Animal protection law includes wildlife habitats

Re: "Scalia slams reach of Endangered Species Act," Washington Secrets, Oct. 4

A correction to Paul Bedard's column is needed to let readers know who cannot be trusted on basic facts: Bedard, Justice Scalia or both.

Bedard writes that Scalia mocked "the EPA's decision to expand the act beyond the 'taking' or injuring or killing of endangered animals to protecting their habitat. The expansion led the court before Scalia joined in 1986 to OK protecting the habitat of animals ..." But this compounds error upon error.

In 1995,Bruce Babbitt v. Sweet Homeupheld an Interior Department (not EPA) rule, and Scalia wrote a dissent.The rule did not "expand the act beyond" the injuring of animals, itdefinedstatutorily prohibited"harm" to include "significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife."

Animals, like people, can be harmed or injured by destroying the food and shelter they need to survive.

Glenn Sugameli

Staff attorney, Judging the Environment

Defenders of Wildlife


Commuter tax no substitute for reduced spending

Re: "D.C. weighs commuter tax plan for nonresident city workers," Oct. 2

When jobs are scarce and the economy is on everyone's mind, it is truly upsetting to read about a recent proposal to tax 4 percent of the income of government workers who live outside D.C.

I understand that budgets are tight, but lawmakers increasingly seem to find ways to squeeze more out of the pockets of taxpayers instead of doing what needs to be done to end persistent high unemployment: cut spending.

Politicians do not seem to care that every dollar they take out of the struggling economy in taxes is a dollar not spent to stimulate growth and create jobs.

Justin Mullen


Paid sick days save companies money in long run

Re: "The fix is on D.C. sick leave audit," Sept. 30

The Employment Policies Institute's Michael Saltsman makes several false assumptions when he questions the validity of research on paid sick days by the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

He incorrectly states that the San Francisco paid sick leave law resulted in job loss. But our analysis found that in the year following implementation, San Francisco experienced stronger employment growth than all surrounding counties but San Mateo, and that employment growth increased year-over-year for the fourth quarter. Two in three businesses in San Francisco support the paid sick leave law, which, unlike D.C.'s, includes tipped and restaurant workers.

Other researchers have found that paid sick leave reduces turnover, which in turn reduces costs. Government statistics show the average use of sick leave -- 3.14 days per year for those with paid sick days -- is much lower than many businesses fear. Our detailed estimates find that the savings outweigh the costs.

Saltsman wrote that "progressive activists have never much cared for the laws of economics," but economic research indicates that lack of paid sick days costs us all through increased health care costs due to deferred doctors' visits. Our recent analysis found that a national paid sick day policy could translate to $1 billion in savings.

We also estimated that in 2009, sick employees may have infected up to 7 million co-workers with the H1N1 virus. Recent studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Queen's University in Canada indicate that sick employees with no leave are also more accident-prone and less productive.

Because the American economy depends on healthy workers, paid sick leave is important to everyone. Legislation requiring it should not be blocked based on unfounded assumptions that businesses will suffer.

Heidi Hartmann


Institute for Women's Policy Research