Early voting this year was a change for me. I used to love the ritual of casting my ballot on Election Day, then heading into my newspaper job to chow down on pizza (the staple of any newsroom) while watching the results roll in. Election nights were abuzz with energy but grueling — there’s a lot of waiting followed by a firehose blast of work until the final, final edition is put to bed. (Remember print journalism?) I had a smart boss there who once said it’s not election night coverage that’s hard — it’s covering the days after an election you need to worry about. This year he might be proven more right than ever. My election anxiety has only grown amid reports of misinformation, voter suppression efforts, polling place closures, litigation over ballot drop boxes and more (here’s a good discussion on how to define voter suppression), and I see the exhaustion and fatigue in friends and family (from both parties) all around me. But I’m also buoyed by a possible record turnout, the surging re-engagement and activism from young people on both sides (what a great sign for the future of our democracy) — and the all-around enthusiasm around the simple act of voting. Still, I’m glad to be in the final stretch — and I imagine I’m not alone.
‘Deep Dive With Laura Arnold’ Returns: Money Bail in California
By Ashley Winstead, Director of Strategic Communications
After a short hiatus, we are thrilled to announce our podcast “Deep Dive With Laura Arnold” is back — this time with an in-depth discussion on a crucial 2020 ballot measure: money bail and California’s Prop 25. Host Laura Arnold, Co-Founder of Arnold Ventures, is joined by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, above, and Alliance for Safety and Justice President Lenore Anderson.
Some Background: Thousands of people are behind bars in California simply because they can’t afford bail, while others are released because they have access to money. This is a critical problem across the country, but in California, voters actually have a chance to make history Nov. 3 when they’ll decide whether California will become the first state to abolish money bail. While virtually everyone except the bail bond industry agrees the money bail system is predatory and needs reform — the issue enjoys enormous bipartisan support — change has been frustratingly slow, despite the fact that millions of Americans contributed to community bail funds this summer to bail out protestors demonstrating for racial justice.
In This Episode: Arnold, Newsom, and Anderson explore the measure’s proposed changes, what continues to make it controversial among some advocates, and the historic opportunity Californians have to say goodbye to money bail. You can listen to it here or on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. You can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #DeepDive.
By Rhiannon Meyers Collette, Communications Manager
Let's start with a definition: Price fixing, broadly defined, occurs when competitors conspire to increase — or maintain — prices. Now, in the absence of federal movement on drug pricing, enter regulators and policymakers who've been filing an onslaught of legal challenges in the past year accusing Big Pharma of doing just that.
What’s Happening: You may have missed it amid all the other news that has dominated 2020, but earlier this year, two generic drug makers settled accusations of price fixing — agreeing to pay multimillion dollar fines and to cooperate with the government's ongoing investigation. In June, all 50 states filed a joint lawsuit accusing two dozen of the world's biggest drug manufacturers of conspiring to fix generic drug prices. Then came another set of allegations in August against Teva, a major generic manufacturer, which has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for doing the same thing.
Why it Matters: Prescription drugs are expensive, and anticompetitive behavior only serves to keep the prices high and increasing at a time when Americans can least afford them.
What's Next: While the litigation may help spur momentum toward stronger and broader reforms, legal action alone cannot solve the problem — and substantive policy changes are necessary to address the market failures underpinning high drug prices.
Making good on pension promises is a perennial problem for state and local lawmakers. Like people failing to save for retirement, states have sometimes failed to make scheduled annual contributions to pension funds, which rely heavily on earning investment income over time to meet future obligations.
What’s Happening: Over the past couple of decades interest rates have remained low, meaning there’s less money to be made from certain classes of stable investments. And while the stock market has enjoyed a bullish run for a decade following the Great Recession, returns have been volatile due to the impact of the pandemic on the global economy. Given recent historically low-interest rates and the political infeasibility of raising taxes right now, some policymakers have turned to pension obligation bonds.
Bottom Line: Pension bonds allow states and localities to borrow large sums of money to immediately fill pension funding holes while banking on a larger rate of returns from the market. It's a risky play, but one that some states are willing to take. We canvassed pension experts on this nuanced funding strategy to better understand the role bonds play in shoring up pension systems.
One answer to our nation’s gun violence problem? Fix our gun data infrastructure. AV’s Asheley Van Ness and NORC’s John Roman write in The Crime Report about how to craft effective gun policies that save lives and respect rights. “Creating a coordinated response begins with a shared set of facts. Our current gun data infrastructure is woefully unprepared to inform those facts. For a relatively modest investment, we can begin to fill the facts necessary to start saving lives.”
How federal prescription drug laws and a lack of trained physicians are hindering access in Black communities to a take-at-home treatment for opioid use disorder, via Bloomberg Law.
Ways a new administration can support accountability in higher education and better defend students from the next wave of Corinthian- and ITT-style disasters, from Dan Zibel of Student Defense writing in Washington Monthly. “Until for-profit college executives fear more than a mild rebuke for fleecing students and taxpayers, their actions will not change.”
Related: Read the stories of U.S. veterans who were defrauded from their hard-earned GI Bill money by ITT Tech.
New evidence that a Pay for Success initiative in Boston for adult English-language learners shows large interim impacts on employment and earnings, according to newly released findings from an RCT led by Economic Mobility Corp and supported by AV.
Our VP of Evidence-Based Policy Jon Baron discussing the steps practitioners, funders, and policymakers can take to create a more disciplined process for learning, testing, and improving social sector programs, via Project Evident.
The Marshall Project breaking down ballot measures in seven states that could change the future of criminal justice.
Another breakdown of state ballot measures, this time affecting tax policy, via The Urban Institute.
An argument for why ranked-choice voting is a better way forward for our divided nation, in this op-ed from Lee Drutman and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Voters in Alaska and Massachusetts have the chance to adopt it this election.
How voters in Illinois, Arizona, and California can make their tax systems more fair by advancing ballot measures for progressive taxation, via The New York Times.
“The Women Who Run,” an ABC News roundtable discussion on the record number of women of color running for Congress in 2020. There are 115 vying for U.S. House seats, and ABC’s Deborah Roberts spoke with eight of them from both sides of the aisle in a candid discussion on what motivated them to run and the challenges they have faced in their campaigns. But it’s about more than breaking records: Diverse voices in Congress can help bring attention to issues impacting women and communities of color that have long been sidelined.
What We're Listening To
The latest “America, Interrupted” podcast episode on the challenges voters in key states have faced in casting their ballots, why voter suppression continues, and how the pandemic has made it worse. Host Amna Nawaz is joined by PBS NewsHour politics reporter Daniel Bush, who spoke directly to voters on all sides of the aisle about their fears, distrust, and frustration about the 2020 election.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
By Stuart Buck, Vice President of Research
One of the best ways to detect research malpractice is to re-examine the data. That’s why one of the best ways to improve research is to require that data be shared – otherwise, no one can re-examine it in the first place.
With a 2020 budget of $42 billion, the NIH is the biggest research funder in the United States. Its policies affect untold numbers of research projects at every research university. For years, it has toyed with a data sharing requirement, but has never gone quite far enough.
Last year, the NIH released a proposed data sharing requirement, and asked for public comments. Public comments are a great way to influence a regulatory agency, since the agency is by law required to take comments into account. Even better, regulatory agencies often value hearing from neutral and respected parties – such as AV – rather than only hearing from businesses or organizations that have an ax to grind because they are the ones subjected to regulation. Thus, I wrote up comments on behalf of AV, and got a couple of other foundation leaders to sign on (hopefully increasing the impact).
A photo essay on how we’re celebrating Halloween in a year that has been terrifying all around.
The fantasy fiction podcast “Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services,” about a young witch and a diverse cast of characters. Vox calls it “magical realism, infused with a close exploration of identity, culture, religion, and the intersection of our personal lives with our spiritual practices.”
Kids are spooky all year long. Just ask parents. (I can vouch for this.)
And because looking inside any stranger's fridge can always be a little scary, here’s a spooky challenge: Can you tell a “Trump” fridge from a “Biden” fridge? (I could not.)
We're Seeking Proposals
New Funding Opportunity: As part of efforts to to better understand how to improve the systems that deliver care to a population of more than 12 million people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, we are seeking to fund researchers who are guided by the following principles: policy relevance, rigor and independence, and alignment with our strategy. Learn more here.
Stephanie DiCapua Getman develops and executes Arnold Ventures' digital communications strategy with a focus on multimedia storytelling and audience engagement and oversees daily editorial operations and design.
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