Quotes of note
“I choose free libraries as the best agencies for improving the masses of the people, because they give nothing for nothing. They only help those who help themselves. They never pauperize. They reach the aspiring and open to these chief treasures of the world – those stored up in books. A taste for reading drives out lower tastes.” – Andrew Carnegie
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge
“As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience, and of the press, it will be worth defending.” – Andrew Jackson
January 22, 2019: “National School Choice Week: A Capitol Choice,” is a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon on Tuesday, January 22, in the Empire Room, 20th floor, Sloppy Floyd Building in Atlanta. Speakers are Dr. Ashley Berner, deputy director at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy, and Georgia Public Policy Foundation Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi, professor of economics at Kennesaw State University. $35. Early Bird Registration is $25 through December 31. Find more information and registration here.
February 7, 2019: Mark your calendar for “Romance of the Rails,” a Policy Briefing Luncheon with Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute. Details to follow.
Not working: In fiscal year 2017, the food stamp program (SNAP) provided $64 billion in benefits to about 42 million individuals in more than 20 million households. Some recipients must comply with work and training requirements to remain eligible for benefits. The Government Accountability Office reports that fewer than 1 percent per month of SNAP recipients participated in such programs. Worse, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has limited data “so it can’t monitor whether recipients are still eligible to receive benefits, or are achieving self-sufficiency.”
Sharing economy I: Hotel rates are expected to triple in metro Atlanta around the Super Bowl in Mercedes Benz Stadium. Airbnb, meanwhile, projects its Atlanta hosts could earn $1.35 million during the Big Game, according to The Atlanta Business Chronicle. The short-term rental company expects 3,829 guests to use the service between January 27 and February 3. The Legislature is considering statewide regulation of the industry; local governments are implementing ordinances and government is figuring out how to extract its pound of flesh – er, taxes – from hosts.
Sharing economy II: Uber entered the scooter rental business in Atlanta this week, launching its JUMP e-scooter service and joining Bird and Lime in providing “last-mile” connectivity. The Uber phone app allows users to rent one of the dockless scooters, costing $1 to unlock and 10 cents per minute to use. Like the other dockless scooters, expect to see them parked just about everywhere, Atlanta Intown Paper reports.
Declining: Sign-ups for obtaining health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act ended December 15 with about 8.5 million enrollments, a 4 percent decline over last year’s. Georgia had 460,139 signups for 2019, compared with 480,912 for 2018 and 493,880 for 2017. (By June 2018, however, just 388,572 Georgians were covered and paying premiums.) One reason for declining enrollment may be that increasing employment means more people have employer-covered plans, according to federal officials.
Rising? The slower pace of sign-ups could mean higher premiums in 2020, The Wall Street Journal reports: “Fewer younger and healthier enrollees in the ACA could prompt insurers to raise rates because they would be covering more older and sicker consumers, whose health-care costs are higher.” Find out more about Georgia’s ObamaCare landscape here.
Criminal justice reform
Federal reform: The FIRST STEP Act headed to President Trump’s desk this week. The federal criminal justice reform measure, which affects the nation’s 181,000 federal prison inmates, was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia. Passage is “a feather in the cap of outgoing Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia General Assembly and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation,” Foundation president Kyle Wingfield noted this week. Read more here.
This month in the archives: In December 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Georgia’s Higher Education System: Success or Failure?” It noted, “[S]tudents correctly perceive that it is costly to transfer from college A to college B. Typically, the second institution denies credit for some of the work taken at the first school, prolonging the student’s education and increasing the cost of a degree. Often, the reasons for the denial of credit have little true academic rationale.”
Have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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The Foundation should take a lot of pride in your influence on Georgia governmental policy over the past several years. If you look back on several things that you were crying in the wilderness about several years ago, you will find that Governor Miller adopted them…your influence and your pressure on that process has been a major factor in governmental policy in Georgia. You should be congratulated.