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Missouri electric vehicle debate: Should businesses have to pay for charging stations?

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Missouri electric vehicle debate: Should businesses have to pay for charging stations?

ST. LOUIS (KTVI)–A Missouri lawmaker wants to put the brakes on a local government’s ability to require businesses to install charging stations for electric vehicle charging stations, as municipal efforts ramp up in anticipation of greater demand.

The city of St. Louis and St. Louis county have already passed ordinances which require businesses, especially with new construction, to include electric vehicle charging stations. Brentwood just passed one last month.

Republican State Rep. Jim Murphy, of St. Louis County has introduced HB 1584, which would require “political subdivisions that require the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at certain businesses to pay the costs associated with the installation, maintenance, and operation of such stations.”

Critics of the move to require the private sector to cover the costs say that the free market should drive the push for charging stations and that even if it is the wave of the future, the demand isn’t here yet. The Missouri Independent reports that Murphy believes “forcing small businesses to install chargers was an unfair and unfunded mandate.”

In a January 12 public hearing in front of the House Transportation Committee, the Sierra Club was among those who spoke in opposition to the proposal. The result of the bill would be to restrict
planning for transportation electrification which would harm our health and economy. Transportation
plays a significant role in Missouri’s economy,” Michael Berg, the Political Director for the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club said in submitted testimony. “It is the single largest energy use sector in the state and
is a large capital drain on the economic system because Missouri produces no gasoline. In 2019,
statewide expenditures on conventional transportation fuels exceeded $11 billion, the vast majority of
which flowed out of the state. Fueling EVs with electricity generated in-state can reverse this trend.”

The bill was supported in the hearing by the Construction Employers Coalition and the Missouri Petroleum and Convenience Association. The proposal will be back before the committee on January 26.

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

Inflation is likely to be the most powerful issue working for Republicans in this year’s congressional elections. Public concern over it has been rising fast. Republicans can plausibly blame the administration of President Joe Biden for making the problem worse by spending too much money on a pandemic stimulus program he pushed through Congress last year, and for not taking it seriously as it emerged.

But there isn’t much that Congress can do to affect the course of inflation in the short term. The Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy. Congress can (in principle!) pass legislation to make the economy more productive, but any changes would generally take awhile to have an effect.

That’s only a small political inconvenience for Republicans. Voters are more likely to want to register their anger over inflation than pore over any candidate’s plans to address it. (Elections are a blunt instrument for public control of the government.)

There are also ways that Republicans can contribute to bringing inflation down. If they did, they could both perform a useful service for the country and increase their political advantage on the issue, at least a little.

The first is simply to support monetary tightening. A large portion of recent inflation has been caused by excessive spending throughout the US economy. During the expansion prior to the arrival of Covid-19 two years ago, spending had grown by a bit less than 4% a year. Over the past year it has risen more than 10%.

Even after the Federal Reserve’s mid-March hike in interest rates, spending has been rising fast enough to keep the gap growing between actual spending levels and the pre-Covid trend. By that measure, the Fed has not yet, in effect, tightened at all.

It should be encouraged to tighten money both by raising interest rates further and, maybe more important, by announcing that its goal is to bring spending levels back to the trajectory they were on before the burst of inflation.

Central bankers are sure to face pressure to ease off, especially if tightening leads to higher unemployment. Republicans should exert countervailing pressure, pointing out that getting inflation under control is the only way to achieve sustainable high employment. The Fed has made the eventual tightening more painful by delaying it, and should not delay further. Republicans could also explore legislation to make the stabilization of spending a statutory goal of the Federal Reserve, giving that goal more credibility.

And while no one should oversell how much or how fast policy changes can address inflation by expanding supply, some such changes are worth pursuing. Former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum never made much sense as either a national-security or job-protecting measure, and his tariffs on China have largely failed to achieve their objectives. Abandoning them would, as the Peterson Institute for International Economics puts it, “provide a temporary downward shock to prices.” (It’s worth noting, however, that lifting the tariffs on China would require mounting an argument to win over skeptics.)

Congress could also remove barriers to energy production — something Republicans are already calling for — and to the automation of ports. Senator Mike Lee, the Utah Republican, has a bill that applies deregulation to transportation-sector logjams, and another one to increase housing supply. These measures would probably make the economy a bit more productive even if inflation subsides. They would also provide a way for Congress to show that it is working to bring prices down.

Finally, Republicans should block proposals that would make inflation worse. Many economists think widespread student-debt relief would have this effect, and that the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” spending legislation would as well.

Congress could also consider delaying the spending of some of the money it is devoting to infrastructure projects so that more of it happens after labor shortages and supply disruptions ease. That would produce more infrastructure improvement per dollar spent.

This is hardly an exhaustive list. The point is that when Republicans face the question, “What are you going to do about inflation?” they can offer many partial answers. Democrats would be wise to go along with some of these ideas, too, and even to propose them first. But some of them, such as the ones that involve taking on unions, are a more natural fit for Republicans.

All of these political considerations are meaningful, however, only on the margins. No matter what politicians in either party do, the cost of living is going to be front of mind for voters this fall. They’re going to take out their frustrations on the party in power.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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WCHA Final Faceoff returning for Ridder in 2023, 2024

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WCHA Final Faceoff returning for Ridder in 2023, 2024

Minnesota will play host to the next two WCHA Final Faceoff championship tournaments, the school announced Wednesday. The 2023 event is scheduled for March 3-4, 2023, at Ridder Arena.

The Gophers won the regular-season WCHA championship last season before being edged by eventual national champion Ohio State in the conference tournament final at Ridder.

The 2025 NCAA Frozen Four is scheduled to be played at Ridder Arena, as well.

GOALIES TO USA CAMP

Gophers junior Makayla Pahl and freshman Skylar Vetter have been selected to attend the 2022 USA Hockey National Goaltending Camp in Plymouth, Mich. They will join 27 other men’s and women’s goaltenders for the May 19-22 camp at USA Hockey Arena.

Pahl recently completed her best season at the U, posting a 9-1-0 record with a 1.70 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 15 games. Lakeville’s Vetter appeared in 11 games in her first collegiate season, going 6-2-0 record with a 1.57 GAA and a .926 save percentage.

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New York State Accuses Amazon of Discrimination, Just the Latest Conflict Between the Company and New Yorkers

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best amazon prime day deals 2021

best amazon prime day deals 2021

New York State is accusing Amazon of violating discrimination laws, alleging the corporation denies appropriate accommodations for pregnant and disabled workers.

The complaint, filed by the state’s Division of Human Rights and announced in a statement by Gov. Kathy Hochul, accuses Amazon of forcing its warehouse workers to take unpaid medical leave instead of adjusting their duties, as required by state law. Amazon has 39,000 employees working in 23 New York facilities, according to the state.

The state maintains that Amazon employs “accommodation consultants,” who make recommendations on how to modify duties for disabled employees, but the company empowers its managers to override those recommendations. In one case, the state claims, a pregnant worker was forced to continue lifting heavy boxes despite having asked for an accommodation. The request was denied and the worker was injured. A further request for accommodation for the injury was also denied, forcing the worker to take unpaid leave. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon’s reputation as an unsafe workplace

Amazon has struggled with a reputation for being an unsafe employer, and according to one union-sponsored study of government data, its warehouse employees suffer injuries at twice the rate of workers at non-Amazon facilities. The injuries are based in part on the company’s productivity quotas, which can demand employees skip breaks or lunch hours, and have prompted California to pass a law restricting them. Amazon says the high number of injuries were in part the result of a rapid increase in employment during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that it spent $300 million on worker safety in 2021.

Workplace safety was one of the rallying points for the Amazon Labor Union, the independent union that organized an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, and the state’s lawsuit is just the latest friction point between Amazon and New Yorkers.

Along with the unionization effort, which succeeded after similar attempts failed in other states, New York City notably rejected Amazon’s bid to build a second headquarters in Queens, New York. Queens and northern Virginia were selected after a highly publicized and lengthy search process, and while many cities were eager to shower Amazon with tax breaks for the privilege of hosting its offices, New Yorkers balked at $3 billion in incentives and the potential for increased traffic, rent increases and gentrification. (Despite noisily severing its deal with the city, Amazon has since stealthily leased huge amounts of office space while hiring thousands.)

Hochul, the former Lt. Governor who stepped in after the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, is running for election as a Democrat this fall. An upstate moderate, she is looking to make inroads with progressives in New York City. Given the city’s contentious relationship with Amazon, it seems likely that taking aim at the tech giant will only help her standing among the city’s liberals.

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