We the People Video: Founding Principles of Freedom

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SPN State Updates December 2007

ARTICLE:

ALABAMA

Dr. Lawrence Lovikjoins the Alabama Policy Institute as a senior fellow.Previously, he served as provost of Troy University.An economics professor, Dr. Lovik also served as dean of the business college at Troy University and held an endowed professorship in free enterprise.He's past president of both the Georgia Association of Economics and Finance and the Alabama Association of Higher Education in Business.Dr. Lovik received his B.A. in economics and mathematics from Mercer University, an M.A. in economics from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in economics from Georgia State University.The Institute will shortly release "Certificate of Need Laws: Why It's Time for Repeal," a study on how the CON program never controlled costs and has become a mechanism to limit competition in health care. alabamapolicy.org

ALASKA

In October the Institute of the North hosted the Arctic Energy Summit Technology Conference, an event focusing on the Arctic as an emerging energy province. Scientists, academicians, policymakers and other delegates from 14 nations discussed the challenges and opportunities of providing affordable energy to remote Arctic communities. Keynote speakers included President Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson of Iceland, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Dan Sullivan, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Alaska Senators Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, former Alaska Governor Walter Hickel and Andrew Revkin of The New York Times. An Arctic Energy Action Team will study solutions to common problems related to energy development in the Arctic. The team will explore extractive energy, renewable and hybrid energy sources, and the deployment of economical and environmentally sensitive energy sources to rural Arctic Communities. Contact info@institutenorth.org for copies or information on any of the Institute's publications or programs. institutenorth.org

ARIZONA

A recent national poll showed 78 percent of Americans are concerned about rising health care costs. Fortunately, states can treat the system's ailments with a variety of medicines. A new Goldwater Institute policy brief identifies an easy step every state can take to help make health insurance more affordable: open the market to out-of-state plans. "Health Care Choice: Giving Arizonans More Health Insurance Options" is available at www.goldwaterinstitute.org. The Institute's Center for Constitutional Litigation has several cases pending related to educational freedom, private property rights and economic liberty. The Center's first case, which defended charter school curriculum autonomy from new Arizona Department of Education mandates, ended with a favorable settlement. Goldwater's litigation center is winning preemptive victories through its challenge to a $100 million shopping mall subsidy: cities are self-banning retail subsidies and some recent recipients are even giving money back to local governments. The Institute has a new assistant director of development, Lori Logan, and a new litigation center attorney, Carrie Ann Sitren. goldwaterinstitute.org

ARKANSAS

The Arkansas Policy Foundation has a new website (arkansaspolicyfoundation.org) to supplement its original site (reformarkansas.org). The Foundation determined that grocers did not raise their consumer food prices in the impoverished Mississippi Delta in response to the largest tax cut in Arkansas history, a 50 percent reduction in the state sales tax on groceries. Kane Webb, columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Sunday edition, cited the findings, explaining, "One of the Chicken Little arguments against cutting the tax was that the people would never realize it. Because the grocers would simply raise the prices on food. It's an awfully cynical argument, even for a legislator, but it's made the rounds for years as this tax lingered like a plague." The Wall Street Journal cited the Policy Foundation's estimates that the tax cut will save the typical four-person Arkansas family $234 annually.

CALIFORNIA

 

The Pacific Research Institute's annual gala dinner in October featured Jeb Bush. Longtime PRI board member Katherine E. Boyd was presented the Sir Anthony Fisher Freedom Award. In the fall, PRI released "Hysteria's History," a briefing paper that charts the progression of environmental hysteria. PRI's education scholars published a new book, Not As Good As You Think: Why the Middle Class Needs School Choice, which was the focus of a Wall Street Journal editorial. New staff additions: director of development John Campbell, technology fellow Daniel Ballon, development associate Adam Frey and marketing associate Sebastian Wisniewski. pacificresearch.org

COLORADO

Independence Institute research assistant Justin Longo's new paper analyzes the number of governments in Colorado. Using historical data, he outlines the increased rate of growth and where it's leading Colorado. Former state Senate Majority Leader and state treasurer Mark Hillman, in co-authorship with Institute director of operations Amy Oliver, take on the results of the 2005 Referendum C in a paper that concludes state voters, as suspected from the beginning, were sold a bill of goods. Spending on programs rarely identified with Ref C has grown more than twice the spending on health care and education. The Institute's first ever "trivia bowl" highlighted college-level questions relating to founding American documents and free-market economics. The Institute's 23rd Annual Founders' Night Banquet in November featured author and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. i2i.org

CONNECTICUT

 

In November the Yankee Institute released "Help Wanted: Serving Connecticut's Neediest Citizens Through Job Training." Written by social services analyst Natalie Kindred, the study shows how Connecticut's future depends upon the health of its work force. Successful job training programs offer a win-win solution for taxpayers and disadvantaged citizens alike. In December, the Institute will release a revised and expanded version of "Ending Corruption and Waste in Your Public School." Authored by Yankee contributing writer and former public-school superintendent Armand A. Fusco, the paper advises taxpayer groups and local politicians on righting inefficiencies and corruption in local education budgets. yankeeinstitute.org

 

FLORIDA

 

On November 13, James Madison Institute members and friends, old and new, gathered at The University Center Club at Florida State University for the Institute's 20th anniversary celebration luncheon featuring keynote speaker Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard and host of FOXNews "Beltway Boys." Focusing on its policy roots, the Fall 2007 issue of The Journal of The James Madison Institute contains a trio of articles about current issues in higher education. Also included are essays that make the case for property tax limits and open government, and an analysis of 2008 election challenges. White paper topics scheduled for publication this winter include the economic impact of excessive climate regulations and suggestions for judicious energy policies, a proposed structure for tax limitations and why they're needed by Dr. Barry Poulson, and property insurance reform based on free-market principles by Eli Lehrer. Nurturing positive change for future generations, the Institute continues to provide expert testimony and resources to Florida's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and is planning health care and education events for the New Year. jamesmadison.org

 

GEORGIA

Celebrating a successful year of policy over politics, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation marked "Sweet 16" years of progress on limited government and free-market approaches. Anniversary celebration headliners included Georgia's House Speaker, Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. Also attending was Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. The Foundation's 2007 Georgia Health Care Symposium in October focused on market-based reforms and was keynoted by former HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan. Education expert Holly Robinson, in China on a two-week education study tour, reported that even teachers raised during Mao's Cultural Revolution, when English was off-limits, are busy learning English today. The Foundation's policy experts are gearing up to spread the message of fiscal conservatism ahead of a 2008 legislative session expected to be laced with contentious issues, including water allocation, education funding, tax reform, transportation funding, school choice, health care reform and TABOR. gppf.org

ILLINOIS

The Heartland Institute's global warming debate challenge to Gore was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times (circ. 496,030). On October 9, Heartland senior fellow for environment policy James M. Taylor appeared on "Hannity & Colmes" challenging Al Gore's nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Heartland reached an audience of 1,445,059 from earned media responding to the Gore-Nobel Prize story. Heartland president Joseph Bast, interviewed by reporters from ABC News, ABC Radio and Reuters, expressed disappointed in Gore's selection. The former VP's film is so flawed and hysterically alarmist that a British High Court recently declared the movie politically partisan and infected with scientific errors, and ordered that it not be shown to schoolchildren without a disclaimer. heartland.org

 

Illinois Policy Institute founder and president Greg Blankenship appeared on WLS-890 AM, "Chicago's Talk Station," to discuss the now routine "budget crisis" with Chicago's mass transit system. Transparency in transit funding would allow citizens to examine the crisis more openly, said Blankenship. The Institute has begun revamping its electronic communications tools, including a re-launch of its bimonthly e-newsletter, which began in November, and its website, which will debut by year end. The Institute is addressing the liberty leadership vacuum in Illinois by launching its new Liberty Leaders Project, which will bring together local leaders from around the state to share success stories in liberty-focused activism. The goal is to build a team of leaders who, among other things, serve as spokespeople for the Institute's policy output in their local communities. illinoispolicyinstitute.org

INDIANA

Working closely with Lisa Snell and Sam Staley of the Reason Foundation, the Indiana Policy Review Foundation dedicated its fall journal to education reform, specifically the Weighted Student Formula that is proving successful in Oakland and elsewhere. Snell has led two legislative seminars on the formula in Indianapolis. The winter journal will comprehensively survey state tax policy. Property tax increases of as much as 200 percent sparked protests last summer on the lawn of Gov. Mitch "the Knife" Daniels as a previously ambivalent middle class starts to understand the economics of state tax policy. inpolicy.org

IOWA

 

In 1997 Iowa's personal income tax rates were reduced by ten percent, bringing the top income tax rate down to 8.98 percent. On the 10th anniversary of the tax cut, the Public Interest Institute has released a series of publications, "After the Income Tax Cut," taking a look at some of Iowa's economic indicators to determine its impact. Over the past decade income tax collections rose to a higher level, per-capita personal income rose to a higher level, non-farm employment has risen to a higher level, population has continued to grow, although at a slower pace, and State Foundation Aid for K-12 education has grown to a higher level. Bottom line: Cutting income taxes was good for Iowa. limitedgovernment.org

KANSAS

 

The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy has been working to present consumer-driven health care alternatives. The impact of these efforts became apparent as the Kansas Health Policy Authority backed off plans for a universal health care push. In September the Center released a study by vice president of programs Sarah McIntosh regarding health care reforms in other states and suggestions for Kansas. The Center also released a paper on SCHIP in Kansas by Flint Hills senior fellow Gregory Schneider and Bryan Riley. In October Jonathan Williams, Flint Hills fiscal policy fellow and director of fiscal policy for ALEC, spoke on Kansas' need for a spending cap and priority-based budgeting. The Center hosted Cato's David Boaz at luncheons in Kansas City and Topeka. In November Gregory Schneider and Sarah McIntosh will present papers at the Kansas Legislative Education and Research meeting. flinthills.org

KENTUCKY

Forcing politicians to debate worthy issues may as well be the Bluegrass Institute's middle name. As Bluegrass submits its update to SPN News prior to Kentucky's gubernatorial election - the Institute (not too) courageously predicts that the incumbent, Republican Ernie Fletcher, will lose handily to Democrat Steve Beshear. Fletcher wouldn't listen as the Bluegrass Institute tried to give his administration "lift" for the past four years. Now the Institute will have to apply plenty of "drag" to an emerging labor-dominated regime."Statists unite!" is now the rallying cry for both parties in Kentucky. The Wall Street Journal recently ran Jim Waters' op-ed, "Kentucky Derby," which reinforced the Institute's position that neither candidate possesses the courage to debate issues that really matter. The Institute has now sponsored a dozen screenings of the Acton Institute's documentary, "Call of the Entrepreneur." Shown to groups of 10-25 successful entrepreneurs in small and large communities across the state, this setting enabled Bluegrass to position itself as the key organization focused on making Kentucky "the destination of choice for entrepreneurs," the Institute's overarching vision. bipps.org

MAINE

The Maine Heritage Policy Center has published six new policy reports. J. Scott Moody updated a previous report on state government compensation levels with the report "2006 Maine State Government ‘Gravy Train' Update." Stephen Bowen studied higher education curriculum, school privatization, school size and school choice in five papers: "Civic Education in the University of Maine System"; "Saving Our Small Schools: Is Privatization an Option?"; "Is Bigger that Much Better: School District Size, High School Completion"; "Post-Secondary Enrollment Rates in Maine" and "How Consolidation Threatens School Choice: The Bath/Union 47 School Merger Proposal and the Future of School Choice in Maine." Tarren Bragdon and Bowen collaborated on "Overview of Maine's Term Limits Law." MHPC also launched a new monthly luncheon series in Bangor, the Maine Prosperity Luncheon, to increase MHPC's outreach efforts. On November 17 MHPC celebrated its 5th anniversary with a reception at The Nonantum Resort in Kennebunk. mainepolicy.org

MASSACHUSETTS

In September, Pioneer Institute hosted a forum called "Driving Questions" to confront the transportation issues facing Massachusetts. Despite a maintenance backlog estimated at $17 billion, a public transportation system carrying $8 billion in debt and a queue of prospective new projects, special-interest groups are lobbying with complete disregard to any larger strategic vision for how transportation in 21st century Massachusetts will meet the economic needs of its residents. The panel included Secretary Bernard Cohen of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation, and Coby Chase, Director of the Texas Department of Transportation's Government and Public Affairs Division. Pioneer welcomed Regina Herzlinger as the 2007 Colby Hewitt Healthcare Lecturer. Ms. Herzlinger discussed the country's current health care crisis, which she believes is pushing the U.S. toward one of two visions for delivering health care: a system run entirely by the government or one in which individuals are empowered by data to make the medical decisions that impact their lives and families. The Institute prefers the latter. pioneerinstitute.org

MICHIGAN

The Mackinac Center won a long-sought victory in a battle over the way public schools obtain health insurance: New legislation will require a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association to release school districts' general claims data so that districts can seek competitive bids directly from health insurers. A policy brief by Jack McHugh, a senior legislative analyst, outlined 55 specific budget cuts to offset nearly $1.4 billion in tax hikes. Russ Harding will head the Center's newly created Property Rights Network. The network is aimed at building relationships with citizens concerned about both regulatory and physical property takings. Michigan Capitol Confidential, a new bimonthly publication edited by policy analyst Kenneth M. Braun, details recent state legislative votes and their policy implications. Syndicated columnist DeRoy Murdock touted the benefits of capitalism to policymakers and media during a Mackinac forum in Lansing, and also addressed Central Michigan University students at an event hosted by Students for a Free Economy, Mackinac's campus-outreach program. mackinac.org

 

MINNESOTA

 

The Center for the American Experiment is in the midst of a hectic stretch of publications and public events. In response to SCHIP debates, Peter Nelson, the Center's policy fellow for health care, had two columns in the (Minneapolis-based) Star Tribune: "Changes to SCHIP Won't Hurt Minnesota" and "Health Care Solutions Can be found in the Tax Code." The Center also recently published Nelson's fascinating and useful "Primer on How Employment-Based Health Benefits (and the Tax Code) Distort the Health Care Market." Nearing completion was American Experiment's newest symposium, featuring more than 30 writers from across Minnesota and the nation and edited by founder and president Mitch Pearlstein: "What Does It Mean to be an Urban Conservative?" Recent public events have spotlighted Bill Kristol on "The New World" and Rick Hess on "Educational Entrepreneurship." Upcoming symposia include Chip Mellor on "Protecting the Constitutional Right to Earn an Honest Living" and John Radsan on Iran. amexp.org

 

December is a big month for the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. December 1 is its first annual "State of Minnesota Conservatism" conference, an event to bring conservative and free-market leaders from throughout Minnesota together to network and to hear from notable speakers such as former congressman and Freedom Foundation board member Vin Weber; co-author of The Almanac of American Politic, Michael Barone; pollster Tony Fabrizio; and talk radio host Jason Lewis. Nearly 10 other Minnesota conservative organizations at a first-ever "Freedom Fair" will outline efforts to bring free-market ideas to bear in the North Star State. Corey Miltimore has joined the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota as president. He is uniquely qualified, with a background including experience at another state-based think tank, as well as solid business skills and knowledge of our state's unique political environment. Miltimore is an ideal and aggressive leader and arrived just in time to aid in the Foundation's ambitious plans for 2008. freedomfoundationofminnesota.com

MISSISSIPPI

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is hosting a special post-election policy seminar for legislators on November 29. All 174 legislative seats were on the ballot November 6. The first seminar session will challenge lawmakers to govern by principle rather than emotion or politics. The textbook for that session is the "Governing by Principle" primer, which MCPP wrote and sent to legislative candidates (among others) this past summer. Other panels will feature national experts on fiscal, education and health policy, and a lunch presentation will describe the need and the options for making state government more transparent and accountable. mspolicy.org

MISSOURI

The Show-Me Institute has added two new policy analysts and a research assistant. Dave Roland and Jenifer Zeigler Roland join the staff from Washington, D.C., where they worked for the Institute for Justice - Roland as a litigator, and Zeigler as the director of IJ's Castle Coalition. Research assistant Justin P. Hauke is a graduate student at Washington University's Olin Business School, and recently worked as a senior research associate for the St. Louis Federal Reserve. On October 17 Show-Me released a comprehensive eminent domain abuse study by Timothy Lee, an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and former Show-Me Institute editor. This study collected a decade's worth of examples and examines how eminent domain abuse hurts economic development by creating economic uncertainty and harming small businesses. Eminent domain also exacerbates inner-city poverty by destroying affordable housing and undermining low-income communities. Lee concludes that an amendment to the state constitution is necessary to protect property rights. showmeinstitute.org

NEBRASKA

Platte Institute for Economic Research board members Mike Groene and Pete Ricketts attended the SPN 15th Annual Meeting in Maine in October. They appreciated the warm welcome at the event, met great people and participated in tremendously stimulating policy discussions. In September the IRS notified the Platte Institute that its 501(c)(3) status had been approved. (You can start sending those contributions!) A formal media kick-off announcement after the New Year is planned. For more information, contact Institute president Pete Ricketts at pete@petericketts.com or (402) 657-0653.

NEVADA

 

The Nevada Policy Research Institute has published an analysis of the harmful economic effects resulting from the U.S. government maintaining control over an astonishing 86 percent of the Silver State's land base. "The Federal Land Stranglehold - and What Nevada Can Do About It," by Charles F. Barr, has generated significant Nevada media attention. One Las Vegas newspaper reprinted the article in full, and Charles was invited to discuss the issue on a popular Reno-based radio program. The full study is at npri.org.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

In October, the Josiah Bartlett Center released a new study on "Chronic Care Management and the Cost of Health Care" highlighting the cost drivers of health care, a pro-growth approach to dealing with costs, and some efforts already being taken in the private sector to manage the problem without the government even involved. For most of the fall, the Center has been trying to sound an early alarm about "The Emerging Fiscal Nightmare" with speeches around the state, opinion pieces and a preliminary analysis of revenues for lawmakers. The establishment's efforts to sweep the problem aside until the size requires "tax reform" has been derailed by a simple exposition of the actual numbers. In addition, the Center has worked to develop workable municipal spending caps, one of which is on the ballot this November. jbartlett.org

NEW JERSEY

The first state in the nation to experience such a phenomenon, New Jersey's cigarette-tax revenues actually declined during the same year lawmakers increased the tax rate. In an op-ed for the daily Asbury Park Press, the Center for Policy Research of New Jersey revealed that from FY06 to FY07 revenues fell by $23 million. Prior to the last rate increase, CPR asserted that New Jersey had reached a "tipping point." CPR warned that another rate increase, no matter how slight, would cause revenues to diminish. CPR based its prediction on the effects of previous increases on cigarette sales: High cigarette prices were driving consumers to out-of-state retailers. The analysis received national attention, including a Wall Street Journal editorial reference. Media and policymakers in other states considering cigarette tax increases are seeking CPR's analysis and comments.

NEW MEXICO

 

In exchange for cash and prizes, the Rio Grande Foundation asked New Mexicans this fall to scour state and local legal codes for the most ridiculous and outdated laws. Media outlets around the state have covered this Outrageous Law Contest. The Foundation recently hosted Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, who spoke about voter fraud across New Mexico and the nation. He also discussed America's broader political scene going into the 2008 election cycle. This successful Albuquerque event drew more than 60 attendees. RGF President Paul Gessing, along with spending-limit expert Michael New, testified before the legislative finance committee in favor of amending New Mexico's constitution to cap taxes and state government expenditures. Partly an effort to fight disinformation and ignorance that's unfortunately taken hold among many lawmakers regarding Colorado's TABOR limit, Gessing and New also emphasized a cap's capacity to both prioritize spending projects and prevent jarring single-year expenditure increases in the future, like last year's 11 percent jump from the previous budget. riograndefoundation.org

NORTH CAROLINA

 

Twenty-eight North Carolina counties want electoral endorsements this fall to raise sales taxes or real estate transfer taxes. A county-by-county John Locke Foundation analysis shows each local government already has enough revenue sources to meet its needs. Other JLF research questioned the usefulness of adequate public facilities ordinances, raised concerns about inflated school construction costs, and showed growth in public school course offerings outside core subject areas. As Charlotte considered whether to scrap a special local tax for mass transit, JLF hosted a debate on the topic and featured national light-rail critic Randal O'Toole for a lecture on transit myths. With the 2008 elections approaching, JLF invited pundits Bill Kristol, Dick Morris and Michael Barone to offer political analysis for audiences across the state. The North Carolina History Project sponsored lectures on the history of emergency executive powers and the link between science and tradition in the age of the Founders. JLF's Carolina Journal scored an exclusive interview with former N.C. State Rep. Michael Decker, a key player in a state corruption scandal. johnlocke.org

OHIO

The Buckeye Institute's inaugural Founders Lecture featured an authoritative discussion by Dr. David Forte on the American Founders' original intent in the words of the U.S. Constitution. A noted legal scholar and senior editor of the Heritage Guide to the Constitution, Dr. Forte told the nearly 100 assembled state legislators, policymakers and business leaders that having a "living constitution" interpreted to "change with the times" means essentially that bedrock constitutional principles are meaningless. Said Dr. Forte, "In a deep sense, if you have a living constitution you don't have a constitution because the purpose of the Constitution is to give stability over time." In an effort to convey and sustain the Founders' vision, Buckeye Institute President David Hansen presented each member of the Ohio Legislature with a personalized copy of the Heritage Guide to the Constitution. House Speaker Jon Husted remarked afterward, "The purpose of this book and of this discussion will not be lost on me, and I am certain, will not be lost on the legislators sitting in this room."buckeyeinstitute.org

 

OKLAHOMA

 

As students went back to school in the fall, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs' experts made the case for school choice in a four-part series on Tulsa's largest talk radio station. In coming months, OCPA will focus on creating policies toward more choices in education, as well as Medicaid and tort reform. OCPA's expert researchers were in high demand on the speaking circuit. In particular, internationally recognized scholar Dr. J. Rufus Fears, a distinguished fellow at OCPA, has been tirelessly delivering speeches on liberty, leadership and lessons of history. Dr. Fears also was featured in a special OCPA historical review entitled, "What It Means to Deserve Victory." The publication includes an interview conducted by OCPA president Col. Hopper Smith with the persona of Sir Winston Churchill about the war on terror, as well as comments from retired Army LTC Steve Russell and best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza. In addition, OCPA has become activated on YouTube and posted several videos. ocpathink.org

OREGON

Cascade Policy Institute President John Charles was taped recently for a segment of the popular Penn & Teller myth-busting television program, "Bullshit." In a spoof on carbon trading, John was highlighted discussing carbon credits. Steve Buckstein, Cascade's founder and senior policy analyst, was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongski to serve on the Comprehensive Revenue Restructuring Task Force, a committee established to review and analyze revenue and spending streams in the state, and to recommend reforms to the tax system. The final report is due to the Oregon Legislature in fall 2008. SPN awarded Cascade a grant to analyze the costs to Oregon taxpayers of various climate-change proposals, like mandatory green power and cap-and-trade programs. Cascade will follow-up with an analytical template that will be made available to all SPN members. cascadepolicy.org

 

PENNSYLVANIA

The Allegheny Institute continues battling ill-conceived mass-transit funding schemes. Last July state lawmakers passed the Transportation Funding Act, allowing Allegheny County to impose a 10 percent alcoholic drink tax and a $2 per day fee on rental cars as a means to raise money for public transportation. The new taxes are really just bait-and-switch tactics to fill a hole in the county's 2008 budget. Institute research exposed the extraordinary costs of the mass transit system and how privatization and outsourcing would lower both costs and the need for subsidies, thus lessening the taxpayer burden, not increasing it. Pittsburgh's GOP mayoral candidate unequivocally endorsed Allegheny's prescriptions for treating the city's financial maladies, including a stringent spending cap. alleghenyinstitute.org

The Commonwealth Foundationhonored philanthropist and publisher Richard Scaife with its Speaker Franklin Award in November; John Stosseldelivered the keynote address. Foundation staff provided legislative testimony on many issues ranging from prison privatization and public-private partnerships in transportation to cyber schools and campaign-finance reform. In October the Foundation hosted a state energy policy forum in response to a special legislative session called to address the issue. The Foundation has vocally opposed tolling on Interstate 80, the state's plan for which includes borrowing on future revenue before the plan receives federal approval. Upcoming Foundation projects include a state Medicaid reform proposal, a report with Reason Foundation on privatizing state liquor stores and follow-up research to the Commonwealth report on tying school choice to property tax relief. This fall, several lawmakersintroduced legislation to fix Pennsylvania's long-term pension crisis for state and municipal employees, basedentirely on the Commonwealth Foundation's ideas and proposals. commonwealthfoundation.org

RHODE ISLAND

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute has hit the ground running. With policy initiatives proposed to reform welfare, education, immigration, government transparency and grassroots organizing efforts, OSPRI's first five months have been extraordinarily busy and successful. OSPRI is providing research for the Governor's Policy Office, shifting welfare from an education-focused to a work-focused model. The Institute tackled the confusion of education union contracts by developing spreadsheets that outline the multitude of compensation methods often hidden from the public. OSPRI is promoting a responsible immigration policy that doesn't constrict the economy nor burden social services. In efforts to develop statewide transparency policies, OSPRI has acted locally by accumulating employee information town-by-town. Finally, the Institute provides a conduit of information for other organizations, enabling strength through unity, with its monthly meeting. OSPRI's board of directors is comprised of academic and business leaders, including Rhode Island's First Lady. Combined with a board of scholars and several research associates who fill the new office in Providence, OSPRI is set for an explosive year. oceanstatepolicy.org

SOUTH CAROLINA

 

At the request of South Carolina Senate Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell, South Carolina Policy Council staff testified before a Senate study committee to examine spending caps, along with several business and tax group leaders. SCPC vice president Ashley Landess explained to senators why caps were necessary at both the state and local level, pointing out that growth in both areas had occurred faster than income levels. Senators have asked SCPC to provide them with further information and recommendations as they hold statewide hearings to discuss spending caps. SCPC congratulates Gerry Dickinson on his new position at the Lieutenant Governor's office. Gerry was with SCPC since 1997, working in policy and external affairs. SCPC will miss Gerry but is looking forward to working with him in his new capacity. Virginia Hall, who has been with SCPC since January as executive assistant, will become SCPC's director of external affairs. SCPC is also pleased to welcome Jessica Lovelace as the executive assistant to the president. scpolicycouncil.com

TEXAS

The Texas Public Policy Foundation, along with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, conducted the first Capital Campus-Texas on October 23-24 at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort. The 36 legislative and executive branch staffers, selected via a competitive application process, received two days of economics education and public policy applications from Dr. Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, Maurice McTigue and other renowned scholars. The Foundation's latest Policy Primer luncheons have addressed windstorm insurance and teacher certification, and continue to draw capacity crowds. The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Foundation co-sponsored a November 14 Policy Primer in Houston on energy and the environment. Other Foundation events were held in Fort Worth, and upcoming events scheduled in San Antonio and Midland. The Foundation's 6th Annual Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature will be January 9-10, 2008 at the Sheraton Austin Hotel. The Policy Orientation will include 17 panels on a range of issues. Confirmed keynote speakers include South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Investor's Business Daily senior editor Michael Ramirez, Dr. Arthur Laffer and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. texaspolicy.com

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility unveiled its new website in mid-October, featuring new tools for users and greater sense of community for the organization's members and supporters. TFR president Michael Quinn Sullivan logged his 180th speech in Texas for the year, promoting budget reforms and calling for greater political accountability. His work has attracted the notice of the state's leading newspapers, and he was profiled in a front-page article of the Austin American-Statesman. TFR has also been mailing targeted lists of consistent voters in key legislative districts, informing voters of the performance of the worst of the Republican lawmakers. The organization's political action committee, the Empower Texans PAC, has begun interviewing candidates for endorsement in the 2008 primary and general elections. empowertexans.com

UTAH

As part of its role in educating Utahns about school vouchers, the Sutherland Institute hosted four national voucher experts on October 25-26. As one of the leading advocates for the Milwaukee voucher program, Democratic Rep. Jason Fields of Wisconsin shared his first-hand voucher experiences with Utah media. Rebeca Nieves Huffman, Hispanic CREO's president and CEO, was interviewed by all of the major Hispanic television stations and newspaper agencies in the state. She explained how school vouchers would help improve education for Hispanic children, Utah's largest minority population. Representatives from two other SPN organizations were also on hand to help Utahns better understand this important educational opportunity. Clint Bolick, director of Goldwater's Center for Constitutitonal Litigation, addressed federal and state voucher constitutionality issues. Texas Public Policy Foundation education analyst Jamie Story stressed that vouchers are a win for students, parents and teachers. sutherlandinstitute.org

VERMONT

On October 17 the Ethan Allen Institute sponsored a public showing of outtakes from "Things of the Spirit," a splendid history of President Calvin Coolidge. John Karol's documentary produced a new appreciation of the values and character of Coolidge - shown appropriately in the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction. On October 27, Dr. Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute delivered a riveting analysis of the science, economics and politics of global climate change to an overflow audience atthe Montpelier ElksClub. Lewis concluded that whatever contributionhuman activity may be making to climate change, instituting sweeping international controls over energy production would enormously set back human growth, progress and prosperity and have no detectable effect on climate change over the next century. Better the human race invest in adapting to climate change, and devote its resources to doing battle against disease, malnutrition, dirty water and other afflictions. The Institute has embarked on a search for a new president and CEO. Inquire at eai@ethanallen.org. ethanallen.org

VIRGINIA

The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy continued its effort to inject reality into Virginia public policy debates. TJI environmental stewardship senior fellow David Schnare testified to the U.S. Senate on global warming and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay using free-market methods. He proposed that geo-engineering be considered to cool the atmosphere over the Arctic which would rebuild the melting ice cap and "buy time" for a less emotional and more realistic approach to the global warming issue. Schnare also spoke twice to packed audiences at the annual statewide Energy Conference sponsored by the Virginia Military Institute. The Institute's Seventh Annual Fairfax County Budget Analysis elicited the standard textbook counterattack full of errors and purposeful distortions from hostile politicians and special interests, although they never disagreed with the study's basic conclusions - that $1.1 billion has been spent in the past four years above what would have had county budgets increased in connection with the CPI and population increases. Several additional newspapers in the state are carrying the twice monthly column by the Jefferson Institute. thomasjeffersoninst.org

The Virginia Institute for Public Policy's sister organization, Tertium Quids, a 501(c)4, recently hired Brian Gottstein as vice president of communications. "With a proven track record in public relations and marketing, political strategies and campaigning, special events, radio and TV production, and media relations, we think that Brian is the single best person to fill this critical function in our organization," said John Taylor, president of Tertium Quids. Brian served as a consultant for individual- and corporate-giving, planned-giving, and direct-mail appeals. He is a fellow at the University of Virginia's Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership and founding chairman of the Virginia Tech Department of Communication Alumni Advisory Board, a national association of communication professionals including Fortune 100 corporate executives, Hollywood producers, congressional political directors and national reporters for ABC, CNN and NBC. Brian is also founder of the Alliance for Individual Rights & Responsibility - an organization of business, political, and community leaders who espouse the values of individual rights and personal responsibility. virginiainstitute.org

WASHINGTON

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation began publishing notes from negotiations between the State of Washington and its 19 publicemployee unions. The publication began after a Washington court ruled those notesare public records and should be released to EFF, which had made a public records request. The request resulted in the Service Employees International Union suing the state to prevent release of the notes. EFF's new blog (libertylive.org), which launched shortly after Labor Day, recorded 122,000 hits in September and was on a pace for 200,000 hits and more than a million page views in October. Traffic driven by links from others rose from five percent in September to 13 percent in October. EFF's education reform documentary, "Flunked!,"is in final production and will premier in January. You can view the trailer at myspace.com/flunkedthemovie. effwa.org

 

WISCONSIN

In 2007, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute studies have had a significant impact on reshaping the state budget. Wisconsin Democrats' version of the budget included the most ambitious single-payer health care proposal in the nation. In a series of studies, op-eds and blogs WPRI revealed the underside of a single-payer system. The plan was subsequently deleted from the budget. Similarly, WPRI exposed the truth behind an oil company franchise fee proposed by Wisconsin's governor. It too was deleted from the final budget. The Institute also published a key study supporting the deregulation of the cable industry. Final legislative action to support WPRI's recommendation is imminent. In the coming year, Wisconsin will continue to be a national testing ground for a single-payer health care system. WPRI is preparing a series of analytical studies to expose how a single-payer system will encourage immigration into Wisconsin, decrease the supply of doctors and nurses, dampen investment in medical innovation and run up costs for state taxpayers. wpri.org

NATIONAL

The Alliance for School Choice's 2006 Annual Report is now available online at allianceforschoolchoice.org. The report profiles the organization's activity and progress across the nation. There are currently 136,000 children enrolled across the nation in targeted school choice programs. This number represents an increase of 100,000 students over the last five years. Despite the dramatic growth in school choice programs, there is much work to be done. In other news, this September, the Alliance and over a dozen state and national organizations called upon President Bush, Congress and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to include meaningful and effective school choice options in the upcoming reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

As a result of executive order number 2007-14, which mandates the creation of a searchable, public website to disclose state expenditures, South Carolina citizens will soon better understand how their tax dollars get spent. Americans for Tax Reform commends Gov. Sanford's efforts to make management and allocation of taxpayer dollars more transparent. Taxpayers also scored a major victory on the federal front with recent Senate passage of a seven-year internet tax moratorium extension. A four-year extension was already passed by the House. ATR urges making the moratorium permanent. ATR has calculated the increased cost to taxpayers of Congressman Rangel's tax overhaul, introduced on October 25, at approximately $1.33 trillion. "Charlie Rangel's tax bill raises taxes on small businesses, middle-class families, pension funds, and Americans doing business overseas - you name it, and Rangel taxes it," said ATR president Grover Norquist. ATR will continue to work with Congress to vigorously oppose this legislation. atr.org

Recent Cato Institute studies address state-focused topics such as Medicare, urban planning, and education tax credits. Senior fellow Randal O'Toole has been busy fighting government planners, releasing studies on Portland and San Jose and the book The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future. To schedule Randal for an event, email speakers@cato.org. Other new releases include The Antitrust Religion and the sixth-annual Cato Supreme Court Review. Cato on Campus (catocampus.org) is a new student-friendly portal designed to help younger users search for Cato studies and articles more easily. Our 25th annual Monetary Policy Conference, "Monetary Arrangements in the 21st Century," was held on November 14 in Washington, D.C. and featured a keynote speech by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke. Cato hosted City Seminars in San Francisco (November 27) and Chicago (November 29), and is now accepting nominations for the fourth biennial Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. The Friedman prize will be awarded at a gala dinner in New York City in May 2008. cato.org

The Center for Competitive Politics has added two new staffers to its growing team. CCP recently hired Mike Darner as a new legal associate. Darner graduated from the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law in 2007. While there, Mike interned for the Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center, the ACLU's Washington legislative office and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. As a student Darner interned for Sen. Tom Daschle, and in 2004 earned a B.A. in political science, cum laude, from Miami University. CCP also hired Trevor Summerfield as Government & Coalitions director. Summerfield, a graduate of the College of Saint Rose, was government relations and outreach manager at the National Veterans Business Development Corporation. campaignfreedom.org

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute launched two new projects this fall in its national outreach to conservative and young college women. Dr. Miriam Grossman, a UCLA student health services psychiatrist, joined the Institute as a senior fellow focusing on the issue of women's health and sex education. "Policy Express," a new series of policy briefs, provides key information on critical issues debated on campuses and elsewhere. Examples include "Global Warming: What You Haven't Been Told," authored by Dr. Roy W. Spencer, University of Alabama at Huntsville, and an upcoming "Immigration: Turning the Tide," by Dr. Barry R. Chiswick, University of Illinois at Chicago. The Luce Institute is currently addressing runaway K-12 education spending in its home state of Virginia, with a new report (scheduled to be released this fall) rating the cost-efficiency of each Virginia public school district. cblpi.org

The Claremont Institute is proud to announce a new policy study authored by Thomas Joscelyn, "Iran's Proxy War Against America." In the inaugural publication of Claremont's National Security Studies series, Joscelyn argues that Iran has vicariously waged war against America for nearly three decades, while America's leaders have been unwilling to admit what is plain for all to see. Because of our reluctance to confront this terrorist state openly, we are losing ground on a vital front in our war against radical Islam. Through careful analysis of open sources, Joscelyn explains both the intelligence establishment's misreading of history and the numerous but unfounded assumptions by today's elite concerning Iran and its link to terrorist operations. How we go about meeting the Iranian threat is open for debate, but we cannot hope to resolve this vital issue by pretending that Iran does not play a role in the terrorists' ongoing war against America. claremont.org

The Competitive Enterprise Institute co-hosted with Heartland Institute a global warming strategy session at the SPN Annual Meeting in October. To become a part of the GW coalition, please email Julie Walsh at jwalsh@cei.org. See the newly re-launched GlobalWarming.org website for all the latest news. Also at the SPN conference, video production manager Erin Wildermuth conducted a session on "messaging through video" and a how-to workshop on video production. (Watch CEI videos at youtube.com/CEIdotorg.) CEI senior fellow Eli Lehrer held a joint conference with the Heritage Foundation in October on the national crisis in insurance regulation. Lehrer also authored a report examining South Carolina's insurance reforms and sketching out a plan to move towards a truly free market for wind insurance. CEI's Center for Entrepreneurship director John Berlau authored a WSJ op-ed in October on how federal regulations were in large part responsible for mortgage problems in certain states. CEI president Fred L. Smith, Jr., testified before the Senate on the threat posed to U.S. sovereignty and economic interests by the Law of the Sea Treaty. cei.org

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, in partnership with the James Madison Institute, is hosting "Excellence in Action," a national policy summit for agents of change who share a passion for transforming American education. The summit is more catalyst than conference. The best and the brightest will converge in the Sunshine State to discuss strategy, success stories, research and lessons learned. Participants will immerse themselves in two days of provocative discussions and debates on topics important to the future of education in our country. "Excellence in Action" will be hosted by Jeb Bush on June 19-20, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. Former First Lady Barbara Bush will be one of the keynote speakers. For more information or to register for the event, write info@excelined.org. excelined.org

 

Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner spoke in September to a conference at the Vatican, hosted by the Acton Institute, arguing for health systems that respect individual freedom and responsibility. While in Rome, she debated an Italian senator on national radio and spoke at a luncheon with business and industry leaders, hosted by Istituto Bruno Leoni. A busy fall schedule also featured testimony before the House Budget Committee addressing the need to make the tax treatment of health insurance fairer. Grace-Marie also appeared on an ABC prime-time special with John Stossel, and she had scores of radio interviews about Sen. Hillary Clinton's latest health plan. Galen was also heavily involved in the debate over reauthorization of SCHIP. Galen hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill in early August, featuring members of our Health Policy Consensus Group and other speakers, including Rep. John Shadegg. In September, the Institute hosted a luncheon for the media and policy colleagues featuring Kentucky Health and Family Services Secretary Mark Birdwhistell, who spoke about his state's innovative and successful Medicaid reform program. galen.org

In August the Institute for Justice secured a victory for a Washington-state business. The Futon Factory won its challenge to an ordinance that banned the use of off-premises, portable signs to advertise small business. The victory is the latest in a line of commercial free-speech cases we hope to build upon. IJ filed an official challenge on behalf of the Community Youth Athletic Center against the city of National City, Calif. The city wants the power to declare the gym and many other properties within city limits "blighted" with the hopes of later condemning and subsequently selling the properties to private developers. The CYAC is a neighborhood boxing gym that keeps local kids off the streets through a rigorous training and tutoring regimen. IJ launched its "Freedom Market" at ij.org where you can shop and support freedom. The site features publications, tools for activists, apparel and gifts for all friends of liberty on your holiday list. ij.org

On October 23, the Manhattan Institute's seventh annual Social Entrepreneurship Awards dinner honored nonprofit leaders who've pioneered innovative private solutions for pressing social issues, using little or no government support. This year, five dynamic leaders from across the country were honored. Also, for the first time, the William E. Simon Lifetime Achievement Award was presented. Nominations for the 2008 Social Entrepreneurship Awards will be accepted from January 15 to March 21. In a new study, "Comparing Public and Private Health Insurance," senior fellow and economist Benjamin Zycher compares the costs of administering Medicare with those of a private system. His data reveal that the costs of administering Medicare are twice as high as is commonly asserted. Furthermore, a single-payer system would, in fact, not yield savings sufficient to cover the costs of the uninsured. manhattan-institute.org

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University released three new policy papers as part of its research on post-Katrina reconstruction. While focused on policies affecting communities recovering from major disasters, they are applicable to states dealing with insurance, housing policy and governance questions. "Ensuring Disaster: State Insurance Regulation, Coastal Development, and Hurricanes" by Daniel Sutter examines how state insurance regulation affects societal vulnerability to hurricanes. Prof. Sutter explains how state wind pools and guarantee funds produce perverse incentives, keeping households from making sensible disaster mitigation decisions and raising insurance costs for everybody. "The Housing Voucher Choice Program," by Emily Schaeffer, breaks down problems with government-managed public housing mixed-income developments, and explains why voucher systems lead to better outcomes. Schaeffer's paper offers a valuable resource to communities rethinking housing strategies. "Power to the Neighborhoods," by Sandy Ikeda and Peter Gordon, discusses how devolving power from cities to neighborhoods can lead to better outcomes, innovative governance and improved cities. Contact Daniel Rothschild at (703) 993-4898 or drothsch@gmu.edu. mercatus.org

The New York-based Moving Picture Institute proudly announces the North American premieres of two remarkable films about freedom. James and Maureen Tusty's "The Singing Revolution" shows how, between 1986 and 1991, Estonians used song to anchor a peaceful revolution against totalitarianism. The most successful documentary in Estonian history, "The Singing Revolution" is now reaching the American audience for which it was made. The film has screened at numerous film festivals, and in December will enjoy week-long runs in Beverly Hills and Manhattan. Evan Coyne Maloney's "Indoctrinate U" reveals how our colleges and universities routinely deprive students of their First Amendment rights. In September, "Indoctrinate U" received a standing ovation and won rave reviews at its world premiere in Washington, D.C. This fall, it is playing in Minneapolis, Cleveland and other cities. To sign up for screenings, visit www.IndoctrinateU.com and join thousands of Americans who have pledged to see these path-breaking movies. Founded to promote freedom through film, MPI is accepting applications for internships. thempi.org

National Right to Work Foundation attorneys persuaded the National Labor Relations Board to overturn its longstanding policy of denying employees access to a secret ballot vote over unionization after a union is recognized pursuant to the controversial "card check" organizing process. The sweeping 3-2 ruling came in two high-profile cases brought by Foundation attorneys for employees at two automotive suppliers who found themselves organized by the United Auto Workers union. In the future, employees have 45 days after the recognition to file a decertification petition to obtain an election to oust an unwanted union. The card check organizing issue is also a top legislative priority for Big Labor at both the federal and state levels. Giving further momentum to the national campaign against card check organizing abuse led by National Right to Work, the NLRB majority pointed out, "card checks are less reliable because they lack secrecy and procedural safeguards... union card-solicitation campaigns have been accompanied by misinformation... workers sometimes sign union authorization cards...to get the person off their back." nrtw.org

The REACH Foundation's first annual Champions of Choice Awards Dinner this past September in Philadelphia was an overwhelming success, with more than 130 school choice supporters in attendance. Former Pennsylvania education secretary Dr. Eugene Hickok delivered a poignant keynote address. The four recipients of the Champions of Choice Award were State Representatives William Adolph and William Keller; Paul Henkels, chairman of the REACH board; and Dr. Hickok. Also receiving awards were the students chosen for REACH's 2007 Visions of Choice campaign, which highlighted school choice options within the state. The 2008 Visions of Choice campaign is underway, with a contest to determine next year's recipients. The focus during the upcoming legislative session is extending school choice options to special needs students. REACH is dialoguing with school officials, parents and legislators with the hope that choice will be granted to those Pennsylvania students who might benefit from it the most. paschoolchoice.org

In October the Tax Foundation invited think-tank tax and budget experts to discuss "How to Impact the Tax Debate in Your State" during a panel at the SPN Annual Meeting. Chris Atkins outlined the economically damaging effects of gross receipts taxes at the Council on State Taxation's annual conference. A Foundation press conference co-hosted with the Public Policy Institute illuminated problems with the governor's tax increase plan. That event, and Curtis Dubay's "Governor O'Malley's Tax Plan Puts Maryland at Risk in Regional Tax Competition," attracted widespread media attention. The Foundation's State Tax Working Group meets the third Wednesday of each month and encourages conference call participation. For details, contact Tonya Barr at tbarr@taxfoundation.org. taxfoundation.org

Each year, young people attend the nation's premiere conservative student conference in Washington, D.C. The National Conservative Student Conference, organized by Young America's Foundation - now in its 29th year - was held July 29 through August 4, 2007, at George Washington University. Attendees heard from the most influential leaders in the Conservative Movement, including Newt Gingrich, Tony Snow, Michael Reagan, Michelle Malkin, Robert Novak, Senator James Inhofe, Governor George Allen and Dr. Walter Williams. The conference has been held in Washington, D.C. every year since 1979 as a way for students to consider the conservative ideas often omitted from the classroom. Opinion leaders discuss the principles of limited government, a strong national defense, free markets and traditional values. Conference alumni include Chuck Cunningham, federal policy director for the National Rifle Association; Todd Buchholz, a noted economist; best-selling author Peter Schweizer; and National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez. yaf.org


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