Weekend News & Commentary — March 24-25, 2018

Published March 25th, 2018 -  - 03.25.189


Earlier this week, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. government to consider enacting tariffs against China and to publish a proposed list of the goods that will be subject to protective tariffs within 15 days.  There will be a 30 day notice and comment period after the list of goods is published.  The President has suggested that these tariffs would impact $60 million in goods, but White House officials estimate that these tariffs would actually impact $50 million in goods.  The memo also orders the Secretary of the Treasury to consider limits on Chinese investment and the U.S. Trade Representative to file charges against China at the World Trade Organization.  The products targeted “will largely focus on technology China is accused of forcefully taking from U.S. companies.”  Some Democrats supported Trump’s moves on trade.  In response to these actions, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated, “[President Trump] is doing the right thing when it comes to China.”  Some labor leaders have also applauded the action. Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, commented, “[the] tariffs will put needed pressure on China to play fair.”  Meanwhile, the Dow fell 724 points in reaction to the President’s announcement, and some commentators have suggested that these moves may result in a costly trade war.  Read more here.

The New York Times examines the extent to which the #MeToo movement has resulted in change.  While the article notes that the wave of media attention has started to change the public discussion regarding sexual harassment and more companies now see sexual harassment allegations as a reputational harm and business risk, the article also notes the “giant holes in the federal laws meant to protect women from harassment.”  Some states are looking to address these lacuna and lead in reforming state sexual harassment law.  The state of Washington has passed legislation to improve the ability of women to report harassment, including instituting a ban on the use of non-disclosure agreements for allegations of sexual harassment.  In California, a group of politicians are discussing lengthening the statute of limitations on sexual harassment claims and covering business relationships beyond those between employers and their employees.  Read more about reforming sexual harassment law from OnLabor here.

Can the marijuana industry help economically revitalize Southern towns?  The New York Times investigates the opportunities that marijuana could bring to the town of Cotton Plant, Arkansas, in which 30 percent of its denizens are below the poverty line.  In 2016, voters in Arkansas voted to amend the state constitution to allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes.  The state licensing process favors granting licenses to companies that will bring jobs to economically depressed areas.  The company Bold Team has proposed growing marijuana in Cotton Plant, and the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission told Bold Team it would receive a growing permit.  Bold Team had expects to hire 25 employees initially, including some local unskilled workers, and promised to give 1 percent of its gross earnings to the town.  However, this week, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen found the current licensing process to be “null and void” under the state’s constitution.  The Attorney General of Arkansas has asked the Arkansas Supreme Court to overturn the court’s ruling.  Read more from OnLabor on the potential for the marijuana industry to create jobs here.

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