Category: Regulation

No Way to Handle a Fuel Crisis

By Benita M. Dodd  You don’t have to have your ear to the tracks to hear the hullabaloo blaming “big oil” and Americans’ “addiction” to foreign oil for alarmingly high energy prices. Once again, snake-oil salesmen are outshouting reasoned discussions about three-dollar gas.  The clamor from Capitol Hill is one example. Capitalism has become a dirty word. Congressional leaders from both sides are demanding investigations of oil companies for “price-fixing,” “price-gouging” and “windfall” profits. In response, President Bush ordered an investigation into gouging, urged an end to tax breaks for oil companies and suspended deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through the fall. Suspending deposits will keep about 25,000 barrels more a day on the summer market, according to Bloomberg… View Article

Bunker Mentality Won’t Cut Energy Bills

By Benita M. Dodd Hindsight being 20-20, traffic jams became the impetus for transportation solutions as Georgia’s population grew. Fortunately, the state can still pre-empt an energy jam fueled by Georgia’s growing population and economy. Georgia homeowners are hot under the collar over high energy bills: Wasn’t natural gas deregulation supposed to promote competition and cut rates? Why is it that Georgia’s 2005 average residential natural gas rates are higher than the national average and lower only than Florida’s rates among Georgia’s neighbors? Why are Georgia’s 2005 average commercial and industrial rates higher than neighbors Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama? These are reasonable questions, and consumers deserve answers about foundering expectations. Clearly, the higher cost of energy… View Article

Hot Air Rises with Natural Gas Prices

By Benita M. Dodd Hindsight being 20/20, the critics who back in 1997 were doomsaying the deregulation of Georgia’s natural gas market are back again, gleefully pointing to high energy bills as a reason to return to the good old days when energy was “cheap” under the watchful reins of Big Brother.   “When we deregulated natural gas we were told … that it was going to spur competition and that the competition was going to lower the gas [prices],” Democratic state Rep. Georganna Sinkfield complained recently as the House debated legislation involving a new liquid natural gas pipeline. “And therefore our consumers would be so much better off.” “We found that just the opposite happened and we found that our… View Article
By Dudley Rochelle and Jack Lambremont Some labor organizations see a conspiracy in calls to create safeguards that would prevent unions in Georgia from improperly using their members’ dues to fund political activity. But it is merely common sense to require labor organizations not covered by federal labor laws to set up separate funds for political purposes – and to ensure there are aboveboard methods by which those labor organizations may solicit contributions for political use.  So why is it common sense for unions to support such protections? Union membership is declining in Georgia, judging by numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics. In 2003, union membership was 249,000 strong, or 6.7 percent of the work force;… View Article

UPS President Brings Home Outsourcing Debate

By David Abney (Excerpts from the UPS International president’s keynote address to the Southern Growth Policies Board on June 13, 2004.) This is an election year. So, of course, jobs are front-page news. Many of these stories remind us that American companies have outsourced jobs overseas, and that globalization is responsible. What could be so bad, then, about taking steps that will limit trade, if these steps can protect the erosion of American jobs? At the most basic level, that interferes with a process history tells us is human nature. Trading is as natural as communicating. In the l9th century, technology advances in ocean steamships and the intercontinental railway opened new territories and U.S. state markets to trade. And prosperity… View Article

DNR Stay Rule Could Encourage Growth To Go

By Benita Dodd After two years of planning, Gadget & Gizmo Inc. is eager to set up its Southeast regional headquarters in Georgia. All that stands in the way is the air emissions permit it needs from the state Environmental Protection Division. And a little hiccup called the Stay Rule, which essentially gives any third party that appeals the permit within 30 days the ability to hinder the company’s plans indefinitely. Jack Smith, a farmer in Carroll County, has applied for a water withdrawal permit. He needs the permit in time to get his irrigation system installed in order to obtain a bank loan next year based on the anticipated harvest value. “If that permit is issued but there is… View Article

Forcing Firms To Keep Jobs Stateside Could Hurt Georgia

By Benita Dodd Efforts to thwart outsourcing of jobs and services abroad have reached at least 14 states, including Georgia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While well intended, legislation that forces jobs to remain in the United States will prove a shortsighted attempt at micromanagement that backfires on government, policymakers and ordinary Georgians.It’s difficult to spot the silver lining when blinded by outrage over American jobs “lost” offshore, but greater harm is done at home when we hinder business from seeking cost-effective options abroad. When U.S. companies site jobs abroad, they do so to save money and improve profits. Such cost efficiency leads to American jobs saved, not lost. The lower cost of doing business is a… 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

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
By Kelly McCutchen If you owned stock in telecom companies last year, you probably learned a lesson about the risks of investing in the technology sector. These risks point to the need for caution as residents and leaders of Lowndes County review recent proposals for local government to enter the technology business. Much of the support for the proposed Valdosta Telecommunications Network (VTN) is based on a concern for high prices, particularly for broadband (techno-speak for fast) Internet service. An article in the Valdosta Daily Times reported that Lowndes County residents and businesses would save more than $80 million by entering the telecom business based on a recent study. This sounds enticing, but residents would be wise to remember the… View Article

I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation.  For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work.  As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature.  We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us.  To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)

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