January 26: The National School Choice Week Leadership Breakfast is keynoted by education expert Dr. Ben Scafidi, who will unveil his study on the real numbers of Georgia’s public school spending and staffing. The topic is, “National School Week: Where’s The Money?” Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. $30. Information and registration here.
February 22: Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Institute for Justice for a Leadership Breakfast and Book Forum with Dick Carpenter, co-author of, “Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit.” Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. $30. Information and registration here.
Quotes of note
“To be upset by academic standards is to invest them with a power they neither have nor deserve. In my five years of teaching fifth graders, I never – not even once – reached for English language arts standards when deciding what to teach. I would wager that when I.M. Pei was commissioned to design the Louvre Pyramid, his first move was not to reach for a copy of the Paris building codes for inspiration.” – Robert Pondiscio
“It is the press which has corrupted our political morals – and it is to the press we must look for the means of our political regeneration.” – Alexander Hamilton (1804)
Georgia Legislature 2017
The issues: Legislators have been mailed copies of the Foundation’s Guide to the Issues, focusing on education, transportation, health care, taxes, criminal justice and more. Click here to read the Foundation’s proposals online.
Free speech: The Foundation joined 23 other state think tanks in an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court for privacy protections for our donors after the Federal Elections Commission demanded the donor list of the Independence Institute of Colorado, a sister organization.
Georgia-grown: To curb regulatory overreach, the State Policy Network (of which the Foundation is a member) publicly signed on to supporting the concept of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, authored by Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (H.R. 26). It passed last week, 237-187, and requires Congress to vote on any major rule or regulation from the executive branch that would impact the economy by $100 million or more.
Common Core: What happens to the Common Core State Standards under a Trump administration is still unknown. Our sister think tank, the Pioneer Institute, has published a thoughtful guide, “Drilling Through The Core.” The book features essays from various experts including Mark Bauerlein of Emory University; you can read reviews of this book and several others by Robert Pondiscio in Education Next.
Supporting choice: A new poll released by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution finds 61 percent of Georgia voters surveyed support choice in education. That’s a promising statistic as policymakers decide how to tackle the 90,000 children trapped in Georgia’s “chronically failing” public schools after the Opportunity School District vote failed.
Criminal justice reform
Police safety: A national survey of 8,000 law enforcement officers by the Pew Research Center found 93 percent were more concerned about their safety today than in the past, and 75 percent of respondents said interactions with black citizens have become more tense. Source: CBS
New website: SmartOnCrimeGA is a new website that aggregate coverage of criminal justice issues affecting the nation and, more specifically, Georgia. Visit it; like the Facebook page and follow @SmartOnCrimeGA on Twitter to stay up to date and informed.
Private rail: The first trains were displayed this week for the first privately run and operated U.S. rail service launched in over 100 years, in South Florida. The Brightline service, scheduled to open in the summer, projects about 3 million passengers a year in the first phase, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It hopes to get to 5.5 million passengers when the service reaches Orlando, possibly by 2018. Source: USA Today
Neighbors say no Waze: Waze is becoming a victim of its own success. The Google-owned navigation service employs crowd-source data from millions of motorists to find the quickest route for commutes. But residents of Sherman Oaks, Calif., complain motorists are being diverted off congested highways onto streets not meant to handle high traffic volume. Source: Mass Transit magazine
Cost savings: Among the revenue savings of self-driving cars is the reduction in the $18 billion annual health-care costs from emergency room visits related to motor vehicle injuries; the reduction in costs to local emergency responders; and, by rendering DUIs virtually obsolete, it would save lives, police costs and emergency medical costs. Source: Governing magazine
Can you buy me now? Hearing aids could soon be sold over the counter to customers who will test their own hearing with cell phone apps or online programs and adjust sound parameters themselves, Kaiser Health News reports, and the Food and Drug Administration is preparing for this market by easing regulations. More than 40 percent of people over age 60 have some degree of hearing loss. Expect prices to drop!
Around a filibuster: Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to essentially repeal the law by avoiding a Democratic filibuster. The vote was 51-48.
This month in the archives: In January 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Scary Truth Amid Government Accountability.” It noted, “Individuals have to work within their budgets or eventually declare bankruptcy. Government, on the other hand, simply digs deeper into taxpayers’ pockets when it comes up short, with the usual either-or warning: either higher taxes or fewer/worse government services.”
Foundation in the news: The Athens Banner-Herald reported on Benita Dodd’s visit with the Athens-Clarke GOP. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Benita on the 2017 legislative session. A ConnectSavannah op-ed opposing municipal broadband cited Kelly McCutchen.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “2017 Legislature Can Act on Tax, Health and Education Reform,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)