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Week in Review: Wildfires Are Raging. We Can Prevent Them.

October 9, 2020

Wildfires are once again sweeping through America’s West, and some politicians, pundits, and activists are putting the blame on climate change. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, for one, has placed the blame for his state’s situation squarely on climate change, claiming that “This is a climate damn emergency. This is real and it’s happening.”

But as a new report out this week from the Goldwater Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy finds, there is more to the story—and understanding what’s behind these wildfires is essential to get this problem under control.

Whether you believe climate change plays no role, a minor role, or a major role in fueling fires in the American West, there’s simply no escaping the fact that proper forest management would help to reduce both the number and intensity of these wildfires. That’s the subject of the new report Extinguishing the Wildfire Threat: Lessons from Arizona by Mackinac Center Director of Environmental Policy Jason Hayes.

Over the past few decades, well-meaning but ultimately mistaken policies have sought to “protect” forests and public lands by restricting all but the simplest human uses, like limited outdoor recreation. But shutting off our forests and public lands encourages them to become dangerously overgrown and prone to fires—and now, the West Coast is paying the price. Click here to read about what can make a difference in the effort to stop wildfires before they start.

Millions of Tax Dollars to Subsidize Private Business?

Should millions of your tax dollars be paid to McDonald’s if all it did was promise to sell hamburgers, or should millions more be paid to subsidize Starbucks just to sell coffee? That’s essentially what’s happening in the City of Peoria, Arizona, where millions of taxpayer dollars are being handed over to two private businesses. Next week, the Goldwater Institute will be fighting this unconstitutional practice in the Arizona Supreme Court.

In 2016, officials with the City of Peoria, Arizona, decided to give away nearly $2.6 million in taxpayer money to two private businesses: Huntington University and its landlord Arrowhead Properties LLC, in hopes that these private companies’ operations would improve the local economy. That giveaway of public money for private purposes isn’t just wrong, it’s also unconstitutional—because the state Constitution forbids the government from giving money to a private company. The Goldwater Institute is the state’s leading enforcer of this “Gift Clause,” and we’ve gone to the Arizona Supreme Court this week to ask the Justices to enforce this provision and protect the rights of taxpayers.

Read more about the case in a new article by Goldwater Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur.

Minnesota’s Confiscation of Insulin is Unconstitutional—and Wrong

This past summer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed legislation that forces drugmakers to turn over their insulin for free upon demand to people making below 400 percent of the federal poverty line. Although Gov. Walz justified the seizure of these companies’ property on the grounds that pharmaceutical companies are “hated,” the taking of anybody’s property is theft—and the Constitution forbids states from confiscating private property without paying the owner just compensation.

That’s what the Goldwater Institute argues in a friend of the court brief we filed last week in a federal court where pharmaceutical companies have sued to challenge the legality of the insulin seizure law. 

This unconstitutional taking of property spells certain harm for patients, as well. Depriving pharmaceutical companies of the profits they’ve earned will only deter investment and innovation in treatments that could benefit patients, and it will force people who need other kinds of medicine to pay more for their drugs in order to make up the difference. The Minnesota law is designed only to apply to certain “deep pockets” drug companies—but those companies make a wide variety of medicines for everything from cancer to depression, and forcing them to give away insulin for free means compelling people who need cancer and depression medicines to pay more—even if those people are poorer than the people who get the insulin.

Read more about the issue and the Goldwater Institute’s brief in a new article by Goldwater Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur.

Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches appeared on the WakeUp! Tucson radio show this week discussing next week’s Goldwater Annual Dinner, the disastrous consequences of Arizona Proposition 208, and other important issues. You can listen to his interview here.

JOIN US! Goldwater Virtual Annual Dinner on Friday, October 16

The 2020 Goldwater Institute Virtual Annual Dinner is less than one week away! Please join us on Friday, October 16 as we welcome guests Dennis Prager and U.S. Representative Andy Biggs for a special night of celebrating freedom. Get your tickets now!




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