Quotes of note
“People who believe themselves above something, or entitled to something more because of past achievements, will find that new opportunities slip away.” – Tyler Bonin, “My Advice to Grads: Start Mopping”
“Over the past decade, merely the increase – I repeat, just the increase – in U.S. oil and gas production is equal to seven times the total energy production of every wind turbine and solar project in the United States.” – Robert Bryce
“It is truly difficult to imagine a worse mechanism for fighting homelessness than the one Seattle decided to implement. Seattle’s [employee head tax] would tax employers with revenues of at least $20 million at the rate of approximately $275 per employee, per year. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. No, there’s not some arcane economic logic at play here beyond the understanding of mere mortals such as us. Seattle plans to fight homelessness by taxing employers for hiring people.” – Andrew Willford
Primary elections: Primary runoffs taking place July 24 include several statewide GOP races – Georgia governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state – and deciding the Democrats’ state school superintendent candidate. Both Republican gubernatorial candidates – Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp – have signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
Right to try: President Trump has signed federal “right-to-try” legislation into law, enabling terminally ill patients to gain access to experimental medical treatments not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Georgia Right To Try Act became law in 2016; Benita Dodd wrote about “right to try” in 2015.
Costs: The biggest single factor in patient insurance costs is prescription drugs, according to a recent analysis, with drug prices accounting for 23.2 cents of each dollar spent on an insurance premium. The rest of the breakdown: 22.2 cents to the doctor; 20.2 cents to cover “other” costs associated with doctor visits; about 20 cents toward hospital stays; nearly five cents for taxes, and 3.3 cents for overhead insurance business expenses. Source: Patient Responsibility News
Energy and environment
Energy vs. infrastructure: The U.S. shale surge faces bottlenecks, including a shortage of pipeline capacity and a dearth of U.S. ports that can handle supertankers. This could slow down growth until early 2019, analysts say, as many producers are forced to haul their crude oil to the Gulf Coast by truck. Source: Bloomberg
Streetcar: Atlanta’s Streetcar system, scheduled for massive expansion under MARTA, is averaging just 973 weekday passengers and 1,827 weekend passengers. The project’s weekday ridership had been projected at 2,600 passengers. Monthly ridership has surpassed 40,000 just once since 2017, reporting 42,860 riders in February 2017. Source: Atlanta City Council
Trying again: Two regions of the state voted again on a regional 10-year, 1-penny transportation special-purpose local option sales tax (T-SPLOST) last week after it failed to gain passage in 2012. The second time was the charm for South Georgia, where tax collection will begin October 1 after the 18-county region voted 53-47 percent in favor of the transportation tax. Four counties, including Lowndes, rejected the proposal. The 11-county Central Georgia region voted 51-49 against the tax, with six counties rejecting it. This was the second rejection. Source: News reports
Autonomous vehicles: Gainesville, Fla., has launched an autonomous shuttle service connecting the University of Florida to downtown Gainesville. The EZ10 Shuttle can hold up to 12 people and will travel in mixed-use traffic at speeds of up to 15 mph. Regular service will begin this summer, with a dedicated operator on board to ensure a smooth startup. Source: Metro Magazine
This month in the archives: In June five years ago, the Foundation published, “Georgia Tech and Udacity Cross the Rubicon.” It noted, “‘There are a few moments in my life I will never forget. Like the moment I proposed to my wife, Petra. … Today is one of those moments.’ So wrote Udacity founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun upon announcing a new $6,600 master’s in computer science degree in partnership with Georgia Tech.”
Foundation in the news: The Savannah Morning News published Kyle Wingfield’s column, “Voters can change conservative narrative.” The Citizen published Kyle’s commentary, “Hands-off Government Requires Hands-on Responsibility.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Technology of Past Won’t Take Transit into the Future,” by Dave Emanuel.
Have a great weekend.
Kyle Wingfield 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.)