Friday Facts: June 30, 2017

It’s Friday!

canadadayCanada 150: Happy birthday, O Canada! Canada was created on July 1, 1867, by the British North America Act (now the Constitution Act) and celebrates its 150th anniversary Saturday. Georgia has an especially good reason to wish our friends well: 330,600 Georgia jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada, according to the latest trade information. Trade between our state and Canada is valued at $9.8 billion; Georgia exports to Canada are $5.8 billion and imports are $4 billion. Find out more here.

Quotes of note

“Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.” – Calvin Coolidge (1926)

“Without justice being freely, fully, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected.” – Joseph Story (1833)

“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” – Herbert Hoover (1936) 

Health care

Certificate of need: The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a challenge to the state’s Certificate of Need law. James Manley, attorney for the Foundation’s sister think tank, the Goldwater Institute of Arizona, is representing a women’s surgical center whose application to expand facilities was denied. “[The CON law] encourages monopoly and lessens competition” in the health-care industry in violation of anti-monopoly provisions in the Georgia Constitution, Manley said. Most cases are decided within six months. Read more on CON hereSource: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Opportunity

Minimum wage I: Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance raised the hourly minimum wage from $9.47 to $11 in 2015 and to $13 in 2016. Preliminary findings of a study commissioned by the city concludes the increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent while wages increased by around 3 percent. “Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016.” Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Minimum wage II: Texas A&M associate professor Jonathan Meer points out the Seattle study by “respected researchers” was undermined by the mayor of Seattle, who commissioned another study “by an advocacy group at Berkeley whose previous work on the minimum wage is so consistently one-sided that you can set your watch by it, that unsurprisingly finds no effect. They deliberately timed its release for several days before this paper came out.”

Education

Constitutional education: The constitutional rights of Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., were violated when Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources denied the church a grant to use shredded scrap-tire material to improve its preschool playground, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision this week. The court ruled the state violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by denying the church an otherwise available public benefit on account of its religious status.

School choice: The Georgia Supreme Court ruled this week that the state’s tuition tax credit scholarship program is constitutional and does not involve the use of public money. “This ruling aligns with similar federal and state courts, giving legal certainty to Georgia’s program and the families that depend on it,” Foundation President Kelly McCutchen responded in a news release praising the decision.

Taxes and spending 

Game changer: The federal government has provided $3.2 billion in tax exemptions for publicly funded sports stadiums, the Tax Foundation reports, implicitly subsidizing what has become a boom in stadium construction throughout the country. Bipartisan legislation could end this practice by explicitly applying federal taxes to all municipal bonds issued to pay for sports stadiums.

Yay, we’re not Illinois! It’s not close to Thanksgiving, but it’s never a bad time to be thankful. Bloomberg reports Illinois has $15 billion in unpaid bills and may soon become the first U.S. state on record to have its general obligation debt rated as junk. We’re thankful to live in Georgia, soon to have $2.5 billion in its Rainy Day Fund and the highest AAA debt rating. (Illinois business owners: We’re also No. 1 for business and the weather is beautiful, even around Thanksgiving. Come on down!) 

Energy and environment

 Pie in the sky: The U.S. Conference of Mayors, a bipartisan group representing 1,400 mayors across the country (including Atlanta), has adopted a resolution to encourage cities to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. That is an impossible goal, scientists point out in a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences and summarized in National Review.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In June 10 years ago the Foundation published, “Eminent Domain Protection’s No Done Deal.” It noted, “Our Founding Fathers, who were clearly believers in individual liberty and their founding principles of ‘life, liberty, and property,’ are likely rolling in their collective graves (pun intended). The idea that that right to own property is not considered to be a fundamental right would be beyond them – as it should be for any liberty-minded American.” Ten years after trampling on property owner in the landmark Kelo v. New London case, the U.S. Supreme Court did it again this month. 

Media 

Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Benita Dodd in an article on food stamp work requirements. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kelly McCutchen in an article about an eligibility audit of the State Health Benefit Plan, in an article on the U.S. Senate health care bill, and in an article on the U.S. Supreme court ruling about a state grant to a religious preschool. The Valdosta Daily Times cited the Foundation in an article on sales tax holidays. Benita’s commentary on the erosion of civil discourse was published by The Citizen, The Marietta Daily Journal, Cobb Life, Cobb Business Journal, Northside Neighbor, DeKalb Neighbor, North Fulton Neighbor, West Georgia Neighbor and South Metro Neighbor. Kelly discussed health care on the “Mountain Mornings” radio program on WJRB 95.1 and WJUL 97.7.  

Social media: The Foundation has 3,229 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,739 followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Georgia Works! Through Jobs Programs for Homeless,” by Bill McGahan.

Have a great weekend and a Happy Independence Day!

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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