In a recent Mackinac Center for Public Policy blog post, Policy Analyst Jarrett Skorup says the popularity of short-term rental services is “exploding”: “Short-term renting is exploding in popularity. People sign up through companies or websites – like Airbnb or HomeAway – to rent out an extra room or a house for a short period. If you live in a city that is going to host the Super Bowl and have extra space, renting out a room for two nights gets you extra money and saves the renter from higher-priced or less convenient lodging options.”
A new study by Andrew Moylan, executive director and senior fellow of the R Street Institute, assigns localities with letter grades for their regulatory structure related to short-term lodging services, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and FlipKey. The report, titled “Roomscore 2016: Short-Term Rental Regulation in U.S. Cities,” grades 59 U.S. cities in five categories: whether a legal framework exists, the level of restrictions, taxation, licensing, and enforcement.
The study first examines cities’ legal frameworks, ranking cities highly for having a regulatory structure that explicitly acknowledges and creates a legal foundation for rentals conducted on a short-term basis. The cities that are ranked the highest in this category include: Anaheim, CA; Austin, Texas; Boulder, CO, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Galveston, TX, Louisvill21e, KY, Nashville, Tennessee; Philadelphia, PA, Portland, OR, Sacramento, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; and Savannah, Georgia.
While many of the aforementioned cities possess robust laws in place to support short-term rental services, many of the cities have a hostile city enforcement regime for short-term rental restrictions, such as burdensome inspection regimes, disproportionately high insurance requirements, restrictive occupancy limits, mandates to provide vehicle parking spaces, and prescriptive regulations of a host’s location. Some of the cities with the most unfriendly environments for short-term rentals include: Anaheim, CA; Atlanta, GA; Denver, CO; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; and Los Angeles, CA.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCOM) announced its support of short-term rentals in a 2012 resolution, which stated the overall economic impact created by short-term rentals is positive. “Fair regulation of short-term rentals ensures greater compliance and greater receipt of local hotel taxes. Onerous regulations of short-term rentals can drive the industry underground, thus evading local regulations and local hotel taxes,” wrote USCOM.
Short-term rental services provide individuals, businesses, and consumers with economic opportunities. Lawmakers should support the rights of those who profit from the short-term rental industry, a decision that will encourage economic growth and free-market competition.
What We’re Working On
Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Do Right-to-Work Laws Cause Income Inequality?
One of the most commonly used attacks against right-to-work laws is the claim they increase economic inequality. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines a new study by American Enterprise Institute researchers Jeffrey Jordan, Aparna Mathur, Abdul Manasib, and Devesh Roy showing this claim is likely untrue. “Inequality in the U.S. started to exacerbate in the mid-1980s,” wrote the AEI researchers. “If RTW had an impact on inequality, it would have to be that RTW started to have a causal effect on inequality in the states that enacted the law in the 1940s and the 1950s with a lag of more than 30 years.” Read more
Introducing ‘Article V 2.0’: The Compact for a Balanced Budget
As the federal debt approaches $18 trillion, a balanced budget amendment has emerged as one of few viable options for curbing government spending. The Article V process for amending the U.S. Constitution, however, is long and tedious.
In a new Heartland Institute report, titled “Introducing ‘Article V 2.0’: A Compact for a Balanced Budget,” Nick Dranias, a constitutional law expert, asks the question, “[W]hat if the states could advance and ratify a powerful federal balanced budget amendment in just 12 months?” Dranias says the Compact for a Balanced Budget could accomplish that task, “changing the political game almost immediately.” Read more
Research & Commentary: Maryland Education Tax-Credit Scholarships
A new proposal being considered in Maryland would grant businesses tax credits in exchange for donations supporting nonprofit scholarship programs for students to attend a private school. If passed, the program would establish the $15 million Maryland Education Tax Credit Reserve Fund, from which businesses would receive tax credits equal to 60 percent of those donations, not exceeding $200,000 in a taxable year. In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson wrote, “These tax-credit scholarships would be administered by nonprofit Student Assistant Organizations (SAOs), which would work as middlemen that distribute contributions as scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools. Extracurricular programs at public schools would also be funded using SAOs.” Read more
Energy & Environment
Study: Science Teachers Giving Unbalanced Education on Climate Change
H. Sterling Burnett, research fellow at The Heartland Institute, discusses a new nationwide survey of 1,500 U.S. middle and high school science teachers – conducted by the National Center for Science Education and published in the February 12 issue of Science – in this Heartlander report. The survey found half of the teachers who discuss climate change in the classroom ignore evidence showing natural forces play a significant role in climate change. The survey found approximately 70 percent of middle school and 87 percent of high school science teachers discuss global warming in the classroom, spending an average of less than two hours over the course of an entire academic year on the topic. More than half of the middle and high school science teachers discussing climate change teach humans’ use of fossil fuels is mostly responsible for recent global climate changes. About 30 percent of science teachers discuss human actions and natural processes as potential causes of climate change, and 12 percent of science teachers addressing climate change do not emphasize possible human causes. Read more
Research & Commentary: Colorado Should Reject Single-Payer Health Care
In November 2016, Colorado voters will consider a ballot measure that would enact a state constitutional amendment creating “ColoradoCare,” a single-payer, government-run health care system in Colorado. Colorado would be the second state to attempt creating a single-payer health care system; the first was Vermont, which abandoned its plans in December 2014.
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines ColoradoCare and the many problems the proposed single-payer system would create. “The Heartland Institute argues the best way to preserve individual freedom, improve the quality of health care, and enhance the efficiency of the nation’s health care system is to empower individuals by giving them more control over the dollars spent on their behalf. Single-payer systems do the exact opposite. Colorado should resist completing the transition to ColoradoCare and instead pursue policies emphasizing consumer-driven health care.” Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
A State-by-State Map of Worker Freedom
The Center for Worker Freedom (CWF), a project of Americans for Tax Reform, provides a detailed look at labor laws related to public school teachers in its recently released “2016 Indicator of Labor Liberty” maps. The maps show how a ruling in favor of workers’ rights in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association would have benefited parts of the country still dominated by detrimental labor laws. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision made by a lower court on March 29 in a 4–4 split vote, ruling in favor of unions. CWF offers two versions of the map; one highlights the status quo of labor law across the country, and the other demonstrates how government workers in 21 states would have been freed from forced unionization if the Supreme Court had ruled mandatory dues unconstitutional. Read more