JLF Research Archive
Since the 1940s, over a million wells have used hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) safely. The chemicals used are about 99 percent water and sand. The rest is a blend of chemical additives, most of which are found in typical household and personal care products.
Along with hopes for new jobs and a stronger economy, the prospect “fracking” in North Carolina has raised concerns. Some are legitimate questions informed by responsible skepticism, but others are fears fanned by activists and pressure groups. This paper seeks to address those questions and concerns.
Four decades’ worth of data and research into CON laws have shown that they fail to lower health care costs; if anything, they raise them. Despite this, North Carolina hosts one of the most restrictive CON programs in the country. State leaders could best prevent unnecessary increases in health care costs by repealing CON.
Overregulation is a well-recognized problem by members of both political parties and imposes significant costs on the economy through deadweight loss. A stronger form of periodic review, sunsetting is having government regulations, programs, and agencies conclude after a set period of time unless positive action is taken by the government to reauthorize them.
In 2007, the General Assembly passed major energy legislation, SB 3, that would deliberately raise electricity prices in North Carolina through a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (RPS). The bill should be repealed. A bill before the General Assembly would cap and end the RPS mandate.
North Carolina has over 22,500 permanent administrative rules, which carry the full force of law but are not passed by legislators. The General Assembly should return major legislative authority to elected, accountable representatives of the people.
A 1997 bill that exempted “payday lenders” from state usury laws was allowed to sunset in 2001, and the last storefront lenders were shut down in 2005. Getting rid of payday lending in North Carolina left consumers worse off, leading to more bounced checks, more complaints about lenders and debt collectors, and more filings for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. North Carolina policymakers should expand lending options in this state by legalizing small-scale, short-term and payday lending again.
North Carolina features over 50 occupational licensing boards, more than most other states. In practice, it protects current members of a profession from competition, while increasing costs to consumers and would-be professionals blocked from the field. Economists studying occupational licensing generally find it restricts the supply of labor and drives up the price of labor and services. Without state licensure, private providers of reviews and certification, internet sites and consumer applications, social media, and competitors and market forces would ensure quality and safety. The government would still enforce safety and quality through the court system.
Cronyism is an umbrella term covering a host of government activities by which an industry or even a single firm or speculator is given favors and support that they could not attain in market competition. This report explains what opens government to cronyism, gives a brief rundown of recent examples of cronyism in North Carolina, and offers several possible reforms.
Once a popular off-Hollywood venue for filmmakers before state film tax incentives, North Carolina is now one of the leaders in a race to the bottom among other states and nations in giveaways to movie production companies. The incentives show that state leaders know that lower taxes and regulations attract industry. So why play favorites with industries? Why not just lower taxes and regulations altogether?
Declining fish stocks are affecting N.C. fishermen and fishing communities despite the U.S. government spending $70 million a year to bail out failing federally managed fisheries under traditional management systems. Catch shares are a transformative approach to fisheries management that inject property rights into the fisheries to produce a sea change in incentives. Catch shares eliminate race to fish, encourage a more discriminating harvest, and reduce bycatch. Research finds strong links between catch shares and improved economic and biological performance of fisheries and that switching fisheries to catch share systems not only slows their decline but possibly stops (or even reverses) it.
The North Carolina Education Lottery was sold as a way to boost education spending, but N.C. boasts the same problem found in other lottery states: a declining rate of spending for education, especially in comparison with the rest of the state budget. Furthermore, poverty, unemployment, and property tax rates remain the best predictors of lottery sales.
Montgomery county commissioners have raised the property tax by nine cents over the last two years, from 58 cents to 67 cents per $100 valuation — a 15.5 percent increase. Now the commissioners want $225,000 tax increase (an amount about the same as another one-cent increase in the property tax). If voters approve this tax increase, the total tax increase over the last three years would be $2.1 million.
Researchers have consistently found that government-provided job training and placement programs are wasteful, inefficient, and sometimes even counterproductive. Researchers have also consistently found that private providers of job training yield strong, positive results.
Author Jon Sanders studies professor salaries across the United States and finds that the pay of North Carolina's college and university professors, when adjusted for cost of living, is comparable to the pay of faculty in other states. (Not available online.)