Category: Commentaries

By Benita M. Dodd Four issues; four times as many experts. In a nutshell, that’s the 2018 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on September 7 in Atlanta. Hosted since 2010 by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, the daylong Forum is described as the “opening act” to Georgia’s legislative session and is modeled after the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (bigger) Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature. This year’s theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Responsibility,” a play on the state motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.” Criminal justice reform was an integral part of the inaugural Forum in 2010, and it became the prelude to Georgia’s landmark reforms. The Foundation brought in the Texas experts who were the trailblazers; today, Georgia is a national leader among… View Article

The South Did Rise Again!

By Harold Brown In the first half of the 20th century, the South lost many of its people to northern and western migration. Much of the loss was due to “The Great Migration,” demographers’ term for the movement of black Americans north in search of better jobs and greater freedom. From the 1910s to the 1950s about 4.5 million blacks moved away from the South, along with about the same number of whites. The percentage of blacks living outside the South increased from about 10 percent in the first two decades of the century to nearly half by 1970. Georgia was right in the middle of the exodus. A University of Georgia professor was quoted in The Atlanta Constitution in… View Article

Bus Rapid Transit: Burden Reduced on Taxpayers

By Dave Emanuel Relatively few people use public transit but everyone pays for it. No public transportation system in the country is economically sustained by the fares paid by riders; all are subsidized by taxes. That public transit must be subsidized with tax dollars is recognized by virtually all transportation professionals, but the justification for creating or expanding a transit system is economic development. In essence, “If you build it, few will come but many will spend.” That point is well documented with the Charlotte, N.C., light rail system. A ride on the city’s 18.6-mile long LYNX Blue Line leaves no doubt that there is development along the system.   Construction of housing and commercial buildings is rampant along the newly… View Article

Bus Rapid Transit: Fast, Flexible, Forward-thinking

By Benita M. Dodd Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s Bus Rapid Transit plan for SR 400 is a breath of fresh air amid stale and misguided transit proposals for the metro Atlanta region. Unlike Atlanta’s costly, failing, fixed-rail Streetcar System – which MARTA plans to expand – Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) vehicles have the appealing appearance of light-rail cars but have rubber tires and travel on roads. Trips can be sped up by off-board fare collection at stations along the route. BRT in densely populated areas often uses exclusive lanes. The SR 400 project, planned as part of a $1.8 billion express toll lanes project on SR 400, has BRT sharing the road with automobiles in the toll lanes. The governor… View Article

State Policy Network Profiles Kyle Wingfield

The State Policy Network interviewed Kyle Wingfield, who became the president and CEO of The Georgia Public Policy Foundation in April 2018. The interview is republished below in its entirety and can be accessed at https://spn.org/leader-spotlight-kyle-wingfield-gppf/. Leader Spotlight: Kyle Wingfield, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Welcome to SPN’s interview series where we connect with leaders from state think tanks to share their stories and learn how their insights might inspire our work. In this interview we chat with Kyle Wingfield, the new president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation a few months ago, Kyle spent many years as a columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering policy issues in the state of Georgia.… View Article

Another Summer of Polar Bears and Thin Ice

By Harold Brown Hot summer days once again provide the backdrop for highlighting threats to wildlife icons and providing dramatic publicity for climate change activists. Threats to Arctic icons heighten the drama, and the emblem of polar bears “in danger” and attacking humans becomes the clarion call for climate “solutions.” The London Times, in a 2009 book review, called the polar bear “the animal of the new millennium” and “an emblem of despair.” It gained a huge emblematic boost in 2004, when The Wall Street Journal published the findings of two federal investigators who saw four dead bears floating off Alaska’s coast during polar bear and whale aerial surveys. Images of drowning bears further inflamed passions in Al Gore’s film,… View Article
By Jeffrey Dorfman A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month means even companies without a physical presence in a state can be required to collect sales taxes if states so choose. The ruling, in South Dakota v. Wayfair, levels the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retailers but comes with a bad side effect: an effective tax increase. Consumers will pay a little more in taxes, and state and local governments that receive that money will spend more. Neither is a good thing. The amount of money at stake is not huge, but it’s not trivial. Online sales represent about 9 percent of total retail. However, many e-commerce transactions are with stores that already have a physical presence in that… View Article

New Rule Creates New Opportunities for Health Insurance

By Joey Costa A new rule from the U.S. Department of Labor will allow more small employers and self-employed individuals to join forces to create Association Health Plans, providing consumers more choice and even some control over their insurance. According to U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, the rule will help “level the playing field” for small businesses, allowing these associations to use economies of scale to lower the cost of insurance. Under the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations, small employers and individuals purchasing coverage have no bargaining power, leaving them with what the insurance companies offer. Consumers have no voice into what their plan covers, and ACA regulations prohibit pricing advantages to groups of consumers. The new rule… View Article

So What Does a Think Tank Do?

By Rick Larsen Since joining the Sutherland Institute, I am often asked: what exactly is a think tank? A fair question. But more important, perhaps, is this: Are think tanks of benefit to you? Can they assist you in deciding what you think? The Economist explains a think tank best: “Think-tanks aim to fill the gap between academia and policymaking. Academics grind out authoritative studies, but at a snail’s pace. Journalists’ first drafts of history are speedy but thin. A good think-tank helps the policymaking process by publishing reports that are as rigorous as academic research and as accessible as journalism. (Bad ones have a knack of doing just the opposite.)” Think tanks sometimes inform legislators, and sometimes they inform… View Article
By Paul Blair Over the past 18 months, President Trump has taken great strides to fulfill a number of major campaign promises. One major promise was the commitment to help communities harmed by the decline of coal and nuclear energy. To that end, the president recently directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry to prevent retiring coal and nuclear plants from shutting down prematurely. Shortly afterward, a leaked policy document from the National Security Council outlined a number of policy tools that the Department of Energy (DOE) could use to keep the plants afloat. In response, groups across the political spectrum and throughout the energy sector have criticized the administration for “putting its thumb on the scale” for coal and nuclear. Many… View Article

Finally, a one volume resource from an independent source that gives those of us in public life a new view on which to make public policy.

Governor Roy Barnes more quotes