State Policy Network
Week in Review: March 1, 2024


Empire Center released a new report that calls for guardrails to New York state’s Climate Act and identifies opportunities for state lawmakers to not only shield New Yorkers from undesired outcomes but also to reduce the costs of reaching New York’s emissions-reductions goals.

Institute for Reforming Government announced that Attorney Jake Curtis has been named General Counsel and Director of their award-winning Center for Investigative Oversight. The Institute also released an analysis of the new voting district maps, showing that despite rhetoric to the contrary, most of Wisconsin is still not competitive.

Mountain States Policy Center released a new study, Building a home in the Mountain States – the cost and conundrum, that examines ways to improve the housing supply in the Mountain States.

Opportunity Arkansas applauded Governor Sanders’ recent statement which declined to endorse the idea of further expanding Medicaid, under the guise of “improving maternal health.” 

The Policy Circle announced it is hosting a Day at the Tennessee Capitol on March 6th, in partnership with the American Federation for Children. The event will be capped by Governor Bill Lee joining for the evening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

Texas Public Policy Foundation releases a report on the Registered Apprenticeship Program in Texas, calling for more innovation in the state’s workforce training programs so as to spur business growth and grant individuals a full spectrum of opportunities to prosper. The Foundation also released its full agenda for the 2025 89th Texas Legislative Session. The campaign focuses on tax, spending, and local government policies that reduce the government burden on Texans. 

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty opened registration for their inaugural 2024 School Board Summit in April. Co-hosted by the Noah Webster Educational Foundation, the School Board Summit will feature various sessions and panel discussions covering topics such as legal and policy updates, how to ensure effective policies make it from the school board to the classroom, what school board members should know about school finance, how to enhance parental involvement, and more. The Institute also released its 2024 School Data Dashboard, which equips parents and taxpayers with data to see how school districts across the state are performing.

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

The Buckeye Institute argued in an amicus brief in Starbucks v. McKinney that when the National Labor Relations Board sues a private company, the government should not get special treatment on its request for a preliminary injunction.

Kansas Policy Institute’s Kansas Justice Institute filed a constitutional lawsuit to protect the First Amendment rights of their client, the owner of The Cozy Inn, an iconic restaurant in the city of Salina, Kansas, who is seeking to complete painting a mural on the building that he owns.

Liberty Justice Center has filed a new lawsuit in Oregon to challenge a school district’s policies for violating parents’ First Amendment rights. Although the Gladstone School District amended some policies in response to a recent demand letter by the Center, these partial concessions are not enough. As a result, the Liberty Justice Center is moving forward with its lawsuit to uphold the First Amendment rights of parents and educational advocates like plaintiff Glenda Scherer. In addition, when administrators in a Texas school district engaged in an illegal electioneering scheme—using public resources to pressure employees into voting for favored candidates—the Liberty Justice Center issued a letter on behalf of registered voters in Denton County, demanding that the District Attorney investigate the scheme. Finally, the Center’s President Jacob Huebert argued in favor of a second preliminary injunction to halt executive overreach by Nebraskan mayors whose recent executive orders violate state law.

Pelican Institute filed a complaint challenging the Biden Administration rule mandating the use of Turtle Excluder Devices on certain skimmer trawl vessels on behalf of their client, Louisiana shrimper Acy Cooper, and the Louisiana Shrimp Association. Pelican also filed a complaint challenging Louisiana’s restrictive florist licensing law on behalf Angele Mixson, aiming to defend her right to earn a living.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asked the University of Wisconsin to investigate and reform several discriminatory programs that remain active despite last summer’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. Officials at UW have promised to bring the system into compliance with that landmark decision, but many illegal policies persist.

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Success Stories

California: The Ninth Circuit Court just issued a ruling formally bringing a close to McDonald v. Lawson, the Liberty Justice Center’s case challenging the state’s blatant violation of the First Amendment through its physician censorship law.  “We are thrilled to have won this victory for the right to free speech in California and stand ready to fight this battle in any other states that attempt to censor doctors or other professionals,” said President Jacob Huebert.

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Solutions from the States: This Week’s Policy Briefs  

The Buckeye Institute analyzed Ohio’s success in meeting the requirement that every state agency cut its regulations by 10% by June 30, 2023. Ohio earned a B overall, and Buckeye identified areas for improvement to ensure agencies meet the goal set by lawmakers of cutting regs by 30% by 2025.

Empire Center published a brief examining IRS data showing that New York state’s share of all U.S. income millionaires dropped again in 2021. The analysis shows that high taxes and other factors have led wealthy individuals to relocate to more tax-friendly states – highlighting the importance of competitive tax policies to retain high-income earners in New York. The Center also issued a brief showing that despite promises of transparency, lawmakers failed to deliver on their commitment to an independent redistricting commission, raising concerns about fair representation for voters.

Mountain States Policy Center cracked open a brief that looks at the policies that have led to skyrocketing egg prices in Washington state. The Center also released a brief examining how to bring transparency to the cost of college.

South Carolina Policy Council issued a brief unpacking the problems of a proposed state-run liquor liability insurance program, backed with taxpayers’ money. Soon after the Council’s coverage was released, House lawmakers announced they were putting the program on ice.

Washington Policy Center issued a brief which highlights a disturbing trend of decreasing farm ownership in Washington, much in part due to the hostile policies put in place against farmers.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty released a brief that highlighted the impact Farm Bureau insurance plans could have on health care access for rural Wisconsinites.

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Tracking Positive Reforms: Updates from Network Affiliates  

Georgia: Legislation pending in the Legislature would create a task force to explore how Georgia could use Utah’s One Door policy to allow more people to find meaningful work and pathways out of poverty through the state’s safety-net system (Georgia Center for Opportunity).

Mississippi: Proposed legislation has been referred to the House Education Committee which would make several changes to Mississippi’s charter school law designed to expand the establishment of charters in the state (Empower Mississippi). Meanwhile, another piece of legislation was proposed that would give families the right to have their child’s share of state education tax dollars paid into their child’s own Magnolia Scholarship Account.  Each family would then be free to allocate that money to meet their child’s needs (Mississippi Center for Public Policy).

Nebraska: The Nebraska Legislature passed a bill that reforms occupational licensing in the state (Platte Institute). 

Oklahoma: A bill which would grant teachers the ability to choose whether to pay union dues, rather than having school districts handle that process before the teacher receives his or her paycheck, has been approved by committee and now moves to the state Senate floor. Additionally, for the second time in two weeks, members of a state House committee have advanced legislation to gradually eliminate Oklahoma’s personal income tax (Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs).

Ohio: The Senate took up House Bill 238, which includes several recommendations championed by The Buckeye Institute to reduce or cut unnecessary occupational licensing requirements. 

Utah: Proposed legislation would raise the bar for government entities that hold sensitive data of private citizens – elevating its Personal Privacy Oversight Committee which includes elected officials (Libertas Institute).

Washington: State Legislators have proposed a complete ban on state local income tax (Washington Policy Center and Mountain States Policy Center). There is also a ballot initiative advancing in the state that would repeal the “Climate Commitment Act,” Washington’s new cap-and-trade law that added about 43 cents per gallon and about 53 cents per gallon to diesel in its first year (Washington Policy Center).

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Policy News from the States


K-12 Education

The Amazing $100 Million Story of Aug Prep and School Choice
Badger Institute

Legal Update: Visalia Unified School District V. Public Employment Relations Board
California Policy Center

How Relaxing School Accountability Hurt Academic Achievement
Center of the American Experiment

Minnesota’s Chronic Absenteeism Rate More Than Doubled Since 2017
Center of the American Experiment

Conflict Of Interest: Minneapolis Teacher Union President Running for School Board
Center of the American Experiment

Education Freedom – 5 States to Watch in 2024
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

Parents, Educators and Taxpayers Deserve to Know School Accountability Ratings
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

The Chicago Teachers Union’s Affinity for Failure
Illinois Policy

Demand for North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program Continues to Surge as Priority Deadline Approaches
John Locke Foundation

Responding to Outlandish Claims about the Opportunity Scholarship Program
John Locke Foundation

Utah Actually Spends Over $11,000 Per Student
Libertas Institute

What School Districts Don’t Want You to Know About Their Referendums

MacIver Institute

House Bill 5025 Does Not Fix Any Problems, Creates New Ones
Mackinac Center

School Choice is Essential, And Nebraska’s Tax Credit Is About as Freeing as It Gets
Platte Institute

This Is a Compromise?
Show-Me Institute

Press Event to Spotlight Legislative Inaction on Educational Equity in Connecticut
Yankee Institute

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Energy and Environment

California’s Impossible War on Oil and Gas

California Policy Center

The Delusions of Davos and Dubai, Vs. Realistic Pathways to Global Energy Security
California Policy Center

More Than 2,256 People Oppose Xcel Energy’s Transmission Line, Only 310 People Support
Center of the American Experiment

Three Energy Realities Renewable Advocates Can’t Answer
Center of the American Experiment

The Heavy Toll of Government Environmental Policies on American Farmers
John Locke Foundation

Michigan’s Renewable Energy Report Card
Mackinac Center

Critics Warn Bill Will Hike Electricity Rates
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

‘Build It and They Will Come’ Not the Answer for Climate Change Legislation
Pacific Research Institute

Show-Me Energy: Decommissioning Power Plants Part 2
Show-Me Institute

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Boston Children’s, MGH Among Massachusetts Hospitals with Highest Relative Commercial Prices
Pioneer Institute

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Housing Affordability

Increasing Rent Control Will Decrease Needed Housing Supply
Pacific Research Institute

Mortgage’s New Normal: Guide to Better Borrowing Amidst Higher Rates
Pioneer Institute

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Jobs and State Economies

California Doesn’t Own AI Policy

California Policy Center

Who Is the Government Protecting by Blocking Kroger-Albertsons?

Mountain States Policy Center

Endangered Bee Threatens to Delay Major Road Project
Center of the American Experiment

Social Media Companies Have Free Speech Rights, Too
Goldwater Institute

Understanding the Constitution: The Truth about the Much-Abused Commerce Clause
Independence Institute

New Paper Shows the Practical Impossibility of Central Planning
John Locke Foundation

How Building More Luxury Apartments Helps the Poor
Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, U-Haul Will Take You to Florida
Mackinac Center

Blame Slow-Growth Policies for Housing and Homeless Crises
Pacific Research Institute

Why Don’t Businesses Just Print Money?
Pacific Research Institute

Considering the Four-Day School Week? Pilot It and Evaluate It
Show-Me Institute

Lesser of Two Evils? Young People Deserve More Choices
Texas Public Policy Foundation

State Legislators Fail to Advance Anti-Slavery Bill
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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State Budgets

Legislative Committee Wants to Extend Commuter Rail to Salem at a Cost of $118 Per Ride
Cascade Policy Institute

MN State Government Gave More Than $1 Billion Directly to Nonprofits Last Year. What Could Go Wrong?
Center of the American Experiment

New Report Warns That Welfare Spending A Ticking Time Bomb
Center of the American Experiment

DFLers Move Bill to Make Minnesota’s Sales Tax Joint Highest in America
Center of the American Experiment

Next Steps in Georgia Tax Reform
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Chicago Teachers Union No. 3 Funder of Johnson’s Tax Hike Proposal
Illinois Policy

With Grocery-Tax Reduction Signed into Law, Focus Turns to Income Tax
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Velda City and Northwoods Basically Stalking Their Citizens
Show-Me Institute

Listen: The Latest on the New KC Stadium Tax
Show-Me Institute

Statement On Governor Murphy’s Budget Address
Garden State Initiative

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Workplace Freedom

Idaho Education Association Joins Progressive Advocacy Group
Freedom Foundation

House Democrats Advance SEIU Bill In Oregon Knowing It Would Strip Caregivers of Their Rights
Freedom Foundation

Union Lies Only Make Our Outreach More Believable
Freedom Foundation

Chicago Teachers Union Endorses Plan Making Their Property a “Mansion”
Illinois Policy

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Equity? Here’s a Position for You
Indiana Policy Review Foundation

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The Network in the News

In Daily State News, the Caesar Rodney Institute’s Greg Lavelle argues that legislators should apply the science and logic of a child’s “brain development” across the spectrum of all public policy.

In The Daily Caller, the Commonwealth Foundation‘s Kevin Mooney highlights how free market activists dismantled an SEC proposal enabling China to stifle US energy production.

In The Hill, the Commonwealth Foundation‘s Jennifer Stefano highlights how some Pennsylvania Democrats are pushing back against eco-fundamentalism.

At The Ohio Press Network, the Freedom Foundation’s Eloise Smith points out another instance where a teachers’ union is putting their own self-interest before students.

At RedState, the Freedom Foundation highlights the corrupt acts of Philadelphia’s District Council 33 AFSCME president. 

In the Savannah Morning News, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation‘s Kyle Wingfield notes scores show Georgia’s schools still have some catching up to do.

In the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Policy Institute‘s Paul Vallas notes the protection of Chicago’s witnesses and victims must be a priority. 

In his column for the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Independence Institute‘s Jon Caldara highlights how Colorado’s small businesses are shuttering. 

In The Epoch Times, the Independence Institute‘s Rob Natelson notes presidential rankings are another symptom of the university virus.

In The American Spectator, the Independent Institute’s Lloyd Billingsley points out that reporters seem unaware of California’s ongoing attack on free speech.

In The Orange County Register, the Independent Institute’s Carolyn Gorman points out that taxpayer money has been thrown at housing initiatives for decades with little to show for it.

In The Center Square, the Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation’s John Hendrickson opines on John Calvin’s contributions to liberty, particularly through his influence on the founding fathers.

At InsideSourcesLibertas Institute‘s Jon England highlights some policy solutions that can resolve some of the recent battles raging within the public school system.

In the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the MacIver Institute‘s Annette Olson highlights how fake pills are fueling fentanyl deaths, especially in Wisconsin. 

In The Center Square, the Mountain States Policy Center‘s Madi Clark notes development choice, not government, fixes improve home affordability.

In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Mountain States Policy Center‘s Chris Cargill underscores the importance of a Career Transparency Act—or a policy that would require the state to make a variety of statistics and information publicly available to high school students considering a college path.

At RealClearPolicy, the Pioneer Institute‘s William Smith highlights how the Biden administration is moving forward with a proposal that could dismantle the intellectual property (IP) framework that has enabled the US to bring life changing treatments to patients.

In her column for Newsmax, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Sally Pipes criticizes Bernie Sanders’ fixation on drug prices.

In The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Sally Pipes outlines why the weakening of intellectual property rules is a threat to California.

In the Livingston Parish News, the Pelican Institute‘s Daniel Erspamer points out Louisiana’s public defender system is in need of reform.

In The Daily Caller, the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Chuck DeVore notes dueling visits show Biden’s border crisis is the defining issue of 2024.

In the Journal Inquirer, the Yankee Institute‘s Carol Platt Liebau notes Connecticut can learn from the mistakes of California and Illinois.

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Categories: News