State Policy Network
Week in Review: May 10, 2024


Cascade Policy Institute announced the launch of its exciting new seminar series designed to impart valuable tips on how to voice opinion and influence local policy decisions.

Common Sense Institute Iowa’s latest report, Iowa Housing Competitiveness Index, used data from four key metrics related to housing supply and affordability to rank Iowa’s competitiveness in term of housing against the other 49 states and D.C. The report found that relative to average wages in the state Iowa has the 7th most affordable housing market in the country for both renters and buyers, and it is the 17th most competitive for housing overall.

Kansas Policy Institute published the 2024 edition of its Green Book, which examines the relationship between economic growth and the size of government. The Institute also published a four-part series on Integrated Voter Engagement, which turned Colorado from a red state to a blue state, and now is being used in Kansas.

Mountain States Policy Center released a pair of reports: Powering the Mountain States, which offers a snapshot of these states’ energy portfolio, and How AI Can Improve Government Efficiency, which points out how artificial intelligence (AI) can save the taxpayer money.

Opportunity Arkansas continues its campaign on educating voters across the state about the dangers of the misleadingly titled, “Arkansas Educational Rights Amendment.” As part of this effort, CEO and Founder Nicholas Horton penned an op-ed in Townhall, “The Left’s New School Choice Playbook in Arkansas Serves as a National Warning.” In the piece, Horton explains what these union-backed activists are doing, which could lead to the end of education freedom in Arkansas and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

Rio Grande Foundation was featured in an article penned by the Herzog Foundation that looks at the potential dangers of New Mexico’s universal school meal program.

South Carolina Policy Council released a call to action on how to get the most tax relief out of South Carolina’s next budget and the results of the Council’s latest internal poll, which found overwhelming support for many of the reforms championed by the Council.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sent a letter to the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation, urging them to reject President Biden’s proposal to impose a nearly 10% cut to the state’s Charter Schools Program, which provides valuable funding to starting high quality charter schools.

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

The Buckeye Institute partnered with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty on an amicus brief in Hile v. Michigan, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that Michigan’s anti-religion Blaine amendment is unconstitutional. The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation and Bursch Law represent the families in the case.

Liberty Justice Center sued the Davidson County Board of Education on behalf of Christian McGhee, a sixteen-year-old student whose question about the word “aliens” in English class led to a harsh suspension and false accusations of racism by his own school. The lawsuit argues that the school board had no legal justification to suspend Christian because his comment was protected speech under the First Amendment and argues that the suspension violated his rights to free speech, education, and due process. The Center also jointly filed a lawsuit with the Upper Midwest Law Centerto defend Minnesota college students’ First Amendment rights, challenging the requirement that all enrolled students pay fees to Students United, a private political organization that takes stances on controversial issues about which many students disagree. Finally, the Center filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Pitta v. Medeiros, a case about the types of speech and expressive activity protected under the First Amendment. The brief argues that recording a public official performing their duties qualifies as expressive activity protected by the First Amendment—and serves the interest of public transparency—regardless of whether it takes place in a public area or on private property.

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs defended free speech by filing a request for summary judgment in a lawsuit attempting to target conservatives first filed in 2020 by Paycom.

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Revenue on behalf of two Wisconsin Wedding Barns. The lawsuit is seeking to mitigate the harmful impacts of Wisconsin Act 73, which threatens these business owners’ life work via heavy-handed economic protectionism. The Institute also filed a complaint against Northwestern University and Rutgers University on behalf of Young America’s Foundation. Both complaints allege that these universities have violated Title VI by discriminating “on the grounds of race, color, or national origin.” 

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Success Stories

Georgia: Governor Kemp signed the Personal Privacy Protection Act (PPPA), which safeguards Americans’ personal information when donating to nonprofit causes. The PPPA is now law in 19 states (People United for Privacy).

Michigan: The State Supreme Court upheld a longstanding interpretation of law requiring unions to treat the employees they represent — members or nonmembers — equally. At a time when Michigan has been adopting increasingly anti-worker policies, the court’s unanimous decision is a welcome breath of fresh air (Mackinac Center).

Mississippi: Legislation was signed into law that repeals the antiquated Mississippi Adequate Education Program and creates a new weighted student funding formula for distributing tax dollars to public school districts based on the characteristics of the students within each district. Districts will receive additional dollars for students with challenges like special needs or students who live in poverty – a revolutionary bill for public education in the state (Empower Mississippi and Mississippi Center for Public Policy).

New York: The Livingston County Supreme Court threw out a proposition to amend the state Constitution, ruling that the Legislature violated the Constitution’s procedures when passing it. This decision upheld the rule of law by ensuring that laws are applied as written – a positive step for those who live in the Empire State. In addition, several planned offshore wind projects in New York have been cancelled – a move which grants relief for upstate residents who would have faced significant increases in electricity bills (Empire Center).

Ohio: The City of Cleveland abandoned its appeal in the case, Morsy v. Gentile, and agreed to fully refund the taxes that were illegally taken from The Buckeye Institute’s client, Dr. Manal Morsy, pay the interest owed to her according to Cleveland City Ordinance, and reimburse her court costs – a significant victory for Buckeye and its second of the case.

Rhode Island: Following extensive efforts from a local school district to stonewall curriculum requests, a State Superior Court ordered the district to provide a Rhode Island mom with “copies of the responsive records forthwith and at no cost.” The court also ordered the school district to pay attorney’s fees and leveled a civil fine against the school district for their efforts intimidate (Goldwater Institute).

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty was awarded over $350,000 by a federal court after it successfully sued the Biden Administration for race discrimination. The order comes on the heels of the court’s decision last month, which held that the federally run Minority Business Development Agency unconstitutionally discriminated against small business owners based on race.  

Washington: A new study revealed the success of the state’s charter schools, which have now become an essential link in eradicating the “achievement gap” between low-income students and children from wealthier families – a joyous and measurable impact stemming from the efforts of those who advocate for school choice in the state (Washington Policy Center).

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Solutions from the States: This Week’s Policy Briefs  

Empire Center released a brief which reveals how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s payroll increased by $663 million, or 9 percent, last year, reaching its highest-ever level.

Maine Policy Institute published a brief breaking down how lawmakers are using a day designed to allow the Legislature to consider objections, or vetoes of bills by the Governor to fund new bills – a blatant disregard for the law.

Mountain States Policy Center released a suite a briefs which break down the Blaine Amendment, showing how it is a bigoted relic of yesteryear, reveal the consequences of the breaching the Snake River dams, showing the negative impacts of this policy in the Mountain States, and analyze the Kids Online Safety Act, warning policymakers to be cautious with this proposal.

Washington Policy Center issued briefs which examine the shortfalls of the WA Cares policy and reveal that the electric vehicle (EV) sales in the states are even more short of the state’s targeted policy goals than initially reported.

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Tracking Positive Reforms: Updates from Network Affiliates  

Hawaii: A proposed bill would clarify the definition of multifamily housing and allow the Hawaii County Department of Public Works to issue preapproved model plans for multifamily housing — a positive step toward streamlining the permitting process for residential construction on Hawaii Island. In addition, lawmakers passed a major income tax-relief bill that would increase standard deduction amounts. The bill now proceeds to the Governor’s desk where he is expected to sign (Grassroot Institute of Hawaii).

Louisiana: The House passed a responsible budget for Fiscal Year 2024-2025, making mostly minor changes Governor Landry’s proposed budget and proposing to spend $4.1 billion less than the budget for the current fiscal year (Pelican Institute).

Massachusetts: A proposed bill which would reform the state’s permitting process to more easily allow for accessory dwelling units is gaining momentum and local endorsements – a potentially important piece in the policy puzzle of how Massachusetts can provide sufficient supply to attract and retain a high-quality talent pipeline (Pioneer Institute).

Minnesota: A bill which would have abolished sub-minimum wages for people with disabilities, and thus, indirectly reduced employment for disabled Minnesotans, has been defeated – a move which allows the state’s current system, which has led those with disabilities to enter the workforce at a rate higher than 42 other states, to continue (Center of the American Experiment).

Mississippi: The state Supreme Court issued a ruling on a case that appears to clear the way for further discussion of education choice policies in the state – stay tuned for more on this issue (Empower Mississippi).

North Carolina: The Senate passed legislation that would eliminate the waitlist for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The bill now moves to the House (John Locke Foundation).

Oklahoma: The House and Senate have both unveiled their budget plans and each contain needed reforms. The House is proposing a tax cut on the top rate from 4.75 to 4.5 percent – a change that would save Oklahomans up to $250 million per year. The Senate is proposing a “workforce development” program that would provide scholarships to students pursuing degrees and employment in high-need areas (Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs).

Ohio: Lawmakers areconsidering commonsense local government reforms championed by The Buckeye Institute. In particular, House Bill 331 ensures that village governments unable to provide core services to their residents are held accountable and makes it easier for village residents to vote on whether to dissolve their local government.

South Carolina: A bill which would require full transparency in school curricula and sets in place a standardized procedure for complaints about inappropriate classroom content has been sent to the Governor’s desk – a step closer towards needed education transparency in the state (Palmetto Promise).

Tennessee: As the legislative session ends in the state, there are several positive reforms to report, including two education reforms which provide a pathway for charter schools to use underutilized or vacant property owned by a local education agency and create the framework for residential charter facilities for grades six through 12 for “at-risk” students (Beacon Center of Tennessee).

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Policy News from the States


K-12 Education

Civil Discourse & Civics Education in Schools
Cardinal Institute

It’s National Teacher Day: Celebrating Excellent Educators Across All Learning Environments
Center of the American Experiment

Homeschool Enrollment Surges Again Following Post-COVID Lull
Center of the American Experiment

Homeschooling Hub
Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

Final Draft of North Carolina’s K–12 Healthful Living Standards Released at Last
John Locke Foundation

USD 416 Audit Report Further Evidence the Public School System Ignores State Laws
Kansas Policy Institute

Over 27,000 Students Applied for Utah Fits All Scholarship
Libertas Institute

From Crisis to Choice: A Modern History of Education Reform in America
Mackinac Center

Mississippi to Change School Funding. Here’s Why It’s Such a Big Deal
Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Recruiting & Retaining South Carolina’s Teachers
Palmetto Promise Institute

POLITICO’s Peter Canellos on Justice John Marshall Harlan & Plessy v. Ferguson
Pioneer Institute

Watch: K-12 School Choice Calculator Webinar with EdChoice and Reason Foundation
Show-Me Institute

The United Nations and School Choice with Ignasi Grau Callizo and James Shuls
Show-Me Institute

Public Schools Plead Poverty—What Do the Numbers Say?
Texas Public Policy Foundation

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Energy and Environment

The Case for Oil Drilling in California
California Policy Center

Shapiro Energy Policy Is a Formula for Expensive Electricity
Commonwealth Foundation

Economic Freedom: A Blueprint for Environmental Progress
Frontier Institute

Lawsuit: Feds Zeroed Out Expected Right Whale Deaths from Virginia Offshore Wind
John Locke Foundation

The Green Conspiracy: “It’s Good for the Environment!” and Better for Shareholders
MacIver Institute

Proof that Wind and Solar Are Disasters, Not the Energy America Really Needs
Mackinac Center

The Plastic Bag Nags Still Wrong
Pacific Research Institute

Tight Grid Conditions in April and May Highlight the Risk of Soaring Electric Bills for Texans
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Biden’s Environmental Agenda a Dangerous Path Toward Energy Crisis
Texas Public Policy Foundation

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No Need for a ‘Hospital Review Board’ in Delaware
Caesar Rodney Institute

The Latest on Medicaid Expansion
Foundation for Government Accountability

How Not to Fix Surprise Ambulance Bills
Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

Mental Health Should Take Center Stage in Rural Communities
Pacific Research Institute

Uncovering the Truth About Medicaid Expansion with Dr. John Mansell
Wyoming Liberty Group

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Housing Affordability

Phoenix’s Building Permit Privatization Could Help Reverse Illinois’ Housing Woes
Illinois Policy

Arizona Should Not Look to California for Housing Solutions
Independent Institute

Renters Are Biggest Losers in Louisville’s New Registration Law
Independent Institute

Renaming ‘Public Housing’ Doesn’t Alter Its Sordid History
Pacific Research Institute

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Jobs and State Economies

DFL State Legislators Strike Deal with Minneapolis City Council: Uber and Lyft Now Leaving the Entire State
Center of the American Experiment

Experience Better Than a Degree
Libertas Institute

Utah Lights Innovative Path to Matching Benefits with Work Realities
Libertas Institute

Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Is Good. Universal Recognition Would Be Better
Mackinac Center

Louisiana’s Legislative Leap: Unleashing Economic Potential Through Strategic Reforms
Pelican Institute

Conservatives’ Golden Opportunity to Win the Minimum-Wage Argument
Sutherland Institute

One Way or Another, It’s Time to End the ETJ
Texas Public Policy Foundation

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State Budgets

As Council Ramps Up Spending While Commercial Property Values Tank, Minneapolis Property Taxes Set to Rise
Center of the American Experiment

Metro Transit Doubles Down on EV Bus Failures
Center of the American Experiment

2024 Idaho Freedom Index Report: Most Idaho Lawmakers Fail to Limit Government, Spending
Idaho Freedom Foundation

Red-Light Cameras Take Another $500M from Illinois Drivers in 5 Years
Illinois Policy

Rick Snyder: I Signed a Michigan Tax Cut into Law in 2015 – It Was Meant to Be Permanent
Mackinac Center

Wake County: Brace Yourselves for Another Tax Increase
John Locke Foundation

The Uncompelling Case for NCInnovation
John Locke Foundation

How Much Pork Will Be in Upcoming State Budget?
Mackinac Center

Appropriations Democrats Flout Mills in Massive Last-Minute Spending Spree
Maine Policy Institute

Girding for the Cost of a Grid Upgrade
Pacific Research Institute

BART Pushes to Raise Taxes to Subsidize Falling Ridership
Pacific Research Institute

The Type of Audit We Can All Agree On
Show-Me Institute

Winners and Losers: ISD Bond Elections
Texas Public Policy Foundation

Who Will Rescue Baltimoreans from Tax Hell?
The Maryland Public Policy Institute

Government-Funded Media: What Could Go Wrong?
Yankee Institute

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Workplace Freedom

California: It Isn’t Too Soon to Start Planning SEIU 1000’s Exit
Freedom Foundation

PEF Expatriate Has Firsthand Encounter with Union Lies
Freedom Foundation

Return of Union Dues Skim Threatens Home Health Workers
Mackinac Center

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Supreme Court Justices Question Civil Asset Forfeiture
Goldwater Institute

Looking for a Constitutional Alternative to Racial Preferences in Higher Education? A Distinguished Harvard Economist Has a Suggestion
John Locke Foundation

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The Network in the News

In The Washington TimesThe Buckeye Institute highlights how Europe’s experience reveals the economic pain the U.S. will face if it implements the Biden administration’s net-zero policies.

In his recent column, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation‘s Kyle Wingfield considers if this a time of reckoning for American higher education.

In The Maui News, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii notes property tax hikes are the wrong way to rebuild Lahaina.

In an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Policy Institute‘s Micky Horstman notes the key to CTA’s rebound is boosting business, not taxes.

In the Arizona Daily Star,the Independent Institute’s Christopher Calton calls for Arizona lawmakers to look to California as an example to avoid, not imitate, for housing solutions.

In The Hill, the Independent Institute’s Abigail R. Hall warns that Louisville’s new housing law will increase rents, reduce housing, and violate privacy.

In The Des Moines RegisterIowans for Tax Relief Foundation‘s John Hendrickson considers why Governor Kim Reynolds keeps winning in Iowa. 

In The Courier, Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation‘s John Hendrickson argues that fiscal restraint is good for Iowa.

At National ReviewIowans for Tax Relief Foundation‘s John Hendrickson highlights how Iowa just accelerated its transition to a low flat tax. 

At TownhallOpportunity Arkansas‘ Nic Horton notes the Left’s new school choice playbook in Arkansas serves as a national warning.

In the Washington Examiner, the Pacific Research Institute‘s Sally Pipes notes the government shouldn’t micromanage nursing homes.

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Categories: News