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Saturday
Apr292017

POLITICS/BUSINESS: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, federal regulation, tribal lending?: "Federal regulator ratchets up effort to regulate tribal lenders, suing four in California" ....

***Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, federal regulation, tribal lending?

* Los Angeles Times:  "Federal regulator ratchets up effort to regulate tribal lenders, suing four in California" - From the LAT:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched another salvo Thursday in its battle against the tribal lending industry, which has claimed it’s not subject to regulation by the agency. The federal regulator sued four online lenders affiliated with a Native American tribe in Northern California, alleging they violated federal consumer protection laws by making and collecting on loans with annual interest rates starting at 440% in at least 17 states.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the bureau alleged that Golden Valley Lending, Silver Cloud Financial and two other lenders owned by the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake tribe violated usury laws in the states and thereby engaged in unfair, deceptive and abusive practices under federal law.

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Since at least 2012, Golden Valley and Silver Cloud offered online loans of between $300 and $1,200 with annual interest rates ranging from 440% to 950%. The two other firms, Mountain Summit Financial and Majestic Lake Financial, began offering similar loans more recently, the bureau said in its release.

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The case is the latest in a handful of moves by the CFPB and state regulators to rein in the tribal lending industry, which has grown in recent years as many states have tightened regulations on payday loans and similar types of small consumer loans ................

Saturday
Apr292017

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT (State, Local/San Diego): Governor Jerry Brown, California Public Utilities Commission, shutdown, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station?: "Utility regulators again decline to release emails with governor"; also, "Customers May Never Know How They Got Stuck With $3.3 Billion Bil For San Onofre Shutdown" ....

***Governor Jerry Brown, California Public Utilities Commission, shutdown, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station?

* San Diego Union-Tribune:  "Utility regulators again decline to release emails with governor"

* KPBS:  "Customers May Never Know How They Got Stuck With $3.3 Billion Bill For San Onofre Shutdown"

Saturday
Apr292017

POLITICS/LEGAL: United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., commitment to consensus? regained power of five votes?: Commentary (Op-Ed: Linda Greenhouse), "The Roberts Court, 2017 Edition" .... 

***United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., commitment to consensus? regained power of five votes?

* New York Times (Op-Ed: Linda Greenhouse):  "The Roberts Court, 2017 Edition" - From the NYT:

A Supreme Court quiz: Who offered this paean to judicial restraint: “If it is not necessary to decide more to a case, then in my view it is necessary not to decide more to a case”?

Congratulations if you guessed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. If you find the authorship surprising, perhaps you have been paying attention to what the man actually does, not just what he says. There’s considerable daylight between the two, and it may be growing.

The chief justice made that statement in May 2006 in a speech at Georgetown University’s law school commencement. Consensus was preferable to division on the court, he told the law graduates, adding that a reliable route to achieving consensus in controversial cases was deciding them on the “narrowest possible grounds.”

That was nearly 11 years ago, only eight months into his tenure. It was before Citizens United erased limits on corporate spending in politics, before Shelby County v. Holder eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, before Chief Justice Roberts swung for the fences in the Parents Involved case to bar formerly segregated school districts from trying to preserve integration through the use of racially conscious student assignment plans. (Only Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s separate concurring opinion in that 5-to-4 decision retained some leeway for school districts looking for strategies to prevent resegregation.)

And now we have Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a case argued last week that presents the question whether a state that provides grants to schools for upgrading their playground surfaces can constitutionally disqualify a church-run nursery school from eligibility because of its religious character. That question is either trivial or profound, depending on the level at which one enters the debate; at the highest and most problematic level, the question is whether religion is entitled to a seat at the public-benefit table as a matter of federal constitutional law, despite the many state constitutions that prohibit taxpayer money from going directly to churches.

“It’s a fraught issue. It’s a hard issue,” Justice Elena Kagan observed during the argument, and that’s certainly true. What’s also true is that because of an unexpected development on the eve of the argument, the question as presented in this particular case is moot. In another words, the controversy no longer exists, because the state now agrees with Trinity Lutheran’s position. And that’s what makes the court’s next move — to dismiss? to plow ahead anyway? to rule broadly? narrowly? — so fascinating. The choice the justices make in the coming weeks will tell us something important about the newly reconstituted Roberts court, specifically whether its commitment lies with consensus or with the regained power of five votes.

Some necessary background: ..................

Saturday
Apr292017

POLITICS (National): Donald Trump presidency, tax reform, elimination, federal deduction for state and local taxes?: "State and Local Tax Deduction: An Item Blurring Party Lines" ....

***Donald Trump presidency, tax reform, elimination, federal deduction for state and local taxes?

* New York Times:  "State and Local Tax Deduction:  An Item Blurring Party Lines" - From the NYT:

To some, it is a tax on blue-state liberalism. To others, President Trump’s plan to end the federal deduction for state and local taxes would eliminate a costly perk for the wealthy. But to many taxpayers, the deduction is a cherished break that can save them thousands of dollars in double taxation.

Mr. Trump and House Republicans, riding a wave of conservative and populist sentiment, are pushing to end the provision. Yet they must overcome a long tradition and powerful opponents, including Republican and Democratic officials in wealthy, populous states like California, New Jersey, New York and Texas. “I don’t think they’re going to seriously restrict it at all,” said William G. Gale, a co-director of the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a former economic adviser to President George Bush.

Congressional Republicans have indicated that they will go it alone on tax legislation, but taking on such an entrenched interest usually requires bipartisan support. “If Republicans do it by themselves, they put a big target on their backs,” Mr. Gale said. Members of Congress generally take a “political Hippocratic oath” to “never be seen to do obvious harm,” he said, but eliminating the deduction, which would increase taxes and undermine the ability of cities and states to raise revenue, would violate that precept.

A raft of organizations that represent state and local governments — including the National Governors Association, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Conference of State Legislatures — denounced the measure, saying ...................

Saturday
Apr292017

POLITICS/ENVIRONMENT (National, State): President Donald Trump, offshore oil drilling?: "Trump order could open California waters to oil drilling"; "Trump's directive on offshore drilling will face solid resistance in California"; "California just took a step to block Trump's efforts on offshore oil drilling" ....

***President Donald Trump, offshore oil drilling, California....

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Trump order could open California waters to oil drilling"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Trump's directive on offshore drilling will face solid resistance in California"

* Sacramento Bee:  "California just took a step to block Trump's efforts on offshore oil drilling"