Capitol Comments

In May, the World Trade Organization found country-of-origin labeling requirements, often referred to as COOL requirements, in the United States to be inconsistent with its international obligations. If Congress fails to repeal these requirements, Canada or Mexico may enact retaliatory trade actions valued at more than $3 billion against various companies across all 50 states.

According to NetIndex, which tracks key metrics related to the Internet, the United States is ranked 24th in terms of average internet speed. However, there is great variation among the states. Some have average download rates similar to the top 10 countries, but others’ rates are comparable to those around number 60.

Econ Piggy

The Census Bureau released data from its Annual Survey of Public Pensions today, which provides a financial overview of state- and locally-administered defined benefit pension systems. The report found that earnings on investments for those pension systems increased from $382.2 billion in 2013 to $537.5 billion in 2014 – a 38.6 percent jump. In 2012, earnings totaled just $96 billion.

The crowdfunding industry in the United States has expanded rapidly in the last few years, growing from $2.7 billion in 2012 to an estimated $34.4 billion in 2015.  This growth has been driven by the expansion of online crowdfunding platforms that facilitate interaction between companies and potential investors.  Although the US JOBS act sought to regulate crowdfunding in 2012,...

A 2014 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law predicts that the legalization of same-sex marriage could have a combined economic impact across all states of $2.6 billion during the first three years, primarily due to increased spending on weddings by same-sex resident couples and their out-of-state guests. In addition, the report estimates that legalization will boost state and local sales tax revenue by $184.7 million and support more than 13,000 jobs. The potential economic and fiscal impact varies across states.

The state of Vermont has begun collecting funds for a new program designed to guarantee a college scholarship for every child born to Vermont residents.  As part of House Bill 448, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation will allocate $250 per child and $500 if that child’s family earns less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level.  Once a birth certificate is issued, the VSAC establishes a savings account on behalf of the child through the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan. 

A new report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the 2014 Election Administration and Voting Survey Comprehensive Report, says that on average, about one out of every 70 voters who cast their vote in a polling place cast a provisional ballot. A total of 892,202 provisional ballots were submitted to be counted in the 2014 Federal election of which 72.2 percent were counted in full and 8.1 percent were partially counted. A total of 171,443 provisional ballots – or 19.2 percent – were rejected.

A new report by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the 2014 Election Administration and Voting Survey Comprehensive Report, says that on average, about one out of every 70 voters who cast their vote in a polling place cast a provisional ballot. A total of 892,202 provisional ballots were submitted to be counted in the 2014 Federal election of which 72.2 percent were counted in full and 8.1 percent were partially counted. A total of 171,443 provisional ballots – or 19.2 percent – were rejected.

Just seven months after the 2014 midterm elections ended, The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has released its comprehensive data on voting in the United States. The EAC is an independent, bipartisan commission serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. Each election cycle the commission carries out the national election administration survey. In 2014, the survey included figures from the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA, or “motor voter”) and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

The Department of Labor published a notice in the Federal Register today proposing a new rule that could extend overtime protections to almost 5 million additional workers as early as 2016. The law requires that employers pay overtime for non-salaried workers. Salaried employees are defined by a set of criteria, including job duties and a salary threshold. The new rules would more than double the salary threshold and tie it to inflation, which means more workers would qualify for overtime protections. 

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