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Week in Review: Money Grab Backlash

December 21, 2019

Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport may soon be the first major airport without a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft serving it, all because of an unconstitutional money grab by the Phoenix City Council. But the city is already facing a backlash for its blatantly illegal actions.

On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council voted 7-2 in favor of a 200% fee increase on ride-sharing services to and from Sky Harbor Airport. Uber and Lyft had each notified the city that if it went through with the plan, they would cease operations at the airport beginning January 2020. That would end up hurting passengers, many of them low-income.

Phoenix may soon be held to account for its illegal actions. The City Council’s vote came after it received notice from the Goldwater Institute that such a fee increase would be in direct violation of Arizona’s Constitution. Specifically, their actions fly in the face of Proposition 126, a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters last November that prohibits any city from enacting any new fee or increasing any existing fee on services performed in Arizona.

The Goldwater Institute has been out front on this issue, explaining how the fee increase hurts drivers and customers and violates the Arizona Constitution. Goldwater Director of National Litigation Jon Riches testified against the plan at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “Make no mistake: If you pass this proposal, you will not only be putting in place one of the worst, most punishing, policies the city has considered. You will be behaving illegally,” reads his prepared statement. “You will have to explain to your constituents—most of them low- and middle-income—why you want to harm them for getting a ride to the airport. And why you did so in blatant disregard of the Constitution.”

On Thursday, state Representative Nancy Barto filed a complaint against the city with the Arizona Attorney General, who will now launch an investigation into the constitutionality of the fee increase.

Following the City Council’s vote, the future of Uber and Lyft at Sky Harbor is definitely up in the air—and that’s terrible news for the tens of thousands of passengers who make use of them to get to and from the airport. Stay tuned.

Click here to watch Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches’ testimony to the Phoenix City Council.

Sen. Warren Was Right: Educational Freedom Helps All Students

[T]he term ‘voucher’ has become a dirty word in many educational circles…. The fear is that partial-subsidy vouchers provide a boost so that better-off parents can opt out of a failing public school system, while the other children are left behind… [But] a taxpayer-funded voucher that paid the entire cost of educating a child (not just a partial subsidy) would open a range of opportunities to all children.”

Were these the words of a pro-school choice group, or maybe an ardent right-winger? Hardly. They came from an unlikely source—none other than now-Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The recently unearthed 2004 policy prescriptions of the Democratic presidential candidate reveal that Sen. Warren had envisioned an education system in which “parents would take control over schools’ tax dollars.” Goldwater Institute Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg writes in RealClearPolicy that the educational freedom Sen. Warren once supported would be a boon to all students.

You can read Beienburg’s full op-ed here.

Right to Try is the Most Fundamental Right of All

Goldwater Institute Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur recently joined the Cato Institute’s The Pursuit podcast to talk about the most fundamental right of all—the right to try to save your own life.

“Despite the importance of the issue, medical autonomy—the right to make one’s own medical decisions—has been increasingly undermined by the federal government,” Sandefur writes on In Defense of Liberty. “The cruel reality is that in the United States, thousands of people every year suffer and die while treatments like these make their way through the slow, bureaucratic federal system—which can take 15 years before potentially lifesaving treatments get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).” Right to Try helps patients gain access to investigational treatments without having to ask the FDA for permission.

You can listen to the full podcast here.



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