The Leaflet: What Does the Election Mean for States?

Published November 6, 2014

 What Does the Election Mean for States?

Republicans captured the U.S. Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives. President Barack Obama will likely spend the next two years ruling by executive order rather than working with Congress, directing attention to the 2016 Presidential election. Real change is likely to occur only at the state level.

In the gubernatorial races, Republicans claimed 31 governors’ mansions, including in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Republicans seized new majorities in the West Virginia House, Nevada Assembly and Senate, New Hampshire House, Minnesota House, and New York Senate.

State legislatures are now controlled by Republicans in at least 65 chambers, leaving 23 chambers controlled by Democrats. The Heartland Institute’s director of government relations, John Nothdurft, said, “More states are likely to push back against Washington in an attempt to regain more control and flexibility over key issues like Medicaid and EPA’s CO2 regulations. Over the next two years, states are likely to continue pushing for income tax cuts, free-market welfare reforms, and a pro-energy agenda – including supporting domestic energy production and the roll back of renewable mandates.”

The Heartland Institute congratulates all the elected officials who won their election or reelection campaigns. We look forward to working with you during the 2015 legislative session.

Research & Commentary: South Carolina Common Core
South Carolina was the second state in the nation to repeal Common Core State Standards. Under current law, a committee has been assembled to review and replace national Common Core standards in the state before the 2015–16 school year. Citing a paper published by The Heartland Institute, Policy Analyst Taylor Smith recommends the ACT organization’s standards as a replacement. ACT standards are a well-regarded, nongovernmental set of standards that are of better academic quality than Common Core, not to mention free of Washington DC’s interference. Read more

Energy & Environment
Research & Commentary: Michigan Renewable Portfolio Standard Repeal
Michigan state Rep. Tom McMillin introduced a bill to repeal the state’s RPS, also known as a renewable power mandate, requiring all state utilities to generate 10 percent of all retail electricity sales from renewable sources by 2015. Michigan has the tenth highest electricity prices in the lower 48 states. Neighboring Ohio, another big manufacturing state, recently froze its renewable power mandate. Policy Analyst Taylor Smith says to remain competitive, Michigan should explore ways to phase out the mandate or at least expand options for compliance and thus reduce the need for rate hikes. Read more

Health Care
Research & Commentary: Certificate of Need Reform
Thirty-six states currently use certificate of need (CON) laws to slow the growth of health care prices, promote consolidation of health care providers, and limit duplication of services. States require CON commission approval for a wide range of expenditures, including the construction of new hospitals, purchase of major pieces of medical technology, or offering of new medical procedures. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans concludes CON laws give inappropriate influence to competitors during the vetting process. When a company seeks to enter a new market, competitors often use the CON process to block the potential competition. “The primary goal of CON programs is to manage health care costs, yet critics find they have actually increased costs for consumers by hindering competition and forcing providers to use older facilities and equipment. State lawmakers should roll back these regulations.” Read more

Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: E-Cigarette ‘Smoking’ Bans
As electronic cigarettes grow in popularity, state and local governments are finding ways to regulate and tax them. Some jurisdictions have decided e-cigarettes and other vapor products should be covered by city or statewide smoking bans. In thisResearch & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans says banning the use of electronic cigarettes in private establishments, in addition to excessive regulation and taxation of these products, would be a shortsighted decision that ignores the benefits e-cigarettes can have as a nicotine replacement therapy. Read more

States Dropping Calls for Wireless Tax Reform, Study Finds
Dotty Young writes in the Heartlander digital magazine about a new study from the Tax Foundation that examines how American cities and states tax the growing wireless telecommunications industry. Young points out how the average tax rate paid on wireless bills has have grown nearly three times faster than taxes on any other goods and services. The Tax Foundation study concludes that there is a growing need for reforming how government treats this important telecommunications industry.  

Scott Mackey suggests at the conclusion of the study, that “states should study their existing communications tax structure and consider policies that transition their tax systems away from narrowly based wireless taxes toward broad-based tax sources that do not distort consumer purchasing decisions and do not slow investment in critical infrastructure like wireless broadband.” Read more

From Our Free-Market Friends
Report Card on American Education
The American Legislative Exchange Council recently released its 19th edition of the Report Card on American Education. This report card is an all-inclusive overview of educational achievement levels, focusing on performance and gains for low-income students, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The rankings are based on state academic standards, private school choice programs, charter schools, teacher quality, online learning, and home school regulation burdens. Read more





The November issue of Environment & Climate News reports scientist Jennifer Marohasy and environment editor Graham Lloyd, among others, have learned the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has been “fudging” historical temperature records to fit a warming narrative. William Kininmonth, a retired meteorologist and former head of the National Climate Centre at BOM, said the agency “has constructed a synthetic climate record whose relevance to climate change is not scientifically defensible.”


School Reform News 


Budget & Tax News