In the latest example of an American city overstepping its authority and trampling on individual rights, the City of Phoenix is attempting an illegal money grab from citizens who use ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to travel to the city’s airport. But the Goldwater Institute is taking a stand to stop it.

In a letter to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego this week, the Institute called on the city to withdraw its proposed 200% rate increase on the grounds that it violates a provision of the Arizona Constitution that prohibits cities from creating or raising fees on services in this state. If the city moves forward with its plan, it will immediately increase the cost of a ride share by adding a new $5 fee to get dropped off at the airport, and it will substantially substantially raise fees to get picked up at the airport, as well.

The Goldwater Institute is not alone in opposing the city’s actions. Also this week, State Representative Nancy Barto announced that if the city council moves forward with its support for the plan, she will file a complaint with the Arizona attorney general.

“Arizona has a thriving economy. If we want to keep it that way, we must be vigilant in ensuring that government stays in its limits and creates a friendly environment for businesses to operate,” Barto said. “Raising fees on popular ride-sharing services at our airport will have the opposite effect, discouraging these services from continuing to operate in Phoenix and robbing Arizonans of work opportunities as drivers and convenient, affordable services as passengers.”

Unfortunately, this is not the only example of city politicians wielding power at the detriment of citizens. Sante Fe, Denver, and Tempe, Ariz., have passed ordinances that drastically infringe on citizens’ First Amendment rights by mandating the disclosure of their identities if they contribute to nonprofit organizations that speak out on political issues. Meanwhile, Miami Beach, Chicago, Seattle, and Pacific Grove, Calif., are among the many cities that have passed ordinances restricting property owners’ right to share their homes. In all of these cases, the cities are violating individuals’ constitutional rights. And in all of these cases, the Goldwater Institute is fighting on behalf of citizens who are in the crosshairs of out-of-control governmental power.

Read more about the City of Phoenix’s ride-sharing money grab here.

Austin Anti-Home-Sharing Regulations Struck Down

Speaking of fighting cities that trample on individual rights, our friends at the Texas Public Policy Foundation scored a major win for property rights as a Texas appellate court struck down the city of Austin’s onerous anti-home-sharing ordinance. 

Last year, the Goldwater Institute filed a brief in support of Austin home-sharers, who faced regulations subjecting them to warrantless searches, prohibiting them from offering their home as a short-term rental if the home isn’t their primary residence, and limiting the number and activity of their short-term guests.

City officials claimed these regulations were necessary because home-sharing causes nuisances and disrupts neighborhoods. But the court refused to accept the city’s excuses – after all, the data doesn’t support the city’s claims that home-sharing causes major disruptions or that short-term rentals cause any more disruptions than other residential uses in Austin.

Read more about the court’s decision on our In Defense of Liberty blog.

In Michigan, failed policy hurts mental health patients

Insanity, as the saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. But that seems to be the approach some in Michigan want to take to deal with the state’s severe shortage of inpatient mental health beds.

There is no doubt the situation is dire. Michigan ranks near the bottom nationally when it comes to availability of inpatient psychiatric hospital beds. In the 1990s, the state began reducing the number of inpatient beds at its mental hospitals. The idea back then was that as the number of beds at the state-run mental hospital decreased, the private sector would pick up the slack and begin adding beds on its own. 

But that hasn’t happened: Instead, the total number of inpatient mental health beds in the state has been cut by more than half since the draw-down began. Part of the problem is a state law the American Medical Association deems a “failed public policy” that is actually written to restrict access to care.

Read more about this failed policy, the consequences, and what can be done about it here.

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