts the economic and health benefits of eating food stuffs one can find “in their own backyard.” But a group of Arizona senators has taken the phrase literally, by proposing a bill to legalize backyard chickens throughout the state. S.B. 1151 would prohibit Arizona municipalities from banning “a…

  • January 28, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Lia Lee’s fashion truck, Street Boutique, serves the trendy Arlington neighborhoods of Clarendon, Ballston and Crystal City. She offers stylish, eclectic clothing and jewelry out of her state-of-the-art fashion truck. Fondly calling her fashion truck a “West Coast transplant,” Lia’s product line is inspired by apparel typically found in her home state of California. Lia is…

  • January 22, 2014    |   Private Property

    The Philadelphia Development Authority (PRA) is seizing Philadelphia artist James Dupree’s beautifully renovated art studio through eminent domain to make way for a parking lot and grocery store. But eminent domain is for public use, things like roads and schools – not private development. James needs your help to save his life’s work and get…

  • January 15, 2014    |   Private Property

    Without a warrant, the New York Police Department (NYPD) burst into the home of Gerald Bryan in a nighttime raid in March of 2012. Police punched through walls, tore out light fixtures and seized $4,800 in cash. Gerald was suspected of distributing drugs and taken into custody. One year later, the case against him was…

  • January 14, 2014    |   School Choice

    National School Choice Week is quite the event. Actually, it’s quite the 5,500-plus events. From January 26 to February 1, parents and students across the country will hold and participate in over 5,500 events demonstrating their passion for educational opportunity. Some are planning huge rallies or special award ceremonies for outstanding students and teachers in their…

  • January 14, 2014    |   Private Property

    The Sacramento City Council voted 7-2 last Tuesday to authorize eminent domain to build a new arena downtown for the Sacramento Kings. Many properties for the arena have already been acquired, save for the last parcel at 600 K Street, which used to be a Macy’s. Read More: Sacramento Small Business Owners Win Free Speech Fight

  • January 13, 2014    |   Economic Liberty

    Media outlets in Texas and across the country have been abuzz with news of proposed licensing requirements for “navigators” in the Lone Star State. The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for the awarding of grants to individuals or entities that will help enrollees navigate the tangled process of signing up for health care coverage.…

  • January 13, 2014    |   Private Property

    Eminent domain has traditionally been used for “public uses,” like building roads or schools. But officials in North Kansas City, Mo., (a suburb that’s north of Kansas City) wanted to wield that “despotic power” to commit fast food regicide.Todd Gilbertson has been operating fast food restaurants for 35 years. But one of his restaurants, a…

  • January 7, 2014    |   Private Property

    San Francisco is plagued with thousands of scofflaws. Their crime? Storing anything that isn’t a car in their garage. According to Chapter 6 of the San Francisco Housing Code, “Private and public storage garages in apartment houses and hotels shall be used only for storage of automobiles.” Failing to comply with the law can lead…

  • January 3, 2014    |   Private Property

    It sounds like a modern-day David versus Goliath story. Residents in Ellisville, Mo., a town of 9,000 people, went up against Wal-Mart, one of the largest corporations in the world. For years, city officials have been planning to lure Wal-Mart to Ellisville, about a half-hour away from St. Louis. Their most recent plan involved building…

  • January 2, 2014    |   Private Property

    A new bill in Michigan could curb a controversial police practice. Under civil forfeiture, someone does not have to be convicted of or even charged with a crime to permanently lose his cash, car or home to law enforcement. Sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Irwin, the bill, HB 5213, would require a criminal conviction to…

  • December 19, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The Institute for Justice recently published an article commending Michigan for reforming its occupational licensing laws to reduce restrictions on entrepreneurs. But Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) refuse to follow suit, choosing instead to burden Michiganders with unnecessary laws that cause nothing but harm. On October 10th, DARD…

  • December 18, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    For four years in a row, tech start-ups in Boston have held an office holiday party for firms “too small to have their own.” The Tech Co-Party also donates a portion of the proceeds to charity. For tickets up to $50, revelers could party and get goodie bags, meet an “awkward Santa” and enjoy an open bar.…

  • December 13, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Jersey City, N.J., will auction 20 new taxi medallions, which is expected to earn the city $1.5 million in revenue. They won’t come cheap. As The Jersey Journal notes, the minimum bids for these medallions will range from $50,000 to $100,000. Read More: Taxi Medallions in Chicago Will Cost At Least $360,000

  • December 6, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Two New Mexico retail liquor licenses have sold for $975,000 each, the highest ever in the state. Other businesses and investors have routinely paid between $300,000 and $600,000 for a liquor license in 2013. By comparison, in neighboring Colorado, the most expensive liquor license costs under $2,500. It’s even cheaper in Texas:  A two-year “package…

  • December 3, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    An 11-year-old girl was barred from selling mistletoe at a holiday market in Portland, Ore., for not having a permit. But she was told it was ok to beg. No, this is not a Portlandia sketch. Madison Root wanted to help her dad pay for her braces, which cost almost $5,000. So she cut, chopped…

  • November 26, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The Food and Drug Administration is trying to all but outright prohibit trans-fats and require chain restaurants, convenience stores and grocery stores to label their menus and freshly made food items with calorie counts. State governments across the country have banned certain foods (in several states Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are now verboten), and locally, New York City is still fighting to ban soft drinks over…

  • November 22, 2013    |   Private Property

    Property owners in Erie, Colo., could have been the latest victims of eminent domain for private gain. But last week, well over 100 residents packed a Board of Trustees meeting and forced the town to strip the power of eminent domain from its latest redevelopment plan. About a half-hour away from Denver, the town of…

  • November 19, 2013    |   Private Property

    They may not be as cute and cuddly as cats and dogs, but families nationwide are raising chickens in their own backyards.  But in some cities and counties in the Washington, D.C.-metro area, backyard chicken coops are so heavily regulated that they are virtually banned. Locals have voiced their desire to legalize chicken coops or…

  • November 8, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Minnesota is considering a new bill (HF 1052) that would mandate licenses for interior designers. Currently, only three states, Florida, Louisiana, and Nevada, license interior designers. In Florida, practicing without a license can lead to up to one year in jail, giving new meaning to the term “fashion police.” But Minnesota already has a voluntary certification process…

  • November 7, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    From teeth-whiteners in Alabama to hairbaiders in Texas, local and state governments plague entrepreneurs with occupational licensing laws, wasting their time and money to earn unnecessary credentials. Many licensing requirements are just plain absurd. In Michigan, for instance, it takes someone three years of education and experience to become a security guard, but only twenty-six days to qualify for…

  • November 4, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Dave Spoerl, a local food truck operator and Fox Valley resident, makes award-winning barbeque and gourmet pizzas from his Slow Foods truck. His brown sauce has won awards in Memphis, home to some of the nation’s best barbecue. But current city law in Geneva, Ill. does not allow street vendors–including food trucks, ice cream trucks and food…

  • October 29, 2013    |   Private Property

    After a four-year-long legal battle, Tower Investments has finally been awarded an additional $19.2 million in lost compensation for the land that was seized through eminent domain by the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency of Nashville, Tenn., to build the Music City Convention Center. The city originally compensated Tower Investments for the loss of its land…

  • October 25, 2013    |   Private Property

    With over half a million listings in more than 33,000 cities around the world, Airbnb is one of the most popular short-term rental sites. But in Grand Rapids, Mich., the city is regulating these short-term rentals as “bed and breakfasts.” Residents who want to legally rent out their rooms and homes on Airbnb face over $2,000 in fees.…

  • October 18, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Casinos are all about having a good time, which includes customer service. Free drinks are an essential part of the business model that keeps guests happy and in their seats. Giving anything away for free may seem like a loss, but the house makes it back in increased sales and gaming. But in several Midwestern…

  • October 11, 2013    |   Private Property

    Would a government really fine a family $500 a day for planting a garden in their front yard? That’s what Jason and Jennifer Helvenston wondered as they decided to fight for their veggies in a battle to keep their front yard garden – a symbol of sustainability and sound budgeting in this trying economy. As a young…

  • October 11, 2013    |   Private Property

    The District Attorney’s Office for Fulton County, Ga. (which covers most of Atlanta) is embroiled in yet another forfeiture scandal. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend, the office for Fulton County DA Paul Howard has spent thousands of dollars in federal forfeiture funds on all sorts of eyebrow-raising items. Howard’s office has repeatedly spent thousands…

  • October 4, 2013    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    Nigel Warren was fined $2,400 for renting out his apartment on Airbnb for three nights. But last week, the New York City Environmental Control Board reversed his fines, setting an important precedent for short term rentals in the Empire State. Originally, Nigel faced $30,000 in fines for “operating an illegal hotel.” As the Institute for Justice…

  • October 2, 2013    |   Private Property

    Imagine putting over $42,000 into a renovation project, only to have the government demolish the entire building without a single shred of warning. This is the reality for John and Kimberly Bernett, who are the victims of a mortifying government blunder that resulted in the razing of a property they had purchased through their family…

  • September 23, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Food trucks have been expanding choice and spicing up dining options in Bloomington, the fifth largest city in Minnesota and less than a half hour away from the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal has more: Some suburban companies, like HealthPartners in Bloomington, invited food trucks to vend during lunch before permitting issues ensued. The Nerdery…

  • September 20, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Chicago is auctioning 50 taxicab medallions through October 18, the first such auction in three years. But they won’t come cheap: The city will not accept bids less than $360,000. To put that in perspective, Barack Obama makes $400,000 a year as the leader of the free world. Bids for medallions have increased almost fivefold since just 2006,…

  • September 17, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    In Los Angeles’s downtown lock-up sit a drug dealer and a gang banger. And between them? A street vendor. Her crime? Selling snacks or merchandise on the sidewalk to passing pedestrians. Street vendors in Los Angeles can be hustled away, fined up to $1,000 for each violation and, in some cases, arrested for simply trying…

  • September 13, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Texas has become the latest state to expand cottage food freedom, allowing Texans to sell more baked goods and other foods made from their homes. Thanks to HB 970, which went into effect on September 1, “cottage food” now includes candy, cereal, dried fruits and vegetables, vinegar, pickles, mustard, roasted coffee, popcorn and fruit butters, to name just…

  • September 13, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    One of the greatest advantages to owning a food truck is the mobility. Not only can food trucks plan routes cutom-fitted for their clientele, but they also advertise their business by simply driving around densely populted areas.  But in New York’s Capitol District, food truck owners cannot harness this mobility due to the tangled web…

  • September 12, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Mobile vending entrepreneurs in Florida know how to think big.  Over Labor Day weekend, nearly 100 food trucks from across the Sunshine State drove into Tampa to participate in what promised to be the world’s biggest food truck rally—and they were successful, shattering the previous world record of 62 trucks set last spring in Miami.  IJ was there…

  • September 9, 2013    |   Private Property

    Under the legal doctrine of civil forfeiture, police can seize property tangentially linked to a crime, even if the property owner herself is innocent. As Isaiah Thompson reports in the Philadelphia City Paper, this is precisely what happened to Sandra Leino and her family: “Long before the forfeiture action against her house would be completed, and without…

  • September 9, 2013    |   Private Property

    The California legislature is moving closer to passing two bills that could revive the state’s recently-dissolved redevelopment agencies. These agencies were highly controversial for their routine use of eminent domain for private gain, redirecting millions of tax dollars for subsidizing questionable projects (including a “mermaid bar” in Sacramento), and even stonewalling private attempts at revitalizing troubled neighborhoods. As the…

  • August 22, 2013    |   Private Property

    In less than a week, two capital cities are preparing to use eminent domain to build professional sports stadiums.  Talk about foul play. The Sacramento city council voted 7-2 on August 13 to help the Sacramento Kings negotiate with the owner of a Macy’s.  As the Sacramento Bee points out, “The city’s involvement in the talks carries with…

  • August 20, 2013    |   Private Property

    A group of property owners, supported by over 150 members of their community, defeated a proposal last night that threatened their homes and businesses with eminent domain. Harrison Township, N.J., wanted to declare 23 properties in the community of Mullica Hill “in need of redevelopment.” Or as Karen Bigwood, one of the affected homeowners put…

  • August 8, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The New Orleans City Council unanimously approved liberalizing the city’s food truck regulations.  These modernizations represent the first major overhaul of New Orleans’ street vending laws since 1956. Before these reforms were passed, food trucks were banned from selling within 600 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant.  Now trucks can park in any area zoned for commercial,…

  • August 5, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    When nanny-state bureaucrats try to tell you what you can eat or how much, it takes fully engaged courts to keep them in line—like the appellate judges who struck down New York City’s soda ban this Tuesday.  Unfortunately, New York City is not alone in meddling with people’s dietary habits.  On the contrary, busybodies from…

  • August 2, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The fill-in-the-blank truck scene is exploding: food trucks, fashion trucks, flower trucks, yarn trucks, library trucks, and even meatsmithing (or butcher) trucks. You name it, and there is probably a truck out there waiting for you. This mobile phenomenon depicts the beauties of a market economy. Entrepreneurs see a demand not only for certain products, but…

  • July 31, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Nothing is free in life–not even fresh air with man’s best friend. Starting on July 1, anyone walking more than four dogs in San Francisco will have to buy a $240 license, and pay an additional $100 per year for renewal. That alone should give one “paws.”  But the new regulations don’t stop there. They also forbid walking…

  • July 24, 2013    |   Private Property

    Last week, the Institute for Justice held a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill to inform Congress about civil forfeiture, a legal proceeding where people can permanently lose their cash, cars, and homes, without ever being convicted of a crime.  It’s a nationwide problem affecting everyone from young Hispanic and African-American men in Philadelphia to motorists…

  • July 17, 2013    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    A new poll by the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center found that 84 percent of Americans believe “families should be free to occasionally rent out their own home.”  Airbnb, a popular rental listing site; TripAdvisor, and other industry leaders founded the Center earlier this year to reform renting laws.  Their poll also found that 75 percent of…

  • July 15, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    On August 19th the Atlanta City Council voted 12-2 to indefinitely table a modest temporary vending bill that would have let the city’s street vendors get back to work through at least the end of the year.  In response, the Atlanta Vendors Association protested the kickoff of Mayor Kasim Reed’s reelection campaign to ask why he…

  • July 8, 2013

    While other cities were celebrating Independence Day, Cranston, Rhode Island clamped down on economic liberty.  On the Fourth of July, Cranston’s new food truck regulations took effect, meaning this Providence suburb now has some of the worst vending restrictions in the country. Food trucks are banned from serving food “within one thousand feet of any…

  • June 23, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Here’s some good news Floridians can drink to. Signed by Gov. Rick Scott last week, a new reform partially updates the Sunshine State’s Prohibition-era distilling laws.  HB 347 creates a separate category for distillers who distill 75,000 or fewer gallons per year.  Most importantly, it allows these microdistilleries to sell on-site, directly to consumers. Before…

  • June 18, 2013    |   Private Property

    Two new bills could bring back California’s redevelopment agencies (RDAs), which were notorious for abusing eminent domain.  Over the past decade alone, the Institute for Justice catalogued more than 200 cases of eminent domain for private gain. Not only that, redevelopment in California wasted other people’s money by funding boondoggles. For example, a pizzeria, a…

  • June 18, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Baltimore County may soon pass on an opportunity for greater economic growth and freedom—and delicious, innovative meal options.  The Baltimore Sun reports that new regulations are being proposed that would increase the minimum distance a food truck must park from a brick-and-mortar restaurant from 100 feet to 300 feet.  Municipalities nationwide use laws like proximity…

  • June 16, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Portions of the current proposal could cripple entrepreneurship.  For starters, food trucks that park at an expired meter could face $2,000 fines for a first-time offense.  From there on, fines would escalate quickly, reaching $4,000 for the second infraction, $8,000 for the third, and $16,000 onwards.  In D.C., this would be a Class 1 infraction,…

  • June 12, 2013    |   Private Property

    In a big win for property rights, Ball State University has abandoned its efforts to seize Hiatt Printing, a family-owned print shop of 40 years in Muncie, Ind.  Hiatt Printing is now run by Chris Hiatt, who also heads a local taxpayers’ rights organization. The university had originally wanted to seize that property to build…

  • June 9, 2013    |   Private Property

    Sometimes you can beat City Hall. Michael Monaghan has wanted to develop his property on Main Street in Hackensack, New Jersey, just a few miles away from Manhattan.  Yet the city twice denied two applications for banks to build on his land. Instead, Hackensack’s Planning Board designated Michael’s and another owner’s land as an “area…

  • May 23, 2013    |   Economic Liberty Private Property

    Airbnb allows people to rent out their homes or apartments for short periods.  The site currently has 300,000 listings in over 190 countries, including 30,000 in New York.  But many Airbnb listings are illegal in the Empire State—and first-time offenders can face fines of anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Thanks to a 2011 state law, a residential…

  • May 15, 2013    |   Private Property

    The Land of Lincoln is doubling down on a bad bet.  Last week, the Illinois Senate voted in favor of a new casino bill, which would imbue casinos with the power of eminent domain.  If it passes, SB 1739 would amend the state’s Eminent Domain Act: “The following provisions of law may include express grants of…

  • May 6, 2013    |   Economic Liberty First Amendment

    In his most recent op-ed, columnist George Will calls for judicial engagement to protect constitutional rights from overweening government.  Will explains how the federal government is trampling the First Amendment rights of commercial airlines by prohibiting them from highlighting how much of an airfare goes to taxes, which can be as much as 20 percent of the total…

  • April 29, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    After over a year of debate, legislative re-writes, and amendments to amendments, the New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 in favor of new food truck regulations. On the whole, New Orleans’s new food truck laws are a step in the right direction, but there are still problematic sections. First, the good. Food trucks can now…

  • April 8, 2013    |   Private Property

    An Iraq War veteran is battling his latest foe: municipal building codes. Greg Schaffer flies Old Glory and a yellow Gadsden flag emblazoned with “Don’t Tread on Me” outside his home. But the town of Hypoluxo, Fla. is treading on Greg unless he gets a pricey permit by the end of the month. Technically, the flag is legal,…

  • April 4, 2013    |   Private Property

    Residents in Columbia, Mo., overwhelmingly voted this week to amend the city’s charter to restrict the use of eminent domain. Passing with almost 70 percent approval, Proposition 1 “prohibit[s] the City from using eminent domain to acquire property for economic development.”   The amendment also ensures that designating someone’s property as “blighted” will not trigger eminent domain. Like constitutional…

  • April 3, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    A bill introduced in the Oregon House of Representatives would exempt African hairbraiders from the arduous and costly requirement of attaining a cosmetology license to conduct business in the Beaver State. Oregon is one of seven states that require hairbraiders to obtain a cosmetology license before they can practice this traditional art form. These natural…

  • March 25, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Indiana is poised to become the latest state to reform its craft distilling laws. Inspired by the popularity of craft wineries and microbreweries, more small-scale distilleries are starting to open in the Hoosier State. Heartland Distillers, founded by Stuart Hobson in 2008, was one of the first distilleries to open in Indiana since Prohibition. Hobson…

  • March 22, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Life in Missouri soon could become less stressful. A new bill would make licenses voluntary for massage therapists and other occupations. Under state law, unlicensed massage therapy is a Class A misdemeanor, so masseuses and masseurs could face up to one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. To put that in perspective, massaging without…

  • March 19, 2013    |   Private Property

    A new bill would eliminate civil forfeiture in Tennessee. Unlike criminal forfeiture, under civil forfeiture police do not need to convict or even charge a property owner before seizing his property. Civil forfeiture turns “innocent until proven guilty” on its head by forcing owners to prove their innocence to recover the seized property. In good news for…

  • March 14, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    A ministry in Austin has created a new way for homeless people to earn a living, by combining food carts with compassion. Mobile Loaves and Fishes (MLF) has four Street Treats food carts, vending water, coffee, ice cream and other snacks. Here’s how their model works. Homeless people get to operate a cart for the…

  • March 13, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    In a huge win for liberty, New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled that New York City is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing” a ban on sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces. First proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by the city’s Board of Health in September 2012, the ban…

  • March 13, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    New food trucks continue to hit the streets of Knoxville, Tenn., despite the city’s current regulations that prohibit these entrepreneurs from parking on city streets—instead relegating them to operate in the lots of other private businesses. Edwin Wong, owner of Petro’s truck, hopes that the city will change its laws soon to allow him and…

  • March 11, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The Owl, a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Greenville, S.C., will hold a “peaceful protest” against the city’s newly proposed restrictions on food trucks. Greenville’s new ordinance would ban food trucks from at least 250 feet of any brick-and-mortar restaurant. If it passes, that would lead to a de facto ban on mobile cuisine in downtown Greenville’s…

  • March 8, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    A new bill under consideration in the Arizona State Senate would make unlicensed music therapy a crime. (Though it’s not as ridiculous as massage a horse, go to jail.) Since the 1940s, music therapy in the United States has benefited patients, improving their cognitive functions and emotional well-being. But if SB 1437 passes, anyone who…

  • March 7, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    A bill that could sunset over a dozen licenses was passed by the Indiana State Senate, 36-13. The bill now heads to the House for approval. Fortunately, SB 520 has the backing of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. If passed, the bill would create the Eliminate, Reduce, and Streamline Employee Regulation (ERASER) Committee, to, well, eliminate, reduce, and streamline employee…

  • March 4, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The Idaho State Liquor Division’s continued enforcement of an antiquated liquor licensing law has many local businesses feeling like Prohibition never ended. “It’s hard surviving in a small town,” lamented Dennis Dunann, owner of Alpine Wines Bistro in Driggs, Id. Unable to acquire a liquor license as a result of state-sanctioned license restrictions, he has…

  • March 1, 2013    |   Private Property

    Chicago bureaucrats and politicians are colluding on plans to seize private property through eminent domain for a high-rise hotel. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, commonly known as McPier, along with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, have announced their intent to build a hotel just west of Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center…

  • February 26, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Food trucks are kicking into overdrive across the country. In cities like Austin and Los Angeles, street food vendors are pleasing customers with a variety of creative dishes. Food trucks are also providing economic opportunities for thousands of small business owners. Unfortunately, it looks like the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) of Traverse City didn’t get…

  • February 21, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The Salt Lake County Council voted 6-1 to modernize and abolish a wide variety of occupational and business licenses. The county’s Planning and Development Division slashed around 150 pages from the business license ordinance, cutting dozens of license requirements and 45 different fees. On top of that, the new license fee schedule is revenue-neutral. For starters,…

  • February 20, 2013    |   Private Property

    A new bill under consideration in Hawaii’s state senate would expand asset forfeiture to include petty misdemeanors.  Under Hawaii state law, petty misdemeanors are usually punished by up to 30 days in jail and/or $1,000 in fines.  But if SB 1342 passes, petty misdemeanors would join murder and theft as offenses that are subject to…

  • February 19, 2013    |   Private Property

    City officials in Rohnert Park, Calif., voted last week to use eminent domain to seize private land for the purpose of widening a road to accommodate a new gaming mecca. Back in May, the California Legislature rubberstamped what will soon be the largest casino in the Bay Area. Construction began soon thereafter on a site located…

  • February 14, 2013    |   Private Property

    The North Carolina House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Bill 8, by a vote of 110-8, that aims to prevent local governments from using eminent domain for private gain. The bill, introduced by Representative Chuck McGrady, proposes amending the state constitution to explicitly prohibit eminent domain from being invoked except in cases of actual public use—things like roads,…

  • February 11, 2013    |   Private Property

    The City of Bellingham, Wash. is considering a proposal to license and inspect rental homes. If it passes, Bellingham would be in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In towns and cities with rental inspections, landlords need to be licensed. Yet licenses require on-site inspections and if a tenant or proprietor refuses, these cities can get…

  • February 8, 2013    |   Private Property

    A proposal to ban West Des Moines residents from planting fruits and vegetables in their front yards was killed on Thursday. The idea for the ban was germinated by resident Donald McNutt, who complained about his neighbors planting corn and “decorative” gardens in their front yards. Speaking to a West Des Moines subcommittee on code…

  • February 8, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing to form a seven-person team of lawyers to pursue and collect fines from mobile vendors. If enacted, this would cost the city $580,000. In 2006, Mayor Bloomberg quadrupled fines for street vendors. Now mobile entrepreneurs can face up to $1,000 in fines and/or three months in jail…

  • February 7, 2013    |   Private Property

    Introduced by Indiana State Representative Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis), HB 1313 would ban requiring licenses for landlords to rent out property. The bill would also prohibit inspecting and/or registering rental units. In addition, municipalities could no longer levy fees to pay for inspections. HB 1313 is currently in committee. However, a similar bill died just last year. According to…

  • February 5, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The popular Seoul Food truck is celebrating after its case was dismissed on Monday. Owners Anna Shil and JP Goree faced up to $2,500 in fines and one year in prison for allegedly violating Arlington, Va.’s street vending law. Under Arlington County’s code, it’s illegal for food trucks to vend in the same spot for…

  • February 5, 2013    |   Private Property

    For Suffolk County officials, apparently all it takes is a developer’s “vision” of flashy condos and gourmet kitchens to justify supplanting current property owners from their livelihoods. Tritec Real Estate executives have declared their intent to snatch up homes and businesses within a 50-acre swath of land selected for the Ronkonkoma Hub Project, a $350 million “transit-oriented…

  • February 5, 2013    |   Private Property

    San Bernardino County and two of its cities unanimously rejected a proposal that would have authorized eminent domain to seize troubled mortgages and write down debt for homeowners. Greg Devereaux, chief executive of the county, said the idea was scrapped for lack of public support and concerns about unintended consequences from mortgage analysts. This proposal…

  • January 29, 2013    |   School Choice

    South Carolina has introduced school choice legislation just in time for National School Choice Week. Expansion of school choice programs to those in less-fortunate socioeconomic circumstances is a movement that has been gaining momentum amongst South Carolina legislators for over a decade. A school choice bill finally passed the South Carolina General Assembly last year,…

  • January 28, 2013    |   Private Property

    Under the Constitution, before police can get a warrant to search someone’s home, they need probable cause of unlawful activity. But due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s abdication of its duty to enforce this command, cities like Red Wing, Minn., have passed rental inspection ordinances that allow government officials to barge in on someone’s home…

  • January 18, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    The Wall Street Journal profiles how food trucks are helping other businesses grow in San Francisco. Kwasi Boyd has seen his vehicle wrap company accelerate, thanks to tremendous growth in the number of food trucks. Food trucks now make up 40% of his business, so Kwasi has hired five more people to keep up with the demand.…

  • January 16, 2013    |   School Choice

    In a new poll by Public Opinion Strategies, 61% of voters in Wisconsin favor “Expanding Wisconsin’s school choice program to allow every Wisconsin child to attend the public or private, including religious schools, of their choice.” Commissioned by the Education Action Group, the poll also found that 58% of voters oppose eliminating school choice and vouchers in…

  • January 16, 2013    |   School Choice

    In an exciting development for parents and children across the Lone Star State, school choice has emerged as a major education initiative among Texas lawmakers. With Texas Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick (R-Houston) announcing plans to introduce legislation that would make several major changes to the education system in Texas, parents are hopeful at…

  • January 15, 2013    |   Private Property

    A Greek-American immigrant could soon lose seven properties to the City of Brotherly Love. Meletios Anthanasiadis, known as Mel in the neighborhood, first emigrated from Greece to the U.S. in the 1970s. When he arrived, he learned English and worked two jobs selling hot dogs and delivering pizzas. He now runs El Greco Pizza and…

  • January 14, 2013    |   School Choice

    A new law crafted to increase school choice for all New Hampshire students took effect January 1. Just one week later, groups opposing the law, including the ACLU and the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit to challenge its constitutionality on religious grounds. The New Hampshire law provides an incentive in the form…

  • January 9, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    Mobile vendors won a partial victory on Tuesday, after the Hialeah City Council altered many vending regulations. More than 35 people rallied at City Hall to support these entrepreneurs. First, the good news. After the Institute for Justice sued the city in 2011, the council voted to eliminate a 300 foot proximity ban. This ban…

  • January 8, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    UPDATE: On January 8, the Sunrise City Commission decided to delay considering any new changes to its food truck laws until its next meeting. More than 50 food truck owners have banded together to create the South Florida Food Truck Alliance to defend street food vendors from anti-competitive laws and overregulation. The grassroots group is…

  • January 2, 2013    |   Economic Liberty

    A federal appeals court recently upheld a swath of new taxi ordinances passed by New Orleans. In New Orleans, anyone who wants to drive for-hire can only do so with a certificate of public necessity and convenience (CPNC), Crescent City’s name for a taxi medallion. A taxi cab owner who drives without a permission slip could…

  • December 19, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    Tomorrow the Tampa International Airport will begin allowing food trucks to serve patrons in the cell phone waiting area. This innovative plan will last for 30 days, as the airport strives to entice people to the waiting area, rather than clogging up the curbside of the airport. More details can be found here. This is…

  • December 14, 2012    |   Private Property

    An entertainment complex that houses a pizzeria, a nightclub and Dive Bar, “where costumed men and women swim in the giant fish tank above the bar,” is on the market. Sacramento’s redevelopment agency spent $5.4 million to renovate and refurbish the part of the complex that houses Pizza Rock, Dive Bar and the nightclub District 30. Private enterprise chipped…

  • December 12, 2012    |   Private Property

    Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini criticized that state’s civil asset forfeiture law as “amount[ing] to little more than state-sanctioned theft.” In this decision issued last month, Judge Pellegrini remanded a forfeiture case for reconsideration by a trial court. Hopefully, it will be the opening salvo to get Pennsylvania lawmakers to reform the Keystone State’s terrible civil…

  • December 7, 2012    |   Private Property

    The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is currently considering a “redevelopment” plan that would label downtown Memphis a “blighted, slum area that constitutes a growing menace to Shelby County.” At over 200 pages,* the plan outlines a project to revitalize the proposed Heritage Trail Community Redevelopment Area. Covering 1,484 acres, 200 property parcels, including quite a few vacant…

  • November 30, 2012    |   Private Property

    The Philadelphia City Paper has an incredible cover story about civil asset forfeiture abuse in Philadelphia. According to their investigative reporting, Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office seizes over $6 million in asset forfeiture annually. Of these proceeds, the vast majority comes from seizing cash and currency. In fact, there have been almost 8,300 currency forfeiture cases…

  • November 28, 2012    |   Private Property

    After years of living under the threat of eminent domain, homeowners in Richmond Heights could finally celebrate a Thanksgiving in peace. A suburb of St. Louis, Mo., Richmond Heights had tried to use eminent domain, not once, not twice, but three different times over the past decade to force homeowners in Hadley Township to sell their homes…

  • November 20, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    Supervisor Scott Wiener has proposed a new food truck ordinance that would both tighten and moderately ease vending restrictions in the City by the Bay. Wiener’s new ordinance would make it illegal for any street food vendor to sell within 50 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant—a restriction designed solely to protect restaurants from good old-fashioned…

  • November 20, 2012    |   Private Property

    The city council for Columbia, Mo., voted unanimously on Monday to put on the ballot a charter amendment that prohibits eminent domain abuse. Come April 2013, citizens will have the opportunity to bolster their private property rights by voting to approve the amendment. As noted previously, Missouri has very broad definitions of blight and abysmal property rights…

  • November 20, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    Birmingham, Ala.’s street food scene is still young, but it’s already cooked up some creative meals. Fresh Off the Bun vends Vietnamese Tacos, while Spoonfed Grill serves quesadillas, goat cheese and cranberry lime turkey burgers. Then there’s Shindigs Catering which offers very upscale lunch fare like “seared quail with grits,” sweet potato buns and burgers with “humanely raised” beef. Too bad…

  • November 19, 2012    |   Private Property

    Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe has proposed a new charter amendment to restrict eminent domain abuse in Columbia, Mo., The amendment would prevent authorizing eminent domain for private gain and for “economic development,” as well “for programs related to economic development such as jobs programs, poverty alleviation, or area, community or neighborhood revitalization.” This charter amendment is…

  • November 2, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    Today, a dozen food carts will offer over 11,000 hot lunches for free, in conjunction with jetBlue. As the Gothamist notes, this street food truck charity is “acting as an alternative to the National Guard’s distribution of food that began yesterday…And although any food is welcome at this point, we’re guessing these meals will taste a…

  • October 24, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    Councilman Bill Peduto has proposed a new ordinance that would greatly reform food truck laws in Pittsburgh, making it one of the most food-truck friendly cities in the country. Right now, Pittsburgh’s food truck regulations are some of the worst nationwide. Vendors can’t park in metered spaces and have to pack up and move every…

  • October 18, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    The Las Vegas City Council approved a new ordinance that restricts street food. Food trucks are now forbidden from selling within 150 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant. That effectively makes most of downtown—and many customers—off-limits to food trucks. Violate any part of this ordinance and entrepreneurs can face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or…

  • October 11, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    In Houston, food trucks that use propane (the industry standard) can’t sell downtown, thereby losing many potential customers. But at a recent city council meeting, Houston Council Member Andrew Burks, Jr. denounced food trucks with propane tanks as a “bomb threat.” Seriously. Burks explains that an attack on these propane tanks would be “catastrophic:” “Because,…

  • October 5, 2012    |   Private Property

    From 2008 to 2012, the Sheriff’s Office in Milwaukee County, Wis., received $826,000 from the Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. As the comptroller audit notes, the Department of Justice gives “considerable discretion” to the heads of local law enforcement agencies when spending asset forfeiture funds. And from the looks of it, Sheriff David Clarke…

  • October 1, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    For the past two years, Peter Cimino has been selling gourmet tacos in business parks in Amherst, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo. In his bright lime green truck, creative entrées like chimichurri chicken and tomatillo pork sizzle. His Lloyd Taco Truck was personally invited by the owner of the Amherst Commerce Park to enliven the…

  • September 14, 2012    |   Economic Liberty

    Massage a horse, go to jail. That’s the absurd fate Karen Hough could face if she wants to continue her business in Nebraska. A certified instructor, Karen has been massaging horses for years. Massaging a horse is believed to deliver many health benefits, including relieving tension, improving circulation, and alleviating muscle fatigue. Earlier this year,…

  • August 25, 2012    |   Private Property

    A Virginia sheriff accused of misappropriating more than $20,000 in asset forfeiture funds was convicted on two felony counts of bribery on Wednesday. In a blow for police accountability, former Middlesex Sheriff Guy Abbott was found guilty for bribing two police officers with $420 from the Sheriff’s Office asset forfeiture fund. Initially, Abbott was charged…

  • August 22, 2012

    A Philadelphia woman who runs a free lunch program is facing a difficult choice: end the program or pay a $600 fine.  Angela Prattis is able to feed around 60 kids a day, by running a program supplied by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and funded by the state department of education.  But now her program…

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