Category: Issues

By James D. Giattina Land use and water quality are inextricably linked. Development almost always creates impervious surfaces – the roofs, streets, parking lots and sidewalks – that increase the volume of runoff and pollutants entering our watershed. These problems have contributed to a wave of new efforts to minimize the impacts of development, efforts variously known as low impact development; conservation design; mixed use development; neo-traditional neighborhood design; Main Street revitalization; transit-oriented development or smart growth. In communities around the country, and particularly in this region, there has been a growing concern that low-density development – also known as sprawl – has not only created longer commutes and car rides but left us with stormwater and other drainage problems… View Article

What You Can’t Find On Amazon Or Google

Kelly McCutchen This weekend hundreds of Georgian families will be setting up the new computers they purchased during the state’s sales tax holiday. If they have access to the Internet, they will find a world of information has opened to them. Whether you’re looking for the University of Georgia’s football schedule, a recipe for German potato salad, an explanation of the Pythagorean Theorem or tomorrow’s weather, it’s all easily accessible. The Internet also enables you to be a better citizen. Since nearly every newspaper is online these days, you can get different perspectives on complicated issues. If you don’t trust the media, go straight to the source. As Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “Eternal vigilance is the price of… View Article
By Steve Pociask Bankruptcies and layoffs have become commonplace in the information technology sector, particularly for telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers.  The apparent downturn comes despite the promise of deregulation and increased competition that were to bring significant consumer benefits.   At one time it appeared that competition might slowly replace regulation.  Starting with the divestiture of AT&T, competition emerged with the entry of long distance, wireless and cable TV providers, which invested in network infrastructure and vended their services to the public.  Regulators adopted simple price adjustment formulae for local telephone services as a means to automate rate changes, thereby eliminating costly and time-consuming regulatory proceedings, as well as allowing incentives for efficient investment.  The Internet was commercialized with… View Article
Kelly McCutchen Anyone who’s dined out with a group of colleagues and made the mistake of agreeing beforehand to split the check evenly has experienced the sticker shock of a higher-than-expected bill. It starts when someone who normally wouldn’t order dessert if he were paying his entire check decides to splurge, rationalizing that the additional cost – split several ways – really isn’t that high. The problem, unfortunately, is that most people in the group tend to think the same way. Pity the poor responsible fellow who still had to pay his share of the large bill but didn’t get any dessert! That rationale explains, too, why government tends to get bigger year after year and spends more of taxpayers’… View Article

Broadband Access in Georgia

By Morgan Smith  Summary Increasingly, Georgia residents and businesses rely on the Internet as a tool for communication, information, commerce and entertainment.  Internet usage has become a common feature of everyday life, and the growing demand for higher speed access – “broadband” service – is one visible indicator of the Internet’s enormous popularity. Recognizing these trends, both state and local officials frequently emphasize the importance of making broadband available to all areas and populations within the state.  In the abstract, public sector initiatives to expand broadband service seem well-intentioned.  Gaps in access can create explicit and implicit costs for individual consumers and communities as a whole. But such programs should accurately assess the true magnitude of current service shortfalls, particularly… View Article

Metro Motorists Pay When State Doesn’t

By Benita M. Dodd Driving on metro Atlanta’s roads is reminiscent of that fifties fad in which college students staged elaborate contests to squeeze the most people into a phone booth. Only, for motorists in the nation’s ninth-largest metro area, the congestion is no passing fad; it has become a way of life. Who’s to blame depends on who’s pointing the finger, and the named culprits include: the feds, for freezing new highway spending; “sprawl” – that lifestyle choice in which families opt to live the American dream in subdivisions far from the madding crowd; “anti-automobile extremism,” which leads to unrealistic transportation alternatives that put a hurt on the cul-de-sac crowd, and the metro area’s magnetism, which is drawing more… View Article

Tolls Could Bail Metro Area Out of Congestion

By Benita M. Dodd  Transportation expert Robert Poole found an unusually receptive audience for his congestion-relief proposals at a recent Georgia Public Policy Foundation Leadership Breakfast. The founder of the Reason Foundation, whose 1988 policy paper inspired a California private tollway law that became a national prototype, was discussing his newest proposal for relieving congestion in eight metropolitan areas, including Atlanta. Instead of adding high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to highways, Poole says, metro Atlanta should construct a network of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Buses and van pools would travel free and unimpeded on dedicated lanes funded in part by motorists willing to pay a variable price by electronic toll to escape the congestion. It’s not pie-in-the-sky:HOT lanes already are operating… View Article

Maine strategy no prescription drug solution

By Nina Owcharenko The United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision (PHRMA v. Walsh) to allow Maine Rx, a Maine government program requiring prescription drug discounts, to move forward.   While the Court’s decision focused on matters of law, and not policy, health policy makers at the federal level and in every state of the Union should resist accepting this as an endorsement of policy and instead re-evaluate the real effects such a government pricing proposal would have on the delivery of health care.   Unintended Consequences of Maine Rx Under the Maine Rx program, states would provide prescription drugs at a discount to residents who are without coverage by requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide a rebate similar to… View Article
By Sara Pilzer Any official who visits a Georgia river, stream or creek after a heavy rain understands why Brant Keller is a wanted man. Keller is director of the Griffin Stormwater Utility. The city of 24,000 is Georgia’s first local government to implement a practical – and successful – solution to one of the state’s most serious challenges in meeting federal water quality standards: stormwater runoff. The problem, according to the state Environmental Protection Division, is that “Residential, commercial and industrial development has directly affected natural resource areas and wildlife habitats by replacing natural cover with impervious surfaces like asphalt and concrete.” “Rivers and streams are affected by erosion and sedimentation, stormwater runoff and municipal and industrial discharge.” The… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd There’s not a single good reason for Asthma Awareness Month. There are, in fact, more than 20.3 million good reasons, all of them Americans who report currently suffering form asthma. And among them are 6.3 million children. Marking World Asthma Day on May 6, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson acknowledged asthma as “one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States.” He announced federal grants would fund innovative community-based disease prevention and control programs. The Environmental Protection Agency marked the day differently, announcing a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an air-quality forecasting tool. “The 31 million Americans with asthma, including 9 million children, will breathe… View Article

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State Representative Bob Irvin more quotes