Friday Facts: March 29, 2019

It’s Friday! 

Events 

April 10: “Education Choice: A Case Study in Policy and Politics,” a Foundation Happy Hour Policy Discussion in Athens at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, in partnership with The Arch Conservative. Speakers are Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, and Jeffrey Dorfman, professor of Economics at the University of Georgia. Hilton Garden Inn Magnolia Ballroom. $10. Information and registration here.

April 17: “Second Chances 2019,” an 8 a.m. Leadership Breakfast with Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, sponsor of the FIRST STEP Act, to celebrate Second Chance Month, on Wednesday, April 17, at the Georgian Club. $30. Information and registration here.

May 23: “You Can Say That: How Courage Can Defeat Political Correctness,” a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon with David French of the National Review Institute, on Thursday, May 23, at the Georgian Club. $35. Information and registration here.

Quotes of note

“Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal abuse than there used to be.” –  John Adams (1826)

“[A]fter I suggested on Twitter that legislators go to work now, Dan Mitchell of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity issued this warning: ‘Be careful what you wish for. If the crowd in Washington has more time to focus on policy, do you think they’ll make problems better or worse?’ There’s some truth to this. Legislators have a tendency to try to address government-created problems with more misguided policies or propose solutions to fixing well-functioning markets. If it’s not broke, they’ll still try to fix it.” – Veronique De Rugy

Health care

In pursuit of waivers: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation that authorizes his administration to pursue Medicaid and ObamaCare waivers with the federal government in order to improve Georgians’ access to health care.

Justice concurred: The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with a district court ruling that found the Affordable Care Act violates the Constitution. The court’s December 2018 ruling found the ObamaCare individual mandate had been rendered unconstitutional because of the partial repeal Republicans passed in 2017. The ruling has been appealed, but the Justice endorsement could cause the law to be treated as unconstitutional while the case moves through the federal appeals process. Source: News reports

Building a better socket: A 3D-printed prosthetic leg socket will go on sale in the United States in July. The component, which supports and helps holds the person’s residual leg to the prosthetic, contains sensors that record activity, including the number of steps taken and calories burned. The 3D printing will lower costs and facilitate replication and replacements, according to the San Francisco-based company, UNYQ. Source: Machine Design

Taxes and spending

Brakes on breaks: Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are investigating whether the conservation easement tax break is being misused to bilk the federal government out of billions of dollars in taxes. Accounting Today cites schemes in which promoters sell interests in tracts of land to taxpayers seeking large tax deductions. Buyers receive inflated appraisals of the tracts and grant conservation easements on the land, with the resulting inflated charitable deductions split among the taxpayers.

Lower penalties: The U.S. Treasury Department is again reducing penalties for taxpayers who did not pay enough of their tax bill throughout 2018. Taxpayers who paid at least 80 percent of their estimated tax liability for 2018 will not face Internal Revenue Service penalties this year. Typically, the IRS imposes fines at 90 percent.

Energy and environment

The reactor dome is lowered onto the nation’s newest nuclear unit, at Plant Vogtle near Augusta.

Nuclear event: A few days shy of the 40th anniversary of Three Mile Island’s partial meltdown (March 28, 1979), the 130-foot dome was lowered into place over the nation’s newest nuclear reactor, at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. On hand on March 22 to view the historic topping of what he called the “Real New Green Deal” was Energy Secretary Rick Perry, joined by Agriculture Secretary and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, current Gov. Brian Kemp and a host of dignitaries. Source: Compelo

Growing support: Support for nuclear energy is growing, according to Gallup’s annual Environment Poll. It found 49 percent of Americans favor the use of nuclear energy and 49 percent oppose it. Support has grown 5 percentage points since the last poll in 2016, but is far from the record-high 62 percent support in 2010, when oil prices surged. Republican support is at 65 percent, Democrats’ is at 42 percent, and 60 percent of college graduates favor the use of nuclear power.

Growing crude: U.S. crude exports surged over 70 percent in the past year, topping 2 million barrels per day, and experts see export volumes rising by another 70 percent by late next year. International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol predicts the next phase of the U.S. shale revolution will “shake up international oil and gas trade flows, with profound implications for geopolitics.” Source: Bloomberg

Education

ESAs: A bill to provide education scholarship accounts to a tiny minority of Georgia public school students (0.5 percent in the first year) failed in the Senate before Crossover day. The legislation lives on, however, attached to a bill that had already passed out of the House.

Transportation

Lead, follow: Ride-share companies are becoming key partners in public transit’s efforts to stay relevant. As Tina Quigley of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas notes, “the traditional forms of mobility are being disrupted by new modes and new options. Transit needs to evolve as well, and I firmly believe that if we are not at the table and testing and deploying projects to find things that work, somebody else is going to define that evolution for us.” Source: Metro Magazine

Airport oversight: The Georgia House Rules Committee voted this week to establish an Atlanta airport oversight committee, a substitute for a Senate bill calling for the creation of a state authority to assume operations at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from the city of Atlanta. Senate Republicans have cited a history of corruption in the awarding of vendor contracts at the airport. Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Media

YouTube: Did you miss the Foundation’s March Leadership Breakfast on government transparency with Richard Belcher? Watch it and other events on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.

Social media: The Foundation’s Facebook page has 3,481 “likes” this week; our Twitter account has 1,883 followers! Join them!

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In March 10 years ago, the Foundation published, “Sunshine on Government Shows Georgia Taxpayers the Light.” It noted, “By publishing information online in an easily understood format for its citizens, government should be ensuring full disclosure and open government. That, in turn, encourages greater civic participation, greater government accountability and mutual trust.”

Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “The Truth About Educational Scholarship Accounts, by Jeffrey H. Dorfman.

Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

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