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SPN News January/February 2013 Updates

Published on Monday, February 11, 2013
SPN NEWS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013

ALABAMA

The Alabama Policy Institute had a successful year in 2012. Conservatives rejected a state-run health-care exchange and Medicaid expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. API research also contributed heavily to needed prison sentencing and legislative pay reforms. API published 54 Guide to the Issues online in 2012. These flexible, Web-based policy papers enable general members of the public to quickly educate themselves on a wide variety of issues. In 2012, API also introduced By the Numbers, a new feature designed to consolidate a current issue into a one-page infographic presenting facts and statistics without editorializing. API also expanded its reach with Cameron Smith, API’s policy director, being asked by The Birmingham News to write weekly for AL.com. The year 2013 brings renewed education and pension reform battles to Alabama as well as opportunities to create a more business-friendly climate in the state. 
alabamapolicy.org

 

ALASKA

The Alaska Policy Forum asked, “Should the State of Alaska fund the construction of union facilities?” That’s exactly what happened in the last two capital budgets, to the tune of $6 million. These funds were to be used to construct training/education facilities for Laborer’s Local 341, contrary to the restrictions of the Alaska State Constitution. Because money is fungible, this state funding can be used to build union facilities while union dues can be used to finance campaigns. Then again, maybe that’s why the money was put into the capital budget. APF also provided input to the State Board of Education on revising teacher evaluation policy. The education community wanted student academic progress to count as only 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. APF agreed with Gov. Sean Parnell on a 50 percent metric. Accountability in education is a win/win for parents, teachers and children. alaskapolicyforum.org

 

ARIZONA

In January, a Goldwater Institute lawsuit challenging the practice of “release time” in a Phoenix police union contract was heard. Under release time, government employees collect taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits while being released from their government jobs to do union work. The same court struck down the practice last year, but the Institute had to make its case again because a new union contract was signed last year. A 2011 Goldwater Institute investigative report found that Phoenix spent millions annually to pay for release time, and that the practice is widespread in labor contracts throughout the country. The Institute’s lawsuit was recently featured in Mallory Factor’s New York Times Bestseller, Shadowbosses, and SPN groups have also begun to examine release time abuses in their own states. The Institute’s lawsuit challenges release time as a violation of the Arizona constitution’s gift clause, thus providing a blueprint to eliminate the practice for the 40 other states with constitutional gift clauses.  goldwaterinstitute.org

 

ARKANSAS

In November, two members of the Advance Arkansas Institute’s board of scholars presented AAI’s latest research paper to the state legislature’s bicameral Joint Performance Review Committee. Are Arkansas Taxpayers Getting Value for Money? The Impact of Arkansas’s Budget Decisions, by professors Noel Campbell and David Mitchell of the University of Central Arkansas, found, in summary, that Arkansas has a relatively high-taxing, high-spending government compared to its regional neighbors. Further, Arkansas state government spends a relatively high amount on current consumption, and a relatively low amount on investment goods that would lead to economic growth – and, further, the investment goods state government does fund seem to produce relatively little. These findings suggest that if Arkansas wants to attract labor, jobs and capital investment, we need a state government that taxes its citizens less and spends its revenue differently.  advancearkansas.org

Market-based think tanks whose research is published in peer-reviewed journals enjoy a competitive advantage: credibility with mainstream news media and policymakers. The Arkansas Policy Foundation’s proposal to cut state income tax rates was widely cited in mainstream Arkansas media in late 2012. The Foundation’s proposal to cut the top seven percent income-tax rate, second highest in the region, was published in print dailies including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Northwest Arkansas Times and Benton County Daily Record, and electronic New Media outlets The City Wire and Talk Business Arkansas. The Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas’ largest daily, cited the Foundation in an editorial that called for an income tax reduction. Associated Press followed with a report published statewide in daily newspapers, the main source of information for Arkansas citizens and policymakers.
A 1998 Foundation proposal to cut the state capital gains tax was enacted the following year. arkansaspolicyfoundation.org

 

CALIFORNIA

Pacific Research Institute has launched its new website! The website has been well-received with a brand new appearance, new search and display capabilities, and sliding screens that highlight the latest commentaries, studies and events. PRI announced the establishment of The Laffer Center, a partnership with Arthur B. Laffer, Ph.D. The Laffer Center is dedicated to advancing free-market principles and educating people about how the right free-market ideas and solutions to issues facing our cities and states, our nation, and the world can bring prosperity and improve people’s lives. On Feb. 20, PRI will host its First Annual Baroness Margaret Thatcher Dinner in Orange County, featuring Steve Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes, Inc. Numerous studies were recently published, including studies on the benefits of dental service organizations and benefits from orphan drug research, both by Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D., and The Crusade Against Plastic Bags, by Kenneth Green, Ph.D. pacificresearch.org

 

COLORADO

In the aftermath of the tragic Newtown, Conn., shooting, Independence Institute research director Dave Kopel has defended the Second Amendment from the attacks of Pres. Barack Obama and the gun prohibition lobby. Kopel has appeared on the PBS News Hour, BBC World News, CNN and CNBC (debating Howard Dean). On consecutive days, Kopel op-eds appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News. As he has done since the July murders in Aurora, Colo., Kopel has emphasized the necessity for stronger laws to take dangerously violent, mentally ill people off the streets and provide them with proper treatment. He also points out the deadly dangers of “pretend gun-free zones” – where law-abiding and licensed persons are forbidden to carry arms, but there is no security or metal detectors. These zones have been repeatedly proven to be a magnet for mass murderers. i2i.org

 

CONNECTICUT

The first rule of holes is, when you’re in one, stop digging. Yankee Institute compiled and published the List of Lasts detailing the many rankings that list Connecticut not just below average, but dead last in the country: Barron’s rates Connecticut the most indebted in the nation; from a fiscal perspective, TopRetirements rates Connecticut the worst state in which to retire; Conning rates Connecticut as the least credit-worthy state in the nation; the Tax Foundation calculates Connecticut residents have the latest Tax Freedom Day in the nation; and Cato Institute gives Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy an F. He’s only tied for last, which isn’t exactly progress in the right direction. yankeeinstitute.org

 

DELAWARE

The 2012 elections had a carry-over impact on Delaware’s governance. Prior to this cycle, Delaware had only one state-wide Republican office holder, and Republicans were the minority in both chambers of the General Assembly. They lost ground in the House and failed to win any other statewide seats. Several bills were floated near the close of the prior General Assembly that would have had an adverse impact on Delaware’s economy. One of those bills, driven by the Delaware teachers union, is to essentially stop the permitting of any additional charter schools. Because education is the cornerstone of any state’s ability to have a competitive economy, Caesar Rodney Institute has established literacy as its primary focus for 2013. The Institute’s Center for Education Excellence has scheduled a number of forums and events to identify underperforming public schools and provide practical solutions to improve them. caesarrodney.org

 

FLORIDA

The Foundation for Government Accountability hosts Southwest Florida’s can’t-miss monthly political event 5 Hot Mics. Each 5 Hot Mics event features five controversial political professionals with five different perspectives discussing five different topics in an informal and energetic way. There are few rules panelists must follow, and it’s up to them, not a timekeeper, to make sure they can make their points heard. Hot Mic panelists include elected officials, think tankers, media professionals, and political consultants from both the left and right side of the spectrum. After the Hot Mic panelists debate the five topics, audience members submit questions for a speed round. The winner of each month’s 5 Hot Mics – chosen exclusively by the audience – takes home the coveted Golden Microphone. FGA’s 5 Hot Mics is not your typical policy event. It’s political debate at its liveliest. floridafga.org 

On March 13, James Madison Institute will commemorate 25 years of providing trusted solutions for a better Florida at its Anniversary Gala, which will be held at the University Center Club, Florida State University in Tallahassee. Friends of the Institute, as well as many influential state and national figures, will join JMI for a reception and dinner to highlight the Institute’s rich history of impact and celebrate JMI’s founder, Stanley Marshall, Ph.D., who turned 90 at the start of 2013. JMI will also host an open house preceding the Gala for community members and state leaders to tour its new headquarters, The Columns. The Institute would be honored to have members of its sister think tanks take part! If you are interested in attending, email Jenny Stone at JStone@jamesmadison.org. For more information, please visit jamesmadison.org.

 

HAWAII

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is excited to put the final touches on its 2012 Pork Report. This year’s installment focuses on a few specific examples of waste and is designed to arm its members with the knowledge necessary to take back our state. The Grassroot Institute is also in the process of planning its annual dinner, set for this coming spring. grassrootinstitute.org

 

IDAHO

Members of the Idaho Legislature got a crash course in free markets from national and state experts during a day-long seminar sponsored by the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Speakers discussed education reform, criminal justice, tax policy and state control of public lands. The result: Several legislators promised to use the ideas from the session to produce legislation in 2013 or to resist legislation that violates free market principles. IdahoReporter.com continues to bring light to stories ignored by the legacy media: IFF’s news bureau reported that the state’s underfunded pension system will now cost taxpayers even more, and its journalists reported that the state’s Land Board is investing more money in commercial real estate, in competition with the private sector. IFF executive director Wayne Hoffman received statewide media attention for reporting that Idaho has a law that makes post-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales illegal.  idahofreedom.net

 

ILLINOIS

Illinois’ weakness for wasteful government spending is out of control. That’s why the Illinois Policy Institute launched its first billboard campaign urging lawmakers to lower taxes and stop wasteful spending. Nearly 20,000 vehicles drive past daily and it urges lawmakers on their drive to Springfield: “Read my lipstick: No new taxes.” 

Illinois Policy Institute’s first billboard campaign on the road to the state capital urges against new taxes and government waste. Recently featured on WMBD-CBS in Peoria, the billboard is part of the Illinois Piglet campaign. 

The billboard is part of the Illinois Piglet campaign, produced in partnership with Citizens Against Government Waste. Squeezy the Pension Python was the laughing stock in the Midwest, but Illinois’ pension crisis is no laughing matter. Gov. Pat Quinn’s gimmick of a pension campaign offers no real solutions to the more than $200 billion pension shortfall. While lawmakers push failed policies of the past, the Institute’s Kristina Rasmussen went on Fox News with Megyn Kelly to advocate reform focused on defined-contribution pension programs in order to end the squeeze on taxpayers.  illinoispolicy.org

 

INDIANA

Launched with a mid-November seminar at the historic Charley Creek Inn of Wabash, a task force of Indiana Policy Foundation economists will work under the banner, The Recovery Begins Here, Now. The scholars hope to act as the unofficial economic conscience of incoming Gov. Mike Pence and his legislative GOP super majority.
inpolicy.org

 

IOWA

Last year was a busy and productive year at Public Interest Institute. The Institute researched, wrote and published a record total of 13 policy studies, participated in many meetings and conferences and gained new members. Following the November elections, PII’s work promoting free-markets and limited-government public policy is critical. The Institute’s most recent studies include Water, Water Everywhere but Not a Drop for Power by Deborah D. Thornton, about the potential of renewable power generation from existing water sources and the overregulation of this industry, and Education Savings Accounts: A Path to Give All Children an Effective Education and Prepare Them for Life, by Jonathan Butcher, director of education policy at the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. Education reform will be a hot topic in the 2013 Iowa Legislature. To read these studies, visit limitedgovernment.org.

 

KANSAS

In December, Kansas Policy Institute expanded its operations by adding an office in Overland Park. The expansion will allow KPI to enlarge its footprint beyond the largest city in Kansas, Wichita, to the largest population center in the state, metro Kansas City. In addition to opening a new office in Overland Park, James Franko has been promoted to vice president and policy director and will lead the office in Wichita while Dave Trabert continues as KPI’s president in the new office. Having a permanent presence in northeast Kansas will allow for KPI to present before more community and civic groups across the state while maintaining the foundations of the organization in Wichita. Overland Park also allows for easier access to the state capital in Topeka, which is especially important in advance of the upcoming legislative session. kansaspolicy.org

 

LOUISIANA

The Pelican Institute continues to engage in the battle for education reform in Louisiana. Recent gains have been challenged by reform opponents in court and through negative media coverage. The Institute has been highlighting the common sense arguments in favor of tenure reform and school choice through reports and opinion pieces. This battle is certain to be continued in the 2013 legislative session. The Institute has also reported on the drastically underfunded state pensions, expanded online learning opportunities, the need for tort reform, and the benefits of opting out of the state health exchange and the expansion of Medicaid. Follow the Institute on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for email updates at ThePelicanPost.orgpelicaninstitute.org

 

MARYLAND

The November Calvert News launched an effort to reform Maryland’s teacher certification rules, which require local board approval for “alternate certification” and limit the life of certificates to two years. In addition the Calvert Institute intends to seek repeal of provisions requiring state approval for use by teachers of “distance learning” programs. calvertinstitute.org

The Maryland Public Policy Institute and the Maryland Tax Education Foundation released a comprehensive study on the market value of casino gaming licenses. The study revealed that the State of Maryland could be leaving $482 million on the table by setting low license fee requirements to operate a casino in Prince George’s County. The findings shed light on the State’s flawed model for awarding a license to operate what could be Maryland’s most lucrative casino. The findings of the study received media attention in the Washington, D.C., Examiner, The Washington Post, The Daily Record and MarylandReporter
.com
. This study is another example of how the Maryland Public Policy Institute is working to educate lawmakers and taxpayers about crony capitalism and providing alternative market-based solutions to the leading issues of our day.  mdpolicy.org

 

MASSACHUSETTS 

Enter Pioneer Institute’s 2013 Better Government Competition by April 8 for your chance to win $10,000! For details, visit PioneerInstitute.org/EnterTheBGC. This year’s theme is job creation. This fall and winter, Pioneer released research on state pension policy, education tax credit scholarships, school enrollment trends, consumer-driven health care, and the impact of the federal health law’s “Cadillac insurance tax” in Massachusetts. Pioneer research – showing that the Common Core national education standards will drastically reduce the amount of literature instruction in K-12 schools – was cited in national and international news outlets. In the spring, Pioneer will hold its annual Hewitt Health Care Lecture, as well as education events on history instruction, virtual schooling, school choice and more. 
pioneerinstitute.org

 

MICHIGAN

Efforts by the Mackinac Center and others that lasted more than two decades came to fruition when Michigan became the 24th right-to-work state in mid-December. Yes, Michigan. Birthplace of the UAW, the very cradle of unionism. As Center president Joseph G. Lehman and labor policy director F. Vincent Vernuccio pointed out in
The Wall Street Journal a few days after Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bills into law, it was the result of “nearly a quarter-century of advocacy that shows how the politically improbable can become the politically inevitable.” In the days leading up to the historic moment, Vernuccio wrote an op-ed for USA Today and appeared on Fox News, CNN and Fox Business. Center research was cited by The Journal, Reuters and major Michigan media, and following the vote Mackinac analysts were cited by The Boston Globe, US News, Bloomberg, Investor’s Business Daily and on SiriusXM. 
mackinac.org

 

MINNESOTA

In November, Minnesota went entirely “blue,” a Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party trifecta will rule for at least two years. Given that outcome, Center of the American Experiment has its work cut out. It looks forward to making the case for free market solutions that create economic opportunities and income growth for the private sector (after all, someone has to pay for government), and to offering good ideas like school choice – while countering bad ideas like fuel standards and expensive tweaks to a broken pension system. On the publishing front, recent pieces have included The Disappearing Family Problem, by president Mitch Pearlstein in The Weekly Standard; If You Could Rid the World of Gender, Would You? by Katherine Kersten; Wind Subsidy is Ineffective, Let it Elapse by Kim Crockett and Peter Nelson; and On Debt, We’re Different? Good Luck by Chuck Chalberg, all in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribuneamericanexperiment.org

On Jan.11, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota kicked off the start of the legislative session by hosting its bi-annual Legislative Policy Preview. This well-attended event provides policymakers and Freedom Foundation members an opportunity to hear from nationally-recognized speakers who present free-market policy solutions to some of the toughest issues facing Minnesota legislators. Leading off the conference was a presentation by Tiger Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association, who discussed the findings contained in the Freedom Foundation’s recently released report on the job creation that would occur in Minnesota with commonsense legal reforms. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute briefed policymakers on healthcare exchanges followed by a panel discussion on energy policy. The most lively discussion of the day-long conference focused on political reform and featured State House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt and State House Elections Committee Chairman Steve Simon.  freedomfoundationofminnesota.com

 

MISSISSIPPI

In the 2012 Legislative Session, Mississippi Center for Public Policy drafted and led the effort to pass an important piece of education reform legislation. This bill changed Mississippi’s grading system for districts and schools from a cumbersome seven-level scale with nebulous – some would say misleading – titles like “Successful” and “Academic Watch” to a simple A-F scale that every parent and student in the state can understand. This reform measure was a critical first step in providing parents and communities with better tools to understand, measure and evaluate the academic performance of their local district and schools. The response to this law change has been dramatic! Communities that received poor, but accurate, grades for their schools have begun calling for meetings, rallying parents, and demanding improvement. mspolicy.org

 

MISSOURI

A conscious effort to grow its brand via social media has paid off for the Show-Me Institute. In the past six months, the Institute more than doubled its followers with roughly 2,000 new Missouri fans. SMI has done it by consistently updating its Facebook page and asking interactive questions about free market theories. Institute “Likes” have jumped 170 percent in the past year, and more people than ever are talking about the Show-Me Institute. In the last four months of 2012, the average number of “people talking about this” per post has skyrocketed more than 1,500 percent. The Show-Me Institute now ranks in the top 10 of SPN members in fan-base size. The Institute is hoping for another outstanding year of growth.  showmeinstitute.org

 

MONTANA

This past November, Montana Policy Institute’s 3rd biennial legislative forum provided a great venue and learning opportunity for our citizen legislators in Helena. Around 150 people gathered to hear ideas on pension and education reform, federalism, responsible natural resource development and much more. MPI will follow up that event by working closely with leaders in the state who are as eager as the Institute  to reduce federal intrusion in our economy and our lives, and to bring a legacy of opportunity back to the state. montanapolicy.org

 

NEVADA

In January, Nevada Policy Research Institute released a study on economic development, which showed how government caused Nevada’s steep recession and is hindering entrepreneurs from leading us out of it. The study, which offers a stark contrast to government-directed efforts pushed by Nevada’s governor, earned statewide TV, radio and print coverage. NPRI’s February policy luncheon featured Jim Chrisinger, speaking to lawmakers and citizens about Charter Agency Reform. NPRI’s influence has never been greater. In the last year, the Institute earned over 425 media hits in print, TV and radio and 1,250 additional online mentions. This included two Drudge links, a mention by Rush Limbaugh and an appearance on Fox Business. Website visits were up 51 percent for the year. NPRI is pleased to welcome Tyler Walton, development assistant, and Anna Buchner, paralegal, to its growing team. NPRI also launched a completely redesigned npri.org.

 

NEW JERSEY

Common Sense Institute-NJ is pleased to announce the addition of two new board members. Arthur Imperatore, Jr., and Michael Horn, Esq., join CSI-NJ’s ranks enthusiastically and bring unique assets to its mission. Imperatore, executive vice president and vice chairman of New York Waterway, is poised to steer the Institute’s platform on infrastructure, public land use and transportation. He is also an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Horn is a partner at the law firm McCarter & English and serves as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, and is a former member of the New Jersey State Assembly. In 1984, he was appointed as New Jersey State Treasurer in the Kean Administration and oversaw the collection of state taxes, budgeting and the spending of all state funds.  csinj.org

 

NEW MEXICO

The Rio Grande Foundation received state-wide media attention for its local government tax-friendliness report, which ranked the 10 largest cities in New Mexico based on their relative tax burdens. RGF also generated widespread interest by focusing media attention on the combined bad news contained in the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of North America report which found New Mexico to be the least economically-free state in the nation. A separate report by Forbes found the state to be the number one “death spiral” state for its high level of “takers” relative to “makers.” Explaining both the importance and how to improve upon this to policymakers is the Foundation’s challenge. The Foundation's  Watchdog reporter Jim Scarantino made headlines statewide by exposing the use of EBT welfare cards in strip clubs, liquor stores and other questionable places. riograndefoundation.org

 

NEW YORK

The Empire Center for New York State Policy’s report, Taking Ownership, found that the state could save money and improve health outcomes in its $54 billion Medicaid program by offering the most at-risk patients incentives to promote healthy behavior and encourage patients to seek preventive care in appropriate settings. An event in the state capital launching the paper included a panel of some of the state’s leading experts in healthcare and Medicaid. The Center also released the second paper in its Empire Ideas series, this time focusing on why long-term financial planning is essential for local government and school districts, and how such plans can and should be implemented for counties, municipalities and school districts. The Center continues to update the public payroll and contract databases on its transparency website, SeeThroughNY.netempirecenter.org

 

NORTH CAROLINA

The Civitas Institute recently released a study recommending the replacement of North Carolina’s income tax with a consumption-based tax. More Jobs, Bigger Paychecks: A Pro-Growth Tax Reform for North Carolina was prepared by Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics in partnership with Civitas. The study indicated that such a reform would strengthen the state’s economy. Tax reform is expected to be a top issue during the upcoming legislative session. Also, a Civitas investigation of the North Carolina State Board of Elections probed how its staff conducts business with a lobbyist who works for a liberal special-interest group. The investigation revealed that the board’s staff is heavily influenced, and in some cases directed, by that lobbyist – and even conducts partisan political activities using state resources. Finally, Civitas’ fourth legislative training session was held Jan. 24.  nccivitas.org

When North Carolina elected its first Republican governor in 20 years, joining a legislature led by Republicans for a second straight term, Fred Barnes cited the state in The Wall Street Journal as a case study for a “red state resurgence.” Barnes’ article quoted John Locke Foundation president John Hood and noted JLF’s watchdog role in North Carolina. The “conservative think tank” had “uncovered numerous instances of misconduct and reported them in its publication, Carolina Journal.” Barnes also dissected 2012 election results for a JLF audience. CJ’s Don Carrington attracted attention from the Drudge Report for an article about a high-profile killer who voted in 2012 after a questionable state mental-hospital voting drive. JLF research staff compiled a new book, First In Freedom, designed to set out a free-market, limited-government set of policy prescriptions for North Carolina leaders.  johnlocke.org

 

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs closed 2012 with, among other policy events, a lively round table discussion of the ever-hot-in-Oklahoma topic of workers’ compensation. The appetite to replace the current judicial system with an administrative system – as OCPA had long suggested – continues to grow. OCPA also assembled a host committee of dynamic state female leaders to plan its first women’s policy conference, scheduled for March 1. The first meeting of these committed and creative women yielded fresh insights about women’s policy priorities. Prominent women in our state are particularly concerned that current government policies and programs encourage women to become dependent on the government – and want to know what can be done about it. OCPA has no doubt its policy conference headliners, Star Parker and Kate Obenshain, will have a few suggestions on that score.  ocpathink.org

 

OREGON

Cascade Policy Institute kicked off 2013 with its Fourth Annual Policy Picnic Lecture Series. Cascade president and CEO John Charles was the featured speaker in January discussing “The Next Bubble – The Subprime Carbon Market.” Policy Picnics have been very popular and are almost always sold-out. Beginning in February, Cascade will also be hosting three Legislative Leadership Forum luncheons for elected officials and their staff members in the state capitol in Salem. These presentations are Oregon-specific and cover a broad range of topics: energy, healthcare, education, transportation, urban planning, PERS reform, and Right-to-Work. Cascade staff will also build on their partnerships with local taxpayer activist groups and grassroots organizations throughout the 2013 legislative session through training events, legislative advocacy and education.  cascadepolicy.org

 

PENNSYLVANIA

In late 2012, Commonwealth Foundation launched a new project, Free to Teach, a forum designed to serve Pennsylvania educators first and give them the opportunity to learn about and discuss the labor and education issues that affect them. Too often, teachers in Pennsylvania don’t have a genuine voice on educational and professional issues because politicians, administrators and union bosses speak for them. The mission of Free to Teach is to see a Pennsylvania in which students receive the best education possible while public educators and staff are equipped to thrive and excel in their jobs. Word is spreading quickly, and Free to Teach continues to build its website, Facebook and Twitter audience among Pennsylvania educators. Starting 2013 off with a bang, the Commonwealth Foundation team welcomed a new member, Tom Bako, as senior community liaison. commonwealthfoundation.org

 

RHODE ISLAND

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Zero.Zero report on phasing-out or eliminating the state sales tax – as a game-changing reform to provide renewed economic vitality and job growth – received a new life in December when the Rhode Island GOP minority caucus said this idea is among its priorities for the 2013 legislative session. Immediately, members of the Political Class railed out against such a big, bold idea, calling it reckless to eliminate such a large revenue source … only illustrating their lack of leadership and imagination. The  Center will work to put together a strong coalition to back any related legislation that may be submitted in 2013. As a highly regressive tax, the Center believes this policy reform idea could find backers on both sides of the aisle. Just a few miles north in New Hampshire, this policy is working out just fine. rifreedom.org

 

SOUTH CAROLINA

In South Carolina, public officials have the luxury of some of the weakest ethics laws in the country. State lawmakers, in particular, have it easy: They don’t have to disclose private income, they police their own ethics violations, they’re exempt from FOIA, and they pass the state budget largely in secret. Last year, South Carolina Policy Council set out to change that in an aggressive way: by defining the state’s political culture as “legal corruption.” With a multi-front strategy – involving press conferences, op-eds, testimony before legislative committees, TV and radio appearances, and a constant stream of new analysis – the Policy Council has re-framed the terms of the debate. Whereas none of the above-mentioned issues were even controversial a few years ago, they’re each at the center of this year’s arguments among pundits and politicians.  scpolicycouncil.org

 

TENNESSEE

At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session in January, the Beacon Center of Tennessee provided each state lawmaker with a copy of the third edition of its Legislators’ Guide to the Issues, which offers free-market policy solutions on a range of topics. Beacon teamed up with the Friedman Foundation to launch Choose Me, Tennessee to promote school choice, unveiling a website and airing more than 700 radio ads statewide in just one month. Beacon also hosted several events featuring former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and co-hosted a National School Choice Week event, drawing a large crowd. Beacon was recently featured in an hour-long documentary on the controversial practice of “policing for profit” that aired on Nashville’s NewsChannel 5. This month, Beacon will team up with NewsChannel 5 for a screening of the program for the state legislature.  beacontn.org

 

TEXAS

The Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute hosted an Economic Freedom Summit in Austin on Jan. 16 to discuss policies that will keep Texas an economic powerhouse. The Summit featured private sector leaders who shared their insights into the underpinnings of Texas’ economic success. Leaders from the following sectors of the economy participated: energy, life sciences, transportation, retail, and technology. On a second panel legislators discussed tax proposals to lay the foundation for growth and prosperity to be considered in the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature. The legislators focused their discussion on significant tax reduction and reform of the direct state business tax and the property tax, particularly in light of increasing federal taxes as a consequence of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act and the “fiscal cliff” settlement.  txccri.org

In Austin, from Jan. 9-11, the Texas Public Policy Foundation hosted its annual Policy Orientation. Some 1,000 people, including lawmakers returning for the biennial session, gathered to hear Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett, Jonah Goldberg, Michael Ramirez and others. TPPF published The Texas Model: Prosperity in the Lone Star State and Lessons for America, by former California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, the Foundation’s communications vice president and senior fellow for fiscal policy. Available at Amazon.com, The Texas Model details why the state is increasingly the destination for Americans seeking a better life – low taxes, modest government and a lawsuit climate that allows entrepreneurship to flourish while encouraging job creation. Brendan Steinhauser, formerly federal and state campaigns director at FreedomWorks, joined TPPF as its director of communications for the Foundation’s Right on Crime initiative, the leading source for ideas on criminal justice. texaspolicy.com 

 

UTAH

In January, Sutherland Institute launched UtahCitizenNetwork.org, a major grassroots initiative over a year in the making. The new website uses gamification techniques to incentivize engagement and user loyalty. Users start out as city recorder, then earn points by reading articles, watching videos and taking quizzes in an effort to become governor of Freedomville. The site covers four areas: Be Principled, Be Civil, Be Informed and Be Influential. Each category contains several articles intended to educate Utahns. After building a foundation based on principles and civility, users learn about key issues facing the state and the nation and how to take action to effect positive change on those issues. The intent of the site is to be of real educational value to Utahns and to help Sutherland build a solid grassroots network committed to engaging lawmakers on a variety of issues.  sutherlandinstitute.org

 

VIRGINIA

Thomas Jefferson Institute hosted its annual December Transportation Roundtable with close to 50 key stakeholders in attendance, including commissioner of highways Greg Whirley, director of the Office of Public Private Partnerships Tony Kinn and Jasen Eige, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s policy director. The roundtable explored alternatives for funding transportation improvements, including public-private partnerships. Representatives from more than a dozen local school boards attended the Institute’s Annual Education Policy Luncheon, featuring John Murray, CEO of AdvancePath Academics, a prominent Virginia company focusing on using blended learning for instruction. The Jefferson Institute was pleased to co-host the SPN Leadership Roundtable on Energy prior to the SPN Annual Meeting, with 35 key policy experts from around the country. Finally, the tax restructuring idea first initiated by TJI continues to pick up support and could become major legislation in the 2014 General Assembly session.  thomasjeffersoninst.org

 

WASHINGTON

Two bright spots on Election Day in Washington came from initiatives creating charter schools and re-enacting limits on tax increases. The Freedom Foundation has long supported both policies. The Foundation  will now work to see charters implemented successfully and to expand education options. In Washington’s State Senate, a bipartisan, center-right coalition took power in January, offering new opportunities for discussions of policy reforms in that legislative body. At the end of 2012, Freedom Foundation produced and released a video story of teachers who opted out of their traditional union, an affiliate of the National Education Association, in favor of a local-only union. At the same time, the Foundation released a paper highlighting these kinds of labor options for teachers.  myfreedomfoundation.org

Washington Policy Center celebrated a successful election as all four of its policy recommendations were enacted by voters: Initiative 1240, making Washington the nation’s 42nd state to allow charter schools (51 percent approved); Initiative 1185, requiring a two-thirds supermajority of legislators to raise state taxes (64 percent); Senate Joint Resolution 8221, lowering the constitutional allowance for state debt (63 percent); and Proposition 1, defeating a sales tax increase to extend light rail from Portland, Ore., to Vancouver, Wash. (56 percent voted against the measure). WPC drafted a three-page memo for the state’s new governor featuring outside-the-box policy recommendations. In December, WPC’s Chris Cargill wrote an op-ed and testified before the Spokane City Council on allowing voters to adopt a council supermajority requirement to raise city taxes. The measure passed 6-1 and will go before voters in 2013.  washingtonpolicy.org

 

WYOMING

Wheee! Here we go, tax-spending our way to private sector wipe out. “Free” cash from Washington, apparently with very little decline after the stimulus, when added to mineral revenues, has egged Wyoming’s spending on to employ more government servants per thousand private sector commoners than any other state, that is, about 309 per 1,000. While private hiring grew 1 percent in the 5 years ending in 2011, local community government jobs grew 23 percent. The Wyoming Liberty Group attempts a Tax Time Out by opposing a proposed 10 cents per-gallon fuel-tax increase. The Wyoming legislature has backup revenue ideas on hand for increases in the sales tax, fees, cigarette tax and whatever other tax can be devised. Wish WLG luck as it wishes the same for you.  wyliberty.org

ASSOCIATES

In December, the 1851 Center earned its third federal court victory of 2012, when the Ohio Precious Metals Dealers Act was struck down in its entirety. The Act suppressed advertising (constitutionally-protected speech) by those purchasing gold and silver items, imposed oppressive and vague regulatory requirements, and invited sweeping warrantless searches of businesses. This victory comes on the heels of 1851’s wins against the University of Cincinnati’s “free speech zone” and “prior notice” restrictions on student speech, and against Ohio cities’ use of strong-arm tactics against opponents of local tax increases. 1851 has also moved the Ohio Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction over a challenge to the application of Ohio’s Political Action Committee regulations to an Internet blogger critical of local politicians, and taken action to stop eminent domain abuse by a private corporation seeking to take homeowners’ property for private gain.  ohioconstitution.org

Acton Institute, through its Christian’s Library Press imprint, has released primers on faith, work and economics. There are four primers that discuss faith and economics from the view of four different denominations, Flourishing Churches and Communities: A Pentecostal Primer, Flourishing Faith: A Baptist Primer, How God Makes the World A Better Place: A Wesleyan Primer, and Economic Shalom: A Reformed Primer. These books challenge readers to incorporate their faith into work and vocation, and to view employment as something more than a paycheck. The primers offer wisdom and insight to all people of faith. They are available as softcovers or eBooks at CLPress.com and at the Acton Book Shop, Store.Acton.orgacton.org

The Allegheny Institute points out the folly of taxpayers subsidizing professional sports stadiums. Eleven years after the public funded a stadium for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team is once again reaching into the taxpayers’ pockets for a $39 million expansion. The team’s more than generous lease allows them to seek two-thirds of the cost from the public. If the expansion cannot pay for itself through licenses and tickets fees, it is not a project worth pursuing – especially at taxpayer expense. The Institute continues to call for pension reform at the local level. However no legislative progress has been made. Changes AI support include longer service before retirement, eliminating the ability to count overtime, stretching out the final average-salary determination, and a longer vesting period. These changes would only affect new hires. Local governments in Pennsylvania need action on this issue soon.  alleghenyinstitute.org

American Council of Trustees and Alumni continues to advocate for academic freedom, excellence and accountability at America’s colleges and universities. To start the year, ACTA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, for placing the University of Virginia on warning. ACTA argues that the gatekeeper of federal financial aid overstepped its authority and intruded on governance powers that are solely the responsibility of the board. On the heels of two 2012 state report cards – California and Virginia – ACTA anticipates a focused look at Florida higher education in 2013. ACTA also released the fourth edition of What Will They Learn?, a study on core curriculum requirements at more than 1,000 colleges nationwide. In addition, ACTA released an updated version of the Losing America’s Memory survey, which shed light on the historical illiteracy among college graduates. goacta.org 

The American Enterprise Institute is now accepting applications for the 2013 AEI Summer Institute, a month-long, fully-funded educational program for college undergraduates. The Summer Institute offers courses in public policy and guest lectures from notable policymakers, journalists and thinkers in Washington, D.C., and runs June 16 to July 13. All students receive a $1,000 stipend, dormitory accommodations (including most meals), and up to $500 in travel expenses. The application deadline is March 4, 2013. To apply, visit AEI.org/summerinstituteaei.org

The American Legislative Exchange Council recently published a new report that challenges the so-called conventional wisdom of tax and fiscal policy. In the aptly named report, Tax Myths Debunked, economists Randall Pozdena, Ph.D., and Eric Fruits, Ph.D., refute some of the left’s popularly repeated myths about taxes and spending. Using both theoretical and empirical evidence, Tax Myths Debunked demonstrates that the key to economic prosperity at the state level is in free-market, pro-growth tax and fiscal policy. Visit alec.org to read the report and find out what else states can do to become more economically competitive. alec.org

America’s Future Foundation’s Chicago chapter hosted an innovative and fun new trivia game show, based on the free-market ideas of Milton Friedman called, Free to Choose: The Game Show. Players earn points called Miltons, but also deal with point redistribution, point ceilings/floors, and inflation. Richard Lorenc and Todd Stump developed the game show for Friedman’s centennial. AFF hosted a Leadership Dinner in Washington, D.C., featuring Reason magazine’s managing editor Katherine Mangu-Ward, along with roundtables on technology policy and election analysis. Other events around the country included the launch of AFF Grand Rapids and programs in Atlanta, Raleigh and Minneapolis. Altogether in 2012, AFF hosted 85 events in 12 cities for 5,600 attendees. Doublethink published 130 feature articles and AFF’s Free the Future blog featured content from the movement’s leading experts on career development. Thanks for your support!  americasfuture.org

Save the date for Atlas Network’s International Education Forum, April 4-5, in Indianapolis with co-host Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and keynote speaker James Tooley, author of The Beautiful Tree. Atlas congratulates all recent graduates of Think Tank Leadership Training including project grant winners Daniel Anthony of Illinois Policy Institute and Christie Herrera of Foundation for Government Accountability. To learn more about Atlas training opportunities visit AtlasNetwork.org/ala. The 2013 class of Lights, Camera, Liberty! grantees recently joined Hollywood insiders, including John Sullivan, co-writer and co-director for the film 2016: Obama’s America, in Los Angeles for three days of workshops on video communications. In case you missed it, Tom G. Palmer, Ph.D., editor of After the Welfare State, joined John Stossel for an episode of Stossel, which was titled after the book. You can watch the episode in its entirety on
Hulu.com. atlasnetwork.org

The stunning passage of a right-to-work law in heavily unionized Michigan should inspire other states (and state think tanks) to fight for similar reforms. Capital Research Center’s January Labor Watch study chronicles in detail how Michigan’s reformers, including the Mackinac Center, achieved the unthinkable. CRC’s study also documents media bias in favor of union bosses. As Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Committee says, “People always say [passing right-to-work] is a really tough battle, you can’t win. Then one morning we woke up and guess what? We found out it wasn’t nearly as [tough] as we thought.” Because right-to-work laws lead to fewer union members as trapped workers leave the rolls, the law will result in far less money flowing into the Left’s political coffers, which should change the state’s balance of political power and produce domino effects elsewhere.  capitalresearch.org

In January, the Cato Institute held its 7th Annual State Health Policy Summit. This event brought together more than 50 representatives from SPN think tanks to examine the current state of healthcare policy in the states. Cato scholars and attendees participated in in-depth discussions on minimizing government intervention in state healthcare markets, with a special focus on the Affordable Care Act’s state healthcare exchanges and Medicaid expansion. Additionally, panelists offered ideas on how to best communicate to the public the benefits of free-market approaches to healthcare. The Institute was pleased to welcome U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and Joseph Rago of The Wall Street Journal as featured speakers. For information about Cato Institute health policy research or to learn more about the upcoming State Health Policy Summit in 2014, please write Heather Curry at HCurry@cato.orgcato.org

The Claremont Institute will present William J. Bennett, Ph.D., with the 2013 Statesmanship Award on March 16 at a dinner at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Past recipients of the Statesmanship Award include Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Clarence Thomas. For ticket information contact Elizabeth Cervantes at 909-621-6825, x106, or ECervantes@claremont.org. In addition, the Institute just launched a new video series, The American Mind, with host Charles Kesler, editor of the acclaimed Claremont Review of Books. The series features conversations with top conservative thinkers. It can be viewed online at TheAmericanMind-Claremont.orgclaremont.org

Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Christopher Horner exposed a long-running effort by Obama administration officials to hide official email correspondence using bogus and off-line email accounts. Horner broke the news via his recent book, The Liberal War on Transparency (http://amzn.to/Xne0oH), which led to an Inspector General investigation and subsequent resignation of the EPA Administrator. CEI senior fellow James V. DeLong makes a sober assessment of special interests run amuck in a new book, Ending ‘Big SIS’ (The Special Interest State) and Renewing the American Republic. Refer to Specialintereststate.org. CEI is pleased to welcome Brian McNicoll as senior director of communications. He has vast communications experience as a newspaper reporter and editor. He ran a newsroom, an editorial page and a sports department. He also worked in media relations for The Heritage Foundation. Find CEI on Facebook (Facebook.com/competitiveenterpriseinstitute), Twitter (Twitter.com/ceidotorg), and blogs, OpenMarket.org and GlobalWarming.org. cei.org

EAGnews.org continues to analyze the spending practices of school districts across the country, proving that government schools have a spending problem, not a funding problem. Wisconsin will be the focus of many of EAG's efforts in 2013. EAG will show how schools are saving big money in their “first year of freedom,” created by Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. EAG will expose a controversial “cultural sensitivity” teacher training program that’s being pushed by the state’s Department of Public Instruction. And readers will be introduced to some students and families who have benefitted from the Milwaukee and Racine school choice (voucher) programs. An unflinching look will be taken at the teacher/student “sextracurricular” activities that are being reported on a near-daily basis. The commentary section on the EAGnews.org website will also be expanded, and we invite fellow SPN members to submit commentaries for publication. eagnews.org

Foundation for Economic Education is on track to reach more students in 2013 than ever before, with expanded seminar attendance and web views exceeding 200,000 individuals a month. FEE has spent the past few months focusing its mission and its activities, with an emphasis on inspiring, educating and connecting newcomers to the ideas and the organizations of liberty, benefiting all of us. Check out the Foundation’s new website, FEE.org, to see what it is all about. Students still have time to apply for the new, expanded Summer Seminars at locations all over the country. And FEE is expanding its Freedom Academy program to locations in Naples, Fla., Fort Lauderdale (March 9), Orange County, Calif. (TBD) and South Carolina (TBD). Check out FEE’s events page and its Annual Reportfee.org

Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability testified before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New NY Education Reform Commission, supporting its recommended reform agenda for mayoral control, vouchers, student-based funding, and more with research reports and published commentaries. FERA issued a policy paper by director of research B. Jason Brooks, Open Enrollment: Using Public School-Choice Options to Improve Student Performance, identifying how the state could create an unprecedented new expansion of high-quality school options through a statewide open enrollment policy. In November, FERA issued a report analyzing state legislators’ votes on charter-school bills to gauge legislators’ support or opposition. In December, FERA collaborated with the state’s charter-school advocacy association to issue What’s Next? Establishing High School Preparatory Programs at Charter Middle Schools, prescribing key elements for the successful design of high school preparatory programs in charter middle schools.  nyfera.org

 

The Foundation for Excellence in Education launched Phase 1 of its new website designed to empower and aid those working to transform education through student-centered reforms in the New Year. A State of Reform interactive, nationwide map displays bold, state-level education policies the Foundation has had a role in passing or implementing. Website visitors can also explore snapshots of a given state’s student achievement levels, compare student learning with other states, and create graphs, charting and contrasting NAEP records from their choices of states and student groups. Phase 2 will include a searchable database and a policy library. These resources will provide every education reformer with access to the latest reports, research and white papers, and much more. Visit Excelined.org and explore the site!  

The Fraser Institute’s latest Generosity Index, a survey of charitable giving in the United States and Canada, reveals that 26.7 percent of U.S. tax filers donated 1.38 percent of their aggregate income to registered charities. That’s considerably higher than the percentage of givers – and giving – in Canada, where 23.3 percent of tax filers gave just 0.66 percent of aggregate income to charities. Utah was again the most generous jurisdiction in North America, with 34 percent of tax filers donating 3.17 percent of aggregate income. Maryland was second overall, followed by Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey, Minnesota, New York and Colorado. To learn where your state ranks, read the report at http://tinyurl.com/ajjmhdv. To stay abreast of all of the Fraser Institute’s research, sign up for Fraser Insight at insight@fraserinstitute.orgfraserinstitute.org

 

Thanks to a quirk in Obamacare, each state can refuse to establish a health care exchange – the bureaucratic entity forcing Americans to purchase insurance. Over the past few weeks, FreedomWorks led the charge to capitalize on this opportunity. Engaging with activists at the state-level, FreedomWorks targeted governors who had not yet decided on whether to create an exchange. Through the FreedomWorks Action Center, activists sent thousands of messages to state officials, urging them to continue the fight against Obamacare. The FreedomWorks impact is undeniable. A recent USA Today editorial noted, “Egged on by the conservative group FreedomWorks, which argues it’s still possible to kill Obamacare by blocking it in the states, several Republican governors have dug in their heels.” As of now, 26 states are holding strong against the healthcare takeover – a true testament to the power of grassroots activism.  freedomworks.org

The Free State Foundation’s new book, Communications Law and Policy in the Digital Age: The Next Five Years, is just out from Carolina Academic Press. The book is chock-full of good reform-minded ideas for implementing a free-market communications policy suitable for the digital age. Some of the nation’s preeminent scholars explain why and how communications law and policy must be changed in response to the profound marketplace transitions that have taken place since the passage of the Telecom Act of 1996. There is a chapter by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, one of Congress’s most informed communications policy experts, and essays by Christopher Yoo, Jim Speta, Bruce Owen, Michelle Connolly, Daniel Lyons, Ellen Goodman, Seth Cooper and FSF president Randolph May. You may order the book from Carolina Academic Press (a link is available on FSF’s website), Amazon and Barnes & Noble. freestatefoundation.org

The comprehensive guide on vouchers, tax credits, and other private school choice programs nationwide is now available from The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice at EdChoice.org/ABCs. The ABCs of School Choice provides the most recent information on the 39 private school-choice programs operating in 21 states and Washington, D.C. Highlights include student-funding averages, eligibility requirements, participation levels, and stories of the very children and parents using these choice programs and the schools that serve them. Each program profile also offers “Friedman Feedback” on how supporters can move the program closer to Milton and Rose D. Friedman’s vision of school choice for all children. To request copies of The ABCs of School Choice, visit EdChoice.org/ABCsedchoice.org

 

The Fund for American Studies has assumed control of the California-based Foundation for Teaching Economics. FTE is a national leader in conducting economic programs for high school students and working with teachers to develop lesson plans and exercises for teaching economics. By joining forces with FTE, TFAS will become the leading economic education organization for young people from high school through college. Additionally in 2012, TFAS announced a new academic partnership with George Mason University and upgraded its communication plan, starting with a new U.S. programs recruitment website, which can be found at DCinternships.org. Most importantly, TFAS reached more than 1,000 students from around the world with its message of freedom and individual responsibility. TFAS ended the year with a commencement ceremony for its fall Capital Semester students, featuring a keynote address by Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent for CBS News. tfas.org

The Heartland Institute has released a new Policy Brief, Uranium Mining in Virginia: Environmental and Safety Considerations. Written by one of the nation’s leading authorities on groundwater hydrology and nuclear energy, the brief says uranium mining in Virginia can take place safely with minimal environmental impact. A uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, called Coles Hill, is one of the world’s most significant undeveloped deposits of uranium ore. The mine is projected to produce up to 120 million pounds over its economic life, enough to serve the needs of Virginia’s nuclear power plants for 75 years. “Virginians should not be concerned about any adverse effects from allowing uranium mining in their state,” concludes scientist Jay Lehr, Ph.D, and editor of the Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia and the six-volume Water Encyclopedia. Read a copy of this policy brief by visiting heartland.org

In January, The Heritage Foundation welcomed its new president-elect former
U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, who officially takes the reins as president in April. Heritage’s 2013 Index of Economic Freedom (Heritage.org/index) features a special series of essays on rule of law and notes a decline in the U.S. score for the fifth straight year due to excessive government spending, high taxes, regulatory overload and an erosion of rule of law. Heritage published a number of noteworthy reports, including: Medicaid Expansion and State Health Exchanges: A Risky Proposition for the States, which explains in detail the costs and loss of flexibility and control states face if they follow this path and Voluntary Union Representation: States Should Let Workers Choose Their Representatives, which outlines an innovative collective bargaining reform. And, The Insider  (winter issue) cover article, by George Mason University law professor Michael Greve, discusses constitutional federalism. heritage.org

 

Few students have the opportunity to learn the moral and economic principles of free markets and free societies. Yet these principles are essential for understanding, appreciating and preparing them for the world they will soon enter. Organized by The Independent Institute, The Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars help high school and college students understand real-world issues they will encounter throughout life. Each 2013 seminar in California and Colorado is a five-day series of lectures, readings, films, multimedia presentations and discussions that enrich each student in the ethics, history, law and economics of liberty and how such ideas can help them achieve better lives for themselves, their communities, and the world at large. Informative, inspiring and fun, The Challenge of Liberty is an ideal way to make summer deeply rewarding both intellectually and personally. Sign up today to reserve your spot! Scholarships are available. For more information visit Independent.org/students/seminars. independent.org

Kicking off the new year, Innovative Policy Institute partnered with SPN to bring state policy groups to Washington, D.C., to meet with private sector leaders and discuss issues facing the states, including telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. IPI’s Merrill Matthews appeared nationwide on talk radio calling out GOP leadership for caving on tax hikes instead of cutting government spending to resolve the fiscal cliff. IPI also joined with groups, including CEI and the Sunlight Foundation, urging policymakers to both reject the $1.6 trillion tax increase and maintain transparency during negotiations. IPI blasted the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, a proposal enabling states to pocket sales tax from businesses without physical connections to a jurisdiction. Should this law pass, warned IPI’s Bartlett Cleland, a person merely contacting a business’s website would be enough to require that business to pay taxes in the state where the caller resides.  ipi.org

The Institute for Humane Studies is excited to announce that the SPN / IHS Koch Summer Fellow Program is expanding! Thanks to the support of a generous donor, 52 liberty-loving interns will join state think tanks this summer. The program includes a policy seminar in Washington, D.C., career development workshops and mentoring. Interns will receive a stipend, housing assistance and travel scholarships from SPN and IHS. Students should apply at TheIHS.org/ksfp. Think tanks interested in hosting an intern should contact Heather Lakemacher at ksfp@theihs.org. Find the experts you’re looking for in 2013! Find Scholars, a service offered by IHS, puts expertise within reach. Whether you need a speaker, writer or subject-matter expert, we can find the right scholar for your project or organization. For more information or to submit a request, please contact us at Find@theihs.org. theihs.org

 

The Jesse Helms Center free enterprise fellow  Peter Frank, Ph.D., recently debuted his blog, FrankEconomics.com, which provides a new platform for his work studying the impact of government policies on the free enterprise system. Additionally, in February the Helms Center will present its popular Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge at the 2013 North Carolina Future Business Leaders of America Conference in Greensboro. More than 100 students are expected to participate in the hands-on free enterprise training sessions. Late last year, the Center also presented this program at the national Future Business Leaders of America conference in Charlotte, N.C.  jessehelmscenter.org

 

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy awarded its 2012 Spirit of Inquiry Award to professor Jonathan Anomaly at an awards dinner on Dec. 6. The award honors college instructors for outstanding teaching. Professor Anomaly was recognized for two courses taught as part of a joint UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University program in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. The second-place recipient was Richard T. Bowser, Campbell Law School, for his course Constitutional Law I. The third place winner was Anthony Solari, NC State, for his course American Political Thought. The goal of the award is to find and recognize the best courses at NC colleges – courses that expand students’ ability to think and express their ideas within the context of an academic discipline. The project attracted 109 nominations from six North Carolina universities and two community colleges.  popecenter.org

 

On Dec. 10, 2012, Judicial Watch scored a major court victory when a federal court denied a motion by the State of Indiana to dismiss a Judicial Watch/True the Vote lawsuit against Indiana election officials alleging violations of the National Voter Registration Act. JW and True the Vote allege that the State of Indiana failed to maintain clean voter registration lists as required by the National Voter Registration Act. On Dec. 14, 2012, JW filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S Supreme Court challenging the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declaring that Arizona’s Proposition 200, requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, violated the NVRA. On Dec. 31, 2012, JW released its annual list of Washington’s Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians (and six “dishonorable mentions”).  judicialwatch.org

Last year was record-breaking for the Leadership Institute. LI’s staff and 349 volunteer faculty trained 13,766 conservatives – the most ever in any year of the Institute’s 33-year history – bringing the total trained to 116,800 since its 1979 founding. LI hosted 359 trainings in more than 30 states and 13 countries. Twelve stories on LI’s CampusReform.org made national news, making the site America’s #1 source for campus news online with more than two million unique hits. LI’s 25 field representatives helped conservative students start 269 new independent student groups, part of LI’s unique network of 1,511 student groups on 616 college campuses, the largest such network in the nation. LI’s Career Services Center hosted 985 attendees at job fairs, offered 120 hours of personal career mentoring, and placed 104 conservatives in jobs.  leadershipinstitute.org

Even if you are not in New York City, you can be a part of Manhattan Institute’s events. Select MI forums are filmed and posted on the Institute’s website. Join us on Twitter or Facebook and learn when they are Live Streamed so you can participate. Recent events available on the website: 2012 Wriston Lecture by playwright David Mamet; Social Entrepreneurship Award to Brian Lamb, C-SPAN. Also available online is the Institute’s Power and Growth Initiative Forum, North America’s Energy Future: A New Middle East? featuring Mark Mills of Manhattan Institute, John Prato Consul General of Canada in New York; Luis de la Calle, Mexico, moderated by Mary Anastasia O’Grady, The Wall Street Journal. On Dec. 18, the Manhattan Institute, with the Lindsey Group and the American Friends of Policy Exchange, hosted George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, United Kingdom, in conversation with Lawrence Lindsey. manhattan-institute.org

As 2012 drew to a close Mercatus Center scholars remained busy delivering early holiday gifts of economic knowledge. Scholar Matthew Mitchell discussed his work on Institutions that Affect State Spending at the tax and spending roundtable during the SPN 20th Annual Meeting. Mitchell and co-author Andrea Castillo also released the research study What Went Wrong with the Bush Tax Cuts. In December, Mercatus co-hosted a packed briefing with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity featuring scholars Eileen Norcross and Adam Thierer, which focused on pensions and cronyism. Lastly, Mercatus is seeking applicants for the MA Fellowship program. Ideal candidates should be interested in pursuing an advanced degree in economics in preparation for a career in public policy. The application deadline is March 1, 2013. Email MAFellows@mercatus.org for more information. To contact scholars email Mike Leland, MLeland@
gmu.edu. mercatus.org

The Moving Picture Institute is delighted to announce that Pups of Liberty, an animated film about the Boston Tea Party from MPI fellows Bert Klein and Jennifer Cardon Klein, was released in December through the Free to Choose Network. The film is now available to thousands of teachers nationwide – and will reach millions of kids in the coming years. An instant hit, Pups received more than 2,000 orders within two weeks. MPI is also pleased to announce FA$T CA$H: Easy Credit and the Economic Crash, a music video from MPI fellow Dorian Electra that illustrates the dangers of monetary easing. FAST CA$H, which got more than 8,200 views in its first few days online, presents free-market ideas to young people in a hip, relatable way. Contact Rob@thempi.org to learn about MPI films, arrange screenings and recommend rising filmmakers for fellowships and internships.  movingpictureinstitute.org

The National Center for Policy Analysis was honored with a 2012 Templeton Freedom Award for its report on enterprise programs. The report shows that poorly designed government regulations block private sector options that could provide essential services to the poor, especially in the areas of transportation, child care, security, housing and healthcare. The NCPA released a study explaining why states are better served by freeing those earning above 100 percent of the federal poverty level to seek subsidized coverage in the health insurance exchange, rather than expanding Medicaid. NCPA hosted 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft in November. Kroft kicked off the 2012 Sumners Scholars Public Policy Weekend. The Sumners Weekend is a chance for college students to become informed about today’s most important and complex public policy issues from some of the nation’s leading experts. On Feb. 27, the NCPA will host Karl Rove. ncpa.org

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has created a special task force to defend Michigan’s newly-enacted Right to Work law. As soon as Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation making Michigan the nation’s 24th Right to Work state, union officials announced plans to file several lawsuits challenging the law. The Foundation is currently defending Indiana’s Right to Work law from similar union legal challenges. Foundation attorneys recently filed a brief defending Indiana’s Right to Work law for two Indiana workers, responding to a United Steel Workers lawsuit in state court. Foundation attorneys are also defending Wisconsin’s public sector union reforms from union challenges in state and federal court. The Foundation will offer free legal aid to any Michigan worker who wishes to refrain from paying dues to an unwanted union.  nrtw.org

On Jan. 15, Pacific Legal Foundation principal attorney Paul Beard II argued Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District before the U.S. Supreme Court. A Florida agency required a conservation easement on private property and costly repairs of government property several miles away before a development permit would be issued to the Koontz family. PLF attorneys represent Peter and Frankie Smith, a retired couple in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in challenging the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ claim that their dry arroyo is a “water of the United States.” After the Smiths removed trash and dead bushes from the land, the Corps issued a warning that they had violated the Clean Water Act. Anthony Francois is a new attorney in PLF’s environmental practice group. Previously he worked for KP Public Affairs and the California Farm Bureau Federation.  pacificlegal.org

In honor of Reason’s 45th anniversary, Reason published its first e-book, F.A. Hayek, Ronald Reagan, Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Szasz, and Timothy Leary: 45 Years of Reason Magazine Interviews Vol.1. Download it at Reason.com/interviews. The Wall Street Journal’s Anne Jolis was awarded Reason’s $10,000 Bastiat Prize for Journalism, which is given annually to the writer who best demonstrates the importance of individual liberty and free markets with originality, wit and eloquence. The Smith Family Foundation sponsored the Bastiat Prize gala dinner and reception in New York City. Looking for a great internship this summer? Reason’s Burton Grey Memorial Internship, Bud and Rose Mattern Internship, and Collins Family Foundation internships are excellent opportunities for young people to learn more about individual liberty, free markets and the rule of law. Find out more at reason.com and reason.org

Save the date for The Steamboat Institute's 5th Annual Freedom Conference, Aug. 23-24, in Colorado. steamboatinstitute.org

This past November, Students For Liberty hosted its first Student Outreach Forum at the 2012 SPN Annual Meeting. The Forum brought together 40 representatives from SPN organizations and SFL to discuss how state-based think tanks can best work with college students and vice versa. Topics ranged from building a valuable internship program to providing speakers for student groups and co-hosting events on campus. A common theme was that we all want to work with students more, but most individuals lack the necessary knowledge. To help foster a dialogue on the topic, SFL will send out regular emails to the Forum attendees with information about upcoming opportunities for collaboration between SPN organizations and local students. If you would like to be included on this list please email SFL vice president Clark Ruper at CRuper@studentsforliberty.orgstudentsforliberty.org

It’s been basically fiscal cliff 24-7, but the Tax Foundation has been keeping up with its new Monday Map each week on its blog and has published  new reports on commercial property taxes and cell phone taxes. The Foundation is also getting ready to release its 2013 Facts & Figures booklet; if you send an email to Henchman@taxfoundation.org mentioning that you read this blurb in SPN News, TF will send you a free copy! taxfoundation.org

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz spoke at Young America’s Foundation’s November conference at the Reagan Ranch, which brought together more than 200 participants from around the country. Other speakers included U.S. Senatoar Ron Johnson and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. High profile leaders championed conservative values to students nationwide. Steve Forbes spoke to a packed hall of more than 400 students at Syracuse University about how free enterprise will save America. Herman Cain spoke to crowds of eager students at Kansas State University and at the University of Texas-Permian Basin. The Foundation is also proud to announce that it now has more than 100 Young Americans for Freedom chapters nationwide. The Foundation continues to work with other conservative campus groups across the country, and these chapters are in addition to YAF's existing programs and contacts on more than 2,000 campuses.  yaf.org  

 

 

 

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Member Events

Sep 25

At the Crossroads Energy & Climate Policy Summit

TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION

Sep 25

Spokane Legacy Workshop

FREEDOM FOUNDATION (FORMERLY EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION)

Sep 25

Michelle Malkin

WYOMING LIBERTY GROUP

Sep 25

Viewing of the Award Winning Film Rockin the Wall

JOHN LOCKE FOUNDATION

About SPN

State Policy Network is made up of free market think tanks - at least one in every state - fighting to limit government and advance market-friendly public policy at the state and local levels. SPN and our members make the Founders' vision for the American Republic a reality as the nation's only 50-state distribution network for market-oriented public policy ideas. Our programs advance and defend American liberty and free enterprise by assisting new start-up organizations, growing existing state think tanks, recruiting talent to the think tank industry, developing strategic partnerships, and promoting the free-market state movement. Read More

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