This weekly round-up shares the latest news about what the network is doing to promote state-based solutions that will improve the lives of families, workers, and local communities. If you are an SPN state think tank and have an update you’d like us to include in next week’s round-up, please email us at updates@spn.org (all submissions are subject to SPN approval).

Announcements

  • Larry Reed, a former SPN board member, and a long-time, generous friend to the state freedom movement, is retiring from his position as president of the Foundation for Economic Education. To celebrate his legacy, FEE is asking anyone whose life has been touched by Reed to share a short testimonial.

Success Stories

  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson announced plans to reduce the number of cabinet-level state agencies from 42 to 15, the largest state government reorganization in Arkansas since the 1970s. Gov. Hutchinson instructed agencies to cooperate with the Arkansas Policy Foundation‘s Efficiency Project, which resulted in a citizen-led Transformation Advisory Board and the reorganization plan.
  • Long before Amazon’s headquarters location decision sparked public discussions about corporate welfare, the Beacon Center‘s “Broken” campaign effectively alerted Tennessee residents and lawmakers to the negative impact corporate welfare has on small businesses and the state’s economy.
  • The Freedom Foundation argued two precedent-setting union cases before the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fisk v. Inslee challenges the constitutionality of forcing home caregivers to be represented by the union (SEIU) without their consent. Fisk is the first case challenging the validity of these types of union membership agreements to reach a federal circuit court. Mentele v. Inslee was filed on behalf of four family childcare providers who work with low-income families. These providers are challenging the state law that allows the union to serve as the sole representative for negotiating their employment terms. They believe that being forced to accept the union as their representative is a violation of their First Amendment right to freedom of association.
  • Earlier this year, the FCC finally repealed the Obama Administration’s FCC regulations imposing public utility-like mandates on internet service providers thanks to the efforts of the Free State Foundation. The Foundation led the fight and the FCC cited their comments 50 times in support its repeal action.
  • The Goldwater Institute was victorious in its latest Supreme Court case to protect the First Amendment rights of attorneys. Goldwater Institute’s case convinced the US Supreme Court that states shouldn’t compel attorneys to subsidize state bar associations—including the associations’ political speech. This victory is also an important milestone in light of the Janus v. AFSCME decision, since this case is the second one to apply the free speech protections of the Janus decision.
  • Sweeping licensure reform came to Idaho this year, thanks to the work of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. After regulators shut down a successful mobile makeup studio business, the Foundation collaborated with lawmakers to formulate solutions and raised awareness of the small business owners’ plight with the media. The resulting legislation legalized mobile makeup, merged the state cosmetology and barber boards, and dropped the cosmetology education requirement by 400 hours.
  • The Idaho Supreme Court will hear Idaho Freedom Foundation’s case challenging the constitutionality of Medicaid expansion.
  • The Independence Institute helped defeat two large tax increases in Colorado — Proposition 110 and Amendment 73. Proposition 110 was perceived to be unnecessary when the Institute’s competing proposition “Fix Our Damn Roads” offered transportation solutions without a 21% tax increase. Amendment 73 was a progressive income, corporate, and property tax hike all rolled into one bad education funding measure. The Institute provided the intellectual foundation for its coalition partners to make compelling arguments against 73, and voters got the message, killing it 55–45.
  • Great fact-based graphics helped combat a false narrative about low teacher pay in North Carolina. After the John Locke Foundation‘s illustrations of the numerous recent pay raises teachers caught the public’s attention, the teacher’s association had to pivot to a purely political complaint against the Republican-led General Assembly.
  • Palmetto Promise Institute’s latest report has inspired proposed legislation that would curb South Carolina’s utilities monopoly and introduce competition that will lead to more affordable rates for consumers.
  • On criminal justice reform, the Federal Administration is looking to Texas and specifically to many of the ideas that Texas Public Policy Institute and Right on Crime have advanced to reduce incarceration rates and give nonviolent offenders a second chance at work, family, and community involvement.

State Think Tanks in the News

  • Badger Institute points out the economic harm caused by occupational licensing: it puts too many steps and expenses between an entrepreneur and the start of a new business.
  • If the California Supreme Court rules that pension benefit changes for future years of service is possible, the California Policy Center has recommendations for pension reforms.
  • Cascade Policy Institute stands up for local decision-making and smaller federal government in the New York Times.
  • Analysis by the Commonwealth Foundation shows that growth in Pennsylvania’s government has outpaced economic growth over the past 17 years
  • Healthcare needs to be fixed, and Georgia Public Policy Foundation explains that if America is going to find solutions, it must stop looking for them in DC.
  • Independence Institute reminds Colorado’s state government that “fees” are just taxes by another name and the transparent, respectful way to raise taxes is to ask for voters’ approval first.
  • The John Locke Foundation suggests traditional public schools should ask why educational reasons and not religious reasons are motivating a growing number of North Carolina parents to home-school their children.
  • The Pacific Research Institute points out that what people don’t know about Medicare for All could hurt them. Not only would the plan outlaw the private plans that many people have and would like to keep, but based on analysis from the Mercatus Center, it would increase federal spending by $32.6 trillion in its first 10 years.
  • The Rio Grande Institute joins the CATO Institute Daily podcast to preview the occupational licensing reform efforts taking shape in New Mexico. Other states that have worked or are working on this issue include: Platte Institute (Nebraska), Beacon Center (Tennessee), Badger Institute (Wisconsin), The Buckeye Institute (Ohio).
  • The Washington Policy Center reports that although Washington voters have rejected the creation of a state income tax 10 straight times, some state unions are asking the Supreme Court to overrule them.

Research & Initiatives

  • The Buckeye Institute has filed the first major post-Janus decision labor challenge in the Supreme Court. Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization calls for an immediate end to laws that force public employees to accept a union as their exclusive representative. The Institute has also filed a notice of appeal for another forced representation case after a Maine Federal District Court judged granted a motion to dismiss in Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine, et al.These cases ask the question: if forcing union dues from public employees is a violation of the First Amendment, then why should states require those same public employees to speak through unions that they don’t want to join?
  • New research from The Buckeye Institute finds that work and community engagement requirements keep Medicaid recipients involved in the workforce, yielding work experience and income that improve their quality of life and job opportunities. These requirements could increase the lifetime earnings of individuals who transition off of Medicaid by nearly $1 million. In addition to the full report, the Institute summarized the findings in an easy-to-digest infographic.
  • Center of the American Experiment’s latest report reveals that Minnesotans are falling behind in workforce productivity and generating less income—an outcome that stems from the state’s high tax policies. The report considers how Minnesota can navigate these workforce challenges and attract and retain more skilled workers. The report has attracted some media attention, amplifying the message that while Minnesota’s economy might rank above average in some measures, workforce productivity is an area where Minnesota can make changes to ensure long-term economic health and growth.
  • The Foundation for Government Accountability announced new welfare, healthcare, and work reforms that will empower states to combat rising health care costs, remove barriers to work for individuals seeking jobs, and empower more able-bodied Americans to experience the powerful benefits of work in 2019.
  • Georgia Center for Opportunity has released a new explainer video that shares their vision for how Georgians can flourish and what GCO is doing to help individuals, families, and communities avoid and break the cycle of hardship and poverty.
  • Attorneys for the Goldwater Institute filed a petition on Wednesday asking the US Supreme Court to take up its challenge of a Massachusetts campaign finance law that bans political contributions from businesses but allow contributions from unions.
  • A recent Mackinac Center survey found that 20 percent of charter school parents named bullying as a key reason they pulled their child out of a conventional school. While not often researched, bullying is a huge issue for some students with long-term effects. The Center is calling for “bold action” like changing the Michigan Constitution to allow students who face bullying greater school choice options.
  • According to the Maryland Public Policy Institute‘s new report, Maryland’s Lessons Learned from the Amazon HQ2 Race, the state should “forego subsidies for individual companies like Amazon and instead focus on broad-based corporate tax relief, regulatory reform, and a stable minimum wage to encourage job growth statewide.”
  • The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs partnered with Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma to hold a policy round table for 52 lawmakers last week. University of Oklahoma president James Gallogly was one of several speakers.
  • The Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a lawsuit challenging an Oakland ordinance that requires owners moving back into their homes to pay a hefty fee to the current tenants. A married military couple had to pay a $6,500 relocation fine to their tenants, despite having given them two months notice on a month-to-month lease.
  • The Pacific Research Institute‘s new report, Legislating Energy Poverty, finds California’s big government approach to fighting “global warming” hurts inland, rural, and poor communities. The states’s approach has increased energy poverty in many communities and driven jobs and opportunity away from the Golden State.
  • Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty issued a new report, Untapped Potential: Federal Disability Programs and Wisconsin’s Labor Shortage, on the importance of reforming federal disability insurance to help states like Wisconsin that face a pressing labor shortage. WILL hopes Congress would consider embracing federalism to give states the opportunity to innovate with disability insurance
  • A non-binding opinion from Wisconsin’s Attorney General threatens Wisconsin’s vibrant wedding barn industry with new licensing and permitting requirements–a push by special interests to hobble their competition. Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty released an analysis explaining why the Attorney General’s opinion is flawed and is prepared to litigate if the opinion is enforced.