James Madison Institute
Policy Brief

Union Time on the Taxpayer Dime

Sal Nuzzo, Trey Kovacs | August 31, 2017

Release time allows public employees to conduct union business during working hours without loss of pay. Due to the poor tracking of release time activities, it amounts to a no-strings attached multi-million-dollar taxpayer-funded subsidy to government unions, which are actually private organizations. It places no obligation on public employee unions to provide anything in return to the public, and local governments exercise little to no control over its use.

The business conducted on release time has no public benefit – it exclusively serves the interests of government unions. At a time of increasing scrutiny at all levels of taxpayer funding in Florida, organized labor, not taxpayers, should incur those costs. Yet, release time sticks taxpayers with the tab for private union activity.

Let’s Honor Bethune with a New K-12 Scholarship Program

William Mattox | August 1, 2017

Since it’s common for scholarship programs to pay tribute to prominent educators and champions of education – Jefferson, Fulbright, Pell, Rhodes, McKay, Gardiner, etc. – it would be fitting for Florida to name a new K-12 scholarship program after Bethune.   

Thus, this essay not only will call for the State of Florida to create such a scholarship, but it also will argue that this new program ought to have three distinguishing characteristics symbolic of Bethune’s legacy:

The Biggest Health Care CON

The Effects of Certificate-of-Need Laws in Florida
Logan Pike | April 11, 2017

Government-imposed limits on competition harm consumers and increase the cost of health care. They have no place in a society seeking to ensure that all citizens have the ability to receive treatment.

Open for Business

The Path to a Better Business Climate through Occupational Licensing Reform
March 22, 2017

Florida has long prided itself on being one of the most business-friendly states. However, this pride is contrasted with the rising tide of licensing requirements, and clearly demonstrate that occupational licensing presents a very serious threat to the growth of Florida’s economy. If Florida wishes to overcome this threat and tap into unfulfilled potential, practical solutions must be identified and applied which will relieve consumers and aspiring workers of the undue burdens of occupational licensing.

Smart on Sentencing

Safety Valve for Florida’s Drug Trafficking Offenses
March 20, 2017

Florida is one of the few remaining states that routinely sentence low-level drug offenders to harsh mandatory minimum prison terms. While most drug trafficking statutes in Florida are intended to apply to high level dealers, the penalties for trafficking in a small amount hydrocodone or oxycodone—two substances found in prescription pain medication that doctors may legally prescribe—are disproportionately harsh. Under Florida law, someone who illegally possesses even a handful of pills may be charged as a drug trafficker and sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison term of years, or decades, upon conviction—with no added benefit to public safety.

Why a High-Speed Rail Skeptic Likes All Aboard Florida

It's a Promising Niche Market, and the Private Sector Will Bear the Risks
December 28, 2016

To many Americans who are both life-long rail fans and technology consumers, the idea of high-speed rail (HSR) is incredibly attractive.  But for market-oriented proponents of limited government, there is also a natural opposition to projects that require large-scale taxpayer subsides to even exist.  Therefore, many have strong objections to the struggling California High-Speed Rail project and were proud when Gov. Rick Scott cited a critical Reason Foundation report in cancelling the proposed Tampa-Orlando HSR project in 2011.  Nevertheless, there exists a strong market-based case for the private-sector Miami to Orlando project called All Aboard Florida.

The Wave of the Future

Why 'Micro' Education Merits Greater Attention from Policymakers
William Mattox | August 15, 2016

When teen golfer Abbey Carlson speaks of “flight time,” she could just as easily be talking about the timespan one of her drives stays in the air as she could the aviation schedule for her next solo excursion in the plane she helped build. Carlson, you see, is a 2016 graduate of an innovative “school of the future” in Central Florida that has offerings in both golf and aviation. Yet, the “school of the future” tag probably has more to do with the school’s unique structure than it does the diverse array of courses and extracurricular activities that helped Carlson land a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University. To understand this structure, think college – not high school. 

No Place for A Child: Direct File of Juveniles Comes at a High Cost; Time to Fix Statutes

Deborrah Brodsky, Sal Nuzzo | February 11, 2016

At the turn of the 20th century, advocates of an alternate court process for juveniles highlighted problems that existed with prosecuting court-involved children in adult court where they principally faced punishment and surveillance. As an alternative, these advocates established juvenile courts, which reduced the severity of punishment and combined it with rehabilitative regimes and programs aimed at turning children’s lives around.

Solar Carve Outs in the Sunshine State

Putting Cronyism in the Florida Constitution
Sal Nuzzo, James Taylor | December 16, 2015

Over the next 12 months, a battle will be waged in the Sunshine State -- over the sunshine itself. Voters in Florida will likely consider at least one, and possibly two amendments to the Florida Constitution that decide whether the solar power industry will be able to write its own rules and make crony capitalism a protected right under the Florida Constitution – for the benefit of the solar power industry alone.