- Washington Policy Center welcomed two new members to the team—Maia Espinoza as communications manager and Marissa Gaston as Young Professionals Director. Espinoza was a recent candidate for Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction and is the founder of the Center for Latino Leadership. She has worked in marketing and outreach for the Pierce County Executive, the Washington State Senate, and Washington State Hispanic Affairs Commission. Gaston is a recent graduate of the University of Washington and a former intern at WPC. She also previously interned with the State Department at the US Embassy to the Holy See in Rome, Italy, and was a fellow at the John Jay Institute in Fall 2020.
This week on SPN.org
Communications case study: Caesar Rodney Institute saves Delaware’s beach view
- The Commonwealth Foundation celebrated a recent bill passed by the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee that proposes a constitutional amendment preventing a governor from extending a disaster emergency declaration beyond 21 days without approval by the General Assembly. Commonwealth noted this amendment will allow Pennsylvania citizens to vote directly on reasserting the peoples’ voice to determine public policy impacting their own lives and livelihoods through their duly elected representatives and senators.
- The Pennsylvania House State Government Committee advanced the Taxpayer Protection Act, which would put guardrails on state spending growth to protect Pennsylvanians from tax hikes. The Commonwealth Foundation noted enacting this bill will protect families and businesses from dangerous tax hikes as they try to recover from the economic pain caused by the coronavirus.
- This week Mike Madigan was denied a 19th term as speaker of the Illinois House. Madigan has held that post for 36 of the past 38 years. For the last decade, the Illinois Policy Institute has shed light on the inner workings of Madigan. IPI has written thousands of articles discussing how he has harmed Illinois. IPI noted his removal from power was a necessary first step to transforming Illinois into a beacon of prosperity that shines across the Midwest.
- The Kentucky Senate passed legislation that limits the effective dates of executive orders issued by the governor to 30 days unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly. The legislation also prohibits the governor from issuing a new executive order relating to the same emergency without the approval of the General Assembly. For months the Pegasus Institute has been emphasizing the need for changes to Kentucky’s declarations of emergency statute. In June of 2020 Pegausus produced a report on state declarations of emergency and Pegasus’ executive director testified on the subject before the Interim Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The Bluegrass Institute also celebrated the passage of this legislation, as well as other bills limiting the power, scope and time frame of future executive orders and actions. Bluegrass has also been a leading voice in Kentucky for reforming executive powers. Over the summer, Bluegrass encouraged legislators to make significant changes to law to ensure crippling orders—like shutting down businesses—would no longer be a unilateral gubernatorial decision.
Solutions from the states: This week’s policy briefs
Alabama’s Use of CARES Act Funds: Grow Government or Help All Alabamians?
Alabama Policy Institute
Reforming Community Supervision
Rent out of Control: Government is Not the Answer to the Affordable Housing Problem
Protecting the Right to Privacy in a Digital Era
Fast Facts: A Review of South Carolina’s Judicial Selection Process
Palmetto Promise Institute
Connecticut’s Dangerous Game: How the Nation’s Wealthiest State Scared Off Businesses and Worsened Its Fiscal Crisis
Modernizing School Finance in Idaho
On Wayfair, Tread Lightly Florida Should Not Repeat Other States’ Mistakes on Remote Sales Tax Legislation
The James Madison Institute
Policy news from the states
- The Alaska Policy Forum called on lawmakers to address the third-grade literacy crisis facing Alaskan children. APF encouraged Alaska to adopt the reading model pioneered by Florida and used with success by many other states, including Mississippi.
- Center of the American Experiment highlighted how some Minnesota teachers’ unions are pushing back against the reopening of schools.
- Center of the American Experiment argued in-person K-12 learning is essential to a well-functioning economy.
- Empower Mississippi explained why it supports legislation that would require the Mississippi Department of Education to grant licenses to out-of-state teachers who obtained a license in another state.
- The Georgia Center for Opportunity pointed out vulnerable children have been hardest hit by coronavirus learning losses.
- The Mackinac Center noted Michigan students need flexible and customized educational options.
- The Maryland Public Policy Institute considered how to fix Maryland’s school monopolies.
- The Tax Education Foundation of Iowa encouraged Iowa to eliminate roadblocks that make it difficult for parents to enroll their children in another school district.
- The Empire Center highlighted how the New York Governor’s administration is refusing to release a full count of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes for another two months.
- The Empire Center argued New York’s vaccine appointment system was not ready for prime time.
- The Washington Policy Center released a guide for Washington residents on how they can make their voice heard in the 2021 legislative session.
Jobs and state economies
- The Beacon Center criticized Tennessee for giving more than $176 million in tax credits to companies in 2020. Instead of giving taxpayer dollars to a select few, Beacon encouraged policymakers to focus on things that would help all businesses.
- Center of the American Experiment considered how Americans moved in 2020 and argued Minnesota could fix its outbound migration problem by improving its business and economic opportunity climate.
- Center of the American Experiment pointed out coronavirus shutdowns are crippling Minnesota’s labor market.
- The Foundation for Government Accountability offered five popular solutions to help stop unemployment fraud.
- The Pelican Institute noted the public health threat and subsequent shutdown policies are leading many iconic Louisiana local restaurants, bars, and other establishments to shut their doors for good.
- The Washington Policy Center highlighted how the Washington Legislature is considering a bipartisan bill that allows business to open immediately.
State budgets and spending
- The Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy noted the real winners with tax credits are politicians and their friends. Cardinal encouraged West Virginia to adopt a simple and fair tax code.
- Empower Mississippi explained how state governments, including Mississippi, can still function without a state income tax.
- As the Washington Legislature hears arguments to impose a capital gains income tax on Washington residents, the Freedom Foundation noted the tax is misguided and unconstitutional.
- The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii criticized recent calls to increase taxes to cope with budget revenue shortfalls. Instead, Grassroot encouraged lawmakers to implement a spending cap and pursue policies that will grow business and entrepreneurship in the state.
- Illinois Policy Institute highlighted how the Illinois Governor wants a $500 million tax hike on small businesses.
- The Kansas Policy Institute considered the tax increases in the Kansas Governor’s proposed budget and encouraged lawmakers to focus on crafting a taxpayer-focused, sustainable budget.
- The Maine Policy Institute argued the Maine Governor’s second budget essentially continues the status quo and does very little to prepare Maine for an uncertain economic future.
- The Show-Me Institute encouraged Missouri to revisit how it collects sales tax, both to accommodate increasing digital sales but also fix long-term issues with the current system.
- The Sutherland Institute examined the Utah Governor’s 2022 state budget recommendations and encouraged lawmakers to use some of their budget to address a lack of civic understanding among Americans.
- The Cascade Policy Institute argued Portland’s new carbon taxes will do little for clean air.
- The Garden State Initiative shared their “2020 Year-end Update and Look Ahead”—a publication that offers a review of GSI’s 2020 highlights and wins.
- The Georgia Center for Opportunity offered five policy prescriptions to reduce poverty in Georgia.
- To counter the sluggish vaccine rollout, the Goldwater Institute encouraged states to expand pharmacist scope of practice so they can further facilitate vaccines.
- The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii released a new video on the Jones Act and how it affects Hawaii.
- Idaho Freedom Foundation argued the solution to America’s problems won’t come from Washington, DC, but from states, cities, and citizens.
- The Josiah Bartlett Center reviewed George Washington and James Madison’s thoughts on factions and noted that in America, political grievances must go through the system, not around it.
- The Pelican Institute for Public Policy shared a story on Ursula Newell-Davis, a New Orleans social worker who wanted to open a business to teach at-risk children basic life skills for a few hours a week while their parents are away at work. Despite being fully qualified to do so, Louisiana will not let her unless she obtains a “Facility Need Review” approval—a law that requires professionals to prove the “need” for their business before opening it. In 2019, the state rejected Ursula’s application. The Pelican Center for Justice and Pacific Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit to challenge this state law that prevents Ursula from helping families with special needs children.
Think tanks in the news
- The Alabama Policy Institute encouraged the state to spend its remaining $270 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to help its people, not further grow government.
- As Ohio prepares to debate the state’s upcoming budget, The Buckeye Institute encouraged lawmakers to limit spending increases, cut unnecessary spending, strategically use the rainy day fund to cover any lingering budget gaps, and, above all, avoiding raising taxes.
- Empower Mississippi Director of Justice and Work Steven Randle, along with Contributing Fellow J. Robertson, wrote about why Mississippi needs to continue making progress in criminal justice reform this year as a current federal investigation into state prisons will soon be transitioning from the Trump administration to the Biden Administration.
- In InsideSources, the Foundation for Government Accountability argued Joe Biden’s planned appointment to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, will divide Americans on healthcare.
- In The Daily Signal, the Freedom Foundation highlighted how, even in the midst of statewide shutdown orders, the Oregon state government is increasing their staff budgets.
- The Freedom Foundation considered Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of Labor.
- The Associated Press cited the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii in an article on unemployment tax increases on businesses.
- The John Locke Foundation noted the trashed Capitol should revolt us all, and argued all of us, across the spectrum, must make integrity our number-one criterion when choosing leaders.
- On KNSS Radio (Wichita, KS), the Kansas Policy Institute discussed how Kansas school districts are losing students while adding more managers.
- In Nevada Business Magazine, Nevada Policy Research Institute’s Michael Schaus noted that from all the disruption of 2020, there are great opportunities to rebuild our world as a freer, more diverse place for individuals to thrive.
- The Palmetto Promise Institute told The Center Square tax reform is one of the organization’s top priorities for 2021.
- Pacific Research Institute’s Lance Izumi joined Newsy, a national cable news network, to discuss the debate over reopening schools under the Biden administration, the recent resignation of US Department of Education, and what Miguel Cardona, Biden’s nomination for education secretary, should do when he is confirmed.
- The Pacific Research Institute highlighted how government incompetence is depriving people of COVID-19 vaccines.
- In The OC Register, the Pacific Research Institute weighed in on the California Governor’s proposed budget.
Events and Opportunities
Talking Michigan Taxes: Potential Increases and Reforms in 2021
Mackinac Center | January 19, 2021
Coming Together or Breaking Apart: The Case Against Cancel Culture
Pacific Legal Foundation | January 22, 2021
Our Path Forward: Reviving America After a Year of Chaos
Pacific Legal Foundation | January 29, 2021