Neily Op-Ed Published in The Hill

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

US is losing the innovation war — to China

Franklin Center President Nicole Neily writes in The Hill about the decline in American innovation due to a weakening of intellectual property laws:

Over the last decade, government policies and legal rulings are pushing U.S. investment money overseas to China, while here in the United States, key industries that have potential to spur economic growth are paying the price.

This may sound like the sentiments of President-elect Donald Trump, but it’s actually the verdict that former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos delivered during his closing remarks at a recent Inventing America conference.

“The U.S. no longer provides the kind of patent incentives that are necessary to invest in key industries like biotech and software,” Kappos lamented. “When investment incentives are reduced, you can expect investment to move elsewhere.”

Read more in The Hill.

Bicknell Op-Ed in National Review

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Want to Fix Journalism? Start by Bringing Diversity of Thought to Newsrooms

If mainstream news organizations want to regain credibility with the public, they should begin by hiring young conservative journalists. That the message from John Bicknell, executive editor of Watchdog.org:

How can we fix the failures of journalism that were made so obvious by the election of 2016? We could start by doing something that might put me out of business, or at least make my job harder to do.

I hire reporters to cover state and local government. They are tasked with finding waste, fraud, and malfeasance, along with shining a light into corners where most news outlets don’t look and from a perspective — that of the free market — from which all too many reporters and editors are not familiar.

During my more than three decades as a journalist, I have sat through my share of diversity training sessions. I have been handed memo after memo and read study after study about how we needed to make our newsrooms look more like the communities we serve. The key word there is “look.”

Read more at National Review Online.

Glass Op-Ed Published in Townhall

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Will Draining the Swamp Work in Florida?

Franklin Center Policy Director Kevin Glass takes a closer look at the anti-cronyist aspirations of Florida’s new Speaker of the House:

Incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran cut his teeth on the Florida house appropriations committee, but he’s got bigger aspirations than merely appropriations as he assumes his leadership position: he wants to make the Florida legislature the most transparent in the country, and he’s willing to take on his own party to do it.

Legislators around the country could learn from Corcoran’s ambitious agenda.

While Florida has a reputation for a hard-partying coastal vacation destination, its state capitol’s politics may take more cues from the notorious “good ol’ boys’ network” that other more traditionally Southern states have. Reformers have targeted Tallahassee, claiming that handouts and corporate welfare permeate the way the state government does business.

Read more at Townhall. 


Glass Op-Ed Published in the Washington Examiner

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Why the Constitution still matters at universities

Franklin Center Policy Director Kevin Glass takes to the Washington Examiner to weigh into the campus free speech debate:

Polling tends to find that millennials are the generation least friendly to free speech. They focus more on potential downsides and harm that words can cause than the upside of being able to speak their minds freely. Perhaps they never learned the axiom about sticks and stones.

Or perhaps it’s because the millennial generation has, largely, been through four years of a college education on a modern university campus (Remember, the millennial generation starts with those born in 1980. Most of them already have their bachelor’s degrees). With speech codes, speech zones, funding inequities and more, they’ve been educated in an environment that teaches that free speech can be tolerated if absolutely necessary, but never encouraged.

That this flies in the face of 200 years of American legal and normative precepts doesn’t much matter. But even the college campus might begin to find that the ivory tower is sometimes subject to antiquated notions like those contained in the U.S. Constitution.

It’s important to realize how dependent colleges and universities are on taxpayer money at both the state and local level, which is why they continue to run into issues that don’t affect private institutions. “Spending on higher education is the third-largest budget item for state legislatures, after Medicaid spending and public schools,” Casey Mattox of the Alliance Defending Freedom said at a Washington policy summit hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council. “So you have quite a lot at stake.”

Read more in the Washington Examiner.

Glass Op-Ed Published in Townhall

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

2016 Highlights Battles Ahead for Choice Schooling

Franklin Center Policy Director Kevin Glass examines the election’s impact on education reform:

The biggest narrative coming out of the toplines of the 2016 election is that Americans voted for change. When it comes to traditional K-12 education, though, many voters showed they’re voting for some of the same status-quo policies that have left so many American parents and children behind.

In Massachusetts and Georgia, two major school reform measures were put directly to the voters – and rejected wholesale. Massachusetts’ measure would have increased the artificial cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state, while Georgia’s would have given the state government flexibility to relax rigid rules on failing schools. The voters in those states turned them down, despite the track records of success that indicate that education outcomes would have improved.

Read the full piece at Townhall.com

Bicknell Op-Ed Published in the Huffington Post

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Brand logos pose no danger to national parks or public health

2016 marks the centennial of the National Park Service, and NPS has been celebrating all year with special events around the nation. One of the prime sponsors of the celebration: Anheuser Busch.

The brewer’s participation required Director Jon Jarvis to waive Park Service policies against partnering with alcoholic beverage companies.

By most accounts, the birthday party has been a success.

Now for the after-party cleanup.

A petition drive led by a coalition of environmental and other organizations has gathered about 200,000 signatures on a petition opposing revisions to what is knowns as Director’s Order 21, the order that was waived to allow the Anheuser Busch deal. Those revisions would permit the use of brand logos of alcoholic beverage companies on things such as vehicles, benches and along walkways.

The protesting groups want NPS to continue to limit corporate campaigns to those “conducted with high standards that maintain the integrity of the NPS and its partners.” In their interpretation, that means no cigarettes and no booze.

Their motivation, of course, is to do it for the children.

Read the full piece in the Huffington Post

Bicknell Op-Ed Published in the Huffington Post

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

What the Democrats of 2016 can learn from the Republicans of 1856

Many in the political world were shocked by the election results. Perhaps a little historical context is in order? Watchdog.org executive editor John Bicknell provides it in this Huffington Post op-ed:

The scene around the table at John C. Fremont’s New York home was a grim one.

While the first Republican presidential candidate, who had just lost to Democrat James Buchanan, maintained an air of calm, his teenage daughter was distraught. His closest advisor, Francis Blair, was enraged.

But out in the country, Republicans were not downcast.

“The Republicans here are full of grit,” Schuyler Colfax wrote from Indiana. “No give up — fuller of elasticity & zeal than any defeated party I ever saw.”

Lyman Trumbull of Illinois found his “Republican friends in great spirits for a defeated party. They are bold, confident and united, ready for another fight and feel that they will certainly win next time.”

The Rev. Henry Ward Beecher perhaps summed up the spirit best: “I shall sleep on it one night, and be up and at them again the next morning.”

Read the full piece in the Huffington Post.

Glass Op-Ed Published in Washington Examiner

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Plastic bag politics twist on the California ballot

Competing plastic bag ballot initiatives left retailers in a bind:

At the polls Tuesday, there will be two plastic bag initiatives on the ballot for Californians. One will overturn the bag ban entirely; the other will alter the way that the bag fee works by redirecting the revenue away from retailers into a government fund for environmental projects. The latter would be a shot across the bow of this environmentalist-corporatist alliance.

The big corporate retailers who were bought off by environmentalists with $300 million of plastic bag fees find themselves in a bind. They’d like to keep the plastic bag fees, but will find themselves at a massive loss if they lose the revenue.

Read the full piece in the Washington Examiner

Bicknell Op-Ed Published in the American Spectator

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

San Antonio Knows

Light rail doesn’t work and voters don’t want it. So why do city officials keep trying to ram it through? Watchdog.org executive editor John Bicknell takes a look at the situation in San Antonio in an op-ed in the American Spectator:

The essence of the Nanny State is the belief among too many government officials that people are too stupid to know what’s best for them.

That attitude manifests itself across jurisdictions. It knows no state or regional boundary. Governing elites in every city, county, state and federal agency are prone to the malady.

While the epidemic is everywhere, it is on blatant display these days in San Antonio.

The people of San Antonio have spoken loudly and clearly, on multiple occasions, that they do not want to spend tax money on rail transit.

Given a chance to weigh in on the subject in 2000, the city’s voters rejected light rail by a whopping 70 percent to 30 percent margin.

When the City Council broached the subject in 2014, the public rose up and the council was forced to abandon the idea once again.

Read the full piece in the American Spectator.

Neily Op-Ed Published in the Washington Examiner

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Fixing Florida’s incarceration problem is a two-fer

Florida’s prison population has risen sharply over the last decade. As the cost and societal consequences of increased incarceration pile up, reformers have proposed ideas to solve the problem.

Nicole Neily, President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, has taken a look at the benefits of making reforms in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner:

There’s been a lot of talk this election cycle about building walls to keep Americans safe, but there’s a way for Florida to make its cities and communities safer by doing just the opposite.

Florida’s incarceration rate is one of the highest in the country, and it has risen rapidly over the past decade from 492 inmates per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 960 in 2014, in no small part due to the state’s recidivism rate. According to statistics from the Florida Department of Corrections, about one in four of the 33,000 inmates released every year will end up back in prison within three years.

Why do so many released inmates quickly find themselves behind bars again? One reason is that these “persons with criminal records” face massive obstacles to employment: More than a third of inmates released every year struggle to find work, and it’s not hard to imagine why. In Florida nearly 800 legal barriers prevent them from taking the first steps toward employment. Some of these are common sense precautions, of course, but others, such as a statute that makes Florida’s convicted PCRs ineligible for a tattoo artists’ license, don’t have a clearly defined purpose.

Read the full piece in the Washington Examiner.