Friday Facts: March 22, 2024

The United Auto Workers’ endorsement of Joe Biden’s reelection in January was in large part payback for the president’s efforts to help organize southern automakers. The Biden administration has issued a slew of policies that will enable the UAW to make inroads at factories that have repeatedly rejected union representation. 

Most notably and recently, in its Cemex decision last August, the National Labor Relations Board made it easier for unions to ignore workplace elections while publicly intimidating workers into supporting unionization.

Georgia, however, is going in the opposite direction, putting workers’ rights ahead of union demands. 

On Wednesday, the House adopted legislation that will require companies that receive taxpayer incentives to hold secret ballot elections for union representation. Senate Bill 362, authored by Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, cleared the Senate earlier in the session and is now headed to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.

Unions generally prefer to pursue their workplace unionization efforts through the process of collecting signatures in full view of their coworkers or by repeated visits to their homes – a process called “card-check.” Critics say this method contributes to workplace intimidation. Once a majority of the workers have signed the cards, the union is certified and given a monopoly to represent all workers at the worksite. 

Check out this week’s commentary on Georgia’s efforts to protect worker freedom. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • School choice expansion headed to the governor after the Senate agrees with House changes to SB 233
  • Short-term rental ordinance at Tybee Island put on hold pending further review
  • Dawson and Jackson are two of the five fastest-growing counties in the country
  • You have a one in 9.2 quintillion chance of filling out a perfect March Madness bracket

– Kyle Wingfield

In Memoriam

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Don Chapman last week. Don was an original member of the Board for Georgia Public Policy Foundation. You can read his memorial here

Friday’s Freshest

Promise Scholarship Act headed to the Governor

A week after the House adopted Senate Bill 233, creating the state’s first education savings account program, the Senate concurred with the changes and it is now headed to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. The bill, which is limited to students who live in attendance zones of the bottom 25% of schools, will allow families to receive $6,500 to use for private school tuition or other educational expenses.

Foundation praises passage of worker freedom legislation

As Georgia continues to grow, it’s imperative that we safeguard the policies and principles that have attracted so many people and companies to our state. High on that list is the flexible labor market that helps make our economy so dynamic and resilient. 

Existing service providers are always the loudest voices against change

It’s striking how much our debates over two of Georgia’s most important structural challenges are really the same argument with different jargon. I’m talking about school choice and certificate of need. Ultimately, both come down to whether one believes the elements that have sparked such dynamism and vibrancy in other sectors can also apply to education and healthcare.

The state of CON repeal in Georgia

This year both the House and Senate introduced bills to reduce the burden of CON laws by varying degrees. This came after both chambers completed study committees on the issue in 2023. Where do we stand with just two days left in the session?

The conditions are right for serious tax reform

Our neighboring states are busy cutting their tax rates. If we don’t make serious changes, we risk falling behind. 

At The Capitol: Week of March 18

We are nearing Sine Die and the end of the 2024 session. Lawmakers have just two days to pass bills through from the other chamber or work out their differences before heading home. Here are your latest updates:

  • The Senate voted to agree with changes from the House on the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, sending the bill to the Governor. Under SB 233, authored by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, eligible families can receive $6,500 to use for private school tuition and other education expenses.
  • The House adopted legislation that requires companies that receive taxpayer incentives to hold secret ballot elections for union representation. SB 362, authored by Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, cleared the Senate earlier in the session.
  • The House and Senate agreed to some changes to Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) laws. HB 1339, authored by Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, allows for freestanding birth centers to open under some restrictions, including having a transfer agreement with an acute care hospital with Level III perinatal services. The Foundation has previously written how a proposed birth center in Augusta has been on hold for nearly three years because of CON regulations. 
  • On Thursday, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee held a hearing on HB 1077. The bill, which originally funded a grant program for additional behavioral health providers, was gutted to substitute the language from SB 487, which created a new Medicaid expansion program. The bill did not advance out of committee. 
  • The Senate has sent a bill to the governor that will lower the income tax rate from 5.49% to 5.39%. HB 1015, authored by Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming, would accelerate the rate cut of 0.1% annually, until it reaches 4.99%.
  • On Monday, the House Regulated Industries Special Subcommittee held a hearing on SB 460, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, which would have eased restrictions on certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) in rural hospitals. The bill did not advance out of subcommittee. 
  • The House has approved legislation limiting plaintiffs’ ability to sue motor carriers and their insurers simultaneously. SB 426, authored by Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, will bar so-called “direct action” against an insurance company and should stabilize and reduce insurance rates.
  • Rep. Gary Richardson, R-Evans, was sworn into office as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives on Wednesday. He fulfills the unexpired term of Barry Fleming, who resigned to take a judgeship.

The Latest


This once-rural Georgia county northeast of metro Atlanta is one of the fastest-growing in the country

Georgia’s surging population growth shows no signs of tapering off, according to new Census data published last week. In the release, the Census Bureau noted both that metro Atlanta saw the third-most overall population growth last year among U.S. metro areas and that two counties in north Georgia—Dawson and Jackson—are among the five fastest-growing in the country.

Floyd anticipates ‘tremendous economic opportunity’ from Microsoft’s $1B investment

The biggest business news for Northwest Georgia, by far, in the past year was the announcement that Microsoft will invest $1 billion in a data center campus in Floyd County. The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority voted to essentially act as the go-between in the $1 billion deal by issuing industrial revenue bonds for the project alongside a 12-year partial tax abatement. 

ASM Global selected to operate proposed Forsyth County arena in pursuit of the NHL

Krause Sports & Entertainment and The Gathering at South Forsyth have selected ASM Global as the operator for its proposed 700,000-square-foot, 18,500-capacity arena that it hopes will one day house an Atlanta NHL team. ASM Global will be involved in all aspects of the arena’s design and planning.

Fed leaves interest rates unchanged, says three cuts still planned

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at its March meeting for the fifth straight time as inflation remains high for many Americans. Policymakers also clarified that plans to cut rates may be pushed out further but remained committed to three this year. The decision keeps the federal funds rate between a range of 5.25% to 5.5%, a 22-year-high. 


Which schools go and which ones stay? Richmond County’s school board has made its decision

The Richmond County Board of Education voted to close old schools, open new ones and reassign pupils to help create a leaner school system that can respond better to student needs.  With a unanimous roll call vote, board members approved its Facilities Masters Plan to be implemented for the 2024-25 school year.

These students lost more than half a year of learning during COVID

It’s been four years since American schools shuttered, forcing millions of schoolchildren into months of online learning. While the decision was hailed as necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect teachers, the years since widespread school shutdowns have produced mounting evidence that pandemic closures led to massive learning losses for students.

A robust education marketplace means some schools will fail

In an education free market, parents are the customers. If they are not satisfied with a particular school’s offerings, they can and will leave—just as they would stop using any other product or service that doesn’t meet their expectations. It’s perhaps because true accountability in the education system is so rare that when it does occur it can prompt concern.

Dalton Public Schools Superintendent named sole finalist to be next GHSA executive director

Pending a final vote of approval next month, current Dalton Public Schools Superintendent Tim Scott is set to become the next executive director of the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). Scott was announced as the sole finalist for the executive director position, as chosen by the board of trustees of the GHSA.

Government accountability

Comcast continues rural broadband expansion in Gordon County

An effort to provide wider access to high-speed broadband in most areas of Gordon County continues to move forward with an end date now in sight. Already well underway, the current installation process is expected to be completed before the end of next year, according to Comcast.

Ordinance over short-term vacation rentals on Tybee Island to undergo screenings

A potential ordinance concerning short term vacation rentals on Tybee Island is set to undergo some additional screening before it’s voted on. Right now, an ordinance has been introduced on Tybee Island that would prohibit the transfer of short-term vacation rental licenses if the owner of a property changes.


Nation’s biggest builders are making houses smaller in shift toward affordable housing

A new report details how the U.S. is experiencing a “boom in smaller construction” as some of the nation’s most “powerful home builders” are making new homes that are smaller than they used to be. The piece cited census data detailing this shrink, which puts the median new home built today at 2,179 square feet – 4% smaller than they were last year. 

Big subdivision wins and townhomes lose at zoning in Cobb

It was a good day for a major subdivision and a bad day for a pair of townhome proposals at the zoning hearing of the Cobb Board of Commissioners. The proposal for 180 homes on 149 acres in south Cobb, near Sweetwater Creek and Stout Park, gained unanimous approval from the commission in a 5-0 vote. Meanwhile, two townhome developments failed before the board.


Biden finalizes crackdown on gas cars, forcing more than half of new car sales to be electric by 2030

The Biden administration has finalized a slate of highly-anticipated environmental regulations curbing gas-powered vehicle tailpipe emissions as part of its broader efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat global warming. In a joint announcement Wednesday, the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the most aggressive multi-pollutant emission standards ever finalized, calling for nearly 70% of all new car sales to be electric or hybrid. 

After a Century, the Federal Tea Board Is Finally Dead

“I see no reason,” the late Sen. Harry Reid, D–Nev., once declared on the Senate floor, “why those in this country who enjoy drinking tea need someone else to tell them what tastes good.” Yet for nearly 100 years that is exactly what the government did, thanks to one of the strangest agencies ever to be a part of the federal bureaucracy.

What are the odds of filling out a perfect March Madness bracket?

The NCAA estimates people fill out 60 million to 100 million brackets each year in an attempt to predict every game to win money or bragging rights over friends, family or coworkers. But what are the odds of a perfect bracket? Mathematicians have calculated that your chances of picking a perfect bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion. Written out, that’s 9,223,372,036,845,775,808. Good luck!

Quotes of the Week

“A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.” – C.S. Lewis

“Why is there never a headline that says ‘Government program ends as its intended goal has been achieved’?” – Oleg Atbashian

“Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life.” – Michael LeBouef

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