Graduate Student Blog

 

Duke graduate students offer in-depth insight and expertise on regulatory policies and practice:

Investing in Rural Sewage Infrastructure for Economic Growth
By Farah F. Hegazi

In a country where state capacity to provide basic services is not at question, it is surprising to learn that households in the United States still lack access to wastewater treatment systems. Between 40% and 90%of households in rural Lowndes County, Alabama, for example, either have poor or no access to sanitation infrastructure. Central Appalachia and indigenous communities also suffer from the same fate, and the issue has attracted the attention of the United Nations Independent Expert on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Read more

Rebalancing Regulation in Higher Ed: Interpreting the Nascent Trump Agenda on Accreditation
By William D. Goldsmith

At the moment, it is difficult to imagine university officials cheering anything that President Donald J. Trump and his administration might do. From the hastily implemented travel ban by executive order to his budget proposal slashing funding for a host of programs that benefit universities, Trump has done little to endear himself to college administrators (and much to cause headaches). But there is at least one policy area where Republicans in Washington might find common ground with the higher education community: the reinvigoration of private accreditation in the regulatory framework around postsecondary education. Read more

Slowing the Race to Fish and the Rush to Judgment on Rights-Based Management
By Anna Birkenbach

In the early 1990s, the Pacific halibut derby was madness. At high noon on the opening day of the season, thousands of boats would race each other out of Alaskan harbors and into battle on the high seas, pursuing the promise of fortune. Danger and uncertainty did nothing to deter this frenzy; year after year fishermen would compete against each other, the elements, and time to secure as much of the catch for themselves as they could before the season closed. Jockeying for position amid the cold, wind, and waves of the Gulf of Alaska, they dropped as many lines as their crews could handle and filled their holds to the brim with the prized fish. Read more

Should voluntary employee wellness programs include genetic testing?
By Lauren Czaplicki

H.R. 1313, also known as The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, would add genetic tests to other metrics employers can use to monitor and encourage healthy living as part of voluntary wellness programs. If this bill becomes law, your employer could legally ask you to take a genetic test as part of your voluntary employee wellness program. Previously, genetic testing in voluntary wellness programs has been a gray area.  North Carolina’s Rep. Virginia Foxx sponsored this bill as part of her effort to “replace [the Affordable Care Act] with responsible solutions that are patient-centered, not government-driven…advancing free-market reforms, particularly relating to employer-provided coverage”. In the perhaps not-so-distant future, there may be a time when the price of technology has fallen to a point where healthcare becomes largely data-driven, where one mouth swab can anticipate health outcomes decades in advance, minimizing the need for extensive testing when one falls ill. Read more

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Recent Enforcement Trends
By Anna Hrom

Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and tasked the agency with policing consumer financial products broadly, bringing together regulatory responsibilities that were formerly administered by seven different federal agencies. The CFPB brings many industries that were formerly regulated separately—from banks to nonbank lenders to even cellular service providers—all under a single regulatory authority.  The agency’s sweeping regulatory powers have been controversial, particularly among conservative lawmakers, especially because the CFPB has many markers of independence that other agencies lack, include independent prosecutorial authority, a funding source outside of typical Congressional appropriations, and a single director who may be terminated only “for cause.”  In the agency’s short history, it has aggressively pursued enforcement actions against financial giants and small firms alike. For these reasons, the agency has been a “political lightning rod” since its inception. Read more

Trump and the Environment: Taking Stock of Regulatory Developments in the New Administration
By Jessica Brandt

The Trump administration came out swinging against Obama’s environmental legacy. While early actions have been controversial, they are not altogether surprising considering the promises that Trump made on the campaign trail and the momentum that was expected from the newly politically aligned government. With his selection of Scott Pruitt to be 14th Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Trump put the environmental community on high alert that the administration would be adopting an entirely different approach to federal environmental regulation. Read more