Aug. 28: Register by Tuesday for,“Unaccountable Government in Action: Capital Markets in the Fed’s Cross-Hairs,”a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon at Cobb County’s Georgian Club. Former SEC Commissioner Paul S. Atkins and the American Enterprise Institute’s Peter Wallison discuss the risky regulatory expansion of the Dodd-Frank Act. $30. For information and registration, go to www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=13956.
Sept. 15: Health Connect South brings together Georgia’s top-tier health leaders and innovators to figure out how to work together to solve problems and make Georgia a leader in health care. Information and registration are at healthconnectsouth.com.
Sept. 19: Reserve your seat at the 2014 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum to hear keynote speakers Herman Cain and Clint Bolick and experts on tax, education and health care reform in Georgia. The theme is “Tearing Down Walls,” in recognition of this year’s 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. For information and registration, go to www.georgiapolicy.org/?p=3264.
Sept. 22: Mark your calendar for the showing of “Rockin’ The Wall” – about the impact of music on the Fall of the Berlin Wall – sponsored by the Foundation at the Earl Strand Theatre in Marietta.
Quotes of Note
“If jumping to conclusions were an Olympic sport, some of these loudmouths who insert themselves where they don’t belong and frequently fan flames instead of working to extinguish them would win gold medals.” – Cal Thomas
“Conservatives in general, and even so called Tea Party conservatives, are not against transportation spending. Indeed, interstate commerce is one purpose of interstate highways and byways, and is one of the things the federal government is actually supposed to spend our tax dollars on. What conservatives are opposed to is needless and excessive spending, pork-barrel spending, deficit spending, spending to pick winners and losers among American individuals and corporations, and spending to promote the social and economic whims of the Washington few.” – Barry Loudermilk
Express toll lanes are coming to metro Atlanta in 2018. They’re more than a user fee to fund transportation; they are also “congestion insurance,” thanks to fluctuating tolls that ensure traffic flows smoothly. Find out more in the state Department of Transportation’s video here.
A lesson for Georgia: Drivers in Orange County, Calif., still rack up more than 17,000 violations a day three months after toll roads converted to all-electronic tolling. They’re usually infrequent users, so toll agencies are forgiving violations and adding customer service staff to help with the flood of inquiries.
Regulatory overreach: Since 1976, federal agencies have issued over 180,000 new regulations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports.
Enough to make you cry: A proposed rule by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would drastically increase costs for American onion farmers and consumers, without any improvement in public safety. Stemming from the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, it would limit E. coli levels in irrigation water for any foods that could be consumed raw. But onions are not subject to E. coli contamination from irrigation. Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, had this to say:
Food contamination is much more likely to occur in your own kitchen than anywhere else in the supply chain. While trying to limit contamination from irrigation water may draw the praise of consumers, it’s important to know that most commercial crops that are likely to be consumed raw are not irrigated with overhead systems that are often seen with cotton, peanuts and corn. Most vegetable crops are irrigated with drip emitters under a plastic film and near the root zone, so the water never touches the edible plant material. This saves water and helps prevent plant disease. Farmers all support food safety, but government policy should be focused on generating safe produce, not bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy.
School choice: A new survey by Education Next shows a large majority supports school choice in the form of tax credits (60 percent), but prefer universal vouchers, not vouchers limited to low-income families (51 percent oppose). A similar Georgia survey released at our July event in Macon showed even higher support for tax credit scholarships (70 percent) and universal vouchers (69 percent). Majorities of Georgians – across party lines – support raising Georgia’s cap on tax credit scholarships.
Why student scholarships? Nationally, 10 percent of K-12 children attend private schools, but in some neighborhoods, it’s the majority. Places with bad schools and high incomes are most likely to have higher private-school enrollment, according to demographic data. Georgia’s cap on contributions to the tax credit scholarship program was reached in the first three weeks of 2014, highlighting Georgians’ commitment to school choice and private school opportunity for children, regardless of family income. Source: Citylab.com
Energy and environment
Mean “green:” It’s not just wind turbines wiping out thousands of birds; it turns out that solar plants can do it, too. The Associated Press reports that the massive, state-of-the-art Ivanpah Solar energy plant in the Mojave Desert is killing about 28,000 birds a year. Birds entering the reflected rays ignite in midair and turn into a smoke plume; the locals apparently refer to the incinerated birds as “streamers.” Federal investigators reported a “streamer” every two minutes.
Peak oil? Environmental activists blame hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, for all manner of occurrences from earthquakes to contamination of groundwater, despite the lack of evidence. Meanwhile, technology has advanced to where shale oil and gas deposits that were believed tapped out just three years ago are being refracked, according to an article in The American Interest. “It’s a common but very serious mistake to predict the future based on what holds true today,” the writer reminds us.
The Forum: Foundation Editor Mike Klein continues his six-article series on new Georgia public charter schools: This week, find out about Atlanta Classical Academy, Chattahoochee Hills Charter School and Utopian Academy in Clayton County. In Benita Dodd’s, “Checking Up On Health,” read about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Whole Food Markets, an at-home colon cancer test and more. Find these articles and more at www.georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
Web site of the Week: Sign up for reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the “congressional watchdog.” Independent and nonpartisan, it works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.
Friday Flashback: Ten years ago, on August 21, 2004, our commentary was, “Playing Favorites on Land Use Won’t Solve Congestion,” by Benita Dodd. “Nobody verbalizes that ‘land use planning’ is frequently a euphemism for ‘smart growth,’ which is anti-suburbia, anti-roads and anti-automobile,” she wrote.
Social media: Have you “liked” the Foundation’s Facebook page yet? Join nearly 2,300 of our friends and get up-to-date news, policy views and event alerts. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gppf!
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the latest commentary, “Georgia Can Lead in Savings with Plan to Eliminate Medical Malpractice,” by Dr. Brian E. Hill and Wayne Oliver.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has hit another homerun with its Guide to the Issues. This is must reading for anyone interested in public policy in Georgia, and it is an outstanding road map for conservative, common sense solutions to our challengers of today and tomorrow.