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SPN News September/October 2010 Newsletter Updates

SPN NEWS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

ALABAMA

Alabama Policy Institute has been actively seeking realistic solutions to the issue of public employee and education employee pension unfunded liabilities. To that end, API has drafted a resolution to be introduced during the organizational session of the 2011 Alabama State Legislature. The resolution, the first of its kind in Alabama, will bring together Alabama's leading portfolio managers, strategic thinkers, state lawmakers, corporate human resources directors and policy experts to determine the real extent of the unfunded liabilities and to propose a series of short-term and long-term solutions. The task force idea has been supported by many in the Legislature as a way to focus on the issue with clarity and finally to have a real public dialogue on an issue about which taxpayers are generally not aware. The task force's resolution draft is available to SPN members by contacting API. alabamapolicy.org

ALASKA

Still in its first year of operation, the Alaska Policy Forum continues to build the infrastructure needed for long-term success. APF welcomed investigative reporter Kirsten Adams to its staff earlier this summer and launched the news website AlaskaWatchdog.org. The Forum also launched a database of collective bargaining agreements with school districts and governmental units, and a database of sole-source contracts state and local governments have with private vendors. APF is convincing policymakers to release more passively disclosed government data, including all contracting information, in structured formats, such as XML. "It's definitely a priority program for us," said Jeremy Thompson, executive director of the Forum. "The most important part of this effort is releasing budget information in structured formats." To that end, APF is putting together a panel of people with budget experience to make recommendations more actionable. alaskapolicyforum.org

ARIZONA

In August the Goldwater Institute filed the most comprehensive legal challenge to date to the national health care bill. Coons v. Geithner argues the bill interferes with states' authority and violates separation of powers by setting up a powerful regulatory board with virtually no congressional oversight. The suit also claims the bill violates the purpose of the commerce clause by punishing people for not engaging in interstate commerce. Plaintiffs include 29 state lawmakers and three congressmen. What have your state universities been doing with their increased taxpayer subsidies? Hiring armies of bureaucrats. "Administrative Bloat at American Universities" examines 200 universities and shows most of them have hired far more administrators than professors over the last two decades. To release a version of this paper targeting your state schools call Starlee Rhoades at (602) 712-1257. goldwaterinstitute.org

ARKANSAS

Little Rock charter schools reported no discipline incidents over the past year, but two-thirds of local traditional public schools reported weapons incidents, staff assaults or student assaults, according to an Arkansas Policy Foundation review of 2009 Arkansas School Performance Report cards. The Foundation recommended the report cards in a 1998 study. Ten open-enrollment charter schools, many serving at-risk students, operate in Little Rock. Traditional Little Rock public schools reported discipline incidents at all levels (elementary, middle and high school). A separate Foundation review found that Arkansas school districts given an "A" rating by the Foundation in four of its annual reports have fewer discipline incidents than Little Rock and other Pulaski County districts. The S.W. Times Record (Fort Smith) noted the review. The Little Rock School District filed suit earlier this year to stop charter school expansion, which the Foundation recommended in a 1996 study. arkansaspolicyfoundation.org

CALIFORNIA

Sally C. Pipes, Pacific Research Institute president and CEO, released her new book, The Truth About Obamacare, this past August. The book has already proven capable of giving Obamacare a run for its money (or yours), landing a spot on Amazon.com's best seller list and receiving topnotch reviews from notables like Thomas Sowell. In September, PRI and Educational Results Partnership launched the update to the California School Finance Center database, online at SchoolFinanceCenter.org. The database is an unparalleled resource for increasing transparency within California's complex public school finance system by putting all funding for school districts and hundreds of charter schools right at users' fingertips, along with important student, staff and achievement information. On Nov. 11, PRI will host its annual gala dinner with keynote speaker Art Laffer; tickets are available online at pacificresearch.org.

COLORADO

This November, Colorado residents will have the opportunity to vote on Amendment 63, which would protect the right to health care choice in Colorado. This feat was accomplished with the help of the leadership of Independence Institute president Jon Caldara, a dedicated staff and membership, and hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers who spent most of the summer gathering petition signatures. In early August, investigative reporter Todd Shepherd published internal emails from the state Department of Labor showing the potential for widespread unemployment insurance fraud. The emails show that top-level bureaucrats demanded software developers "turn off" a quality control program intended to keep illegal aliens from obtaining unemployment insurance. The emails directly question the bureaucrats by saying, "Is this legal?" It is widely expected that Shepherd's report will lead to a full audit by the state. i2i.org

CONNECTICUT

The Yankee Institute resurrects the spirit of Connecticut hero Nathan Hale ("I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country") at RaisingHale.com. The site's curator, Zach Janowski, isn't a spy, per se, but he is the Institute's investigative reporter. The role may draw upon some of the same skills, though we hope Janowski  will avoid Hale's fate at the gallows. Janowski reported on $75,000 worth of computers - including 37 new desktops and 28 laptops - that sat unpacked and unused by the state Department of Banking for two years. Speaking of spies, former Congressman Rob Simmons, who served in the CIA for a decade, joins Yankee's board of directors along with fellow new members Andy Jones, Kevin North and Penny Young. yankeeinstitute.org

DELAWARE

To help celebrate the birthday of Delaware's harbinger of freedom, Caesar Rodney, the Caesar Rodney Institute is hosting an evening with one of the great economic giants of our time, Dr. Art Laffer. Nationally-renowned author and creator of the Laffer curve, which helped to usher in the revolution of supply side economics, Laffer will be the honored guest and speaker at CRI's Annual Celebration Dinner. Of course, CRI is doing more than just celebrating in Delaware. CRI recently launched a new website feature called the "Delaware Economy at a Glance," which offers the business community a simple and rapid look at the market environment it faces. This snapshot of leading indicators is designed to help business owners make decisions that will be helpful for their businesses and may have profound effects on Delaware's economy. caesarrodney.org

FLORIDA

Shining the light on big government, James Madison Institute's Florida Transparency Summit featured social media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart and a panel of experts who provided information and instruction on how citizens can use the power of technology to expose corruption and hold government accountable. This fall's speaker lineup continues with Chief Justice Charles Canady of the Florida Supreme Court, who addressed "Constitutional Government and the Rule of Law" at JMI's Constitution Day Celebration      and The Economist's Greg Ip in October. On the print side of things, the Institute's latest Backgrounder hit mailboxes in September.  "Supporting Florida's Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and Their Families: Strong Support for Community-Based Efforts," by Dr. Susan MacManus and Dr. Susan Schuler, explores private philanthropic sources for meeting veteran's needs while decreasing demands on government resources, methods for increasing the efficiency of necessary government services, and recommendations for coordinating public and private efforts. jamesmadison.org 

GEORGIA

Campaign season is in full swing across the state, and numerous candidates have reached out to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for advice on free-market approaches. The Foundation is also actively working with the elected officials who will take their seats next year, hosting a legislative briefing conference in November at which national and statewide experts will educate them on fiscally-sound policies for taxes, education, health care, transportation and water. In addition, the Foundation is co-hosting the second annual Georgia education choice conference in October with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. With transit monopolizing transportation policy discussions in The Peach State, the Foundation is working to redirect the focus to the needs of the majority: congestion relief. Finally, the Foundation is providing research, background and support to the state Tax Reform Commission as it formulates proposals for legislation to be voted on next year. gppf.org

HAWAII

In a paper by scholar Danny de Gracia and summer policy fellow Kyle Shiroma, the Grassroot Institute exposed $1.4 billion in excess balances in 186 special funds held by the state. These balances are above and beyond the annual operating needs of the funds. The previously secret surpluses would have easily covered the state's record $1.2 billion shortfall, which was solved in part by cutting the school week down to four days. The Institute's newest website, 4HawaiiansOnly.org, uncovers 741 Native Hawaiian-only grants totaling $261 million in state and federal funds. Nearly 100 of the Institute's friends and supporters welcomed Ted Cruz, former Solicitor General of Texas, for the Institute's annual Milton Friedman birthday celebration. In October, in partnership with the Federalist Society, the Institute will welcome Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice and James Carafano of The Heritage Foundation. grassrootinstitute.org

IDAHO

Using public records to investigate the city of Boise, the Idaho Freedom Foundation discovered that Boise city officials were using taxpayer resources to win passage of a constitutional amendment that denies voters a chance to vote on debt-financed airport projects. The documents include clear evidence that the city actively worked to create a political action committee and hide from the public reasons why voters might object to the amendment. IFF also worked with Goldwater Institute to hold a health care policy luncheon, and with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation and Foundation for Educational Choice to show "Flunked," EFF's movie on education reform. In August, IFF held its first 2010 workshop on government transparency and its first annual barbeque in honor of its donors and supporters. IFF also co-hosted an event marking the 25th anniversary of the passage of Idaho's Right to Work law. idahofreedom.net

ILLINOIS

How does the pay of your state's legislators compare to their colleagues around the country?  In July, the Illinois Policy Institute released its "Pay Day!" report and found that Illinois state legislators are paid more than all but legislators in four states. The report made news around the country, and you can read it at IllinoisPolicy.org/legislatorpay. As August rolled around, the Institute focused on its statewide Illinois Turnaround Tour. The Tour visited locations around the state, spreading the word about the Institute's plan to turn the state around, a plan that focuses on less spending, more transparency, pension reform and removing regulations that make it tough to do business. Get updates at IllinoisTurnaround.com. The Institute has added four new staff members: operations manager Jean Hutton, director of marketing and communications Daniel Anthony, investigative reporter Lee Williams and project manager Hannah Williams. illinoispolicy.org

INDIANA

Back in 1989, the first issue of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation's quarterly journal included a legal brief from Dr. Charles Rice of Notre Dame against expanding collective bargaining "rights" for state, county and municipal employees.  Nothing, alas, has changed so IPR is dedicating another journal to this issue as Indiana cities project multimillion shortfalls related to the economic downturn and a new property-tax cap.  This time Maj. Ryan Cummins, formerly finance chairman of the Terre Haute City Council, details eight years of negotiations with the local firefighters union, both in chambers and out.  Dr. Eric Schansberg of Indiana University also provides academic ballast on the relationship between government and private salaries.  A coinciding, ongoing statewide tour with IPR officers or academics are meeting with city and county officials, local party officials and a stray editor or two. inpolicy.org

IOWA

Public Interest Institute has just published a new policy study, "Tax and Expenditure Limits (TELs) Helping to Control Government Spending," by research analyst Deborah D. Thornton. TELs are used in many states to attempt to manage and control growth in government spending. Because of the fiscal problems and budget shortfalls caused by continued government spending in a time of reduced tax collections during the current recession, TELs and other methods of reining in government spending are attracting renewed focus. This policy study reviews some of the issues surrounding state government budgets, takes a look at the history of TELs, explores current actions to implement new TELs, and shares the results of TEL implementation in selected states. Read this and other publications at the Public Interest Institute's website, limitedgovernment.org.

KANSAS

On Aug. 16, The Washington Times published Kansas Policy Institute senior fellow Dr. Greg Schneider's commentary, "Federalism Strikes Back," which ties together the recent federal appeals court decisions regarding Arizona's S.B. 1070, Proposition C in Missouri, and the founding principle of state sovereignty. By presenting both modern examples of federalism in action and presenting the historical case for the 10th Amendment, Schneider makes the case that this once quaint piece of the republic is making its voice heard, and Americans are listening. For too long, it has been forgotten that governmental powers in the U.S. "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." By working with a national publication, KPI has contributed to the debate outside of Kansas and has reached a national audience. kansaspolicy.org

KENTUCKY

The Bluegrass Institute recently announced a decision by the Government Contract Review Committee to disapprove a contract that would have spent $200,000 from Kentucky's General Fund (taxpayers' dollars) to finance recommendations from the Kentucky Climate Action Plan Council. The Council's recommendations included energy rationing, cap-and-trade initiatives, mandated "pay-as-you-drive" insurance policies and some collectivization of farming operations. The Institute held a capitol briefing in March, hit legislators with its Bluegrass Bullets fact sheet and highlighted the unknown group at FreedomKentucky.com. While Kentucky's governor eventually sided with his administration bureaucrats and vetoed the disapproval of funding, the Institute is confident the group can no longer operate under the radar. Holly Carter, a Koch Associate, joins the Institute staff as policy coordinator. She brings to Bluegrass experience gained from working for The Heritage Foundation and the Network of Enlightened Women.  bipps.org

LOUISIANA

The Pelican Institute for Public Policy hosted a series of events in September in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Tax Reform. The events, which focused on organized labor's threat to economic growth and job creation, took place in Shreveport, West Monroe, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Institute's Capitol News Bureau recently published stories highlighting problems with Louisiana's long-term spending trends, the surprising decision to deny the state "Race to the Top" funding, and efforts to reduce the number of government employees at the state level. Pelican Institute staff recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Louisiana's congressional delegation and the media to highlight the harmful impact that the oil drilling moratorium was having on the Louisiana economy. pelicaninstitute.org

MAINE

Maine Heritage Policy Center will launch its Fixing the System initiative in September to raise public awareness about the need to enact comprehensive welfare reform. Maine's welfare system punishes hard work and traps parents and children in poverty. The system must be fixed, in order to free families from dependency, through accountability and opportunity. Fixing the System will include the release of a major policy paper; the launching of FixingTheSystem.com; a multi-city speaking tour; a series of press conferences, cable access shows and TeleTown Halls; and the promotion of responsible policy solutions that make a job more lucrative than a government handout. mainepolicy.org 

MARYLAND

The article "Reform the Crime Laws: Let's Hear from the State's Attorney Candidates on Peremptory Challenges, Drug Offenses," based on the Calvert Institute's criminal justice symposium, appeared Aug. 29 in the Baltimore Sun. Other recent published articles include: a response to White House chief economist Christina Romer's appeal for more "stimulus" education funds, in the Washington Post, and a "Policy Wonk's Guide to the Gubernatorial Election" in the suburban Washington Gazette newspapers. calvertinstitute.org

Seth Cooper has joined the Free State Foundation on a full-time basis as research fellow. Prior to joining FSF, Cooper served as telecommunications & information technology task force director for the American Legislative Exchange Council. At the same time, for the past year he served as an adjunct fellow at FSF. Cooper brings a wealth of experience in communications and high-tech policy issues to his new position. Additionally, Corinna Cohn is now assisting FSF as a communications specialist, focusing on website and electronic messaging enhancements, along with social media outreach. During the past few months, FSF has remained at the forefront of the fight against proposed new Internet and media regulations, with new commentaries and articles published by its scholars and comments submitted to the FCC. freestatefoundation.org

The Maryland Public Policy Institute announces the inaugural release of the Maryland Journal, an annual academic publication featuring the work of innovative thinkers and writers about regional economics and public policy. The first issue is scheduled for release in October and will include relevant essays, articles and research findings on issues of concern to Maryland and the surrounding region. The Institute's vision is for the Maryland Journal to serve as an economic teaching tool for state legislators and to apply an intellectual and long-term perspective to many of the serious public policy issues facing the state. In addition, the Institute is releasing the "2010 Annapolis Report," which evaluates how the Maryland General Assembly voted on key bills - both those that did and did not pass - and the effect these bills have on Maryland businesses and families. mdpolicy.org

MASSACHUSSETTS 

This summer, the Pioneer Institute continued its work on education standards with "National Standaards Still Don't Make the Grade," an in-depth analysis of the English language arts and mathematics standards proposed by Common Core. Pioneer's Middle Cities Initiative released two reports, "Where are the Public Safety Funds Going?," an examination of the distribution of public safety funds in the Middle Cities and "Municipal Benchmarks for Massachusetts Middle Cities: A Look at Financial Management," which covered the variety of financial challenges the 14 Middle Cities face. Building on the "Jobs and Economy" series, June's "Playing the Lottery: The Impact of Interstate Relocation on Massachusetts Jobs," analyzed the relocation of establishments into and out of Massachusetts between 1990 and 2007. In August, "Rhetoric and Reality" provided a detailed profile of pensions received by the retired members of the Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System. pioneerinstitute.org

MICHIGAN

A law signed in July requires all Michigan school districts to publish their union contracts and post data online on the cost of their salaries, benefits, health insurance, lobbying and union dues. This followed a high-profile, months-long, education transparency campaign by the Mackinac Center's Show Michigan the Money project and Educational Policy Initiative. Criminal charges were filed against an investor in an apparent film studio subsidy scheme after a Center investigation raised questions about the deal. Education policy director Michael Van Beek exposed plagiarism and faulty methodology in a Michigan State University study about school consolidation. In addition, various professional organizations recognized Center work. Mackinac's School District Health Insurance Database won the SPNovation award in June. Videos about nationalized health care and property rights received Communicator Awards of Distinction from the International Academy of Visual Arts. Four other videos received Telly Awards. mackinac.org

MINNESOTA

Recent publications have included Center of the American Experiment's president Mitch Pearlstein considering whether too many people go to college (the answer is yes, but it's complicated); and whether it would be lousy for charitable giving in Minnesota, as well as for business more generally, if the state's top individual income tax rate were increased dramatically, as a certain gubernatorial candidate advocates (what do you think?). In addition to continuing to advise on Medicaid and other health care issues, policy fellow Peter Nelson had columns on the authority of Minnesota's governor to unilaterally unallot (he should have more of it), and on net neutrality (all is essentially fine as it stands, so the FCC should cool it). As for public programs, Harvard's Paul Peterson led three programs - two of them in conjunction with Education Evolving and the University of Minnesota - on the promise of virtual learning. americanexperiment.org  

In a recent analysis of Lobbying Disclosure Act filings, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota found that Minnesota's local governments and their associations spent at least $5.217 million lobbying the federal government from 2006 through the first half of 2010. The report also revealed a troubling lack of transparency, as local governments are not required to disclose federal lobbying activities to the Office of the State Auditor. FFM's report garnered significant statewide news coverage, including stories in the Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press and Rochester Post-Bulletin. FFM is proud to announce the launch of an annual contest, A Legacy of Leadership: The Ronald Reagan High School Essay Contest. This year's topic: "What was President Ronald Reagan's most important public policy achievement?" One entry from each Minnesota high school will be selected for a final round of judging at which grand prize winners will be determined. freedomfoundationofminnesota.com

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Center for Public Policy has launched its transparency site, SeeTheSpending
.org. The search screen is a check signed by "Mississippi Taxpayer." MCPP has had a successful year in radio. MCPP president Forest Thigpen's 60-second commentary, "Vital Signs," airs at morning and lunch drive times on radio stations throughout the state. Thigpen is a frequent guest on three shows on a statewide network and is now a regular guest on a popular afternoon drive-time talk show, during which the host asked him to tell listeners about the right principles of governing. Communications director Dawn Hynum has also appeared twice on a statewide network to announce the Center's new MStweets.org website and to introduce CYCL, the Coalition of Young Conservative Leaders. mspolicy.org

MISSOURI

Although the legislature took the summer off, the Show-Me Institute stayed busy. In conjunction with its event celebrating the legacy of Milton Friedman, the Institute released a study of Missouri school superintendent pay by public information specialist Audrey Spalding, who found that superintendents' compensation does not correlate with performance. On June 9, the Institute held a discussion with State Sen. Jim Lembke and St. Louis Alderman Antonio French on the use of red-light and surveillance cameras in policing. The theme continued when Adam Mueller and Pete Eyre of Liberty on Tour joined Redditt Hudson of the ACLU to explain the right of citizens to record the police. Finally, on Sept. 7, Brenda Talent joined the Show-Me Institute as executive director. Talent is a successful attorney and wife of former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, and the Institute is excited to have her lead it forward. showmeinstitute.org

MONTANA

Montana Policy Institute is wrapping up a busy summer and shifting gears to have an impact on how Montana's looming fiscal crisis will be addressed. As in most states, the dual impacts of unfunded liabilities and stimulus spending gone wild is going to force some difficult choices, and the other side is already cranking up its "balanced approach" campaign, meaning tax hikes. The Institute's Legislators' Forum in November will provide lawmakers with the information they need to make and - as important - justify to their constituents the right choices on spending and regulation during the 2011 session. Meanwhile, the Institute is working hard to inform and educate Montanans on free enterprise principles through events like the successful whirlwind tour across the state with Foundation for Economic Education president Lawrence Reed and through studies that demonstrate the power of free people making free choices. montanapolicy.org

NEBRASKA

The Platte Institute for Economic Research recently released a timely policy study, "Where did the Money Go?" written by the Reason Foundation, which analyzed government spending and revenue in Nebraska compared to other states. The study found that Nebraska came in about the same as the aggregate national average in all the major spending and revenue categories, and a little above the average in general sales tax and corporate income tax revenue. The policy study also provided fiscally responsible budget reform recommendations to address Nebraska's upcoming budget deficit. In late July, the Platte Institute honored economist and school choice advocate Milton Friedman's legacy with an event in conjunction with Apollos Preparatory School. In September, the Platte Institute hosted a Water Management Summit in Gothenburg that featured panel discussions and a lecture series with both state and national water experts. platteinstitute.org 

NEVADA

Approximately 500 people, including many candidates and elected officials, gathered Sept. 30 for the Nevada Policy Research Institute's 19th Anniversary Celebration featuring keynote speaker Steve Forbes. NPRI also unveiled the results of its transparency questionnaire. More than 50 candidates and elected officials responded with their positions on various government-transparency issues, and each respondent indicated support for at least two reforms to increase transparency in Nevada. The survey generated numerous radio, TV and print news stories, and NPRI plans to use the survey results to make transparency a major issue during the next legislative session. NPRI's recent study on Nevada's tax structure continues to earn attention from media and elected officials. The recent news that the legislature's planned tax study won't be completed means NPRI's is the only current study on tax reform. Follow NPRI on Twitter, @NevadaPolicyRI. npri.org

NEW JERSEY  

In September the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey challenged the spending priorities of the state's nine senior public colleges and offered solutions to steadily increasing tuition rates. The Institute's second research report compares tuition rates at New Jersey schools with those in the region and identifies more than $500 million idling in college accounts. The Institute also identified potential savings of nearly $80 million annually in state funding of public colleges. Prior to publishing this report, CSI-NJ posted audits of all the state's four-year colleges to the Institute's website. Although the state-mandated audits are public information, they had previously not been available online. Mark "Jay" Williams, who joined the Institute in August as its first research fellow, authored CSI-NJ's work on higher education. csinj.org

NEW MEXICO

Rather than limiting its celebration of Milton Friedman Day to just July 31, the Rio Grande Foundation celebrated the occasion all week by hosting Dr. Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute for a series of speeches and meetings on the success of the "Florida Model" for K-12 education reform. Being a heavily-Hispanic state, Florida's success at spurring improved educational performance among minority groups is particularly impressive. Thus, Florida has become the centerpiece of the education debate in the ongoing gubernatorial campaign. The Albuquerque Journal ran two front-page stories on the plan and wrote a positive editorial as well. To further the goal of increased transparency, the Foundation recently released its new website, NewMexicoSpending.com, which allows average citizens and policymakers to search payroll and vendor transactions for New Mexico's school districts. The site has spurred legislative consideration of similar transparency efforts. riograndefoundation.org

NEW YORK

In September the Empire Center for New York State Policy released its much-anticipated report, "Iceberg Ahead." The report quantifies the extent of the state and local governments' unfunded liabilities for retiree health care insurance coverage - an astounding $200 billion - and recommends a series of reform options for curbing these costs, including creation of employee trust funds and health savings accounts. The Center also issued a special Labor Day Research Bulletin, "New York's 21st Century Job Slump," documenting what it termed a "lost decade" for private, but not public-sector, employment in New York. Both reports are available at empirecenter.org.

NORTH CAROLINA 

Shortly after a cover story in the John Locke Foundation's Carolina Journal highlighted proposed nanny-state regulations designed to fight childhood obesity - including restrictions on whole-fat milk and juice drinks in North Carolina preschools - legislative proponents backed down and changed the mandates into suggestions. CJ also documented questionable spending of state tobacco lawsuit settlement money on iPods, yacht slips, beer hops and a "footbridge to nowhere." Recent JLF research has critiqued state public school standardized test questions, created a template for sales-tax reform, challenged local sales-tax ballot proposals, and urged rural schools to embrace "disruption innovation" through creative use of technology. Two staffing changes will help boost JLF development efforts. Hilda Maness joins the staff as JLF's first director of major gifts, while Tracey McDaniel takes on full-time administrative assistant duties. johnlocke.org

As stimulus bill details continued to make news, a study by John William Pope Civitas Institute policy analyst Brian Balfour was featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show. Limbaugh highlighted the report which found that $71,623 was spent to study the effects of cocaine on monkeys. Starting its eighth semester, the Civitas Institute Academy of Practical Politics teaches college students campaign management fundamentals. Students hear from numerous political experts who offer their perspective on proven management techniques and also work in teams on competing campaigns. Civitas recently concluded campaign training classes across North Carolina. Attendees learned how to deliver an effective message and conduct online campaigning.  Coinciding with the start of school, policy analyst Dr. Bob Luebke released the report, "How Much Does North Carolina Spend to Produce One High School Diploma?" Analysis revealed the cost ranges from $110,262 to $197,648. nccivitas.org

OKLAHOMA

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs announced the launch of four new Freedom Centers: Center for Educational Freedom, Center for Economic Freedom, Center for Constitutional Freedom, and Center for Health Freedom. Through public forums, legislative briefings, articles, commentaries and special events, each center will be dedicated to helping citizens retain more control over their lives. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush helped launch the OCPA Center for Educational Freedom in August after addressing legislators on the House floor. He encouraged reformers to stay the course despite the difficulty of educational reform. In discussing OCPA's newest initiative, president Michael Carnuccio said, "The Freedom Centers are the focal point for the advancement of individual liberties, as preservation of freedom for future generations is a major concern in Oklahoma. They enhance our research product, giving Oklahomans more exposure to free market principles." ocpathink.org

OREGON

Cascade Policy Institute recently hosted two sold-out events - the Milton Friedman Legacy of Freedom dinner, featuring The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, and a Cato Book Forum showcasing Tim Sandefur and his The Right to Earn a Living. Cascade also published "The Oregon Health Plan: A Bold Experiment that Failed," an in-depth analysis of the state's Medicaid rationing scheme, touted as a model for the nation.  Policy analyst Karla Kay Edwards and online media manager Brian Roesler traveled throughout rural Oregon attending tea parties and interviewing loggers, ranchers and farmers about the state of small business in rural Oregon. These interviews were consolidated into short YouTube videos and promoted statewide. The Institute's statehouse news website - TheOregonPolitico.com - launched a new feature, "GovDocs," which contains state government databases in user-friendly formats. Within two days of its launch, Oregon Politico experienced 25,000 page views. cascadepolicy.org

PENNSYLVANIA

It was with a vague sense of déjà vu that the Commonwealth Foundation read a piece in The Wall Street Journal in August that sounded the alarm on unfunded public pension plans as a ticking fiscal time bomb about to detonate. Not only did CF raise this very issue four years ago in Pennsylvania, but just this summer it also helped table a "reform" that would have cost taxpayers an extra $27 billion over 30 years. (Some way to solve a crisis.) In September, CF also launched OpenPAGov.org, an online clearinghouse that allows users to track school spending, test scores, property taxes and teacher salaries for every school district in Pennsylvania over the last decade, and to confirm empirically what we all suspect intuitively: Taxpayers are spending more and more for schools that deliver less and less. commonwealthfoundation.org

RHODE ISLAND

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute investigative work helped stifle  Jack McConnell's nomination to the U. S. District Court in Rhode Island. McConnell and his law firm Motley Rice are best known for their litigation against the asbestos and tobacco industries, but it was McConnell's involvement as a hired gun for the Rhode Island Attorney General attempting to sue paint companies for selling lead-based products more than 30 years ago that was the focus of a public records request by OSPRI. A letter the Institute wrote outlining the details of this case was submitted by U.S. Senator John Cornyn into the record at the Senate Judiciary. Senator Cornyn expressed concern that OSPRI's request had gone unanswered and said "the public has a right to know and should have access to that information...I believe these allegations are serious." oceanstatepolicy.org

SOUTH CAROLINA

The South Carolina Policy Council launched a major campaign exposing unchecked legislative power and lack of accountability, and offered solutions for returning power to the people. South Carolina's Legislature has a virtual monopoly over state government, overshadowing the executive branch and controlling the judicial branch through more than 420 appointments to executive agencies and upper-level judiciary appointments. Legislators also serve on the Budget & Control Board, the one-of-a-kind agency administering state government. Policy Council reports examined the ruling political structure in the state, length of legislative session, and the General Assembly's roll-call voting record - votes are recorded less than 25 percent of the time. The Nerve, the Council's investigative news site, is gaining visibility, including print and broadcast coverage of an original exposé of a town charging a citizen $10,000 for a routine FOIA request. scpolicycouncil.com

TENNESSEE

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research recently named Justin Owen as its president. Owen previously served as director of policy and general counsel. TCPR has also welcomed award-winning journalist Chris Butler to serve as investigative reporter. Following the most successful release of the "Tennessee Pork Report" to date, TCPR launched a series of videos highlighting various topics from the report, including government-funded art, mass transit, ethanol subsidies and state-owned golf courses. The videos have already garnered hundreds of YouTube views. TCPR scholar Dr. Art Carden has agreed to write a weekly column to appear on Forbes.com. On Sept. 22, TCPR hosted Fox News contributor and author Jonathan Hoenig at an event in Nashville. Hoenig encouraged business leaders to buck the status quo and embrace free market principles. On Oct. 28, TCPR will host an event featuring Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund. tennesseepolicy.org

TEXAS

If the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is to retain its meaning, the principle of federalism must be restored. The Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute is fighting to defend the prerogatives of the State of Texas in the face of a targeted onslaught by an increasingly activist federal government. The TCCRI Health & Human Services Task Force is exploring solutions to restoring health care liberty in response to Obamacare. The Institute's Energy & Environment Task Force is focused on restoring the state's ability to successfully balance a vibrant economy and a clean environment without hampering the state's economy or killing jobs.  TCCRI also supports Gov. Rick Perry's work to uphold Texas' ability to chart its own course on public education without undue federal influence. As the federal government increasingly targets Texas, TCCRI is standing up for its state. txccri.org 

The Texas Public Policy Foundation has hired Mario Loyola as director of its Center for 10th Amendment Studies. One of Loyola's first projects was the cover story for the Aug. 2 issue of National Review on the Obama Administration's emergency and policy response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Foundation's higher education transparency initiatives have incurred the wrath of tenured academia, with media coverage from Fox News, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Houston Chronicle. Former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm and TPPF chairman Dr. Wendy Lee Gramm co-headlined the Foundation's July 30 tribute to the late Dr. Milton Friedman. The Foundation added Jason Wohlfahrt as its multimedia manager and Courtney Hunter as the investigative reporter for TexasBudgetSource.com. texaspolicy.com

VERMONT

More than 200 Vermonters heard a splendid presentation by former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker on the grim prospects for the nation's fiscal future. State Auditor Tom Salmon, Univ. of Vermont professor Art Woolf, and state debt expert David Coates, CPA, supplemented Walker's national picture with Vermont figures. Described by one attendee as clear, forceful, dynamic and scary, the program will be produced on DVD and sent to all legislators and state officers elected in November. In September, the Ethan Allen Institute distributed an updated "Vermont Fiscal Crisis" pocket card to acquaint politicians with the magnitude of next January's fiscal task. Cato Institute president Ed Crane will speak Sept. 22 at the Sheraton Economic Series. The Institute's board is actively raising contributions and pledges to finance a planned expansion of the Institute's program in 2011, including a new office and CEO. ethanallen.org

VIRGINIA

Reforming state government has taken the lead in Virginia, with Thomas Jefferson Institute president Mike Thompson serving as Gov. Bob McDonnell's Special Advisor to the Governor's Government Reform Commission and many of the Commission members recommended by Thompson. More than half of the current Reform Commission recommendations were seeded by the Jefferson Institute, which provided leadership to the Commission and will provide its intellectual firepower for the upcoming legislative debate. With The Heritage Foundation and the Virginia Press Association, TJI sponsored a Computer Aided Research and Reporting Seminar that saw more than a dozen newspaper reporters attending. TJI's Health Care Reform phone project found 7,000 Virginians signing onto a letter supporting Virginia's legal challenge to Obamacare, securing more than 200 new donors - all within two weeks. TJI also released its 2011 Economic Forecast, widely reported in more than a dozen Virginia newspapers. thomasjeffersoninst.org

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy is pleased to announce two additions to its board of directors, Abby Moffat and Mark Skousen. Moffat is the vice president, COO and trustee of the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation. She is also a board member of the Institute of World Politics, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Media Research Center and The Heritage Foundation. Skousen is the founder and producer of FreedomFest, an annual conference held in Las Vegas and billed as the world's largest gathering of free minds on liberty. A prolific author, Skousen has written more than 25 books. In addition, his investment newsletter, "Forecasts & Strategies," has been widely read for 30 years. The Institute has added a ninth station to its Freedom & Prosperity radio show network, WHTK AM 1650, serving the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach. virginiainstitute.org

WASHINGTON

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation's Constitutional Law Center sued Gov. Chris Gregoire and several state agencies on behalf of six taxpayers, arguing that the governor lacks the authority to mandate climate change reforms by way of executive order. The Foundation's iLearn Project, dedicated to defending and expanding the public online learning option, launched iLearnProject.com. Video footage has been shot of online learning families and state and national leaders that will be used in an upcoming miniseries. The Foundation's award-winning educational documentary film, "Flunked," will be broadcast on the Halogen network this October. Find out more about "Flunked" and Halogen at halogentv.com. The Foundation announces a new staff member: the stork. Why not, since Foundation staff members Amber Gunn, Marsha Michaelis, Rachel Culbertson and Stephanie Lund will all soon be utilizing his services. Something in the water, perhaps? effwa.org

After years of work promoting these important reforms, two Washington Policy Center ideas will be on the November ballot in Washington: privatizing the state's liquor system and ending the state monopoly on industrial insurance. At WPC's request, a former liberal state Supreme Court justice examined a proposed high-earners income tax ballot measure and believes it is unconstitutional. The most widely-listened-to news radio station in Washington (KOMO 1000) has invited WPC's environmental and transportation directors, Todd Myers and Michael Ennis, on the air for weekly policy segments on their issues. This fall, WPC is partnering with regional chambers of commerce to hold seven small-business forums throughout the state. Business owners and WPC's policy experts will discuss the top challenges in the business climate and solutions WPC will present to the legislature in 2011. Check out WPC's new website at washingtonpolicy.org.

WYOMING

Wyoming Liberty Group hosted an event at the University of Wyoming on Oct. 2, "The Earned Gift of Discernment - Liberty!", with speakers Humberto Fontava, Jedediah Bila and Sven Larson.  WLG's Survey on health, free speech, the 2nd Amendment and professional licensing received immediate responses from more than 30% of candidates for the Legislature, as well as Senate incumbents. A Citizen Survey on the same issues is ready to distribute. WLG is responding to a legislative leadership request to provide a comprehensive study of health care alternatives for Wyoming. A recent publication of the Wyoming Liberty Index for the 2010 Session is stirring comments. The Index produced by WLG involves rating all the bills passed in the session with the help of volunteers from the Proper Role of Government classes. wyliberty.org

NATIONAL

The Allegheny Institute has influenced legislative policy discussions and proposals in Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh region by calling attention to the executive branch's failure to implement the Allegheny County's Sunset Review provision. The Home Rule Charter requires periodic review of all County departments in the provision.  In direct response to the Institute's dialogue, members of the Council presented a resolution forcing the executive branch to carry out the review. Additionally, the Institute's analysis of the mayor's proposal to lease city-owned parking garages to shore up the ailing pension fund shows his effort to be too aggressive in terms of raising money and if carried out will cause large and damaging parking rate increases. Legislators listened to the Institute's recommendation that the Legislature remove the monopoly status of Allegheny County's transit system when they proposed deregulation as a way to deal with the huge deficit facing the County's mass transit system. alleghenyinstitute.org

The American Legislative Exchange Council is excited to announce the publication of the 16th edition of its "Report Card on American Education," a comprehensive overview of educational achievement levels (performance and gains for low-income students) for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. With its foreword written by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, this completely revised "Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform" examines the reforms enacted under his tenure and how other states can implement them to rise from near-bottom scores to a place of educational achievement. Authors Dr. Matthew Ladner, Andrew LeFevre and Dan Lips analyze student scores, looking at performance, as well as how scores have improved over recent years. The authors also assign each state a grade based on its current education policies. Learn more and view this interactive map at ALEC.org/reportcard. alec.org

Americans for Tax Reform's Center for Fiscal Accountability recognized this year's Cost of Government Day on Aug. 19. Cost of Government Day, which CFA tabulates every year, marks the point in the year at which U.S. taxpayers have finished working just to pay for the cost of government spending and regulation. To see how your state compares, and for a copy of the 2010 Cost of Government Day Report, visit CostofGovernmentDay.com. Americans for Tax Reform Foundation, along with the Institute of Public Affairs, The Heartland Institute and the Property Rights Alliance, hosted the 2010 Pacific Rim Policy Exchange in Sydney, Sept. 28-30. This annual networking conference provides a unique, centralized, high-quality forum for the open exchange of free-market ideas between policy experts and advocates on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. For more information, please visit PacRimPolicyExchange.com. atr.org

Capital Research Center recently published "The Neighbor's Kid: A Cross-Country Journey in Search of What Education Means to Americans," by CRC education fellow Philip Brand. A Tocquevillian adventurer, Brand drove his car across America in 2008-2009, visited classrooms in 49 states, and spoke with parents, teachers and students. Combining wide-ranging reading and personal encounters, Brand shows that education is more than passing tests: it's about preserving the fabric of communities. CRC also launched Green Watch, a new monthly publication that will monitor the environmental movement's leaders, strategies and funders. The Center's new editor, Matt Patterson, is a former research assistant to Charles Krauthammer. He will also edit CRC's Labor  Watch newsletter. capitalresearch.org

The Cato Institute is proud to announce the launch of "Liberating the Future," its $50 million capital campaign. This far-reaching initiative involves the addition, over a period of years, of nearly 50 policy, communications and support staff members, and an approximate $9 million increase in its annual budget by 2014 - reflecting increased programs, publications, outreach and events - as well as a significant expansion to its Washington, D.C. headquarters. On Sept. 16, Cato hosted its 9th Annual Constitution Day Conference. The event was accompanied by the debut of the new volume of the annual Cato Supreme Court Review. July saw the release of "Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law," from Cato Institute senior fellow Michael Tanner. This important white paper exposes what's really in Obamacare and the impact it will have on American society. cato.org

Voters say education is their most important issue in the voting booth, second only to national security. That's why we need state leaders in every governor's mansion to embrace real education reform. But, knowing the difference between real commitment and well-tested talking points is difficult for even the savviest voter. With 37 gubernatorial races taking place this year, citizens have an unprecedented opportunity to reset the course of American education for the country's children. Education Fifty (EducationFifty.com), a project of The Center for Education Reform, is dedicated to providing voters with information that can best inform their vote, ensuring that meaningful changes to the education system are realized. Strong charter school laws, school choice and performance pay for teachers are three of the most important things states can do to empower communities. Education Fifty compares the positions of each gubernatorial candidate on these core issues. edreform.com

Citizens in Charge Foundation recently hosted the U.S. Conference on Initiative & Referendum in San Francisco, and it was a resounding success. More than 300 people attended the Conference, which boasted 25 co-sponsors. Nearly 80 experts from around the country spoke during the conference - activists, attorneys, academics and petitioners. The attendees, co-sponsors and speakers represented the breadth of political ideology and points of views on the initiative process. Check out BallotBoxNews.com and BallotPodium.com for information on initiatives on the ballot this fall. Citizens in Charge continues to work through the courts for citizen rights. In Nebraska, Citizens in Charge v. Gale seeks to overturn restrictive initiative laws ruled unconstitutional in other states. In Colorado, CIC's amicus brief asking the State Supreme Court to hear Evans v. City of Aspen was successful.citizensinchargefoundation.org

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is pleased to announce new staff positions. F. Vincent Vernuccio has joined CEI as labor policy counsel to launch CEI's new Labor Policy Project. Julie Taylor is the new director of development, and Drew Tidwell now heads the communications department. Also new to the communications team: Lee Doren, who formerly headed CEI's Bureaucrash project and Nicole Ciandella, formerly a CEI communications and video production intern. Grant Babcock is now at the helm of Bureaucrash. CEI's new report on the nation's worst state attorneys general is out. Find it on the newly re-launched CEI.org, which has a new, streamlined look and greater functionality. Let CEI know what you think. Follow CEI on Facebook (facebook.com/Competi-tiveEnterpriseInstitute), Twitter (twitter.com/ceidotorg, and YouTube (YouTube.com/ceidotorg). Subscribe to its blog feed at Openmarket.org and to CEI Weekly and other newsletters at cei.org/newsletter-signup. cei.org

The Foundation for Economic Education welcomes its new executive director, Carl Oberg (coberg@fee.org), who comes to FEE from Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Associate Program. Check out the FEE "Idea Room" (TheFreemanOnline.org/the-idea-room), a live forum that gets your questions in front of authors in The Freeman. The Foundation's recent Idea Room was Oct. 8, with San Jose State University prof. Ed Lopez on "Economic Development Takings - Government or Market Failure?" FEE staff will appear at most of the Students for Liberty Regional Conferences throughout October and November. See FEE president Lawrence Reed at SFL's Oct. 23 Southeast Conference at Kennesaw State University. The Foundation's next "Evening at FEE" event will be Nov. 13 at its Irvington, N.Y., headquarters. FEE's guest will be the Cato Institute's Daniel Griswold. fee.org

The Foundation for Excellence in Education has opened registration for the Excellence in Action: National Summit on Education Reform. Held in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, the Summit is the premier forum for leaders to learn what works, what doesn't and what's next in education reform. This annual event immerses lawmakers, policymakers and policy-shapers in two days of in-depth discussions on policies. Issues such as digital learning, unleashing the power of technology in education; teacher effectiveness; customizing education; and doing more with less will be the subject of the Foundation's trailblazing keynote and strategy sessions.  Summit attendees will leave armed with the tools and knowledge to dramatically alter the future of education in America. To register, visit excelined.org

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a national nonprofit journalism organization, recently announced its inaugural Advisory Council. The Franklin Center Advisory Council consists of Tucker Carlson, co-founder and editor-in-chief, Daily Caller; Jack Fowler, publisher, National Review; Mark Tapscott, editorial page editor, Washington Examiner; Ashley Landess, president, South Carolina Policy Council; John Elliot, journalism programs director, Institute for Humane Studies; and Joe Lehman, president, Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The Council functions separately from the Franklin Center's board of directors. The Advisory Council members will serve as ambassadors for, and will be involved in key initiatives and programs sponsored by, the Franklin Center. franklincenterhq.org

FreedomWorks
kicked off the Take America Back Roadshow in August with appearances on the Today Show and The Daily Show. Since then, there have been events from coast to coast with a stop in D.C. for the second FreedomWorks' hosted 9/12 March on Washington. With the theme "Remember in November," attendees heard from Dick Armey, Matt Kibbe, Congressman Mike Pence, Dr. Alveda King, Andrew Breitbart and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. In between speakers and songs from the Gatlin Brothers, grassroots leaders read the platform of the Contract FROM America, reminding those gathered that all should be holding their leaders accountable this fall and in the future to protect the U.S. Constitution, end out-of-control spending, and more. Read the contract atTheContract.org and, at a bookstore near you, pick up a copy of Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto. freedomworks.org

Ever need an idea fix? If you crave more than just partisan banter, check out Free To Choose Network's new project devoted to its ideas called - oddly enough - "Ideas Matter." The schtick? Video. Liberty. Ideas. That about sums it up. Whether it's exclusive content pulled from the Network's video archive (think: Hayek, Buchanan, North or Friedman) or sharing something new, you can get your idea fix daily or weekly. Sign up for a weekly e-newsletter, subscribe to the feed or visit at your leisure. It's IdeasMatter.typepad.com. The videos are short, to the point and the accompanying commentary will be top quality. Why bother? Ideas matter. In other news, izzit.org, the Network's educational initiative with 185,000 teacher members, just got a facelift and new features. Have a look! There is no other pipeline to students like this in the movement. freetochoose.net

The
Fund for American Studies has announced several new media initiatives, including the addition of a photo gallery and video index featuring TFAS speakers and highlights from its institutes. TFAS now boasts more than 2,000 fans on Facebook and nearly 700 followers on its various twitter accounts. TFAS also serves as host to a blog, Pileus, which was formed by a group of scholars sharing a commitment to liberty and personal responsibility. The blog posts examine public policy and philosophy. On Sept. 10, TFAS teamed up with Young America's Foundation to host a celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Sharon Statement. TFAS will hold a post-election conference Nov. 12-13 in Palm Beach, Florida. At the event, TFAS leaders, supporters and alumni will attend presentations by America's leading experts on the 2010 elections and current public policy issues. tfas.org

The Galen Institute hosted a Capitol Hill briefing this summer to release a white paper authored by Galen Institute adjunct scholar James Capretta, "Why the Obama Health Law is Not Entitlement Reform." Other speakers included Rep. Paul Ryan, and budget experts Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Eugene Steuerle. In September, Galen partnered with SPN, the Institute for Policy Innovation and the National Federation of Independent Businesses to discuss the legal challenges surrounding the new health law. Upcoming events include an event to discuss the effect of the health law on seniors and the impact of Medicaid expansion on the states. Galen continues its tireless efforts to educate policy makers, members of the media and the public about the damaging effects of Obamacare and the benefits of free market approaches to health reform. galen.org 

The Heartland Institute recently published a new education policy brief, "The Parent Trigger: A Model for Transforming Education," written by Joseph Bast, president, The Heartland Institute; Ben Boychuk, managing editor, Heartland's School Reform News; Bruno Behrend, director, Heartland's Center for School Reform; and Marc Oestreich, Heartland's education legislative specialist. "The Parent Trigger" is an education reform the California legislature recently passed. In short, the measure stipulates that if half the parents whose children attend a failing public school sign a petition requesting reform, the school must: shut down, become a charter school or undergo one of two other types of reform. heartland.org

The Heritage Foundation released "Solutions for America," which identifies the nature and scope of the nation's most pressing problems in 23 discrete policy areas, and recommends 128 specific policy prescriptions for Congress to consider. As millions of Americans rally to the vision of the Founders, "Solutions for America" is calculated to make that vision a reality. Heritage released the study guide to Dr. Matthew Spalding's book, "We Still Hold These Truths," to encourage conservatives across the country to start first principles reading groups. Visit WeStillHoldTheseTruths.com and order one today. Heritage analysts created the "Obamacare Impact Calculator," an online tool on which visitors can enter their information to see the consequences of the new law on their health care options, pocketbook and the nation's fiscal health. Heritage also created a series of charts and graphs that helps explain the law and its impact. heritage.org

The Congressional Budget Office expects the national debt to surpass $17 trillion by 2019. In the fiscal year 2010 alone, federal spending will reach $3.5 trillion. But what does this mean for you? To personalize the impact of these figures, The Independent Institute has created the Government Cost Calculator at MyGovCost.org, a new website directed by economist and research fellow Emily Skarbek. The website features a unique calculator developed by Institute economists to show how much any taxpayer will owe to various federal programs over months, years and the course of his or her lifetime. To further illustrate the enormity of the burden, the user is provided with the estimated amount that could have been generated had their federal costs been privately invested instead. To find out how much you're paying Big Government, visit MyGovCost.org today. independent.org

The Institute for Justice just launched its next economic liberty case, teaming up with a group of monks from Saint Joseph Abbey outside of New Orleans, who face huge fines and even jail because they want to sell simple, handmade caskets. IJ has helped them file a federal constitutional lawsuit on the matter. The case has gained local and national media coverage, including a Wall Street Journal front-page story, and IJ released a short video explaining the case. To learn more and watch the video visit IJ.org/LaCaskets. IJ recently released a series of studies on economic liberty, titled, "The Power of One Entrepreneur." The reports, available at IJ.org/powerofone, spotlight five different entrepreneurs who sought to pursue their share of the American Dream by creating jobs for themselves and others, but found needless and anti-competitive government regulations in their way. ij.org

There was a standing room only crowd of more than 250 state legislators, think tank representatives and others who joined a discussion at this year's ALEC annual meeting in San Diego. This year's meeting focused on issues surrounding the 10th Amendment and was sponsored by the Institute for Policy Innovation. As co-sponsor with the State Policy Network of The 10th Amendment Coalition, the panel was moderated by IPI president Tom Giovanetti and featured Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and John Shadegg, and stood apart as the best-attended workshop at this year's meeting. Additionally, IPI, SPN and the Galen Institute have launched a monthly health policy call; those interested in joining should contact Dr. Merrill Matthews for details. Join IPI in Dallas on Nov. 11 for IPI's special dinner event, Reclaiming Liberty!, featuring former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. ipi.org

In September, The Jesse Helms Center Foundation hosted the Charlotte, N.C., premiere screening of "33 Minutes: Protecting American in the New Missile Age." The film, a thoughtful documentary by The Heritage Foundation, takes a close look at the lack of preparation by American leaders to protect its citizens from a disastrous nuclear or biological attack by a ballistic missile.  On Oct. 25, the Helms Center will host John Hawkins on the campus of Wingate University as part of the BB&T Program on the Moral Foundations of Free Enterprise. Hawkins is the founder and president of Leadership Edge, Inc., an organization that provides effective leadership and ethics training based on scriptural principles. For more information about upcoming Helms Center events, visit jessehelmscenter.org.

The John William Pope Center for Higher Education will share its philosophy on higher education during three events in October. On Oct. 23 in Charlotte, the Pope Center will host "Colleges and Universities Today: What Parents and Citizens Need to Know." John J. Miller, founder of the Student Free Press Association, will give the keynote address. Pope Center president Jane Shaw and former N. Carolina Gov. James Martin will also discuss growing problems in higher education. On Oct. 23 in Atlanta, Pope Center outreach coordinator Jenna Robinson will speak about bias in the college classroom and how government funding affects education at the Southeastern Students For Liberty Conference. On Oct. 29, the Pope Center will sponsor a seminar for community college teachers debuting an economics course that minimizes math while introducing the fundamentals of markets and the appropriate role of government. popecenter.org

In July, Judicial Watch filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's new illegal immigration law S.B. 1070, in the Obama Justice Department lawsuit challenging the law. Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on July 12 against the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the government agency that controls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to obtain records related to the decision to place the two institutions under government control. Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Department of Health and Human Services regarding closed-door health care meetings with Vice President Biden, HHS Secretary Sebelius, House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Obamacare Czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle and union officials. judicialwatch.org

With a solid history of cutting through rhetoric and providing extensively researched and meticulously documented facts on the key issues of the day, Just Facts has released its updated, comprehensive research on gun control, available at JustFacts.com/guncontrol.asp. Gun Control Facts provides no-spin statistics on gun topics including ownership rates, violent crimes, self-defense, right-to-carry laws, handgun bans, court decisions and more. Claiming the #1 Google ranking for "gun control" out of 36 million results, Just Facts is the go-to resource for everyone from students and scholars to policy officials and interested citizens. The newly updated "Gun Control Facts" gives immediate, one-stop access to the latest gun data and statistics, complete with extensive citations to the primary sources of all information. It's good to be opinionated; it's better to be informed. Get the latest facts on gun control at justfacts.com.

How did American government get so big and so expensive? Manhattan Institute senior fellow and City Journal senior editor Steven Malanga gives the answer in his new book, Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer, a chilling history of the expansion of the public sector. Published Oct. 1 by Ivan R. Dee, Shakedown chronicles how the self-interested coalition of public employees' unions and government-financed community activists has bankrupted state and local governments. In this enlightening book that Steve Forbes says "truly deserves those overused adjectives ‘timely' and ‘important,'" Malanga warns that the bill for this conspiracy against the American taxpayer is now coming due. Malanga will be going on a cross-country book tour to speak about the transformation of the fundamental structure of American politics. To schedule a stop on the Shakedown tour or to order your copy, visit Manhattan-Institute.org/shakedown. manhattan-institute.org

For years, states increased spending while evading fiscal prudence by exploiting accounting, legislative and constitutional rules. The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has released two new papers offering solutions for state spending-level reductions. In "Fiscal Evasion in State Budgeting," Mercatus senior research fellow Eileen Norcross provides a framework for identifying methods of fiscal gamesmanship and offers recommendations for states. In "State Spending Restraint: An Analysis of the Path Not Taken," Mercatus research fellow Matthew Mitchell looks into the 14 states with the largest budget gaps in FY 2009 and FY 2010. Dr. Mitchell compares the likely state fiscal situations if their budgets had grown at the pace of population growth and inflation beginning in both 1987 and 1995. To contact the authors or for more information, please email Kathleen O'Hearn at kohearn@gmu.edu. mercatus.org

The Minnesota Free Market Institute launched a Pension Reform Project lead by Institute president Kim Crockett and veteran researcher Bob Shipman (see Shipman's new website BillsAnd Votes.com to track legislation). The legislature has undertaken a public pension study; the Institute will make sure taxpayers are treated as stakeholders and new solutions are presented. John LaPlante will release a fall series on tax policy; he will show the effects of Minnesota's corporate tax on investment and entrepreneurship that directly impact job creation, as well as how tax policy rewards a high debt-to-equity ratio instead of a more prudent approach to financing investment. Crockett's "Entrepreneurs and Lilliputians" was published in a Center of the American Experiment symposium. Former FEC chair Brad Smith will join the Institute Oct. 26 to talk about the state of free speech. mnfreemarketinstitute.org

According to USA Today, "The Cartel" has helped make 2010 the "year of the education documentary." The Moving Picture Institute's award-winning film about school choice opened in 12 cities last spring and will be available on DVD this fall (visit TheCartelMovie.com). Praised by The L.A. Times, The New York Post, The Boston Globe and others, "The Cartel" is shaping debate at the national, state and local levels. Featured at SPN's K-12 Education Summit and 18th Annual Meeting, Americans for Prosperity's Defending the American Dream Summit, the National Charter Schools Conference, and the Gleason Foundation's "Where's the Outrage?" conference, "The Cartel" is becoming a vital tool for think tanks, school choice groups, and SPN groups wishing to motivate legislators, reformers, and the public. Contact rob@thempi.org to arrange a screening, learn about MPI films and recommend rising filmmakers for internships or fellowship funding. thempi.org

Since 1991, National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally cost accounting system has computed the legislative spending agendas of members of Congress by analyzing the costs - and savings - of the bills they sponsor and cosponsor. The goal of this research is to provide taxpayers with objective information, in an open and transparent manner, about what Congress wants to do with your tax dollars. In addition to releasing its BillTally Report earlier this summer, NTUF also launched a special feature called the Taxpayer's Tab as a complement to its larger research project. NTUF's Taxpayer's Tab offers an up-to-the-minute update of bill cost research. To sign up to receive weekly Taxpayer's Tab emails, please visit NTU's website NTU.org/ntuf. ntu.org

As part of its mission of securing open, honest government, in June the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law filed a lawsuit against the Office of the Secretary of State for denying NCICL's request for public records relating to lobbyist activity on behalf of Spirit AeroSystems. Though the lawsuit is still pending, NCICL continues to educate members of the media and the public about public records laws and lobbying law compliance. This most recent lawsuit is founded upon the state constitution's guarantees of open access to courts and freedom of the press. NCICL is also pushing for such reforms in its capacity as a member of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying & Government Reform. In personnel news, Dana Buck recently joined the Institute as the new office manager and Elizabeth Lincicome, formerly with The Heritage Foundation, joined as the director of communications and development. ncicl.org

Recently, Americans have grown increasingly frustrated with out-of-control government spending and overgrown government bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. Though many agree on the need to reign in the bloated federal government, identifying exactly what to cut has been a roadblock for most. From Reason Foundation's newly released housing finance reform study calling for the dismantling of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (online Reason.org) to the November issue of Reason magazine, which gives readers a 3D look into the business of slashing government, the Foundation is taking aim at overstuffed government institutions across the board. Reason.tv is also tackling the federal government in the third dimension with a series of 3D government-slashing videos, now online at Reason.tv and YouTube.com/reasontv. There's still time to sign up for Reason's first-ever Caribbean cruise in February 2011. Get more shiver-yer-timbers details at reasoncruise.com. reason.org

Students For Liberty will host nine regional conferences this fall, branching out to new cities and stretching even further west. Conference dates and locations are: Oct. 9, Philadelphia; Oct. 16, Phoenix; Oct. 16, Chicago; Oct. 23, New York; Oct. 23, Los Angeles; Oct. 23, Atlanta; Nov. 6, Boston; Nov. 6, San Francisco; and Nov. 6, Austin. The regional conferences serve as a local forum of support and discourse for students and non-students interested in ideas related to liberty. Attendees leave with: the skills necessary to be a leader for liberty on campus, a stronger intellectual framework, connections to new friends and organizations dedicated to liberty, and a revitalized vision for the future of the freedom movement. Visit PoliticalConferences.org to learn more about the conference closest to you. studentsforliberty.org

Talent Market just celebrated its first birthday and with it, 50 placements. (It's not too late to send lavish gifts!) In that time the organization has assisted more than 65 free-market nonprofits with critical human capital needs. Talent Market is also keeping busy with outreach, including a presentation at a recent SPN Operations Retreat about identifying and maximizing talent and two presentations at the 18th SPN Annual Meeting: one to Generation Liberty Fellows, about landing a movement job, and one to nonprofit leaders about operations and strategic planning. Talent Market focuses on mid- and executive-level talent needs - and its services are free. Reach out to TM executive director Claire Kittle (claire@talentmarket.org) to determine how TM can help you, or visit talentmarket.org to learn more. 

The Tax Foundation has released an interactive calculator at MyTaxBurden.org for figuring 2011 federal income tax liability under four policy scenarios: if all the Bush-era tax cuts expire, if all the tax cuts are extended, if President Obama's budget is adopted, and if Congressional Democrats' plan is adopted. A Foundation report on significant state tax changes in 2010 shows that some states have enacted targeted tax increases or turned to the politically convenient option of one-time funds and accounting gimmicks to fill budget gaps. The Foundation released new rankings on state and local-option sales tax data (ranked by combined state and average local sales tax rate as well as combined state, county and city rates among major metropolitan areas); state and local tax collections by tax revenue source; and state and local
property tax collections. taxfoundation.org 

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

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