Week In Review

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The Arizona Senate voted to repeal abortion restrictions from 1864, the U.S. Department of Labor makes changes to overtime pay eligibility, and more…

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  • The Arizona Senate voted to repeal an 1864 near-total abortion ban, following a similar measure by the Arizona House of Representatives last week. The ban took on increased importance following an April 2024 Arizona Supreme Court ruling that it should be enforced over the state’s more recently enacted 15-week ban. The repeal of the near-total ban will allow Arizona’s 15-week ban to go into effect.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule that makes more employees eligible for overtime pay. Under the prior rule, employees earning more than $35,568 annually could be denied overtime pay. This rule increases the threshold salary to $43,888 starting July 1, and subsequently to $58,656 starting January 1, 2025. Jessica Looman, the administrator for the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, explained that this rule “provides more economic security to the millions of people working long hours without overtime pay.”
  • Several states and gun rights groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to block the enforcement of a new rule that requires people who sell firearms online and at gun shows to conduct background checks on their potential buyers. The rule aimed to close the “gun show loophole” by subjecting purchases made at gun shows and over the internet to the same requirements as gun stores. The lawsuit argues that the ATF overstepped its statutory authority and violated the Second Amendment. The lawsuit was filed in Amarillo, Texas, where the only active judge is Matthew Kacsmaryk. Last year, Judge Kacsmaryk invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, an abortion pill, in a case that is now before the Supreme Court.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon to dismiss Juliana v. United States, a lawsuit brought by a group of children arguing that the federal government’s support of the fossil fuels industry violated their constitutional rights. In 2020, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring their claim and ordered the dismissal. The District Court, instead, allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint and continue the lawsuit. The Ninth Circuit rejected the District Court’s reasons for allowing the lawsuit to continue.
  • The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs issued a final rule that expands benefit options for veterans with “other-than-honorable” discharges. The rule eliminates the bar on benefits for “homosexual acts involving aggravating circumstances or other factors affecting the performance of duty.” The rule also creates a “compelling circumstances exception,” which allows the VA to consider different aspects of the former service member, including the length of their service, mental impairment, and combat-related hardships, when providing benefits. Given these changes, former service members previously found ineligible for VA benefits can reapply.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy published a final rule outlining energy performance standards for new federal buildings and those undergoing major renovations. The rule sets limits on how much fossil fuel energy the buildings can consume. Federal agencies, however, can request modifications to the new standards under certain circumstances, such as when compliance is not feasible or would significantly impede building operations.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of the term “antisemitism” when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws concerning education. Representative Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who introduced the legislation, argued that “without a clear definition of antisemitism, the Department of Education and college administrators are having trouble discerning whether conduct is antisemitic or not.” Representative Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), however, warned that this definition could impact constitutionally protected speech.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation released an unpublished final rule requiring all passenger vehicles and light trucks to include automatic emergency braking (AEB) by 2029. Although about 90 percent of new vehicles have AEB, there are no performance requirements that manufacturers must meet. The rule sets standards for AEB in vehicles, mandating that cars be able to stop and avoid contact with a vehicle in front of them up to 62 miles per hour and requiring the systems to be able to detect pedestrians in both daylight and darkness. The Transportation Department estimates that the rule will save at least 362 lives and mitigate 24,321 non-fatal injuries a year.


  • In a recent Brookings Institution report, Wendell Primus, a Visiting Fellow for the Center on Health Policy at The Brookings Institution, and Paris Rich Bingham, a research assistant for the Center on Health Policy at The Brookings Institution, explained that Medicare premiums burden low-income recipients and current efforts to reduce this burden are not effective. The Medicare Savings Programs and Low Income Subsidy were designed to help pay the premiums for eligible beneficiaries, but these programs have not been able to assist low-income adults due to low participation rates and limited eligibility, argued Primus and Bingham. To address this issue, they proposed creating a new federal program that would base premiums on income levels, with no premiums required until income exceeds 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. Even though this approach would reduce premiums for low-income beneficiaries, it might result in increased costs for some middle and upper-income beneficiaries, according to Primus and Bingham.
  • In a recent Brookings Institution report, Mark MacCarthy, a Nonresident Senior Fellow for the  Center for Technology Innovation at The Brookings Institution, discussed changes caused by the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA)—an act attempting to promote digital markets such as app stores. According to MacCarthy, the DMA required certain large tech companies, such as Apple and Google, to comply with pro-competition rules, including providing “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” access to the app store. MacCarthy described how the DMA is already fostering change, as Apple announced new compliance measures including allowing apps to be downloaded outside of Apple’s App Store. MacCarthy, however, is skeptical that these changes will generate meaningful change and competition. For instance, Apple’s compliance measures have been criticized for not going far enough, as some developers claim they “make a mockery of the DMA.”
  • In a report published in the Urban Institute and Housing Policy Debate, Yonah Freemark, Principal Research Associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, argued for housing growth as a solution to the housing crisis in the United States. Freemark argued that recent studies claiming that there is not a serious housing crisis take an overly broad view of the data. In short, Freemark contended that previous scholars have made the mistaken assumption that housing units within a broad geographical region are substitutes for each other, when in reality, market conditions and desirability can vary among adjacent cities and even adjacent neighborhoods. Using county-level federal government data, Freemark demonstrated that increased housing units are associated with less steep increases in housing costs and concluded that policymakers should prioritize increasing the housing supply.


  • In an essay in The Regulatory Review, Samuel Speroni, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, a professor at Wayne State University, explored the connection between school transportation and educational opportunities. Speroni and Lenhoff explained that current laws on school-provided transportation fail to address the uneven transportation needs of students, making it harder for these students to access the social and economic benefits of education or use new school choice policies. Speroni and Lenhoff stated that remedying this issue would likely require new state regulations expanding transportation eligibility and providing more flexible funding reflecting students’ needs.