5 Things To Know Today

Michigan Labor Vows Revenge For Snyder’s Right-To-Work Law

Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state on Tuesday night, when Gov. Rick Snyder signed the law after a day of angry protests from the state’s labor unions. Home to more than 700,000 union members, Michigan is the second state this year to adopt the legislation, which prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment. reports the measure was pushed quickly through the Michigan state Senate late last week, giving residents, liberal advocacy groups, and union members little time to mobilize in protest. The legislation, seen as the latest attempt to bust powerful unions, is likely to go into effect in March. Snyder, a Republican, has come under heavy criticism for his sudden about-face on right to work, which he previously said he would not adopt in the state. State Republicans—under pressure from Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, and Americans for Prosperity—persuaded Snyder to change that stance, setting in motion the rapid passage of the legislation along party lines in a lame-duck session of the state Senate last Thursday.

Supreme Court To Hear ‘Pay For Delay’ Generic Prescription Drug Cases

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases on “pay for delay” – the dispute over whether brand name drug companies should be able to pay generic drug companies for agreeing to delay putting cheaper competition on the market. U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) introduced egislation in 2011 that would stop these abusive deals from keeping generics off the market longer than they should. In preliminary analysis, CBO projected that enacting their legislation would bring generics to market faster and is expected to save American consumers and the federal government billions of dollars. Vitter will reintroduce the legislation next Congress. Their legislation, called the Fair and Immediate Release of Generic Drugs Act, fixes an unintended problem in the Hatch-Waxman Act – a law that provides the framework to incentivize generic manufacturers to bring generic medications to market. A provision in that law gives the first generic company to file a challenge to a patent the exclusive right to sell a generic version of the medication for 180 days before other generic manufacturers could enter the market. The FTC says that ‘pay for delay’ arrangements cost consumers $3.5 billion a year.

N.Y. Attorney General Takes Aim At Tour Bus Monopoly

A joint venture between two bus companies that operate most of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tours around the city is a monopoly and should be broken up, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in announcing an antitrust lawsuit, The Wall Street Journal reports. Schneiderman and the U.S. Department of Justice filed the antitrust lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. The suit is against Twin America, which was created in 2009 when the two bus companies combined. The companies are Gray Line New York, operated by Coach USA, Inc., and City Sights. The suit says the two bus companies were the largest players in the hop-on, hop-off bus market and in combining, have a 99 percent share of the market. It says the companies used the creation of the joint venture to raise prices, a move that couldn’t be made when they were competitors because any fare increase by one company would be undercut by the other. The filing said an estimated two million visitors a year use the hop-on, hop-off buses to tour the city’s sights, a market worth about $100 million.

Facebook Unveils New Privacy Controls

Facebook Inc began rolling out a variety of new privacy controls on Wednesday, the company’s latest effort to address user concerns about who can see their personal information on the world’s largest social network, Reuters reports. New tools introduced on Wednesday will make it easier for Facebook’s members to quickly determine who can view the photos, comments and other information about them that appears on different parts of the website, and to request that any objectionable photos they’re featured in be removed. A new privacy “shortcut” in the top-right hand corner of the website provides quick access to key controls such as allowing users to manage who can contact them and to block specific people. The new controls are the latest changes to Facebook’s privacy settings, which have been criticized in the past for being too confusing. Facebook Director of Product Sam Lessin said the changes were designed to increase users’ comfort level on the social network, which has roughly one billion users.

Supreme Court Taps Harvard Professor To Argue In Gay Marriage Case

The U.S. Supreme Court appointed a Harvard Law School professor on Tuesday to argue whether the court can rule on the validity of a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, Reuters reports. The high court named law professor Vicki Jackson to address issues that affect the court’s ability to rule on the case, not the validity of the law under the U.S. Constitution. The nine justices have an interest in hearing the argument on this issue, although it is a position neither side in the case will defend. The justices on Friday stepped into the national debate over same-sex marriage for the first time by agreeing to review two key same-sex marriage cases. One is a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which denies federal recognition and benefits to same-sex couples married under state law. The other is a challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, which voters narrowly approved in 2008. The court said it wanted to review several technical issues before reaching the merits of each case. In the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the court said it would consider whether it could even decide the case, given that President Barack Obama’s administration has said that the law is unconstitutional. A group appointed by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has backed the law.


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