Legislative Policy Briefing Brings Free-Market Experts to Georgia

By Benita M. Dodd

The free-market think tanks that focus on state policy issues often exchange and replicate their successful ideas and case studies in effective government. Reinventing the wheel to implement each issue in each state is unproductive and inefficient, which is why the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is proud to admit that its ideas proposed in this state frequently have been tried and tested elsewhere.

Among the recent ideas the Foundation has introduced to Georgia are the tax reforms proposed in New Mexico by sister think tank the Rio Grande Foundation;  transportation improvements proposed by Robert Poole, director of Transportation Studies at the Reason Foundation, and enhancements in higher education proposed by Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

When it comes to educating the policy-makers, the trailblazer in the think tank arena is the 21-year-old Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose annual Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature is in its eighth year. This year, the two-day event drew more than 600 lawmakers, policy experts and interested citizens from across the political spectrum to discuss the most critical issues facing Texas.

This year, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation is embracing that peachy idea from the Lone Star State. Joining forces with the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute, the Foundation will launch the Georgia Legislative Policy Briefing, a daylong event on Nov. 13 at the Buckhead Westin Atlanta.

Sessions will feature bipartisan panels of state and national experts highlighting the best ideas for Georgia in crime, education, transportation, health care and tax and budget reform.

North Georgia radio talk show host Al Gainey of W-DUN NewsTalk 550 has interviewed several of the speakers scheduled to speak at the briefing, and pronounces the lineup “excellent.”

“I’m excited that legislators will start the new session with great ideas from some of the best free-market minds in the nation,” Gainey said after a recent interview with briefing panelist Bob Williams of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Washington.

“Keynote speaker Steve Moore of The Wall Street Journal is on my show every week, and his editorials are must-reads. Other experts I have talked with, including venture capital expert Ross Mason, the founder of HINRI Labs, promise to make this a ‘must-attend’ event that allows these two organizations to lead in shaping the vision and future of Georgia.

Moore’s topic is, “How to Make Georgia the Most Economically Competitive State in the Nation.” The other keynote speaker, former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, who is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, will highlight, “The Power of Digital Learning for Georgia and the Country.”

Discussing “Getting Criminal Justice Right: Less Crime for Less Money will be Texas experts Marc Levin, director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Texas Rep. Jerry Madden, former Chair and current Vice Chair of the Texas House Committee on Corrections. The panel will be moderated by Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Center on the States.

Among the other panelists: A.D. Frazier, chairman of the Special Council on Tax Fairness for Georgians that will be making recommendations to the Legislature in January; Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation; Dr. William Sanders, “father” of the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, who maintains teacher effectiveness dwarfs all other factors as a predictor of student academic growth and has developed a way to measure this growth in a fair and objective manner, and transportation expert Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation.

Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, said the theme of the event, “Wisdom, Justice and Innovation,” is based on the state’s motto, “Wisdom, Justice and Moderation,” and reflects the new ideas that the briefing will bring to the state.

“Free-market ideas, limited government and individual accountability are the foundation of this nation,” McCutchen said. “The dire state of our nation is a direct result of straying from that commonsense course, and we’re working to steer the ship of state back on course with innovative ideas based on our founding principles.” 

The cost to attend the event is $75, and sessions are open to the public, a move welcomed by WDUN’s Al Gainey.

“Legislators are part-time, but we’ve seen both the good and the bad come out from under the Gold Dome,” Gainey says. “If Georgians are to hold their legislators accountable, they need to be armed with the facts and ideas, too.”

More information on the Legislative Policy Briefing is available at http://tinyurl.com/2cmyy3x.

Benita M. Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.

© Georgia Public Policy Foundation (October 15, 2010). Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and her affiliations are cited.

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