September 21: “Rethinking American Highways,” a Policy Briefing Luncheon and Book Forum with Bob Poole, director of Transportation Policy at Reason Foundation. Among Poole’s policy papers that introduced new concepts into the U.S. transportation policy world (some finding a home in Georgia):
This event is 11:30 a.m. at the Georgian Club. $50. Register here; a limited number of Poole’s books are available to order at the discounted price of $20.
September 27: Health Connect South 2018 brings more than 400 health leaders to the Georgia Aquarium to talk about “the future” in health, the current challenges, and collaborative solutions. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Georgia Public Policy Foundation supporters receive a 30 percent discount on the registration fee at this link.
Quotes of note
“The interest of the dealers … is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers.” – Adam Smith
“This week, Sony became the latest company to pledge the transition to running on 100 percent renewable energy. … At best, the claim is misleading and deceptive. The reality is that as long as these companies are connected to the electric grid, they still get the vast majority of their electricity from conventional sources such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power.” – Institute for Energy Research
Energy and environment
Scattered storms: As Hurricane Florence approached the East Coast, Governor Nathan Deal issued a Declaration of Emergency and Fox News reported that Waffle House activated its storm center. The popular Georgia-based diner chain, renowned for its 24-hour service 365 days per year, has an emergency routine that’s so well-regarded, the Federal Emergency Management Agency unofficially uses the restaurants’ status as an indicator for the severity of a natural disaster.
Trump’s fault: A Washington Post editorial blames President Trump for Hurricane Florence. The Climate Action Tracker, meanwhile, admits after Trump rejected the Paris Climate Agreement that the U.S. goal was impossible anyway! “Even meeting the U.S. target under the Paris Agreement would be ‘Insufficient’ to limit warming to 2°C, let alone 1.5˚C.”
We’re No. 1! Thanks to the shale drilling boom, the United States appears to have surpassed Russia this summer to become the world’s top oil producer, the U.S. Energy Department reported this week. The United States churned out about 10.9 million barrels a day in August, compared to about 10.8 million barrels a day for Russia. It would be the first time in decades the nation leads the world in crude oil production. Source: Houston Chronicle
‘Business Takes the Lead’ was the theme of the education session at the Foundation’s 2018 Legislative Policy Forum on September 7, focusing on the role of businesses in developing a workforce. (Video to follow.) One way is for employers to fund their workers’ college education. Among the companies in Georgia doing this are QuikTrip and Chick fil-A. Starbucks, Walt Disney Co., Walmart Inc., and Taco Bell also set up university alliances through Guild Education, a third-party manager of tuition assistance programs. Source: Bloomberg
Best in class: The University of Georgia and Georgia Tech are among the top 15 public universities in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Tech is No. 8 and UGA is No. 13. Georgia, Virginia and California are the only three states with more than one institution in the top 15, and GA and the University of Florida are the only two public institutions from the Southeastern Conference listed in the top 20.
Upward mobility: Poverty rates declined in 20 states and the District of Columbia from 2016 to 2017, according to the latest Census Bureau data. The 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) estimates show that in many states, declining poverty was the continuation of a longer trend. In California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and North Carolina, this was the fourth consecutive year of statistically significant declines in the poverty rate. The number of people working full time year round increased by 2.4 million in 2017. Incomes have grown 10.4 percent in the past three years, and last year’s figure was the highest on record.
Assistance: About one adult in 10 on food stamps is an able-bodied working-age adult working less than 20 hours per week, according to a Census Bureau analysis. Eighty-one percent of SNAP beneficiaries (27 million) were either children, older people age 65 or older, ill or disabled individuals, or adults working at least 20 hours per week, and 8 percent were caregivers or students. The analysis found SNAP lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty, including 1.5 million children.
Tolled you: The Northwest Corridor Express Toll Lanes, approximately 30 miles of reversible tolled lanes, opened officially Wednesday. The 18,000 vehicles that used the lanes on Tuesday led to improved ridership in the general-purpose lanes, according to news reports. For the first two weeks, vehicles with a Peach Pass transponder can use the lanes at no charge. Peach Passes are also available at CVS and Walgreens. As early as 2005, the Foundation and Bob Poole proposed this approach; don’t miss Poole at the September 21 Policy Briefing Luncheon!
Microtransit: Gwinnett County’s voters will go to the polls in March to decide on joining MARTA. Meanwhile, the city of Snellville begins a six-month microtransit pilot next week. The on-demand, door-to-door bus service will provide free travel in a set area, using 12-passenger shuttles. Source: MassTransitMag
Uh, oh: Google is working on a health and fitness assistant to compete with the likes of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin, according to Wareable. “Google Coach” will use data such as heart rate and step counts to create personalized fitness regimens and meal plans. “While you’re out and about, Google Coach can use your location and food patterns to recommend a healthy place to eat.”
Failure to comply: Arkansas has removed more than 4,300 able-bodied adults from its Medicaid program for failing to report whether they have met the state’s new work requirements, which took effect in June. Source: The Hill
Next stop USA? Amazon is in discussions to create an insurance price comparison tool for consumers in the United Kingdom, where home and auto policies are popular sellers on existing price comparison sites, Reuters reports.
This month in the archives: In September 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Congress Undermines Infrastructure by Looting the Highway Trust Fund.” It noted, “Among the many reasons these congressional tax-and-spend schemes will fail to relieve worsening traffic congestion and road deterioration is that less than two-thirds of current federal surface transportation spending is devoted to the general purpose roads that the typical motorist or truck driver (who finances the fund) use in the ordinary course of travel. The other third goes to a growing collection of costly diversions that have little to do with the mobility needs of the average motorist or to the economically essential movement of freight.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Transit Technologies Leaving Planners Behind,” by Eric Tanenblatt.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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