Posts Tagged ‘energy policy’

An Idea a Day: A Roadmap to Freedom

An Idea a Day: A Roadmap to Freedom

Every other year, the Beacon Center publishes “An Idea a Day” for each remaining legislative day of the current General Assembly. This year’s publication offers a roadmap to freedom, providing 57 ideas for the second session of the 108th General Assembly. Click here to download the full roadmap, or scroll through the ideas below, broken down by category.

Taxes

Repeal the Hall Income Tax on stocks and bonds, alleviating the burden on low-income retirees and inviting wealthy individuals to move into Tennessee to invest in job growth.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Scale back corporate taxes on all businesses, which are per capita the highest of all bordering states.
Read “Corporate Welfare Infographic” at bit.ly/16EIq67

Place a limit on the growth of local property taxes unless approved by voters via referendum.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Cut the Real Estate Transfer Tax by one-third, ending the unnecessary state purchasing of wetlands and forestland.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 9 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Review and eliminate all taxes and fees that cost more to enforce than is collected in revenue therefrom.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Eliminate the cattle tax that funds the Beef Promotion Board campaign, which uses tax dollars to urge Tennesseans to eat more beef.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 6 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Spending

Base the state Copeland Cap on population plus inflation growth, limiting government spending and allowing Tennesseans to keep more money in their pockets.
Watch Justin Owen’s Copeland Cap Testimony (46 minute mark) at bit.ly/17f6D8e

Make the Copeland Cap more stringent by requiring a supermajority vote of the legislature to “bust” the cap.
Watch Justin Owen’s Copeland Cap Testimony (46 minute mark) at bit.ly/17f6D8e

Enact a provision that will automatically return surplus revenue to taxpayers after topping off the rainy day fund.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 24 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Establish an independent spending commission to recommend spending cuts to the governor and legislature.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 24 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Require a waiting period of 72 hours between the time in which an appropriations or revenue-related bill is introduced and a vote is taken.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 12 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Get the government out of the golf course business by selling state-owned golf courses or leasing courses that operate at a loss.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 7 at bit.ly/17CQqty

End the failed switchgrass-to-ethanol program that has cost taxpayers more than $60 million yet has failed to become commercially viable.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 17 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Education

Allow parents across Tennessee to take a portion of the funding already spent on their child and send their child to the school of their choice.
Read “The Choice is Ours” at bit.ly/YtQcLw

Grade all public and charter schools based on academic performance and learning gains with easy-to-understand A, B, C, D, or F grades.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 25 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Ensure that school districts meet the national standard for the percentage of spending that goes into the classroom, curbing out-of-control administrative costs.
Read “Following the Money” at bit.ly/16WFC4G

Create alternative teacher certification paths, encouraging successful business and community leaders to enter the teaching profession.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 27 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Refuse efforts by President Obama to expand Pre-Kindergarten, a costly program that has failed to provide long-term benefits to Tennessee children.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 26 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Remove roadblocks to online and blended learning opportunities that provide additional options for children of various backgrounds.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 29 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Healthcare

Refuse the unaffordable and immoral push to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
Read “Medicaid Expansion Infographic” at bit.ly/XEhyBH

Allow Tennesseans to purchase health insurance from any state in the country.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Repeal laws that favor employer-based insurance over individually-purchased insurance that has more portability, and urge Congress to do the same.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Permit young Tennesseans to purchase more affordable “mandate light” health insurance plans.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Provide state employees with a consumer-driven health insurance plan option with a health savings account in lieu of their current plan.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Reform medical licensing and scope of practice laws to address doctor shortages and expand Tennesseans’ choices when seeking healthcare services.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Repeal protectionist Certificate of Need laws that limit access to healthcare services.
Read “A Cure for What Ails Us” at bit.ly/1b9QKiJ

Property Rights

Prohibit the forced sale of property via eminent domain.
Read “Eminent Domain No Excuse for Property Abuse” at bit.ly/1aa7rJE

Require approval of local legislative bodies before unelected and unaccountable agencies can take private property using eminent domain.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 57 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Treat regulations on private property as “takings” and provide property owners with compensation when regulations diminish the value of their property.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 58 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Give existing owners an option to receive equity stake in a redevelopment entity when their property is taken as part of a redevelopment plan.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Require government entities to follow foreclosure proceedings rather than use property condemnation in order to better protect property owners.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Permit a referendum of voters when their property is subject to annexation by a nearby city.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Regulation

Reduce the number of occupations requiring a license, currently at 111, which makes Tennessee one of the most heavily regulated states in the nation.
Read Justin Owen’s Economic Liberty Act testimony at bit.ly/vJr82i

Enact an economic liberty act requiring the government to prove that all new occupational regulations directly impact the health, safety, and welfare of Tennesseans.
Read Justin Owen’s Economic Liberty Act testimony at bit.ly/vJr82i

Eliminate titling acts that require Tennesseans to obtain government permission to use certain occupational titles.
Read Justin Owen’s Economic Liberty Act testimony at bit.ly/vJr82i

Allow Tennesseans to purchase wine in grocery stores, eliminating the liquor industry’s monopoly over the product.
Read “Drunk with Power” at bit.ly/18aijnL

Target methamphetamine production rather than impeding the purchase of cold medications by law-abiding citizens, and prohibit local governments from restricting such sales.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Prohibit unelected government regulatory boards from increasing occupational fees without approval by the legislature.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Eliminate the minimum wage and prohibit local “living wages” that make it more difficult for many Tennesseans to find gainful employment.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Prohibit local governments from imposing new mandates on businesses that are inconsistent with and more stringent than state law.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Government Reform

Reform asset forfeiture laws to eliminate any financial incentives for law enforcement to seize private property.
Watch “NC5 Investigates: Policing for Profit” at bit.ly/lRyTY6

Allow the private sector to assume responsibility for non-essential government services that could easily be handled outside of state government.
Contact Justin Owen at justin@beacontn.org

Prohibit local governments from using taxpayer money to lobby the state or federal government.
Read “The Dangerous Cycle of Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying” at bit.ly/18ahjzU

Change the rules of the game so that the individual incentives of judges, lawyers, juries, and other legal actors motivate them to act in the larger social interest.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Enact reforms that punish the most violent criminals and provide a pathway back into society for rehabilitated offenders.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Amend the current policy that allows the Supreme Court to choose the Attorney General, thus removing the conflict of interest for selecting our state’s top lawyer.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Prohibit state and local governments from using tax dollars to fund failed experiments to provide high-speed Internet to the general public.
Read “We Need to Shine the Light on Electric Utilities” at bit.ly/1gu2SyZ

Enact a law that provides for stronger financial management systems in local governments.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 25 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Transportation

Refuse to force taxpayers to fund local mass transit projects with state taxpayer money.
Contact Lindsay Boyd at lindsay@beacontn.org

Replace the current gasoline tax with a more responsible vehicle miles traveled tax, with protections in place to prevent privacy infringements, to fund transportation infrastructure.
Read “There’s More than One Way to Pave a Road” at bit.ly/1cGpxrh

Allow private investments in infrastructure through public-private partnerships, thus increasing transportation funding and reducing the burdens on taxpayers.
Read “There’s More than One Way to Pave a Road” at bit.ly/1cGpxrh

Convert existing HOV lanes to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, allowing unaccompanied drivers to pay a fee to use the under-utilized lanes.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 50 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Cronyism

End corporate handouts to select businesses, which allow government to pick winners and losers.
Read “Corporate Welfare Infographic” at bit.ly/16EIq67

End all special treatment of alternative energy that distorts market conditions and puts taxpayer money at risk.
Read “Legislators’ Guide to the Issues,” p. 47 at bit.ly/1ep6v8w

Eliminate financial incentives to the film industry that provide no real benefit to Tennesseans and instead send taxpayer money to Hollywood producers.
Read “Corporate Welfare Infographic” at bit.ly/16EIq67

Terminate the state’s Greenbelt Law that provides massive tax breaks to the wealthy while purporting to protect farmers.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 15 at bit.ly/17CQqty

Eliminate the costly TNInvestco program that has failed to live up to its promises of substantial job creation despite a significant cost to taxpayers.
Read “2013 Tennessee Pork Report,” p. 5 at bit.ly/17CQqty

December 3rd, 2013 | Feature, Policy

Drinking the Hemlock Kool-Aid

TN Report offers an interesting analysis of the fallout from Hemlock Semiconducter, which was awarded nearly $300 million in taxpayer handouts before announcing massive layoffs at its Clarksville plant. TN Report gets Beacon Director of Policy Trey Moore’s take on the consequences of corporate welfare.

“One of our biggest complaints with the corporate welfare game is not simply ponying up on the front end to land a deal, but that then companies have even more bargaining power to hold local communities hostage,” he said. “We support clawback provisions insofar as they aim to mitigate the risk for taxpayers. But ‘clawbacks’ merely treat the symptoms, not the underlying disease.”

“And too often the damage is already done. How much money was the federal government able to claw back from Solyndra?”

Read the entire article at TNReport.com.

March 4th, 2013 | Recent News

We need to shine the light on electric utilities

by Justin Owen

With cold weather come slimmer wallets, as Tennessee families watch their electricity costs skyrocket in winter months. However, there may be more to your rising electric bills than you realize. Public utilities are up to some interesting things these days, and it’s costing you quite a bit.

If you wonder why your electric bills continue to rise, you might want to check the salary of your local public utility’s top brass. For example, the general manager of the Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, which provides electricity to the Clarksville area, makes a whopping $357,000 a year in total compensation.

Similarly, the president of the Middle Tennessee Electric Co-Op, which powers Murfreesboro area homes, takes in $390,000 a year. That amounts to nearly seven times more than the median income of the utility’s customers and more than double the salary paid to the governor of Tennessee.

Another reason for heightened costs is that your electric utility might be dabbling in services already covered by private businesses. Numerous public utilities, mostly created to provide electricity throughout the state, have begun to compete with private companies by offering cable and even Internet service to their customers.

These risky and costly ventures require public utilities to backstop their investments with electricity ratepayers’ money. In many cases, the electricity customers who are on the hook for these costs do not even purchase Internet through the public utility, meaning that they are literally subsidizing other customers’ web habits. As of 2012, nine utilities in Tennessee had already lost approximately $176 million competing in the Internet business.

Public utilities across Tennessee are also investing in “Smart Grid” technology in a purported effort to reduce waste and promote efficiency. However, this technology comes with a huge price tag. Nationwide, public utilities have received $700 million in federal stimulus money to implement Smart Grid projects.

Among them, the Knoxville Utilities Board received $3.5 million in stimulus funds, while the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division received more than $5 million. This pales in comparison to the state’s most ambitious public utility, the Chattanooga Electric Power Board, which received $111 million in stimulus funds.

Experts, meanwhile, say that the Smart Grid projects represent a colossal waste of money on technology that will soon become obsolete. When these efforts fail, electricity ratepayers and taxpayers will both be left holding the bag.

Public utilities are supposed to be owned by the very customers they serve, but they often represent “good ol’ boy” networks that squander ratepayer—and taxpayer—money while leaving consumers in the dark. It’s time to shine a light on what these public utilities are doing.

By requiring public utilities to conduct their business in the sunshine, preventing them from competing with the private sector in the television and Internet business, and weaning them from the taxpayer handouts that fuel their reckless habits, we can help shield Tennesseans from overzealous public utility executives.

If we bring transparency and accountability to public utilities, maybe by next winter, it will only be the cold weather driving up your family’s electric bills.


Justin Owen is president & CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s premier free market think tank.

March 4th, 2013 | Commentary

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