State Policy Network
Week in Review: September 8, 2023


Alaska Policy Forum published Alaska’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Blocks—a simple, straightforward way to visualize how Alaska is spending its money.  

Americans for Fair Treatment’s Elisabeth Messenger was a guest on the Independent Women’s Forum’s She Thinks Podcast, as she illuminated where labor union members’ dues actually wind up. 

Continuing its leadership on cutting needless government-mandated occupational licensing regulations, The Buckeye Institute urged the Ohio Supreme Court to admit qualified part-time attorneys—practicing in other jurisdictions—to the Ohio Bar without needless regulatory hardships.  

Empire Center released a report examining the extreme severity of New York City’s first pandemic wave, which has emerged as one of the deadliest of the entire global pandemic and revealed the critical weaknesses of the state’s public health defenses. 

Independent Institute announced Research Fellow David Beito’s soon to be released book, The New Deal’s War on the Bill of Rights: The Untold Story of FDR’s Concentration Camps, Censorship, and Mass Surveillance, which exposes “the unseemly illiberal underbelly of the New Deal behemoth, effectively and efficiently.” 

John Locke Foundation highlighted their recent Civitas Poll results showing that 46% of North Carolina voters desire a candidate other than Joe Biden or Donald Trump to take the oath of office. Findings also further prove the point that North Carolina is a textbook example of a purple state. Also, Locke’s own Jon Guze and other members of the North Carolina Advisory Committee members to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on the state’s Civil Rights and Equity of Legal Financial Obligations in North Carolina.  

Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, in coordination with the Competitiveness Coalition, found in a poll of 800 likely Republican primary voters, that these voters want the federal government to focus on inflation, the cost of living and the economy, and not get distracted by attacking American tech companies. 

Mountain States Policy Center furthered awareness of upcoming Idaho government transparency workshops and announced the newest recipient of its prestigious Elevation Award, former Idaho Governor Butch Otter. 

Opportunity Arkansas was awarded the 2023 SPN Annual Meeting Expanding Your Audience award in recognition of the outstanding performance of their insider newsletter, NonDebatable

Pacific Research Institute released the findings of its new survey of voter perspectives on local schools and local school boards. One of the key takeaways–voters feel that parents have too little influence over their local school boards. The Institute also released the Free Cities Index, a pro-growth ranking of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. 

People United for Privacy filed public comments with the House Ways and Means Committee warning Congress about the dangers of allowing the IRS to regulate the political speech of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. 

Steamboat Institute hosted nearly 400 attendees in Beaver Creek, CO, for its 15th Annual Freedom Conference and Festival. The event featured Gov. Kristi Noem, Congressman Pete Sessions, Riley Gains, Dana Perino, and a musical performance by Mary Millben, and much more

Sutherland Institute hosted a Congressional Series event where Rich Larsen, the Institute’s president and CEO, guided a conversation with U.S. Senator Mike Lee. The Senator expressed concern with the growing delegation of congressional authority to the administrative state and called for better control of administrative authority. 

Washington Policy Center amplified a back-to-school checklist released by the Pacific Justice Institute and the Family Policy Institute that empowers parents to protect their children as they go back to school. 

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

The Buckeye Institute filed an amicus brief in Moore v. United States, calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that broadens the definition of income so dramatically that if upheld, it would allow the federal government to not only tax actual income but also possible future income—income one might never receive—such as the increased value of a home or a retirement fund. Also, cementing the Institute’s status as a trailblazer in making public information more accessible to voters, Buckeye filed an amicus brief with the Ohio Supreme Court in Hicks v. Union Township, arguing that it is the duty of the General Assembly—not the courts—to determine what information to exclude from the definition of public records. 

Goldwater Institute filed a suit to uphold Arizonans’ right to hold the judiciary accountable. Goldwater’s special action petition, filed with the Arizona Supreme Court on behalf of four voters, urges the high court to strike down the current retention election system for Court of Appeals judges and ensure all voters have an equal say. Goldwater also filed a pair of briefs in the Arizona Supreme Court, urging the justices to put an end to the unconstitutional subsidizing public-sector labor unions. 

Liberty Justice Center (LJC) sued Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to challenge a new law that would prevent Illinoisians from challenging state laws, rules, or orders in any state court except the Circuit Courts in Chicago and Springfield. LJC also filed a notice of appeal to challenge illegal “jawboning” by the NLRB’s General Counsel and filed an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to hear Vitagliano v. County of Westchester, a case that could strengthen protections for free speech. LJC also filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in Moore v. United States, a case challenging a 2017 tax law that expands the definition of taxable income to include “unrealized gains”—that is, money that exists in theory, but not in reality. 

The Alaska Attorney General filed a petition with the U.S Supreme Court to defend the Mackinac Center’s union “opt-in” policy. 

Nevada Policy’s separation of powers lawsuit continues in the Nevada courts, where offending dual-serving legislators recently filed their final briefs. In response, Nevada Policy published a refresher of the Nevada Constitution, showing how the plain text of the Constitution prohibits legislators from exercising “any” non-legislative governmental function. 

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed a lawsuit against the Town of Hayward for ignoring Wisconsin law and refusing to notice and hold a special town meeting rightfully and legally requested by residents of the town.  

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Success Stories  

Alabama: Alabama shoppers will start to see relief from near record high food prices beginning this Friday, September 1, 2023, when the state grocery tax cut begins to take effect. This comes after decades of advocacy on behalf of all citizens by the Alabama Policy Institute. 

California: In August, more than 2,000 California government union members opted out of their membership and dues, allowing them to put the money to much better use. This establishes a new benchmark for the most public employees leaving their union in any month aided by the Freedom Foundation.   

Ohio: A state labor board found cause to believe that the Ohio Association of Public School Employees unlawfully discriminated against seven women by denying them a share of $8,000 in compensation that the school district gave the union to distribute to certain members for work they performed over and above their normal job duties (Freedom Foundation). 

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Solutions from the States: This Week’s Policy Briefs   

Alaska Policy Forum released a policy brief examining English language learners (ELL) rates in Alaska which shows that Alaskans’ impression of ELL education may deserve some adjustment. 

Foundation for Government Accountability published a brief showing how the policies that drive welfare spending are making groceries more expensive. 

Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s Keli’I Akina issued a brief which looked realistically at the path forward for Lahaina, pointing out that legislators can ill afford to further burden the state economy with the usual high-tax and high-spending habits. 

Illinois Policy Institute’s Paul Vallas and Patrick Andriesen penned a brief that looked at the policies underlying gun violence in Chicago and the spike in youth crime. 

John Locke Foundation’s Jon Sanders, Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, broke down “China Carbon Time” and what it means for North Carolina’s efforts to decarbonize their grids. 

Kansas Policy Institute’s The Sentinel published data that exposed that Kansas is the only state in the region to lose private-sector jobs this year, but added government jobs. 

Libertas Institute’s John England examined school policies banning artificial intelligence (AI) and argued schools should not ban the use of AI but should guide students in its effective use instead. 

Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup highlighted how public policy can help kids build resiliency. 

Mountain State Policy Center’s Chris Cargill released a brief examining the amount of tax money that the public is losing on public land in Idaho while Madilynne Clark penned a brief arguing for policies that will allow free market agriculture to grow. 

Nevada Policy published a brief with solutions to Nevada’s three biggest public policy problems: 1) excess government spending, 2) proceduralism, and 3) overreach–inherently ineffective government policies. 

Pioneer Institute released a brief which argues for the adoption of innovative approaches to address K-12 STEM teacher shortages. 

Washington Policy Center’s Todd Myers revealed the dishonest lengths to which the Washington State Utility Commission descended in efforts to hide recent rate increases for natural gas from the public, and Mark Harmsworth examined what Seattle needs to do to revitalize its downtown business district. 

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Tracking Positive Reforms: Updates from Network Affiliates  

California: There is a movement to remove unnecessary bureaucracy holding up new housing construction, and with two weeks left in the state’s 2023 legislative session, there is a bill advancing that would accelerate new production of “affordable housing” (Pacific Research Institute). 

Oklahoma: In recent weeks, in interviews with both local media and national outlets, Gov. Kevin Stitt has called for Oklahoma to gradually eliminate the personal income tax to turbocharge the state economy (Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs). 

Puerto Rico: A bill representing crucial occupational licensing reform has been introduced in the PR Senate, an incredible first step in the right direction (Instituto de Libertad Económica Para Puerto Rico). 

West Virginia: Although the state’s education savings account program, the Hope Scholarship, remains one of the most expansive in the country, some barriers to entry remain beyond straightforward eligibility requirements. That looks like it might change in the very near future according to the West Virginia State Treasurer, Riley Moore (Cardinal Institute).  

Wisconsin: A recent edition of the Washington Post on the Wisconsin Supreme Court furthered the call to amend the state Constitution to protect free-market, limited government reforms such as Right-to-Work and school choice (Institute for Reforming Government).  

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Policy News from the States 


K-12 Education  

KET Show Provides an Example Why Parents Need Real School Choice 
Bluegrass Institute 

Response to Court Temporarily Delaying Parental Notification Policy in Chino Valley Unified School District 
California Policy Center 

Parents Say They Want More School Options for Their Children 
Cascade Policy Institute 

As Schools Open, A Legislative Special Session Is Needed to Address Ambiguity Involving SROS In Minnesota 
Center of the American Experiment 

School Choice Spotlight on Private Education 
Commonwealth Foundation 

What is Education Freedom? 
Empower Mississippi 

Learning is More Than School 
Libertas Institute 

Teacher Pay: You Can Go with This, or You Can Go with That 
Show-Me Institute 

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Energy and Environment  

Free Market Farming Ends Drought-Like Conditions 
Mountain States Policy Center 

Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Mandates in Pennsylvania 
Commonwealth Foundation 

Renewable Solar Comes with Recurring Waste Costs 
Empire Center 

China’s Coal Boom Shows Its Empty Climate Commitments Are Red, Not Green 
Texas Public Policy Foundation 

Jefferson Institute Asks SCC to Endorse Reliable Thermal Generators 
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy 

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MN AG Charges 18 in $10 Million PCA Medicaid Fraud 
Center of the American Experiment 

How Complex Medical Licensing Laws Limit Health Care Options for Minnesotans 
Center of the American Experiment 

Big Sky Medicaid Expansion Comes at a Big Cost 
Foundation for Government Accountability 

GA Senate Study Committee Holds Meeting on Rural Personnel Recruitment 
Georgia Public Policy Foundation 

Empowering Healthcare Choice: The Triumphs of Deregulation 
Goldwater Institute 

Beware of the Government’s Healthcare ‘Truth’ peddlers 
Goldwater Institute 

Hawaii Healthcare Takes More Hits 
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii 

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Housing Affordability 

Affordable Housing Is N.H.’S Top Economic Problem, Leaders & Voters Agree 
Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy 

Seattle Rejects Rent Control in Win for Sound Economics 
Pacific Research Institute 

So-Called Sacramento Forward Plan Would Take City Backwards on Housing, Homelessness 
Pacific Research Institute 

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Jobs and State Economies 

Like Minnesota, Illinois Is Hoping to Reverse Its Population Outflow by Touting ‘Progressive’ Social Policy 
Center of the American Experiment 

Three Years Past Pandemic, NYS Job Count Still Lagged Summer of ’19 
Empire Center 

Working Hard or Hardly Working? 
Empower Mississippi 

Free Market Agriculture Weeds Out Excessive Regulations 
Mountain States Policy Center 

Ramifications of Lahaina Tragedy Only Starting to Be Uncovered 
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii 

Lawmakers Push Yet Another Drain on California Employers Stretched to the Breaking Point 
Pacific Research Institute 

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State Budgets  

Should St. Paul Provide Free Childcare? Here’s What the Evidence Says 
Center of the American Experiment 

NY State & Local Pension Costs Will Rise in ’25 
Empire Center 

North Carolina a Model for More than Tax Reform 
Freedom Foundation 

Ohio’s Long-Running Corporate-Welfare Farce Takes Another Absurd Turn 
Freedom Foundation 

A “Scheme” Worth Looking Into 
Show-Me Institute 

Tax Reductions Under Youngkin Have Been Significant 
Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy 

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Workplace Freedom 

Back to School, Back to the Union? 
Center of the American Experiment 

This Labor Day, Ask Yourself: Are Unions Living Up to Their Promises? 
Commonwealth Foundation 

Teachers Across America Reveal Increasing Desire to Quit the Big Unions 
Freedom Foundation 

Illinois Government Unions Celebrate Labor Day with 36,000 Fewer Members 
Illinois Policy Institute 

Labor Day Should Be About Workers, Not Unions 
Mountain States Policy Center 

WEA Union Threatens Illegal Strike to Close Public Schools in Evergreen and Camas 
Washington Policy Center 

It’s 2023, and Labor Unions are So Cringe 
Texas Public Policy Foundation 

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Congress Should Consider These Five Fraud Prevention Reforms for Food Stamps 
Foundation for Government Accountability 

It’s Time We Freed Americans to Work 
Goldwater Institute 

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The Network in the News 

In the Trussville Tribune, the Alabama Policy Institute‘s Phil Williams considers the war on Christian patriots.  

At the Wall Street Journal, Americans for Fair Treatment’s Elisabeth Messenger examines how labor unions have lost their way. 

At National Review, Americans for Fair Treatment’s David Osborne muses on how it seems that Labor Day is more for union officials than it is for rank-and-file employees, unless there are dramatic changes to labor law. 

In The Washington Times, The Buckeye Institute‘s Trevor Lewis and the Center of the American Experiment‘s Isaac Orr look at the tough choices Alaska lawmakers face to balance the state’s budget.  

In The OC Register, the California Policy Center‘s Lance Christensen notes honesty is the best parental notification policy. 

In The Hill, the Commonwealth Foundation‘s David Osborne considers if unions are living up to their promises. 

At Broad + Liberty, the Commonwealth Foundation‘s Guy Ciarrocchi points out the escaped inmate from Chester County Prison is yet another consequence of politicians who are not serious about securing our border. 

At RealClear Markets, the Free State Foundation’s Randolph May argues that now is the time for economic discipline from Maryland Governor Wes Moore. 

At the Daily Caller, Freedom Foundation’s Hunter Tower examined the connection between Democratic Governors and labor unions. 

In the Dalton Daily Citizen, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation‘s Kyle Wingfield notes it’s time for a return to a limited federal government. 

In a Letter to the Editor for the Lahaina News, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii’s Keli’i Akina notes now more than ever is the time to embrace policies that can lower Hawaii’s cost of living. 

In his recent column for The Denver Gazette, the Independence Institute‘s Jon Caldara considers the recent case of a 12-year-old student who was told he had to remove the Gadsden flag from his backpack. 

At the Orange County Register, Independent Institute’s David Beito argued for no more excuses for Franklin D Roosevelt’s mistreatment of Japanese-Americans. 

At National Review, Independent Institute’s David Beito exposed how the New Deal was often a raw deal for black Americans. 

At The Washington Times, Independent Institute’s Alvaro Vargas Llosa examined the legacy of Carlos Alberto Montaner, a great Cuban patriot who fought for liberal democracy with his pen not the sword. 

In the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Policy Institute‘s Paul Vallas points out CTU leader Stacy Davis Gates’ latest comments are clearly aimed at supporters of school choice.  

At National Review, Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation’s Chris Ingstad and John Hendrickson posited that Iowa is an example of federalism at its best. 

At RealClearPolicy, The James Madison Institute‘s Lindsay Killen and Ella Bevis highlight the economic benefits of school choice.  

In the Maryland Reporter, the Maryland Public Policy Institute‘s Christopher Summers notes Marylanders should get ready for tax hikes.  

In his recent column, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs‘ Jonathan Small notes ‘equity’ in policy can cost lives. 

In the Eastern New Mexico News, the Rio Grande Foundation’s Paul Gessing advocated an “all-above” approach to education in the state. 

At National Review, Sutherland Institute‘s William C. Duncan highlights the flawed civic understanding behind attacks on the Supreme Court.  

In The Hill, the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Joshua Treviño highlights concerns with the Smithsonian’s Latino Museum.  

In The Washington Times, the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Selene Rodriguez argues the Justice Department sides with cartels, not Texans. 

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