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 firstname.lastname@example.org (all submissions are subject to SPN approval).
Education: Expanding options for families
- Georgia: In Georgia, charter schools are public schools. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation asks why they don’t receive the same funding as traditional public schools?
- Utah: In March, the Sutherland Institute hosted a panel with 5 leaders to discuss their work helping students with a range of special needs and abilities. Their experiences are shared in this recent op-ed.
- Wisconsin: School choice is popular with voters, but higher funding for public schools is even more so. This op-ed from Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty looks at the impact on education reform when politicians put their careers before kids.
Healthcare: Improving access to and affordability of care
- New York: A new report from the Empire Center explores recent trends in New York’s Medicaid drug spending, the forces behind them, and how they fit into the national context.
Worker Freedom: Giving workers a voice and a choice
- Janus v AFSCME: In anticipation of the upcoming ruling, union-friendly lawmakers in several states have been working to make it harder for public-sector employees to opt out of paying union dues.
- Right-to-Work: This op-ed in Forbes explores the growing popularity of right-to-work at the local level in blue states.
- Delaware: Right-to-work just came to the Northeast! The Caesar Rodney Institute reports Seaford, Delaware just voted unanimously to make the city right-to-work, the first region in Delaware and the Northeastern United States to do so.
- Illinois: How local right-to-work battles could land at the Supreme Court.
- Maryland: Labor unions are pushing a set of bills that would require public universities and schools to hold captive-audience membership meetings and to hand over employees’ private information, information that can then be shared with third parties.
- New Mexico: If you’re interested in right-to-work data, the Rio Grande Foundation has been tracking job creation in right-to-work and non-right-to-work states. Right-to-work states typically see more new jobs, in March it was by a close margin.
- Washington: Thousands of families in Washington are being forced to pay a union if they want to stay home and care for their disabled child or elderly parent. The Washington Policy Center explains why this is happening.
Occupational Licensing Reform: Increasing jobs and opportunity
- Occupational Licensing Burdens Across the States: Which states are reforming their occupational licensing laws for the better? Which states are making their licensing regime more excessive? A new study by the Mercatus Center compares changes in occupational licensing burdens across all states from 2012-2017.
- Occupational Licensing and Economic Mobility: Does occupational licensing limit earning potential? A new study from the Archbridge Institute looks at the impact of occupational licensing on economic mobility.
- Right-to-Earn Laws: California, Louisiana, and Colorado have introduced legislation similar to Arizona’s Right to Earn a Living Act that allows individuals to challenge licensing restrictions on their right to earn a living.
- Arizona: The Arizona State Board of Cosmetology recently fined a student, formerly homeless himself, for giving free haircuts to homeless people without a license.
- Ohio: Burdensome occupational licensing requirements are causing a real problem for women. As The Buckeye Institute notes, public safety is hardly a legitimate concern if an EMT, who makes life and decisions, is only required to have 800 training hours, nearly half that of cosmetologists who are currently required to have 1,500 hours.
Criminal Justice Reform: Rehabilitating and restoring offenders’ lives
- Maryland: The state currently has 348 licensing and certification restrictions for people with criminal records. A new occupational licensing reform bill wants to make it easier to find work by allowing those with non-violent, non-sexual criminal records to be licensed.
- Michigan: Jobs are the ultimate criminal justice reform. The Mackinac Center suggests three policy reforms to make it easier for people to find and keep jobs.
- Tennessee: Thanks to the Fresh Start Act, occupational and professional licensing boards in Tennessee can no longer deny occupational license due to someone’s criminal record, unless the criminal offense is a violent felony or relates directly to an offender’s ability to perform the job. The Beacon Center of Tennessee partnered with the ACLU and other organizations to advocate for the bill.
- Texas: An overreliance on fines and feeds have created modern day debtors’ prisons in some states. The Texas Public Policy Foundation explains how their state is moving to end this practice.
Government Transparency: Keeping government accountable
- Alaska: The Alaska Policy Forum’s release of public employee compensation data received media attention.
- Arkansas: How do FOIA laws save Arkansas taxpayers more than $20 million? The Arkansas Policy Foundation explains.
- Massachusetts: The Legislature’s exemption from the state’s open record laws is making it difficult to investigate claims of misconduct.
- North Carolina: How can peer pressure produce good policy? John Hood shows how friendly competition can promote government transparency and inspire others to similar success.
Taxes & Budgets: Encouraging fiscal responsibility and sustainability
- Colorado: Colorado has the sixth lowest tax burden in the US which maybe be attributable to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) approved in 1992. The Independent Institute has a comprehensive study of the economic environment before TABOR and during the first two decades.
- Georgia: How did the second half of Georgia’s 2017-2018 legislative session go? The Georgia Public Policy Foundations identifies the wins and losses.
- Maine: A recent op-ed from the Maine Heritage Policy Center explores how Maine families are already seeing the benefits of the federal tax cut.
- Minnesota: What should state lawmakers consider when rewriting state tax policy? The Center of the American Experiment was one of five experts asked to weigh in.
- Ohio: The Buckeye Institute has identified 20 tax loopholes worth $1.8 billion that could be used to reduce Ohio’s tax rate.
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvanians aren’t getting a particularly good return on their tax investments when compared to other U.S. states, according to a recent study.
Welfare Reform: Decreasing government dependence
- Florida: The recent executive order on welform reform will help preserve resources for the truly needy and return flexibility for program implementation to the states as well as offering a clear directive for agencies.
- Nebraska: The Foundation for Government Accountability was on Fox & Friends to discuss Nebraska’s road map to success, focusing on re-employment rather than unemployment.
- Pennsylvania: The House just passed a bill with bipartisan support that begins establishing work requirements and a clear pathway to independence for healthy adults enrolled in Medicaid.
Pension Reform: Achieving retirement security
Missouri: The state’s employee retirement system could be in trouble with billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. The Show Me Institute joined Pete Mundo of 710KCMO to discuss options to protect both the state’s retirement plans and taxpayers.