Haley Lays Out Economic ‘Freedom Plan,’ Packed with Promises of Tax Cuts, Entitlement Reform and Regulatory Relief

Declaring that it’s time for Washington to start working for Americans and not the other way around, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley laid out her economic “Freedom Plan in a speech Friday in New Hampshire.

The former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador is proposing a litany of middle-class tax cuts, regulatory relief and “third rail” entitlement reforms in a proposal she asserts will check communist China aggression through American prosperity.

Read the full story

Lee’s Criminal Justice Reform Focuses on Re-Entry, Imprisonment Alternatives

Bill Lee

Gov. Bill Lee has promised criminal justice reform in Tennessee, and several of his proposed bills that are set to move forward in coming weeks could have a significant effect on those in the state’s prison system.

“I’ve been thinking about it for 20 years,” Lee said recently during a roundtable he held on the subject last week. “Now, we’re in spot in Tennessee to really make substantive change.”

Many of the changes proposed in the bills and in Lee’s amended budget aim to reduce the prison population while focusing on re-entry for nonviolent offenders.

Read the full story

Georgia House Passes on Effort to Study State’s Tax, Revenue Structure

The Georgia House has rejected a bill that would have launched a review of the state’s revenue and tax structure.

Senate Bill 148 would have created two panels to study and make recommendations for the state’s coffers. It would have re-established the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians and create the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure.

The House voted, 139-20, against the bill Thursday. It had 39 sponsors. 

Read the full story

Rep. Ilhan Omar Urges Biden Admin to End Contracts Between ICE and Prisons, Calling Treatment of Immigrants ‘Systemic Abuse’

Rep. Ilhan Omar urged President Joe Biden’s administration in a letter Monday to end Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) contracts with prisons and jails.

The letter calls for Biden to issue an executive order to end ICE’s contracts with state, county and local jails due to the treatment of the detained immigrants and the facilities’ conditions. The Minnesota Democrat called the conditions of the facilities “systemic abuse.”

“Conditions in the municipal, county, and state jails and prisons contracting with ICE to detain immigrants mirror the systemic abuses in privately operated immigration detention facilities, including mental neglect, long term use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, and lack of access to legal counsel,” Omar wrote in the letter.

Read the full story

Poll Shows Likely Voters in Virginia Support Police Union Reform

A recent poll of likely voters in Virginia shows most Virginians across party lines oppose granting unions the authority to protect police from disciplinary action or create policies that threaten accountability.

Virginia lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year that allows collective bargaining for public-sector unions, including police unions, if local governments pass ordinances that allow it. The bills permit local policies that allow disciplinary and policy decisions to be settled through binding arbitration, meaning an arbiter could overrule a police department’s disciplinary actions and policies designed to hold officers accountable.

Read the full story

Commentary: Fixing Higher Education Begins with Reforming How It Is Financed

college students

Our educational industrial complex is broken, and swift reform is needed. College costs continue to rise much faster than inflation, and too many students are plowing themselves into debt and wasting years of their lives pursuing pointless degrees. Upon leaving college, these students are often surprised to discover that their degrees have little value. Of course, most colleges are liberal indoctrination centers, where conservative voices are few and often drowned out.

Read the full story

Commentary: We Need a Higher Education Reformation

by Emina Melonic   American higher education, once the envy of the world, is suffering a crisis of confidence and a loss of purpose. “Once upon a time, universities were institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth and the transmission of the highest values of our civilization,” writes New Criterion editor and publisher Roger Kimball. “Today, most are dedicated to the destruction of those values. It is past time to call them to account.” What would accountability look like? The distinguished British philosopher Roger Scruton, a conservative through and through, recently proposed a radical solution: “get rid of universities altogether.” Have these men taken leave of their senses? Not at all. Both have been keen observers for decades of the slow-motion catastrophe unfolding in academia. It may be we’ve reached a turning point. Behind most of the problems plaguing education is a noxious identity politics. This is particularly true in the humanities because these subjects easily lend themselves to manipulative interpretation and reshaping by those with an ideological agenda. Take a piece of classical literature, such as Homer’s The Iliad, slap a theory on the text, and bingo, you have just rid yourself of the chore of trying to understand this magnificent piece of dramatic poetry…

Read the full story

Michigan House, Senate Pass Auto Insurance Reform, Governor Whitmer Expected to Sign

by Tyler Arnold   The Michigan House and Senate passed auto insurance reform Friday with substantial bipartisan support after the House Republicans, Senate Republicans and Democratic governor struck a deal. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill into law. The legislation will eliminate a mandate that required all drivers to purchase unlimited, lifetime personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The unlimited PIP coverage mandate is unique to Michigan and caused the state’s average rates to be nearly double the national average. Detroit drivers paid nearly four times the national average. The PIP coverage accounts for nearly half of a driver’s insurance bill. After Whitmer signs the legislation, drivers will be able to choose from five PIP rate options and insurance companies will be required to lower their rates accordingly. A driver could choose to get rid of all of their PIP coverage, but only if he or she has private health insurance that covers auto accident injuries for the entire family, or the driver is an older person on Medicaid. They would save 100 percent on their PIP rates. Drivers could also choose to opt into $50,000 worth of coverage, which will be accompanied by a 45 percent rate…

Read the full story

Ohio Attorney General Pushes to Reform Drug Pricing By Focusing on Middlemen

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost blasted the middlemen responsible for negotiating drug prices on behalf of the state Monday, calling for immediate legislative action. The move comes a month after the state formally launched a lawsuit against the pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) responsible for the negotiations. Currently, Ohio cannot directly negotiate with major prescription drug manufacturers. The only means by which the prices of prescription drugs can be addressed in the Buckeye State is through PBMs or drug negotiators. Since they are compensated by the state, it’s expected of them to put the priority of Ohioans above all else. In June of last year, then Attorney General Mike DeWine, now governor, formally launched an investigation into the organizations, alleging that they were putting their own interests before the state. DeWine noted: Since the end of 2017, my office has been reviewing and investigating issues regarding PBMs and their contracts with Ohio agencies, such as the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, and our numerous pension systems. It is clear that the conduct by PBMs in these areas remains a major concern, and we anticipate that our investigation will result in…

Read the full story

Report: Ohio Prison Population Still Growing Despite Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform

Despite bipartisan calls for a reduction in the prison population and a slew of laws aimed at doing just that, a new report released this week has found that the prison population of Ohio has continued to climb over the past decade. Since 2011, the state has passed several new bills specifically aimed at addressing criminal justice reform. The two most impactful were House Bill 86 (HB 86) and House Bill 49 (HB 49). Both of these laws made a comprehensive list of changes to the criminal code, all aimed at curbing the incredibly high incarceration rates in Ohio. Among the changes were downgraded sentences for smaller offenses, permitting early release for certain types of offenders, shifting some crimes to misdemeanors, and creating financial incentives for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration. Despite this, the report found that: HB 86’s reforms, alone, may have saved the state $500 million by flattening prison population growth. While HB 86 was expected to significantly reduce the prison population, the prison population dropped just 2 percent. HB 49 was supposed to reduce the prison population to 47,500 by FY 2019, but right now, the prison population stands at 49,051. Projected reduction of the prison population was off by more…

Read the full story

Study: After a Generation Lost to the Opioid Epidemic, Ohio is Among the Few Hardest Hit to See Signs of Recovery

According to a study released Friday, Ohio is among the 8 states with the highest overall rates of opioid-related deaths in the 18-year span from 1998-2016. However the study also suggests that among those states hardest hit, Ohio is seeing a drop in opioid-related deaths in 2018. Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, and New Hampshire all joined the Buckeye State in having opioid rates that doubled every three years from 1998-2016. Only two states, Florida and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia had a higher increase in death rates, doubling every two years, yet still were surpassed in total deaths. Overall, in the United States opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled in that time period. The study found that by far, one of the greatest contributors to the startling rise was the proliferation of synthetic opioids. These are most forms of opioids produced commercially, specifically for pain relief. Fentaynl and Methadone were among the most common to be responsible for overdose-related deaths. In 12 states, more than 10 out of every 100,000 people died from synthetic opioid-related deaths. The study also called the opioid epidemic “one of the largest health crises facing the United States,” adding: Opioid-related deaths in the United States have increased more than…

Read the full story

Ohio Governor Kasich Signs Occupational Licensing Reform Bill, Increasing Market Competition

Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 255 (SB 255) Friday, reforming Ohio’s occupational licensing laws, some of which are considered to be the most economically crippling in the country. The law will require Ohio’s state legislature to examine every occupational licensing board in the state, assess their value and utility, then decide if they serve an essential function. If not, they will be disbanded. The legislatures have a five-year window to complete the examination. In addition, the Legislative Service Commission will review every future proposed board to ensure they are fair and not economically detrimental to citizens. The Buckeye Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank “whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states,” was the primary force advocating for and encouraging passage of the bill. Following it’s signing, Buckeye Institute Research Fellow, Greg R. Lawson celebrated the decision, stating: With the signing of Senate Bill 255, Ohio has gone from being one of the very worst states in the nation on occupational licensing to the very best…Through the extraordinary leadership of Senate President Larry Obhof, Senator Rob McColley, and Representative Ron Hood, Ohio can now rightly claim its place at the top of the list of states on occupational licensing,…

Read the full story

North Carolina’s ‘Legislative Commission of the Fair Treatment of Student-Athletes’ Set to Review Athletic Program Practices

by Shannon Watkins   Many colleges are setting up their student-athletes for failure. Whether one looks to the long-term neurological health risks that young athletes are subject to, or the myriad cases of academic dishonesty within athletics departments, it appears that the personal and academic well-being of student-athletes is often compromised for the sake of “the game.” Fortunately, the North Carolina legislature is taking a close look at how to improve colleges’ treatment of student-athletes. Over the summer, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill that established a Legislative Commission on the Fair Treatment of Student-Athletes. The commission is chaired by lieutenant governor Dan Forest and will have six meetings before it recommends legislation. Two meetings have already been held. During the first meeting on October 3, the commission discussed how athletes’ medical needs are—or aren’t—covered after a sports-related injury. The commission’s second meeting on November 8 dealt with whether academics and athletics are compatible—a highly contested issue of late, especially after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s infamous athletics-academic scandal that became a six-year saga. For its part, the Martin Center has had several long-standing recommendations for college athletics reform that could strengthen the commission’s recommendations. Stop Issuing Academic Waivers First, the Martin…

Read the full story

Report: Abuse and Inefficiency Rampant within U.S. Civil Service

FEMA trailers

by Natalia Castro   Introduction Corey Coleman spent years creating a toxic work environment on the taxpayer’s dime. Despite receiving complaints regarding Coleman’s hostility toward female employees and inappropriate behavior since 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintained Coleman’s employment until he chose to resign in April 2018. Coleman, who led the agency’s personnel department, made the decision to resign to avoid testifying as part of an internal investigation. [1] While this is one instance of abuse, stories like Coleman’s permeate the U.S. civil service industry. Our civil service is comprised of over 2.79 million employees working to run the “fourth arm” of the U.S. government: the bureaucracy. [2] Career bureaucrats implement federal policy via central offices in Washington, D.C. and regional offices across the country. As an unelected body, these workers are not accountable to the American people and due to the structure of our civil service are seemingly unaccountable to anyone. This system encourages poor performance, breeding corruption, waste, and abuse. Historical context The bureaucracy was created to implement the laws as written by Congress, but since its establishment government leaders have feared that a partisan civil service would serve its own interests rather than the interests…

Read the full story

Actually, It’s Lindsey Graham Who Is Out of Mainstream on Immigration

Sen. Lindsey Graham ripped senior White House aide Stephen Miller as holding immigration views that are out of the American political mainstream, but a new poll suggests it is the South Carolina senator who is alienated form public sentiment. The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll indicates a majority opposed the partial government shutdown that Graham supported and suggested broad support for many of the immigration views that Miller — and his boss, President Donald Trump — advocate.

Read the full story