Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Leaflet, a weekly policy roundup produced for lawmakers by The Heartland Institute’s government relations department. For those of you not yet familiar with us, we are the nation’s only non-partisan think tank that focuses on the 50 state legislatures. Our mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to economic and social problems.
I hope you enjoy this e-newsletter. Feel free to forward it to colleagues who might be interested in receiving it. I encourage you to contact me with any comments, suggestions, or questions at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.
This week’s edition features research and commentary addressing hydraulic fracturing in Ohio, lessons from the Massachusetts health insurance exchange, why we need to reduce federal spending, and repealing oil spill liability caps.
Director – Government Relations
The Heartland Institute
As states await a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) individual mandate, most are debating whether to craft a state health insurance exchange. This Research & Commentary describes how state exchanges will likely face the same poor outcomes experienced in the state of Massachusetts, as PPACA was modeled on the Massachusetts health care law. Only two states, Massachusetts and Utah, currently have functioning exchanges. Utah claims its exchange is a “free-market” model, and PPACA supporters have said exchanges under the law will be similar to it. That’s not correct. Utah’s exchange did not use federal funding for implementation, and it does not channel federal tax credits. Under PPACA, state exchanges created using the Utah model would not be approved.
Tax Schemes and Fiscal Dreams
Steve Stanek, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, opines in the San Francisco Chronicle that until lawmakers make a commitment to reducing spending, both short- and long-term, “no amount of tax revenue will ever be enough.” State policy makers face many of the same fiscal challenges that the federal government faces, but 49 states have balanced budget amendments, while the federal government does not. Please check out our Budget & Tax issue suite for more research and commentary.
Research & Commentary: Oil Spill Liability Caps and the Oil Pollution Act
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
In this Research & Commentary, Legislative Specialist Matthew Glans discusses the Oil Pollution Act and the oil spill liability cap, which currently sets a limit on the damages an energy company is required to pay after an oil spill. Matthew examines the viewpoints of environmental and free-market groups, who argue the caps act as subsidies for private companies and that the caps need to be strengthened, and supporters of the cap, who argue a higher cap would make insuring for new drilling impossible for all but the biggest companies, driving out smaller competitors.
The Heartland Institute’s latest Policy Brief, “The ‘Parent Trigger’ in California: Some Lessons from the Experience So Far,” offers a detailed account of the Parent Trigger’s first year in California. The California Parent Trigger allows parents whose children attend failing public schools to demand that those schools be closed or converted into charter schools, along with two other reform options. California passed its Parent Trigger law by the narrowest of margins at the end of 2009. Since its passage the new law has been the center of attention (both positive and negative) and embroiled in some legal battles. As you look to innovative new education reforms like the Trigger, this report can offer some real life lessons.
Research & Commentary Hydraulic Fracturing in Ohio
Environment & Climate
Chesapeake Energy has announced that exploratory hydraulic fracturing wells in the Utica shale, a deep rock formation stretching from upstate New York to Kentucky, have produced significant quantities of natural gas in Ohio. The wells in Harrison and Carroll counties have extracted yields so large the production investments could be recovered in as little as two or three months. With such promising returns, investment in the Utica shale region is likely to increase.
Since its inception the Universal Service Fund has been a massive boondoggle. The federal government wastes nearly 60 cents on every dollar. So, when we heard the USF was up for reform, we were hopeful. That hopefulness quickly gave way to cynicism as we met the new plan … same as the old plan. In fact, the FCC has given years and years of life to the Universal Service fund by reallocating it from traditional landline phones to new broadband connections. What should consumers expect from the new USF? Higher mobile phone bills, more confusing charges, and even more corporate handouts.
Heartland Author Series: Todd Myers
Maggiano’s (Belaggio Room) 516 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60654 Wednesday, November 9, 2011, 11:30 am
Environment & Climate News
The November issue of Environment & Climate News reports Kansas and Texas are leading a group of eight states suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its planned implementation.