A key legislative recommendation by the Alabama Policy Institute to address illegal immigration in Alabama was passed by lawmakers. The Patriotic Immigration Commission is the first of its kind and consists of 21 members who will recommend specific proposals for the state to address the immigration influx. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will address API's Annual Dinner November 15 in Birmingham. API's transformed website, launched in May, features many helpful and attractive additions, such as a search engine, extended archives of weekly columns and legislative updates and full-text printer-friendly versions of all API publications. http://www.alabamapolicy.org/
Alaska's State Emergency Response Commission will revise its emergency response plan to add electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks into the range of risks confronting the state following a security briefing provided by Mead Treadwell, senior fellow at the Institute of the North's Defense and Security Program. The Institute hosted EMP commissioner Henry Kluepfel and director Michael Frankel to brief a gathering of adjutants general and Alaska's Joint Armed Services Committee on the EMP threat, urging military officials and policy makers to put EMP on the federal government's top 15 list of emergency response scenarios. Commissioners also briefed telecommunications and power companies of EMP effects on the power grid. Rebecca Levenson, currently studying political science and international studies at Yale University, joined the Institute's staff for the summer. She'll be working on the Arctic Energy Summit, collecting articles for the Top of the World Telegraph and Arctic Synergy electronic newsletters and building the database for the Defense and Security newsletter. http://www.institutenorth.org/
On June 19 the Goldwater Institute opened the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation with a $1 million challenge grant from Arizona businessmen R. Evan Scharf and John R. Norton III. The Institute has filed its first suit against the Arizona Department of Education on behalf of five charter schools, defending their academic independence from state intrusion. Three new staff members have joined the Institute: Jenn Bryson as a development associate, Patrick Gibbons as a communications associate and Clint Bolick, who will serve as director of the Center for Constitutional Litigation [see related cover page article]. The Goldwater Institute also welcomed five new Ronald Reagan Fellows: Veronica Czastkiewicz, Wyatt MacKenzie, Laura Prehoda, John Robb and Asha Sharma. Joining the Institute's youth brigade is Robert Wille, a Center for Constitutional Litigation clerk, and Chris Hering, an SPN / Institute for Humane Studies Koch Summer Fellow. Goldwater's latest policy report, "A Test of Credibility," exposes how Arizona inflates student achievement on the state-based TerraNova exam. "A Test of Credibility" and the Charter Schools v. Horne Charter complaint brief are available at http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/.
Two Arkansas Policy Foundation recommendations - broader charter school expansion and performance pay for teachers - were approved by the 86th General Assembly and signed into law by freshman Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe. Both ideas were advanced by the Murphy Commission, a citizens' group of more than 100 volunteers that spent three years examining Arkansas government before issuing a series of reports. The 2007 accomplishments build on earlier policy victories, including reduction in the state capital-gains tax rate, administrative restructuring and a uniform system of accounting for K-12 school districts. Any successful charter organization can now establish an unlimited number of schools irrespective of congressional district. The performance pay measure establishes a pilot program for teachers in up to 12 school districts or charters. http://www.reformarkansas.org/
Pacific Research Institute released the "U.S. Index of Health Ownership" by Health Care Studies director John R. Graham. The "Index" is the first effort to measure the degree to which individuals "own" the health care in their states. PRI President Sally Pipes had a cameo appearance in Michael Moore's new documentary "Sicko." She's been refuting Moore's claims that Canadian government-run health care is superior to the U.S. system. http://www.pacificresearch.org/
The Independence Institute has published several new issue papers, including "A Chronology of School Choice" by senior fellow Krista Kafer, "Media Errors in Coverage of Boulder High School" by research director David Kopel and "Denver's ProComp and Teacher Compensation Reform in Colorado" by education policy analyst Ben DeGrow. Three new Issue Backgrounders include "Exposing TABOR Data Games: A Second Reply to CBPP," by Ben DeGrow and Healthcare Policy Center director Linda Gorman, "A Property Tax by Any Name" by Ben DeGrow and "Implicit Compensation for Career Public Employees" by Dr. Elizabeth Cooperman and Dr. Michael Mannino. About 100 people attended the May 29 Independent Institute Women's Luncheon at the Denver Country Club to hear keynote speaker Colorado State Sen. Nancy Spence. The Institute's 5th annual "Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party" featured speaker Steve Moore of The Wall Street Journal. As always, the highly politically incorrect event was a slammin', smokin', shootin', anti-nannyist success. http://www.i2i.org/
In June the Yankee Institute released an analysis of Connecticut's property-tax crisis, "Reform Spending, Relieve Taxpayers: Real Property-Tax Relief for Connecticut." Authored by tax and budget fellow D. Dowd Muska, the paper examines why expenditure-oriented reforms offer the most promise to provide property-tax relief in the Constitution State. After defining the true problem - i.e., excessive expenditures - the study offers policy reforms in three broad categories..Mandate Repeal/Repair: Lawmakers must offer relief from requirements on municipal governments as well as halt forced unionism and the "prevailing wage" law. Anti-Mandates: Lawmakers should demand lower municipal costs. Public employee wages and benefits should reflect those of the private sector. Better Local Decision-making: Focus education spending on core skills; expose and correct corruption. Municipalities should pursue competitive contracting of government services. http://www.yankeeinstitute.org/
Property taxes and insurance, housing affordability, school choice and health care continue to be hot topics in Florida. Following lawmakers' special session addressing Florida's property-tax woes - and in preparation for the January 2008 vote on the proposed state constitutional amendment - the James Madison Institute hosted "Future Implications: Florida's Evolving Tax Structure" June 28 in Tampa. Panelists explained the new statutory and constitutional legislation, presented ideas for further reform and answered audience questions. Six months into Florida's bold Medicaid reform, Broward and Duval counties' pilot projects have improved health care and reduced the rate of cost increases - read more in the upcoming JMI Backgrounder "Florida's Medicaid Reforms: A Progress Report" by Michael Bond, Ph.D. http://www.jamesmadison.org/
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation welcomes Mary Margaret Brannen as director of development. Ms. Brannen is a University of Georgia journalism/public relations graduate, has a law degree from Mercer University and practiced law in Macon before joining GPPF in June. With a full slate involving transportation, education, tax reform and environmental issues ahead, the Foundation is thrilled to host two much-needed interns. Chris Leonard, a University of Georgia - Athens graduate in public policy, is a SPN / Institute for Humane Studies Koch Summer Fellow. Ryan Williams, completing two master's degrees (economics and finance) at Emory University, focuses on taxes. On the education front, the Foundation honored 17 public schools across Georgia as "No Excuses" schools for boosting above-average percentages of low-income students who academically surpassed statistical projections. These "No Excuses" schools are based on the Foundation's "Report Card for Parents," available at http://www.gppf.org/. Education expert Holly Robinson has been named to the Georgia Charter Schools Advisory Committee, which will advise the state Board of Education on charter school policy and development.
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii co-hosted the May 23-24 Pacific Rim Policy Conference in Honolulu. The highly successful event put GRIH on the map, so to speak. (Special thanks to SPN and ATR who made it happen!) So much so, in fact, that the GRIH office was honored by a June 8 demonstration in which 50 activists protested GRIH's public education efforts regarding the so-called Akaka Bill. That bill, which would establish a separate, sovereign, dependent nation in the USA based on ancestry, is subject to congressional consideration soon. GRIH authored a coalition letter signed by ten organizations on the subject in May. The letter was featured in the Heartland Institute's July 2007 Budget and Tax News. This apparently spooked the leaders of the demonstration, whose primary concern seemed to be GRIH's networking ability across the nation. http://www.grassrootinstitute.org/
The Heartland Institute continues to challenge Al Gore to a global warming debate with Christopher Monckton, a former adviser of Margaret Thatcher. Ads currently run in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and New York Times. Heartland staff protested a Gore book signing event in Chicago. Tom Swiss, Heartland's public relations director, was interviewed by reporters from ABC, NBC and Fox and said, "The American people need an honest debate about the true science behind Mr. Gore's claims." Lord Monckton was interviewed on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show June 15 about global warming alarmism (interview available at http://www.heartland.org/). Heartland will host the 2007 Eastern Regional Energy Summit for state elected officials in Newport, Rhode Island August 17-18. The event will bring state legislators together with the nation's leading experts on key energy-related issues facing our country, including air quality, biofuels, energy independence and global warming.
Illinois Policy Institute president Greg Blankenship testified in May before an historic meeting of the House Committee of Whole in the Illinois General Assembly.Blankenship told the committee Gov. Blagojevich's $7.6 billion gross receipts tax would be the largest state tax increase in history and do immeasurable harm to the state's economy.Also in May, education reform director Collin Hitt helped develop legislation increasing the number of charter schools in Chicago. The legislation, which was targeted at opening schools of choice for high school dropouts and chronic truants, passed the House 114-1. http://www.illinoispolicyinstitute.org/
In May, the Public Interest Institute announced the addition of Deborah Thornton to its staff. Ms. Thornton holds an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland and a B.A. from Indiana University, where she majored in journalism and political science. She brings an abundance of experience from the public and private sectors.She was an appointee at the U.S. Department of Labor under President George H.W. Bush and has worked on numerous political campaigns, including those of current U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and current Indiana U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.She also worked as an aide to New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels when he was executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.Ms. Thornton owned a small business dealing primarily in retail, Native American, International and government consulting, and was a senior technology transfer specialist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where she helped facilitate product licensing and patenting. http://www.limitedgovernment.org/
In June the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy celebrated its 10th Anniversary Dinner with featured guest U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who delivered a powerful message at the well-attended event. This summer the Center is co-hosting legislative academies across the state with Kansas Speaker of the House Melvin Neufeld. The academies will inform legislators, medical professionals and insurance providers about consumer-driven health care alternatives. Speakers include Michael Bond, Dr. Dick Warner, Rep. Neufeld and Rep. Jeff Colyer, who chaired a House task force on Medicaid reform. Scheduled for publication this summer is an updated policy paper setting the stage for a self-imposed spending cap in the next legislative session. Tammy Ensey has been promoted to vice president of operations and Sarah McIntosh has been promoted to vice president of programs. Phoebe Richardson has been hired as administrative assistant. http://www.flinthills.org/
Recognizing that the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions must increasingly play hardball to promote policy ideas, BIPPS has re-engineered its purpose: "To force legislators and policy makers to confront bad policy and gaps in performance." As a result, BIPPS' director of policy and communications, Jim Waters, began writing a newspaper column - "Bluegrass Beacon" - which 12 newspapers have published over the last five months. After releasing Kentucky's first school-choice survey on April 30, Bluegrass discovered that the more Kentuckians know about school choice, the more they support it. BIPPS cartoons continue to chide bureaucrats who oppose improving education in Kentucky. Our most recent "Shine the Light" mocks Kentucky's education department for delaying release of "No Child Left Behind" test scores until after students return to school this fall. Why? So that "only a small number of parents choose the transfer options," admitted a department spokesperson! http://www.bipps.org/
The Maine Heritage Policy Center hired Steve Bowen as director of education reform. Bowen has over eight years of teaching experience and is a former Maine state representative. Amber Collins joined the Center as a summer associate. Over the last several months, MHPC has published 12 research projects on such topics as education, taxes, cost of living, personal income and Medicaid. Scott Moody teamed up with Bill Becker to write the Maine Issue Brief, "A plan to Reform and Reduce Maine's Taxes." Becker's call for $200 million-plus in tax cuts dramatically shifted the legislative tax-reform debate. MHPC followed up with an advertising campaign outlining the difference between tax reduction and tax shifting. Regina Herzlinger, M.D., author of Who Killed Healthcare?, joined MHPC on July 11 for the Center's inaugural book signing event. Tickets are on sale for MHPC's 2007 Freedom and Opportunity Luncheon on August 16. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will deliver the keynote address. http://www.mainepolicy.org/
The Calvert Institute's ten-year anthology, The Trimmer's Almanac, is now
available from Amazon.com. It contains nearly 700 pages of articles and
symposia on the criminal justice system, the drug war, privatization techniques, high school math and science teaching, private residential community associations, state budgets and teachers' union contracts. A concluding section, "The Calvert Ethos," contains reviews of books by Robert Bork and Charles Murray, the diary of a trip through Hoxha's Albania and two comments on the "war on terror," in addition to other diverse articles. The Institute's planned symposium on transit-based development, deferred because of the change in state administration, will take place in October. http://www.calvertinstitute.org/
The Free State Foundation this year played an active role in the Maryland General Assembly. President Randolph May testified at four legislative hearings on broadband and Internet regulation bills. He explained why marketplace competition is sufficient to replace traditional public utility-type regulation. FSF scholars published two commentaries in leading Maryland newspapers, as well as blogged and circulated other materials, supporting implementation of a searchable website to track state Maryland state spending. Unfortunately, the bills proposing to do this died. FSF established a special web page to collect materials relevant to the proposed "Maryland Funding Accountability and Transparency Act" at http://www.freestatefoundation.org/.
Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., former governor of the State of Maryland, has been named to the Maryland Public Policy Institute board of directors. Long active in public affairs, Ehrlich carved out a distinguished career first as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 2nd Congressional District of Maryland, and later as Maryland's 60th Governor. This year, MPPI president Christopher Summers testified three times before committees of the Maryland General Assembly to promote education reform initiatives, specifically about MPPI's plan to establish K-12 educational scholarships for foster care children. Legislation was filed in the Maryland General Assembly based on MPPI's proposal, a crucial first step in introducing school choice in Maryland. On July 31 the Maryland Public Policy Institute hosted a Friedman Legacy for Freedom luncheon in Annapolis, Maryland. http://www.mdpolicy.org/
The Beacon Hill Institute prepared for the Mackinac Center an analysis of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's proposal to expand services, which was overwhelmingly defeated in the state Senate. BHI's econometric study found the Governor's two-percent service tax would cost 19,000 jobs by the end of 2008 and net $221 million less in revenue than the promised $1.47 billion. BHI executive director David G. Tuerck delivered a presentation, "Limiting the Federal Government: Using Tax Policy," at the spring Heritage Resource Bank Meeting in Philadelphia. Dr. Tuerck argued, shifting from income to consumption taxes would restrain federal government growth. He described what form a consumption tax should take and its benefit to the American economy. The Institute also released a study highlighting problems with a proposed discriminatory property tax against Massachusetts telecommunications firms. Using its State Tax Analysis Model Program (STAMP), BHI found that removing a current exemption without reforming the current corporate tax code would reduce investment by $210 million, cost 1,300 jobs and cut real, disposable income by $19 million. Further, state and local government would collect far less revenue than expected. BHI summer interns researched national tax reform, interstate competitiveness, labor and telecommunications issues and aided in the production of local economic impact studies in Massachusetts. http://www.beaconhill.org/
In June, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy published A School Privatization Primer for Michigan School Officials, Media and Residents. The book, by fiscal policy director Michael D. LaFaive, tracks privatization trends and discusses rules of thumb to help districts contract successfully. The primer completes the Center's Michigan School Management Series, which includes the Michigan School Money Primer released in May. Authored by LaFaive and education policy director Ryan S. Olson, the money primer tracks how $19 billion in public school funds are raised and distributed annually. With elected officials calling for school district consolidation as a way to eliminate Michigan's budget deficit, the Center released a study titled "School District Consolidation, Size and Spending: an Evaluation," authored by Andrew J. Coulson, adjunct fellow and director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute. The study found that any savings from school consolidation in Michigan would be limited and difficult to capture. http://www.mackinac.org/
The Show-Me Institute sponsored a March 5 health savings accounts seminar for legislators. Beverly Gossage, of HSA Benefits Consulting, explained what HSAs are, how they work and how this free market approach to health insurance can increase the numbers of insured and decrease health care costs. More than 60 legislators attended, including Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton. After the seminar, lawmakers included in legislation many of the ideas Gossage had discussed; this bill was signed into law by Gov. Blunt. Subsequent to the seminar, the Institute published two health care articles by Gossage: "Missouri Leads the Way to Free-Market Health Care Reform" and "Free-Market Health Care Reform in Missouri: A Primer." Gossage will speak at SPN's 15th Annual Meeting in October. David Stokes is joining Show-Me as a policy analyst specializing in government efficiency. One of Stokes' first projects, in partnership with the Reason Foundation, will focus on toll roads in Missouri. http://www.showmeinstitute.org/
The Manhattan Institute's Empire Center for New York State Policy hosted a June 6 conference in Albany featuring a distinguished panel of urban scholars and experts who discussed how to resuscitate the upstate's stagnant economy. The event, "Can Upstate Cities Save Themselves?," examined job development, education, crime, and migration. Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, credited with turning that city's economic fortunes around, stressed that urban renewal should be driven by private investment, not public subsidies. He urged city officials to stop depending on state government. Now president of The Congress for New Urbanism, Norquist called for neighborhood-based development built of local assets. He also suggested removal of highway structures that separate downtowns from their waterfronts, such as Buffalo's Skyway. Co-sponsored by the Institute's Center for Rethinking Development, the forum drew nearly 150 people. Other speakers included Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, Richard Dietz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Buffalo and Daniel Gundersen, upstate chair of the Spitzer Administration's Empire State Development Corp. www.empirecenter.org
Several hundred North Carolinians learned in June "Why Al Gore Is Wrong." The John Locke Foundation used that title for its five-city, weeklong Global Warming Tour from Charlotte to Wilmington. The tour unveiled the "North Carolina Citizen's Guide to Global Warming," which rebuts more than a dozen false claims in Gore's highly publicized movie. The Guide followed JLF research showing some North Carolina lawmakers are pushing hidden global warming-inspired taxes that could needlessly cost residents hundreds of millions of dollars each year. JLF's Carolina Journal also exposed the questionable funding sources of a Pennsylvania firm pushing climate change alarmism. JLF researchers shed light on N.C. air quality successes, charter school benefits, compulsory school attendance laws, the folly of forced annexation, the threat of eminent domain abuse and legislators' continued pattern of spending beyond taxpayers' means. In May, Newt Gingrich shared with a Raleigh audience his ideas for sparking a "wave of reform" in government. In April, author Edward Bonekemper offered Civil War insights about "Lincoln's worst nightmare" to the N.C. History Project. http://www.johnlocke.org/
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs enjoyed another successful legislative session this year. In addition to the passage of a state-level transparent budget website, OCPA successfully enhanced the traditional family by pushing through a state tax credit for stay-at-home parents and thwarted the Governor's proposed taxpayer-funded pre-school program for three-year olds. Also during this session - and reportedly for the first time in state history - lawmakers allocated fewer tax dollars toward the state budget than last fiscal year, even while projected revenues presented the opportunity to spend more. This comes exactly one year after OCPA launched its "HeyBigSpender!" campaign against runaway spending. At the conclusion of the legislative session, the Oklahoma House will conduct an interim study examining a proposal to merge the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. This is one of numerous consolidation proposals OCPA made in its annual OCPA Budget. The OCPA staff employed six interns during and following the legislative session. http://www.ocpathink.org/
Cascade Policy Institute president John A. Charles, Jr. discussed transportation privatization in May at the SPN Pacific Rim Conference. He updated the conference audience on recent developments in private-public highway-building partnerships, electronic tolling and state turnpike leasing. Cascade was active in the Oregon Legislature, which adjourned June 28 after a six-month session. A Cascade-proposed school-choice program for low-income students was defeated on a 4-5 committee vote, but may return next session. Cascade's bill would have created 1,000 scholarships (vouchers), but a tuition tax credit may be discussed in 2008. A restrictive Oregon Constitution would likely limit vouchers to non-religious schools, but no such restrictions would apply to a tax credit program. Tax credits are likely more palatable to Democrats, who in the past have opposed vouchers. Cascade's Steve Bucksteinhelped derail a bill to block most all development along 300 miles of the historic Oregon Trail. It was a small victory for freedom, property rights and the entrepreneurial spirit, which were key ideals that motivated Oregon Trail pioneers in the 1800s to make the arduous trek to the Pacific Northwest in the first place.http://www.cascadepolicy.org/
Recognizing the Allegheny Institute's work on transit authority governance, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would alter the make-up of the governing board for the Allegheny County Port Authority. Currently, the state has no representation despite providing nearly two-thirds of the funding. If enacted, the bill would allow the state to appoint four of the nine board members. Similar legislation is moving in the House. http://www.alleghenyinstitute.org/
The Commonwealth Foundation launched a campaign in June called "Put Pennsylvania Government on a Spending Diet" to encourage improved state fiscal and economic health. Through a website (www.PADietPlan.com ), billboards and radio spots, the Foundation is promoting spending restraint, taxpayer control and tax reduction. The Foundation also revamped its primary website, www.commonwealthfoundation.org, which features daily articles and blog updates. The Foundation's weekly radio program, THE BOX: Inside·Outside·On, was recognized by Arbitron as the No. 1-rated program in the Harrisburg Metro area and listening time. THE BOX airs Saturday's 8:00-9:00am on the fourth highest-rated talk station (per capita) in the US. Last spring, former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton joined the Foundation's board of directors. On November 14, the Foundation will honor Richard Mellon Scaife with its Speaker Franklin Statesman Award. John Stossel will keynote.
The South Carolina Policy Council is fighting false information regarding a so-called "public school choice bill" that would not have allowed parents to choose any school outside South Carolina's last-in-the-nation public system.SCPC research exposed the lack of capacity in public schools, and the failure of the education system to administer mandated school choice under "No Child Left Behind."Gov. Mark Sanford cited the Policy Council's research when he vetoed the bill (his veto was sustained).A plan to allow public school choice alone would have halted momentum for broader statewide education reform, including full choice for all parents. http://www.scpolicycouncil.com/
The Tennessee Center for Policy Research launched the beta-version of the Carnival of Climate Change (carnivalofclimatechange.com), a digest of blog entries that "douse global warming hysteria, curb misinformation emissions and attempt to cool the overheated climate of apocalyptic fear." In July the carnival was nominated for a "Bloggers for Positive Global Change" award. TCPR also released "Violating Tennessee's Open Meetings Law Appears to be Business as Usual for the City of Franklin," a white paper exposing secret meetings and clandestine policy discussions among local public officials. In honor of Independence Day, TCPR illuminated how several purportedly cash-strapped cities around Tennessee burned $100,000 on taxpayer-funded fireworks displays. TCPR also offered kudos to the more prudent local governments that wisely financed their July 4th pyrotechnic extravaganzas through private donations and corporate sponsorship. On July 31 TCPR hosted Tennessee's Friedman Legacy Day event in honor of the pioneering economist and tireless school choice advocate. http://www.tennesseepolicy.org/
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility recently saw several of its top issues passed by the Legislature, most notably an omnibus transparency bill that requires all state expenditures, grants and contracts to be consolidated into a single, publicly searchable database. TFR president Michael Quinn Sullivan said, "Taxpayers are used to getting the bill for big government. This legislation finally lets each of us take a look at the receipt." The TFR scorecard, released in June, shows the Texas Legislature is indeed fairly irresponsible: The average score was a failing 52 percent. Only 15 of the 150 House members scored an "A" (90 percent or better), while the highest score in the Senate was 78 percent (that's right, a "C"). TFR will focus now on educating voters about lawmakers' performances in advance of the primary election season. http://www.empowertexans.com/
Sutherland Institute president Paul T. Mero has been interviewed on many local and nationally-syndicated radio talk shows regarding The Natural Family: A Manifesto, co-authored with Allan C. Carlson, founder of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society. The book examines why the family is in crisis, the ways in which the natural family is the source of culture and freedom and what families can do to preserve themselves. "The heightened amount of media response shows just how much confusion there is in the nation right now regarding the definition of ‘family'," said Mero. "The natural family does what no other organizing principle can do - it makes everything around it better. It is the foundation of ordered liberty." Sutherland welcomed policy analyst Derek Monson to the Institute. Derek brings a specialty in quantitative research methods and a background in Utah issues. http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/
For the eighth consecutive year, the Thomas Jefferson Institute published its Virginia Economic Forecast, this year noting that continued economic growth in Virginia is dependent upon a skilled and educated workforce. The Forecast, conducted by Chmura Economics & Analytics, and underwritten by SunTrust Bank, is widely noted in the business community, as well as by newspaper opinion writers and state policy leaders. The Virginia State Chamber of Commerce now allows the Jefferson Institute to mail the Forecast to its membership. Institute staff made major education policy appearances before the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (on universal pre-K) and a local government leaders meeting called by Delegates Clarke Hogan and Watkins Abbitt (on education costs). Fall initiatives will include a new report comparing how well at-risk students learn to read in wealthy school divisions versus poorer school divisions, a survey of outsourcing efforts in Virginia school divisions and development of websites, blogs and grassroots networks aimed at mobilizing parents of children with disabilities on behalf of a scholarship bill for those children. JI continues to press for free market approaches to cleaning Chesapeake Bay and promote better, more efficient state government functions. http://www.spn.org/cmsadmin/internet/publications/www.thomasjeffersoninst.org
On June 24, Ethan Allen Institute president John McClaughry and director Dr. Arthur Woolf were featured on the state's leading television interview program explaining the Institute's "Off the Rails" report. The report details how, by 2030, Vermont's changing demographics won't economically support the state's generous education and human-services spending. EAI has played a leading role opposing the Legislature's proposed tripling of the power output tax on Vermont's only nuclear plant. Proceeds ($25 million over five years) would finance a new "efficiency utility" charged with enlightening Vermonters to the revelation that conserving energy saves them money. Gov. Jim Douglas vetoed the measure, but as of the SPN News press time the Legislature was still considering an override. Planning is under way for the third annual Freedom Fest, tentatively scheduled for November 3. Also in the planning stage is an educational project on the future of nuclear power in Vermont. http://www.ethanallen.org/
In June Evergreen Freedom Foundation attorneys attended a hearing regarding EFF's public disclosure request for documents created during the 2007-09 collective bargaining negotiations. The unions offered to settle so long as EFF agreed that the public could only see the documents after the governor signed the budget and the contract was established law. The State would have accepted the offer, but EFF refused: Such a settlement would hamstring future efforts to obtain the documents before they were ratified into law. EFF posted the legal documents from SEIU v. Washington online, resulting in a number of editorials in favor of disclosure. From public pressure, union-supported legislation to permanently prohibit the release of these documents died in committee. EFF's recommendation that Washington State create a constitutionally protected emergency reserve account passed in the 2007 legislative session. If approved by voters in the fall, the amendment would require lawmakers to set aside a portion of the state's revenue into a secure reserve account. http://www.effwa.org/
Dr. Russel Sobel, senior economist and director of the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia's Center for Economic Growth, continues to interview and tour in support of the Foundation's first book, Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity Stops at the West Virginia Border and How to Fix It. Reviews have been extraordinarily complimentary. The West Virginia State Journal called Unleashing Capitalism "the most important book of the next five years." Dr. Sobel has discussed Unleashing Capitalism with a diverse range of groups, individuals and professional organizations, among them bank executives and natural resource industry associations. On July 31 the Foundation hosted a birthday commemoration honoring Milton Friedman as part of the Friedman Legacy for Freedom project. http://www.westvirginiapolicy.com/
Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and Ralph Nader sent a co-signed July 2 letter to Governors of 45 states urging them to post all state government expenditures online in a clear and searchable format. The Federal Funding and Accountability Act, signed into law September 2006, will require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to place federal contracts and grants on a publicly searchable website by January 1, 2008. Five states (Kansas, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Texas) have passed legislation this year mandating all state expenditures be made available online. A copy of the letter and comprehensive information on state transparency initiatives are available at http://www.atr.org/. ATR has released its annual Cost of Government Day (COGD) report. COGD is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of spending and regulatory burdens imposed by government at the federal, state and local levels. The 2007 COGD falls on July 11, two days later than 2006. View the report on ATR's website.
In North Carolina, twoFreedomWorks county chapters defeated two tax hikes totaling more than $1.5 million. FreedomWorks activists attended meetings, led phone banks and wrote letters demanding that their taxes not be raised. They won in both Stokes and Macon counties. In Ohio, the legislature passed SB 117, giving Ohioans more choices between cable providers. Local activists sent hundreds of letters and made phone calls to key legislators in support of this legislation, which was signed by Governor Strickland. FreedomWorks also helped to defeat the "Employee Free Choice Act." This legislation would open up the workplace to union intimidation by ending secret ballots in elections. FreedomWorks members were active for months, and our president Matt Kibbe published editorials, but the biggest splash was their crash of a union rally on Capitol Hill. The report of the crash on TownHall.com was read aloud on the Rush Limbaugh Show, which gave them credit for standing up for workers' rights and facing the union bosses head on. http://www.freedomworks.org/
The Moving Picture Institute, a New York-based foundation that promotes freedom through film, is currently supporting two path-breaking movies. "Mine Your Own Business" makes the case for economic liberty, exploring how Western environmental activists are keeping the world's poorest people poor because they believe their lifestyles are quaint. "Indoctrinate U" charts how, in the name of education, American colleges and universities ruthlessly compel conformity of thought. Produced by On the Fence Films with the support of MPI, this scorching indictment of American higher education should make students, parents, trustees, lawmakers, and taxpayers sit up and take notice. To arrange a screening of "Mine Your Own Business," contact MPI for a free DVD copy. To sign up for a screening of "Indoctrinate U," visit www.IndoctrinateU.com. By requesting and arranging screenings, friends of liberty help ensure that the broadest possible audiences see these important films. MPI is accepting applications for internships; to learn more, visit http://www.thempi.org/.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a novel Washington State Supreme Court ruling that discovered a "constitutional right" for union officials to spend dissenting employees' mandatory dues on political causes they oppose. While Davenport v. Washington Education Association was an important defensive victory for teachers and the Right to Work movement, the Court did not rule on the more important broader questions presented. Instead, the narrow ruling merely reinstates an ineffective state campaign finance law, often called "paycheck protection," that had opened the door for courts to misinterpret the First Amendment in the first place. NRTW recently uncovered evidence that union officials in Texas have apparently been engaging in a widespread and fraudulent scheme to force potentially thousands of employees working at federal government facilities to pay union dues - in violation of a state Right to Work law. Union testimony indicates the scheme involves other Right to Work states, so NRTW has broadened its investigation. http://www.nrtw.org/
The Young America's Foundation continues to advance principles of freedom, limited government and strong national defense. With the additions of former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Virginia Gov. George Allen, YAF's campus lectures, national conferences and educational programs remain top-notch. In 2007, the Foundation hosted the Reagan Ranch High School Conference in Santa Barbara, a Midwest Conference in Minneapolis and YAF's 10th Gratia Houghton National High School Leadership Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The 29th annual National Conservative Student Conference is July 29-August 4, 2007, in Washington, D.C. YAF commemorated the 20th anniversary of President Reagan's historic June 1987 challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear Down This Wall." The ceremony at the Foundation's Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara featured talk radio host Michael Medved and the man who penned that famous speech, Peter Robinson. For more visit http://www.yaf.org/ or call 800-USA-1776.