Friday Facts: June 19, 2020

It’s Friday!

This is Week 14 of the Friday Facts’ focus on the coronavirus pandemic across the nation and in Georgia. View previous editions here. View the Foundation’s near-term proposals here. Share your ideas: Email us at info@georgiapolicy.org.

Quotes of Note

“The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have both condemned Certificate of Need laws, concluding they “impede the efficient performance of the health care markets … create barriers to entry and expansion to the detriment of health care competition and consumers … undercut consumer choice, stifle innovation, and weaken markets’ ability to contain health care costs.” – Independent Women’s Forum

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’” – Harmon Killebrew

“In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities: at least finish high school, get a full-time job and wait until age 21 to get married and have children.” – Brookings Institute

Events

2020 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum: Amid the COVID-19 uncertainty, the Foundation has scheduled the 2020 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum as a series of weekly Zoom webinar events beginning July 15. The theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Adaptation,” a play on the state motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.” This year, the Forum comprises eight sessions, including two keynote sessions. The topics: Education; State and Local Budgets; Land Use and Transportation; The Economy; Housing; and Healthcare.

Registration will open next week. There is no charge, but attendees must have authenticated Zoom accounts.

Elections

Absentee Ballots: A pair of Congressional primary elections initially projected for runoffs have since been called. Incumbent David Scott won the Democratic primary in Georgia’s 13th District, while Georgia State University professor Carolyn Bourdeaux won the Democratic primary in Georgia’s 7th District. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge across the country in the use of absentee ballots and is a trend worth watching this November.

Government

Legislature: The Georgia legislative session resumed on June 15. The state budget, which must be balanced, dominated the agenda as lawmakers worked to achieve the 11% in budget cuts mandated by Gov. Brian Kemp.  

Hate Crimes: The effort to pass hate crimes legislation occupied both legislative chambers since their return June 15. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan released a new proposal on Wednesday; the House passed its version in March 2019.

Policy proposals: The Foundation proposed a series of policies for near-term relief during the pandemic, as well as principles to guide and oversee policy reforms and an Issue Analysis tackling fiscal policy considerations for Georgia. Additionally there are several commentaries from Senior Fellows on fiscal opportunities, school choice and education funding.

Healthcare

Surprise billing: Legislators have spent years working to resolve “surprise billing,” an unexpected medical bill often received after a patient is treated by an out-of-network physician during a visit to an in-network hospital. The Senate unanimously approved House legislation this week that includes an arbitration process; it heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. 

Status updates: The Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 status reports are updated once a day at 3 p.m. The Georgia map provides reports on county-level cases and deaths. Visit the website here. 

Pension reform

Hybrid pension: The Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System started enrolling new hires in a hybrid pension plan in 2014. A hybrid plan combines a traditional pension (which pays out a smaller amount at retirement) with a 401(k)-retirement account (which employees can invest pre-tax dollars in while working). Now, Tennessee currently has the lowest unfunded liabilities per capita in the country at $5,454 per resident, according to a new report by the American Legislative Exchange Council. 

Taxes and spending 

IOU, IRS: The IRS has extended the tax-filing deadline to July 15. A new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, meanwhile, finds the IRS has not done enough to collect the taxes owed by hundreds of thousands of people who fail to file returns and owe billions of dollars. The analysis of the non-filers for tax years 2014 through 2016 revealed that 879,415 high-income non-filers (income of $100,000-plus) did not satisfy filing requirements, with estimated taxes collectively due of $45.7 billion.

Regulation

Relaxed: The list of regulations suspended by federal, state and local governments for the duration of the pandemic has reached at least 645, according to Americans for Tax Reform. U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia were among the signatories to a letter to Russell Vought, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, urging the phaseout of federal regulations that have been waived during the pandemic. They want regulations “to go back through the regulatory review process to determine if they need to be maintained, modified, or permanently repealed.”

Media                                         

Social media: Follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In June 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Georgia Tackles the Toll of Truck Traffic.” It noted, “It’s irrelevant to commuters that 65-75% of wrecks involving trucks are the fault of passenger vehicle drivers. What hits home is that for each minute of incident delay on our highways, traffic takes seven minutes to recover. The fervent wish that each side get out of the other’s way will intensify in the next quarter-century.”

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “GEFA: A Growing Obstacle to Private Efficiency,” by Antonio Saravia and Chris Denson.

Have a great weekend and a Happy Father’s Day!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd

FRIDAY FACTS is made possible by the generosity of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s donors. If you enjoy the FRIDAY FACTS, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to help advance our important mission by clicking here. Visit our website at georgiapolicy.org.

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