Category: Issues

Legislature 2017 Misses Many Opportunities

By Kelly McCutchen Last year, we wrote that the General Assembly is often, and appropriately, chided for passing last-minute bills with little debate or study. Once again this year, major legislation was crammed into the waning hours of the last day of the session. It was as ugly as the North Carolina-Gonzaga championship game. Several bills were hurriedly voted on after midnight; many legislators seemed more focused on tearing up papers for confetti in anticipation of Sine Die instead of studying the bills. Sadly, a major reform of adoption law, an income tax rate cut for Georgians and a minor expansion of school choice fell victim to the clock. Legislators wisely passed the 2018 budget before March 30, the last… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Be careful when you set a new precedent, because your decision could come back to haunt you. Senate Democrats executed the first partisan filibuster of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee in our nation’s history this week. In response, Senate Republicans are expected to vote to change Senate rules to allow confirmation by a simple majority vote – the “nuclear option” – instead of the current 60-vote majority rule. Republicans cite precedent to justify their actions. Democrats changed Senate rules in 2013, ditching the 60-vote rule to allow a simple majority vote on Cabinet nominees and lower-court judges. The Wall Street Journal cites a floor speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Nov. 13, 2013, where she called… View Article

AJC Publishes Op-Ed on Atlanta, MARTA TSPLOSTs

The Sunday edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 2, 2017, published an op-ed by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd on the new transportation special purpose local option sales taxes for MARTA and Atlanta. Her op-ed is published in its entirety below; the AJC link is here: http://www.myajc.com/news/opinion/opinion-look-future-not-past-gain-most-from-atl-splost/5h0CTF5gG9cK2ppp2ZRL4O/. OPINION: Look to future, not past, to gain most from ATL T-SPLOST By Benita Dodd April marks the full implementation of two transportation special-purpose local option sales taxes (TSPLOSTs) overwhelmingly passed by Atlanta voters in November 2016. A 0.4-cent, five-year Atlanta TSPLOST to raise $300 million has joined the 0.5-cent, 40-year TSPLOST begun in March to raise $2.6 billion for MARTA projects. The massive support is no surprise, given lofty campaign promises… View Article

Criminal Justice Reform Legislative Post-Game

By Ross Coker As the dust settles from the 2017 legislative session, among the legislation heading to the Governor’s desk are three significant criminal justice reform-related measures initiated in the Senate. The first, Senate Bill 174, focuses on Georgia’s Accountability Court system and grants more intelligent leeway to use measures that they might feel are appropriate on a case-by-case basis. For example, the legislation would allow the Board of Community Supervision to offer educational or skills-based programs to those on probation to encourage gainful employment and reintegration into society. The bill also sets up the creation of a certificate to be issued to those who complete reentry programs, marking a readiness to reenter society as a productive citizen. SB 174… View Article
In 2016, Senate legislation seeking to clarify that Direct Primary Care is not insurance did not make it out of the Georgia Senate. In 2017, the Senate unanimously approved similar DPC legislation and the House Insurance Committee reported favorably on the bill on March 20, but the House Rules Committee did not place the legislation on the calendar by March 30 for a House vote before Sine Die. By Loren King In primary care medicine, offices visits require understanding and knowledge of multiple complicated and interrelated medical, social and economic concerns to adequately parse decision making. Health care is complicated and personal and, at its very foundation, it is conversation, friendship and hope. Unfortunately, the economics of an office visit… View Article

Legislators Should Heed the Forgotten Man

By Kelly McCutchen A host of tax bills are up for consideration as the Georgia General Assembly enters its final week: tax breaks for the music industry, tax breaks for big construction projects, tax breaks on jet fuel, taxes on Internet purchases, taxes on ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, and cuts in the individual income tax rate. On the campaign trail, politicians often criticize tax breaks for special interests and the use of the tax code to “pick winners and losers.” Despite that, the siren song of job creation and promises of economic growth are clearly hard to resist; several of these bills are passed each year. As with pork barrel spending projects, the difference between competitive economic… View Article
This testimony on Direct Primary Care was prepared for delivery to the Georgia House Insurance Committee on March 20, 2017. The legislation, S.B. 50, was presented by Senator Hunter Hill (Watch from the 53-minute mark at https://livestream.com/accounts/19771805/events/6811883/videos/152225554) By Benita M. Dodd, Vice President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation  The Georgia Public Policy Foundation understands the challenges lawmakers face in extending access to health care for the impoverished as well as those living in Georgia’s rural areas. We believe one way to address this is through an exciting, well tested approach: Direct Primary Care, which provides access, quality and control and an affordable monthly rate. The Foundation has highlighted physicians practicing this approach in 2014, both at a May Leadership Breakfast… View Article

How States Can Break the Health Care Logjam

By Kelly McCutchen In the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, January 22 a tornado, one of 40 over two days in Georgia, ripped through the tiny South Georgia town of Adel. Seven people died; the wounded were treated at the local hospital five minutes away. Just three days earlier, that local hospital had announced it would close its emergency room – the only ER in Cook County – at the end of February. Cook Medical Center is hemorrhaging about $2.6 million a year, mostly due to the emergency room. Tift Regional Medical Center plans to offer expanded hours at a non-emergency medical clinic in Adel while shifting emergency services to its hospital in Tifton, 24 miles away. Plans are in the… View Article
By Ross Coker The Georgia Public Policy Foundation and other organizations committed to intelligent criminal justice reform in Georgia, have for some time pointed out Georgia’s astronomical rates of parole and probation, the highest in the nation by far. Georgia has 4,565 adults on probation per 100,000 adults, whereas that number falls to 2,200 for the next state on the list, Rhode Island. Parole and probation join the larger problem in criminal justice reform efforts known as “collateral consequences:” things beyond fines and prison sentences such as restrictions on civic participation that prevent ex-offenders from living the same lives as those who have not, even if they desire to return to a law-abiding, contributory role in society. The justification… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd March 12-18 is Sunshine Week. Launched in 2005, the initiative promotes open government and pushes back against “excessive official secrecy.” Sunshine Week is promoted by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Events of the past year reinforce that the media themselves need self-examination regarding the dappled coverage of events. Fortunately, enough outlets and citizen journalists exist and compete to the extent that citizens receive the news one way or another and, “Truth will out.” Not so at the General Assembly as the 40-day session reaches its 2017 halfway point. Few of Georgia’s 10 million residents reach the State Capitol to follow along in person. Happily for many,… View Article

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