Friday Facts: November 20, 2020

It’s Friday! 

Quotes of Note

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’” – George Washington, First Presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, October 3, 1789


Opportunity

Licensing: More than 850 rules and regulations have been suspended nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) reports,  but most measures are temporary. “Removing barriers to the workplace permanently will relieve individuals of high fees and burdensome educational requirements for dozens of occupations,” CAGW declares in a new report highlighting occupational licensing hurdles. “[T]here is no better time than now to permanently reform these laws to enable millions of Americans people to get back to work more quickly, while saving them time and money.”

Removing barriers: Six states – Pennsylvania, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Iowa and Missouri – have followed the lead of Arizona’s 2019 law and enacted similar forms of universal recognition legislation enabling out-of-state license holders in good standing to get to work in their new states, Patrick Gleason writes in Forbes.

Safety net: A February analysis by the Government Accountability Office of six Medicaid agencies and nine SNAP (food stamp) agencies across 11 states – including in Georgia – found that 70% of beneficiaries were employed full-time and 90% worked in the private sector. Nationwide, 12 million wage-earning adults (ages 19 to 64) were enrolled in Medicaid and 9 million wage-earning adults in households receiving food assistance. Beneficiary numbers are probably higher now; the analysis was undertaken before the pandemic.

Right to work: A Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate would allow Joe Biden “a possibly radical shift in labor policy, pushing things much further left than even when he was vice president under Barack Obama’s administration,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute warns. Biden endorsed union-favored legislative changes including the abolition of state right to work laws, “potentially forcing millions of workers into unions whether they want that or not. He’s also signaled that he will appoint union allies as both labor secretary and to fill out the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the two federal entities that enforce workplace laws.”

Tax and Spend Tuesday: In this week’s edition, read about tax measures around the nation and how the Trump administration’s opportunity zone policy is likely to continue.


Holidays

Turkeys: The states projected to raise the most turkeys in 2020 were Minnesota (39 million), Arkansas (31 million), North Carolina (30 million), Indiana (20 million), Virginia (16.3 million) and Missouri (16 million), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The six states account for 69% of the nation’s turkey production.

Travel plans: Despite warnings against travel and bans on holiday gatherings, up to 50 million Americans are likely to drive or fly this Thanksgiving, AAA predicts. This is down from 55 million in 2019 and could drop further as COVID-19 numbers rise. AAA called it  the largest one-year decrease since 2008.


Education

Accountability: The Georgia Board of Education reversed course on high school End of Course tests Thursday, voting to all but eliminate their effect on grades this school year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The four Milestones tests currently count for a fifth of students’ grades. Last month the board voted to cut their weight to 10% after state School Superintendent Richard Woods sought 0.01% weight. The vote triggered a mandatory public survey, however, in which more than 93,000 respondents overwhelmingly supported Woods’ idea. A new public survey will be scheduled. Read Kyle Wingfield’s open letter to Superintendent Woods here.

Closed schools, closed minds: “We need to move heaven and earth in a creative and audacious way to keep schools open and get more kids back into classrooms for in-person learning,” writes James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute. He cites two studies that demonstrate the dangers of closing schools. One, in the Netherlands, where resources were abundant and closures were “relatively brief,” found “students made little or no progress while learning from home. Worryingly, losses are particularly concentrated among students from less-educated homes – here, the learning loss is up to 55% larger than among their more advantaged peers.” A second study modeled effects and found “significant negative long-term consequences on the human capital and welfare of the affected children, especially those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.” The longer schools are closed, the harder the effects are to offset.


Election

Election ‘re-tally:’ The hand re-tally of Georgia’s presidential election results ended at midnight Wednesday, and Joe Biden remains ahead of President Donald Trump. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger must certify Georgia’s election results by the end of today, according to state law.

Registration: With runoff elections set for January 5, Georgians can check their voter registration and absentee ballot status on the Secretary of State’s “My Voter Page” and request an absentee ballot for the runoffs here. The deadline to register or update a voter registration is December 7.

Read Kyle Wingfield’s latest column, “Georgia’s Political Fault Line.”


Healthcare

COVID-19 status update: More than 250,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported since the pandemic began. As of Thursday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 8,569 COVID-19 deaths and 396,641 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic’s start. The department updates the information daily at 3 p.m. Visit the website here.

Medical Monday: In this week’s edition of Checking Up On Health, read about COVID-19 vaccines, assess your risk of contracting COVID-19 at an event this holiday season using a tool created by Georgia Tech researchers, and find out why the CDC is not tracking flu numbers.


Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In November 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Progress of Stormwater Utilities a Watershed Event.” It noted, “The concept behind a utility is to establish a user fee database and bill users appropriately for services rendered. Add a stormwater fee to a tax bill, however, and the implication is that it is a tax and not a utility.

Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Perfect Storm: COVID World Meets Hybrid Homeschools,” by Chris Denson.

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