The 2013 Emerging Issues Forum Is Coming to Atlanta!
I invite you to join The Heartland Institute and more than 100 of your colleagues in Atlanta, Georgia at the 2013 Emerging Issues Forum on Thursday, August 15. Join us as we explore emerging issues in state public policy in the areas of energy, the economy, education, health care, and more!
The Emerging Issues Forum is a day-long policy forum during which elected officials, policy experts, and government affairs professionals can hear from the leading free-market experts as we explore solutions to the top public policy issues facing states.
Admission to the event is free for elected officials, their spouses, and staff. Members of the Legislative Forum at The Heartland Institute are eligible for a limited number of travel scholarships. Not a member yet? Join today!
Tickets for the public to attend and sponsorship opportunities are also available.
What state lawmakers said about the 2012 Emerging Issues Forum:
“Heartland’s EIF is the one-stop place to go for the latest and best policy ideas. It is a ‘must attend’ event for freedom-loving, free-market public servants.”
“I think the Heartland Institute’s meetings are some of the best learning opportunities out there. I am always grateful for the opportunity to attend.”
“I am a better rounded and informed legislator for having attended the Emerging Issues Forum.”
“Great program, informed speakers, knowledge presented in a very entertaining way!”
This week’s edition of The Leaflet features research and commentary addressing the emergence of e-cigarettes, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, voucher expansion, wireless tax fairness, fracking in California, and Wisconsin’s Medicaid decision.
Research & Commentary: The Emergence of E-Cigarettes
Electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes,” have quickly become one of the most popular nicotine replacement products. The Wall Street Journal reports sales of e-cigarettes doubled in the United States over the past five years, moving from $250 million to $500 million in total sales. Some industry experts predict sales of e-cigarettes could reach $1 billion this year, doubling sales from 2012.
E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular with investors as well, even those traditionally opposed to smoking. Founders Fund, a San Francisco venture-capital fund started by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, has invested around $5 million in e-cigarette ventures. This investment comes only eight years after Thiel partially financed a film satire on the tobacco industry, “Thank You for Smoking.”
In March 2013, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona joined the board of NJOY, a top-selling e-cigarette brand. After joining NJOY Carmona stated that although more study is needed on the effects of e-cigarettes, “initial information certainly suggests there is significant potential for harm reduction,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Opponents say the main focus of tobacco policy should be on total cessation and use of nicotine replacement products, including e-cigarettes, should be discouraged. They also criticize the availability of flavored e-cigarettes, arguing these products may be a gateway to regular tobacco use. They say nicotine replacement products should be used only as a tool to help users quit, not as a long-term alternative.
Supporters of e-cigarettes say they are a viable option for smokers seeking a nicotine replacement therapy. Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Brad Rodu of the University of Louisville notes any health risks involved in using e-cigarettes or any other smoke-free tobacco product are small in comparison to smoking.
E-cigarettes, like many other legal nicotine products, are not intended for use by minors. Expanding existing age laws for tobacco products to include e-cigarettes is a logical step in protecting against abuse and a reform on which almost all groups in the debate agree. However, legislators should not over-regulate or excessively tax e-cigarettes, because that would suppress an increasingly popular and successful method of helping Americans reduce smoking or quit altogether.
Research & Commentary: Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act
Since its passage, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has attracted numerous criticisms both in the United States and abroad. In a response to the potential economic losses and financial privacy concerns, Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill to repeal FATCA. In a letter to his colleagues, Paul argued any benefits of FATCA have been “vastly outweighed by the deleterious effects of FATCA on economic growth and the financial privacy of Americans.”
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans contends the new requirements under FATCA exemplify overreach that could discourage foreign investment while creating an unnecessary burden for Americans living abroad. Congress should seriously consider repealing FATCA to ensure U.S. economic competitiveness worldwide.
A parent who is not happy with the school his or her child attends should have some ability to put that child in a school of choice. Within a budget measure that passed the state Senate by one vote on June 21, Wisconsin’s legislature expanded school vouchers statewide. In this article, Mary Petrides Tillotson, a Heartland contributor and former Michigan reporter, finds the expansion will allow up to 500 low-income students this next school year and up to 1,000 the following years to attend private schools, in addition to those who already attend private schools with vouchers in Milwaukee and Racine.
In this Heartlander digital magazine article, Dane Skorup examines the Wireless Tax Fairness Act, a bill introduced in Congress to impose a five-year moratorium on new state and local taxes on cell phones and other wireless services. Skorup examines the growing disparity of wireless taxes among states and the negative effect the taxes can have on technological and economic growth.
“The disparities in wireless service taxation are huge. Oregon has the lowest combined wireless tax rate in the country, at 7.67 percent. Neighboring Washington has the nation’s second-highest combined tax rate on wireless services, at 24.44 percent. The combined rate includes, local, state and federal taxes.
“Populous states including Illinois, Florida, and New York also have tax rates on wireless service in the 20 percent range. Altogether, the average combined wireless tax rate in the U.S. stands at 17.18 percent, up one percentage point from when the 2011 bill was proposed – and more than twice as much as the average state sales tax rate of 7.4 percent.”
The California Assembly recently defeated a proposed moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a technology requiring water mixed with trace amounts of sand and chemical additives to be injected under pressure to fracture underground shale formations and stimulate the flow of oil and natural gas for collection. One bill remains in play to regulate hydraulic fracturing in the state. It would set up a permitting system, require energy companies to share more information with the state and with property owners, and direct the California Natural Resources Agency to commission a study on the environmental repercussions of hydraulic fracturing.
A study conducted by University of Southern California scientists and economists estimated hydraulic fracturing could create 500,000 to 2.8 million jobs over the next several years. California’s current official unemployment rate is 9 percent; when you count those who have given up looking or are settling for part-time work when they need full-time, California’s unemployment is closer to 18 percent.
This week, Republican lawmakers rejected federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage in Wisconsin, supporting Gov. Scott Walker’s decision not to except the expansion. The Joint Finance Committee, controlled by Republicans, followed through on Walker’s February announcement that his administration would not seek some $4.4 billion in federal money to expand BadgerCare, the state’s Medicaid program.
In this article, Ryan Ekvall at the Wisconsin Reporter points out Walker has made it clear he doesn’t trust the federal government to follow through on its pledge to pay for 90 percent of the expanded Medicaid rolls over time. He reiterated that belief after the finance committee’s approval.