The Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement celebrate state think tanks doing exceptional work to develop and disseminate credible policy research and ideas that can help states implement free-market solutions that will have national impact. The awards are named in honor of our network’s most iconic policy maven and a friend to many, Bob Williams. In 2018, more than 40 state thinks were nominated in the categories of Best Issue Campaign, Most Influential Research, and Biggest Win.

The winners of the 2018 Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement were announced at SPN’s 26th Annual Meeting.

Best Issue Campaign: Beacon Center of Tennessee – “Rigged: The Injustice of Corporate Welfare”

This category recognizes organizations that ran exceptional issue education campaigns, demonstrating successful execution on several fronts including strategic thinking, exemplary use of outreach tactics, ability to reach target audiences, and team alignment. The Beacon Center published a mini-documentary sharing the story of two furniture store owners near Memphis who found themselves competing with IKEA after the furniture giant was awarded $10 million to open a store near their locations. The documentary received many awards and media attention, raising awareness across Tennessee and making corporate welfare a primary issue for candidates running for state office.

Most Influential Research: Palmetto Promise Institute – Santee Cooper’s Uncertain Future

This category recognizes an organization whose original research achieved a high level of influence in academia, media, and/or policy-making arenas. Santee Cooper, a state-held utility company, was part of a failed $9 billion nuclear reactor project that could result in higher utility bills of more $20,000 per customer. The Palmetto Promise Institute released a report on the fiasco, calling for a commission to be formed to explore the sale of the state utility and provide relief to rate payers. The South Carolina Governor tweeted that the report should be “required reading for lawmakers,” and a few months later the suggested commission was approved.

Biggest Win: Illinois Policy Institute & Liberty Justice Center – Workplace Freedom

This category recognizes the organization whose effort was instrumental toward securing a significant policy victory this year in one or more states or at the national level. On June 27, the US Supreme Court announced its groundbreaking decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case. Because of the work of the Liberty Justice Center, along with help from the Illinois Policy Institute and other coalition partners, the Court ruled that all government workers across America will have their constitutional rights restored. This decision liberated more than five million government workers from the burden of paying mandatory union fees and restored these workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.