Missed Heartland’s Emerging Issues Forum in Orlando? Watch It Online!

Published January 19, 2017

On December 15, The Heartland Institute hosted its 2016 Winter Emerging Issues Forum (EIF). More than 120 state elected officials and policy experts from 23 states attended this magical EIF in Orlando, Florida.

Tennessee state Rep. Mike Sparks (R-Rutherford) praised Heartland’s winter EIF event, stating, “As a state legislator, you may often feel alone on a few issues, but having The Heartland Institute as a resource is invaluable.”

If you missed Heartland’s Winter EIF event, you can watch each of the four panels held during the event online on Heartland’s YouTube channel.

The education panel featured Tennessee state Rep. John J. DeBerry Jr. (R- Shelby County), Jamie Gass, the Pioneer Institute’s director of the Center for School Reform, and Lisa Snell, the Reason Foundation’s director of education and child welfare. The panelists discussed how education outcomes in America continue to lag globally, the debate over Common Core State Standards, and educational choice options such as education savings accounts and charter schools. The panel also analyzed the roadblocks currently facing lawmakers who are working to transform education. Watch a video of the education panel here.

The health care panel featured Beacon Center of Tennessee Director of Policy Lindsay Boyd, clinical endocrinologist Dr. Richard O. Dolinar, and Sal Nuzzo, the James Madison Institute’s policy director. The panelists discussed how states could expand competition and reduce the cost of health care (even with the Affordable Care Act in place). Solutions discussed included using telemedicine, rolling back certificate of need laws, and embracing direct primary care. Watch a video of the health care panel here.

The energy and environment panel featured Maine state Rep. Beth A. O’Connor (R-Berwick), Amy Oliver Cooke, the Independence Institute’s vice president and the director of the energy policy center, and Spark of Freedom Foundation President James Taylor. The panelists discussed how America has become a leader in energy production despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to discourage the use of traditional energy sources, such as coal, natural gas, and oil. This panel also discussed the rise of hydraulic fracturing, the demise of renewable power mandates, and pro-environment, pro-energy, and pro-jobs solutions to America’s energy and environment problems. Watch a video of the energy and environment panel here.

The budget and tax panel featured West Virginia state Del. John Overington (R–Berkeley), Beacon Center of Tennessee Director of Policy Lindsay Boyd, and State Budget Solutions President Bob Williams. The panelists discussed ways states are seeking to create a better business climate to attract jobs and businesses to their states. The panelists also discussed right-to-work laws, tax reform, and reforming public pension systems. Watch a video of the budget and tax panel here.

Stay tuned as Heartland prepares to host its 2017 Emerging Issues Forum!

What We’re Working On

Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Dramatic Gas Tax Hike Won’t Help Alaska Maintain Its Roads
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) recently introduced a proposal that would hike the state’s gas tax rate as part of his 2018 budget plan. The tax would quadruple from 8 cents per gallon to 24 cents per gallon on July 1, 2018. In this Research & Commentary, Matthew Glans argues Alaska legislators should explore more modern and efficient ways to fund road construction and traffic infrastructure, such as privatizing roads and establishing toll systems. Read more

Roadmap for the 21st Century: Education Choice
This paper, authored by the Roadmap for the 21st Century Working Group on Education, describes how education choice and competition improve educational outcomes for both those students who take advantage of choice opportunities as well as those who remain in traditional public schools. The authors also outline how education choice would improve economic prosperity at the national and state levels. According to the authors, “If all American students and their parents were free to choose the school they believed would work best for them, [educational achievement gaps] could be closed. Nationwide, that would mean an increase in U.S. GDP of up to 17% to 30%, or $3.1 trillion to $5.2 trillion over 25 years, given the current level of U.S. GDP.” Read more

Energy & Environment
Utah Counties Sue Federal Government Over Coal Lease Moratorium
In this article for Environment & Climate News, reporter Kenneth Artz writes about a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Land Management by Utah’s Kane and Garfield Counties, which argues they and other rural communities around Utah will be economically devastated by the loss of hundreds of jobs and the closing of crucial mining sites if the Obama administration’s moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands continues. The Obama administration, Artz notes, issued the moratorium in January 2015 as part of its review and overhaul of the coal-leasing program managed by DOI. The Obama administration says the moratorium was necessary due to concerns related to the theory man is causing climate change and because the administration wanted to examine whether taxpayers are receiving a fair return on the leases. However, now that Donald Trump is entering the White House, the dispute could be short-lived. Read more

Health Care
The Case for Licensing Dental Therapists in North Dakota
A joint publication of The Heartland Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation, this Policy Brief makes a case for the licensing of dental therapists in North Dakota to improve access to basic and preventative oral care. The Policy Brief was authored by Michael Hamilton and Bette Grande, both research fellows at The Heartland Institute, and John Davidson, a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Grande served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996 to 2014, representing the 41st district. The authors urge North Dakota to follow the example set in Maine, Minnesota, and Vermont, which have proven licensing dental therapists is a win-win for residents and dentistry professionals. The report includes 64 footnotes citing research concerning the benefits of dental therapy. Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
The Thomas Jefferson Institute Releases New Hospital Study
The Thomas Jefferson Institute recently released its annual analysis of Virginia hospitals’ financial wellbeing, titled Virginia’s Hospitals: Doing Well in a Sluggish Economy. The report confirms the hospital industry in Virginia has continued to enjoy solid earnings, and the authors say the industry’s financial health remains strong. This year’s study, authored by President Michael W. Thompson, shows hospitals earned a profit of $1.89 billion in 2015, slightly less than the $1.9 billion in 2014 – a difference of only six-one-hundredths of one percent. Additionally, the net worth of hospitals increased by 6.6 percent, or about $1.1 billion. Thompson found in the report, “Over the past four years – from 2012 through 2015 – the number of hospitals running in the red has decreased by 35% – from 42 in 2012 to 27 in 2015.” Read more