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Government manipulation of energy markets is a cause of, not a solution to, high energy prices

From:The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy 

High energy prices are a major concern of voters, so naturally the political party that controls Congress and the White House has offered a set of serious policy proposals to lower prices as quickly as possible. 

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

In reality, voters are being sold a container ship full of malarky about energy prices.

On June 15th, President Biden bizarrely blamed both Vladimir Putin and oil refiners for high gas prices and urged refiners to increase production. It was bizarre because the claims had been debunked just days before by the federal government’s own Energy Information Administration. 

The EIA published an analysis on June 10th, five days before Biden’s letter to oil refiners, that dated the surge in oil and gas prices to 2020, not to the war in Ukraine that started four months ago. And the analysis estimated that refinery capacity would hover between 94% and 96% all summer. 

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has proposed doubling the taxes of any oil company that manages to enjoy profits of 10% or more. 

That’s slightly lower than the average profit margin of all industrial sectors in the S&P 500, and just 1.7 percentage points higher than the average for the energy sector, Yahoo Finance columnist Rick Newman reported in April. 

The tech, pharmaceutical, real estate and financial sectors all posted average profit margins last year of more than double the level Sen. Wyden has set for triggering oil company punishments. 

In New Hampshire, Democratic politicians are blaming the Legislature and the governor for high energy prices, claiming that Republicans failed to pass a slate of renewable energy bills to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels. 

But they haven’t cited a single bill that would have lowered gas, oil or electricity prices this summer. 

A story about supposed “legislative inaction” on clean energy published in the New Hampshire Bulletin listed eight bills that were supposed to help deliver us from our current reliance on fossil fuels. Five of the featured bills have passed, which is not something customarily associated with “inaction.”

Not one of the five would have had any effect on current energy prices. One actually delays the reduction of Eversource electricity rates for a year and keeps the ratepayer-subsidized Burgess Biomass plant open. The plant buys wood pulp at above-market rates and has already cost Eversource ratepayers an extra $150 million for electricity.

The three other cited bills were to buy electric buses and electric state vehicles, and to accept federal money for electric vehicle infrastructure. They would have had zero effect on prices this summer.

Voters are being asked to believe that our “reliance on fossil fuels” has caused the recent energy price increases, and therefore anything that begins to shift the energy mix away from fossil fuels will help lower prices.

That is nonsense. The price increases have all been caused by a shortage in the supply of fuels relative to demand. 

Simply put, demand for energy surged in 2020 as the economy roared back to life earlier than expected, and supply has remained far short of demand ever since. 

What about renewables? In New England, gas comprises 53% of the energy mix, and nuclear another 27%, according to regional grid operator ISO New England. Renewables are up to 12%.

State subsidies for wind and solar power would have made no noticeable dent in the region’s reliance on fossil fuels for two primary reasons.

  1. Even if we could build renewable generation capacity on a massive scale in just a few years, wind and solar still rely on wind and sunshine. They aren’t yet capable of replacing gas or nuclear as a reliable source of baseload power.
  2. Renewable energy is not inherently cheaper or more reliable than natural gas. It’s become more competitive, and soon it might become a significantly cheaper source of energy. And if that happens, it won’t need subsidies or government “investments,” because the market will respond on its own.

What could have made a difference? Fewer government interventions to direct investments to satisfy the interests of politicians rather than consumers. 

When the government intervened to block pipelines, prohibit fracking, subsidize U.S. shipbuilders, divert resources to more costly “green” energy, and decommission functional, nuclear power plants, consumers suffered. 

“Under wholesale markets, private companies have carried the risks of uneconomic investments, not utilities and their customers, ISO New England concluded. “Consumers have benefited from this least-cost resource mix created through competitive markets.” 

A competitive market focuses on providing energy at the lowest cost. It will do this absent government interventions, just as markets for food, clothing, power tools and doughnuts do.

Government interventions that prevented investors from pursuing lower costs, and instead attempted to steer money to higher-cost alternatives, made energy markets less efficient, raised costs, and crimped supplies.

Repeal of the protectionist Jones Act alone would drop gas prices by 10 cents a gallon, according to a JP Morgan analysis.

To assert that the solution for high energy prices is more government interventions to further hamstring oil and gas companies would be like saying that the solution for the Boston Celtics’ scoring woes is to put more Golden State Warriors on the court. 

The answer is not more government manipulation of the market. The answer is to lift restrictions that interfere with the market’s natural pursuit of a “least-cost resource mix.” 

General Assembly mulls proposal to create Grant-In-Aid committee

From: Townsquare Live

A bill released from the House Administration Committee Wednesday would create a committee to review grants for nonprofit organizations and make recommendations to the Joint Finance Committee.

Grant-In-Aid is an annual appropriation made by the General Assembly to support the activities of non-profit organizations in the state. The funds are intended to provide supplemental resources to service agencies.

Applications for Grant-In-Aid funding are currently reviewed and approved by the Joint Finance Committee, which is also responsible for drafting the state’s operating budget.

The General Assembly also passes a Bond Bill each year. That bill allocates funds for community groups and local organizations to perform capital improvements. Bond Bill funding applications are reviewed and approved by the Capital Improvement (Bond) Committee.

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 93, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, would create a new committee that mirrors the work of the Bond Committee except it would be responsible for drafting the Grant-In-Aid bill.

“Each year we invest millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars into not-for-profit applicants,” said Rep. Mike Smith, R-Pike Creek, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “Each year those requests increase and put more and more strain on the Joint Finance Committee to give appropriate review.”

Smith said the result is allocations have become “more subjective than objective.”

This year, the Joint Finance Committee received 380 applications totaling $34 million in Grant-In-Aid requests. Twenty-nine of those organizations are first-time applicants, which require additional review from the committee.

“I just think we can be better stewards of the tax dollars and the services that our state provides,” Smith said. “I think by creating a Grant-In-Aid committee, we’d provide more transparency to our tax dollars and allow things to be more efficient and effective.”

House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst said the bill is “actually a good bill – it’s a good government bill.”

“There are so many applications and people don’t have the opportunity to dive into and really understand them and I think that this is a better way of handing out our dollars in our state government,” she said.

Longhurst recalled the House passing a nearly identical bill years ago which passed unanimously in the House but never received a hearing in the Senate.

“It didn’t go anywhere in the Senate for a lot of different reasons,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth. “There are some people that don’t want to give up their duties.”

Schwartzkopf said he was on the Joint Finance Committee for four years and the Grant-In-Aid bill was always “an afterthought” once the budget was completed.

If made law, members of the committee would receive additional compensation equal to that which members of the Joint Legislative Oversight and Sunset Committee receive.

State representatives and senators in Delaware receive a base annual salary of $45,291. If passed, members of the proposed Grant-In-Aid Committee would earn an additional $3,852 annually. The chairperson and vice-chairperson would receive an additional $4,578 annually.

The committee would be composed of three senators appointed by the president pro tempore and three members of the House appointed by the speaker. At least one senator and one representative would have to belong to the minority party.

Bill to create Inspector General’s Office in Delaware advances out of committee

 From: ABC 47 News 

DOVER, Del.- Delaware is one step closer to having an inspector general’s office, following a bipartisan effort in the legislature to increase accountability and make sure fraud and abuse are caught.

A measure to create an independent office to investigate wrongdoing in state agencies as well as in civil cases passed from the Delaware House administrative committee.

Lawmakers say the office will be free from political influence and help to protect whistleblowers who come forward to keep public officials accountable.

“What we need is a central focal point where people can go and say I witnessed a crime or some wrongdoing you may want to look into,” said bill sponsor John Kowalko.

“When agencies put in less than their best effort that’s when we need this kind of scrutiny and oversight,” he said.

The bill is receiving bipartisan support with republican Rep. Mike Smith voicing his support at the hearing, after introducing a similar piece of legislation. He called passing the vote a matter of restoring public confidence in their government.

“When you look at the differences, we have the commonalities of our good governance transparency and the public trust and for that, I will ask you to push this bill out of committee,” he said.

While the bill is receiving support from both political parties, lawmakers are stressing the importance of the office remaining a political, being an appointed office rather than an elected one, with term limits and a bipartisan approval process for nominees and staffers.

Advocates for open government including Common Cause Delaware say the language will help to make sure any investigations the office conducts are not politically motivated.

“It is vitally important they be appointed rather than elected and for s et term so it can be independent of the political parties and process and we can know it’s an impartial watchdog,” said Common Cause Delaware spokeswoman Claire Snyder-Hall.

Disagreements in the committee centered around the oversight and jurisdiction of the bill, with lawmakers calling into question who would have authority over cases if the IG’s office launched an investigation parallel to other agencies.

Representative Kowalko said he will be meeting with the Delaware AG to make sure the language in the bill affirms the jurisdiction of the IG’s investigators, and keep them independent of any other agency’s chain of command.

“It’s not just independent because it’s not elected or bipartisan it is independent because it has no one influencing the ultimate judgments made by the inspector general the path is cleared for them to do their work,” he said.

States Where People Are Paying the Most Taxes

From: Wall Street 24/7     

In a country as large as the United States, economic activity and tax collection vary considerably by state and region. A resource-rich state like Alaska depends heavily on taxes paid by global oil and gas companies based outside the state, while a major component of Florida’s tax revenue comes from tourism activity.

According to the Tax Foundation, the 84-year-old tax policy nonprofit, state and local taxes currently make up 11.2% of gross national product, the total value of goods produced by a country over the course of a year. This includes several public revenue sources like taxes on property, general sales, income and corporate income, licenses, and excise taxes on alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and other products. (Here are 19 big companies that paid almost nothing or nothing at all in taxes in 2021.)

To determine the states where Americans are paying the most taxes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the report State and Local Tax Burdens, Calendar Year 2022 published by the Tax Foundation. States were ranked by their tax burden, from low to high. We also estimated income per capita by state from the tax burden share and tax amount paid.

The Tax Foundation defines tax burden as state and local taxes paid by a state’s residents divided by that state’s share of net national product. Unlike tax collections, which represent all taxes made to state and local governments, “tax burdens estimates allocate taxes to states that are economically affected by them” per the Tax Foundation. That is, the measure of tax burden attempts to measure the economic incidence, not the legal one.

State and local tax burdens have increased since 2020 to the highest level since 1978. According to the Tax Foundation, “pandemic-era economic changes caused taxable income, activities, and property values to rise faster than net national product.”

The 10 states with the highest state-local tax burdens in 2022 range from Maine and Delaware with a 12.4% tax burden to New York’s 15.9% tax burden. Residents of the largest U.S. state, California, bear the fifth largest state-local tax burden at 13.5%. (This is how much tax people pay in an average lifetime in every state.)

Four states with populations of under 1 million are among the 10 states with the lowest combined state and local effective tax burdens. Those 10 states have tax burdens ranging from Alaska’s 4.6% to Oklahoma’s 9%. Texas, the country’s second-largest state by population, has the sixth-lowest state and local effective tax burden at 8.6%. Two other states with large populations, Michigan and Tennessee, are also low-burden states.

Click here to view where Americans are paying the most taxes.

2022’s Best & Worst States for Military Retirees

From: WalletHub 

As military personnel retire, whether they faced active combat or not, they may find it difficult to readjust to civilian life. For example, the U.S. is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more people than the Civil War did. Thankfully, things are starting to get closer to normality due to the distribution of vaccines, and states have been able to remove most restrictions.

Even without a pandemic, retirement from the military is always difficult, with many retirees facing major struggles including posttraumatic stress disorder, disability and homelessness. These veterans must also consider how state tax policies on military benefits vary, along with the relative friendliness of different job markets and other socioeconomic factors, when choosing a state in which to settle down.

In order to help ease the burden on our nation’s military community, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their ability to provide a comfortable military retirement. Our analysis uses a data set of 29 key metrics, ranging from veterans per capita to number of VA health facilities to job opportunities for veterans.

Main Findings

Overall Rank  State Total Score  Economic Environment  Quality of Life  Health Care 
1 Virginia 60.70 7 5 12
2 Florida 59.32 10 4 24
3 Minnesota 59.14 17 37 2
4 Maryland 59.04 19 1 19
5 New Hampshire 58.90 8 8 10
6 Alaska 57.83 5 6 29
7 South Carolina 57.45 26 3 22
8 Maine 56.75 14 21 6
9 South Dakota 56.65 9 24 7
10 Connecticut 56.02 42 27 1
11 North Carolina 55.31 4 14 30
12 Alabama 54.06 2 16 44
13 Hawaii 53.97 23 22 8
14 Massachusetts 53.41 18 50 4
15 Utah 53.18 1 31 42
16 Arizona 52.98 13 9 43
17 Kansas 52.40 35 17 15
18 Wisconsin 52.21 32 28 9
19 North Dakota 52.08 12 30 32
20 West Virginia 51.10 6 39 36
21 Montana 50.77 24 12 34
22 Nebraska 50.76 39 19 13
23 Kentucky 50.65 16 38 27
24 Idaho 50.41 34 18 28
25 Pennsylvania 50.31 44 40 5
26 Delaware 50.23 47 11 14
27 Louisiana 50.06 21 25 37
28 Missouri 49.90 31 13 35
29 Oklahoma 49.80 30 7 47
30 Michigan 49.79 28 44 16
31 Texas 49.54 20 36 31
32 Arkansas 49.19 29 29 33
33 Wyoming 49.16 25 2 51
34 Indiana 49.10 11 41 39
35 New Jersey 48.74 46 15 21
36 Tennessee 48.12 3 47 45
37 Colorado 48.09 45 20 25
38 Georgia 48.04 15 23 48
39 New York 47.76 49 48 3
40 Ohio 47.69 41 42 11
41 Illinois 47.64 37 43 23
42 Iowa 47.06 36 34 38
43 Rhode Island 46.39 40 45 20
44 California 46.37 50 10 17
45 Mississippi 44.59 22 32 50
46 New Mexico 43.89 48 26 40
47 Washington 43.45 43 35 46
48 Oregon 41.87 27 51 26
49 District of Columbia 41.26 38 49 41
50 Nevada 41.21 33 46 49
51 Vermont 40.49 51 33 18

Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.

Veterans per Capita
Most Veterans
  • 1. Alaska
  • 2. Montana
  • 3. Virginia
  • 4. Maine
  • 5. Wyoming
Veterans per Capita
Fewer Veterans
  • 47. California
  • 48. Utah
  • 49. District of Columbia
  • 50. New Jersey
  • 51. New York
Number of VA Health Facilities per Number of Veterans
Most Facilities
  • 1. New York
  • 2. California
  • 3. Wyoming
  • 4. Montana
  • 5. Texas
Number of VA Health Facilities per Number of Veterans
Fewest Facilities
  • 47. Washington
  • 48. South Carolina
  • 49. District of Columbia
  • 50. Delaware
  • 51. Rhode Island
Ask the Experts

Members of the armed forces deserve a comfortable retirement in exchange for their brave sacrifices. But it’s not easy to readjust to civilian life. For insight and advice on overcoming challenges faced by veteran retirees, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. Should veterans have to pay taxes on retirement pay?
  2. What should veterans consider in choosing where to retire?
  3. What are the best economic opportunities for retired military personnel looking for a new career?
  4. How can the VA healthcare system be improved to better serve veterans and their families?
  5. How should the government help the military community?

Methodology

In order to determine the best and worst states for military retirement, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Economic Environment, 2) Quality of Life and 3) Health Care.

We evaluated those dimensions using 29 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for military retirees. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we measured the “number of veterans” by the square root of the veteran population in order to avoid overcompensating for small differences among states, considering Veterans Administration (VA) facilities have not increased proportionally with the number of veterans.

We then determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Economic Environment – Total Points: 33.33

  • State Tax on Military Pension: Quadruple Weight (~6.35 Points)
  • Tax-Friendliness: Double Weight (~3.17 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Tax Rates by State” report.
  • Share of Veteran-Owned Businesses: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
  • Dollars in Defense Department Contracts per Capita: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
  • Job Opportunities for Veterans: Triple Weight (~4.76 Points)
  • State Authorization for Veterans’ Preference in Private Hiring: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of a state statute authorizing private employers to implement a veteran-employment preference without vulnerability to claims of discrimination.
  • Job Growth (2021 vs. 2020): Double Weight (~3.17 Points)
  • Military Bases & Installations per 100,000 Veterans: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
  • Total VA Expenditure per Number of Veterans: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
  • Presence of State Help for Returning Veterans: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of veteran transition programs & commissions in a state.
  • Presence of Academic Credit for Military Service: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of state legislation recognizing the varied skills and knowledge veterans acquire by counting it toward college credit.
  • Housing Affordability: Double Weight (~3.17 Points)
  • Cost-of-Living Index: Full Weight (~1.59 Points)

Quality of Life – Total Points: 33.33

  • Share of Veterans: Full Weight (~3.17 Points)
  • Share of Veterans Not Receiving SNAP: Full Weight (~3.17 Points)
  • Share of VA Benefits-Administration Facilities per Number of Veterans*: Double Weight (~6.35 Points)
  • Quality of Public University System: Full Weight (~3.17 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub “College & University Rankings.”
  • Arts, Entertainment & Recreation Establishments per Capita: Half Weight (~1.59 Points)
  • Share of Population Aged 40 & Older: Full Weight (~3.17 Points)
  • Share of Homeless Veterans: Double Weight (~6.35 Points)
  • Idealness of Weather: Double Weight (~6.35 Points)
    Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Cities with the Best & Worst Weather” ranking.

Health Care – Total Points: 33.33

  • Number of VA Health Facilities per Number of Veterans*: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
  • Federal, State, Local & Private Hospitals per Capita: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
  • Quality of VA Hospitals: Triple Weight (~9.09 Points)
    Note: This metric includes VA hospital performance star rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ “Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning” (SAIL) performance improvement tool.
  • Physicians per Capita: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
  • Mental Health Counselors per Capita: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
  • Veteran Suicide Rate: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
  • Presence of Veteran-Treatment Courts: Full Weight (~3.03 Points)
    Note: This binary metric considers the presence or absence of veteran-treatment courts, programs that provide treatment and mentoring services to veterans with mental-health and substance-abuse problems in order to keep them out of the criminal justice system and help stabilize their lives.
  • Percentage of Residents 12+ Who Are Fully Vaccinated: Double Weight (~6.06 Points)

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Military Officers Association of America, Military OneSource, USAspending.gov, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Conference of State Legislatures, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Council for Community and Economic Research, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indeed and WalletHub research.

Delaware unemployment rate stalls in April

From: Delaware Business Times 

DOVER – Delaware’s unemployment rate was unmoved for the first time in months in April, while adding 500 net jobs, according to state officials.

April’s job gains add to 2,700 jobs created since February, and Delaware added 300 more job-seekers to continue pushing its record-high labor force, according to the monthly report released Friday morning.

The labor force captures not only workers and those receiving unemployment benefits, but also those in search of work who aren’t receiving assistance. As workers stop seeking work, for a variety of reasons ranging from retirement to child care needs, they are no longer counted as being unemployed in the state.

Delaware’s April unemployment rate remained at 4.5%, and was still significantly higher than the national average, which also stalled at 3.6% last month.

In June, Delaware’s rate was lower than the national average, but the state has since steadily fallen behind in its recovery. It ranked 43rd in unemployment rate among states in April, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It was tied with New York, but has fallen behind New Jersey and Maryland, which ranked tied for 33rd and 38th at 4.1% and 4.2%, respectively. Pennsylvania continues to have higher rates of unemployment, ranking 47th with a rate of 4.8%. Nebraska and Utah remain tied at the lowest rate of 1.9%, while New Mexico had the highest at 5.3%.

The Delaware Department of Labor’s report is taken monthly during the calendar week that contains the 12th day. The state recorded 22,400 unemployed last month, a decrease of 200 people over March.

The official monthly unemployment figure is created by looking at continuous unemployment insurance claims as well as a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of residents on their employment status. It tracks not only those receiving benefits, but also those who are ineligible, such as terminated employees, those who have resigned and the self-employed, who only became eligible for assistance under a special federal program established under the CARES Act.

The state’s three counties saw differing rates of unemployment in April, with New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties reporting rates of 4.3%, 5.1% and 4.2%, respectively – although those statistics aren’t seasonally adjusted. Wilmington and Dover, the state’s two most populous cities, have seen an even greater impact in job losses, where 6.4% and 6.9% of workers were unemployed, respectively.

The largest monthly job gains came in the education and health care sector, which added 600 jobs last month. It was followed by construction, which added 500; manufacturing, which added 300; trade, transportation, and utilities, which added 300, and government, which added 200.

Leading job losses was the professional and business services sector, which lost 700 jobs, while unsorted industries lost another 300 and financial activities shed 200 jobs.

Creating Inspector General’s Office in Delaware becomes bipartisan effort

From: Bay to Bay News

DOVER — A push to create a watchdog Inspector General’s Office took a significant step forward as Democratic and Republican lawmakers continued to unite Wednesday.

State Rep. Mike Smith, a Newark Republican, signed on to be co-prime sponsor with Rep. John Kowalko, a Newark Democrat, on House Bill 405, ending his own bid to do the same through proposed legislation. Multiple members of both parties support the bill and Rep. Kowalko said he’s heard no opposition to it.

“I think (Rep. Smith’s) addition sends a signal that both parties are interested in one thing and that is honest, transparent government, which in turn, will promote good government, right,” he said Wednesday.

“That’s what the public wants. It’s what the public deserves.”

In a statement, Rep. Smith said that “Good government and transparency are at the heart of the public’s interest.

“Those are not partisan ideals so I’m glad to be joining efforts with Rep. Kowalko and thank him for his partnership to support a more efficient, effective, open and transparent government and to make our state government more accountable to every constituent up and down the state.”

The proposed legislation, which awaits discussion in the House Administration Committee, would:

• Investigate the management and operation of state agencies to determine if there has been waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, corruption, or other conduct that is harmful to the public interest.

• Coordinate with other agencies, recommend corrective actions and statutory revisions, and, if necessary, make referrals to law enforcement.

• Provide reports to the governor, attorney general and General Assembly, and these reports will be available to the public on the OIG website.

Rep. Kowalko gave credit to Delaware Coalition for Open Government’s Nick Wasileski for, among other contributions, gathering information from other states and their Inspector General’s Offices.

Mr. Wasileski credited coalition members for their work as well, noting “We’ve been raising awareness for the need of an inspector general for more than three years.”

According to Mr. Wasileski, DelCOG felt “it would be very important to include mismanagement and neglect of office because a lot of times things that occur in the state may not rise to the level of a crime, but they do harm Delawareans.”

Hawaii ranks near bottom of report on COVID-19 policy effects

From: The Center Square 

The Center Square) – Hawaii ranked near the bottom in an analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which measured COVID-19-related outcomes in the states.

The report measured states’ pandemic policies based on health outcomes, economic performance and impact on education.

Hawaii is unusual because it is an island state, the report’s authors said.

“It ranks last on the economic index and sixth from last on schooling,” the authors wrote in the report. “As of March 2022, it ranks first on health. Understood in the context of island nations such as Australia and New Zealand, the experience of Hawaii suggests that island locations can, by sustaining significant economic losses, reduce mortality for a year or more.”

Hawaii also ranked low for its economy because it relies heavily on tourism, according to the report. The state implemented a Safe Travels Program that required visitors to show proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test from within three days of arrival. Hawaii was the last state to end its indoor mask mandate.

The authors also cited a report from The Rand Corporation that showed lockdowns did not reduce mortality.

“The correlation between health and economy scores is essentially zero, which suggests that states that withdrew the most from economic activity did not significantly improve health by doing so,” the authors wrote.

Other factors could have played a bigger part in COVID-19-related deaths, according to the report.

“Pandemic mortality was greater in states where obesity, diabetes, and old age were more prevalent before the pandemic. Economic activity was less in states that had been intensive in, especially, accommodations and food,” the authors wrote. “Still, much residual variation in both mortality and economic activity remains even after controlling for these factors because the 50 states and D.C. (District of Columbia) took very different approaches to confronting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A Better Delaware Announces a New Advisory Board Member

From: A Better Delaware 

WILMINGTON, Del. – Dr. Greg DeMeo, D.O. has joined as an advisory board member at A Better Delaware, a non-partisan public policy and political advocacy organization that supports pro-growth, pro-jobs policies and greater transparency and accountability in state government.

Chris Kenny, Chairman and Founder of A Better Delaware, announced the addition of DeMeo to the board this past week.

“With an aging population, influx of retirees, and substantial percentage of state taxpayers’ dollars going to health care, ABD must be at the leading edge of advocating for meaningful positive change.” Kenny said. “Dr. Greg DeMeo leads one of Delaware’s top specialist practices and has been serving our state in the health care field since 1992.

Dr. DeMeo is the medical director of Christiana Care’s Labor and Delivery Department and is certified in the Da Vinci robotic surgical system and specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques. Throughout the past ten years, DeMeo has held numerous leadership positions for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He currently represents that organization at the national level where he focuses on issues related to Medicare reimbursement.

“A Better Delaware is a leading voice for free and fair competition in health care,” DeMeo said. “State policies that restrict the availability of quality health care options for those who need them all too often result is worse outcomes.”

“In joining A Better Delaware, I’m going to continue my fight for principled, sensible reforms that would offer Delawareans better health care, reduce costs and increase access,” DeMeo concluded. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the board and help turn my decades of industry experience into actionable policy for Delawareans.”

DeMeo will serve alongside advisory board members Sam Waltz, former Governor Mike Castle, and William Erhart.

Kathleen Rutherford, executive director for A Better Delaware, hailed DeMeo as “one of Delaware’s most respected authorities in the field of health care.”

“Dr. DeMeo will bring a unique perspective in the area of health care,” Rutherford said. “Our state needs real, pragmatic solutions that give Delawareans more of a say in their health. For too long, our leaders have enacted policies that strip away choice, diminish outcomes and drag our state further toward the bottom of the list. This addition to our advisory board will help us turn this ship around.”

The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Tennessee & Avenues for Reform

From: Beacon Center of Tennessee

Key Takeaways:

  • While Tennessee is generally considered a more free-market-oriented state, one area it regulates more heavily is in occupational licensing, essentially a government permission slip to do a job;
  • Tennessee has over 263 different occupational licenses, registrations, and certifications, covering 30 percent of the Tennessee workforce;
  • The economic cost of obtaining these onerous licensing regulations conservatively costs Tennessee workers over
    $279 million just to enter an occupation of their choice; and
  • Renewing their existing license costs these Tennessee workers nearly $38 million per year.