Quotes of Note
“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin
“It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.” – W. Somerset Maugham
News and events
January 28: Have you received your personal invitation? The Georgia Public Policy Foundation celebrates 29 years of policy over politics with an Anniversary Celebration and Freedom Award Dinner in the Egyptian Ballroom at the fabulous Fox Theatre on Tuesday, January 28! The keynote speaker is John A. Allison, retired CEO of BB&T and the Cato Institute. The Foundation’s prestigious Freedom Award will be presented to Sunny K. Park. Find more information here; contact Kennedy@georgiapolicy.org for sponsorship information.
January 23, 2020: The Conservative Policy Leadership Institute hosts its annual Legacy Dinner on Thursday, January 23, at the Capital City Club Downtown. Find information on tickets, tables and sponsorships here.
We’re hiring: The Foundation is in search of a Policy and Research Director to work with the President and Vice President to set policy positions and priorities among our issues, which include education, healthcare, transportation, tax and spending, regulation, housing affordability, criminal justice reform, and energy and the environment. Find out more at talentmarket.org/policy-gppf/.
Remedial reforms: More colleges and universities are using high school grades to determine whether students need remedial math or English, The 74 education news website reports. The share of community colleges and four-year public universities that have started to use alternatives to standardized tests to determine whether students are ready for college-level math more than doubled between 2011 and 2016, to 57% for community colleges and 63 percent for four-year public institutions – up from 27% for both.
Reforms: Governor Brian Kemp has submitted requests to the Trump administration to allow the state to implement healthcare waivers to “increase the number of insured Georgians, lower the cost of health insurance for millions, and give families greater choice in which healthcare solutions best fit their needs.” Read more about the waivers here on the Foundation’s website.
Obamacare enrollment: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported on December 17, 2019 that the Open Enrollment Period for 2020 under the Affordable Care Act’s saw 8.3 million people enroll for coverage through Healthcare.gov, compared with about 8.5 million people in 2018. Georgia signups totaled 464,041. Healthinsurance.org provided a snapshot of Georgia’s open enrollment period numbers for earlier years:
- 2014: 316,543 people enrolled
- 2015: 541,080 people enrolled
- 2016: 587,845 people enrolled
- 2017: 493,880 people enrolled
- 2018: 480,912 people enrolled
- 2019: 458,437 people enrolled
Energy and environment
Energy security: The Energy Information Administration reports the United States is pumping record amounts of crude oil and natural gas. The country has become the world’s largest oil producer as technological advances have increased production from shale formation, and it has also become a leading exporter, Reuters reports. There is a down side, however: Operational challenges, pipeline constraints, weak prices and lower demand are expected to cause U.S. natural gas production growth to slow significantly this year after rising 32% since December 2016, energy research firm Enverus predicts.
Wind energy: Denmark announced that a record 47% of its energy was sourced from wind in 2019, up from 41% in 2018 and topping the previous record of 43% in 2017. It comes at a price: Between 2010 and the first half of 2018, the overall household price for electricity in Denmark increased by about 4.53 euro cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 31.23 euro cents (about 35 cents in U.S. currency). Danish households spent the most per kilowatt-hour of electricity throughout Europe in 2018, the latest available data. Georgia’s 2018 average residential rate was 12.26¢ per kWh.
Back in session: The 40-day session of the second half of Georgia’s biennial Legislature begins January 13. Given that it’s an election year, the session is likely to be over quickly; legislators are not allowed to campaign or fund-raise during the session.
New laws: A law that took effect January 1 will reduce to 6.6% the sales tax on all vehicle purchases through 2023. Currently, the rate is 7%. It also changes how used cars are taxed, however: Except for dealer-financed (“buy here, pay here”) and person-to-person sales, used-car purchasers will now be taxed on the sales price of the vehicle instead of the book value.
Other new laws taking effect, according to news reports:
- The legal marriage age with parental consent goes from age 16 to 17.
- HOPE scholarship recipients can qualify 10 years after graduating high school, with military service not counted as part of that period.
- A new statewide business court will have the ability to adjudicate business disputes.
Find more Georgia legislation that became law on January 1 at the Office of the Governor website.
YouTube: Visit the Foundation’s YouTube channel to view all the sessions from the 2019 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on November 15. Among the topics covered: early childhood development, education, transportation, regulatory reform and healthcare.
Foundation in the news: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Kyle Wingfield in an article about the anticipated income tax rate cut by the Georgia Legislature.
This month in the archives: In January 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Confusion takes Its Toll on Transportation Solutions.” It noted, “The first project proposed under Georgia’s 2003 law is a plan to improve Georgia 316 by converting the 39-mile section between Interstate 85 and the Athens Loop into a limited-access toll road. … An editorial in The Red and Black, the University of Georgia’s student newspaper, calls the speculated $10 roundtrip toll ‘an exorbitant amount’ and warned the fee could cause ‘even larger traffic backups and increased accidents on smaller roads as students seek alternate routes from Athens.’” Today, motorists barely blink as the total trip toll on I-85’s popular express lanes climb to $17.
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s commentaries.
Have a great weekend and Happy 2020!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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