Center of the American Experiment wins awards for research and advocacy with nationwide impact

Center of the American Experiment announced its work was recognized with two major awards, highlighting the nationwide impact of its research and advocacy. The awards were presented last week at State Policy Network’s annual gathering of over 150 independent state policy organizations with over 1,300 attendees in Colorado Springs.

The Bob Williams Award for Most Influential Research was awarded to the original research report “Doubling down on failure: How a 50% by 2030 renewable energy standard would cost Minnesota $80.2 billion.” The report concluded that a proposed renewable energy mandate would significantly increase the cost of energy and destroy jobs but have no measurable impact on the global climate.

The report’s chief author, Isaac Orr, engaged legislators in the debate by providing expert testimony several times before the Minnesota House and Senate energy committees during the 2019 legislative session. The unique methodology used to formulate the report’s conclusions has laid the groundwork for think tanks in other states to replicate the research.

Report authors Isaac Orr and Mitch Rolling

“This was the first research in the nation to create a holistic estimate of the cost of closing coal plants and replacing them with wind, solar, and natural gas plants. It took our team over a thousand hours to compile the report, and what we found surprised us. Reaching a clean energy goal is possible, but Minnesota is going about it in the completely wrong way,” said Orr. “Electricity prices would actually decline if we used the Affordable Clean Energy rule to improve efficiency at Minnesota’s coal plants. Nuclear and hydropower are the most affordable technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but state leaders’ plans to focus instead on wind and solar will increase the cost of almost everything we buy. Xcel’s recent proposed 15.2% rate increase, a direct result of prioritizing inefficient wind and solar energy, will cost the average family at least $100 more per year.”

The Network Award was presented to five think tanks who led advocacy efforts on behalf of 350,000+ in-home caregivers nationwide who were subjected to a dues skimming scheme depriving them of Medicaid funding intended to help them care for their patients. Center of the American Experiment’s work on this issue led to a federal rule change that will allow Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) to keep the government aid intended for them rather than paying hundreds of dollars to unions each year.

Despite the fact that PCAs in Minnesota are typically family members caring for dependents in their own homes, the SEIU takes 3% of their Medicaid aid up to $948 per year. According estimates based on federal filings, the SEIU in Minnesota skimmed $4.7 million from PCAs’ Medicaid payments in 2016. While dues skimming is now illegal, as of this writing it is still occurring in Minnesota.

“SPN’s Network Award celebrates think tanks joining forces to achieve lasting policy change. The 2019 Network Award, in particular, recognizes the leadership of a Network coalition that gave a voice and a choice to hundreds of thousands of home healthcare providers across our nation,” said Kathleen O’Hearn, SPN’s senior director of policy advancement. “This multi-year effort of the Center of American Experiment, Freedom Foundation, Illinois Policy Institute, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and National Right to Work Legal Foundation is proof that we can do big things and change lives together.”

Photo credit: Joel Sorrell / State Policy Network