State Policy Network
10 state solutions communities can be thankful for this year
State think tanks are solving problems from the bottom up, giving communities these reasons to be thankful in the midst of a challenging, uncertain year.

This year, Thanksgiving will take place against a backdrop of a pandemic, a contested presidential election, statewide shutdowns, and soaring unemployment.

Despite these challenges, millions of Americans will gather with their families and list all the things they are thankful for. But with such a bleak picture surrounding us, it can be difficult to focus on the good. If you’re struggling to come up with something outside of your usual list, here’s one for you: state think tanks.

It’s probably not the first thing that came to mind, but state think tanks are helping millions of Americans each day by developing local solutions to our country’s most pressing problems. From easing tax burdens to defending civil liberties and increasing education options for families, state think tanks are solving problems from the bottom up, giving communities these reasons to be thankful in the midst of a challenging, uncertain year:

1. Healthcare expanded when Americans needed it most

As the coronavirus took hold, State Policy Network’s Healthcare Working Group (HCWG) was ready with five key policy recommendations, which states adopted immediately. The HCWG helped pass reforms that removed restrictions preventing hospitals from getting much-needed medical equipment and hospital beds. They opened doors for Americans to use telemedicine so patients could see doctors from home during the pandemic. And they increased the supply of medical providers through reforms that expanded the number of healthcare responders and allowed them to work across state lines.

2. Americans’ individual rights are protected during the coronavirus

Many state leaders extended unilateral control over their state’s response to the pandemic, violating the important separation of powers provision that prevents one branch from yielding too much authority. By excluding the Legislature, the American people were left without a voice in these decisions that upended their lives, and in some cases, violated their individual rights.

Thankfully, state think tanks across the country have been working to give Americans a voice and restore checks and balances in their state.

3. Small businesses could cope with burdensome shutdown policies

In response to the pandemic, governors across the country implemented emergency orders that shut down businesses and forced people to remain in their homes. What started as “two weeks to slow the spread” turned into months of continued lockdowns. These measures have crippled the economy and left many without a way to provide for themselves and their families.

Over these nine months, state think tanks have offered reforms and recommendations to ease the burden on businesses.

4. Americans had a voice during the fallout of economic lockdowns

Public health concerns have dominated many headlines, but economic health has been threatened, too. Many livelihoods have been jeopardized as a result of economic shutdowns, and as lockdowns have persisted, millions of Americans have felt their peace of mind and financial security threatened by the uncertainty of when business—and even regular income—can resume.

State think tanks offered policy reforms to ease the economic burden on Americans, and several think tanks shared stories of Americans struggling to keep jobs, businesses, and livelihoods afloat in the wake of the pandemic’s economic impact.

5. Struggling American families received much-needed tax relief


6. American children had education options and could continue learning during the pandemic

7. Americans could get a job and provide for their families

An occupational license is a permission slip from the government to work, and to get these licenses, states require people to complete a certain amount of training, take an exam, and pay a fee to practice their profession.

The costs, both in time and money, are steep hurdles for Americans, especially low-income individuals who often work in fields that require these licenses. State think tanks across the country have been encouraging policymakers to lift these burdensome restrictions so residents can more easily get a job and provide for their families.

8. State budgets are more prepared for the future

9. Americans have the freedom to choose union membership

10. State governments are transparent and held accountable

Categories: Policy Solutions
Organization: State Policy Network