State Policy Network
Week in Review: February 23, 2024

Announcements  

Alabama Policy Institute released a report outlining concerns about the gaming bills passed by the Alabama House of Representatives last week.

Beacon Center of Tennessee released an excerpt of Beacon CEO Justin Ownen’s upcoming book, Modern Davids. In the excerpt, Owen shared the story of a little girl whose parents struggled to find her adequate medical care due to the state’s certificate-of-need laws.

Center of the American Experiment announced that 2,256 Minnesotans signed the Center’s petition opposing a plan which allocates $1.14 billion for a transmission line used to connect more unreliable wind and solar facilities to the grid after the ill-advised closure of coal plants in the state.

Georgia Public Policy Foundation published their College and Career Ready Performance Index  overall scores for Georgia’s public schools. Overall scores reveal significant declines compared to 2019 despite increased per-pupil spending in the state. 

Indiana Policy Review Foundation announced the release of Indiana Mandate: A Return to Founding Principles, a new book written by members of the Foundation that is now on sale. The book examines the 75 most critical issues facing Indiana in the light of the approaching 250th anniversary of the Declaration of the Independence and the upcoming presidential election.

Libertas Institute released a new report outlining the findings and recommendations of the Utah Flexible Benefits Working Group.

Opportunity Arkansas released two critical products this week pertaining to the ongoing implementation of education freedom in Arkansas.  The report “Five Myths about Education Freedom Accounts” debunked the arguments opponents of education choice often parrot. Instead, the report exposes the truth behind the success of education freedom and the life-changing impact it is having across Arkansas.  In conjunction with this report, Opportunity Arkansas also released a new poll that surveyed Arkansas parents about the continued popularity of education choice in the state.

Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Better Tech for Tomorrow campaign released its full agenda for the 2025 89th Texas Legislative Session. The campaign evaluates policy solutions through the lens of promoting civic virtue, protecting individual privacy, and ensuring the security, autonomy, and dignity of Texans. The Foundation also announced that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will speak at their Texas Policy Summit.

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Freedom through the Courts: The Latest Litigation Efforts across the Network

Beacon Center of Tennessee filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor challenging a rule which forces freelancers into employment relationships that they neither want nor need.

The Buckeye Institute joined with Frontier Institute in filing an amicus brief in Held v. Montana, calling on the Montana Supreme Court to leave environmental policy-making to the legislative branch.  Buckeye and Frontier are joined by a host of co-signers seeking to overturn the Held v. Montana decision which determined that 16 youths were injured by the state’s contribution to global climate change, and therefore had standing to sue the state.

Goldwater Institute lawyers went before the Texas Supreme Court to argue against the constitutionality of public sector labor union “release time,” which forces taxpayers to pay union organizers’ salaries and finance their activities.

Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit challenging forced union dues in Ohio. LJC is representing an Ohio school district employee who quit her union in 2022—only to be told four months later that the union had begun taking dues from her paycheck again, without her consent. The Center also defended the right to free speech in two hearings before federal court. In California, Senior Counsel Buck Dougherty presented arguments against federal censorship through social media companies. In Minnesota, Counsel Reilly Stephens challenged a controversial law criminalizing core political speech.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty continued to fight back against the so-called “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program,” on behalf of clients who deserve equal treatment under the law and filed its 11th lawsuit against the Biden Administration.

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Success Stories

Wisconsin: The State Assembly passed a bill which would enable high-quality teacher apprenticeship programs in the state – a bipartisan step which would enable teachers to start their careers with less debt and potentially address the teacher shortage. The bill now moves to Governor Evers desk for signing into law (Institute for Reforming Government). The State Assembly also passed an amendment to the state constitution which prohibits any future governor from using their line-item or partial veto powers to raise taxes or fees and voted in favor of legislation that “decouples” public school spending from spending on parental choice programs (Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty). 

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Solutions from the States: This Week’s Policy Briefs  

The Buckeye Institute published a paper which urged lawmakers to free Ohio’s small craft brewers from the state’s 50-year-old, anti-competitive alcohol franchise law that “disproportionately empowers distributors to the detriment of small craft brewers.”

Mountain States Policy Center issued a brief analyzing an Idaho House bill that would require manufacturers of smartphones and tablets to enable content filters for children – a step which could lend a false sense of security.

Platte Institute released a brief called for property tax relief to focus on cutting school levies for Nebraska home owners. As of 2023, schools accounted for roughly $3.1 billion in property taxes in the state, contrasted to counties which accounted for $865 million and municipalities $590 million. Platte also issued a brief unpacking unintended consequences of cigarette tax increases – namely – illicit interstate smuggling and criminal behavior.

Washington Policy Center published a brief which highlights a bill that seeks to give low-to-middle income families $200 checks, but it’s contingent on voters rejecting an initiative that would repeal the carbon tax.

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Tracking Positive Reforms: Updates from Network Affiliates  

Alabama: The House’s Ways and Means Education Committee passed Governor Kay Ivey’s Universal School Choice bill. The bill now proceeds to the House floor.

Idaho: A proposed House Bill would prohibit judicial deference by amending the state’s Administrative Procedures Act – a necessary step to curtail federal agency overreach in the state. The Senate has also proposed a bill which would authorize a statewide voters’ guide (Mountain States Policy Center).

Kansas: The Legislature is advancing measures that reduce costs for obtaining public records, enforce mandatory loss of accreditation for non-compliant school districts, remove onerous license requirements on “sugaring”, and reform asset forfeiture (Kansas Policy Institute).

Louisiana: Governor Jeff Landry introduced a state budget which shows signs of fiscal restraint – an encouraging sign for tax payers in need fiscal stability (Pelican Institute).

Mississippi: A bill which would create a pilot program for five state agencies to reduce their regulations by 30 percent over the next three years has been referred to the Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency Committee. Also, a bill which would allow a person to shampoo other people’s hair without having to obtain a time-consuming and irrelevant cosmetology license has been referred to the Senate Public Health Committee (Empower Mississippi). The state legislature is considering multiple bills that would significantly advance education freedom across the state, including the Mississippi Student Freedom bill, which proposes Education Freedom Accounts for parents in the state – and the INSPIRE bill – school funding formula reform (Mississippi Center for Public Policy). The state legislature is also considering multiple bills that would roll back Certificate of Need laws, which intentionally restrict competition in the healthcare economy. (Mississippi Center for Public Policy).

Oklahoma: Legislation advanced from the Senate Education Committee would prohibit state school officials from pressuring teachers to participate in union activities. The bill now proceeds to the floor of the Senate (Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs).

Utah: State legislators proposed a bill that restricts reverse-keyword searches, thus backing the liberties of Utah’s citizens while still empowering law enforcement to fulfill their responsibilities by codifying a keyword search that has the backing of probable cause, including particularized suspicion of an individual or device. Legislators are also considering a bill which would amend behavioral health licensing requirements in efforts to alleviate the state’s shortage of mental health providers (Libertas Institute).

Washington: A citizens’ initiative is advancing to the ballot box where, if approved by the voters, it could repeal Washington state’s capital gains income tax (Washington Policy Center).

West Virginia: The House is considering a bill that would end certificate-of-need laws by July 1 (Cardinal Institute).

Wisconsin: A bill is halfway through the state legislature that would include a better recognition of the role that employers play in healthcare reform. In particular, the bill includes employers among those who may sign a Direct Primary Care agreement – a crucial step towards reversing growing healthcare costs in the state (Badger Institute).

Wyoming: The Legislature developed and proposed federal rules that takes specific aim at the overreach of the Federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the state (Mountain States Policy Center).

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Policy News from the States

Topics:

K-12 Education

No Research Shows Private School Choice Is a Better Strategy?
Bluegrass Institute

National Experts Critical of Minnesota Social Studies Standards
Center of the American Experiment

Four States Leading the Charge for Conservative Education
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

SB 233: Georgia Promise Scholarships Would Help Thousands of Students. Why Are These Districts Voting Against It?
Georgia Center for Opportunity

School Spending and the Opportunity Scholarship: Some Important Numbers
John Locke Foundation

AI: How Schools Can Implement the Next Generation of Education Technology
John Locke Foundation

In Detroit Schools, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
Mackinac Center

Oklahoma Senate Committee Votes to Scrap Parent Penalty
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Oklahoma Republicans Join Democrats to Reduce Parent Role in School-Board Races
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Reading and Math are Louisiana K-12 Education Priorities, but Are School Systems Prioritizing Them?
Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Study: Ed Reform Has Improved Academic Performance and Equity
Pioneer Institute

Center Backs Call for Resignation of RI Education Commissioner
Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity

How Transparent Are U.S. Schools About Their Curriculum?
Sutherland Institute

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Energy and Environment

County Board Gives Cold Shoulder to Proposed Solar Project
Center of the American Experiment

A Map of the History of the Electric Grid
Center of the American Experiment

Economic Freedom and Environmentalism: Friend or Foe?
Frontier Institute

Bombshell: Electricity Customers and Taxpayers Are the Same People
John Locke Foundation

Lawmakers Consider a State Subsidy For EVs as Prices Approach Parity with Conventional Cars
Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

Profile In Cowardice: Assembly Republicans Pass Their Right of First Refusal Bill on a Voice Vote
MacIver Institute

Supply Side Option May Fix Southwest Water Challenges
Nevada Policy Research Institute

District Court Set to Decide Whether Moab Area Off-Roading Trails Remain Open
Texas Public Policy Foundation

TPPF Submits Comments Opposing California’s Harmful Zero-Emission Vehicle Regulations
Texas Public Policy Foundation

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Healthcare

How a Medicaid Program to Improve Nursing Home Care Ended Up Paying for Union Benefits
Empire Center

Middlemen Pushing Up Retail Costs of Drugs
Pioneer Institute

Medicaid’s Massive Miasma: Taming Beacon Hill’s Burgeoning Budget Beast
Pioneer Institute

Beware the Medicaid Hole
Show-Me Institute

Key Questions and Answers About Healthcare Sharing Ministries
Sutherland Institute

February Healthcare Highlight: Farm Bureau Insurance Plans
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty

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Housing Affordability

True Housing Reform Seems a Strong Possibility
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Protecting Property Taxpayers from Unsustainable Increases (LD 2102)
Maine Policy Institute

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Jobs and State Economies

New DFL Bill Means Homeowners Will Need to Be Licensed or Get a Licensed Contractor to Change a Light Switch in Their House
Center of the American Experiment

Well, That Didn’t Take Long – Bezos Leaves Washington State for Florida
Freedom Foundation

Metro Atlanta’s Population to Reach 7.9 Million By 2050
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Growing Indiana Small Towns
Indiana Policy Review Foundation

How to Make a $20 Big Mac: Artificially Inflate the Cost of Labor
Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

The Rise of UBI in Texas Should Prompt Legislative Action
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Inflation is the Result of Washington’s Poor Decisions
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Bad Bills Sicken Connecticut’s Small & Medium-Sized Businesses
Yankee Institute

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State Budgets

Support the TABOR Bill at the Capitol
Center of the American Experiment

Transit Bailout Could Derail Shapiro’s Budget
Commonwealth Foundation

Episode 30: Hollywood Handouts
Empire Center

Eliminating Grocery Tax Would Help Illinois Families
Illinois Policy

Our Perspective: Illinois’ State Budget Is Nearly $13B Higher Today Than It Was 6 Years Ago
Illinois Policy

Senate Republicans: No Income-Tax Cuts This Year
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Newsom’s Budget Plan Sinks in Deficit Quicksand
Pacific Research Institute

Local Voters Face 77 Tax Increases on California’s March Ballot
Pacific Research Institute

Reparations: A Financially Unrealistic Proposal That Will Bankrupt California
Pacific Research Institute

Missouri Needs Better Stewards
Show-Me Institute

Progressive Democrats Suddenly Fine with Regressive Sales, Payroll Taxes
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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Workplace Freedom

Washington Democrats Advance Bill to Permit Electronic Union Organizing
Freedom Foundation

Big Labor’s Death Knell in Michigan
Mackinac Center

Public Sector Unions Receiving Tax Dollars Violates Texas Constitution’s “Gift Clause”
Texas Public Policy Foundation

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Other

Tired of Politics? Stand by These Values
Commonwealth Foundation

How Well Do You Know U.S. Presidents?
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

Jesus — Socialist? Capitalist? It’s Complicated
Indiana Policy Review Foundation

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The Network in the News

In The Columbus DispatchThe Buckeye Institute responds to critics of school choice.

In The Herald-Dispatch, the Cardinal Institute‘s Amanda Kieffer points out West Virginia has too many laws preventing former criminals from working.

In her column for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Commonwealth Foundation‘s Jennifer Stefano explains why it’s so important that every citizen, regardless of ideology, resist the temptation to defeat the opposition by any means other than the ballot box.

In The Dallas Morning News, the Foundation for Government Accountability‘s Victoria Eardley and Haley Holik argue guaranteed universal basic income programs trap people in dependency.

In The Federalist, The Free State Foundation’s Randolph May contrasted Claudine Gay’s “my truths” and the Declaration of Independence’s “self-evident truths”.

In his recent column, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation‘s Kyle Wingfield highlights how Atlanta is expected to see major growth.

At RealClearHistory, the Independent Institute’s William J. Watkins, Jr., points out that Nikki Hayley was right to initially demure from the use of force to keep states from seceding the union.

In The Orange County Register, the Independent Institute’s Lloyd Billingsley points out that the state would be better served building more lanes on the I-5 than to spend more on the “Bullet” train.

At National ReviewIowans for Tax Relief Foundation‘s John Hendrickson highlights Iowa’s next tax reform opportunity. 

In the Daily Herald, the Libertas Institute‘s Jon England notes punishments won’t solve absenteeism.

In the Daily Signal, the Liberty Justice Center’s Jeff Schwab argues that unions cannot take employees’ money with their consent—nor can they constantly move the goalposts to prevent employees from standing up for their First Amendment rights.

In the Capital Press, the Mountain States Policy Center‘s Amber Gunn highlights how Idaho and Wyoming are taking aim at local and federal agency overreach.

In his recent column, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs‘ Jonathan Small points out cutting the personal income tax could help working families. 

In her column for Newsmax, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Sally Pipes notes California may learn single-payer mania has a hefty price.

At Forbes, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Sally Pipes notes President Biden is his own worst enemy in the war on cancer.

In the Los Angeles Daily News, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Steven Greenhut and Wayne Winegarden blame slow-growth policies for California’s housing and homeless crises.

In The Center Square, the Pelican Institute‘s Daniel Erspamer notes Louisiana’s public defender system is in need of reform.

In The Federalist, the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Chuck DeVore considers a world where the internal combustion engine didn’t exist.

At RealClearEnergy, the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Matt Eagan and Brent Bennett highlight how Biden’s war on domestic energy is intensifying. 

In The National Interest, the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Matt Eagan and Brent Bennett argue Joe Biden has gone to war against US energy independence.

In The Center Square, the Washington Policy Center’s Paul Guppy fact checks a claim made by the state Senate Majority Leader that repealing the capital gains income tax would “devastate” funding for certain state programs, including education programs.

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