March 21: “Shining a Light on Government,” a Leadership Breakfast with Richard Belcher of WSB-TV in celebration of Sunshine Week on Thursday, March 21, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. $30. Information and registration here.
March 21-23: Academic Freedom and Free Speech Conference at Emory University, bringing together academics and student-affairs professionals. Information here.
April 17: Mark your calendar for a Leadership Breakfast with Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, sponsor of the FIRST STEP Act, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County to celebrate Second Chance Month. $30. Details to follow.
May 23: Mark your calendar for a Policy Briefing Luncheon with David French of National Review on Thursday, May 23, at the Georgian Club in Cobb County. Details to follow.
Quotes of note
“When men say, for instance (by a false metaphor), that each member of the public should feel himself an owner of public property – such as a Town Park – and should therefore respect it as his own, they are saying something which all our experience proves to be completely false. No man feels of public property that it is his own; no man will treat it with the care or the affection of a thing which is his own; still less can a man express himself through the use of a thing which is not his own, but shared in common with a mass of other men.” – Hilaire Belloc
“The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” – John Adams
Hooked on fees: Legislators plan to once again extend the Medicaid finance program, also known as the hospital provider fee and “bed tax.” The fee introduced in 2010 was supposed to be a two-year measure to reduce the Medicaid budget shortfall. It was extended in 2013, then in 2017 and is set to expire next year. Now, legislation would extend the program until 2025. Hospitals pay 1.45 percent of their gross revenue, which the state uses to draw Medicaid federal matching dollars that are redistributed to the hospitals based on their share of Medicaid patients. Effectively, Georgia gets $2.09 for every dollar it spends on Medicaid.
CON laws: Legislation introduced in the Georgia General Assembly would roll back Georgia’s Certificate of Need laws and replace them with a less stringent licensure program. “Specifically, the bills would reduce restrictions on hospital bed additions, capital equipment expenditures, and surgery centers,” writes Matthew Glans for the Heartland Institute. He calls the move “a strong step in the right direction.”
Vouchers in Georgia: A new study by Senior Fellow Jeffrey Dorfman finds that, “in all except the smallest districts,” vouchers or educational savings accounts (also known as educational scholarship accounts) could be funded up to the level of average variable cost and leave more than enough money to educate the remaining students at the same expenditure level as before. Click here to read Dorfman’s Issue Analysis, “The Economics of Building a Voucher or Educational Savings Account Program in Georgia.”
Tax break: Legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas would provide for dollar-for-dollar federal tax deductions on donations to state-based education scholarships. The Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act would provide a $10 billion annual federal tax credit. Source: USA Today
Education Scholarship Accounts: Legislation in the Georgia House and Senate would enable the creation of Education Scholarship Accounts for Georgia students.
Upward mobility: The U.S. poverty rate declined overall in 2017, and the poverty rate for Hispanics was the lowest since estimates for the demographic group were first published in 1972, latest Census data show.
Charitable giving: The Washington Post reports that charitable giving rose a “lackluster” 1.6 percent last year calling it a sign that the 2018 tax code overhaul could be hurting donations. Patriot Post editor Jordan Candler points out one reason could be that people simply were unsure about their 2018 tax obligations.
Policing for profit: The Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment protects Americans not just against the federal government but against states and local authorities, too, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case brought by the Institute for Justice over asset forfeiture in Indiana. Now, “every level of government must now abide by the federal Constitution’s guarantee that property owners will be safe from excessive fines and forfeitures,” the institute reported.
Unshackled: Georgia legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit the use of restraints on a pregnant inmate “in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, in labor, in delivery, or in the immediate postpartum period,” unless there are “compelling grounds” to believe she could harm herself or others.
Smoking: Legislation being considered would make it illegal for anyone to smoke in a vehicle in the presence of a child under age 13; violators would be subject to a $100 fine.
Energy and environment
Happy canniversary I: Canned food was introduced in New York City 200 years ago this year, one year after the tin can was introduced in 1818. Thomas Kensett Sr. and Ezra Daggett of England canned oysters, fruits, meats and vegetables in New York City, according to Cancentral.com. It wasn’t until 1858 that Ezra Warner of Waterbury, Conn., patented the first can opener!
Happy canniversary II: Coors pioneered the use of aluminum beverage cans in 1959. The first generation of aluminum cans weighed approximately 3 ounces per unit; today’s cans weigh less than half an ounce. The revolutionary pull-tab can was patented in 1963 by Ermal Fraze, who invented it after arriving at a picnic without his “church key” needed to open beercans then. That was followed in 1975 by the current “stay-on” tab design. Source: Aluminum Association
Foundation in the media: The Marietta Daily Journal quoted Benita Dodd’s commentary on local governments’ architectural ordinances. Georgia Health News quoted Kyle Wingfield on health care waiver legislation in the Senate.
Social media: The Foundation’s Facebook page has 3,480 “likes” this week; our Twitter account has 1,874 followers! Join them!
This month in the archives: In March 15 years ago, the Foundation published, “Price Controls Wrong Rx for Better Health at Lower Cost.” It noted, “Georgia needs to embrace objective policies that don’t restrict doctors’ and patients’ ability to choose the most effective medications on the market, but place the financial incentives in the correct places.
Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Baby Steps in Teacher Pension Reform,” by Kyle Wingfield.
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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