Friday Facts: August 06, 2021

It’s Friday!


Memory Lane

First of many: The Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s first luncheon briefing was in October 1993, two years after the Foundation was established. The speaker was Jack Kemp, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. (He died in May 2009.) Through the decades, the Foundation has sought to invite event speakers who reinforce the point Kemp made then: “All of the progress in human history has taken place when people were liberated from state-imposed barriers and controls over the decisions that they made in the marketplace.” The Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary with an event September 16 at the Georgia Aquarium.

Quotes of note

“When students are in person and the student starts to go astray, we can physically get to that student, read body language and [who] doesn’t seem to be connecting the way. We didn’t have that in the same manner in the virtual environment.” – Dr. Clay Hunter, associate superintendent, Gwinnett County Public Schools

“The American consumer is not in crisis. Someday the fiscal and monetary excesses of this era will be borne by America’s children. But for now, the vast government assistance programs have left U.S. households brimming with cash.” – James Freeman

“[T]he forces of the market are just that: They are forces; they are like the wind and the tides; they are things that if you want to try to ignore them, you ignore them at your peril, and if you understand that they are there, working their way, if you find a way of ordering your life that is compatible with these forces, indeed which harnesses these forces to the benefit of your society, that’s the way to go.” – Arnold Harberger


Events

September 16: Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist and author of “Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell,” is the keynote speaker at the 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation at the Georgia Aquarium. Find out how to attend or sponsor the event at www.georgiapolicy.org/dinner.


Healthcare

Lacking oversight: Georgia is second to last among states in conducting comprehensive inspections of its nursing homes, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General. It found 93% of Georgia nursing homes had gone without a thorough inspection for at least 16 months as of May 31. Such “standard surveys’’ are required at least every 15 months to make sure the nursing homes are meeting federal requirements. Last is Connecticut, with 96% of nursing homes not inspected. Source: Georgia Health News

When equal pay hurts: The pandemic drove home the value of telehealth, but well-intentioned payment parity mandates may undermine efforts to innovate and help healthcare reach more people, according to an article by the Mercatus Center. The payment parity laws that exist in some form in at least 20 states will “ensure that prices only go up long after the transition is complete” and startup costs are no longer needed, the writers argue. Source: Governing.com

Lottery loser: The COVID-19 inoculation rate was 61.8% when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a $5 million state vaccine lottery beginning July 1. Her goal was a vaccination rate exceeding 70% by August 3 (a 9 percentage-point increase). As of August 3, the rate was 63.8%; a 2 percentage point increase. According to the state’s nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency, Michigan is unlikely to reach a rate of 70% until November 13. Source: News reports 

COVID-19 update: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here.

Medical Monday: In this week’s “Checking Up On Health,” Benita Dodd shares news on the changing healthcare landscape as COVID-19 surges through the “delta” strain.


Housing

Votes on the house: New zoning proposals aimed at increasing the supply and affordability of housing in Atlanta are moving forward at the Atlanta City Council. They would permit more types of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) also known as in-law apartments or carriage houses. Several years ago, the city allowed some homeowners to build a structure behind their house to rent out. Proposed ordinances would permit attached ADUs such as basement units or garage conversions. Source: News reports


Education

Losses come to light: As pandemic school attendance numbers are revealed, student dropout numbers appear to have climbed. Gwinnett County public schools’ records show 354 more dropouts last year over the year before, a 13% increase. Several other counties, such as Newton County, saw a large uptick in the number of students held back. In addition, Gwinnett saw summer school enrollment – usually 7,000 students – increase to “quadruple the normal number,” according to 11Alive News.


Transportation

Poison pills: Transportation expert Randal O’Toole finds several faults in transportation items in the House and Senate infrastructure bills.

  • The House-approved INVEST Act requires states to insure that all existing roads are in a state of good repair before building new roads, which “poisoned the idea of using federal funds to promote mobility,” he said, noting that Amtrak and transit, with far more severe maintenance backlogs, have no similar provision.
  • In the 2,702-page Senate infrastructure bill, O’Toole finds one of the biggest poison pills is a “carbon reduction program” that directs states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) “to reduce traffic congestion by facilitating the use of alternatives to single-occupant vehicle trips, including public transportation facilities, pedestrian facilities, bicycle facilities, and shared or pooled vehicle trips.” The program does not allow the funds to be used to increase road capacity.

Ride sharing: Ride sharing reduces U.S. drunk-driving deaths by 6.1%, according to new research at the University of California-Berkeley. Researchers used proprietary data from Uber, measuring monthly rideshare activity at the Census tract level. They also found ridesharing reduced total U.S. traffic fatalities by 4%; total estimated annual life-saving benefits range from $2.3 to $5.4 billion. Source: National Bureau of Economic Research


Legislature

Reapportionment: The schedule of the General Assembly’s reapportionment committee hearings can be found online, along with video links to the meetings. Visit www.legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.


Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In July 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Telemedicine Teleports Rural Residents to National Forefront.” It noted, “Today, rural Georgia is at the cutting edge of medical innovation, thanks to an initiative that brings the problem to health care experts while keeping the patient close to home: telemedicine.”


Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Georgia Gains by Playing in a Regulatory ‘Sandbox,” by James Czerniawski.


Have a great weekend!

Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd


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