The 2020 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum ended this week after eight sessions that began July 15. Click on the links to view each session – Zoom webinars – on the Foundation’s YouTube channel here.
- July 15 opening keynote, “An Education Conversation” with Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education
- July 21 panel session, “Opportunities for Education Adaptation”
- July 28 panel session, “Budget Calisthenics”
- August 4 panel session, “The Changing Views of Land Use and Transportation”
- August 11 panel session, “The Economy: Effects and Expectations”
- August 18 panel session, “Affordable Housing or Housing Affordability?”
- August 25 panel discussion: “Healthcare: The Diagnosis, The Prognosis”
- August 27 closing keynote speech: “A Constitution Conversation,” with Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton.
View the program here to access the agenda and speaker bios.
Quotes of Note
“The Cato Institute published a national survey showing that self-censorship and partisanship cancellations are becoming the new normal. Some 62% of citizens say the polarized climate in 2020 prevents them from stating things they believe to be true lest they cause offense. … More unsettling, among strong liberals, 50% say they support firing Trump donors, while 36% of strong conservatives say they support firing Biden supporters. Among Republicans with postgraduate education, 60% fear they would lose their job if they expressed an unpopular political view. We are bringing back the ‘silent majority’ – this time fearful rather than taciturn.” – National Review
“We don’t need the federal government to impose a vision of low-income rental high-rises on such communities. That fails low-income Americans by limiting their chances for ownership and their opportunities to build assets. But we do need more housing choices – and imposing a vision of single-family zoning from above fails Americans, too.” – Howard Husock
COVID-19 status updates: The Georgia Department of Public Health updates the number of pandemic cases, deaths and daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.
Metrics: In an op-ed in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution criticizing its coverage of his handling of the pandemic, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp pointed out the positive signs for the state: “As of August 20, our seven-day moving average of new cases reported is the lowest since July 10. Our positivity rates are decreasing from 11.86% on July 27 to 9.2% on August 20. Hospitalizations are down 10% over the last seven days and now sit at 2,573 – down 522 since August 1. And our transmission rate remains below 1, a key metric in the spread of the virus.”
Amazon, what’s my heart rate? Amazon has launched Halo Band, a wearable health tracking device that will compete with Apple and Fitbit. The $64.99 wristband is screenless, linked to an app and integrated into electronic health records (EHR) vendor, Cerner, so users may share health data directly into their EHR and with care teams that use Cerner. Advanced sensors collect data including temperature, heart rate, sleep and fitness activity. The band is also equipped with two microphones that can analyze energy and positivity in a user’s voice. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
If it’s not one thing: Workplaces across the nation are extending remote-work capabilities and students resuming remote learning. But they may have to resort to alternative devices: Several shipments of laptops have been delayed amid strong demand and supply-chain disruptions, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Fewer tests: Georgia public high school students will take exams in algebra, American literature and composition, biology and U.S. History under a plan to cut four other exams. The plan, approved Thursday by the state Board of Education, takes effect this school year, although a federal waiver could still halt standardized tests for a second year. The change was mandated in legislation supported by Gov. Brian Kemp and state school Superintendent Richard Woods. The law mandated that the board drop the economics test; the board also dropped tests in geometry, physical science and ninth grade literature and composition. Source: Marietta Daily Journal
Distance learning: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has issued final rules on remote learning options for higher education, WRBL.com reports. They include potentially shortening the time to complete a degree, simplifying rules on “subscription-based” education programs, and ensuring incarcerated students continue to be eligible for Pell Grants. A significant policy change includes emphasizing demonstration of learning rather than seat time for students.
Student loans: Federal Student Aid (FSA) will extend student loan relief to borrowers through December 31, 2020. Borrowers with federally held student loans will have their payments automatically suspended until 2021 without penalty and the interest rate on all federally held student loans will be set to 0% through the end of the calendar year.
Modifying food labels: Nearly 90% of scientists believe genetically engineered foods pose no health risks, but nearly half of Americans polled think such foods are worse for one’s health. Nearly 70% of processed foods at U.S. grocery stores contain at least one genetically engineered ingredient. Starting in 2022, many genetically engineered foods will require labels in the United States, thanks to 2018 disclosure rules adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Source: The Regulatory Review
Energy and environment
Storm: Hurricane Laura weakened to a tropical storm Thursday morning, hours after making landfall as a Category 4 storm with 150mph winds near the Texas-Louisiana border. About 507,000 customers in Louisiana and some 127,000 customers in Texas were without power Thursday morning. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Hurricane Laura was the most powerful storm ever to make landfall in Louisiana. Still, just three people were reported killed, by falling trees. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 19 to 25 named storms in 2020, nearly twice the normal number. Source: News reports
Fulton County: Hundreds of voters failed to receive the absentee voting form they requested for the primary from Fulton County’s board of elections, an investigation revealed. The Secretary of State’s Office has referred the case to the Attorney General’s office. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Voting twice: Indications that some voters in Long County voted twice in Georgia’s June 9 primary highlight the need for stringent oversight of the voting process. The discovery was made by Mark Davis, a political consultant who compiles an enhanced version of the Georgia voter database. The case involves a disputed primary election for probate judge in Long County. The incumbent judge, who lost by only nine votes, challenged the result after he was advised of irregularities, including a voter who admitted voting twice, Davis said. Source: djhjmedia.com
This month in the archives: In August five years ago, the Foundation published, “Snake Oil in the Clean Power Plan.” It noted, “This nation has never been sold a bigger, costlier bill of goods than the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (climate action plan) to reduce carbon emissions, which the administration has fervently tried to relabel as carbon “pollution.”
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Contracting Out Transit Can Drive Quality, Cost Improvements,” by Joe Hillman and Baruch Feigenbaum.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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