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 member and have an update you’d like us to include in next week’s round-up, please email us at email@example.com (all submissions are subject to SPN approval).
- Joyce Mayberry of the Georgia Center for Opportunity will be moving into a new role as the Vice President of Family Formation. In this position, Joyce will continue to develop new ways to strengthen families in the communities GCO serves through its many partners.
- Retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton and Sharlene Wells Hawkes joined the Sutherland Institute’s Board of Directors. Burton served for more than three decades on active duty status, including assignments in Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and Europe. Sharlene Wells Hawkes is president and founder of Remember My Service (RMS) Military Productions, the only full-service video production and book publishing provider working specifically with the military and veterans organizations.
- Nevada Policy Research Institute’s transparency projects—TransparentNevada.com and TransparentCalifornia.com—are proving to be indispensable tools for keeping citizens aware of how government spends their money. Transparent Nevada has reached over 400,000 Nevadans, or about one in four registered voters in the state. Even more impressive is Transparent California’s reach. Last year the site reached an amazing quarter-billion (yes… 250,000,000) all-time page views.
- The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty won a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) after the agency illegally issued polices that were unfair to private schools in Wisconsin’s voucher programs. The judge ruled DPI violated the law when they denied private schools in the choice program the opportunity to fully utilize online, virtual learning as part of classroom instruction. The decision is a significant win for school choice and a more accountable administrative state. Read The Associated Press’ article on the case here.
Research & Initiatives
- On 1819, Alabama Policy Institute’s podcast, API’s Director of Policy Strategy Phil Williams interviewed the Alabama State Majority Leader on the upcoming legislative session.
- The Badger Institute released a report that finds Wisconsin’s licensing boards are routinely in violation of a law that requires the board to have public representation. Badger notes that Wisconsin’s licensing boards are dominated by special interests and are in need of reform.
- Empire Center revealed that New York State Department of Transportation re-bid a construction project after the initial round didn’t include a project labor agreement—a contract in which builders agree to steer work to local trade unions. The new lowest bid is $1.7 million more than the original winning bid.
- The Goldwater Institute featured mothers affected by the Arizona Department of Education’s decision to withhold funds from the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program.
- The Idaho Freedom Foundation testified before Idaho’s House Education Committee on Common Core standards. IFF urged lawmakers to reject the standards, arguing the one-size-fits-all approach is failing Idaho’s students.
- The Mackinac Center is moving forward with its case on behalf of three airline workers—challenging the federal law preventing the workers from being able to fully opt out of union membership. Mackinac is appealing a judicial decision to dismiss the lawsuit in order to extend First Amendment Janus rights to hundreds of thousands of workers under the Railway Labor Act.
- According to the Pacific Research Institute, enacting a universal basic income would bust the federal budget and rob Americans of a more prosperous future.
- The Texas Public Policy Foundation released a report that finds direct care can give patients more choice. America’s healthcare system is dominated by third-party payers, which has led to many problems, including patients and providers not knowing how much healthcare procedures cost. TPPF argues direct care can provide price transparency and give patients more control of their healthcare.
- A new report by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, “The Transportation Climate Initiative—All Pain and No Gain,” points out the TCI has no environmental benefits but would cost Virginians billions.
- A new poll conducted by the Washington Policy Center finds 72% of Washingtonians are in favor of a ban on local income taxes.
- An appeals court in Wisconsin put on hold an order to remove up to 209,000 names from the state’s voter registration rolls. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty brought the case on against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), an agency that allowed voters who have moved to maintain active voter registrations at old addresses. On December 17, a judge ordered the WEC to remove these voter registrations.
- A new report from the Yankee Institute lists twelve ways to make the Connecticut state government more open and transparent.
Think Tanks in the News
- The Beacon Center presented ways Tennessee can ensure its economic growth will continue. By protecting worker freedom and preserving property rights, Tennessee will maintain its strong economy.
- Facing a negative cash flow last year of about $300 million, the Bluegrass Institute pressed lawmakers to take critical steps to improve Kentucky’s troubled Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). One way for lawmakers to do so is ending the practice of allowing retired teachers to spike their pensions with unused sick days.
- The Center of the American Experiment urged lawmakers to repeal Minnesota’s estate tax—a policy that is driving residents from the state.
- The Commonwealth Foundation argued that high taxes and state spending is directly connected to the exodus of young and talented Pennsylvanians.
- Empower Mississippi noted their approval of the Governor-elect of Mississippi’s appointees to the State Board of Education and Charter School Authorizer Board.
- As healthcare is expected to be a major issue in this year’s upcoming election, the Ethan Allen Institute considered what the US can learn from Singapore’s healthcare system. Ethan Allen pointed out the US should replicate many aspects of Singapore’s system, including spurring informed consumer choice, provider competition, and price transparency.
- The Seattle Times editorial board mentioned the Freedom Foundation’s work to inform public employees of their constitutional rights and urged lawmakers not to adopt a new proposal that would weaken the Public Records Act.
- The Garden State Initiative criticized the New Jersey Governor’s belief that the state’s high property taxes can be fixed by increasing state aid.
- The Georgia Center for Opportunity criticized a new poll that finds half of Georgians don’t want budget cuts. GCO pointed out the misleading language used in the poll and argued the verbiage was used to influence responses.
- The Associated Press cited the Georgia Public Policy Foundation in an article on Georgia’s revenue troubles—and how those troubles may put the brakes on some tax and spending plans.
- Despite having nearly half the population, Indiana is building more new homes than Illinois. The Illinois Policy Institute argued that sky-high property tax bills and income tax hikes are to blame for so few new homes in the state.
- The Indiana Policy Review Foundation considered two different takes—a pessimistic view and optimistic view—on where the world might be headed in 2020.
- As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear oral arguments in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Independence Institute argued the case is an example of a clear violation of First Amendment rights. The case will decide whether states can exclude religious schools from generally available scholarship programs, or whether doing so is unconstitutional.
- After Iowa City released a proposal that increases property taxes to fight climate change, Iowans for Tax Relief President Chris Ingstad expressed his concern with the proposal and noted how important it is for citizens to be aware of what their city is doing with tax dollars.
- A surgeon in North Carolina is trying to strike down the state’s certificate-of-need laws as monopolistic and unconstitutional. The John Locke Foundation explained how certificate-of-need laws harm taxpayers and patients.
- The Libertas Institute criticized a bill in the Utah Legislature that would ban cellphone use while driving. Libertas noted the proposed bill is extreme and unwarranted.
- The Mackinac Center noted its support for work requirements in Medicaid—pointing out the requirements are a way to incentivize work and reduce Michigan’s budget burden.
- Support for the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) is losing steam. The Maine Heritage Policy Center argued the initiative is bad policy and would cost the average family $225 per year. The Yankee Institute asserted the plan is designed to raise the cost of gas so people no longer drive.
- The Maryland Public Policy Institute appeared on WYPR radio to discuss the future of education in Baltimore.
- The Mississippi Center for Public Policy estimated a recent teacher pay hike proposal would cost taxpayers about $51.3 million annually.
- The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs discussed the looming battle between the Oklahoma Governor and the state’s chief legislative budget chairs.
- To win the war on poverty, government should make it easier to become an entrepreneur, argued the Pacific Research Institute.
- The Pioneer Institute reviewed the poor education policies that Massachusetts has adopted since 1993. Enacting Common Core and demonizing charter schools have put the state on a downward path.
- As New Mexico continues to embrace more government spending and taxes, the Rio Grande Foundation recommended New Mexico follow Colorado’s economic model that strictly limits spending growth and taxation.
- The Buckeye Institute teamed up with Iowans for Tax Relief in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, urging policymakers to pursue pro-grow tax reforms. The authors highlighted their new report “A Better Path Forward for Iowa Tax Reform” that examines the benefits of Iowa adopting pro-growth tax policies.
- The James Madison Institute expressed optimism for the upcoming Florida legislative session and offered five policy reform ideas.
- The Texas Public Policy Foundation considered the tax policies of the four leading Democratic nominees for president.
- In an article on how to keep tabs on lawmakers, The Spokesman-Review recommended the Washington Policy Center’s “Washington Votes” tool—a search engine for tracking which bills legislators introduce and support.
Events & Opportunities
- America’s Future Foundation is having a networking luncheon on January 31 in Dallas, Texas. Panelists from the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Foundation for Government Accountability will discuss Texas’ school choice policies.
- The Independence Institute is hosting a screening of “Miss Virginia” for school choice week. The event will be held at Independence’s office in Denver, Colorado.
- The Mackinac Center’s Jarrett Skorup will talk about critical Michigan legislative issues to the Eastside Republican Club on January 21 in Detroit, Michigan.
- On January 21, the Yankee Institute is hosting a screening of “Miss Virginia,” a movie about a family’s education choices. The event will feature a question and answer session with Virginia Walden Ford, the community leader whose life inspired the film.