Could represent ‘new wave of state-level legislation directed toward reforming public universities’

Each of Arizona’s public universities would have to set up a new “Office of Public Policy Events” to promote intellectual diversity on campus, according to a bill recently introduced in the state legislature.
“The bill is necessary because we want to educate our students,” said Republican State Rep. Anthony Kern, the bill’s author, in an interview with The College Fix. “We want to give them a well-rounded education, not a one-sided one, whatever that side may be.”

The bill calls for the public policy offices to “organize, publicize and stage debates, group forums and individual lectures that address, from multiple, divergent and opposing perspectives, an extensive range of public policy issues that are widely discussed and debated in society at large.”

The offices would “prioritize inviting speakers from outside the university who hold perspectives on widely debated public policy issues that are otherwise poorly represented on campus.”
“If we’re going to educate young minds, and get them ready for the real world, we need balanced views,” Kern said. “Students need civil discourse and thought.”

Media affairs representatives from the University of Arizona and Arizona State, the two largest public universities in the state, did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment on the bill.

Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, argues in National Review the bill could represent a “new wave of state-level legislation directed toward reforming public universities.”
Last year, Kurtz authored a model campus intellectual diversity act that served as inspiration for the Arizona legislation. He writes that similar bills in other states are soon to follow, and adds he is cautiously optimistic about the effort in the longterm.

“Just putting the issue on the table is a big step. Filing a bill sets off debate and builds attention and support. It’s not uncommon for it to take more than one legislative cycle for a new idea to get serious traction. We’ll see what the future holds. With Anthony Kern’s introduction of HB 2238, however, the idea of bringing greater intellectual diversity to our public university systems has taken a very big step forward,” according to Kurtz.

Kern said Kurtz had approached him with the bill idea in early 2019, and he decided to introduce it as legislation in 2020.
“We need to educate students and give them a balanced view and prepare them for the real world,” Kern told The Fix. “… A lot of these college campuses, with social justice programs and all that, there’s one view being elevated and one view being put down.”
The bill calls on each public policy office to collect data on all guest speakers on college campuses (except for those sponsored by off-campus groups in rented facilities).

“And by collecting that data, we can go ahead and make informed decisions down the road on educating our students,” he said.
“We’re not looking to expand government, this data isn’t hard to collect,” said Kern, noting that the data collection job could likely be absorbed in any number of university offices.
Emory University Professor Mark Bauerlein, a proponent of the effort, pointed out in Minding the Campus that the offices would not “touch what professors do in the classroom. … The proposal aims only at open campus events.”

“It is hard to imagine any reasonable objection to such a proposal,” Bauerlein wrote. “Professors who decry such initiatives as a form of political interference in academic matters have long discredited themselves on the issue. They are the ones most responsible for having manufactured the biased and irrational atmosphere in the first place. Besides, why should teachers disallow a richer intellectual climate from forming? If they do, they are proselytizers, not instructors?”

In recent years, Arizona lawmakers have intervened to create more conservative-oriented offices on Arizona’s largest campuses, including the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University and the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science at the University of Arizona. Both offices have come under fire from progressives for accepting funds from the libertarian-aligned Charles Koch Foundation.*

Kern praised both offices, noting they are dedicated to giving a two-sided view on every issue.

But Kern said more is needed to codify ideological balance on campuses around the state. Kern, who has previously introduced a bill to eliminate campus “free speech zones,” sees his new bill mandating balance on campus to be the next step in the progression of liberty on campus.
“The narrative out there is that college campuses are indoctrinating students to the left,” Kern said. “It’s a free speech issue – I’m not looking to squelch leftist views at all. Because we’re America and our First Amendment says we have freedom of speech.”

“This is a college campus, taxpayer-funded state-run university. I’m a conservative, and I don’t want kids being taught leftist doctrine in our universities,” he said. “My tax dollars are not being represented.”
Kern told The Fix he thinks the bill has “got a great chance” of passing.
“We all should be promoting the free speech cause, whether you’re left or right,” he said, arguing students should “not be afraid of the speech police.”

Article by Christian Schneider at
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The Trump administration recently announced its support for a bipartisan bill that would help curb prescription drug prices. The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act—introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley, R-IA, and Ron Wyden, D-OR—would shield vulnerable senior communities on Medicare from rising drug costs and penalize pharmaceutical corporations for price gouging. In the past few years, pharmaceutical behemoths, facing little competition, doubled, tripled, and quadrupled the price of their prescription drugs. 

Insulin, which millions of diabetics can’t live without, has more than doubled in price in a span of only four years. Yet, it’s been on the market for nearly a hundred years—but still remains one of the most expensive common drugs on the market. We know that when a product has been on the market for a long time, it usually drops in price. For example, today, one can find a 2012 iPhone for under $100. But while prices for a 2012 iPhone have dropped since its release, insulin prices have risen since then. Many diabetics, unable to pay nearly $6,000 annually for insulin, are now forced to skip and ration their required doses. 

This all begs the question: why is the price of insulin continuing the climb? 
In part, it has to do with the lack of competition. In the case of the iPhone, Apple has to compete with products by Google, Samsung, LG, HTC, and a roster of other phone companies. On the other hand, only three companies own 90 percent of the insulin market. And these companies do not seem interested in competing against one another; in fact, they seem to raise their prices at around the same time, leaving diabetics with hardly any options for cheaper alternatives. Does this sound like a free market? 

Diabetics don’t think so—and neither does Congress. 
The Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act (PDPRA) would penalize insulin manufacturers and other pharmaceutical manufacturers that raise their prices faster than the rate of inflation. In other words, companies with little competition would have an incentive to not hike their prices. Otherwise, what would stop monopolistic pharmaceutical companies from price gouging? 

Many people are hesitant about government intervention in the marketplace. But Medicare isn’t the marketplace; it is a program through which the government effectively subsidizes pharmaceutical companies. Medicare is the pharmaceutical industry’s second-largest customer, spending $126 billion on prescription drugs in only one year. 
And, as drug prices rise, taxpayers will be footing even higher bills. This bill would not impose “price controls,” as pharmaceutical companies would remain free to charge whatever they want in the private market. What this bill does is impose a cap on the growth in taxpayer subsidies to pharmaceutical companies. In total, the PDPRA’s measures would save taxpayers over $100 billion dollars. 
Since President Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican Party has had a long history of restoring freedom, fairness, and competition in the marketplace by prudently using laws to end crony capitalism and corporate welfare. Senator Chuck Grassley has followed that tradition—and I hope other Republican senators who care about truly free and fair markets who are key conservative voices in Washington, like Senator Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst, and Cory Gardner, and Senator Martha McSally in my home state of Arizona will support this important bill.
Americans want their lawmakers to pass legislation that curbs prescription drug prices. A poll found that eight in ten voters think Congress should take action to lower drug costs. The PDPRA would ensure that Americans can afford their needed prescriptions.

Written by Anthony Kern at
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