Quotes of note
“Trade unions up to a certain point have been recognized now as organs for good. They are the only means by which workmen can protect themselves from the tyranny of those who employ them. But the moment that trade unions become tyrants in their turn, they are engines for evil: they have no right to prevent people from working on any terms that they choose.” – Nathaniel Lindley (1896)
“It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression … that the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped.” – Thomas Jefferson (1821)
“Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.” – George Washington, July 2, 1776
August 23: Join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation on Thursday, August 23 at the 1818 Club in Duluth for a Leadership Breakfast, “Policy Over Politics,” with keynote speaker Kyle Wingfield, the Foundation’s president. Welcome by Georgia State Rep. Brett Harrell, a longtime friend of the Foundation and Gwinnett County resident. 8 a.m. (Registration, networking 7:30 a.m.) $20. Register here.
September 7: Mark your calendar for the 2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum. This daylong event on Friday, September 7 at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel will include sessions on health care reform, education innovation, pension reform and more. Details soon; view last year’s program here.
Several new laws take effect in Georgia July 1; find more here.
Hands-free: Starting July 1, it will be illegal to hold a phone while driving in Georgia. Lawmakers say this is to prevent distracted driving. Drivers may not use headsets and earpieces to listen to music or any other entertainment.
If you like your school: Students who move within a public school system into a new school attendance zone after more than half the school year may complete the year in the school where they started the year; transportation is the family’s responsibility.
Breaking your lease: In cases involving family violence, renters may terminate their residential lease with just 30 days’ notice.
Sunday brunch: Local governments may hold a referendum allowing voters to decide whether restaurants can serve alcohol from 11 a.m. on Sundays. Government-run establishments such as the Georgia World Congress Center already are exempt from the current 12:30 p.m. starting time for sales.
Free speech: This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that public sector unions cannot force non-member employees to subsidize a union through fees that are collected “even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities.” In Janus v. AFSCME, the court found this “violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
Energy and environment
Water wars: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a ruling this week in the water allocation dispute between Florida and Georgia, saying it needed more evidence to make a decision. In a statement in response, Kyle Wingfield declared the Foundation “disappointed.” The Deal Administration alone reports spending $47 million on litigation over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin since taking office in 2011; Florida and Alabama’s disputes with Georgia began in 1990.
Global hot air: On June 23, 1998, NASA scientist James E. Hansen testified before a Senate committee during a prolonged heat wave, which he decided to cast as a climate event of cosmic significance. He expressed his “high degree of confidence” in “a cause-and-effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming.” Thirty years later, “The list of what didn’t happen is long and tedious,” according to a Cato Institute op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
Blame game: A federal judge threw out a lawsuit by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., seeking funding from fossil fuel companies for “climate change” projects including protecting coastlines from flooding. Judge William Alsup declared the courtroom is the wrong venue and the companies are not solely at fault. “Our industrial revolution and the development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal,” he wrote. “Without those fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible.” Source: New York Times
Education and teacher pensions
Pensions vs. schools: The bulk of Walker County Schools’ new funding is going toward teachers’ pensions, the Times Free Press reports. Superintendent Damon Raines told the school board this week a big boost in district spending comes from increased employer contributions for Georgia’s Teachers Retirement System.
Money pit: “Georgia’s Teachers Retirement System is straining the taxpayers,” according to an editorial in the Savannah Morning News. “The Georgia Legislature should take this opportunity to explore alternatives to the pension fund.”
Great teachers? Just 4 percent of teacher dismissal cases in Atlanta mention teacher effectiveness, teacher quality, instruction or student learning, according to a new American Enterprise Institute study of teacher dismissals covering 2011-17.
Criminal justice reform
Backfiring: The Independent Institute reports that after California’s Prop. 47 ballot initiative passed in November 2014, aimed at reducing criminal penalties and helping relieve prison overcrowding, a wave was triggered of “smash-and-grab” motor-vehicle burglaries and a surge of retail shopliftings. “By raising the monetary threshold for a felony theft to $950 in property value, up from $500 before the measure passed, Prop. 47 lowered thieves’ expected cost of getting busted.” Read proposed solutions here.
Politics and bedfellows: In rare bipartisanship in Washington, Medicare scope-of-practice legislation for audiologists has been introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). It would allow audiologists to provide all services already covered by Medicare that are also within an audiologist’s scope of practice. Currently, patients must first obtain an order from a physician or nurse practitioner before being diagnosed by an audiologist.
Robo-taxis: The self-driving car service that Google spinoff Waymo plans to launch later this year in Arizona will include up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans under a deal announced last month. Waymo is also testing self-driving trucks in Georgia. Source: Media reports
This month in the archives: In June five years ago, the Foundation published, “Putting College in Students’ REACH.” It noted, “In involving the community, in bridging middle school and high school, and in targeting bright but at-risk, low-income students, REACH is transformational.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “New Rule Creates New Opportunities for Health Insurance,” by Joey Costa.
Have a great weekend and a Happy Independence Day!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.