In a case that pits the federal government against states that are protecting citizens’ fundamental right to use a secret ballot, a federal district court judge has ruled that the Save Our Secret Ballot state constitutional amendment is constitutional. Drafted by the Goldwater Institute in 2009, SOS Ballot guarantees the right to use a secret ballot in union-organizing elections. SOS Ballot is now law in seven states. The National Labor Relations Board sued Arizona over the law after federal efforts were derailed to pass “card check,” which would have banned the use of secret ballots in union-organizing elections. Unions predicted that if card check passed, their memberships could triple. The Goldwater Institute is working with the Arizona attorney general to defend the law. It is unknown if the NLRB will appeal. goldwaterinstitute.org
The Advance Arkansas Institute published its first book, Action Plan for Arkansas 2013. Approximately 50 state legislative candidates requested copies; over half of the requestors were incumbents or unopposed candidates. The Institute also published “Arkansas’s Freedom Scorecard,” which rates each sitting legislator’s voting record on his or her adherence to freedom and good government. AAI designated approximately the top 20 percent scorers in each chamber as Friends of Freedom, a designation publicized by several incumbent candidates in their reelection races. Meanwhile, ace journalist Nick Horton of the Institute’s sister organization, TheArkansasProject.com, uncovered millions of wasted taxpayer dollars going to prop up Arkansas businesses, unqualified hires at the state Department of Career Services and state legislators being illegally overcompensated. advancearkansas.org
Gov. Mike Beebe and the state Department of Human Services have proposed expanding Arkansas’ Medicaid program by about 250,000 recipients, but Arkansas Policy Foundation estimates found the program’s unfunded liabilities already exceed $5 billion. The liabilities include a $3.5 billion unfunded liability for the ARKids First SCHIP program, and at least $1.8 billion in liabilities for other Medicaid enrollees. ARKids First was established in 1997 under former Gov. Mike Huckabee with a waiver from the Clinton administration. DHS termed the programs “pay-as-you-go” and refused to calculate the unfunded liabilities, leading the Policy Foundation to take action. The Policy Foundation’s research was widely cited by Arkansas media including the Northwest Arkansas Times, Benton County Daily Record and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. State legislators vow to examine unfunded Medicaid liabilities in early 2013. arkansaspolicyfoundation.org
Pacific Research Institute recently published two studies surrounding health care innovation. The first, “Dental Service Organizations Benefit Low-Income Communities,” reveals the importance of DSOs and the previously underserved population receiving quality and affordable dental services. The second study, “Benefits from Orphan Drug Research Outweigh Costs,” unveils the importance of research and development of orphan pharmaceutical drugs to treat rare diseases in the United States and abroad. Both studies were authored by Wayne Winegarden, Ph.D., senior fellow in business and economics at PRI. In November, the Institute helds its annual gala event at San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton with Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and author George Will. The theme of this year’s gala: Celebrate Liberty. Pacific Research Institute continues to promote the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility through its organizations and numerous websites CalWatchdog.org, BenjaminRushSociety.org and EnvironmentalTrends.org. pacificresearch.org
Ever since President Barack Obama announced in 2010 the creation of a federally-backed loan to Abound Solar in Colorado, Independence Institute investigative reporter Todd Shepherd has been digging. Shepherd was first to report on wealthy Democrat benefactor Pat Stryker’s heavy involvement in Abound, showing the potential for a pay-to-play scheme. Shepherd collaborated with The Daily Caller to blow the lid off Abound, showing that the company had a product that often caught fire and never really was commercially viable. As a result of this reporting, a congressional oversight committee has re-opened their investigation into Abound, and the Weld County district attorney has also announced an ongoing criminal investigation. The Denver Post ignored the story until the Institute erected a billboard across from the newspaper's offices. i2i.org
Sometimes you have to go to court. In a favor to his labor union allies, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration is forcing certain day-care providers and personal-care attendants, who work with the disabled, into unions against their wills. Working with plaintiffs, Yankee Institute is helping these self-employed entrepreneurs have the freedom to decide whether or not they want to join a union – and have union dues withheld from their paychecks – by fighting the forced unionization scheme in court. yankeeinstitute.org
The impact of a projected seven-foot sea level rise will have an incalculable effect on Delaware’s vacation, real estate and agricultural industries. The recent extreme weather event was not catastrophic, but it did cause beach erosion and moderate infrastructure damage. When Delaware’s 147th General Assembly convenes in January, intervention in the recovery of the affected areas with significant economic and social consequences will be addressed. The Caesar Rodney Institute has engaged Willie Soon, Ph.D., a prominent astrophysicist to help frame CRI’s position on the issue. Soon has done research for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and is a prominent published scholar. David R. Legates, Ph.D., has joined CRI’s advisory council. Legates is Delaware’s former climatologist and a tenured professor of climatology at the University of Delaware. Legates will collaborate with Soon in developing public policy issues influenced by climate. caesarrodney.org
The James Madison Institute welcomed Time magazine senior national correspondent Michael Grunwald and FreedomWorks president/CEO and New York Times bestselling author Matt Kibbe to debate the role of government in economic growth and job creation at an event held at Nova Southeastern University. JMI senior fellow and Florida Atlantic University political science professor Marshall DeRosa, Ph.D., moderated the discussion as more than 600 people watched Grunwald and Kibbe go head-to-head on their competing views regarding the effects of the stimulus plan, government bailouts and reasons behind a variety of industries’ booms and busts. Audience participation in this live-streamed event encouraged the speakers to examine whether it was fiscally wise for government to intervene in the economy, and in some circumstances, whether it was even considered constitutional or moral for government to intercede. Watch JMI’s debate at jamesmadison.org.
The networking opportunities that SPN facilitates proved enormously valuable during the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 3rd annual Legislative Policy Forum, which featured speakers from the SPN network, including Larry Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education, John Tillman of Illinois Policy Institute, Brooke Rollins of Texas Public Policy Foundation and Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. In the fall, Benita Dodd spoke to the America’s Future Foundation leadership about how to work with their state think tanks. Ahead of the Nov. 6 elections, the Foundation educated Georgians on the critical role of charter schools in choice and digital learning by furnishing fact sheets, articles, videos, speakers and debate participants. Foundation president Kelly McCutchen was a panelist in a statewide televised debate about the charter school amendment on Georgia’s ballot. It passed overwhelmingly! Watch editor Mike Klein’s related school-choice videos at the Foundation’s website, georgiapolicy.org.
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is thankful for the opportunity to have sent Aaron Jensvold, its vice president of development and public affairs, to the Think Tank Leadership Training Course hosted by the Atlas Network in New York. For a week, Jensvold had the opportunity to learn from experienced leaders from across the globe as they discussed specific tactics and strategies that have the highest probability of success. The Institute is excited to put to use the lessons learned to help strengthen its efforts in Hawaii. grassrootinstitute.org
After labor unions sought to confuse Idaho voters, the Idaho Freedom Foundation leaped to action, mailing thousands of letters with the truth about education-reform proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot. IFF also partnered with Utah’s Sutherland Institute to distribute a video detailing the value of digital learning. Meanwhile, IFF continued its work holding elected officials and candidates accountable. IFF challenged one school district for refusing to disclose how it spent more than $100,000 in taxpayer money. IdahoReporter.com continued to publish watchdog news stories, including one that found that a state program had paid out more than $62 million, but showed limited effectiveness. IFF conducted a survey of legislative candidates so voters know politicians’ stands on free market issues. Executive director Wayne Hoffman, appointed to a gubernatorial task force on Obamacare, voted to oppose the creation of a state health insurance exchange. idahofreedom.net
The Illinois Policy Institute is getting ahead of the next potential federal bailout: states’ nearly-bankrupt pension systems. The Institute launched its No Pension Bailout project in September to prevent the federal government from bailing out states that have mismanaged their funds. The Institute held a press conference in Washington, D.C., joined by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, state lawmakers and experts from the Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation, ALEC and State Budget Solutions. The project was featured in the news more than 43 times and was covered by The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and many news affiliates across the country. Additionally, commentaries were co-authored and published with the Maryland Public Policy Institute, Thomas Jefferson Institute in Virginia, Tennessee’s Beacon Center, Washington’s Freedom Foundation and Florida’s James Madison Institute. To learn how your state would be impacted visit NoPensionBailout.com. illinoispolicy.org
Public Interest Institute research analyst Deborah D. Thornton reviews the issues of the Iowa Fertilizer Company and state tax incentives in her recent policy study, “Orascom or Orascam? Corporate Income and Property Tax Reform Needed.” This is a follow-up to the tax increment financing work Thornton did earlier this year and her presentation in August to the Burlington, Iowa, Tea Party. Orascom Construction Industries, a major international construction and fertilizer company, is getting an initial $50 million tax credit and other incentives to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa. Thornton explores the question of why Iowa politicians haven’t long since reformed the corporate income and property tax system so that we have a better, level playing field for all businesses that want to start or expand in Iowa. To read this study, visit limitedgovernment.org
Kansas Policy Institute’s annual dinner welcomed Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal, and recognized one of The Sunflower State’s leading grassroots activists for his work. In offering the inaugural John J. Ingalls Spirit of Freedom Award, the Institute was able to applaud the efforts of a dedicated patriot, Capt. John D’Aloia, who is but one of the many people who carry on the fight for liberty every day in Kansas. KPI was also able to share the memory of an oft-forgotten figure in Kansas’ history, U.S. Sen. John Ingalls, who was a strong supporter of limited government and a founding father of Kansas. Naming this annual award in his honor allows KPI to recognize the history of liberty within the state by highlighting that the fight continues today. kansaspolicy.org
The Bluegrass Institute hosted a three-hour policy session at its third annual Freedom & Liberty Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Presentations by the entire policy staff included an overview of the Institute’s policy thrusts, a discussion on health care and school choice by BIPPS board of scholars professor Eric Schansberg, Ph.D., and a tutorial about submitting open records requests in the state. The session, which included business owners and activists, concluded with a discussion about the impending public pension crisis in Kentucky. This has been a hot button topic within the state due in large part to a series of exposés called Future Shock that BIPPS released this year. These reports revealed the true nature of how bad Kentucky’s unfunded public pension debt really is and how the General Assembly legislated itself into wealth via the taxpayer-funded retirement system.
The Pelcian Institute continues to play a leading role in the remarkable efforts to reshape K-12 education. The Institute recently released “Changing Lives: A Progress Report on the Louisiana Scholarship Program.” The study demonstrates that Louisiana’s historic voucher program is expanding opportunity to 5,000 students across the state, while saving taxpayers $18 million. The Institute also published “The Louisiana Teacher Union Paradox,” an in-depth analysis of how the unions wield tremendous influence despite a reputation for being relatively weak. In a similar vein, the Institute published a report highlighting the high cost of benefits for public school employees, and “Louisiana’s Digital Future,” an analysis of the state’s innovative approach to online learning. Visit ThePelicanPost.org and sign up for email updates. thepelicanpost.org
An op-ed by the Calvert Institute’s executive director, “Marylanders Get a Taste of Veto Democracy,” appeared in the Oct. 31 Baltimore Sun. It opposes referred laws dealing with gay rights, reduced tuitions for undocumented workers, casino expansion and partisan redistricting. calvertinstitute.org
The 105 state and local public employee pension boards covering 500,000 Massachusetts public employees and retirees are falling short by $31 billion in meeting their pension obligations. Pioneer issued the first report in its 10-part series on public pensions, calling for more realistic assumptions about investment returns to avoid long-term underfunding, insolvency or significant cuts in benefits. The federal Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac” excise tax on health insurance plans affects well over 50 percent of Massachusetts’ workers, according to a new Pioneer Institute report. The study presents the financial impact on teachers, police officers and small-business employees over a 10-year period following 2018 implementation. In November, Pioneer held its annual Lovett C. Peters Lecture in Public Policy, honoring Deepak Srivastava, M.D., for his groundbreaking work in regenerative medicine related to treating cardiac disorders. pioneerinstitute.org
All six ballot proposals in Michigan failed on Election Day, including two that pushed an expensive union agenda and one that would have cost billions of dollars in energy subsidies and higher rates. Mackinac Center experts provided thorough research and analysis of the measures, gave more than 100 speeches and did more than 150 media interviews. The Center also aired 4,000 radio commercials, driving record-setting web traffic to a specific page dedicated to the proposals. In the days before the election, labor policy director F. Vincent Vernuccio wrote op-eds that appeared in The Daily Caller, Huffington Post and Forbes about Proposal 2, an attempt to enshrine collective bargaining for government unions in the state constitution. Some were calling Prop 2 the most important item on the ballot anywhere in the country behind the presidential race. mackinac.org
Thanks to the successful merger of Center of the American Experiment and the Minnesota Free Market Institute, the new American Experiment has been immersed in more issues in 2012 than ever before. Pivotal have been studies about: the importance of Minnesota adopting a right-to-work law, by economist Richard Vedder; the necessity of Minnesotans passing a Voter ID constitutional amendment, by Peter Nelson, John LaPlante and Kent Kaiser; the wisdom of Minnesota expanding online learning opportunities, by Mitch Pearlstein; and the imperative of Minnesota avoiding counterproductive and misnamed “desegregation” plans as well as an enormously expensive “education adequacy” lawsuit, by Katherine Kersten. Kim Crockett is increasingly recognized as the go-to person for pension-reform straight talk, with Nelson similarly viewed regarding free market alternatives concerning health care and energy. On top of it all, Bill Bennett keynoted a sold-out Fall Briefing. americanexperiment.org
Last year, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a so-called “millionaire tax” as well as an additional three percent surtax on upper-income earners. Though that plan was quickly defeated by the Republican-controlled legislature, Dayton spent this fall reformulating his tax-the-rich plan and recently announced that he will reintroduce it at the start of the 2013 legislative session. The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota will be providing plenty of reasons why Dayton’s tax plan must be stopped. In January, the Foundation will unveil a two-part study which shows that nearly 500,000 Minnesotans are employed by small businesses. These businesses make up the majority of enterprises that would pay the burdensome new taxes. “Excessive taxes on small businesses will shrink Minnesota’s private sector and reduce income and jobs – exactly what our state doesn’t need,” said Annette Meeks, CEO of the Freedom Foundation. freedomfoundationofminnesota.com
Mississippi Center for Public Policy hosted a 30-hour whirlwind trip to Florida for key legislative leaders to see first-hand how school choice has taken that state’s educational system from one of the worst to one of the best in the country. On the trip were 19 legislators – Democrats and Republicans, African-American and white, House and Senate, from all parts of Mississippi. One of Mississippi’s longest-serving legislators said, “This has never occurred in my time in the legislature, where you have the leaders of both houses, legislators from both parties, black and white, who have sat down together to learn together and talk together about an issue like this.” The trip is a prime example of how MCPP is working to change the debate on key issues, by building relationships of trust and by offering new ways of approaching the problems that plague Mississippi. mspolicy.org
The voice of Show-Me Institute policy analyst David Stokes is becoming a consistent sound throughout more of Missouri. On Oct. 18, Stokes began a weekly segment on KSRM radio in Osage Beach, Missouri, discussing free market values and policy issues. He will check in with host Manny Haley on the “Morning Magazine” every Thursday at 10:15 am. Stokes already has a regular segment on Monday mornings in St. Louis on the Big 550 KTRS, during which he talks with host McGraw Milhaven about the folly of some government policies like TIFs. showmeinstitute.org
Montana Policy Institute recently relaunched its website with a more modern, sleek look to better inform and engage Montanans in policy issues. The Institute also held its 2012 Legislative Forum in the state’s capital, Helena, Nov. 16–17. The forum brought together state and national experts for a discussion on a variety of issues and provided practical alternatives to return prosperity to Montana. The Institute presented its newest studies that tackle budget reform, education spending and barriers to economic prosperity. Attendees of the forum were also present for the official release of the 2012 edition of Montana Pig Tales, which chronicles big government and big spending in the state. Stephen Moore, editorial board member and senior economics writer at The Wall Street Journal, was the Forum’s Friday dinner keynote speaker.
In September, the Platte Institute hosted a successful Energy Conference in Kearney, Nebraska. Sessions included “Myths of Green Energy, Real Fuels of the Future” and a look at the Keystone XL Pipeline. A policy study, “Capitol Gains,” analyzing the state campaign finance law and the trends of political spending in Nebraska, was released in October. November brings Platte’s annual Legislative Summit in Lincoln, featuring Jonathan Williams of ALEC, Matt Mitchell of the Mercatus Center and Edmund Haislmaier of The Heritage Foundation. Most notably, Platte Institute director John McCollister is retiring after years of dedicated service and is leaving the organization in the very capable hands of former Omaha City Councilman and businessman Jim Vokal, who has been named the new executive director.
On Nov. 3, more than 350 supporters of the Nevada Policy Research Institute joined keynote speaker Scott Rasmussen at NPRI’s 21st Anniversary Celebration. In October, NPRI released its third edition of the Nevada Piglet Book 2012, which used specific examples to expose hundreds of millions of dollars in government waste. The report earned coverage in TV, radio and print outlets and is a potent rejoinder to claims that Nevada has “cut to the bone.” More than 800 teachers left a local teacher union after NPRI’s information campaign, detailed in NPRI’s last update, informed teachers they could opt out during the summer. Union membership is now under 62 percent in the nation’s fifth largest school district. NPRI staff has already begun meeting with legislators in preparation for the upcoming session. Labor, education, budget and transparency reforms are high on the agenda. npri.org.
The Common Sense Institute of New Jersey hosted an Oct. 23 Breakfast Briefing on Election 2012 with The Wall Street Journal senior economics writer and frequent television political analyst, Stephen Moore. Held at the Park Avenue Club in Florham Park, New Jersey, it was attended by more than 25 prominent business leaders and policy makers from across the state. Moore was introduced by Larry Mone, president of the Manhattan Institute and CSI-NJ board member. Moore made an often humorous, but always informed, case for not re-electing Pres. Barack Obama (rather than necessarily endorsing Gov. Mitt Romney). Mone felt confident that a Romney-Ryan win would have unleashed the economy based on more clarity in the business community regarding the future of taxation and regulation. Moore generously and enthusiastically made a case for CSI-NJ stating, “I can’t think of another state that needs an independent policy think tank more than New Jersey.” csinj.org
The Rio Grande Foundation successfully delayed efforts by the University of New Mexico Hospital to construct a new taxpayer-financed $146 million hospital. RGF had released a study criticizing the lack of transparency associated with the taxpayer-financed hospital and waged a successful media campaign demanding more openness before taxpayers pay for the expansion. Jim Scarantino of the New Mexico Watchdog made waves when he uncovered that a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives had requested reimbursement for some unusual “campaign expenditures” like massages and dubious travel expenses to and from the capitol in Santa Fe. Lastly, on Oct. 12, RGF hosted historian and author Tom Woods for a luncheon event. Woods offered attendees “the Austrian perspective” on the economic crisis, the importance of sound money, and how Americans can turn the tide against overweening government. riograndefoundation.org
The Empire Center for New York State Policy’s newest project – Empire Ideas – will offer solutions to the problems that confront New York municipalities, from cities to library districts, counties to towns and school districts. This multi-year effort will include a series of papers outlining solutions to some of the most costly issues governments face, helping them live within the new tax cap while improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of public services. The first paper, “Shrinking the retiree health care iceberg,” shows how local governments’ massive unfunded liabilities for retiree health insurance can be shifted off the backs of local taxpayers, while preserving the benefit for current and future retirees. It was also the subject of the first Empire Ideas Forum, regional meetings to present ideas and engage local leaders and policymakers in an open conversation on how to move forward. empirecenter.org
The Civitas Institute’s NC Vote Tracker (NCVoteTracker.com) highlighted voting trends day by day. NC Vote Tracker took official voting tallies and packaged them in a much easier-to-understand format. Plus, it allowed users to compare that day’s results to the voting on the same day in the 2008 election process. NC Vote Tracker recorded 35,594 hits in a one-month period leading up to the election, compared to 5,442 as of the same period in 2010. NC Vote Tracker was also linked to from Daily Kos, Breitbart, Reddit, Hotair, Politico, The Huffington Post, and other blogs and news sites. Meanwhile, the Civitas webpage NC Election Central (NCElectionCentral.com) highlights the Institute’s investigations into the election process, including controversial topics such as same-day registration and one-stop early voting. The Institute hopes its research will lead to much-needed reform of North Carolina’s voting process. nccivitas.org
The John Locke Foundation earned airtime on the nation’s No. 1-rated radio talk show when Rush Limbaugh quoted from a Carolina Journal story on the impact of Democrats’ decision to move President Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech from Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium to a smaller, indoor venue. National media outlets such as Breitbart picked up a CJ story on accusations that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s brother owns fast-food restaurants in North Carolina that hire illegal immigrants. National Review readers learned from JLF president John Hood why states should oppose Obamacare’s proposed Medicaid expansion. Locke researchers called for the end of North Carolina’s Amazon tax, praised flex-growth policies as a better alternative to smart growth and debunked faulty projections of rising sea levels. Hundreds of North Carolinians heard from JLF Headliner speakers Byron York and Charles Murray. johnlocke.org
In October, The Buckeye Institute welcomed Robert Alt as its new president. Alt previously served as a director of rule of law programs at The Heritage Foundation. Buckeye hosted two timely pre-election events. Charles Kesler, Ph.D., discussed his new book, I am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism, and election expert John Fund participated in a debate about voter fraud. Buckeye released a policy brief, “The Obama Administration’s Auto Bailout Failure,” which explains why claims that the automakers would have shuttered their operations in bankruptcy were false, and why the bailout was a failure for the industry and taxpayers. A second policy brief, “Unsustainable Spending Drives Local School Levies,” demonstrated why union arguments in favor of 194 tax levies in Ohio failed to address the cause of the districts’ fiscal problems: collective bargaining and unsustainable compensation. buckeyeinstitute.org.
Cascade Policy Institute kicked off the fall election season with an intensive marketing campaign throughout Oregon. Cascade purchased 26 billboards and 384 spots on 12 radio stations promoting liberty and urging citizens to vote on Nov. 6. In addition, Cascade ran ads on 18 movie theater screens, promoting itself and school choice before the Hollywood film “Won’t Back Down,” and promoting the ideals in the novel Atlas Shrugged before the movie Atlas Shrugged, Part 2. To complement the marketing campaign, Cascade’s policy team traveled around the state speaking on local and statewide ballot measures. Cascade also continued its popular monthly Policy Picnic series featuring roundtable discussions on Right-to-Work, political philosophy, and food freedom. cascadepolicy.org
In late October, Pennsylvania passed landmark corrections reform that transforms the state’s bloated prison system. Taxpayers have long been ill served by a system that locked up more people for longer periods, but failed to deter future crimes, at a cost of $35,000 per inmate per year. The new reforms provide better outcomes for taxpayers, communities and offenders. The Commonwealth Foundation was proud to be a part of a transpartisan coalition favoring “real corrections reform, right now.” Corrections spending was one of the “four alarms” threatening Pennsylvania’s fiscal house. The Commonwealth Foundation has continued to educate activists and legislators about the pending pension crisis and out-of-control Medicaid spending, offering information – including a new “Poli-Graph” showing the effect of the Affordable Care Act on Pennsylvania – and solutions to protect the founding principles and American way of life. commonwealthfoundation.org
Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s October press conference publicized its “Get Government Out of the Way” approach to solving the Ocean State’s dismal economy. The special guest speaker was ALEC’s Jonathan Williams, who confirmed that replicating the successful public policy reforms in other states is the most immediate path to renewed prosperity for Rhode Island, especially given the governor’s intended plan to waste more time and money on the same old government-centric boondoggles, such as creating a commerce czar, investing in education, training, and infrastructure, and paying for third-party studies and recommendations. The political class will do anything to avoid dealing directly with the government-created barriers to success that they have created over the decades. The defenders of the status quo may be entrenched and strong, but the Center will lead its coalition in trying to knock this ill-advised effort off its tracks. rifreedom.org
For three years, South Carolina Policy Council has made the case that taxpayer-financed “economic incentives” do little or nothing to encourage economic growth and much to expand governmental power. These deals between politicians and corporate lobbyists are kept secret from beginning to end, and virtually nothing is done to ensure that taxpayer resources are invested wisely. That’s why, in late October, the Policy Council hosted a public debate at the College of Charleston titled, “Economic Incentives: Capitalism or Corporate Welfare?” SCPC brought together five panelists from various viewpoints. There were around 150 in the audience, including media. News reports after the event noted that this was the first time the subject has been openly debated. With greater attention now focused on incentives deals, several lawmakers are demanding that the details of all corporate welfare bills be disclosed to the public. scpolicycouncil.org
The Beacon Center is gearing up for another successful legislative session. Beacon’s priorities for 2013 include enacting a school choice program, preventing a Medicaid expansion and state health-care exchange, and rolling back the state’s income tax on stocks and bonds. To that end, Beacon has launched “Choose Me, Tennessee” with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, aimed at educating Tennesseans about the benefits of parental choice in education. In addition, Beacon recently published a health care policy report outlining the consequences of advancing the federal Affordable Care Act in Tennessee. The report, “A Cure for What Ails Us,” also offers a series of state-led free-market health care solutions. In November, Beacon published its annual Business-Friendly Cities Report, ranking the state’s 50 largest cities based on their friendliness to business, a report that has now been duplicated by other state-based think tanks. beacontn.org
On Dec. 3, the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute hosted an Education Summit in Austin to address significant reforms to public education. At the event, public and private sector leaders discussed empowering parents through choice and competition, and limiting centralized state control to permit greater flexibility and local control. State Sen. Dan Patrick, who is a vice president of TCCRI and the Chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee, headlined the event along with Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams, Foundation for Excellence in Education board member Philip Handy, and other public sector leaders and private sector experts. txccri.org
On Oct. 17, the Texas Public Policy Foundation released its “Keeping Texas Competitive 2013” roadmap and the related “Keeping Texas Competitive: A Legislator’s Guide to the Issues 2013–2014,” with specific recommendations for state policy makers. TPPF has launched the website SeeThruEdu
.com, which provides daily postings from a pool of 20 American higher-education experts. A major step in the fight to restore education affordability has been the development of the “$10,000 degree.” To explain and promote this promising measure, TPPF held a Policy Primer on Sept. 18 titled, “Addressing the College Affordability Crisis: The Rise of the $10,000 Degree” (the Primer event can be viewed at TexasPolicy.com). On Oct. 7, Thomas Lindsay, Ph.D., was quoted in The Wall Street Journal defending the $10,000 degree against its higher-ed establishment critics. The Foundation is also preparing specific federalism recommendations to devolve federal power back to states in areas such as health care, energy, environment and education. texaspolicy.com
Sutherland Institute recently produced “Ollie and the Train: The Digital Learning Revolution” to demonstrate how public school students suffer under the factory-model, one-size-fits-all education system. The video shows how digital learning can meet the unique needs and learning styles of individual learners to maximize their opportunities to succeed. “Ollie and the Train” was praised and highlighted by Michael Horn, who co-founded Innosight Institute with renowned Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen. Sutherland has also customized the video for eight other free-market think tanks across the country, and it is happy to do the same for any groups working to expand access to digital learning opportunities in their states. One group used the video to create a TV commercial educating voters about an online learning referendum in their state. “Ollie and the Train” can be seen at http://goo.gl/9iio3. sutherlandinstitute.org
Ethan Allen Institute at this writing is watching how a veritable flood of independent money affects the elections. Some Vermont donors have stepped up in support of free markets and personal liberty. Non-Vermont funders and unions are pushing single-payer health care and new extensions of union shops rules to child care and home health-care providers. In January, the legislature may eliminate the process by which a town may vote to close a school. EAI is tracking the money and planning a publicity campaign to help parents retain their school choice options. The Institute’s annual board retreat comes in a month; it expects to authorize a complete web and communication makeover. ethanallen.org
A decades-old state regulation was challenged and changed as a result of two years of legwork by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. The new change finally permitted cement contractors to compete with asphalt contractors for state road construction and maintenance. The result of this new open market? In the first bid alone the state saved more than $20 million. And saving money won’t stop there: the Institute’s annual Education Policy Luncheon on Nov. 14 featured a presentation on Blended Learning – a digital learning innovation used by smart school systems to deliver instruction with increased flexibility and at less cost. TJI is increasingly looked upon as the “go-to guys” in mobilizing stakeholders as Virginia drafts guidelines for implementing its new education-choice tax credit. And TJI’s tax restructuring idea continues to gain widespread support. thomasjeffersoninst.org
It was all hands on deck in the Freedom Foundation’s media studio on election night, as the Foundation hosted live coverage for six radio stations, broadcast audio and video online, appeared as guests on other radio shows, live blogged and interacted with citizens on social media. Then, on the four days after Election Day, the Foundation held 34 community and campus Free Washington Tour events. The message: voting is the beginning, not the end, of citizenship. Before the election, with the help of local newspapers and volunteers, the Foundation distributed more than 550,000 print copies of its "Informed Voter Guide,” which was also available online. And it continued its focused outreach to college students on Washington state’s major campuses. A packed room of college students and community members attended the Foundation’s Student Freedom Project debate between U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott and national radio host Michael Medved. myfreedomfoundation.org
Washington Policy Center’s Annual Dinner, one of the largest events of its kind in the country, drew 1,100 people in Seattle and another 500 via simulcast in Spokane. Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament, delivered the keynote address. He passionately spoke about America’s rich tradition of liberty and the dangers in emulating Europe’s embrace of statism. (Watch his speech at WPCAnnualDinner.org). Discussing the election and the mood of the electorate, pollster Scott Rasmussen spoke in Seattle and veteran political analyst Ed Rollins spoke in Spokane. WPC gave its Champion of Freedom Award to a bipartisan group of legislators who sponsored a bill allowing charter schools in Washington this year. Todd Myers, WPC’s environmental director and author of the book Eco-Fads, was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal with a column showing plastic bag bans are based on hype, not science. washingtonpolicy.org
When Gov. Scott Walker and legislators enacted budget reforms aimed at eliminating a $3.6 billion deficit and improving Wisconsin’s long-term financial health, opponents cried foul, promising falling skies and the end of life in the Badger State as we knew it. Fast-forward almost two years and not only is the sky right where it should be, but Wisconsin’s fiscal house is on solid ground for the first time in years. Instead of billion-dollar deficits and crushing debt, the state’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau is projecting a budget surplus for 2013. In addition, the state Department of Administration has announced it will deposit $108.7 million into Wisconsin’s Rainy Day Fund, and – according to a new MacIver Institute report – taxpayers statewide have enjoyed more than $2 billion in savings. As we near the two-year anniversary of protests and demonstrations, it’s still working in Wisconsin. maciverinstitute.com
Wyoming’s health-care-freedom Amendment A won by a landslide in November’s elections with a resounding 77 percent “yes” vote – this in a state where failing to vote on an amendment that appears on the ballot counts as a “no” vote. Amendment A, as part of the state Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, protects individuals to make their own health care decisions and protects rights to pay providers directly, as well as to receive direct payment for services. Wyoming Liberty Group is prepared to defend these rights in court. Amendment A is part of a health-care action plan that opens a path to free market solutions, e.g., to: refuse a PPACA health insurance exchange and Medicare/Medicaid expansion; support improved legislation in 2013 for purchase of health insurance from all 50 states; and lay the groundwork for in-state medical freedom zones, perhaps on tribal lands. wyliberty.org
In October and November, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law instituted legal action on behalf of rural property owners in Ohio to stop eminent domain abuse by state-favored private corporations. The Center asserted that the state code authorizing private corporations to – on their own – use eminent domain to take private property for their own private use, violates the state’s takings clause. 1851 also initiated legal action in federal court on behalf of Ohio precious metals dealers, asserting that the state’s licensing scheme violates their First and Fourth Amendment rights, through punishing truthful advertising and authorizing intrusive warrantless searches of their businesses. 1851 Center director Maurice Thompson moderated a debate between candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court. In addition, Thompson authored a Federalist Society white paper on the Court, concluding that the Court, which is nominally Republican, has not adequately protected individual rights from state regulation. ohioconstitution.org
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the organization’s AIM Report newsletter, Accuracy in Media held a very important conference, “ObamaNation: A Day of Truth,”
in September at the Heritage Foundation. Among the speakers were House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, Obama biographers Edward Klein and Jack Cashill, Fast and Furious expert Katie Pavlich, Center for Security president Frank Gaffney, former federal prosecutor and best-selling author Andrew McCarthy, former Congressman Artur Davis and former Jimmy Carter pollster, Pat Caddell, who told the audience that the media is “the enemy of the American people.” The video of that talk went viral with over 100,000 YouTube views and was picked up by the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh and many other media outlets. The recap articles and videos can be viewed on AIM’s website. aim.org
After three years of development, the Acton Institute is launching the PovertyCure curriculum. Michael Matheson Miller, director of the PovertyCure Initiative, hosts the documentary-style, six-episode DVD series that discusses aid and enterprise. Miller travels around the globe asking the question, “How do people create prosperity for their families and their communities?” He interviews religious and political leaders, entrepreneurs and development experts in order to show how the Christian church – rather than the state – promotes prosperity and successful development worldwide. This curriculum explores how and why humans flourish with the idea that all peoples are made in God’s image with “His divine creative spark.” The individual sessions are less than a half-hour long and are intended for use by churches, schools and other small groups. Watch a preview and order online at PovertyCure.org/dvd-series. acton.org
The most recent Pennsylvania assessment exams showed a drop in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or higher level. Education system apologists predictably pointed to declines in funding as the culprit, while state officials claimed heightened security amid cheating accusations involving several districts. The Allegheny Institute’s analysis of affected districts debunks the claims that spending cuts were responsible for lower scores. Locally, the Institute continues to monitor and evaluate a proposal by a community group using government funding and other subsidies to build a grocery store in a low-income neighborhood. The project cost has escalated from $8.5 to $11.6 million and is now in its fifth year of planning and development with no construction start in sight. Allegheny has followed this project since inception, foresaw formidable complications and is asking for the project developers to provide sales forecasts and financial viability of this store. alleghenyinstitute.org
Following the release of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni report on California higher education, ACTA continues to push for reform and responsibility on college campuses. The Council is gearing up to begin a similar study on higher education in Florida and looks forward to assessing tuition trends, graduation rates, curriculum strength and responsible higher education governance in the Sunshine State. ACTA is also proud to present the 8th annual Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education. This year, the award goes to Thomas Rollins, founder of The Teaching Company. The award is presented to individuals who advance liberal arts education, core curricula and the teaching of Western civilization and American history. goacta.org
American Enterprise Institute was pleased to host the 5K race at the SPN Annual Meeting on Amelia Island, Fla. More than 100 participants signed up to join the Road Race to Freedom, making it the largest SPN 5K ever. In October, AEI’s Henry Wendt Scholar Nicholas Eberstadt released “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic.” Drawing on an impressive array of data to detail the exponential growth in entitlement spending, Eberstadt shows how entitlement spending went from less than one-third to almost two-thirds of federal spending in just half a century. While these economic developments are indeed astonishing, the cultural costs of this epidemic are even more troubling, and Eberstadt shows in unflinching detail how this runaway spending is having a very real, long-lasting, negative impact on the character of our citizens. aei.org
American Principles Project has released a new white paper about the growing state-based effort on sound money. Beginning with the Utah Legal Tender Act of 2011, it has educated lawmakers and citizens across the country about the benefits of states encouraging the use of gold as money. During the upcoming state legislative sessions, it plans to hold tele-town halls with voters about the importance of this constitutional choice in currency. Gia Collucio has joined the organization as a research associate focused on monetary policy. She is a graduate of The George Washington University and previously interned at the SPN-member Grassroots Institute of Hawaii and in the Hawaii legislature. americanprinciplesproject.org
With the 2012 elections now over, don’t forget to check ATR.org to see how Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers fared in your state. Additionally, Americans for Tax Reform would like to announce a new member of its staff. Katie McAuliffe joins Americans for Tax Reform as federal affairs manager and executive director of DigitalLiberty, an ATR affiliate. Formerly, McAuliffe was budget legislative assistant in the office of Congressman Cliff Stearns. She received her Master of Arts degree in mass communications with a telecommunications policy focus from the University of Florida and her B.A. from Virginia Tech. McAuliffe will primarily focus on telecomm issues, such as internet taxation, wireless and phone taxes, spectrum allocation, tech/telecomm reform and issues pertaining to financial services. Write her at KMcauliffe@atr.org.
America’s Future Foundation is active in eleven cities across the country with chapters launching this fall in Dallas, Buffalo, Columbus and Grand Rapids. Guest speakers included Matt Mitchell, Richard Vedder, John Hardin and AFF hosted a discussion panel on cronyism in Buffalo. Chicago hosted Free to Choose:
The Game Show in which participants competed for “Miltons” and learned about Friedman’s ideas. Chapter leaders from nine of the 11 cities gathered in Atlanta for a retreat to discuss best practices and set the vision for 2013. Benita Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, addressed the group and encouraged collaboration with state think tanks. In Washington, D.C., AFF co-hosted a panel with the Mercatus Center about how to best advance liberty, a panel on career advancement in the liberty movement, and a debate between conservative and libertarian foreign policy leaders. americasfuture.org
If Proposal 3 – which would have expanded the state’s renewable energy mandate – had passed this fall, Michigan would have likely had 10,540 fewer jobs in 2025, according to an October Mackinac Center-Beacon Hill Institute study. It would also have cost residential and industrial users up to $2.6 billion. In another energy-related study, BHI suggested a strict liability approach in the event of an extreme disaster related to hydraulic fracturing. Energy companies should be underwritten by well-capitalized financial firms and losses should be privatized, not socialized. In economic commentary BHI found that 2 percent U.S. GDP growth for the third quarter is still not good enough. To close the “Obama jobs gap” – which is the number of new jobs it would be necessary to create in order to match the employment situation that existed on the day Obama took office, the economy needs a growth rate of 9.6 percent. The Obama jobs gap is about 4.6 million jobs. beaconhill.org
Media bias produced fresh outrages this election cycle, but although this bias was widely discussed, few if any researchers dug into the critical funding sources that helped power the engines of bias. Capital Research Center’s November Foundation Watch lays out the donors behind groups like Media Matters for America, ProPublica, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Center for American Progress’s Action Fund. George Soros and his foundations, for example, provided millions to these groups, but so did less well-known donors like the Sandler Foundation, founded by subprime mortgage magnates Herb and Marion Sandler, whose role in the housing sector’s collapse is so notorious that Saturday Night Live lampooned them as “people who must be shot.” Other major funders include the Tides Foundation, various Rockefeller funds and the Joyce Foundation, on whose board Barack Obama long served. capitalresearch.org
The Cato Institute recently released the Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2012. This biennial publication uses statistical data to grade America’s governors on their taxing and spending records, with A grades going to the four governors who cut taxes and spending the most. It also highlights positive and negative fiscal trends at the state level. In addition, the Institute is excited to announce a new e-book, The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center. This e-book presents evidence on the size of the libertarian vote and discusses its ability to impact future elections. The authors conclude that 10 to 20 percent of voters are fiscally conservative and socially liberal-libertarian, a fact which challenges the conventional wisdom that all voters fit neatly into conservative or liberal boxes. For more information, please write Heather Curry at HCurry@cato.org. cato.org
The Claremont Institute just completed an app that allows readers to subscribe to the Claremont Review of Books via their iPad. Charles Kesler, editor of the CRB, has released a new book, I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. This summer the Institute completed its first John Marshall Fellowships: a week-long program designed to educate law students and young attorneys about constitutional law from the perspective of America’s founders. The Institute’s first cohort of 16 John Marshall Fellows included 11 law clerks for federal appeals justices. For information about the 2013 John Marshall Fellowships, the 2013 Lincoln Fellowships for policy professionals or the 2013 Publius Fellowships for recent college graduates seeking a career in political journalism, contact Ben Judge at BJudge@claremont.org. claremont.org
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is pleased to announce that the board of directors has unanimously selected Lawson Bader to be the next president of CEI. Fred L. Smith, Jr., who founded CEI in 1984 and launched the search for his successor earlier this year, will now head CEI’s Center for Advancing Capitalism. Bader comes from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is vice president. He is a key advisor and strategist for all of that organization’s outreach and research programs. CEI believes Bader has the right mix of skills that will best complement and augment the Institute’s strengths: a commitment to free-market principles, management experience in the not-for-profit free market world, an appreciation and compatibility with CEI’s unique culture, and fundraising skills. He will formally take the helm of CEI on Jan. 1. cei.org
Happy Holidays from Talent Market, an entity of DonorsTrust. In an effort to avoid coal in its stocking, Talent Market has been working its tail off this year. Recently, it helped Competitive Enterprise Institute with its search for Fred Smith’s replacement – a tall order since Fred is irreplaceable. Congratulations to Lawson Bader, who will take over the reins in 2013. Talent Market also helped the Foundation for Economic Education with its editor/director of content search. Cheers to Max Borders, who landed the role. And if Santa is looking for more, Talent Market helped the Platte Institute with its search for a new executive director. Kudos to Jim Vokal, the incoming executive director. If your 501(c)3 organization is looking for mid/senior level talent, please reach out to TM. It provides its services at no direct cost to clients. Write Claire Kittle at Claire@talentmarket.org. donorstrust.org
Education Action Group news’ new series, “Where Your School Dollars Go,” looks at government school spending around the country. The Foundation uncovered shocking amounts of money being spent on travel, hotels, restaurants, cell phones and numerous other things that have nothing to do with students. Richmond, Va., schools spent more than $600,000 on hotels and travel. The revelation was a local media sensation, receiving TV and print coverage. Orange County, Fla., schools showered their superintendent with over $250,000 in sick-leave payouts. When the Foundation obtained three different answers to the same question from the Goshen, Ind., district, it chided the $90 million district for being unable to provide a simple answer. Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette reporter Karen Francisco accused the Foundation of “phony outrage.” EAGnews’ spending investigation will be spreading across the country to show that government schools have a spending problem, not a funding problem. eagnews.org
It’s a very busy autumn and winter at the Foundation for Economic Education. Please check out the Foundation’s new website and branding. Max Borders has joined FEE as its editor and director of content. Be on the lookout for his new book, Superwealth. Applications for FEE’s 2013 Summer Seminars and Summer Internships go live on Jan. 1 and can be found on its website. FEE will be hold its Winter Freedom Academy Feb. 1–2, 2013 in Naples, Florida. It will also hold a one-day seminar in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 9. More information is available at FEE.org/events. FEE is here to inspire, educate and connect! fee.org
The Foundation for Excellence in Education recently launched a campaign thanking Florida teachers for their roles in bringing the state from the back of the pack to the front of national student-achievement rankings and the impacts they’ve made in the lives of students. “Student-driven. Teacher-fueled.” encourages Floridians to thank educators who helped or inspired them or their children along life’s road. A decade ago, Florida was at the bottom of the nation in student achievement. Today, it is in the top tier for student achievement. The state’s high school graduation rate is now at an historic high of 80 percent and the drop-out rate is at an historic low. With the help of teachers, Florida is turning things around. To learn more about education in Florida and for resources and ways you can thank teachers, visit excelined.org.
The United States continues its protracted decline in the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World survey, plunging to 18th, its lowest ranking since the survey was first instituted in 1996. The U.S. was rated second in 2000. Much of this decline is the result of high levels of government spending and regulation. The report measures economic freedom in five different areas: size of government, legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation of credit, labor, and business. Hong Kong again topped the rankings of 144 countries, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada and Australia. To read the full study, visit http://bit.ly/QiOs40. To stay abreast of all of the Fraser Institute’s research, sign up for Fraser Insight at email@example.com. fraserinstitute.org
On Oct. 18, the Free State Foundation held a lunch seminar, attended by more than 100 persons, at the National Press Club. Titled “Ideas for Communications Law and Policy Reform for 2013,” the participants addressed, among other issues, proposals for the Federal Communications Commission, itself, to reform communications policy in addition to reforms that require Congress to revise the Communications Act. The program opened with a lively conversation concerning FCC reform ideas between FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell and Free State Foundation president Randolph May. The conversation was followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion by some of the nation’s leading experts in the communications policy field: Robert Atkinson, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation; James Gattuso, The Heritage Foundation; David Honig, Minority Media & Telecommunications Council; and Adam Thierer, Mercatus Center. freestatefoundation.org
We don’t slow down at Free To Choose Network and Izzit.org. “Europe’s Debt: America’s Crisis?” examines two paramount topics, Europe’s growing debt and its impact on the U.S. Well-respected hosts Johan Norberg and Donald Boudreaux, with a cast of up-and-coming young minds from around the world, discuss issues and offer opinions on the future. With “Testing Milton Friedman” having 78 percent coverage of national markets, and “Europe’s Debt: America’s Crisis?” debuting nationwide and via Amazon Video On-Demand, FTCN continues to succeed at providing accessible and entertaining media to the public with an eye toward the future of mass audiences in online streaming services. Izzit
.org also continues to be a recognized brand among educators this school year – more than 16,000 DVDs have shipped already. Four new teaching units have been released in 2012, including collaborations with the Foundation for Economic Education and Reason.tv, with more to come. freetochoose.net
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released a new report showing that, since 1950, America’s public schools have experienced a 96 percent increase in students but grew administrators and other non-teaching staff a staggering 702 percent. “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools” is available at EdChoice.org/staffsurge. Also, breakout data on each state comparing student, teacher and administrator numbers from 1992–2009 is available at EdChoice.org/staffsurge/map. The report’s author, Ben Scafidi, is available to speak on this topic; to invite Scafidi, visit the Friedman Foundation’s Speakers Bureau at EdChoice.org/speakersbureau. And, as SPN organizations prepare their 2013 policy strategies on education reform and school choice, the Friedman Foundation’s State Programs and Government Relations team is ready to help. For a listing of the Foundation’s staff contacts by state, visit EdChoice.org/statedirectors. edchoice.org
The Fund for American Studies released a short educational film exploring a world where capitalism no longer exists. The video, “It’s a Wonderful Life (With Capitalism),” aims to educate young adults about the benefits of capitalism by drawing a sharp contrast between today’s world and a world where luxuries and simple pleasures were never invented. The video is being distributed online to educational institutions, student groups as well as nonprofit organizations and public policy think tanks. It can be viewed at LifeWithoutCapitalism.org. Additionally, TFAS has announced that George Mason University will be its new academic partner starting in 2013. GMU will now accredit TFAS undergraduate programs in Washington, D.C. GMU is widely considered to house the #1 market-oriented economics department in the country, and two of its faculty members have won the Nobel Prize in Economics. tfas.org
Opposition to Obamacare continues unabated, with the majority of Americans in concert with those who rallied outside the U.S. Supreme Court this year carrying posters saying “Protect the Constitution!” and chanting “Strike it down!” The Galen Institute has been engaged every day and every hour to continue to educate this crucially important debate, submitting an amicus brief and providing analysis of the health overhaul law in speeches, testimonies, papers, media interviews and op-eds across the country. The Institute has helped the American people understand that the law is not just the few small provisions that supporters tout, but that it is a freight train headed straight for our economy and our health sector. Please visit the Institute’s website to subscribe to its email updates and to follow its latest work as this debate continues. galen.org
The Heartland Institute has released a new policy brief on the “parent trigger,” a public school reform adopted in seven states and proposed in some 20 others across the nation. Authored by Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast and research fellow Joy Pullmann, “The Parent Trigger: Justification and Design Guidelines” gives parents the tools they need to fix their failing local public schools. This policy brief presents the rationale for empowering parents with parent trigger legislation and then offers design guidelines for parents and elected officials interested in crafting legislation for their city or state. It carries the analysis of Heartland’s previous reports considerably further by citing many of the bills that have been introduced since they were written. This is the third Heartland report on the parent trigger since this revolutionary parent-empowerment reform first passed in California in 2010.
The Heritage Foundation published its annual “Index of Dependence on Government” which showed an increase in dependence for the fourth year in a row. The Foundation’s new book, The American Conservation Ethic: The Principles of Conservation, outlines conservative and free market solutions to environmental challenges. Heritage’s “State Lawmaker’s Guide to Evaluating Medicaid Expansion Projections,” and the report, “Studies Show: Medicaid Patients Have Worse Access and Outcomes than the Privately Insured” will provide valuable guidance to lawmakers as they evaluate their state health care programs. The summer issue of The Insider magazine featured articles on election integrity, corporate welfare, FOIA and an interview with NCPA’s John Goodman. And, the Foundation’s Preserve the Constitution lecture series featured talks by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and Mark Levin and is available for viewing online at heritage.org
Economics suffers from a bad reputation as a “dismal science” plagued with lifeless graphs and dry statistics. To combat this perception, The Independent Institute is delighted to announce the release of Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Authored by Peter J. Boettke, this book teaches how economics affects all walks of life, whether in the marketplace, voting booth, church, family or any human activity. Boettke shows that economics is not merely a game played by clever professionals, but a discipline that touches on the most pressing practical issues at any historical juncture. The wealth and poverty of nations are at stake; the length and quality of life turns on the economic conditions individuals find themselves living with. In addition to its wide course adoption, Living Economics has been named the 2012 FEE Best Book in Austrian Economics. independent.org
Institute for Justice and the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey are putting the final nail in Louisiana’s law that allows only licensed funeral directors to sell caskets. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Louisiana’s five-year campaign to stop the brothers from selling their caskets was either unconstitutional or an abuse of power unauthorized by state law. IJ teamed up with a Massachusetts motel owner for a November trial that exposed the ugly practice of civil forfeiture – where law enforcement can take property from innocent owners without charging or convicting them with a crime. Russ Caswell’s property is worth $1 million and carries no mortgage. Because a handful of drug crimes had taken place on the property over 20 years the federal government is trying to take Caswell’s property through forfeiture, sell the land and keep the money. ij.org
On the eve of Election 2012, the Institute for Policy Innovation hosted its October Speaker Series lunch featuring John Fund, author of Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Steal Your Vote. “If you don’t take voter fraud seriously, you’ll get more voter fraud,” said Fund to a packed room of state and local officials and activists. IPI’s Merrill Matthews warned of the coming entitlement cliff in both Investor’s Business Daily and a new IPI publication, saying that entitlement spending is outpacing the economy and Washington, D.C., must implement critical changes to cut spending, grow the economy and reform several programs. And, according to a new IPI publication authored by Jim Harper, thanks to government’s unique powers, you should be far more concerned about governments as potential abusers of privacy than private companies, which are hemmed in by markets and laws. ipi.org
Over the last month, Intellectual Takeout has gone from 750,000 fans to more than 900,000 fans. ITO runs four Facebook pages, promoting links, articles and videos. On Mom Think, ITO talks to moms about the U.S. Constitution and the role of government. On Know-Y, there are discussions of the ideas of equality and justice with the younger generation. On Boomer Country, ITO asks the retiring generation about national debt and the proper role of government. ITO also has a general Facebook page. ITO continues to engage the public with ideas of a free and just society. In Mississippi, through BiggerPieForum.org and on Facebook, Mississippians are informed about the crony capitalism that exists in their state. At Better-ed.org and on Facebook, awareness is created among family members regarding the faulty education system in Minneapolis, urging fans to research the issues for themselves. intellectualtakeout.org
The Jesse Helms Center was invited to present at the District 3 National Future Business Leaders of America conference in Charlotte on Nov. 17. Over 100 high school students participated in the hands-on workshop, based on the Center’s engaging Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge curriculum. The workshop was developed by the Jesse Helms Center Free Enterprise fellow Peter Frank, Ph.D. Also on Nov. 29, the BB&T Program on the Moral Foundations of Free Enterprise welcomed Peter Calcagno, Ph.D., to discuss “Deficits and Debt” at the campus of Wingate University. Calcagno, a graduate of Hillsdale College, is the director of the Initiative for Public Choice & Market Process and an associate professor of Economics at the College of Charleston. jessehelmscenter.org
Just Facts has published extensive research on tax policy to help voters, lawmakers and policy analysts slice through the rhetoric that clouds this issue. This original resource contains hundreds of facts about federal, state and local taxes. Whether you want to understand how much federal, state and local governments collect in taxes, who pays these taxes or what the economic effects of these taxes are, you’ll find clear, reliable and rigorously documented answers at JustFacts.com/taxes.asp. Just Facts also commissioned a pre-election poll to scientifically determine what voters truly understand about public policy issues. The poll consisted of 20 key questions – two concerning voters’ political views and 18 dealing with their knowledge of public policy issues. Among the issues addressed were government spending, the national debt, taxes, health care, Medicare, global warming, pollution and Social Security. The results are available at justfacts.com
The Leadership Institute toured Lars Christensen, CEO of Saxo Bank in Denmark, on a week-long visit in America, where he met with many groups and media to share his experience of European-style socialism. He spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., in New York City and at Liberty University in Virginia. “His indictment of European-style socialism is stunning. His command of history and free-market principles make his presentation enthralling,” wrote Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute. As America stands at a crossroads between capitalism and prosperity or European-style socialism and economic decline, his message could neither be more timely nor more important. Visit LI’s CampusReform.org for news about campus events and liberal bias.
Transportation policy is easy to get wrong. As the country grows, so do the demands on our infrastructure. But this doesn’t justify just any infrastructure spending: A city’s transportation budget management immensely affects its success. What’s the best way to keep Americans moving? Steven Malanga and Nicole Gelinas explore this question in the Autumn issue of the Manhattan Institute’s quarterly magazine, City Journal. Malanga details how many local governments spend billions constructing airports, intending to spur regional economies. He shows this “Airfields of Dreams” approach – build it, and they will come – creates enormous taxpayer bills. Similarly, Gelinas covers New York and New Jersey’s joint blunder: making the Port Authority fund Ground Zero reconstruction – leaving little money for critical projects, like a new bus terminal and train tunnel under the Hudson River. manhattan-institute.org
Mercatus Center welcomes a new associate director of state outreach, Brady Cassis. He will take over duties for Emily Washington, who has moved to a research management role at Mercatus. In events, Mercatus senior fellow Eileen Norcross spoke on the need for pension reform on a panel discussion at Brown University in Rhode Island. Mercatus also released “Tax Gimmicks,” by Antony Davies, Ph.D., and recorded a related podcast looking at the many ways legislators can use economic forces to hide the true costs of various taxes. Carmine Scavo and Emily Washington released their new study of government streamlining, “Government Streamlining Commissions: A Methodology for Measuring Success.” A second portion of the study will focus on examples of effective streamlining commission actions in the states and will be completed later this year. To contact scholars, email Mike Leland at MLeland@gmu.edu. mercatus.org
The Moving Picture Institute is pleased to announce The Machine, its new four-minute film that exposes the corruption of public sector unions. The Machine is an effective tool for state groups that seek to raise awareness about the importance of entitlement reform and the need for school choice. Released this September, The Machine was also a vital tool for pundits, policy analysts and education officials during the Democratic National Convention and the Chicago teachers’ strike. It is freely available for state groups to use now. MPI is also proud to announce State of Control, its feature film that follows two American filmmakers as they document freedom fighters throughout Chinese-occupied Tibet. The film premiered at the United Nations Association Film Festival this October. Contact Rob@thempi.org to learn about MPI films, arrange screenings and recommend rising filmmakers for fellowships and internships. movingpictureinstitute.org
National Center for Policy Analysis president and CEO John C. Goodman continues to promote his book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. He has had op-ed pieces in major news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, and has been a frequent guest on Fox News. The NCPA released a study examining the spending habits of baby boomers and what it means for their retirement. In September, the NCPA’s Rare Earths Coalition co-sponsored a congressional briefing with the American Resources Policy Network. NCPA senior fellow H. Sterling Burnett announced the Rare Earths Coalition for Congress, discussing its formation, make up, goals and progress. Also at the briefing, Dan McGroarty, principal of the American Resources Policy Network, released the network’s report “Critical Metals 101.” NCPA senior fellow Linda Gorman debated Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel at an event sponsored by The Denver Post and the University of Denver. ncpa.org
In anticipation of this critical election, the National Tax Limitation Committee focused on establishing a clear definition of the problems the administration of the past four years has brought upon the American taxpayer. In Committee president Lewis K. Uhler’s new paper, the “2012 Declaration of Independence” (2012Independence.org), Uhler drives home the tyranny that the Obama administration has created and calls for voters to once again declare their independence from this type of leadership. Also new from NTLC is the release of its congressional scorecard for the 112th Congress. NTLC has been scoring Congress for well over a quarter century and it is proud to reward those who voted to cut or limit taxes and to propel free enterprise and business development. Those worthy members of Congress were awarded the NTLC Certified Tax Fighters award. limittaxes.org
On Jan. 15, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Pacific Legal Foundation’s case, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. The case challenges the confiscatory and unconstitutional demands that a Florida agency imposed on the Koontz family as a condition of giving permission to develop the family’s property. PLF attorneys have renewed their challenge to Obamacare, upheld by the Supreme Court as a “tax” on Americans who do not purchase health insurance. Representing Matt Sissel, an Iraq War veteran and Iowa businessman, PLF alleges that this purported tax is illegal because it was introduced in the U.S. Senate rather than the House, as required by the U.S. Constitution’s Origination Clause. Lana Harfoush, Christina Martin and Jonathan Wood have joined PLF’s staff as fellows in the College of Public Interest Law, an intensive litigation training program for promising law school graduates.
This summer Reason launched Reason 24/7, a one-stop shop for libertarian news and opinion aggregated from across the Web. Reason 24/7 is part of Reason.com’s new graphic redesign, which features content targeted to readers based on user interest as well as improved search functions. On the policy side, a recent Reason-Rupe poll determined that 62 percent of California voters favor reducing the number of state government employees. As the election heated up, Reason published a special “California Voters’ Guide” to help voters understand the initiatives. Reason has moved to a new Los Angeles headquarters, located at 5737 Mesmer Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90230. A $3 million capital campaign will kick off in 2013. Find out more at reason.com and reason.org.
Save the Date! The Steamboat Institute will hold its 5th Annual Freedom Conference, August 23–24, 2013, in the beautiful ski resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Bring your family to enjoy the abundance of outdoor recreational activities, while meeting and hearing the leading conservative thinkers and voices in America. Watch for registration and speaker announcements in early 2013. steamboatinstitute.org
This coming Feb. 15–17, Students For Liberty will host the 6th annual International Students For Liberty Conference at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. The International SFL Conference is the premiere event of the year for students dedicated to liberty and advancing freedom on campus. The world’s largest crowd of pro-liberty students will gather for a weekend to learn about liberty from contemporary leaders, discuss best practices for promoting liberty on campus, get more involved in the larger movement for liberty and enjoy a massive celebration of freedom. The ISFLC has grown every year in both size and quality of experience with the 2012 conference featuring more than 1,000 attendees. SFL
fully expects to beat those numbers this year. Full information is available at
Recent publications by the Tax Foundation include the annual “State Business Tax Climate Index” report, which ranks states from good to bad on tax structure; the “State-Local Tax Burdens” study, Americans on average pay 9.9 percent of their income in state-local taxes; and reports on soda and cell phone taxes. A large study on how states distinguish between taxes and fees will be out before the end of the year. Check out all these studies online at taxfoundation.org.
Young America’s Foundation hosted hundreds of students in Columbus, Ohio, and Orlando, Fla., for its final Freedom Conferences of the year. Students heard
from Karl Rove, Dinesh D’Souza, Liz Cheney and Rick Santorum, among others. The Foundation also held this year’s second High School Conference at the Reagan Ranch.
With the generous support of the Arthur
N. Rupe Foundation, YAF launched the Great Debate Series, which featured public policy leaders appearing on campus to discuss “The Proper Role of Government in a Free Society.” Thousands of students attended these programs and even more watched online as Fox Nation linked to the debate’s live stream. The matchups included Rick Santorum and Howard Dean at Cornell University and Liz Cheney and Robert Gibbs at Ball State University, among others. More than 200 campuses participated in the Foundation’s 9/11: Never Forget Project. yaf.org