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SPN News November/December 2010 Newsletter Updates

Published on Monday, December 13, 2010
SPN NEWS NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2010

ALABAMA

As state legislators become more aware of the endless compliance of changing state law to “conform” with Obamacare mandates, they turn to the Alabama Policy Institute for solutions. For starters, Alabama’s state Medicaid Agency projects that Obamacare will add about 500,000 people to its rolls by 2014. That would double the size of the current program and eventually cost an extra $100 million a year. A majority of the state legislature have adopted the Institute’s recommendations. API has proposed and has drafted legislation that would, among other things, create tax incentives for more companies to offer health insurance in Alabama, fight Medicaid fraud with electronic records, add tax deductions for individuals who pay for their own health insurance and tax credits to doctors who agree to treat indigent patients. API will be developing additional proposals with legislators in 2011. api.org

ALASKA

Kirsten Adams, the investigative reporter from the Alaska Policy Forum, has a regular video segment on a local news program featuring highlights from stories reported on the AlaskaWatchdog.org website. The segment will run weekly. Alaska Policy Forum has also established an education choice steering committee to work to bring about more choice in K-12 education in Alaska. One of the leaders of the committee is former mayor of Anchorage Tom Fink. Fink says the committee plans to build a network of 25,000 people across Alaska to highlight how school choice can make Alaska education better for everyone. alaskapolicyforum.org

ARIZONA

When a grandmother was told she couldn’t vote while wearing her Tea Party t-shirt, the Goldwater Institute stepped in. Diane Wickberg is a member of the Flagstaff (Ariz.) Tea Party, which doesn’t endorse candidates or issues. She was told to cover her T-shirt when she voted twice in elections earlier this year. Goldwater asked for a preliminary injunction, which the Coconino County Recorder decided not to fight, and Mrs. Wickberg wore her t-shirt to the polls on Nov. 2. The injunction has since expired and the legal fight continues. As the federal government continues to grow, more people are calling for an amendments convention to restore fiscal responsibility. Goldwater released “Amending the Constitution by Convention,” a report explaining how the states can call such a convention and why fears of runaway delegates proposing drastic changes to the U.S. Constitution are unfounded. goldwaterinstitute.org

ARKANSAS

A 2009 Arkansas Policy Foundation forecast was confirmed Sept. 20 when the National Bureau of Economic Research announced the recession officially ended last June. Business media, including Talk Business, City Wire and Arkansas Business, reported on both the Policy Foundation’s forecast and the NBER announcement. The Foundation based its November 2009 forecast on a trough in coincident indicators, including U.S. industrial production, which measures the physical output of the nation’s mines, factories and utilities. Forecast author Greg Kaza noted in an Oct. 4 Arkansas Business commentary that business “faces a great deal of uncertainty” including “expanded regulatory proposals like cap-and-trade and card check” that have interfered with payroll employment expansion. Kaza argued in a separate Sept. 2 Investors’ Business Daily column that “the prospect of higher taxes makes established businesses and start-up entrepreneurs with cash reluctant to hire new workers.” arkansaspolicyfoundation.org

CALIFORNIA

 

In October, the Pacific Research Institute released “Jackpot Justice,” a series of five-minute documentary films exploring the cost of lawsuit abuse to families and businesses. The film series, based on the research of Lawrence McQuillan, Ph.D., debuted on WashingtonExaminer.com and will premiere on the RightNetwork. Continuing the cinematic momentum, Lance Izumi put PRI’s research on middle class education center stage with his appearance in Davis Guggenheim’s new film, “Waiting for Superman.” In the past months PRI has released four studies, including the conclusion of its California Prosperity Project, “No Bang for the Taxpayer’s Buck” and “Roadmap to Recovery 2011.” PRI’s research on Proposition 23 and California employment, by Ben Zycher, created a national stir, soliciting Green Peace protestors at its luncheon in October. On Nov. 11, PRI will host its 31st annual Gala Dinner with keynote speaker Dr. Art Laffer. pacificresearch.org

COLORADO

 

The Independence Institute is honored to welcome Rob Natelson as a senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence. Rob is a retired University of Montana law professor and has just published his new book, The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant. Attendees had fun with a return visit from last year’s Founders’ Night speaker P.J. O’Rourke who stopped by this fall for a book signing with his latest: Don’t Vote…It Just Encourages the Bastards. Journalist and Fox News Contributor Mary Katharine Ham recently headlined two events.  She was the keynote speaker for II’s Independent Women’s Luncheon and spoke at a Friday night Happy Hour event. II is excited about its 26th Annual Founders’ Night Dinner on Nov. 18. This year’s keynote speaker is David Limbaugh, author of Crimes against Liberty: An Indictment of President Barack Obama. i2i.org

CONNECTICUT

When Magic Johnson traveled to Hartford to accept an award for investing in urban areas, Yankee Institute investigative reporter Zach Janowski pointed out the state lost $15 million on $46 million in investments made through Johnson’s company. Making $15 million disappear? Now that’s magic. Getting an award for it? That’s priceless. Yankee put out a first-ever voter guide rating all incumbent state legislators on votes relating to free markets, less government and taxes. Yankee filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Goldwater Institute’s McComish case challenging the constitutionality of so-called public matching-grants in campaigns. Recent guest speakers include The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, author Jeff Benedict, the Cato Institute’s Tim Sandefur and pollster Scott Rasmussen. yankeeinstitute.org 

DELAWARE

 

Where else can you go to hear an economist tell jokes and impersonate Arnold Schwarzenegger to the tune of a standing ovation? During Caesar Rodney Institute’s Annual Caesar Rodney Birthday Celebration, Dr. Art Laffer entertained the crowd with sometimes side-splitting humor. In between the jokes and impersonations, he delivered a masterful presentation of fiscal responsibility and tax policy. The overarching message remains to be that a government cannot tax its way to prosperity. Certainly, CRI is on the same page and is preparing to confront policy makers with a stack of cost-cutting initiatives that will reduce state spending by 15 percent, bring sanity to the budgeting process and allow for business-friendly tax incentives. In addition, CRI is expanding its website capabilities to include podcasting and videos. caesarrodney.org

FLORIDA

Election season in a bellwether state kept James Madison Institute staff on the fast track. For his midterm elections article, Martin Burcharth of Denmark's daily newspaper Informatíon interviewed JMI president Bob McClure regarding the roots, ideas and impact of the Tea Party movement. JMI’s fall 2010 Journal hit mailboxes in October with its “Voter Guide for the 2010 State Ballot Proposals” prepared by Institute policy staff – the online pre-release of the Guide was reposted, printed and quoted across Florida by numerous blogs, email blasts, media outlets and more. Promoting liberty through film, JMI launched Madison Movie Nights in October with the screening of “Do As I Say” at Florida State University and “Rockin’ the Wall” in November. Continuing JMI’s successful statewide luncheon series, this fall the Institute hosted The Economist’s Greg Ip in Jacksonville and The Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore in Naples. jamesmadison.org

GEORGIA


The Georgia Public Policy Foundation has worked closely with the state’s Special Council on Tax Reform to influence the council to consider lower, more broad-based taxes in legislation considered during the 2011-2012 session. Meanwhile, going green to save green, the Foundation re-launched its newsletter, The Georgia Policy Review, in digital format. The fall 2010 edition is available at gppf.org. After a successful inaugural Legislative Policy Briefing, modeled on the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s annual event, upcoming events include a December Policy Briefing Luncheon on digital learning, keynoted by Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, who was recently named to the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s Digital Learning Council. To expand outreach and enhance the policy discussion in Georgia, the Foundation launched The Forum, forum.georgiapolicy.org, an interactive online community site, where issue experts and interested citizens can meet and exchange ideas. gppf.org

HAWAII

The Grassroot Institute served as a valuable educational resource this election season, providing policy information to candidates and speaking to community and activist groups about state issues and candidates’ voting records. The Institute also distributed an email “voter’s guide” with links to HawaiiVotes.org, its legislative scorecard, a list of Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers, and other educational resources. HawaiiSunshine.org, the Institute’s new and improved government transparency site, now includes payroll data and a “pork stamp” feature so users can quickly alert the Institute to questionable expenditures. Grassroot recently published a paper by SPN / IHS Summer Fellow Kelsey Winther, exposing Hawaii’s $9 billion (and growing) state pension liability – the second highest per-capita in the country. The Institute is working to assemble a nationwide coalition to address the government pension crisis. If you or your organization is interested in participating, please contact Jamie Story at 808-591-9193. grassrootinstitute.org

IDAHO

The Idaho Freedom Foundation released a report detailing the impact of Obamacare on Idaho and recommended policy changes to mitigate some of the costs. IFF also held workshops on how to hold government accountable using the Open Meeting Law and state Public Records Law. In October, the Foundation conducted its first meetings designed to launch local community audit committees, which will examine spending habits of local government agencies. The Foundation’s IdahoReporter.com news team has gathered stories exposing government waste, including stories about: a school district spending $30,000 to buy iPads for teachers at well-above retail price, a school district that just awarded a $25,000 bonus to its retiring school superintendent pleading poverty, and bizarre stimulus spending, including a project to "help post-menopausal women not drink too much and to find out how alcohol effects the thinking of women taking hormones." idahofreedom.net

ILLINOIS

The Illinois Policy Institute has been on the road with the Illinois Turnaround Tour. Over 78 days spanning the summer and fall, more than 130 different stops were made and 8,000 miles logged. The Turnaround Tour resulted in a massive media impact with more than 35 significant media mentions and more than 2,800,000 impressions through film, radio, print, direct mail, SMS text-messaging, on-the-road driving, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, news sites, rallies, candidate forums, and "Get On Board" home-viewing movie kits. What’s Next? The Institute’s efforts will continue far beyond Election Day 2010. It’ll be working with policy makers to put these ideas into practice – to the benefit of all Illinoisans. Institute staff are busy planning policy initiatives in the areas of budget and taxes, education, transparency, health care, public employee compensation and pensions. The Institute will be prepared for the General Assembly in 2011! illinoispolicy.org

INDIANA

Abe Lincoln's family moved to Indiana from Kentucky because the state could provide clear title to land. Today, though, the concept of private property is rarely a campaign theme. Seeking to change that, the Indiana Policy Review Foundation launched a fund drive to commission a group of Indiana economists to lay down a straightforward, easy-to-understand narrative on private property. The material, to be distributed both as weekly op-ed articles and as a dedicated issue of the quarterly journal, will include core resources and up-to-date research for use by politicians and opinion leaders. On another topic, the Foundation is gratified that key elements of its campaign for weighted-student funding in public schools are being discussed by Gov. Mitch Daniels as potential legislative initiatives this next session. inpolicy.org

IOWA

In “The Wisdom of President Warren G. Harding,” a policy study from the Public Interest Institute, research analyst John Hendrickson discusses how President Harding handled the challenge of pulling the nation’s economy out of a severe depression. When the nation elected Harding in 1920, it was facing 11.7 percent unemployment, the national debt had escalated because of World War I, tax rates were extremely high, and government spending was out of control. Harding restored the economy by reducing regulations, slashing tax rates, and cutting government spending. Harding also appointed pro-business individuals to regulatory agencies and the U.S. Supreme Court. As the nation struggles today with economic uncertainty, high levels of unemployment, out-of-control government spending, escalating debts and deficits, an expanding regulatory state and increasing tax rates, policymakers should learn from the Harding Administration. Read this and other publications at limitedgovernment.org.

KANSAS

In the midst of an election year, Kansas Policy Institute is changing the education debate in Kansas. KPI released “Kansas K-12 Spending and Achievement Comparison” in late September; numerous campaigns mentioned it and it generated radio and print media coverage. The study shows that though student achievement on the National Assessment of Education Progress exams and enrollment have largely been flat over the past decade, per-pupil spending has increased 42 percent since 2003. KPI sent the study to every sitting member of the legislature, all legislative candidates and other key officials. Candidates from both parties used the findings in their campaigns, and KPI has received calls from candidates thanking it for the paper and for confirming the need for education reform. Through state-wide media coverage, the drumbeat continues for real educational opportunities and the reduction of state spending. kansaspolicy.org 

KENTUCKY

The Bluegrass Institute led the charge in a recent victory for free-market competition when the Carter County Board of Education voted to remove a project labor agreement from the construction of Tygart Elementary School. Carter County’s decision came after Kentucky’s Associated General Contractors brought a lawsuit against it, and the Bluegrass Institute exposed the issue. Jim Waters, the Institute's vice president of policy and communications, first covered the suit against Carter County's PLA in his weekly newspaper column, bringing attention to the debate state-wide. “The Truth about Project Labor Agreements,” a national website, picked up the column and posted it online. After receiving state-wide pressure, the Carter County Board of Education voted 3-1 on Sept. 30 to remove the project labor agreement: a move that will save Kentucky taxpayers more than $1.5 million. bipps.org

MAINE

Maine Heritage Policy Center added pension data for 25,727 Maine government retirees to its transparency website MaineOpenGov.org. Data analysis found that state’s retiree pension burden is nearly $15.4 billion, an amount equal to $11,834 for every man, woman and child in The Pine Tree State. Of the $15.4 billion total, retirees paid in less than six percent of the total pension cost. On average, for every $1 withheld from their paycheck while working, government retirees will get back $17 in pension benefits. Some retirees will get more than $300 for every $1 withheld. More than 2,100 government retirees will receive a projected total lifetime pension of $1 million or more. During the first three days after the release of the new data, MaineOpenGov
.org had 7,100 hits. Users spent an average of six minutes on the site, performing 37,560 searches. mainepolicy.org

MARYLAND


In late September, the Calvert Institute issued a report on Maryland's pension and retiree health benefit crisis and held a press conference, which included Maryland Tax Education Foundation president Jeffrey Hooke and Donald Devine, former director of the federal Office of Personnel Management. The press conference received widespread coverage and prompted editorials in both The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post, endorsing partial moves toward defined contribution plans in place of defined benefit plans for state employees. calvertinstitute.org


The Maryland Public Policy Institute recently released its “2010 Annapolis Report,” which evaluates key General Assembly votes on bills affecting businesses and families. The legislature received above-average scores with respect to education-related votes as well as in ethics and transparency issues, however, it received below-average scores with respect to budget, fiscal policy and tax-related issues. The Institute also released a Maryland Policy Report, “Maryland’s Restrictions on Patient Choice,” which asserts that only a few attempts by legislators have sought to give consumers more control over their health care purchases. In addition, the Institute hosted a panel, “How Maryland Can Become a Leader in K-12 Online Learning,” which discussed how technological innovations are improving and transforming the learning opportunities available to students. Children who participate in virtual education perform better, on average, than those taking the same coursework through traditional instruction. mdpolicy.org

MASSACHUSETTS

Pioneer Institute published “Agenda for Leadership,” outlining free-market reforms for the next Massachusetts governor. In October, Pioneer also published two education research papers: “Charter School Caps and Strings Attached” and “Education Tax Credits: A Review of the Rhode Island Program and Assessment of Possibilities in Massachusetts.” Pioneer co-sponsored a forum on school choice with the Democrats for Education Reform, Black Alliance for Educational Options and Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance. Former Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams gave the keynote address and Harvard scholar Paul Peterson moderated a lively panel discussion. Pioneer is pleased to welcome Joshua Archambault as its new program manager for health care. Archambault holds a Master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government and brings broad policy experience from past positions with Mitt Romney, Scott Brown and The Heritage Foundation. pioneerinstitute.org

MICHIGAN

Mackinac Center’s fiscal policy director Michael LaFaive and communications specialist Kathy Hoekstra drew multistate media coverage for an investigation of a solar panel company that received state economic development subsidies despite spurious claims on state applications. LaFaive also appeared on Fox News after Michigan Capitol Confidential reported that the city of Ann Arbor planned to spend $850,000 on a water sculpture to be located across the street from a fire department – after the city announced budget cuts that laid off firefighters. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a lower court must explain itself for rejecting a Mackinac Center Legal Foundation lawsuit aimed at stopping the forced unionization of home-based day care workers. The Center’s annual school privatization survey found that nearly half of all public schools in Michigan contract out for food, custodial or transportation services. That’s up 57 percent this decade. mackinac.org

MINNESOTA

Recent Center of the American Experiment events included the annual Fall Briefing, this year with Michael Barone, and the annual special dinner in collaboration with the Minnesota Free Market Institute and local outposts of the Federalist Society and Institute for Justice. Keynote speaker Bradley A. Smith addressed free speech and free elections. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney will be the keynote speaker at the Center’s 2011 Annual Dinner. Recent major publications include a new Minnesota Policy Blueprint study on natural resources, by senior fellow Kent Kaiser, which includes recommendations to a new governor and legislature for profitably and safely expanding mining in the state. Among other publications are: “Recessions and Recoveries: Lessons Not Learned,” by senior fellow Tom Kelly; columns by policy fellow Peter Nelson on Obamacare and the FCC and an op-ed by president Mitch Pearlstein on Minnesota populism. americanexperiment.org

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Center for Public Policy recently launched its fourth Regional Board of Advisors. Each of these boards is comprised of 40 to 50 community and business leaders who meet semi-annually for breakfast meetings in their respective communities. They provide a forum for MCPP to present its latest work and for MCPP to hear from leaders in the “real world” where public policy has its impact. mspolicy.org

MONTANA

Montana Policy Institute’s second biennial Legislature Forum brought together legislators, citizens, and state, local and national experts to discuss the issues lawmakers will be addressing during the upcoming session. MPI provided ideas for cutting spending, reforming the budget process and education system, protecting property rights and bringing government back from the feds to the people. One of the most sought after items at the forum was the Institute’s new “Piglet Book,” which is full of information about how the nation got into the fiscal mess it’s in and concrete suggestions for getting out of it. And it’s kind of fun besides. That along with MPI’s spending analysis and budget reform roadmap will provide Montana citizen-legislators with plenty of ideas for reducing spending and restoring freedom to Montanans in 2011. montanapolicy.org

NEBRASKA

On Sept. 23, the Platte Institute for Economic Research hosted the 2010 Nebraska Water Management Summit. The combination of agriculture’s key role in the state’s economy as well as the excessive bureaucratic management of water in the state made this event timely and productive. The featured luncheon speaker was former U.S. Congressman Tom Osborne. Several state senators as well as the top water experts from the state and national water rights expert Mary Kelly also participated in the all-day event which drew more than 150 people. On Dec. 1, the Platte Institute held the 2010 Nebraska Carbon Emissions Summit, featuring David Brown, president of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Also in December, the Platte Institute is launching a redesigned website and will be unveiling its “Budgeting for a Better Nebraska” campaign to focus on the state’s $1.4 billion deficit. platteinstitute.org

NEVADA
The Nevada Policy Research Institute released its “Nevada Piglet Book 2010,” detailing millions of dollars in government waste uncovered over the past two years. The report generated massive media attention, including: a prominent story in the state’s largest newspaper, reports on all four major Las Vegas television stations and interviews on three radio stations. The “Piglet Book” provides lawmakers and citizens with numerous examples of government waste that call into question assertions that Nevada’s budget has been “cut to the bone.” In December, NPRI continued its popular series of policy luncheons with a presentation by the Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick, who spoke on how Nevadans can use the state’s constitution to protect liberty. NPRI also welcomed two new staff members: Jared Carl is NPRI’s new development officer and Kyle Gillis is the new investigative reporter. Like NPRI at Facebook.com/NevadaPolicyResearchInstitute. npri.org

NEW JERSEY

The Common Sense Institute of New Jersey has established a strategic partnership with the Monmouth University School of Education to develop a model system for New Jersey schools in a post-school choice world. Major changes in education policy are developing in New Jersey, and it will include a greater menu of options for students. To avoid a haphazard and fragmented approach, CSI-NJ and Monmouth University are gathering members of the Christie Administration, along with administrators and policy experts in public and non-public schools to create a new student-centric paradigm by applying scientific research methods to classroom instruction so that the communities can learn from each other. The year-long project will produce a first-of-its-kind model in the Garden State and its findings will be applicable to many states throughout the country. csinj.org

NEW MEXICO

The Rio Grande Foundation released a new study illustrating the positive impact of Gov. Bill Richardson’s 2003 tax cuts. Among the study’s findings: Since 2003, New Mexico has jumped five spots – from 47th to 42nd – in the ranking of states’ personal income levels. The study received widespread attention in media outlets statewide and from a Georgia commission dedicated to reforming that state’s tax code. Additionally, the Foundation hosted Pacific Legal Foundation and Cato Institute legal scholar Timothy Sandefur for a lecture on his new book, The Right to Earn a Living. Lastly, the Foundation continued its efforts to show that the unelected Environmental Improvement Board, which has been considering a New Mexico-only carbon cap, has sufficient conflicts of interest – including being on the payroll of major environmental groups – to preclude it from being able legally to enact such a limit. riograndefoundation.org 

NEW YORK

Keeping the Empire Center’s transparency site, SeeThroughNY.net, updated and accurate, requires staff to continually file Freedom of Information Law requests with governments and entities throughout the state. FOIL is the gateway for taxpayers to acquire information from their governments. To ensure that access remains, the Center successfully sued the New York City Council after it had been non-compliant to a FOIL request. Likewise, the Center has filed suit against the city’s police and firefighter pension funds. The Center’s legal strategy is to obtain information in the short-term, and to enforce the principle that New York taxpayers are entitled to this data. Organizationally, E.J. McMahon, who founded the Empire Center in 2005, will now be able to devote all of his time to research and analysis as a senior fellow of the Center as Tim Hoefer has been named director. empirecenter.org

NORTH CAROLINA

A stinging critique from John Locke Foundation researchers helped sink a local sales-tax proposal for Watauga County, and the same team critiqued nearly a dozen other questionable tax-hike proposals on the November ballot. JLF researchers outlined elements of state-level health care deregulation, debunked false reports about costs associated with nuclear and solar power, compared targeted tax-break deals to playing the lottery, detailed public transit’s high costs, and questioned a state prescription drug database. Carolina Journal shed light on dubious undocumented campaign flights involving Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue. More than 200 people gathered for JLF’s election preview luncheon with The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone. Dozens more attended citizens’ workshops on North Carolina’s role in ratifying the U.S. Constitution. The N.C. History Project helped document former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms’ links to famed Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn. johnlocke.org

The John William Pope Civitas Institute recently launched the Free Market Academy, which reaches out to local groups with seminars ranging from two to five hours. The Academy’s goal is to serve as an “economic awakening” for attendees, providing them with clear insight into how an economy works along with education on free markets. Civitas' Carolina transparency website (CarolinaTransparency.com), created to post financial disclosures, has added an interactive legislative pay chart and voter registration changes database. At the onset of early voting, the Institute unveiled the Civitas Vote Tracker, an interactive tool that makes state Board of Elections early voting data accessible and user friendly. The Tracker, the first of its kind, allows citizens to view early voter turnout in categories such as county, precinct or congressional and legislative districts. It garnered numerous mentions in state and national media outlets. nccivitas.org

OHIO

The Buckeye Institute recently released “Dipped in Gold: Upper-Management Police & Fire Retirees become Public-Service Millionaires,” a policy report exposing the Deferred Retirement Option Plan program, which allows officers to continue working while their pensions accumulate in untouchable accounts that earn almost eight percent yearly compounding interest. When those in upper management exit the DROP program after participating for the eight-year maximum, they individually can collect lump sum payments of approximately one million dollars from the pension fund. Due to the yearly cost of living allowance, many of these officers also collect yearly pension payments in excess of $100,000 for the rest of their lives. The report recommends repealing the DROP program and raising the retirement age from 48 to 55 for a cost savings of $1.2 billion dollars. buckeyeinstitute.org

OKLAHOMA

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs announces the launch of The 1787 Society. Membership is open to citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 who have a sincere desire to grow in their understanding and appreciation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. This nonpartisan group seeks to teach young leaders how to think about the important issues of our day based on our nation’s foundational principles. OCPA president Michael Carnuccio says, “We want to inspire and challenge tomorrow’s leaders to be pro-active in the process of self-governance. Learning ways to engage the culture and society at the place they are in their lives right now whether as a professional or collegian.” The 1787 Society meets monthly to hear speakers address timely topics. It hopes to start other chapters as sponsors and leadership develops throughout the state. ocpathink.org

OREGON

Cascade Policy Institute partnered with Americans for Prosperity–Oregon to produce a blueprint for future state budgets, “Facing Reality: Ideas to Reset Oregon’s Budget and Recharge its Economy.” Unveiled at a state capitol press conference, the report was presented to legislators, political candidates and the media. Cascade has launched its “Policy Picnic” brown bag discussion series. Each month, 10 guests are invited to meet with Cascade staff for in-depth policy discussions. Topics covered include: transportation planning, unemployment insurance reform, the Oregon budget, and school choice. Cascade also partnered with Oregonians for Individual Rights to bring Dr. Andrew Bernstein to Portland for a lecture/book signing of Capitalism Unbound. Christina Martin, education policy analyst, debated Hanna Vandeering, the vice president of the Oregon Education Association, on a popular local television talk show. Soon after, Martin released her report, “The Economic Impact of Virtual Charter Schools on Local Districts.” cascadepolicy.org 

PENNSYLVANIA

Allegheny Institute research continues effectively to shine a light on government issues in its state and region. The Institute released a study comparing per capita spending and revenue amounts for a sample of municipalities in Allegheny County. The results were so well received that the sample was expanded to include all available municipalities and a complete data set on revenues and expenditures is now available on the Institute’s website. The Institute is paying close attention to Pittsburgh’s struggle to avoid a state takeover of its underfunded pension plans. The city council rejected the mayor’s efforts to privatize parking assets in favor of the Parking Authority issuing revenue bonds to fund pensions. The Institute has weighed in by suggesting selling Parking Authority assets to raise money for the pensions culminating in the dissolution of the Authority. alleghenyinstitute.org


Things are looking up on the education reform front in Pennsylvania. In mid-October, Commonwealth Foundation president Matt Brouillette testified in an often-contentious, day-long hearing on the future of school choice. During the hearing, a shocking exchange occurred: The Democratic chairman of the Senate Education Committee upbraided a union representative for frustrating efforts to discuss reform. Now that Republican Tom Corbett will be the next governor of Pennsylvania, school choice will be a top priority in the new administration. With a school-voucher bill bearing a strong resemblance to CF model legislation recently introduced by a bipartisan, multi-racial, rural/urban group of state senators, the timing couldn’t be better. commonwealthfoundation.org

SOUTH CAROLINA

 

South Carolina Policy Council released a report exposing legislative tyranny in South Carolina. That report has united grassroots activists all across the state. For the first time in decades, the four most powerful state legislators are being forced to answer directly to the public. The leadership’s excessive power is also being challenged by a new generation of statehouse reformers – one of whom is challenging the sitting speaker of the house. This fight is making front page news in every major S.C. paper! The Nerve’s volunteer Citizen Reporters are interviewing lawmakers and reporting politicians’ views on roll call voting, the length of the legislative session and their own unbalanced, unchecked power. SCPC is posting their reports on The Nerve so the public can see what their lawmakers are saying...just another way SCPC members are holding lawmakers accountable! scpolicycouncil.com

TENNESSEE 

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research recently welcomed prominent business leader Lee Beaman to its board of directors at an event featuring The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund. TCPR published a report on the impact cap and trade could have on Tennessee if passed during the lame duck session. Investigative reporter Chris Butler has released several intriguing stories since joining TCPR’s staff in September. First, Butler exposed how local politicians raided a Tennessee Valley Authority fund set up to compensate victims from a 2008 coal ash spill. Money dedicated to property owners has been used for numerous pet projects unrelated to the ash spill. In another story, Butler called out the Bureau of TennCare – Tennessee’s Medicaid system – for its failure to maintain a database, costing doctors thousands of dollars in lost compensation. Both stories can be read on tennesseepolicy.org.

TEXAS

On Oct. 11, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published “Competitive States 2010: Texas vs. California,” a report by the firm of internationally renowned economist Dr. Arthur Laffer, which compares the economic climates of America’s two largest states. Editorials highlighting the findings appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and The Orange County Register. The New York Post and National Review Online were among the outlets publishing Rich Lowry’s syndicated column on the report. News coverage included The New York Times, FoxNews.com, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Sacramento Bee and other McClatchy newspapers in California. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s new book on the Tenth Amendment, Fed Up!, is on sale nationwide. Gov. Perry has dedicated the book to TPPF, and donated the royalties from its sales to support the Foundation’s Center for Tenth Amendment Studies. (Buy your copy today!) texaspolicy.com

UTAH

Sutherland Institute has been working with State Sen. Wayne Niederhauser on a policy to enact outcome-based budgeting in Utah. On Oct. 6, Sen. Niederhauser and Sen. Ben McAdams addressed the subject while participating in an event hosted by Sutherland’s Center for Limited Government, the first of several Sutherland Legislative Briefings to be conducted prior to the 2011 general legislative session. In attendance were various community leaders and elected officials, including Rep. David Clark, Utah’s Speaker of the House. Speaker Clark provided significant input regarding the proposal during the event. On Oct. 19, Sen. Niederhauser presented his bill on outcome-based budgeting to the Executive Appropriations Committee, at which it passed successfully. This means it will be a priority piece of legislation once the legislative session starts in January. The entire Briefing can be viewed on the Institute’s Youtube channel, Youtube.com/sutherlandinstitute. sutherlandinstitute.org

VERMONT

Cato Institute president Ed Crane picked Vermont for Cato’s annual sponsor gathering, and Ethan Allen Institute was quick to put Crane at the podium of its Sheraton Economic Series. His Cato colleague Tom Palmer travelled to Vermont for a two-day speaking tour that began Dec. 1. When one of the candidates for governor built his platform on universal preschools and single-payer health care, EAI published hard-hitting commentaries hammering at those costly statist nostrums. EAI launched its Energy Education Project in October, to educate Vermonters on nuclear science, safety and economics. The 2011 legislature will decide whether to vote the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant off the island, the loss of which would produce a huge energy and economic sinkhole. The Institute’s board is actively raising contributions and pledges to finance a planned expansion of the Institute’s program in 2011, which will include a new office and a new CEO. ethanallen.org

VIRGINIA

The Thomas Jefferson Institute has planned a 30th Anniversary Celebration of Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration … and the Commencement of the Reagan Revolution. Featured speakers include: former Attorney General Ed Meese and former Congressman Kent Hance. Sponsored in cooperation with the Reagan Alumni Association and Young America’s Foundation and the Reagan Ranch, the event will be emceed by Fox News’ Fred Barnes and chaired by former Gov. George Allen. The Institute also hosted a breakfast reception with Gov. Bob McDonnell and eight members of his Cabinet, drawing in more than 150 leading businessmen and women, followed by a private briefing on the state’s government reform efforts. The governor sent a personal letter to each attendee asking him or her to support the Jefferson Institute. Institute president Mike Thompson addressed the Virginia Tea Party Convention, attended by more than 2,500 Virginians. thomasjeffersoninst.org

 

Virginia Institute for Public Policy president John Taylor was a featured speaker at both the Campaign for Liberty’s Virginia Freedom Fest in September and the Virginia Tea Party Patriots convention in October. At the latter event, Taylor and the heads of the Campaign for Liberty and Tea Party Patriot organizations presented a comprehensive legislative agenda that will be the focus of their efforts in the 2011 General Assembly session. The Virginia Institute’s sister organization, Tertium Quids, has played a central role in crafting the agenda, which focuses on education and property rights reform as well as tax cuts for both individuals and businesses. The Institute’s syndicated political talk radio program, “Freedom & Prosperity Radio,” has added two additional affiliates: Williamsburg’s WMBG, AM 740 and Richmond’s WLEE, AM 990. Eleven stations now carry the hour-long show. virginiainstitute.org

WASHINGTON

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is making major communications, educational and grassroots-organizing inroads to key demographics and decision makers. Featuring nationally-ranked guests, Radio Free Washington is now a national program airing on 16 stations in 10 states and Guam. The Informed Voter Project distributed more than 80,000 pieces on Washington state initiatives and other ballot measures as well as candidate voting records. The large number of ballot measures necessitated plain-speaking analysis of the pros and cons of each, especially since there were two competing measures to get the state out of the liquor business and two conflicting measures: one that would make a tax permanent, the other which would repeal it. The Freedom Foundation held a tele-town hall, broadcast throughout eastern Washington, to discuss the ballot measures. Talk Back on Economics, a 10-part innovative series on basic economic principles, debuted to an enthusiastic audience. effwa.org

 

Charles Krauthammer keynoted Washington Policy Center’s 2010 Annual Dinner in October, which welcomed 1,200 attendees in Seattle and, for the first time, another 200 in Spokane via live simulcast. WPC honored the State Auditor for his years of service and commitment to transparent, accountable and efficient government. Throughout October and November WPC partnered with local Chambers of Commerce and other groups to hold seven small-business issue forums around Washington state. Hundreds of small-business owners participated in the interactive forums to discuss ways to improve the state’s business climate and learn more about how this year’s ballot measures will impact them. This fall WPC outreach efforts focused on these ballot measures, some of which reflected its longtime policy recommendations. WPC played a significant role in shaping media coverage (including two Wall Street Journal articles) and public opinion on these measures. washingtonpolicy.org

WYOMING 

Wyoming Liberty Group is so pleased with the results of its first key liberty issues legislator/candidates survey, modeled on Montana's Gary Marbut Second Amendment surveys, that it plans to conduct the survey annually. The feedback is valuable internally as well as externally for informing residents, including those who participated in their form of the survey. A humorous "bonus" professional licensing question was added concerning who should be legally qualified to assist with false eyelash application. Outspoken hair stylists, for whom eyelash work is illegal, give intelligent interviews for the accompanying video. WLG’s major information push prior to January's 2011 Legislative Session is to provide health care freedom amendment information that counters a state version of Obamacare and provides clean wording. WLG will rate all bills prior to the session to provide legislators with neutral lay-language descriptions and, separately, with liberty issues evaluations. wyliberty.org

 

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

This fall the 1851 Center stopped an Ohio township from blocking a Tea Party-led Constitution Day commemoration on its public square. Township officials had ordered residents to desist, on grounds such an event was “too political.” The 1851 Center also blocked a large Ohio city from implementing a program that would have lent millions in taxpayer money to individuals who lacked the credentials to get loans from the private sector. 1851 is currently litigating an Ohio Corrupt Activities Act (RICO) case against the Strickland Administration and organized labor for their roles in facilitating, through bribery and intimidation, expensive union-friendly prevailing wage and project labor agreements for public school building projects. 1851 is also representing Ohio’s lakefront property owners before the Ohio Supreme Court to stop the Attorney General from taking privately-owned lakefront property under the “public trust doctrine.” ohioconstitution.org

 

Accuracy in Media is proud to announce that former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire has joined AIM as a special contributor. Sen. Smith’s heroic efforts on behalf of the POW/MIA issue during the 1980s and 1990s focused nation-wide attention on the fate of missing or captured members of the U.S. military during the Vietnam War and earned him a reputation as the most conservative senator from the Northeast. He will represent AIM on the lecture circuit, as a guest on radio and TV talk shows, and will express his views about politics and the media on the AIM website. Sen. Smith brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization, and it is pleased to welcome him as a contributor to its campaign for more fair and accurate news coverage. aim.org 

American Council of Trustees and Alumni recently published best practices from around the nation in its “Cutting Costs” guide for university trustees. And, the Counsel has been working state by state to distribute the Guide to trustees. ACTA policy director Michael Poliakoff carried this message to Gov. Mark Sanford’s South Carolina higher education summit. Since 1993, tuition at Clemson has risen 137 percent, and at the University of South Carolina, 94 percent. It’s not clear what students are getting for these bigger bills. Poliakoff recommended trimming administrative expenses and re-evaluating capital budgets. He continues to work with the South Carolina Policy Council to limit costs in the Palmetto State. President Anne Neal told a similar story at an Indiana Trustees’ Academy keynoted by Gov. Mitch Daniels and sponsored by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. She emphasized that colleges and universities must do better with less. goacta.org

The future of the death tax, which is slated to come roaring back to life on Jan. 1 with a top marginal rate of 60 percent at an exemption of $1 million, is up to Congress. Fortunately, over 500 candidates for the U.S. Senate and House have signed the American Family Business Institute’s Death Tax Repeal Pledge. Signers can be viewed NoDeathTax.org/map. Recent research published by American Family Business Foundation indicates that permanently repealing the death tax is the best way to encourage job growth. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin (former director of the Congressional Budget Office) published a study with the Foundation which finds that bringing the death tax back at 60 percent will destroy nearly 1.5 million small business jobs. Even bringing the death tax back at a “compromise” rate of 35 percent will destroy 857,000 jobs. nodeathtax.org

The American Legislative Exchange Council announces the publication of its State Budget Reform Toolkit. States today face structural deficits created by overspending. Most of the legislative “fixes” over the past few years for state budget gaps have been Band-aids that have postponed or obscured the problems rather than addressing them directly. This toolkit will advance a set of budget and procurement best practices to guide state policymakers as they work to solve current budget shortfalls. The toolkit will assist legislators in prioritizing and more efficiently delivering core government services through Jeffersonian principles. Despite the economic difficulties facing the states, there is a pathway to budget reform. By following the policies suggested in this ALEC Budget Reform Toolkit, lawmakers can make informed decisions and build a solid budget focused on delivering the best results for taxpayers and users of government services. alec.org

 

Americans for Tax Reform has calculated the final tab for the 111th Congress and the conclusion is that it has been a bad two years for taxpayers. The 111th Congress has enacted $352 billion in net tax increases. Most of the tax hikes were permanent and most of the tax cuts were temporary. There were seven dollars in permanent tax hikes for every dollar of permanent cuts. Keep in mind that this doesn’t take into account the higher taxes set to kick in on Jan. 1. Fortunately for American taxpayers, the midterm elections have increased the number of Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers in Congress. atr.org

Beacon Hill Institute released its 10th annual State Competitiveness Report in October. The report, which includes an index covering 43 measures, showed that North Dakota finished first in its ability to grow its economy and sustain high wages for its residents. Colorado finished second and last year's first place finisher, Massachusetts, placed third. House Speaker and Democrat Robert A. DeLeo offered remarks at a brief conference marking the report's release. The Institute also released a report on Massachusetts Green Energy programs, noting that at least 11 of 25 mandates will cost the commonwealth at least $9.8 billion over the next decade. In its study on a November ballot question that would radically reduce the sales tax in Massachusetts, BHI took a contrarian position finding that such a cut would induce more favorable cross-border sales and create approximately 17,000 private sector jobs. beaconhill.org

In September, the Cato Institute released its biennial “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America's Governors.” With just four "A" grades in the bunch, many state governors have been forced to defend their taxing and spending records over the past two years. Cato also weighed in on the debate over marijuana legalization and released "The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition," a white paper by senior fellow and Harvard professor Jeffrey Miron. He estimates that legalizing drugs would save state and local governments roughly $25.7 billion and would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually. A new issue of Regulation magazine also hit the shelves with articles on soda taxes and restaurant regulation. cato.org

 

This fall the Center for Competitive Politics pushed back against burdensome campaign finance regulation in states across the country, from Michigan to New Jersey. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, many state legislatures attempted to silence advocacy groups and business associations from speaking out on public policy issues. Even worse, several proposals would curtail First Amendment political rights enjoyed by nonprofits that pre-date Citizens United. Often sold as “pay-to-play” or “shareholder protection” bills, these proposals would limit the ability of citizens to fully participate in the political process and associate with groups of their choosing. The Center has won important victories, but pro-regulation lawmakers are gearing up for the next legislative session. CCP looks forward to working with SPN members as it continues its efforts to oppose anti-speech policies nationwide. campaignfreedom.org 

 

Though Citizens in Charge Foundation works primarily on the rights of initiative and referendum, there’s a third process that is important in ensuring citizen control of government. Citizens in 18 states have the power of recall, whereby elected officials can be removed from office before the expiration of their term. Citizens can petition to have a recall election put on the ballot. Removal can be for malfeasance or in many jurisdictions for any action the recall language specifies. For recalls, most states set the highest signature threshold for any type of petition, usually requiring 25 percent of registered voters or voters in the last election for it to make the ballot. Having a recall process allows voters to maintain control over elected officials who are not representing their best interests, are unresponsive and incompetent, or in some cases have broken the law. citizensincharge.org

 

From Sept. 2 to 5, in Washington, D.C., The Claremont Institute continued its tradition of sponsoring panels at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. Claremont’s panels give conservative professors and graduate students an opportunity to participate in this important academic forum that is otherwise dominated by the Left. These 15 panels covered topics such as “Constitutional Issues in the Age of Obama,” “The 2010 Elections,” and “The Recent Term of the U.S. Supreme Court.” Participants included Charles Kesler of the Claremont Review of Books, Jonah Goldberg of National Review, author Steven Hayward, Kathryn Lopez of National Review and RJ Pestritto of Hillsdale College. Other participants included conservative scholars from Johns Hopkins, Kenyon College, George Mason University, Baylor, the University of Dallas, Loyola and elsewhere. Each year Claremont’s panels are among the most highly-attended at the entire conference. claremont.org

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is pleased to announce its 2010/11 Warren T. Brookes Journalism Fellow: Kathryn Ciano. Follow her at twitter.com/katciano and on OpenMarket.org/author/kathryn-ciano. CEI also welcomes environmental policy expert Ben Lieberman as an adjunct scholar, following several years at The Heritage Foundation. Follow his commentary at cei.org/experts/ben-lieberman. CEI’s constitutional challenge to the 1998 tobacco settlement is now on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleges the agreement between 46 states and major tobacco companies violates the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Contact chall@cei.org to receive updates on the case. Follow CEI on Facebook (Facebook
.com/competitiveenterpriseinstitute), Twitter (Twitter.com/ceidotorg), and Youtube (Youtube.com/ceidotorg). Subscribe to our blog feed at OpenMarket.org and to CEI Weekly and other newsletters at cei.org/newsletter-signup. Visit GlobalWarming.org for all the latest commentary on energy news & politics. Order your free market gear and “contraband” at
BureaucrashContraband.com. cei.org


DonorsTrust
has released its 10th Anniversary Report. Since its inception in 1999, DonorsTrust has received $305 million in contributions to donor-advised accounts and has disbursed $245 million in grants to some 1,000 liberty-minded charities. DonorsTrust’s reason for being is to provide a safe philanthropic vehicle for donors who want to promote liberty with the assurance that their charitable intent to do so will be honored both during their lives and beyond. It can be said DonorsTrust is a hybrid of a commercial donor-advised fund (i.e., Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund or Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program) and a community foundation. For friends of liberty, the Trust is more donor-friendly than a community foundation, more flexible than a commercial fund and more donor-intent secure than either. donorstrust.org 

Thomas Jefferson once urged us to “educate and inform the whole mass of people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of liberty.” For the past 49 years, the Foundation for Economic Education has taken Jefferson’s words very seriously, seeking to continuously educate and engage students about the intellectual principles that underlie a free and prosperous society. Are you interested in being part of FEE’s long-standing tradition? You can be a 2011 FEE representative for your campus or organization. As a representative, the Foundation will send you materials and literature so you can tell your friends, family and professors about the unique opportunities FEE has to offer. fee.org


The American Dream is alive in Florida’s classrooms where children of all backgrounds and walk of life are shattering common myths on why students fall behind and fail to learn. According to the Nation’s Report Card, Florida’s 4th grade Hispanic readers are reading as well or better than the average of all students in 31 states and D.C. Florida’s African-American 4th grade readers are reading as well or better than the average student in eight states. Florida, a majority minority state where almost half of our 2.7 million public school students live in or near poverty, is proof that bold commitments to high expectations, clear accountability and unprecedented choices improves student achievement. If Florida can do it, every state can. The Foundation for Excellence in Education is working to ignite a movement of reform, state by state, across America. excelined.org 


The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity recently revealed a new website dedicated to providing news from the nation's state capitols. StatehouseNewsOnline.com, a national leading news website, networks with dozens of state-based think tanks and news organizations to provide in-depth coverage of state legislation, government and special interest issues and campaign news. StatehouseNewsOnline.com is a direct response to the growing vacuum in state-based coverage of the happenings in state capitals. As the newspaper industry has taken a substantial hit in the past few years, the coverage and media presence in state capitols has dramatically diminished. By placing reporters in several state capitals, the Franklin Center’s network of reporters will have the opportunity to cover the daily happenings of government and hold elected and public officials accountable to the people. StatehouseNewsOnline.com offers weekly news clips. To subscribe, visit StateHouseNewsOnline.com. franklincenterhq.org

Fraser Institute researchers have been busy this quarter, producing a number of timely studies on energy production, economic freedom and labor markets. The Institute’s Global Petroleum Survey found that eight U.S. states are among the top 10 most attractive jurisdictions for investment worldwide: South Dakota, Texas, Illinois, Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and Alabama. U.S. states also fared well in the 2010 Economic Freedom of North America report, which ranks Delaware first and Texas second. West Virginia is the lowest ranked U.S. jurisdiction in the Economic Freedom report. In FI’s annual study of labor markets in the United States and Canada, Alaska had the best performing labor market between 2005 and 2009, followed by Wyoming, Utah and Texas. To read these reports and other research-intensive papers, essays and commentaries, visit fraseramerica.org

 

In the last two years, the Tea Party movement has grown to become the most dominant force shaping politics today. Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, the leaders of FreedomWorks, recently released their book Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto, which provides a behind-the-scenes account of what drove millions to rally against the growth of big government liberalism. FreedomWorks has provided organizational support to the Tea Party movement through grassroots training sessions, activist rallies and large-scale events like the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington. In Give Us Liberty, Armey and Kibbe highlight ordinary citizens who launched the movement and explain where the principles of limited government and individual liberty will lead it next. This critically acclaimed book has appeared on the bestseller lists  of The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. freedomworks.org


In the past couple of months, the Free State Foundation focused attention on Maryland's looming pension benefits liability crisis. Three recent pieces by FSF research fellow Seth Cooper include: “Maryland's Pension Liability Problems Require Reforms in the 2011 Session,” “Maryland's Slow-Moving Sustainability Commission,” and “Maryland's Pension Problems Need to Be Addressed, Not Avoided.” FSF also continues to focus on transparency issues with pieces like “Model Transparency Act Should Point the Way for Maryland.” On the communications policy front, FSF continues to lead the fight against Internet regulation and proposals encouraging government media regulation. The most recent edition of Heritage Foundation’s The Insider magazine published FSF president Randolph May’s essay, “Time for the FCC to Respect the First Amendment.” freestatefoundation.org

Cooperation is critical to success. Thus, the Free to Choose Network has teamed up with other organizations to be more effective. The Cato Institute’s Johan Norberg is hosting the Network’s 30th anniversary Free To Choose Network special with the working title “Free or Equal?” FCN will distribute a second Drew Carey DVD teaching unit to its 180,000-teacher network at Izzit.org. “In many ways, it's the izzit audience – more than 3 million students and counting – that I'm most excited about,” says Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie “because these kids are going to be the difference between a good future and a grim future.” Free to Choose is distributing MRI’s "Harrison Bergeron" in its teacher pipeline, too. Working together, we are more powerful. Free To Choose has unparalleled capabilities in media production and distribution – with two of its films appearing on public television within the last year. Want to collaborate? freetochoose.net

 

More than 100 supporters, alumni and staff attended The Fund for American Studies’ annual fall conference Nov. 12-13 in Palm Beach, Florida. The weekend was filled with speakers offering analysis on the 2010 elections, including Stuart Varney of Fox News Business, former
U. N. Ambassador John Bolton, Former Secretary of State of Ohio Ken Blackwell and The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes and Stephen Hayes. Meanwhile back in Washington, D.C., TFAS was hosting a collegiate journalism conference. Reporters from media outlets such as Politico, Roll Call and USA Today discussed the elections with nearly 80 journalism students. Capital Semester students were also busy studying economics with Brian Blase of The Heritage Foundation and constitutional interpretation with Dr. John Samples of the Cato Institute. The students attended numerous site briefings throughout Washington and worked 25-hour weeks at their internships. tfas.org

 

The Heartland Institute is proud to unveil its new in-house policy blog, Somewhat Reasonable. It is the place friends and fans of The Heartland Institute can keep up with the conversation about free markets, public policy and current events that takes place every day among the Institute’s fellows and scholars. Heartland staffers don't always agree, which is part of the fun of working at a libertarian think tank. Please bookmark SomewhatReasonable
.com and join the conversation in the comment section. heartland.org


The Heritage Foundation released the study “Red Tape Rising,” which tallied a record $26.5 billion cost to our economy from the 43 new major regulations written by the Obama administration in 2010. In response to the U.S. adding $2.7 trillion to our debt the past two years, Heritage outlined $343 billion in specific cuts the new Congress can make in the fiscal year 2012 budget. And on taxes, Heritage released a study showing the economic impacts of the Obama tax hikes on all 50 states, down to the congressional district level. If implemented, the tax hikes will result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs annually across the country. Heritage also produced downloadable flyers for educating the public on the tax impacts in 21 key states which are available at heritage.org. 

 

The Independent Institute has been given the great honor of winning the 2010 Templeton Freedom Award, in the “Free Market Solutions to Poverty” category, for its book, Lessons from the Poor: Free Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit, edited by senior fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa. The awards are a program of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Through numerous case studies by economists in the U.S. and around the world, Lessons from the Poor vividly reveals that entrepreneurship is essential for change. But unfortunately in societies dominated by the political corruption and burdens from government restrictions, men and women seeking to uplift their lives are hampered by wealth confiscation, regulation, and legal insecurity. This pioneering book examines real-world entrepreneurship and shows that instead of redistributing existing wealth, progress requires communities to start creating it by freeing the enterprises of the poor. independent.org


Institute for Justice
had a victory in one of its economic liberty cases. Farmers in Lake Elmo, Minn., can breathe a sigh of relief after the city tore down its protectionist trade barriers, giving farmers the ability to sell produce grown outside city limits. Lake Elmo farmers, who faced 90 days in jail and a $1,000 in fines for violating the trade ban, can now import and sell produce they have grown themselves, as well as sell produce they’ve purchased from farmers around the country. Visit ij.org/mnfarms to learn more about the case and watch the video. ij.org

Conservatives assembled in Grapevine, Texas, Oct. 23 for the Institute for Policy Innovation’s second Policy Boot Camp to hear about key issues America will face after November’s election – how to truly stimulate the economy, steps to fighting Obamacare, restoring the 10th Amendment, and threats to the Internet. IPI also recently sponsored its second annual Communications Summit in Washington, D.C., focusing on the limitless opportunities the communications industry has for economic growth and investment, including innovation in mobile health services, smart grid technologies, and the impact broadband is making on the developing world. Finally, IPI co-sponsored a Capitol Hill briefing with the Galen Institute discussing Obamacare’s impact on Medicaid. The panel included representatives from the Pacific Research Institute, Maryland Public Policy Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council. ipi.org

Intellectual Takeout is proud to announce the launch of the newest version of its website! The new site features a simplified and much improved user interface to over 100 topic pages covering issues from John Maynard Keynes and Progressive Education since World War II to Human Nature and the Clean Water Act. The topic pages still feature quotes, charts and graphs, commentary, reports, videos, podcasts, primary documents and more. While users thought the topic pages were great before, IT further improved functionality for each topic page and incorporated topic-specific mobilization opportunities as well as joined with the National Association of Scholars to offer users the opportunity to ask questions about each specific topic. Intellectual Takeout is excited about the changes to its site and welcomes opportunities to add material from SPN affiliates to relevant topic areas. intellectualtakeout.org

On Nov. 10, The Jesse Helms Center hosted a dinner in Charlotte, North Carolina, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge. The Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge is one of the Center’s flagship programs; since its creation more than 6,000 students from 15 states and 12 countries have received critical free enterprise and principled leadership training, as well as exposure to our countries founding principles. Longtime board members Clyde C. Dickson, Jr. and H. Clark Goodwin were recognized for their service and Marc Thiessen, nationally recognized author and commentator and former chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, served as the keynote speaker for the evening. Proceeds of the evening will benefit the hundreds of young people expected to attend the Free Enterprise Leadership Challenge in 2011. jessehelmscenter.org

The John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy hosted the third annual celebratory dinner to honor the 2010 winners of its Spirit of Inquiry Best Course Contest. The event was held Nov. 4 in Cary, North Carolina. This year’s winners were Brian Shaw of Davidson College for his course “Foundations of Liberalism,” Derek Yonai of Campbell University for “World Business,” and Andrew Taylor of N. Carolina State for “Public Choice and Political Institutions.” Jenna Robinson, who directs the contest, named the award the Spirit of Inquiry to express what the Pope Center believes college courses should do: reflect a spirit of open-minded exploration within the guidelines of a particular discipline. In addition to promoting inquiry, winning courses must also be interesting and challenging. Winners are chosen by student nominations and a panel of judges. popecenter.org

 

In September, Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Obama Department of Justice indicating the two top political appointees at DOJ were involved in the decision to dismiss the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, despite sworn testimony by a DOJ official that no political appointees were involved in the decision. In October, Judicial Watch filed a new Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the DOJ to investigate whether the ACLU had any influence over the DOJ's decision to bring suit against Arizona over its new get-tough illegal immigration law, SB 1070. In October, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department to obtain information on government sponsored “religious tolerance” trips taken by radical Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. judicialwatch.org 


This October, The Leadership Institute launched its redesigned ConservativeJobs.com, the one-stop shop for conservative job seekers and employers. The conservative leadership in the House and Senate selected the Leadership Institute to facilitate the screening, interviewing and placement of qualified staff for the newly-elected conservative members of Congress. ConservativeJobs.com now features a “Resources” section that offers advice to applicants who are navigating through the job search process. Updates on trainings, informational events and job-seeking tips can also be found on ConservativeJobs.com’s new Capitol Talent Blog. Free resume consultations in person, over the phone or via email are available to job seekers by contacting Andrea McCarthy, director of employment placement services, at 800-827-LEAD. leadershipinstitute.org

This fall, the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, the only quarterly magazine to focus on cities and urban life, celebrated its 20th anniversary of publication. City Journal has been a powerful voice for urban reform, often taking the lead in calling for policies that would help transform the nation's troubled cities. In the 1990s, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani implemented many of the policy ideas championed by City Journal, which helped transform New York from a high-crime city whose residents and businesses were leaving in droves, to one of the safest major cities in the country. The anniversary celebration included a day conference in New York City focusing on the past, present, and future of cities, and an evening reception at a midtown loft with well-wishers including NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Tom Wolfe and John Stossel. Select articles from the fall City Journal issue are available online at city-journal.org. manhattan-institute.org

 

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is pleased to welcome Dr. Jason Fichtner to the staff as a senior research fellow. Previously he served in several positions at the Social Security Administration including deputy commissioner of Social Security, chief economist and associate commissioner for Retirement Policy. Prior to the Social Security Administration, Fichtner was a senior economist with the Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress. Fichtner’s primary research at Mercatus will focus on social security, federal tax policy, budget issues, as well as policy proposals to increase saving and investment. If you are interested in these issues or interested in working with Fichtner, please write Kathleen O’Hearn at kohearn@gmu.edu. mercatus.org


The Minnesota Free Market Institute launched a Pension Reform Project led by president Kim Crockett and veteran researcher Bob Shipman (BillsAndVotes.com). Please visit the Institute’s new database at MnFreeMarketInstitute.org/pensions. The SPN Annual Meeting in September generated several new alliances. Sheila Weinberg’s work at the Institute for Truth in Accounting will complement the Institute’s pension project. And, as part of a larger energy / transportation initiative designed to answer the green movement, the Institute has joined with Paul Chesser and the Beacon Hill Institute to quantify the impact of Renewable Portfolio Standards in Minnesota. The talented John LaPlante walked members of the Institute through the terrible effects of corporate taxes on job creation, while keeping members up to date on health care and educational policy. Crockett has enjoyed speaking to citizens’ groups that are engaged and eager to educate themselves in the fight for self-governance and renewed prosperity. mnfreemarketinstitute.org 

The Moving Picture Institute proudly announces that on Dec. 1, “The Cartel,” its award-winning film about school choice, celebrated its worldwide DVD and VOD release. Praised by the L.A. Times, New York Post, The Boston Globe and others, “The Cartel” is shaping debate at the national, state and local levels. The DVD and VOD release make it a profoundly accessible tool for think tanks, school choice groups and SPN groups wishing to motivate legislators, reformers and the public. SPN members may also be interested in “Chosin,” an award-winning film about the Korean War from MPI fellow Brian Iglesias. “Chosin” opened in September in theaters and is now available on DVD. Contact rob@thempi.org to arrange screenings, learn about MPI films and recommend rising filmmakers for internships or fellowship funding. thempi.org

The National Center for Policy Analysis has been hard at work educating consumers about the new health care law. The Center has created a pamphlet, "What Does Health Reform Mean for You?" which explains the new legislation's major points in a succinct and unbiased way. The Center is urging all Americans to order copies of the pamphlet and distribute them to everyone they know: customers, friends, family, doctors and online social networks. Since late August, the NCPA has distributed more than 375,000 pamphlets nationwide. In other news, the Mark Levin Show featured a discussion of a recent Health Alert by NCPA president John C. Goodman. Upcoming event speakers include political commentator and Middle-East specialist Liz Cheney, author John R. Lott, Jr. and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris. ncpa.org

In early October, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation released its "2010 General Election Ballot Guide: The Taxpayer’s Perspective," which analyzes hundreds of ballot questions in more than 30 states. NTU’s Taxpayer’s Perspective is not just a guide to initiatives on the state and local ballots across the country; it also provides evaluations of how these initiatives may harm local economies, grow the size of government, or pinch families’ pocketbooks even further. The NTU report also digs deeply into local ballot measure contests, where – besides commonly proposed bond issues and property tax increases – several emerging themes were identified. These include term limits for local officeholders, tax hikes on telecommunications and tourism, and reforms to government worker compensation systems. ntu.org


The N.C. Supreme Court handed the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law a big win in its Oct. 8 decision, known as Goldston, et al. v. State of N.C., et al., to let a lower-court ruling stand against former Gov. Mike Easley in a dispute over the governor’s power to shift money out of the state’s Highway Trust Fund. The courts ruled the governor exceeded his constitutional power when he transferred $80 million from the Highway Trust Fund to the state’s general fund without legislative approval in order to balance the state budget. NCICL joined the case last year at the request of the original plaintiffs’ attorneys. In other news, in honor of Constitution Day, NCICL unveiled its new iPhone app allowing users to access the complete N.C. Constitution on their iPhones. The application is free to download and is now also available for Droid users. ncicl.org

 

Reason magazine’s December issue takes a look back at Democratic fear-mongering in the months leading up to the November election. From terrifying tales of anonymous political speech to scare stories about the “lunatic fringe” of the American electorate, Reason’s writers take Democrats to task on their attempts to explain away their failed policies. Anticipating the reopening of discussions about how best to reduce greenhouse gases under the newly elected Congress, the Reason Foundation will soon release two studies that compare the cost-effectiveness of various proposed transportation policies and green technologies on reducing CO2 emissions. In an upcoming series, Reason.tv takes the spotlight off of government and offers viewers an up-close look into the lives of America’s real heroes – individuals who have risked it all in pursuit of their own versions of the American Dream. Find them online at Reason.tv, Reason.com and reason.org.

 

Sam Adams Alliance embraced the election season’s focus on the future by launching a two-part podcast, “America’s Next Generation,” partnering with the National Youth Leadership Committee of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, to highlight the best and brightest young leaders of today. SAM also continued its insightsLab research with the launch of “Surface Tension,” a report exploring the interaction between the Tea Parties and the Establishment that investigates the tension – and the opportunity – for both groups. Finally, SAM launched the start of The Sammies award season with a Nov. 4 kickoff reception. This year’s theme, “Redrawing the Lines, Without Rulers,” encourages entrants to demonstrate how their actions contributed to an extraordinary year of truly American activism. SAM is increasing the prize money to a total of $60,000. Application deadline: Jan. 28, 2011. The awards dinner with be held Fri., April 8, 2011 in Chicago. samadamsalliance.org 


Students For Liberty
is proud to announce that the 2011 International Students For Liberty Conference will feature a taping of the Stossel Show featuring John Stossel, special guest David Boaz and hundreds of students at the conference. The show will feature a conversation on liberty between Stossel and Boaz and will be followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. The conference will take place Feb. 18-20 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., with the taping occurring the evening of Sat., Feb. 19. Students and non-students are invited to attend. Register at PoliticalConferences.org. studentsforliberty.org

 

The Tax Foundation has released two new studies at TaxFoundation.org and another interactive VAT calculator at MyTaxBurden.org. The studies are its annual State Business Tax Climate Index and a report on Washington state’s initiative to enact an income tax. Forthcoming from the Foundation are three studies: how the expiring federal tax cuts will ricochet onto state budgets, estimates of state-local tax burdens with a focus on “tax exporting,” and a legal study of retroactive taxation. On Nov. 17, the foundation will hold its 73rd annual dinner and honor U.S. Representatives John Tanner and Paul Ryan, and corporate executive James Owens, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar. taxfoundation.org


November was a busy month for Young America’s Foundation. To honor the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Foundation celebrated its sixth annual Freedom Week. All across the country, students tore down mock Berlin Walls, honored Veterans’ Day and taught fellow students about President Ronald Reagan. This month, the Foundation sponsored many conservative speakers on college campuses across the country, including Chris Horner and Jason Mattera, to discuss a multitude of topics. The Foundation also hosted its 11th annual West Coast Leadership Conference at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. There, a select group of top conservative students strategized on how to harness the energy from November to make further advances in 2011 and beyond. Speakers included Michael Reagan, Marc Thiessen, Tom McClintock, Mike Lee and Ron Nehring. yaliberty.org 

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