Capitol Comments

Food safety in restaurants made headlines last year when E. Coli outbreaks linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill sickened 60 people in 14 states. All Chipotle restaurant locations closed until 3 p.m. Feb. 8, 2016, for an all-staff food safety meeting that was broadcast live. Preventing and controlling foodborne illness outbreaks is a collaborative effort between local and state health departments and federal agencies. 

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) for the first time ever has asked the Supreme Court to accept and decide a case. The SLLC is asking the Court to hear United Student Aid Funds v. Bible and overturn Auer deference to federal agencies.  

In Auer v. Robbins (1997) the Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. (1945) that courts must defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations (even if that interpretation is articulated for the first time in an amicus brief during litigation).

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office has launched its new online voter registration system just in time for the March 1, 2016 Alabama Presidential Primary. This makes Alabama the 30th state, plus the District of Columbia, to offer online voter registration.

Individuals who wish to register to vote in Alabama may either fill out the online registration form or print an application online, both of which would go to county registrar’s offices for final processing. The deadline to register for the Alabama primary is...

America’s water infrastructure is at a crossroads. Water lines installed, in some cases, more than 100 years ago are nearing or past their useful lifespans. In addition, an estimated 6.5 million water lines across the country contain lead, which as exhibited by the current crisis in Flint, Mich., can have devastating consequences to communities if not appropriately managed. Combined with a growing population that demands new infrastructure as new communities are built, the cost of maintaining and expanding the country’s water infrastructure has outpaced available funding. The following infographic provides a snapshot of the state of the nation’s water infrastructure.

On January 29, President Obama announced an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government how much they pay their employees, broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The action is part of a larger effort to close the pay gap between men and women.

On February 7, the eyes of sports enthusiasts from around the world will turn to Santa Clara, California for Super Bowl 50. The road to hosting a Super Bowl is long, often very expensive for host states and cities, and possibly very financial rewarding. Kickoff for Super Bowl 50 will take place in a two-year-old, $1.3 billion dollar stadium, $114 million of which was funded using public dollars. With Super Bowl 50 estimated to have an economic impact of between $200-$800 million dollars in the San Francisco Bay Area, hosting may prove to be the best investment the region could hope for.

With the melting of the last remnants of snow from Winter Storm Jonas and another major winter storm set to impact millions of Americans in the southern Rockies, central plains and western Great Lakes this week, it seems as good a time as any to check in on how states are dealing with winter weather transportation concerns so far this season. There are numerous examples of states turning to technology, investing in equipment and trying to improve on past performance. Here’s a roundup.

In an 6-2 decision in FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the authority to regulate wholesale “demand response” and that demand response bidders may receive the same compensation as electricity producers.

“Demand response” is a practice in which operators in wholesale markets pay electricity consumers to not use power at certain times.

Energy is more expensive and inefficient to produce at certain times (like hot days). Nonetheless retail electricity rates remain stable providing no incentive for electric consumers to reduce their demand at these times. So, FERC blessed wholesale market operators using demand response to reduce energy use during peak times and to lower wholesale electricity prices.

Several states authorize the appointment of emergency managers or some other authority to take over localities in times of economic crisis. Since the recession in 2008, several cities across the nation have been threatened by financial insolvency and states have stepped in to attempt to prevent bankruptcy or to ensure residents continue to receive essential services. However, as details of the recent water crisis in Flint, Mich. continue to emerge, questions have arisen as to the role emergency managers played in this tragedy. The...

IMLCC

Second Meeting of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission held December 18, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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