February 22: Register by February 20 to join the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Institute for Justice for a Leadership Breakfast and Book Forum with Dick Carpenter, co-author of, “Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit.” Cobb County’s Georgian Club, 8 a.m. $30. Information and registration here.
Quotes of note
“Indeed, a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels.” – Neil Gorsuch
“We see the jobs at a steel plant. If it closes, our cameras record the moment. … Many won’t find other jobs, or jobs that pay as well. We want to ‘do something’ to help. What we don’t as easily see, though, are the many jobs created if companies are free to use steel that’s a little cheaper. We don’t see the jobs created by the dynamism that results when people are free to buy and sell all over the world. Alternatively, we don’t easily see the jobs that never get created because tariffs or ‘buy American’ rules make ingredients more expensive.” – John Stossel
“I am sometimes asked, ‘How are your people getting along at the South?’ I am at a loss sometimes to know to whom they refer. Who are my people at the South? It would be as appropriate to ask, ’How are the white people of the South getting along?’ as to ask how the colored people are getting along. The two should go together: one cannot get along without the other … Men ask me if I don’t think that the condition of the freedmen is hopeless. I tell them ’Never!’ I have seen too much progress.” – Frederick Douglass
We’ll drink to that: A bill that would reduce many onerous regulations on local craft breweries and allow direct sales to customers passed out of the Senate Regulated Utilities Committee. We’ve written about this here, here and here.
Healthy options: A two-page bill that would clarify that Direct Primary Care practices should not be regulated as insurance policies passed out of the Senate Insurance Committee. We’ve written about that here and here. A resolution was introduced in the House to authorize the Governor’s Office to negotiate a federal waiver to fund uncompensated indigent care. Read more here and here.
Scope of practice: A bill that would allow dental hygienists to provide dental care to the poor and elderly passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee. We’ve written about that here and here.
Education options: A bill creating universal Education Savings Accounts was introduced in the Senate. We’ve written about this here and here. Two bills (here and here) were introduced to increase the cap on the successful tuition tax credit scholarship program. We’ve written about that here and here.
The issues: Legislators have received their copies of the Foundation’s Guide to the Issues, focusing on education, transportation, health care, taxes, criminal justice and more. Click here to read the Foundation’s proposals online. Questions? Email
Sales tax: Georgia’s state sales tax rate of 4 percent is tied for the sixth lowest, but the average local sales tax rate of 3 percent is higher than all but four states. Overall, Georgia’s 7 percent overall rate comes in 23rd highest. Source: Tax Foundation
Toll lanes: The I-75 South Metro Express Lanes opened January 28, operating toll-free for motorists with a Peach Pass for two weeks. The lanes will operate northbound (toward Atlanta) in the morning and southbound toward the suburbs in the afternoons. Georgia’s toll lanes have reciprocity with Florida and North Carolina transponder cards. Read Foundation commentaries on toll lanes here, here and here.
Won: The Institute for Justice successfully challenged Savannah’s policy of requiring licenses for tour guides. Read Ross Coker’s commentary here.
Lost: A federal judge upheld a policy of the Georgia Board of Dentistry that grants dentists a lucrative monopoly on teeth-whitening services. Georgia’s policy was challenged by teeth-whitening entrepreneur Christina Collins of Savannah and the Institute for Justice. IJ Senior Attorney and lead counsel Paul Sherman said, “The Dental Board’s policy has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with protecting licensed dentists from honest competition.”
Direct primary care: Many people seeking cash-based health care are middle-class Americans with high-deductible insurance plans. For a patient with an $11,000 family deductible, cash-based practices could be more cost-effective, even though payments don’t count toward the deductible. Source: Time.com
In limbo: January 31 was the deadline for 2017 enrollment in ObamaCare health plans. Congress is weighing alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, and the health insurance industry, state insurance commissioners and brokers warned senators this week that more health plans will leave the ObamaCare exchanges if they are kept in the dark. Source: Bloomberg News
Pension reform: Benita Dodd’s op-ed, “Expand Retirement Options, Shrink Teacher Doldrums,” was published in The Marietta Daily Journal: “According to the Fordham Institute, the average experience of a teacher who leaves the profession is 15 years; fewer than one in four stay for 25 years. Encouraging the profession means acknowledging the changing nature of education careers and adapting to that by facilitating portability of their retirement investment.”
This month in the archives: In February 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “Dealing More Effectively with Juvenile Crime.” It noted, “[T]he important thing is to deal with the problem before the juvenile has the time to inculcate a criminal’s value system and habits.”
Foundation in the news: Among the publications featuring Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi’s study on public school spending were The Savannah Morning News; The Marietta Daily Journal, The DeKalb Neighbor, The North Fulton Neighbor, The West Georgia Neighbor, The South Metro Neighbor and Neighbor News; Middle Georgia CEO, Albany CEO; Athens CEO; Metro Atlanta CEO; Augusta CEO; The Columbus CEO; Newnan CEO; Savannah CEO; Valdosta CEO; Military Technologies; Today in Education; WFXG-TV; WALB and WTOC. Many newspapers also carried his letter to the editor after the study and he was interviewed by WGAU-AM and WABE. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Benita Dodd in an article on a proposed smoking ban. Direct Primary Care Journal reported on Benita’s speech to the Athens GOP. The Foundation was mentioned in an op-ed on school choice by Michael Harden in The Savannah Morning News.
Social media: The Foundation has 3,174 Facebook “likes!” Our Twitter account has 1,701 followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too!
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read our latest commentary, “Georgia’s New Toll Lanes Help ‘Reverse’ Congestion,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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