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Reason Alert: Improving Highways Without Tax Increases

Plus cameras in the Supreme Court, immigration and police officers shooting dogs

August 5, 2010

Improving Highways Without a Tax Increase
Where can we find the money to modernize and improve our major highways? The federal government would have an additional $10 billion a year to spend on crucial highways if it stopped diverting federal gas tax money to projects with no national benefits, according to a new Reason Foundation study by Robert Poole and Adrian Moore. The federal gas tax was supposed to be used to build and maintain the Interstate Highway System. Today auto and truck drivers pay federal gas taxes that are diverted to ferryboats, trails and mass transit programs. Since these other programs aren't national, are unable to generate significant user revenues and require large subsidies, the Reason Foundation report says they should be funded by state and local governments. The 18.4 cents a gallon federal fuel tax should be refocused strictly on rebuilding and modernizing vitally important Interstates.
Robert Poole's Surface Transportation Newsletter

Cameras In the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has blocked every attempt to videotape the oral arguments phase of its proceedings. But both Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan have spoken in favor of cameras in the court. Can a new batch of justices, more attune to the benefits of transparency, finally change things for the better? asks, "Just what are Supreme Court justices hiding beneath their robes that they continue to say no to cameras in their courtroom?"

The Burdens of Arizona's Immigration Law
Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum examines Arizona's immigration law and writes: "Because of the mandate to identify unauthorized residents, minor offenses that police otherwise might overlook-crossing in the middle of the street, driving with a broken tail light or slightly above the speed limit-become excuses for stops. Brief stops become long stops. Warnings become citations. Citations become arrests. People who would have been cited and released for a misdemeanor such as marijuana possession, underage drinking, or disorderly conduct are instead locked up until their immigration status can be verified...Even legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens-who are under no obligation to  carry Arizona-approved identification but could be detained if they don't-would be subject to 'distinct, unusual and extraordinary burdens' because of the way they look and sound. How would that look and sound to people who thought Americans believed in equality before the law?"

Off-Duty Federal Cop Shoots and Kills Dog at Public Dog Park, No Charges Filed
Reason magazine's Radley Balko writes, "I've been to many a dog park. I've seen lots of dogs scuffle at those parks. It happens. Most owners pull the dogs apart and, if they can't get along, one or both dogs leave the park. The possibility of someone pulling out a gun and shooting a dog has never really even crossed my mind. But maybe that's because I'm not a cop. The Baltimore Sun reports, 'Stunned dog owners and residents of a Severn neighborhood are shocked that authorities won't be charging a federal police officer who shot and killed a Siberian husky Monday night at a community dog park.' ...The article points out that huskies have a rough style of play, so it's likely that this cop, like plenty of others, mistook non-aggressive behavior for an attack. (Huskies are also an especially gentle, non-aggressive breed.) The fact that the cop had his dog on-leash at an off-leash park is more evidence that he doesn't know much about how dogs behave. That's never a good idea (most parks don't allow it). It invites an altercation. But that's all really beside the point. I'm certain that if I (or anyone else who isn't a cop) pulled out a gun and shot a dog at a dog park in a residential area, I'd be facing criminal charges. And rightly so. Even if the dogs were fighting, there's no justification for shooting one of them, particularly around other dogs and people. It's reckless, trigger-happy, and dangerous.  It's also safe to say that if this had been anyone other than a cop, the local police department would have no qualms about releasing his name to the press."
Balko: Dogs Increasingly In a Deadly Crossfire
Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse

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