March 21: “Shining a Light on Government,” a Leadership Breakfast with Richard Belcher of WSB-TV in celebration of Sunshine Week on Thursday, March 21, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. $30. Information and registration here.
May 23: Mark your calendar for a Policy Briefing Luncheon with David French of National Review on Thursday, May 23, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. Details to follow.
Quotes of note
“Every citizen owes to the country a vigilant watch and close scrutiny of its public servants and a fair and reasonable estimate of their fidelity and usefulness. Thus is the people’s will impressed upon the whole framework of our civil polity – municipal, State, and Federal; and this is the price of our liberty and the inspiration of our faith in the Republic.” – Grover Cleveland
“Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness.” – Calvin Coolidge
Thanks for the memories: 5 Seasons Westside has been a favorite gathering place for political and grassroots groups and organizations such as the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. We’re sorry to see Crawford Moran’s announcement that the iconic craft brewery is shutting down: “We are sad to announce that after a decade we are unfortunately not able to renew our lease.” We wish him the best in his next endeavor, whatever it is!
‘The Greatest Legislation:’ This week, we visited Douglas, Ga., where (coincidentally) the city is celebrating hometown hero Congressman John S. Gibson (1893-1960), credited with helping save the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill – the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – is considered the greatest accomplishment of the American Legion. The largest veterans’ organization is commemorating its 100th anniversary in 2019.
As “The Greatest Legislation” project manager Jerome Loving tells it:
A desperate search by military and police officers, a high-speed midnight car ride through a thunderstorm, and last-minute flight to D.C. enabled South Georgia Congressman John Gibson to save the G.I. Bill. … Critics believed the G.I. Bill would break the U. S. Treasury. Others did not want the benefit extended to African-American veterans. The American Legion stood strong, all the way to a dramatic 11th-hour rescue of the measure requiring a nighttime search for U.S. Rep. John S. Gibson and a race against time through a thunderstorm to deliver his critical swing vote from Georgia to Washington, D.C. Those who thought the G.I. Bill would bankrupt America soon saw that for every $1 invested in the nation’s veterans, $7 was returned in economic impact.
License to default: Bills in the House and Senate would prohibit the state’s licensing boards from suspending or revoking occupational and professional licenses for individuals declared in default on student loans.
Broadband: Legislation introduced in both chambers would authorize Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives and telephone cooperatives and their broadband affiliates to expand to provide broadband service, Government Technology reports. Legislators are debating how to facilitate high-speed internet in rural areas. According to federal data, more than 92 percent of Americans had access to fixed high-speed internet (broadband) in 2016, up from 81 percent in 2012. The federal report found 72 percent of rural Georgians had access to broadband, defined as speeds of 25 Megabits per second for downloads and 3 Megabits per second for uploads. A separate bill filed in the House would regulate the fees EMCs can charge for other communications services providers to attach cables to their utility poles.
Small business: Gov. Brian Kemp has appointed 18 business executives from across Georgia to the Georgians First Commission, a task force he announced last month to look for ways to help small businesses by streamlining state regulations. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle
Direct primary care: Taking up the mantle where former Sen. Hunter Hill left it, Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, a physician, has offered a bill to facilitate direct primary care services by affirming that it would not be considered health insurance. Read Benita Dodd’s 2017 testimony here.
Chicken or egg: A study by University of Kansas urban planning researchers warns, “Development outcomes along streetcar corridors cannot be entirely attributed to the presence of the streetcar.” It notes that streetcar investment is commonly accompanied with a healthy incentive package and adds, “the more effective a streetcar is as a transportation service, and the more it is used by patrons, the more likely it is to have development effects.” Source: Metro Magazine
Misremembering: On the heels of a Hawaii state audit last month that found the Honolulu transit authority misrepresented cost estimates for its rail project, a report from the New York City Comptroller reveals that the MTA has misrepresented subway performance and delay data for years and shifted the focus from the real operational problems. This included chronically misattributing delays to “overcrowding.” Source: News reports
High-speed to nowhere: Just days after congressional Democrats proposed a “Green New Deal” focused on high-speed rail, California’s governor admitted this week that the state’s high-speed rail project linking Los Angeles and San Francisco would “cost too much and take too long.” “Right now, there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. He said a link between Merced and Bakersfield (about 160 miles apart) is possible. Abandoning the project is unacceptable because he is not “interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.” Source: Metro Magazine
YouTube: Did you miss “Romance of the Rails”? The February 7 event with Cato Senior Fellow Randal O’Toole is available on our YouTube channel here. More than 650 Foundation event videos are available on the channel.
Foundation in the media: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Benita Dodd about MARTA’s $100 billion “moonshot.”
This month in the archives: In February five years ago, the Foundation published, “Why the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion Is Bad for Taxpayers and Patients.” It noted, “Proponents use a variety of unrealistic arguments in support of the Medicaid expansion [such as]: It provides states with an influx of new, generous federal revenue. This will cause states to spend money that they otherwise would not have spent. Moreover, due to the structure of Obamacare, states will likely have to absorb many currently eligible but not enrolled individuals as well as those who lose their existing employer coverage. These effects would add to the cost.”
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Plan to Seek Waivers a Healthy Dose of Reality for Georgia,” by Kyle Wingfield.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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