– April 26: Register now for ”Choice Matters: Expanding Educational Opportunity,” the Foundation’s next Leadership Breakfast at Cobb County’s Georgian Club, featuring two legislators at the forefront of Georgia school choice issues: House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan. Find out more athttp://tinyurl.com/cqjbmmq. This event is $25 to attend. Register by Tuesday, April 24, 2012, online at http://tinyurl.com/82g9hrr.
– June 27: Mark your calendar for a Policy Briefing Luncheon at Cobb County’s Georgian Club with Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on his soon-to-be-released book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise.”
– September 28: Save the date! The Foundation’s third annual Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing will be held in Atlanta on Friday, September 28. Past events have featured Wall Street Journal editorial board member Steve Moore, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.
Quotes of note
– “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams
– “If the individual mandate, the linchpin of the law, is not stricken, there are no conceivable limits on federal power. The idea that the federal government can compel individuals to purchase a product is a radical one and is completely at odds with the Constitution and principle of federalism.” – Sam Olens, Georgia Attorney General
– “Of the 50 million people in America without health insurance, according to the U.S. Census, 55 percent – nearly 28 million – are under the age of 35. Thanks to decades of unwise government subsidies, regulations and mandates, these young Americans are forced to pay far more for health insurance than they consume in health care.” – Avik Roy, senior fellow, Manhattan Institute Center for Medical Progress
– Mandate poll I: Most voters continue to believe the federal government does not have the authority to force people to buy health insurance, and they expect the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Obama’s health care law that includes that mandate, according to a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey conducted this week. It found that 50 percent of likely U.S. voters would like to see the Supreme Court overturn the health care law, and 54 percent predict that’s what the court will do. Thirty-seven percent would like to see the high court uphold the legality of the law, but just 26 percent think that’s what the court will ultimately decide. Thirteen percent are undecided about the law, and 21 percent aren’t sure what the Supreme Court will do.
– Mandate poll II: A Reason-Rupe poll released this week asked Americans: Do you think it would be constitutional or unconstitutional for Congress to require Americans to buy healthy foods, such as broccoli? Eighty-seven percent said it would be unconstitutional. See the poll here: http://tinyurl.com/c4yahr3. Source: Reason Foundation
– Removing barriers: The next time you wonder why your 4G wireless network service is experiencing problems, consider this. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has identified local government permit processing as the significant regulatory constraint faced by wireless providers that need to add or modify cell sites. And given the 1996 Act’s deference to local governments in making zoning decisions involving cell siting, the FCC’s options for taking regulatory action to remove barriers to infrastructure investment and construction are limited. Seth Cooper, Research Fellow of the Maryland-based Free State Foundation, notes that, “by adding greater certainty to the law, the FCC could provide modest assistance in removing regulatory barriers to new and improved wireless infrastructure facilities.” Read his paper here:http://tinyurl.com/7kmd7v6.
– End of an era: At a time when schools are relying more and more on digital resources, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced this month it will cease publishing the print edition of its 32-volume set and focus efforts on its digital. The news of the demise of the printed set after 244 years drew some questions about the need for schools, especially in a financially challenging environment, to pay for such reference materials – whether they be online or in print – in an age of seemingly limitless free resources available on the Web. Read more at http://tinyurl.com/d2n6awk. Source: Education Week
– School choice: The Florida Legislature has passed a bill that expands the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which, like Georgia’s, encourages private, voluntary contributions to expand educational opportunities for children. Florida will provide a $10 million increase to the imposed contribution cap of $175 million in order to accommodate the many children applying for scholarships. Georgia’s scholarship program, which legislators approved in 2008, reached its annual cap of $50 million nearly two months before the end of 2011, even as applications for millions of dollars in pledges were being processed by the Georgia Department of Revenue. The contributions of 2,764 taxpayers totaling $5.7 million could not be accepted.
Energy and environment
– Human Achievement Hour: On Saturday March 31 some people, businesses and governments will shut off their lights for one hour as a symbolic “Earth Hour” gesture against global climate change. You can join the Competitive Enterprise Institute for Human Achievement Hour, an annual celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history. From 8:30- 9:30 p.m., enjoy the benefits of liberty, free markets and human innovation. And keep your lights ON! Find out more here: http://cei.org/hah. What do we have to celebrate? This nighttime picture of North Korea paints a thousand words: http://tinyurl.com/cl7kn3k .
– Economic liberty: Few legislative sessions go by without some special interest group asking the state to give them power to limit competition through licensure. This year, the Republican-dominated General Assembly approved legislation requiring music therapists to obtain a state license to practice. Despite the use of loud rock music as a part of “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the CIA, we fail to see the health and human safety concern with unlicensed music therapists. Why can’t a private association of music therapists create their own “seal of approval” without using the police power of the state? This is how government grows. There is hope for the future, however: More than 80 percent of the Republican freshman legislators voted against the bill, representing over half the “no” votes.
– Off-track debt: Users of Boston’s MBTA public transportation system, also known as the “T,” face an average 23 percent fare hike and Gov. Deval Patrick says more riders can expect more drastic service cuts in the future unless a comprehensive solution is found for the state’s transportation funding shortfall. The budget plan would cover a $185 million shortfall in FY 2013. But a Boston Globe columnist notes that the plan will “do little or nothing about the T’s real money problems. … The T’s real problem is debt. The system owes too much – about $5.2 billion at the moment.” The T says cost-saving measures and one-time revenues are helping stave off deeper cuts – for now.
– Off-track revenues: A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Thursday noted that the federal motor fuel tax rate has not increased since 1993, meaning that the 18.4 cent per gallon tax on motor fuels enacted in 1993 is worth about 11.5 cents today. The increase in fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles will also reduce motor fuel purchases and associated tax receipts. Worse, it adds: “The Congressional Budget Office estimates, as of March 2012, that to maintain current spending levels plus inflation between 2013 and 2022, the Highway Trust Fund will require over $125 billion more than it is expected to take in over that period.”… That’s just to maintaincurrent spending levels.
– This week in The Forum: The General Assembly has gone home. How did they do on the issues the Foundation follows? Forum Editor Mike Klein takes a quick look back (and ahead) at the Legislature’s work this year on criminal justice, juvenile justice, pension investments, tax reform, health care and education. Has America reached the beginning of the end for private health care insurance? Learn more in Checking Up on Health, by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd. Also, Foundation Senior Fellow Eric Wearne proposes that we should learn more about Ideas Worth Spreading in education. Take a look and enjoy the embedded video. Read these and other recent Foundation articles on The Forum, the Foundation’s blog at http://forum.georgiapolicy.org/.
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– Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our commentary today, “Healing Health Care Policy in Georgia,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend.
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