Are you trying to build your resume by working a summer job? Trying to take a trip with friends and see the world? Just trying to take advantage of some new laws and unwind? Whatever your summer plans are, make sure they don’t get ruined by these 5 legislative nightmares!
I’ve tried to describe each situation with enough detail for you to get the whole picture, but if you’re feeling lazy and just want to read the bold print that works as well. And I’ve included a bunch of links throughout the text for those of you who want a deeper dive.
- Smoking weed in Colorado will still get you in trouble with the feds. Even though Colorado (along with Washington) legalized cannabis last year, the states are still subject to federal authority when it comes to controlled substances. I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but the legal opinions I’ve read have all said the same thing – local police can’t get you for drug-related offenses, but the DEA and other federal agencies still can. Also, growers still remain prime targets, according to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, even if they have a license from their states. That’s because the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance and will use all resources at its disposal to prevent its use. With that in mind, you may want to postpone your trip to the Mile High City until next year.
- New fracking regulations might mean you’ll pay more for gas. Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is a new method of extracting natural gas from shale rock 6,500 feet below the ground. It’s led to more efficient gas extraction from subterranean oil and gas deposits, cheapening natural gas against traditional energy rivals like petroleum while increasing the oil supply. Predictably, oil prices are sagging under downward pressure from fracking operations, but Congress is poised to intervene. California is already trying to ban fracking until a years-long study can be conducted, and Reps. Jared Polis and Matt Cartwright just introduced bills that would add new air and water regulations to wells. Any legislation that raises the price of fracking will up the price of crude oil, which may cause gas prices to rise. Anyone planning a drive down to Florida this summer might want to take a look at how that impacts their travel budget.
- You’ll have to start paying sales tax on things you buy on the internet. “What? Don’t I already have pay sales tax for the stuff I buy on eBay?” Actually, you probably don’t. But you will soon – a bill currently before the Senate will require online retailers that do more than $1 million in sales outside of their home states to collect sales tax for online purchases. Sales tax varies by state, but the national average was 9.6% last year. If you plan on buying anything online between now and August, that’s money right out of your pocket – and if you plan on starting some kind of online business, these new regulations could ruin your business model.
- Congress hasn’t written a single bill to reduce youth unemployment. The overall U.S. unemployment rate is 7.6% – but for the under-25 crowd, that number is nearly three times as high. Analysis by economists at the Wall Street Journal puts youth unemployment at 22.9%, which is on par with national unemployment in financially wrecked countries like Greece. You probably don’t care about that – you just want to know what’s being done here to bring our jobless rate down. I’m sorry to say the answer is “not much.” I did a search of the congressional legislation archives and surprisingly found no bills under current consideration. That means that until the market finally corrects itself, you may have to settle for another summer of mowing lawns and babysitting.
Obviously there are more than four ways you could get screwed over by stories unfolding on the national or state level between now and next semester, which is exactly why you should be paying attention to what’s going on inside the Capitol and Statehouse. As always, DYNAMO_politics is happy to be your source for straightforward coverage, commentary and analysis to make it all make sense. So on that note, leave any questions or thoughts in the comments! We love to hear what you have to say.