In 2010, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation held its first legislative policy forum. The issues tackled have changed through the years; the first event helped pave the way for criminal justice reform in Georgia. This year, as the Foundation marks 30 years of “Changing Georgia Policy, Changing Georgians’ Lives,” the focus of the 2021 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum being held this week is on the pocketbook issues of education, energy and tax reform. Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd joined criminal justice reform champions Jerry Madden of Texas’ Right on Crime Initiative (left) and Adam Gelb of Pew Charitable Trusts (right) for a photo opp at the inaugural Georgia Legislative Policy Forum in 2010.
Quotes of note
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.” – Ronald Reagan
“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.” – Samuel Adams
Taxes and spending
State and local taxes: A household making $1 million per year will receive 10 times as much from state and local tax (SALT) cap relief in the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Act than a middle-class family will receive from the child tax credit expansion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Recycling: Carrollton’s Sanitation Department collects residential recycling every other week on regular trash collection days. The city halted separate recycling recently, Mayor Betty Cason said, because “there is so much sickness and shortage of workers that the Sanitation Department simply cannot handle the recycling bins separately.” She said residents would not be billed for recycling, the Carroll Star-News reported. Read the Foundation’s investigative journalism article about garbage pickup woes across Georgia.
Energy and environment
Outages: On average, U.S. electricity customers experienced just over eight hours of electric power interruptions in 2020, the most since the Energy Information Administration began collecting electricity reliability data in 2013.
Pedal to the metal: Metal emissions levels near Gainesville’s Kubota manufacturing facility were wrongly reported at 14 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable risk, the Gainesville Times reports. The company was one of several in Georgia where emissions “were overestimated in their draft emissions inventories,” according to the state Environmental Protection Division, noting that “metal emissions were approximately 1% of the emissions reported to the (Toxics Release Inventory).”
Electric vehicles: Wednesday was Transport Day at COP26, the international climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. A Bloomberg NEF report prepared for the conference predicts electric vehicle sales will jump by more than 80% to 5.6 million vehicles this year. The report found that automakers representing 32% of the global market are working toward 100% zero-emission vehicle sales.
Propane prices: Residential propane prices continued their upward climb this week across the nation, averaging $2.73 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. A year ago this week the price was $1.84 per gallon. In the lower Atlantic region, which includes Georgia, the price was $3.44 per gallon this week, up from $2.61 last year. Read the Foundation’s recent commentary on propane prices.
November 9, 12: The Foundation’s 2021 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum is taking place this week. Did you miss the November 9 online session on tax reform? View it here. We look forward to seeing you today at the in-person event! Find out more here.
Reputations: Georgia-based Chick-fil-A is No. 4 in the nation for corporate reputation in the Axios-Harris Poll Corporate Reputation Rankings.
Job innovation: Companies desperate to fill positions are coming up with innovative ways to attract workers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Southwest Airlines is making on-the-spot job offers. UPS has drastically streamlined its process, responding with offers within 30 minutes as opposed to two weeks, with more than 70% of its hiring done by cell phone, and by advertising for workers on social media. Emphasis is placed on skill rather than education, so the unemployment gap between college-educated candidates (2.5%) and high school graduates (5.8%) is narrowing.
Turkey trot: Supply chain issues are expected to make Thanksgiving grocery shopping tougher even than last year, reports The Wall Street Journal. The whole turkey is more than 60% out-of-stock as of the end of October. Cranberry sauce and yams/sweet potatoes are significantly low as well, but boxes of stuffing, while low, are making a comeback, and refrigerated pies are extremely scarce this year.
Inflation: College students have been earning better grades in recent years, and graduation rates have gone up, according to an article in Education Next. But grade inflation, rather than increased student performance, is driving this growth, according to the authors. The findings add new context to the “college completion crisis” as Congress considers President Biden’s proposed $6.2 billion College Completion Fund.
Redistricting: Georgia lawmakers continued the special session begun November 3 to address redistricting. The schedule for the session and legislative committee hearings can be found online, along with video links. Visit legis.ga.gov/schedule/all.
Courts: The Biden administration called on businesses with 100 or more workers to implement a COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate despite a federal court order temporarily blocking the rule. The administration has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to lift the order, arguing the pause would cost lives. Source: Reuters
Vaccine efficacy: A massive, eight-month study comparing the real-world effectiveness of three COVID-19 vaccines found protection from infection may decline but protection from death holds strong. Overall, vaccine protection dropped from 87.9% to 48.1%. The biggest decline was seen in the J&J vaccine, from 86.4% to 13.1%. Pfizer’s protection dropped from 86.9% to 43.3%. Moderna performed best, going from 89.2% to 58%. Source: Atlas.com
Cases: The Georgia Department of Public Health reports COVID-19 cases, deaths and vaccination rates on its website here. Georgia’s death toll since the start of the pandemic in 2020 is more than 25,000, with more than 1.27 million cases. The vaccination rate remains at about 50% of residents and the website warns, “Falsifying a vaccination card is a federal crime.” More than 250 million people have been diagnosed worldwide, and over 5 million have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
This month in the archives: In November 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “No Time to Detour from Viable Transportation Solutions.” It noted, “So why the persistence of transit-based solutions? [Alain] Bertaud explains it succinctly: ‘Making people pay for something which was previously free, and correspondingly overused, is difficult to sell politically. It is easier to sell the idea of increasing federal transfers to expand a transit system. The reduction of congestion in Atlanta is therefore a political problem much more than it is a technical one.’”
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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