Policy Documents

The Leaflet - The Top State Policy Issues for 2014

January 9, 2014

 

The Top State Policy Issues for 2014 

 

As state lawmakers head back to their state capitols to begin their 2014 legislative sessions, states are expected to face many important issues this year. Here is a list of what Heartland staff believes will be some of the top state issues to watch for in 2014.


Rolling Back State Renewable Mandates
As states begin to run out of time to hit their renewable energy mandates and the availability of low-cost, low-carbon domestic natural gas continues to improve, more than a dozen states in 2013 considered bills that would freeze or eliminate these renewable requirements. Expect even more states to take on this issue in 2014.


Medicaid Expansion
Most states already have decided whether or not to expand their Medicaid programs as part of Obamacare. Currently, 26 states have chosen to expand their Medicaid programs and 22 states have chosen not to do so. Pressure in states that have refused to expand could lead to states experimenting with plans similar to Arkansas’ “private option.”

Pension Reform
States and municipalities across the country are continuing to face structural budget deficits as they try to compensate for the pension promises made to their employees. Expect more states to follow the lead of Rhode Island, which in 2011 passed some of the most sweeping pension reforms in the past decade. Those reforms are expected to save the state $250 million this year alone.

Hydraulic Fracturing
Hydraulic fracturing technology has given the states access to deep deposits of energy, leading to a boom in natural gas reserves as a source of cheap and clean electricity generation. In 2013, some states and municipalities considered fracking moratoria, while Illinois, California, and Colorado focused on how to allow but regulate hydraulic fracturing. Most states will continue looking at prudent ways to regulate fracking rather than banning it.

Common Core Education Standards
No issue surprised state legislatures in 2013 more than Common Core education standards. The lack of information about these standards and public outcry led to many states considering proposals to delay or reject the standards. In 2014 many states will continue to debate the issue and take up proposals to protect student privacy and reject national standards in favor of state-driven standards.

Income Tax Reform
According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, 18 states made a total of 25 meaningful tax cuts during the 2013 legislative session. Many tax policy experts believe the trend of states implementing tax reform and tax cuts will continue in 2014 and beyond. Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, to name a few, are expected to consider major tax reform proposals in 2014.

Internet Taxes
Eighteen states have instituted an Internet sales tax, the so-called “Amazon tax,” but in 2013 the Illinois supreme court struck down the state’s Internet tax. The debate over taxes on Internet purchases will largely be at the federal level with the Marketplace Fairness Act, but Congress’s action or inaction on the issue will have a huge impact on states looking to tax these purchases.

If you would like any more information about these issues or for Heartland experts to speak or testify in your state, please email me at jnothdurft@heartland.org. We’re here to help!

Respectfully,

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute 

 

 

Health Care 

Research & Commentary: Certificate of Need Laws

 

Thirty-five states have hindered competition among health care providers through laws that limit the ability of health care providers to expand their businesses, through an approval process known as Certificate of Need (CON). The effects of these laws have led many experts to call for their repeal. In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues state legislators should roll back the unnecessary regulations.Read More 

 

Budget & Tax

Research & Commentary: Nevada Margins Tax

 

A new proposal, called simply the Education Initiative, would impose a new 2 percent tax on Nevada businesses that gross more than $1 million a year after deductions for payroll and cost of goods. In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans examines Nevada’s proposed margins tax and explains why imposing the new tax would complicate Nevada’s tax code while discouraging new investment. “Nevada should not replicate Texas’s failed tax policy but instead focus on education reform and a tax policy that helps attract entrepreneurs and workers.” Read More

 

Telecom

Nattering Net Neutrality Nonsense over AT&T's Sponsored Data Offering

 

In this article from The Heartlander digital magazine, Scott Cleland discusses the backlash from net neutrality activists over Sponsored Data, a new freebie for consumers offered by telecom company AT&T.

Cleland questions why net neutrality activists have become so dogmatic in their rhetoric that they oppose a free, market-oriented product for consumers. He asks, “How have net neutrality activists let themselves get so comically twisted up in their own free and open Internet rhetoric that they now find themselves opposing more Internet freedom, choices, and freebies for consumers?”. Read More

 

Education

Letter: Standards Don't Impact How Much Students Learn

 

Heartland Research Fellow Joy Pullmann responded to the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial, “Keep the Common Core Standards.” Pullmann writes, “perhaps your [editorial] board missed the research from places such as Stanford University and the Brookings Institution demonstrating that education standards have little or no impact on how much kids learn.” Read More

 

Environment

Blog: The Solar Swindle

 

Heartland Policy Advisor Norman Rogers writes despite solar electricity’s recent growth, the claim that it is close to being competitive with conventional sources of electricity is a fantasy. Rogers notes the solar industry’s growth is completely artificial, due to solar power’s severe lack of practicality and cost effectiveness.Read More

 

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