TIME politics

San Francisco Lawmakers Propose Tougher Restrictions on Airbnb Rentals

Airbnb
Airbnb

The proposal would take a trailblazing regulation measure passed last year and make it more restrictive

At a meeting of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, a local lawmaker returned to an issue that sparked long and contentious hearings in 2014: regulation of the city’s short-term rentals facilitated by Airbnb and similar companies.

“This law is a mess,” David Campos, one of the 11 board members, said of a measure passed last year that legalized short-term rentals. “It’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up. And we need to clean it up as soon as possible.”

Campos introduced legislation that would place stricter limitations on how often people can rent out rooms or homes, putting a “hard cap” of 90 days on every property, regardless of whether the host is present. It would also require companies such as Airbnb to share data about rentals, ban rentals in certain neighborhoods that have been zoned for no commercial use and give disturbed neighbors—like ones living next door to people who rent out units illegally—the right to sue for damages.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said in a statement to TIME that the new proposal is just creating tension over an issue that was settled in 2014.

“Elected officials spent three years debating all aspects of this issue before passing comprehensive legislation, but some folks still don’t think you should be able to occasionally share the home in which you live,” said Christopher Nulty. “We should all be striving to make the law work but these ad hoc rules and this new bill just make things more confusing.”

Campos’ measure has been co-sponsored by two other members of the board.

Under the law passed last year, residents in San Francisco are allowed to rent out their properties an unlimited amount of days if the host is present, while there is a 90-day cap on un-hosted rentals. The different limits were aimed at maximizing the economic potential for residents who depend on sites like Airbnb for income, while making it impossible for landlords to put rental units on those sites full-time. Before the law passed, all short-term rentals were technically illegal; rentals shorter than 30 days were banned.

MORE: 5 Things You Never Knew About the Sharing Economy

The problem, Campos says, is that the city planning commission, which is charged with enforcing the law, says there’s no method of determining when hosts are at home sleeping in their own beds, meaning they cannot monitor whether people are respecting the limits. Campos called the law a “paper tiger” that is “unenforceable” because it has no teeth.

Local lawmakers have pushed for limits on short-term rentals to make sure the sharing economy doesn’t cannibalize existing housing stock. “The concern is you take your unit off the market,” says Supervisor Jane Kim, who supports a 90-day cap.

In recent years, San Francisco has been in the midst of a housing crisis, with the amount of people wanting to live in the city exceeding the apartments that are available—which has sent rental prices skyrocketing. The law was partly aimed at stopping landlords from taking much-needed units off the market because renting them out every night on sites like Airbnb was more valuable than collecting a monthly check. It also legitimized a business popular with tourists and locals.

Kim points out that 90 days per year breaks down to about a week per month, or could be the length of a summer when a college student is out of town. It’s sufficient for what one might consider “regular” hosts who use Airbnb, she says. “If you’re doing more than 90 days, you’re running a business,” she says. Kim believes that people in that camp should apply for a bed-and-breakfast license, which requires hosts to meet more requirements like installing exit signs.

With the aim of making oversight more feasible, Campos’ proposal would require platforms like Airbnb to give the city data about how often properties are being rented through their sites. “Without that data, there’s simply no way of knowing,” Campos says. He adds that Airbnb has responded to previous requests for such data by demanding the city subpoena them and notes that Airbnb has fought such subpoenas in states like New York.

Under the current law, which went into effect in February, all hosts must register with the city before listing a property on a site like Airbnb. Campos says that as of two weeks ago only a few dozen residents have registered, while there are “thousands” of rooms and units being listed on short-term rental sites. In an attempt to incentivize compliance with the law, the proposal would also fine hosting platforms that list unregistered units in San Francisco to the tune of $1,000 per day.

“All of us support short-term rentals,” Campos said of the board members during Tuesday’s meeting. “We know that short-term rentals are part of San Francisco, that they are here to stay … That said, I think that those of us that have been talking about this believe there should be reasonable, fair regulation of this industry,” he continued. “The law that was passed last year does not constitute what we would like to see.”

Read next: Baby, You Can Drive My Car, and do My Errands, and Rent My Stuff…

TIME politics

It’s 1815 All Over Again: The Troubling Tale of the Chappaqua Email Server

Congress of Vienna
Culture Club / Getty Images Congress of Vienna, 1814, after painting by J B Isabey

There are protestations that the HRC files were unclassified. But, the history of the Congress of Vienna shows, every bit can be exploited

History News Network

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Keyboards are aflutter over the revelation that former U.S. Secretary of State and presumed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) bypassed the State Department and outsourced her email management to a server located at the Clinton family home in Chappaqua, NY. It is a brewing storm in search of a scandalous name. Hillar-email-ageddon? Chappaqua-servergate?

Put aside for the moment the propriety of a Cabinet official engaging in these practices and let us explore why this cyber kerfuffle created potentially easy pickings for determined nation-state actors and put national security at risk.

Does anyone care about seemingly uninteresting tidbits from the world’s most powerful foreign minister? After all, as HRC has noted, the emails were not classified. Simple. Countries want to know the plans and intentions of friends and enemies, and they will take any scraps they can get.

To illustrate, let us wind the clock back to a time when one world power had no compunction about breaching protocol and spying on everyone’s diplomatic correspondence in a concerted effort to protect the security of the state and further its own political agenda.

Exactly two hundred years ago, the European powers gathered at the Congress of Vienna to redraw the map of the Continent. The French Revolution had collapsed after a head-chopping reign of terror. Napoleon’s gallivanting across Europe was over. The aristocrats were back in the catbird seat and they were ready to party. For nine months from the official opening in October 1814 until June 1815, greater and lesser powers jockeyed for position as territories changed hands.

The secret police of the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been preparing for months for the delegates’ arrival. As the diplomats negotiated at the Congress or whiled away the evenings at fancy dinners and galas, the Austrian surveillance state was hard at work, following their every move. Secret police transcripts from the time run in the thousands of pages. No grain of information, however mundane, escaped notice and was dutifully transmitted to the Emperor’s desk.

The backbone of the Austrian spying program was reading diplomatic correspondence as delegates reported progress back to their countries (and threw in the odd bit of palace gossip and intrigue.)

Some diplomats tried to take precautions by sealing the envelopes with distinctive wax seals bearing their royal crests. Today we might call this using a weak password because the Austrian secret police could break the seals without leaving a trace. In secret bureaus, operatives employed special smokeless candles to pry loose the seals and, using metal putty, create perfect counterfeit replicas. The mail could be read, a new seal put in place, and the mail sent on its way as if it had traveled unmolested. Just like a man-in-the-middle attack works today for third parties who want to read your email and leave you none the wiser.

This worked until the nobles used new seals, which would be like changing your password to something easily guessable, and presented only a minor inconvenience to Austrian intelligence until new fake seals could be fabricated.

Some royals were too clever by half. Princess Theresa of Saxony tried to fool the watchers by giving the major diplomatic players nicknames in her letters home. The French foreign minister became “Krumpholz” and the Austrian was “Krautfeld”. Let’s call this very weak encryption, because with a little bit of work, a trained eye could engage in word substitution and figure out the puzzle.

Others went farther, writing in invisible ink between the lines of more innocuous letters. This is like strong encryption, but can still be broken with enough technical know-how. Prepared as ever, the secret police had chemical solutions to reveal the hidden text.

The Secretary of State’s email is like the diplomatic correspondence of two hundred years ago. As the Austrians had figured out, the connection of many innocuous seeming details could tell a story and provide indicators of an adversary’s intentions.

Imagine you intercepted a one-line HRC email to a staff aide: “Purchase Urdu phrase book by Fri” (not a real example). Might this indicate that a trip to Pakistan was imminent, signaling a change in U.S. foreign policy? India would certainly care about this, as would others with interests in the region.

Back at the Congress of Vienna, closely watching friend and foe soon overwhelmed the secret police. In addition to the four major political powers of the day, hundreds of advisors, courtesans, hangers-on and special interest groups had descended on the capital.

The surveillance net had grown too wide. It was impossible to shadow everyone and the decryption bureau was getting behind in transcribing letters, leading higher-ups to complain that the mail was being delayed. The intelligence service had what we might call a Big Data problem, and they had not yet evolved the analytical capabilities to make sense of all the information that poured in daily. Modern governments have many more resources at their disposal and can leverage technology to separate the wheat from the chaff, quickly doing the work that legions of clerks once did by hand, so vacuuming up all the data doesn’t necessarily create an undue burden.

Not everyone had his proverbial pockets picked at the Congress. One shining beacon of good information security practices emerges. The British Foreign Secretary, Viscount Castlereagh, though under the watchful eye of the Austrian surveillance state, frustrated their efforts to penetrate his information cocoon. In their internal reports the secret police privately complain that they cannot obtain any useful information. Castlereagh hired his own household servants, thwarting efforts to infiltrate his milieu with local agents. He further had his diplomatic correspondence hand-carried back to London and he ensured that all notes were completely burned in the fireplace.

Castlereagh’s good example from two hundred years ago shows us how these common-sense practices can still resonate today in the digital age, notably not sending sensitive information via unprotected channels and using electronic document shredding to erase proprietary information.

It is doubtful that the Chappaqua server had encryption to the standards of State Department diplomatic security. Yes, the HRC email server was behind a locked door. But information flowed in and out. As SecState, HRC was a million-plus mile flyer. Thus, of the tens of thousands of emails she penned while in office, we must reasonably assume that a significant number were sent from overseas before being routed via Chappaqua. From the WiFi hotspot at the airport VIP lounge in Beijing or Moscow perhaps? Who sits atop these access points to the information highway and sniffs the messages passing through? Answer: whoever wants to.

There are protestations that the HRC files were unclassified. But, as has been shown from the point of view of a two-century-old intelligence service (that didn’t even have the benefit of electricity), every bit can be part of a larger mosaic and exploited for all the wrong reasons. This tale of snooping during the Congress of Vienna would be an amusing bit of waltz-till-dawn diplomatic history if it weren’t such a stark reminder that in the digital age a country with enough resources and ill intent can use time-honored practices to exploit weaknesses in communications practices, read the mail, and make calculated adjustments based on what it learns. And that is why this episode has such disturbing implications.

Greg Cullison is an independent researcher and Founder & CEO of ProVerity, Inc., a security and risk analysis firm headquartered near Washington, D.C.

TIME politics

What the Supreme Court Could Say About Ted Cruz’s Canadian Past

US-VOTE-REPUBLICANS
Paul J. Richards—AFP/Getty Images US Senator Ted Cruz( R-TX) smiles at the crowd while delivering remarks announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for US president March 23, 2015, inside the full Vine Center at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va.

The 'natural born citizen' clause has never really been tested

When Sen. Ted Cruz launched his presidential campaign Monday at Liberty University, he began by telling his parents’ stories of immigration from Cuba, on his father’s part, and overcoming the odds at home, on his mother’s part. One much-discussed element of Cruz’s personal story, however, got only a brief nod: “When I was three, my father decided to leave my mother and me,” Cruz told the audience. “We were living in Calgary at the time.”

Calgary, though part of Cruz’s American story, is not in the United States; it’s in Alberta, Canada. Though Cruz was born in Alberta, he only learned as an adult that his birthplace gave him Canadian citizenship, which he officially renounced last summer.

Though it’s a common misconception, being born in Canada does not necessarily exclude Cruz, the child of an American citizen, from the White House. In fact, he’s one of many potential presidents over the years who have been born abroad.

The confusing constitutional clause behind that misconception — “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President,” per Article II — most recently made news with the campaigns of John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone. As the New York Times laid out during his 2008 campaign, being born to a military officer in a military zone, as McCain was, was seen as largely uncontroversial, even though legal experts still debate whether “natural born” means “born in the U.S.” or merely “not naturalized later in life.” The real issue is that the Supreme Court has never really had to say either way. The natural-born citizen qualification is untested in practice, and it’s not even clear who would have legal standing to challenge a president like McCain or Cruz on that matter.

Further, as TIME explained in a 1962 article about the candidacy of George Romney (Mitt Romney’s father, who was born in Mexico because his grandfather had fled there to avoid U.S. antipolygamy laws), that hypothetical legal challenger would have a tough case:

His Mexican birth has raised some questions about Romney’s constitutional qualifications for the presidency. Article Two of the Constitution specifies that only a “natural-born citizen” is eligible. Some legal authorities say that this means only those born on U.S. soil. But a law enacted by the first Congress in 1790 stipulated that children born of U.S. citizens beyond the boundaries of the country “shall be considered as natural-born citizens of the U.S.”

In theory, that 1790 law could be unconstitutional too, were the natural-born citizen issue to make it to the Supreme Court — but, on this count, Cruz has an even harsher challenger to overcome. Nobody who would have provided the opportunity to put the law to the test has ever actually won the election. Other born-abroad politicians in the Times round-up include a Connecticut Senator born in Paris and FDR’s son Franklin Jr., who was born in Canada.

The closest the country has ever come to having a President not born on its soil (or, alternatively, living there at the time of the founding) was in the late 1800s, with Chester A. Arthur — maybe.

Arthur ended up in the White House in 1881, having served as the Vice-President for James Garfield, who died of complications from wounds sustained during an attempted (and ultimately successful) assassination. Though Arthur’s official biography at the White House lists his birthdate as 1829 and the place as Fairfield, Vt., both the year and the place have been challenged over the years. As the Associated Press explained in a 2009 story about the Chester A. Arthur Historic Site — his purported birthplace — rivals claimed that Arthur was actually born in Canada, where his mother’s family lived.

Records from the 1820s were predictably shoddy, and there has never been any way to prove 100% where Arthur was born. Should Cruz win the race in 2016, he’ll be the first President definitely born in Canada — and the first definite chance, unlikely though it may be, for the Supreme Court to test and define the clause in question.

Read next: How Ted Cruz is Using Spanish in His Presidential Campaign

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TIME politics

‘We Need to Get This Right': Obamacare Turns Five

Health Reform Cover
Cover Credit: PHOTO-ILLUSTRATION BY ANN ELLIOTT CUTTING FOR TIME. INSET: BRYCE DUFFY FOR TIME. The April 5, 2010, cover of TIME

The Affordable Care Act was signed on March 23, 2010

When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010, it was obvious that making “Obamacare” official was still only the beginning of the law’s story. “Now for the really hard part,” TIME proclaimed in a cover story about the new law.

Looking back at that story by Karen Tumulty and Kate Pickert that announced the law’s arrival, it’s noteworthy just how tempered expectations were.

As TIME explained:

Economists and health care experts have long agreed on the problems that ail the health insurance system in America. It leaves too many people out. Even those who have coverage may be one diagnosis away from financial catastrophe. On the other side of that same equation lie the waste and excess created by paying doctors and hospitals for the quantity of treatment they provide rather than what works best. By some estimates, as much as 30% of the more than $2 trillion Americans spend on health care each year goes toward treatments that are unnecessary and even harmful. And what does the U.S. get for that staggering investment? Shining hospitals packed with cutting-edge technology but also a population whose health and life expectancy lag behind those of most other industrialized democracies.

Will these reforms turn all that around? We won’t know for years, probably not for decades. The most ambitious element of the new health care law–the expansion of coverage to an additional 32 million Americans–won’t even take effect until 2014. “It’ll take four years to implement fully many of these reforms because we need to implement them responsibly,” Obama said as he prepared to sign the legislation. “We need to get this right.”

The charts that accompanied the 2010 story included predictions for 2019. There number of uninsured Americans was predicted to drop by 28 million — from 50 million at the time of publication, to 22 million — during that time. If those changes happened steadily over the intervening nine years, about 15 and a half million Americans would have gained insurance in the first five years.

Just last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that about 16.4 million previously uninsured people have already gained insurance since the law was passed.

Read TIME’s 2010 cover story about the new health-care law, here in the TIME Vault: What Health Care Means for You

TIME politics

See Photos From Lee Kuan Yew’s Election as Singapore’s First Prime Minister

Looking back to the day the country's longest-serving modern leader began his tenure

When the People’s Action Party won the 1959 general election in Singapore, making Lee Kuan Yew the country’s first prime minister, LIFE was there to capture the energy in the elated crowd.

And when Singapore was weeks away from gaining independence after its short-lived union with Malaysia, an eventful six years later, LIFE’s Hong Kong bureau chief sat down with Lee to hear his thoughts on the future of his country.

Lee, whom LIFE described as having “a Spartan, no-nonsense — and above all — incorruptible dedication” to his role, repeatedly emphasized racial unity as the key to a successful Singapore. “We must forge a multiracial society out of our Indians and Chinese and Malays or we’re going to have one group dominating the other,” he said, “or were going to have segregation and partition which is fraught with danger for all of south Asia.”

Half a century later, the coexistence Lee espoused is a defining feature of Singapore, a country in which nearly 40% of the population is foreign-born. Emphasizing the importance of allegiance to Singapore above residents’ countries of origin, Lee recognized multiple national languages and religious holidays and prioritized residential integration.

But declaring loyalty to Singapore was not tantamount to forswearing one’s ethnic identity. “I’m very proud of the fact that my ancestors are Chinese,” he said. “But our future lies in being part of Southeast Asia.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Opinion

Why We Should Reconsider the War on Crime

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man
Scott Olson—Getty Images Police advance through a cloud of tear gas on Aug. 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Mo.

Fifty years after it began, the initiative has brought America to a crossroads

Fifty years ago this month, President Lyndon B. Johnson called for a “War on Crime,” a declaration that ushered in a new era of American law enforcement. Johnson’s turn toward crime control as a federal priority remains his most enduring legacy—even more than the Great Society programs that scholars often herald as his greatest achievement—and continues to shape what is arguably the most important social crisis the United States now faces.

Until recently, the devastating outcomes of the War on Crime that Johnson began had gone relatively unnoticed. Then, last August, during the series of demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., images of law-enforcement authorities drawing M-4 carbine rifles and dropping tear gas bombs on protestors and civilians alike shocked much of the American public. Ferguson looked like a war zone. Many commentators attributed this sight to the ongoing technology transfers from the defense sector to local law-enforcement authorities, which began during the War on Drugs and escalated in the climate of the War on Terror.

But the source of those armored cars is much older than that. It was the Law Enforcement Assistance Act that Johnson presented to Congress on March 8, 1965, that first established a direct role for the federal government in local police operations, court systems, and state prisons. Even though the Voting Rights Act is considered the major policy victory of that year, Johnson himself hoped that 1965 would be remembered not as the apex of American liberal reform, but rather as “the year when this country began a thorough, intelligent, and effective war against crime.”

President Johnson saw the urban policeman as the “frontline soldier” of this mission, and, as a result, the administration focused on building the weapons arsenal of local law enforcement. The 1965 legislation created a grant-making agency within the Department of Justice, which—with $30 million at its disposal, or $223 million in today’s dollars—purchased bulletproof vests, helicopters, tanks, rifles, gas masks and other military-grade hardware for police departments. Like the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles driven first in Iraq and then in Ferguson, much of this equipment had been used by the military in Vietnam and Latin America.

Those programs culminated in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the last major piece of domestic legislation Johnson passed, which gave the Department of Justice a new degree of influence over social policy by enlarging the grant-making agency into the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. In contrast, the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Center of the War on Poverty never grew into a more permanent agency. Over time, national policymakers retreated from and eventually dismantled many of the social welfare programs of the Great Society; the War on Crime, on the other hand, became the foremost policy approach to the social and demographic challenges of the late twentieth century.

Indeed, federal law-enforcement programs have expanded rapidly over the past five decades. Despite the misconception that the Reagan administration spearheaded the rise of urban surveillance and mass incarceration, federal policymakers had already dedicated a total of $7 billion in taxpayer dollars (roughly $20 billion today) to crime-control programs before Reagan took office in 1981. The most recent available figures from the Bureau of Justice Assistance indicate that federal officials have sustained these funding commitments, appropriating well over $1 billion annually to law enforcement programs at the state and local level.

Law enforcement and criminal justice remain at the heart of the nation’s economic and social programs. That fact began to change life for many Americans well before the attention it got in the last year. For example, in Detroit in the early 1970s, officers of a decoy squad known as STRESS (an acronym for “Stop the Robberies, Enjoy Safe Streets”) killed 17 African American civilians—the vast majority unarmed—during its two years of operation. If the “War on Crime” was meant to be a useful metaphor that would spur policymakers into action, it quickly evolved into what resembled an actual war.

And it’s never been a matter of policing alone. Proximity to the expanding punitive arm of the federal government puts citizens, often low-income urban Americans, in close contact with the criminal justice system. Federal grants were tied to arrest rates, encouraging more apprehensions in those neighborhoods that had been explicitly targeted for special law-enforcement programs. New sentencing guidelines and criminal categories emerged that increased the chance that men and women from these same communities would serve long sentences in prison. In turn, the penal confinement of disproportionate numbers of young African American men during the 1970s often transformed first-time offenders and drug addicts into hardened criminals. Even Richard Nixon referred to prisons as “colleges of crime.”

Although the Johnson administration had created a blueprint for a national crime-control program to improve American society, the long-term impact of the shift toward surveillance and confinement has brought our nation to a fiscal and moral crossroads.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Johnson’s call for a “War on Poverty” in his first State of the Union address. Yet, according to Census Bureau estimates, the poverty rate today is equivalent to its rate in the mid-1960s. This year, with the 50th anniversary of the War on Crime upon us, and with #BlackLivesMatter and other movements against justice disparities gaining momentum, we should include the implications of this less understood dimension of the Great Society in our reconsiderations of the past.

In order to move forward as a nation we must come to terms with the reality that the programs unleashed by the War on Crime a half-century ago have overshadowed much of the War on Poverty’s social promise. President Johnson could not have foreseen the unintended consequences of the path he set in motion. But what is perhaps the central irony of the late 20th century is that one of the most idealistic enterprises in the history of the United States has left a legacy of crime, incarceration and inequality.

The Long ViewHistorians explain how the past informs the present

Elizabeth Hinton is an Assistant Professor of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of a forthcoming history of the War on Crime and its long-term impact on domestic policy.

 

TIME Drugs

New Senate Bill Could Solve Medical Marijuana’s Tax Problems

Katy Steinmetz / TIME Bryan and Lanette Davies pose for a portrait at their "Christian-based" medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento in February 2014.

The bill aimed at healing the sick could save dispensary owners lots of money

When Bryan and Lanette Davies got an $875,000 bill from the Internal Revenue Service, they didn’t pay it. Instead, they took the IRS to court, arguing that a 1982 law meant to prevent drug traffickers from deducting business expenses should not apply to Canna Care, their small “Christian-based” medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento—or any other medical marijuana dispensary legal under state law.

The couple is in the midst of a years-long legal battle over these expenses, arguing that marijuana dispensaries should be treated like most other small businesses and be allowed to deduct payroll, rent and health benefits from their taxable income.

But a new bill introduced in the Senate could help bring their trial to a conclusion.

On March 10, three Senators introduced a historic bill called the CARERS Act that would end the federal ban on medical marijuana, clearing up the discrepancy between federal law that considers pot an illegal drug and the 23 state laws that sanction the use of medical weed. The bill explicitly does several things: It would reschedule marijuana as a drug with known medical uses to allow for research. It would allow banks to work with dispensaries—both medical and recreational—without fear of being prosecuted for money laundering. And it would create an exception in the Controlled Substances Act that essentially says it doesn’t apply to medical marijuana in states where that substance has been legalized. That last part may help solve legal pot’s tax problem.

An obscure bit of the tax code known as 280E states that businesses in violation of the Controlled Substances Act can’t take a tax deduction or receive any credits for any expenses connected with their trafficking of illegal drugs, which is what medical marijuana dispensaries are currently doing in the eyes of the federal government. (Due to a tax court ruling, the one deduction they can take is for the cost of goods sold). The costs can be crippling, and politicians have joined dispensary owners in saying that prohibiting cocaine dealers from writing off the boats they bought to ship the drug, as one lawyer put it, is not the same as businesses deducting quotidian operating costs while on the right side of the law in their state.

In 2010, a group of Congress members, including Colorado Rep. Jared Polis and former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, sent letters to the IRS asking the agency to interpret the tax code in a way that would allow medical marijuana businesses to be taxed on net income instead of gross income. This is what the IRS told those members of Congress in response:

Because neither section 280E nor the Controlled Substances Act makes exception for medically necessary marijuana, we lack the authority to publish the guidance that you request. The result you seek would require the Congress to amend either the Internal Revenue Code or the Controlled Substances Act.

Legal experts have said that the IRS’ hands are essentially tied. If this bill passes, University of Denver’s Sam Kamin says that may be enough for the IRS to loosen the rope and issue that guidance. “It definitely puts marijuana on much sounder footing and makes much clearer what the legal rights of marijuana businesses are,” he says.

Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, who worked with the Senators’ offices on the Hill to craft the bill, is more absolute in his interpretation: “It resolves the 280E issue.”

Both of them agree that the bill has the potential to affect other areas of life too, in states where medical marijuana is legal. It may prevent people from being fired for using marijuana as medicine. Parents may no longer lose custody of their kids for having medical marijuana in the house. Known medical-marijuana users could be allowed to legally own a firearm; if a drug user or addict currently possesses a firearm, that’s punishable by up to 10 years of jail time.

Malik Burnett, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance—which also had a hand in crafting the bill—cautions that these are only potential interpretations of a potential law and that separate, explicit legislation should be passed if reform advocates want to definitively solve these issues. But he says the bill would enable lawyers to make stronger arguments to protect clients who use medical marijuana. “You would certainly have more solid ground to stand on,” he says.

Since being introduced, the bill has gained two cosponsors: Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and, as of Monday, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, it remains unclear whether it will be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The Davieses, in an interview for a previous article on their legal battle, said that they not only see themselves as a legitimate business but as a force of positive change in society. Lanette Davis said she felt they were being unfairly punished. “It has to do with taking care of the sick and ill. Jesus Christ made a statement that all people should care for one another, and this is our way of taking that to our community,” Lanette said. “What we try very hard to provide is a way for people to get well.”

TIME politics

Here’s Why Colorado Lawmakers Are Wearing IUD Earrings

To support bipartisan state legislation to fund long-lasting contraception

When Colorado lawmakers wear earrings shaped like IUDs, it’s more of a political statement than an unusual fashion statement.

The uniquely shaped earrings signify bipartisan support for a bill in Colorado that would provide $5 million to fund IUDs and other long-acting, reversible contraceptives. Men are wearing them too– as pins clipped to their lapels, the Denver Post reports.

MORE: The Best Form of Birth Control is the One No One is Using

Republican state Rep. Don Coram co-sponsored the bill with Democratic Rep. KC Becker–he agreed to push for the IUD bill, even though he opposes abortion. Coram wears an IUD pin next to his American Flag pin on his lapel. “A redneck Republican wearing an IUD — it just doesn’t make sense does it?” he told the Post. He notes that every dollar put into the program could save almost $6 in Medicaid costs over a three-year period.

The IUD earrings, which sell for $20 on Etsy, are made by Ohio OB-GYN Virginia Smith who also makes jewelry.

[Denver Post]

TIME politics

Meghan McCain: Aaron Schock Embarrassed and Betrayed Millennial Republicans

MH0611_CVR_Newsstand V3.indd
Men's Health

Meghan McCain is an author and television commentator.

He exacerbated every stereotype about Millennials being the over-indulged, selfie-obsessed, “me-me-me” generation.

The rise and fall of Congressman Aaron Schock is — sadly, like so many before him — a clichéd tale of an individual going to Washington, publicly presenting himself as an outside reformer, and then ultimately flaming out amid scandal and embarrassment before his career ever realized its potential.

The first time I heard Congressman Schock’s name mentioned was probably the same time most of the mainstream media was introduced to him — when the gossip site TMZ featured a photograph of him shirtless by a pool, showing off his chiseled abs. I thought he looked like he was in college and was pleasantly surprised that someone getting that kind of media attention was a member of my Republican tribe. A significant part of my life has been dedicated to trying to rebrand the Republican Party to appeal to a younger demographic of voters and to help publicize a different image of both Republicans and young people involved in politics. Schock fit the bill as soon as he emerged on Capitol Hill.

At the time, I was writing for The Daily Beast and was assigned to interview the then 27-year-old, freshly minted Congressman. I was excited by the idea that he could help present a new, fresh, attractive face to the party long stereotyped as that of old, white men. During our interview, Schock didn’t reveal anything particularly noteworthy, and he pretty much stuck to his talking points. I remember being a little disappointed that he didn’t divulge more, or at least step outside his scripted answers. We were only three years apart in age, after all. At the time, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was a new congressman and probably didn’t want to make any waves outside of the TMZ coverage.

An onslaught of publicity for the Congressman with the abs soon followed: photos in GQ, national television interviews, and, probably most notoriously, a shirtless picture on the cover of Men’s Health that displayed the congressman in an unbuttoned shirt and tie. Now, I am someone who has had a long, complicated career in the media and who has not always made the best choices for myself in the photos I have chosen to pose for or the interviews I have elected to take part in. I am not, however, nor have I ever been, a member of Congress (I am just the spawn of a politician). Politics and pop culture are more fused than ever before, but men and women holding office must still walk a very fine line to ensure they are taken seriously and don’t get so caught up in press that they are perceived as “too Hollywood” or out of touch.

As I followed the career of Congressman Schock, I became less and less of a fan. There is something about a cheesecake shirtless photo of a sitting Congressman on the cover of a men’s magazine that seemed more television star than serious politician. The main thing I had always wanted from him was his help bringing in a wider audience of people, especially Millennials who would take a look at the Republican Party and the ideals of the newer generation.

After Schock took office, his name would come up sporadically in conversations with my young Republican friends whenever I visited D.C., usually in remarks about whatever cheesy Instagram photo he had most recently posted. I started taking him less seriously and, more often than not, would wonder who was handling his press, and if they had any long term plans for him beyond just looking cute on social media.

Today, Schock is a giant embarrassment and disappointment to not only all Republicans, but especially to Millennial Republicans. The specific scandal that led to his resignation exacerbates every negative stereotype that exists about Millennials being the over-indulged, selfie-obsessed, “me-me-me” generation. And now, unluckily enough for us Millennial Republicans out there, our first well-known representative will be best remembered for completely blowing his chance to reform our party simply because he got too caught up riding around in private jets and going to Katy Perry concerts.

Read next: Illinois Congressman to Resign After Reports of Extravagant Spending

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