Improving Public Policy
Historic new risk rating system for federal flood insurance takes effect
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new model for pricing flood risk went into effect in April for the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which has more than 5 million policyholders. The Pew-supported approach, called Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, represents the most significant change to the program’s rating system in 50 years. Under the new pricing methodology, insurance premiums will be based on a more precise and accurate analysis of flood risk—a revision that planners say will discourage development in flood zones by making insurance costlier in the most at-risk areas.
NOAA approves ropeless fishing gear permit in closed area
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration approved a permit in April for three vessels to ropelessly fish in waters off the Massachusetts coast, an area currently closed to traditional fishing gear because vertical lines used in traditional fishing can seriously injure and lethally harm the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. The agency’s new rule, issued in September 2021, included new seasonal closures to persistent vertical fishing lines, opening a pathway to potentially use ropeless gear with a special fishing permit. The decision represents an important milestone for Pew’s efforts to protect the right whale while allowing lobster fishing to continue.
Major reforms in the Indian Ocean tuna fishery
In May, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)—a group of 30 governments responsible for managing and conserving fish stocks in the region—agreed to implement for the first time a full harvest strategy for the Indian Ocean’s billion-dollar bigeye tuna fishery. This is also the first harvest strategy for any tropical tuna species globally. Harvest strategies mean that these governments have now agreed to a long-term vision for sustainable management of the bigeye fishery and commit to using science instead of politics to set future catch limits and keep bigeye at a healthy level. The measure, which will serve as a model for better policies worldwide, will make management more predictable, transparent, and inclusive, and fisheries will be more profitable over the long term. Pew and its strategic partner, The Ocean Foundation, played a pivotal role by engaging Australia as champion, and getting other countries to strengthen and back Australia’s proposal.
IOTC also adopted a measure to improve oversight of transshipment—the movement of fish from a fishing vessel to a large carrier vessel, allowing fishing to continue while the carrier vessel takes the catch to port. This measure will help keep illegally caught fish from making it to market. Significantly, this reform was championed by Japan, a country whose fleets rely heavily on transshipment activity. Pew played a key role in pushing other governments to strengthen Japan’s original proposal.
Congress moves to strengthen consumer protections for dietary supplements
In April, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced the Dietary Supplement Listing Act of 2022, which would improve the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to ensure supplement safety by requiring that companies tell the agency what products they manufacture and the ingredients they contain. The proposal has bipartisan support in Congress, and the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has included key provisions from the Durbin-Braun bill with the underlying legislation that reauthorizes major FDA drug and device review programs expected to pass this fall. The Dietary Supplement Listing Act is partly the result of Pew’s health care products team’s advocacy efforts in collaboration with both public health and industry stakeholder groups, including the American Medical Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the leading trade association representing supplement manufacturers and ingredient suppliers.
Alabama passes legislation that invests in high-value programs
In April, the Alabama Legislature passed three bills aimed at reforming the state’s medical scholarships loans programs, as well as teacher scholarships, based on recommendations made by a Pew partner, the Alabama Commission on the Evaluation of Services. Two of the bills changed a program model to include developing geographically based “needs assessments” to prioritize placing medical practitioners in areas of high need and developing better incentives for providers. The third bill will better market an underutilized loan forgiveness program to hire teachers in areas with shortages. Pew’s Results First initiative has partnered with the commission and its predecessor since 2017. These bills further the Results First initiative’s goal of helping states continue to demonstrate results, meet the goals in their state plans, and sustain their work by investing in programs that achieve results.
Australia declares Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands marine parks
In March, the Australian government announced the establishment of two marine parks covering 287,000 square miles of Indian Ocean waters surrounding its external territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Roughly 99% of the new marine protected areas will be off-limits to commercial fishing and other extractive activities, providing strong safeguards for an ocean area larger than Texas and twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project and Pew’s Outback to Oceans Australia teams worked closely with the Australian government and local island communities, which collaborated to co-design the parks and the protections they will provide for unique underwater reefs, rare aquatic species, and a significant portion of the world’s only known spawning area for critically endangered southern bluefin tuna. The government also created community-led fisheries regulations tailored to the islands’ unique cultural and environmental needs. Pew and its partners worked closely with the island communities and government to develop a community-led model for fisheries management that recognizes the creation of on-island fisheries advisory committees that must be consulted on all future fisheries management issues.
Major gains for people and nature in Chilean Patagonia
Pew’s Chilean Patagonia project and its partners recently garnered a set of significant conservation gains. The governors of the Magallanes and Los Lagos regions, five local mayors representing 24 of the 26 municipalities of Patagonia, the Universidad Austral de Chile, and Pew signed an agreement to increase participation in park oversight and infrastructure development by neighboring gateway communities, which benefit economically from tourism when protected areas are well run and accessible. And the Chilean Council of Ministers for Sustainability announced the creation of the 183,000-acre Olivares and Colorado Glaciers National Park. The new park features high peaks, valleys, and 368 glaciers that provide fresh water for one-half of the capital´s population. A Pew-backed citizens campaign, “Queremos Parque” or “We Want the Park,” generated support for the designation from an unprecedented 200,000 individuals, and the incoming government has already committed to extending the protected area by 168,000 acres within a year. In April the Chilean government passed a law, advanced by Pew and numerous local partners, that for the first time will allow contributions to nongovernmental organizations engaged in environmental, health, equity, and human rights issues to be treated as charitable for tax purposes, similar to donations made to arts and cultural entities.
And in late June, the Chilean government designated the Tictoc Golfo Corcovado Marine Park, a 251,800-acre area with unique ecological value in the least protected and most threatened area of Chilean Patagonia. Numerous species feed and breed in the area, including blue, humpback, and pilot whales; Chilean dolphins; and several species of marine birds.
CMS wants hospitals to report antibiotic use and resistance data to the CDC
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would require all hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid to report antibiotic use and resistance (AUR) data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through its surveillance system, the National Healthcare Safety Network. The new requirement would provide data to public health agencies to help inform stewardship strategies at the state, regional, and national levels, as well as allow antibiotic stewardship programs in hospitals to compare their prescribing patterns with those of other facilities to identify areas in need of improvement. This rule would help slow the growth of drug-resistant “superbugs” and improve patient care throughout the country. Since 2015, Pew’s antibiotic resistance project has met with CDC regularly, providing research and hosting convenings to prioritize the importance of AUR reporting, submitted comments to CMS, and coordinated comments supporting this change with the Infectious Diseases Society of America and 48 other organizations.
Invigorating Civic Life
Pew Fellow in the Arts named Philadelphia’s poet laureate
Airea D. Matthews, a 2020 Pew Fellow in the Arts, is Philadelphia’s poet laureate for 2022-23. The position recognizes exceptional poets who also demonstrate a commitment to civic engagement. In a January announcement, the Free Library of Philadelphia, which runs the city’s poet laureate program, described Matthews as embodying “the collaborative and maverick spirit of Philadelphia’s literary community.” Matthews is an assistant professor and co-director of the creative writing program at Bryn Mawr College. Her first collection of poems, Simulacra, won the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Her work has also appeared in Best American Poets 2015, Los Angeles Review of Books, Harvard Review, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. Of the city’s six poet laureates selected since the program began in 2012, five have been Pew Fellows in the Arts.
‘Benjamin Franklin: A Film by Ken Burns’ airs on PBS
Filmmaker Ken Burns’ two-part, four-hour documentary on Benjamin Franklin, one of Philadelphia’s most consequential historical figures, aired nationally on PBS stations in April. The film, partially funded by Pew, spans a period of momentous change in science, technology, literature, politics, and government—fields Franklin advanced through a lifelong commitment to societal and self-improvement. The documentary also does not shy away from exploring his faults, including the fact that although he would later speak out against slavery, he owned enslaved people in his middle age.
Pew co-hosts event with Philadelphia Fed on racial disparities in homeownership
In March, Pew and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia jointly hosted a virtual convening to explore policy solutions to the Black-White homeownership gap in Philadelphia. Researchers examined the current state of these racial homeownership disparities in the city and what factors perpetuate inequities. Pew presented recent research on housing affordability and the impact of tangled titles on homeowners. Panelists included Philadelphia Councilwoman Cherelle Parker (D); state Senator Nikil Saval (D); Robin Weissman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency; and Kevin Moran, director of the Urban Land Institute of Philadelphia. Approximately 200 attendees participated from Philadelphia’s government, civic, nonprofit, and housing advocacy organizations.
Pew Fellows in the Arts receive major awards
Several Pew Fellows in the Arts are being honored for their work. Composer Jennifer Higdon, a 1999 fellow, is among the 18 new members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among the highest artistic honors in the United States, membership is limited to 300 of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers at a given time. Poet and educator Sonia Sanchez (1993 fellow) has been awarded the Edward MacDowell Medal, an honor previously given to Robert Frost, Toni Morrison, and Stephen Sondheim, among others. Playwright James Ijames (2015 fellow) and composer and sound artist Raven Chacon (2020 fellow) both received 2022 Pulitzer Prizes. Ijames won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for the play “Fat Ham,” and the prize for music went to Chacon’s “Voiceless Mass,” a 16-minute work for ensemble and pipe organ “inspired by the silence of days spent in lockdown,” according to The New York Times.
Informing the Public
‘The Great Resignation’: Why workers say they quit jobs in 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic set off nearly unprecedented churn in the U.S. labor market: The share of Americans who quit their jobs reached a 20-year high in 2021. A Pew Research Center survey released in March found that low pay, a lack of opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected at work were the top reasons why Americans quit their jobs last year in what has become known as “the Great Resignation.” The survey also found that those who quit and are now employed elsewhere are more likely than not to say that their current job has better pay, more opportunities for advancement, and more work-life balance and flexibility.
Americans’ views of government
The Pew Research Center released a detailed report in June on Americans’ views of government, finding that Americans remain deeply distrustful of and dissatisfied with their government: Just 20% say they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time. Trust in government is relatively low among members of both parties. Yet Americans’ unhappiness with government has long coexisted with their continued support for government having a substantial role in many realms. Clear majorities of Americans (60% or more) say the government should have a major role in 11 of 12 issues included in the survey—including terrorism, immigration, and the economy, as well as ensuring access to health care and protecting the environment.
How teens navigate school during COVID-19
A Pew Research Center report released in June examined how teenagers navigated school during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that 65% of teens said they would prefer school to be completely in person after the COVID-19 outbreak is over, while a much smaller share (9%) would opt for a completely online environment. When asked about the effect that COVID-19 may have had on their schooling, a majority of teens expressed little to no concern about falling behind in school due to disruptions caused by the outbreak. Worries about falling behind in school due to COVID-19 disruptions were more common among Hispanic and lower-income teens, and parents tended to express more concern than their children.
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