31 January 2022

When Is Military AI O.K.?

Setting up active defense systems that respond to incoming ordinance and missiles and snipers faster than a human being could for the military isn't very troubling.

Letting Artificial Intelligence systems select targets outside these exigent kinds of situation, as some tech companies are proposing, is potentially more troublesome, at least unless there is reliable and responsible human involvement in the loop. But, on the other hand, having AI second guess and flag for review potentially problematic targets selected by humans, could be a good idea.

The Regions That Can Grow Particular Crops Is Shifting

One of the most trivial and obvious, but nonetheless important, implications of global warming is that the places where agricultural crops grow will shift. A new study breaks down the details of that with respect to four representative warm climate crops.

A new analysis predicts that, as climate change progresses, the most suitable regions for growing coffee arabica, cashews, and avocados will decline in some of the main countries that produce these crops.

Replacement growing locations may emerge, but that isn't guaranteed, because the appropriate growing conditions for a crop include not just mean temperature, but also rainfall patterns, soils, and other parts of the ecosystem that are symbiotic with the crops in cryptic ways.

For example, even at the same mean temperatures, crops that grow well in a Mediterranean weather pattern may not grow well in a South Asian monsoonal weather pattern.

Why Was Religious Indoctrination So Successful?

Once up a time, not so long ago, in the early to mid-20th century, organized religion (mostly Christianity and Judaism in the U.S.) were extraordinarily successful at getting almost everyone to describe themselves as an adherent of it, to claim belief in God, and to hold onto those childhood beliefs into adulthood and old age.

Pretty much everyone in my parents generation and older was a believer. A huge swath of people in my generation are not, and the nation is become less religious almost every year.

Europe underwent a similar transformation about a generation earlier.

What was organized religion doing back then that made it so successful and why did this collapse in a just a generation or two?

The question often gets asked from the other perspective. Why are people these days so non-religious. But, from our perspective, the real question is not that, but why it used to be so successful. It is something that people in my generation, which is when the transition really took off ought to be uniquely qualified to answer.

I won't answer the question in this post, but wanted to ask it while I am thinking about it.

27 January 2022

The Case For A UN Earth Defense Force

Protecting Earth from extraterrestrial impacts is a "Space Force" mission that makes sense, and one that clearly justifies the use of nuclear weapons. But, it really ought to be a global effort, since it protects everyone on Earth. 

The preprint below discusses the threat from a quite practical perspective. It highlights the fact that early detection of a threat, preparation to respond to it as quickly as possible if one is detected, and decisive action to commit us to responding to the threat as early as possible are critical to the continued survival of the human species if a threat like this manifests itself. 

All of this is because, for the first time in the history of life on Earth, we are advanced enough technologically to overcome this threat is we act swiftly. Previously, it would have been futile to try to take action to prevent a devastating impact, even if we knew well in advance that a dangerous impactor was on a collision course with Earth.  

The title of the paper is a reference to the recently released film, "Don't Look Up" by a Denver based team, that while fictional, appeals to the documentary crowd and is heavy on social commentary. The introduction reminds readers why they should care:

Asteroid and comet impacts pose a continual threat to life on Earth. For example, on February 15, 2013, a 20 m diameter asteroid airburst over Chelyabinsk, Russia with a total energy of about 0.5 Mt, or roughly that of a modern ICBM thermonuclear warhead. About 50% of its energy went into the atmospheric blast wave that injured approximately 1,600 people. The same day, a 50 m diameter asteroid (2012 DA14) passed within the geosynchronous satellite belt. Had it impacted, it would have had a yield of about 10 Mt. Such an impact over a major city could have killed and injured millions. Asteroids the size of 2012 DA14 (∼ 50 m diameter) are expected to strike Earth approximately every 650 years, while objects at least the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid (∼ 20 m diameter) are expected to strike Earth approximately every 50–100 years. Another recent example is the Tunguska 1908 event that could have caused large scale loss of life, but did not due to the remote area in Russia it airburst over. This event is estimated to have been a roughly 65 m diameter asteroid (or possibly an atmospheric grazing comet) and resulted in an air blast with total energy yield of between 3 and 30 Mt. The resulting blast wave flattened more than 2000 km^2 of forest, as seen from the 1927 Soviet Academy of Sciences expedition. Larger objects pose an even more severe threat. For example, the total kinetic energy associated with an impact of a 100 m asteroid is equivalent to approximately 100 Mt, and that of the well-known ∼ 350 m threat, Apophis, would have an impact yield of approximately 3–4 Gt, or about 1/2 of the Earth’s total nuclear arsenal, while Bennu at 490 m could have a yield greater than the entire Earth’s nuclear arsenal. This is summarized in Figure 1, wherein we show the bolide kinetic energy as a function of its diameter. For reference, Apophis will next visit Earth on Friday April 13, 2029 and come within the geosynchronous belt.

The paper and its abstract are as follows: 

We discuss a hypothetical existential threat from a 10 km diameter comet discovered 6 months prior to impact. 
We show that an extension of our work on bolide fragmentation using an array of penetrators, but modified with small nuclear explosive devices (NED) in the penetrators, combined with soon-to-be-realized heavy lift launch assets with positive C3 such as NASA SLS or SpaceX Starship (with in-orbit refueling) is sufficient to mitigate this existential threat. 
A threat of this magnitude hitting the Earth at a closing speed of 40 km/s would have an impact energy of roughly 300 Teratons TNT, or about 40 thousand times larger than the current combined nuclear arsenal of the entire world. This is similar in energy to the KT extinction event that killed the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago. Such an event, if not mitigated, would be an existential threat to humanity. 
We show that mitigation is conceivable using existing technology, even with the short time scale of 6 months warning, but that the efficient coupling of the NED energy is critical.
Philip Lubin, Alexander N. Cohen, "Don't Forget To Look Up, arXiv:2201.10663 (January 25, 2022).

Epstein-Barr Virus and Type 2 Diabetes Are Risk Factors For Long COVID

Another reason to develop an Epstein-Barr virus vaccine, in addition to the fact that it causes M.S. and mono.

One of the four factors researchers identified is the level of coronavirus RNA in the blood early in the infection, an indicator of viral load. Another is the presence of certain autoantibodies — antibodies that mistakenly attack tissues in the body as they do in conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. A third factor is the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus, a virus that infects most people, often when they are young, and then usually becomes dormant. The final factor is having Type 2 diabetes, although the researchers and other experts said that in studies involving larger numbers of patients, it might turn out that diabetes is only one of several medical conditions that increase the risk of long Covid.
From the New York Times.

25 January 2022

Military Quick Hits

* The next major conventional war between near peers with a significant maritime component will give rise to a catastrophic defeat of surface warships to one or more of a variety of threats including missiles delivered by aircraft and drone aircraft, medium to long range hypersonic missiles, ballistic missiles, tactical nuclear weapons, submarines and drone submarines, coastal missile boats, and sea mines. 

The soonest this could happen would be a catastrophic defeat of the Russian Black Sea fleet in an imminent conflict between Russian-proxy fighters and the Ukraine, although that conflict might never end up going in that direction. 

A conflict in the Taiwan Strait or the East China Sea would be the second most likely place this paradigm changing battle or series of battles could play out, where sword rattling has crescendoed in recent weeks (see also here).

For example, on Sunday (two days ago), the People’s Liberation Army Air Force flew 39 fighter aircraft into Taiwan’s airspace.

* The Army's Mobile Protected Firepower program which is basically a light tank program aiming for a 25-35 ton sized tank (less than half the weight of an M1 Abrams main battle tank) will probable feature "a lightweight 120mm gun called the XM360 – built for the now-cancelled Future Combat Systems Mounted Combat System" and made possible with advanced technologies. 

As impressive a technological achievement as this may be, however, it is akin to the invention of a carbon fiber or composite longbow: it is military irrelevant. 


Any 120mm gun will still be heavier, less accurate, and have a shorter range than highly effective anti-tank missiles that are much less expensive than a state of the art modern light tank. Admittedly, 120mm shells are less expensive per round than a guided missile that delivered a comparable punch, but in real life, few shots are fired in anger, especially in the case of highly accurate guided missiles.

These 120mm tank rounds may also be vulnerable in conflicts with near peers to active defense laser weapons the cause incoming rounds to explode prematurely, or other active defense systems such as a land based version of the U.S. Navy's "Close In Weapons System" that fire a barrage of big bullets at incoming ordinance. 

These laser weapons have been successfully tested against mortar rounds and drones, but could also be effective against artillery rounds, missiles, and tank shells. Tank shells may have some edge because they are probably faster moving than the other laser weapon targets, and aren't vulnerable to "soft" active defense that defeat guidance and communications systems in drones and missiles.

Tanks and other armored vehicles can be formidable opponents against civilians and light infantry will only small arms like assault rifles and machine guns (although many are still vulnerable to infantry approaching out of an armored vehicle's line of sight to deliver heavy ordinance at short range to "Achilles heel" points on many of these armored vehicles). But they are highly vulnerable to moderately expensive but highly effective anti-tank rockets and missiles that can be delivered by dismounted infantry, carried by light ground vehicles (manned or unmanned), or delivered by helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, or drone aircraft. They are also reasonable vulnerable to modern landmines such as Improved Explosive Devices (IEDs), despite efforts to improve the designs to address this threat. Armor is effective against bullets, shrapnel, and smaller shells, but it no match for purpose built anti-tank weapons.

Global Abortion Laws In One Map


Juvenile Life Without Parole

The use of life in prison without possibility of parole sentences for juvenile offenders has declined dramatically as a result of to key U.S. Supreme Court decisions and some legislative reforms that they triggered. But it also remains far more common in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world and some states are particularly at fault on this score including 210 cases in the three states singled out below.

Six years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana, making Miller v. Alabama’s requirement that judges consider the mitigating attributes of youth retroactive . . .

At the time Miller and Montgomery were decided, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Louisiana each had more children sentenced to life without parole than any other state in the country

While 76% of the pre-Miller JLWOP population in Louisiana was Black, Black children received 93% of JLWOP sentences since 2012. Today, the sentence is reserved almost exclusively for Black boys. . . . Despite six years passing since the Supreme Court ordered resentencings in Montgomery, almost 100 people still serving unconstitutional JLWOP sentences in Michigan have not yet had their day in court. This is especially concerning in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which tragically claimed the life of William Garrison a few months shy of freedom.. . . . JLWOP population at time of Miller: 297 Completed resentencings: 251 Currently Serving JLWOP: 63 Released: 99

Once second to Pennsylvania in JLWOP cases, Michigan now has the most children serving life without parole in the country. Racial disparities for this population in Michigan are starker than they are nationally—71% of those eligible for resentencing in Michigan after Miller were Black (compared to 61% nationally), and 74% of those still awaiting resentencing are Black. . . . JLWOP population at time of Miller: 356 Completed resentencings: 273 Currently Serving JLWOP: 97 Released: 154

At the time Miller was decided, Pennsylvania mandated JLWOP for first and second degree murder and had the highest number of children sentenced to life without parole in the country. Subsequent reforms have abolished JLWOP for second degree murder, a significant step forward. Since Montgomery, approximately 90% of these cases have been resentenced with only 1% resentenced to JLWOP. This progress was bolstered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which acted to ensure resentencing hearings had constitutionally sufficient procedure. The Pennsylvania Parole Board has also recognized the importance of meaningful consideration of these cases, granting parole in approximately 70% of the former JLWOP cases. . . . JLWOP population at time of Miller: 526 Completed resentencings: 463 Currently Serving JLWOP: 50 Released: 268

At the time of the decision, 2,800 individuals in the U.S. were serving life without parole for crimes committed as children. In the six years since, 835 individuals formerly serving this sentence have been released from prison. 
Today, 25 states and the District of Columbia ban life-without-parole sentences for children, and in six additional states, no one is serving life without parole for a crime committed as a child. . . . 
The uneven implementation of Miller disproportionately impacts Black individuals, who represent 61% of the total JLWOP population.... 
Within that population [serving JLWOP when Montgomery was decided], 29% have been released, over 50% have had their sentences reduced from JLWOP, about 17% have not yet been afforded relief, and approximately 3% have been resentenced to JLWOP.

From this report

21 January 2022

Old School Coding Was Tight

It is amazing how much used to be done with so little processing power.

The AGC was designed with the sole purpose of providing navigational guidance and spacecraft control during the Apollo program throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. The AGC sported 72kb of ROM, 4kb of RAM, and a whopping 14,245 FLOPS, roughly 30 million times fewer than the computer this report is being written on. These limitations are what make the AGC so interesting, as its programmers had to ration each individual word of memory due to the bulk of memory technology of the time. Despite these limitations (or perhaps due to them), the AGC was highly optimized, and arguably the most advanced computer of its time, as its computational power was only matched in the late 1970s by computers like the Apple II. It is safe to say that the AGC had no intended market, and was explicitly designed to enhance control of the Apollo Command Module and Apollo Lunar Module. The AGC was not entirely internal to NASA, however, and was designed in MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory, and manufactured by Raytheon, a weapons and defense contractor.
Charles Averill "A Brief Analysis of the Apollo Guidance Computer" arXiv:2201.08230 (January 6, 2022).

20 January 2022

Some Facts About Immigration To the U.S.

As of 2018, 13.7% of people in the U.S. are foreign born (this grew to 14.1% as of 2019, which would be a modern peak of 14.1%), of whom 6% are under the age of eighteen. 

The percentage of people in the U.S. who are foreign born has probably declined since this 2019 peak due to COVID driven legal immigration restrictions, and due to economic factors reducing undocumented immigration and causing foreign born persons residing in the U.S., whether or not documented, to return to their home countries.

Near the 20th century low point in 1970, 4.7% of people in the U.S. were foreign born. The percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign born population is now three times that low point half a century later. This low point was reached after declining from a peak of 14.7% in 1910. The percentage then increased steadily from 1970 to 2019.

As of 2018, 50.7% of foreign born persons in the U.S. were citizens. This percentage has been slowly but steadily increasing in recent years and is probably somewhat higher in 2022 than it was in 2018.

As of 2017, there were 10,500,000 undocumented foreign born people in the United States (3.2% of the U.S. population). This is down 13.9% from 2007, and it has probably declined further, as of 2022, despite a recent surge in refugees and undocumented immigration from Central America and Venezuela due mostly to gang activity in Central America and economic collapse in Venezuela.

There are about 26.0 million adults in the U.S. who cannot vote because they are not U.S. citizens (about 16.2 million legal immigrants and about 9.8 million undocumented immigrants).

Overall, 39% of foreign born people in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, 38% are documented immigrants, and 23% are undocumented immigrants. Of undocumented immigrants, 6% of in the DACA program (about 1.4% of all foreign born people in the U.S.).

These percentages differ considerably from state to state, however. For the 15 states with the largest absolute number of undocumented immigrants, the percentages  of foreign born people in the state who are undocumented is as follows:

State - % Pop. FB - % Pop. Undoc. - % FB Undoc. (% 10 yr. Change in Undoc.)

NC 8.4% * 3.1% * 36.8% (0.0%)
TX 17.1% * 5.9% * 34.5% (+3.2%)
NV 19.8% * 6.8% * 34.3% (-12.5%)
GA 10.3% * 3.5% * 34.0% (-11.8%)
AZ 13.4% * 3.8% * 28.4% (-45.0%)
MD 15.4% * 4.0% * 26.0% (+13.6%)
VA 12.7% * 3.2% * 25.2% (+10.0%)
IL 13.9% * 3.3% * 23.7% (-22.7%)
MA 17.3% * 3.9% * 22.5% (+25%)
WA 14.9% * 3.2% * 21.5% (0.0%)
PA 7.0% * 1.5% * 21.4% (+26.7%)
NJ 23.4% * 4.8% * 20.5% (-18.2%)
CA 26.7% - 5.1% - 19.1% (-28.6%)
FL 21.1% - 3.8% - 18.0% (-21.4%)
NY 22.4% - 3.2% - 14.3% (-35.0%)

These 15 states have a total population of 206,300,000 as of 2020.

The total of number of people in the District of Columbia and the 35 remaining states is 125,100,000 as of 2020. The number of foreign born people in the District of Columbia and the 35 remaining states is 7,992,000 which is 6.4%. The total number of undocumented foreign born people in the U.S. outside of these 15 states is 2,125,000 which is 1.7%. Thus, 26.6% of foreign born people in the District of Columbia and the 35 remaining states are undocumented.

Another way to look at immigration is to look at it by country of origin.

Country - Number of Foreign Born People - % Undoc (% 10 yr. Change in Undoc.)

Mexico 10,932 * 45.3% (-26.8%)
China and Taiwan 2,854 * 13.1% (+15.4%)
India 2,688 * 19.5% (+61.5%)
Philippines 2,045 * 7.8% (-15.8%)
El Salvador 1,412 * 53.1% (+25.0%)
Vietnam 1,384 * NA
Cuba 1,360 * NA
Dominican Republic 1,169 (+20.5%)
Guatemala 1,111 * 54.0% (+50.0%)
Korea 1,039 * NA

The number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from Honduras and Venezuela were increasing as of 2017. The number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from Columbia, Ecuador, Haiti and Peru were decreasing as of 2017. 

By region, foreign born people in the U.S. have the following origins:

Latin America 52% (5.2% children)
Asia 30% (5.7% children)
Europe 10% (4.8% children)
Other 8% (13.4% children)

Black Immigrants In The U.S.

The share of African, Afro-Caribbean, and black Latin American legal immigration to the U.S. is modest, many of those immigrants are naturalized citizens, and those immigrants overwhelmingly have passports. About 6-7% of undocumented immigrants in the United States are black (see here and here) and those undocumented immigrants are overwhelming recent immigrants. As the Pew Research Center explains in a 2015 report:
A record 3.8 million black immigrants live in the United States today, more than four times the number in 1980, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Black immigrants now account for 8.7% of the nation’s black population, nearly triple their share in 1980.

Rapid growth in the black immigrant population is expected to continue. The Census Bureau projects that by 2060, 16.5% of U.S. blacks will be immigrants. In certain metropolitan areas, foreign-born blacks make up a significant share of the overall black population. For example, among the metropolitan areas with the largest black populations, roughly a third of blacks (34%) living in the Miami metro area are immigrants. In the New York metro area, that share is 28%. And in the Washington, D.C., area, it is 15%.

Black immigrants are from many parts of the world, but half are from the Caribbean alone. Jamaica is the largest source country with about 682,000 black immigrants born there, accounting for 18% of the national total. Haiti follows with 586,000 black immigrants, making up 15% of the U.S. black immigrant population.

However, much of the recent growth in the size of the black immigrant population has been fueled by African immigration. Between 2000 and 2013, the number of black African immigrants living in the U.S. rose 137%, from 574,000 to 1.4 million. Africans now make up 36% of the total foreign-born black population, up from 24% in 2000 and just 7% in 1980.

Among black immigrants from Africa, virtually all are from sub-Saharan African countries, with only 1% of all black immigrants from North Africa. Nigeria, with 226,000 immigrants, and Ethiopia, with 191,000, are the two largest birth countries for black African immigrants to the U.S.

Black immigrants have roots in other parts of the world as well. Some 5% of all black immigrants are from South America and 4% are from Central America; those from Europe make up 2% of the population and those from South and East Asia make up 1%.

Many black immigrants are from Spanish-speaking countries. Among these, the Dominican Republic is the largest country of birth, accounting for 161,000 black immigrants. Mexico is also a source of black immigration with roughly 70,000 black immigrants. Some 41,000 are from Cuba, and 32,000 are Panamanian. Moreover, 11% of the foreign-born black population identifies as Hispanic. . . .

The modern wave of black immigration to the U.S. began when U.S. immigration policy changed in the 1960s, becoming more open to a wider variety of migrants. Just like other immigrants, foreign-born blacks benefited from the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that emphasized family reunification and skilled immigrant labor. In addition, the Refugee Act of 1980 loosened immigration restrictions by allowing more immigrants from conflict areas such as Ethiopia and Somalia to seek asylum in the U.S. Finally, the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990 sought to increase the number of immigrants from underrepresented nations, and although the act was initially intended to increase the flow of European immigrants, Africans have benefited from the program, as well.

This act, also known as the diversity visa program, has been an important way for African immigrants to gain entry into the U.S. About one-in-five sub-Saharan African immigrants (19%) who gained legal permanent residence between 2000 and 2013 entered through this program.

During the same period, about three-in-ten (28%) sub-Saharan African immigrants arrived in the U.S. as refugees or asylees. That share was only 5% for Caribbean immigrants and 13% for the overall immigrant population. Caribbean immigrants are much more likely to enter the U.S. through family-sponsored

Caribbean and sub-Saharan African immigrants are less likely to have been granted admittance via employment-based visa programs than immigrants overall.
Languages Spoken At Home

For the U.S. as a whole, 78% of the U.S. population speaks only English at home, 14% speak a language other than English at home but speak English "very well", and 8% speak a language other than English at home and do not speak English "very well."

The most common language spoken at home other than English is Spanish. This is spoken at home by 13.5% of people in the U.S. out of the 22% of people in the U.S. who speak a language other than English at home (about 61% of non-native English speakers), and 5.2% of people in the U.S. who do not speak English "very well" speak Spanish at home out of 8% of people in the US. who do not speak English "vey well" (about 65% of non-fluent English speakers and 38.6% of non-native English speakers who speak Spanish). 

A language other than English or Spanish is spoken at home by 8.5% of people in the U.S. About 2.8% of people in the U.S. do not speak either English or Spanish "very well," while 5.7% of people in the U.S. are not native speakers of English or Spanish but speak English "very well."

The runner up is Chinese which is spoken at home by 1.13% of people in the U.S. (about 5% of non-native English speakers). The percentage of people in the U.S. who are native Chinese language speakers who do not speak English "very well" is 0.59% (about 21% of people who do not speak either English or Spanish "very well"). 

This number conceals the fact, however, that there are many Chinese topolects which are not mutually intelligible in spoken form despite sharing a common set of historical Chinese characters (although not all Chinese speakers, particularly in the U.S. can read Chinese characters, and even among those who are literate in Chinese characters many people can not read both the simplified character system promoted by the People's Republic of China and also traditional Chinese characters). A similar situation exists with respect to languages collectively characterized as Arabic.

The percentage of people who speak a language other than English at home who do not speak English "very well" varies widely by native language (and there are some native speakers of almost every non-moribund language in the world who live in the U.S.). It is highest for Vietnamese (56.9%), Chinese (52.0%), Korean (51.0%), and speakers of Thai, Lao, or other Tai-Kadai (51.0%). 

It is lowest for Hebrew (11.7%), Native American languages other the Navajo (12.3%), German (15.0%), Tamil (15.7%), Hindi (17.7%), Telugu (19.0%), other Dravidian languages (19.8%), French including Cajun (20.2%), West African languages (20.9%), and Greek (22.8%). 

The high level of English language fluency among South Asian language speakers reflect the fact that English bilingualism is common in India where it is a linga franca dating to the centuries that it spent (prior to the separation of what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh from India) as an English colony, and the fact that South Asian migration is heavily weighted towards highly educated professionals (especially in information technology, engineering and medicine). 

A significant number of West African immigrants are likewise from countries such as Nigeria, a former English colony, and Liberia (a country founded by former U.S. slaves), where English is a lingua franca.

Non-Native English speaking does not coincide perfectly with being foreign born. Essentially all non-native English speakers in the U.S. who speak native American languages and Cajun, are U.S. born, as are many U.S. born children of foreign born immigrants (sometimes called "second generation immigrants).


My source is The World Almanac and Book Of Facts 2022 when not otherwise noted. It is relying on the Pew Research Center for undocumented immigration numbers. It is relying on the American Community Survey (conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau) for language information.

19 January 2022

What Does Federalism Make Possible?

The Federal Government Is Gridlocked

A successful use of the filibuster to block voting rights legislation in the Senate today is a reminder of a long standing, and intractable problem. The legislative process in the United States is deeply gridlocked. 

It hasn't bee possible to pass legislation in the United States without bipartisan support since sometime in the 1970s when I was in elementary school learning cursive writing, even when, as now, a single political party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the Presidency.

As the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans in our two party system has deepened, and as the Republican party has shown a willingness to block the legislative process simply to deny Democrats a legislative achievement even when many Republicans don't substantively oppose Democratic policy proposals in many cases, this gridlock prevents most kinds of policy reforms worth caring about.

The party that controls Congress and the Presidency isn't entirely without options. Congress has already abolished the filibuster with respect to Presidential nominations in almost all cases, and with respect to a small number of must pass budget bills. 

The President can use existing legislative authority to issue regulations, but as a 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the past week invalidating an OSHA regulation mandating COVID vaccination for employees of large employers (with legal reasoning that even conservative legal pundits seriously criticized for both inaccuracy and disregard of basic principles for equitable relief) illustrates, the holdover of ideological judges in our system of political judicial appointments limits that option significantly.

Similarly, while the President, in theory, has wide discretion regarding how to direct federal government employees to enforce laws, rogue federal court judges, including one in Texas, have, for example, prevented the President from exercising that authority to reverse Trump administration practices for immigration enforcement and to allow soldiers to disregard direct orders from their superiors regarding COVID vaccination, on legal rationales that are dubious at best but which the 6-3 ultraconservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to persist.

Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court hasn't even upheld settled binding precedents that have stood for more than four decades on abortion to enjoin clearly unconstitutional Texas legislation on the subject (specifically designed to evade SCOTUS review from a conservative controlled court). Instead, it has allowed that unconstitutional law to remain enforceable and on the books for many months (contrary to all prior practice) and has strongly signaled (contrary to express representations made in confirmation hearings to the contrary) that Roe v. Wade will be overruled this summer in some matter or another.

Congress could expand the size of the U.S. Supreme Court to appoint more friendly justices who aren't grossly outside of the legal mainstream, if the unwillingness of two of the Democratic caucuses own Senators weren't dedicated to preserving Republican power by retaining the filibuster, an issue that will probably cost of them their seat in a primary challenge in the next election. But, the bottom line is that President Biden and his democratic majorities in both houses of Congress still have remarkably little power in the status quo. 

Midterm elections in 2024, moreover, look much more likely to cost Democrats even formal control of Congress, than to strengthen their hand.

All of this prelude, however, just goes to show that for the foreseeable future, most policy changes will have to emerge at the state and local level, especially if they are perceived as partisan or provide any colorable basis for courts to block the new policies, however far fetched that basis may be been when the U.S. Supreme Court was more balanced.

What Does Federalism Make Possible?

There are many U.S. states that are controlled by Democrats without archaic limitations like those imposed by the power that the U.S. Senate affords to minorities, especially rural ones. And, many U.S. states are similarly controlled by Republicans without strong political barriers to majoritarian policy-making. Likewise, many local governments are under the firm partisan control of one party or the other.

But even though, in constitutional theory, states have basically plenary power to adopt legislation on almost any subject, in practice, state policy makers operate in a highly constrained environment.

The preemptive effects of federal laws, treaties and regulations, the federal constitution, state constitutions, and the irresistible incentives created by federally funded state government programs, all profoundly limit state and local legislative discretion. State and local governments also generally have much less freedom to tax and spend than the federal government.

State policy-makers also face constraints unique to subordinate lawmakers in a federal system. 

One is the "race to the bottom" issue that, for example, causes the law governing the internal affairs of corporations to be governed by the law of the state where a firm is incorporated, even though it is allowed to operate in any U.S. state. So, states compete to offer the people who choose which state to incorporate firms laws that they favor.

The other is that it is difficult for state and local governments to be generous with the public in an economic sense if this happens in a context where non-residents of the state can take advantage of the state offered boon without undue difficulty.

For example, if Colorado were to allow anyone to attend its public college and universities tuition-free, which is a widely adopted policy that can make sense in a unitary state, parents from other states may flood Colorado with college students despite making no contribution to the Colorado tax base that would finance tuition-free higher education.

This doesn't mean that state and local policy-makers are powerless.

"Laboratory of democracy" type innovations are far more rare that political theorists would have us believe. But often it takes just one innovative state that is on the right track, to demonstrate that often invoked parades of horribles associated with a policy don't actually happen, to open the flood gates of imitators in many other like minded states. 

For example, Colorado's success in legalizing medical and then recreational marijuana under state law has causes many other states, and even whole countries, to follow its example. Now, a majority of states, by population at least, have legalized marijuana at the state level and full legalization seems inevitable in the not too distant future.

Even within Colorado, innovation in decriminalizing marijuana at the level of the City and County of Denver was pivotal in getting the rest of the state to follow suit, and for the industry to later launch itself with local government support.

And, once something does work at the state and local level and a new policy really catches on, it is routinely copied by a large supermajority of states. 

This doesn't happen every time: the procedural provisions related to probate administration of the Uniform Probate Code, for example, hasn't been widely adopted or imitated, even though it has been a smashing success in practice.

But, it happens often enough, that this back door and gradual state by state alternative to federal legislations in a policy area that isn't subject to exclusive federal government control, is frequently an attractive alternative to federal legislation that also conveniently keeps most litigation of these state adopted policies in state courts subject only to U.S. Supreme Court review from final decisions of state supreme courts.

Even though it is partially a historical accident, there are many areas of law where federal legislation and/or federal constitution court rulings preclude state and local policy-making.

As much as they would like to, state and local governments have little or no power to regulate immigration or arbitration or bankruptcy law. They have very little say in military policy-making and foreign affairs. They are economically locked into the Medicaid program (including its nursing home program and childhood health insurance program CHIP), and to federal mandates that are part of welfare aid to how child support must be handled in the state. They can't establish their own currencies with independent monetary policies and interest rates. They are economically locked into the federal highway system, and to policies on how higher educational institutions are administered governed by federal law. Federal constitutional law largely mandates gender neutrality in policy-making. Local governments have to conform to state mandates as well, which leaves them even more constrained.

So, while state and local government is indeed one of the main places where policies favored by one major political party and opposed by the other can be enacted, that authority is highly constrained in practice, most of time. Finding opportunities that aren't otherwise blocked to adopt state and local level policies is a highly challenging endeavor, despite being the best game in town for idealists favoring policy reforms at this point in history.

Constructive Solutions

Here are some selected legislative ideas to address public policy issues (UPDATED January 22, 2022):


* Reduce barriers to naturalization by, for example, reducing or eliminating naturalization and exam fees, waiving citizenship and English language proficiency tests for certain candidates (e.g., graduates of U.S. high schools or colleges, graduates of foreign high schools or colleges with English as the primary language of instruction, people who have served in the U.S. military and their spouses, interpreters and former interpreters for the U.S. military or U.S. government, spouses of U.S. citizens with U.S. citizen children, adults over age sixty-five, and developmentally disabled persons), allowing accommodations for disabled test takers, and by making tests easier and more available;

* reduce or eliminate the fees for obtaining a passport or replacement passport;

* establish a path to citizenship  legislation for DACA program beneficiaries;

* clear up legal immigration backlogs, at least for close family and especially for the Philippines which has very low rates of undocumented immigration and a huge backlog; 

* replace criminal penalties with civil penalties for the lowest level immigration crimes (e.g. illegal entry);

* establish a class of licensed independent paraprofessionals authorized to act in lieu of lawyers in immigration cases;

* establish a right to counsel for all minors and all indigent persons in immigration cases;

* complete scrap and rebuilt from scratch the immigration court system which is notorious for arbitrary and capricious decision making that varies wildly from judge to judge;

* establish a statute of limitations (e.g. ten years) on deportability after illegal entry into the U.S., or upon overstaying a visa;

* establish a "immigration detainee's bill of rights" together with provisions allowing those rights to be enforced in private litigation and by a government immigrant advocate who is independent of the Department of Homeland Security;

Election Law and Access To Identification

* use federal/state/local/private funds to get photo IDs for people such as kids leaving high school, newlyweds who have changed their names, people leaving prison and/or jail, welfare beneficiaries, homeless people, senior citizens, and people with lost or stolen IDs. Also register them to vote.

* prepay mail in ballot postage (or make it free per federal law);

* fix the electoral vote counting law;

* lower state voting ages to sixteen years;

State and Local Elected Offices

* replace elected coroners with a state medical examiner's office;

* make county surveyors, county assessors, county treasurers, and state treasurers senior civil service positions rather than elected offices;

Health Care

* offer healthcare copay/deductible guaranteed loans/grants for people with health insurance;

* prohibit submission of provider charges directly to patients who have health insurance (require them to be sent to insurer instead with patient responsible only for amounts determined between health insurance and provider to be reasonable and only to extent to patient's share under health insurance);

* provide public funding for health care for people injured in crimes;

* provide public funding for health care for people injured in non-work related accidents (possibly piecemeal legislation, e.g., for people hurt outside a motor vehicle by uninsured motorists or in hit and runs);

* establish a large private endowment to finance reproductive health care that government programs and/or health insurance won't pay for;

* establish more new medical schools so that they country can produce more doctors each year (the number of medical school slots has remained almost constant for many decades despite a growing population);

Landlord-Tenant and Property Maintenance

* provide public funding for non-negligent moving to storage of the property of evicted people and homeless people;

* make renter's insurance mandatory for residential renters, with the landlord having a duty to insure that this requirement is complied with;

* establish some sort of sensible cap on lost future rent damages in residential leases terminated early (e.g. X months, or Y% of the amount claimed for Z months after the first X months);

* establish a right of a tenant to hire licensed (if applicable), bonded, and insured professionals to repair certain serious defects in property conditions at landlord expense if landlord fails to act within a statutorily set period of time after receiving legal notices from tenant;

* replace failure to maintain property ordinance violation fines with laws authorizing local governments to maintain properties at owner's expense;

Criminal Justice and Civil Rights

Criminal law 

* establish statutory exclusionary rule for confessions or testimony obtained using deception from governmental officials (possibly not as broad as 5th Amendment exclusionary rule in terms of fruit of the poisonous tree, for example);

* ban consideration of acquitted or uncharged conduct in sentencing (give this policy change retroactive effect);

* criminalize guards having sex with incarcerated people under their supervision;

* criminalize law enforcement officers having sex with people while on the job in the absence of a pre-existing relationship and an absence of exercise of law enforcement authority;

* make payments at a statutory rate in lieu of public defender representation for criminal defendants who have private criminal defense attorney and are acquitted;

* create a right to compensation without proof of fault or actual innocence for people whose incarceration pursuant to a conviction for a crime is vacated for reasons other than a pardon, and are released;

create a right to compensation without proof of fault or actual innocence for people whose pre-trial arrest or incarceration is found to have not been supported by probable cause;

* end cash bond for pre-trial release in most cases;

* remove marijuana (and chemically or biologically related drugs) from the list of Controlled Substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act and retroactively pardon everyone convicted of mere possession under the Act for marijuana offenses;

* establish grants for private innocence project type non-profits;

* eliminate the authority of municipal governments to impose a sentence of incarceration for an ordinance violation;

* prohibit an appellate court from remanding a case reversed for an abuse of discretion by the judge in a criminal case to the same judge;

Civil law

* impose vicarious liability on governments for civil rights violations by their employees without independent proof of fault (if they don't promptly throw the violator under the bus by firing the employee promptly after a lawsuit or complaint is filed, and by establishing as a defense that the employee was acting contrary to the employer's policies);

* eliminate qualified immunity for governments that are vicariously liable for civil rights violations even if employees benefit from qualified immunity for their personal liability for civil rights violations;

* establish civil liability for violations of constitutional rights that arise from negligence, reckless, or willful and wanton conduct;

* give courts in civil rights action the authority to ban defendants found liable for violating civil rights from serving in law enforcement and/or possessing firearms;

* eliminate the immunity, absolute or qualified, from civil liability of any judge, prosecutor, or other elected official who has been convicted of a crime or ethical violation for conduct related to that crime or ethical violation with the statute of limitations on this claim deemed to arise only when the person bringing suit receives notice that the official was convicted of the related crime or ethical violation;

* end civil forfeiture, not incident to a judgment in a civil action against the owner as a named defendant or a criminal conviction of the owner, of assets that are not inherently contraband, and do not allow law enforcement agency budgets to economically benefit from civil forfeiture proceeds;


* create a state agency to investigate and prosecute law enforcement and prosecuting attorney violations of the law, civil rights violations, and ethical violations appointed by public defenders and/or civil rights lawyers;

Income Taxation

* treat tips as self-employment income, rather than wage and salary income, for income tax and withholding tax purposes;


* treat every claim acknowledged by a debtor in a bankruptcy in the debtor's schedules as one for which a proof of claim has been filed;

* require any entity majority owned or controlled by a bankruptcy petitioner to be included in the bankruptcy petitioner's bankruptcy;

* establish a new bankruptcy chapter for probate estates that limits relief to the automatic stay;

E-filing mechanics

* fully automate services of process upon the debtor, all parties that have filed claims in the case, and all creditors listed by the debtor in the e-filing system;

* allow creditors to file a proof of claim in a bankruptcy with an online form;

Limitations on claim discharges

* make it easier to prove that fraud/willful misconduct debts are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy without retrying underlying facts of a debt, and allow extensions of time to object to their discharge for excusable neglect or lack of notice;

* relax the standard for discharging student loan debt in bankruptcy by eliminating its non-dischargeability ten years after repayment begins, and in case where no degree has been is earned when repayment begins, where no professional licenses is obtained in a preprofessional program when repayment begins, in cases of wrongful educational institution or student loan lender practices, in cases of disability, and in other cases of unreasonable hardship;

Claim priority

* eliminate the priority in bankruptcy for tax debts other than withholding tax debts and tax liens;

* subordinate awards of punitive damages, debts for non-compensatory fines and penalties, statutory damages unrelated to actual compensatory damages, late fees, and the portion of interest on debts that exceeds non-default interest, to general creditors in bankruptcy,

* give priority in bankruptcy cases over other general creditor debt (mostly long term financing debt) to trade creditors whose debts would otherwise be general creditor debt;

* treat independent contractor payments for personal services as wages for purposes of bankruptcy priority;

Insider preferences and compensation

* claw back payments made to or authorized within one year prior to bankruptcy to equity owners;

claw back payments made to or authorized within one year prior to bankruptcy to managers and executives in excess of (1) fair market value for the services rendered, (2) the compensation rate payable immediately prior to one year prior to bankruptcy, or when hired if first hired after that date (excluding any discretionary bonus payments), or (3) $50,000 per month (whichever of the three is smaller, but not less than minimum wage).

* limit payments to managers, executives during a bankruptcy to (1) fair market value for the services rendered, (2) the compensation rate payable immediately prior to one year prior to bankruptcy, or when hired if first hired after that date (excluding any discretionary bonus payments), or (3) $50,000 per month (whichever of the three is smaller, but not less than minimum wage).

* limit payments to legal counsel during bankruptcies pursuant to administratively set limits on total fees, contingency fee rates, and hourly rates;

* automatically cancel all equity interests of an entity that voluntarily files for bankruptcy with the authorization required to do so under state law (with a strict deadline for equity interest owners to assert that a bankruptcy was ultra vires to prevent this cancellation), and in any other case, as soon as it is established that the debts of the bankrupt exceed the assets of the bankrupt; 

Exemptions of assets from creditors claims and debtor income

* require individual debtors in bankruptcies to contribute to the bankruptcy estate an amount equal to the maximum wage garnishment allowed under state law for three years (or the equivalent in the case of a self-employed debtor) absent extraordinary circumstances set forth in the statute, in lieu of the current means-testing rule;

* place a uniform national dollar cap on the homestead exemption available in bankruptcy (e.g. $100,000 indexed) notwithstanding higher exemptions available under state law (but without increasing exemptions allowed under state law);

* allow tenancy-by-entirety protections from creditors only in joint bankruptcies of the owners;

* place a uniform national dollar cap on the exemption for retirement assets in bankruptcy (e.g. $500,000 indexed);

* place a uniform national dollar cap on the priority for alimony and child support in bankruptcy (e.g. $500,000 indexed);

Arbitration, Class Actions, And Jury Trial Waivers

* ban arbitration for child custody and establishment of child support matters;

* ban binding pre-dispute arbitration for intentional tort litigation;

* ban binding pre-dispute arbitration clauses for consumers, non-institutional investors, and non-unionized employees;

* allow arbitration awards in circumstances where arbitration is allowed to be reviewed for disregard of applicable law or failure to follow the arbitration rules agreed to by the parties;

* prohibit arbitration procedures from changing the substantive rights of the parties under non-arbitration law;

* require an occupational license to serve as an arbitrator and make that license subject to revocation for misconduct by an arbitrator;

* require public disclosure of arbitration awards in circumstances where arbitration is allowed;

* clarify statutorily that contract formation in cases where an arbitration agreement is present is for a court to decide and clarify that arbitration agreements must be in writings signed by the person against whom they are to be enforced unless select expressly specified exceptions to that requirement apply;

* ban class action waivers;

* ban jury trial waivers in connection with torts arising from personal physical injuries, and intentional torts other than business torts;

Private Law

* pass an anti-pre-emption statute (common in uniform and model laws) that  allows the law of ERISA plans and federal government provided benefit plans (e.g. federal government employee life insurance and retirement benefits) to be supplemented by common law and equity (and non-ERISA specific state law more generally) from the state where the plan administered or where the federal government employee is domiciled;

* establish a national index of marriages, civil unions, publicly filed domestic partnerships, marriage dissolutions, legal separations, and similar proceedings;

Debt collection

* subject assignees and purchasers of debts and business creditors of consumer debtors (subject to a de minimus exception) to the same obligations as debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act;

* establish strict liability sanctions for creditors, debt collectors, and attorneys seeking to enforce debts barred by a statute of limitations, a bankruptcy discharge, or res judicata (i.e. "zombie debt") in either a lawsuit or bankruptcy;

* prohibit making death an event of default under a contract in circumstances to be set forth in a statute, where prejudice to the other party under the contract is avoided;

Unlawful business practices

* make it a deceptive trade practice for a business to continue to use a contract, contact term, or procedure of a business has found to be void as contrary to public policy or illegal in a lawsuit in litigation with the business or in litigation in which an officer or director of the business participated with another business;

* make it an ethical violation for an attorney to draft a contract containing a term that the attorney knows is contrary to public policy or illegal under a binding precedent or statute, or to request such a term in a transactional negotiation;


* in copyright infringement actions, eliminate statutory damages and limit awards to compensatory damages for lost profits of the copyright owner and/or disgorgement of amounts by which the infringer was unjustly enriched, together with costs, attorney fees, and interest;

* in copyright infringement actions, limit attorney fee and expert witness awards as part of court costs (combined) to not more than one-half of the damages awarded or $500, whichever is greater;

* impose a statutory civil fine upon anyone filing a wrongful takedown notice under the DCMA;

* establish mandatory copyright licensing for orphan works, translations of works that have not been translated in a timely fashion, and certain other transformative or independently innovative derivative works;

Worker's Compensation

* require worker's compensation death benefits to be at least comparable to the death benefits commonly awarded in wrongful death tort cases even in cases where a worker does not have a surviving spouse or surviving dependent children;

Debt Collection And Civil Procedure

Attorney fee and cost awards

* establish a statewide hourly rate for attorney services and paralegal services that counts are reasonable and/or fixed amounts for particular tasks, for use in fee shifting cases (at least in sanctions cases), in lieu of actual litigation of reasonableness on a case by case basis;

* in actions for money damages in which the prevailing party is entitled to attorney fees, limit the reasonable attorney fee and expert witness awards as part of court costs (combined) to not more than one-half of the damages awarded (or sought in the case of a prevailing defendant), or $500 (indexed), whichever is greater, even if the attorney fees and expert witness fees incurred were otherwise reasonable;

* allow a legal malpractice plaintiff to recover the plaintiff's attorney fees in the legal malpractice action as an element of damages;

Service of process and notice

* replace service of process by publication of a legal notice in a newspaper of record for several weeks, with service by process by notice in one of several public notice registries available in person at the courthouse and for free online (at no charge to the litigant) the entries in which have an index number that can be used to also serve the notice via text message, email, voice mail, postcard, and posted notices;

* establish a system in which an "interested person" such as a judgment creditor, a spouse, a former spouse with outstanding obligations owed to them, a secured creditor, or a creditor under a written contract, can automatically receive notice of the death of a person, the change of name of a person, probate proceedings concerning a person, bankruptcy proceedings concerning a person, lawsuits against a person, and personal property lien filings against a person;

* establish a system in which a person can automatically receive notice of new real estate record filings concerning a particular parcel of real property, and lawsuits relating to possession of a particular parcel of real property;

* allow substituted service of process of new lawsuits (i.e. service of process under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4 or the equivalent) to be made upon "gatekeepers" such as doormen or entry area receptionists, when access to a residence or business is restricted;

E-Filing related practices

* provide e-filing access to pro se parties;

* eliminate the requirement of a certificate of service for parties that e-file court documents since the e-filing system would handle this function automatically with third-party verifiability;

* create a publicly available database of contact information for attorneys and eliminate the requirement that attorneys with disclosed registration numbers in legal filings include their contact information on each document they file;

* give parties in cases with pro se litigants access to contract information about those litigants and eliminate the requirement that attorneys with disclosed registration numbers in legal filings include their contact information on each document they file;

Enforcement of money judgments

* give judgment liens in real property statewide scope where the judgment creditor can provide sufficient data about the judgment debtor to prevent similar name confusion;

* allow judgment creditors to gain access to the tax records (including information returns filed such as W-2s, K-1s and 1099s), and credit records, of judgment debtors, as a matter of course, at any time when judgment creditors would have a right to obtain information from judgment debtors directly about their assets and in bankruptcy cases;

* allow judgment creditors to execute upon ownership interests of judgment debtors in entities by giving notice of a judgment to the registered agent of the entity without regard to the form of the entity or whether its shares are certificated or not, or any buy-sell agreement of the company;

* establish detailed procedures and exhaustion of remedies requirements that must be followed in contempt of court proceedings alleging a willful failure to pay money or property in connection with a judgment or court order including a child support or alimony order;

Statutes of limitations

* make filing a lawsuit within the statute of limitations an element of every cause of action, that is part of the prima facie case which must be established in the complaint to state a claim, and upon which the burden of proof is on the person bringing the claim;

Procedures related to unlawful business practices

* give notice (in a publicly accessible document)  to the state attorney-general in the state where a lawsuit is filed, and also the state where an entity defendant is organized or an individual defendant is domiciled, of any lawsuit or counterclaim filed by a consumer or employee against a business or employer (so that someone can see patterns and practices of allegations whether or not the cases are settled), including product liability tort claims;

give notice (in a publicly accessible document) to the state attorney-general in the state where a lawsuit is filed, and also the state where an entity defendant is organized or an individual defendant is domiciled of all court judgments in which a contract, contract term, or procedure of a business is found to be void as contrary to public policy or illegal;

* require a business to affirmatively disclosed that a contract, contact term, or procedure of a business has found to be void as contrary to public policy or illegal in a prior lawsuit, in litigation with the business related to that contract, contract term, or procedure.

Ethical obligations of attorneys in litigation

* require an attorney filing a civil action, or representing a party in a civil action, to disclose any assertion of law made that the lawyer knows is contrary to a controlling precedent (subject to an ongoing duty to supplement during the pendency of the litigation) even if the assertion of law does not violation Rule 11 (permitting good faith arguments to change the law) and subjecting the attorney to sanctions if the attorney's client does not prevail on the merits on that legal argument if it is not disclosed or withdrawn promptly after being identified;

* establish an ethical duty of an attorney at any stage of a proceeding (even an appeal) not to argue inferences regarding facts that are known to be factually untrue (even if the untrue facts are not themselves presented as evidence) before a tribunal in a civil matter without disclosing this reality to the tribunal;

Federal subject-matter jurisdiction

* eliminate ordinary diversity jurisdiction in cases in which both plaintiff and defendant have a U.S. domiciled party;

* eliminate general federal question jurisdiction in cases involving only non-government associated parties;

Federal personal jurisdiction

* restore the rule that general personal jurisdiction may be asserted over any entity that has any office for the conduct of business or a registered agent in a state;

* allow federal district courts where the plaintiff resides to assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant or third-party witness or garnishee who is not subject to the personal jurisdiction of any one U.S. state, or the District of Columbia, or any one U.S. territory, but does have sufficient contacts with the United States as a whole to be subject to its personal jurisdiction if the United States had been a single U.S. state;

Jury trials

* eliminate by statute, the right to a jury trial in state court in civil actions to enforce a written contract or lease signed by the party to be charged, or to sue in the alternative in such as case, for promissory estoppel or unjust enrichment;

* establish a right to a jury trial in state court with respect to counterclaims in civil actions in which there is no right to a jury trial on the claims in the complaint (i.e. repeal the "well-pleaded complaint rule" for jury trials);


* prohibit an appellate court from remanding a case reversed for an abuse of discretion by the judge in a civil case to the same judge;

Pre-litigation discovery

* Allow a special proceeding called a pre-litigation inquiry, under a new rule of procedure in both state and in federal court, to be brought to allow prospective plaintiffs to engage in pre-litigation discovery regarding facts in the exclusive control of a prospective defendants, at the expense of the plaintiff, upon a showing that all elements of a cause of action except those requiring evidence in the exclusive control of a prospective defendant have been established, that is limited to facts in the exclusive control of a prospective defendant that are necessary to state a claim for relief (in response to new, more strict, pleading standards in Twombly, Iqbal, Warne, and related cases); 

Quality Of Life Laws

* nationalize can and bottle deposit laws;

* make public sidewalks public property for purposes of snow removal and maintenance;

Spam-like activity

* do anything that works to crack down on extended warranty solicitations, such as requiring a license number that must be disclosed in any solicitation in any medium to sell an extended warranty;

* do anything that works to reduce junk calling, including criminalizing caller ID spoofing and requiring phone companies to enact systems that prevents or makes it much more difficult to engage in caller ID spoofing;

* require all unsolicited telephone communications made, text messages, and emails to be recorded with records maintained for three years;

* establish "know your customer" laws related to firms that facilitate payments to people who are conducting fraudulent schemes resulting in payments from many people (ten or more that are in the aggregate in excess of $10,000) that can be triggered by complaints from people who have made payments or authorities as well as from business negligence, and require any company that engages in robocalling, mass faxing, mass texting, and mass email marketing (even if legal) to disclose that fact to their financial and payment systems providers;

* require a federal license (which is available as a matter of right to individuals who can do so legally, that can be revoked civilly for misconduct) to engage in robocalling, robo-faxing, mass texting, mass email marketing, and mass mailing through the U.S.P.S.