Mandatory membership: A claim that Louisiana lawyers are unconstitutionally required to join and pay dues to the state bar association was rejected Monday by a federal judge. New Orleans attorney Randy Boudreaux filed the lawsuit last year in U.S. District Court, claiming the mandatory Louisiana State Bar Association membership violates freedom of speech and freedom of association rights. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk ruled that the Supreme Court has already upheld such arrangements. In dismissing the claim, Africk also said the issue belongs in state, rather than federal court. Read the full story.
Price check: The Labor Department said this morning that its consumer price index rose 0.2% last month, lifted by a 2.8% increase in gasoline prices. Over the past year, consumer inflation is up 2.3%. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core consumer inflation rose just 0.1% in December and 2.3% over the past year. Inflation is running close to the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target, however the department also reported that workers’ hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, fell 0.1% in December after rising 0.1% in November. Read the full story.
Wine not: For the first time in 25 years, wine consumption has declined, falling in 2019 by nearly 1% in volume, according to global alcohol tracker IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, USA Today reports. While wine drinking is on the decline, Americans are still spending more overall on alcohol, with $167 billion going to buy booze. It’s a 2.5% increase over 2018, an indicator of changing tastes and more expensive preferences. Read the full story.