Registration for the 2020 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum is now open! Amid the COVID-19 uncertainty, the Foundation canceled plans for an in-person event and scheduled the Forum as a series of weekly Zoom webinar events beginning July 15. The theme is “Wisdom, Justice, Adaptation,” a play on the state motto: “Wisdom, Justice, Moderation.” This year, the Forum comprises eight sessions, including two keynote sessions. The topics: Education; The Budget; Land Use and Transportation; The Economy; Housing; and Healthcare. Sign up for the opening keynote session, “An Education Conversation,” with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Find out more here. There is no charge to “attend,” but participants must have authenticated Zoom accounts.
Quotes of Note
“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” – James Madison
“Much can be accomplished when governments enable medical innovators rather than constructing obstacles to their progress. The Trump administration, state leaders, and Congress, on a bipartisan basis, have waived hundreds of rules in a race to fight the virus. We should never go back.” – Galen Institute
COVID-19 status updates: The Georgia Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 status reports are updated once a day at 3 p.m. The Georgia map provides reports on county-level cases and deaths. Visit the website here.
Money pit: Congress plans to vote next week on a bill that would pour billions more taxpayer dollars into “enhancements” to the Affordable Care Act. As Doug Badger writes in The Daily Signal, the federal government sent $248 billion in premium and related subsidies to health insurance companies between 2013 and 2019, with a net increase of only 600,000 people receiving coverage in the individual market. “That works out to nearly $69,000 annually per net newly insured person,” he notes. “Congress’ response to this spending inefficiency? Increase federal subsidy payments to insurance companies.”
OPM and CPR: More than 1 million stimulus payments totaling nearly $1.4 billion were sent to deceased Americans during the federal government’s unprecedented emergency spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Government Accountability Office report reviewing the $2.3 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in late March. Source: Reason.com
Bad-news bearish: The International Monetary Fund updated its predictions for the COVID-19 recession this week, saying its April prediction was not severe enough. The IMF now anticipates the global economy to contract by 4.9% in 2020, or 1.9 points more than it expected in April. The GDPs of advanced economies, including the United States, are expected to shrink by a crushing 8%. Source: IndustryWeek
Office closed: As enterprises adapt to disruptions caused by COVID-19, a new survey finds close to 80% of organizations polled say they have implemented or expanded universal work-from-home policies as a result of the pandemic, with 67% expecting these policies to remain in place either permanently or for the long-term. Source: Yahoo Finance
Legislature: The Georgia legislative session, which resumed on June 15 after a pandemic break, adjourns today. The state budget, which by state Constitution mandate must be balanced before adjournment, dominated the agenda.
Budget: As of publication, the fiscal year 2021 budget had passed a conference committee and was expected to pass both chambers. The bill eliminated a requirement that state employees take furlough days. Despite reports K-12 funding faced a $950 million cut, federal CARES Act funding of $411 million is expected to reduce that to about $540 million, or less than 6%.
Hate crimes: Legislation awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature would allow prosecutors to pursue enhanced criminal penalties against those who target their victims on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, religion, or physical or mental disability. In a compromise, both chambers also agreed to legislation making crimes targeting first responders subject to additional charges.
Transparency: The House and Senate both passed legislation that would regulate the practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), which operate on behalf of third-party payers to negotiate drug formularies and rebates and create pharmacy networks and dispensaries. The bills would enhance transparency and oversight.
Policy proposals: The Foundation proposed a series of policies for near-term relief for Georgia during the pandemic, as well as principles to guide and oversee policy reforms and an Issue Analysis tackling fiscal policy considerations for Georgia. Additionally there are several commentaries from Senior Fellows on fiscal opportunities, school choice and education funding.
Growing list: The list of regulations suspended by federal, state and local governments for the duration of the pandemic has reached at least 708, according to Americans for Tax Reform.
Energy and environment
Giving up on Roundup: Bayer has announced a $10 billion claims fund, surrendering to trial lawyers who filed suit against the manufacturer of the popular weed killer glyphosate (Roundup), claiming it causes cancer. Source: Reason.com
This month in the archives: In June 25 years ago, the Foundation published, “The Truth About Global Warming: A Long Hot Summer Could Set the Stage for Disastrous Policy ” It noted, “With today’s near religious devotion by some people to the extreme beliefs of the environmental movement, it is imperative that our leaders focus on the science.”
Visit georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Foundation Adapts, With 2020’s Georgia Legislative Policy Forum on Zoom,” by Benita M. Dodd.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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