Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
Ridership on the region’s state-supported passenger rail routes has increased on almost every line over the past decade, according to Amtrak ridership data tracked by the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.
CSG Midwest
The idea of requiring able-bodied adults to work or be actively seeking it as a condition for government assistance is certainly not new, but its application to Medicaid is as of January, when the Trump administration began approving some states’ applications to impose work rules as a condition of eligibility for this public health insurance program.

Since last week’s release of details of President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan and his proposed FY 2019 budget, reaction has been rolling in. Here’s a primer on where to read more about the President’s overall approach to infrastructure and various aspects of the plan getting attention, as well as what various stakeholder groups and analysts are saying.

The threat of interference in United States elections remains a pressing topic of conversation over the coming months leading up to this year’s midterm elections. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence intend to face these issues head on. On February 16th and 18th, election officials from all fifty states engaged in a “national-level classified dialogue... to ensure the integrity and security of the nation’s election infrastructure,” according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). ODNI also noted that these briefings were to focus on “increasing awareness of foreign adversary intent and capabilities against the state’s election infrastructure, as well as a discussion of threat mitigation efforts.”

On Tuesday, February 13, one day after The White House released details of President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan, the co-chair of the CSG Transportation & Infrastructure Public Policy Committee, Rep. Andrew McLean of Gorham, Maine, traveled to Washington, DC. He participated in a panel discussion at the U.S. Capitol on the continuing importance of the federal-state-local partnership on infrastructure and met with Maine’s U.S. Senators, Susan Collins and Angus King. Below are highlights and photos from the day’s events.

CSG Midwest
Ohio already has a plan in place that will change how the state’s legislative lines are drawn after the next U.S. census, and voters will have the chance in May to change the process for congressional districts. SJR 5 was passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, culminating months of bipartisan legislative negotiations, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports.
CSG Midwest

The E-Verify program allows employers to check whether newly hired workers have authorization to work in the United States. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible to work, nor are many people in the country here on short-term visas. Created in 1996 through federal legislation, E-Verify is an internet-based system that uses data from the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security; verification can be instant, and rarely takes more than 24 hours. Individuals who receive “tentative non-confirmations” can challenge the finding.

 

There is no federal requirement for employers to use E-Verify (they do have to collect and verify I-9 forms), and one criticism is that people with fraudulent documents get through the system. The federal government does very few audits, so there is little enforcement of verification requirements. Still, a number of states have requirements of some kind for employers to use E-Verify (even minus such a state law, some employers use the system; see map).
CSG Midwest
Come election time, a South Dakota voter’s ballot can become pretty crowded — filled not just with candidates for office, but a mix of constitutional amendments, initiated measures and referendums to overturn existing state laws. In November 2016 alone, 10 such ballot questions were voted on, including measures on the minimum wage, redistricting, campaign finance and elections.
But it’s not just the sheer volume or the content of some of the proposals that concerns lawmakers such as Sen. Jim Bolin.
“This is not your neighbor coming up with an idea and trying to get it on the ballot; it’s really become an industry,” according to Bolin, who served on a task force of legislators and others this past interim to explore potential changes to South Dakota’s initiative and referendum process.
Out-of-state money and workers come to South Dakota, he says, where advertising is cheap and changing laws or the Constitution is a relatively inexpensive proposition. Sen. Ernie Otten adds that “people can come in here very easily, and then they don’t have to face the consequences of the change.”
CSG Midwest
With the popularity of craft beer on the rise, state legislators across the nation have been re-examining their laws to allow for greater growth in the industry, from statutory changes that help increase production to the removal of restrictions on self-distribution. That trend has continued in 2018, with South Dakota and Kansas among the states exploring proposals to assist craft brewers.
CSG Midwest
With a case on federalism and the authority of states to allow for sports betting before the U.S. Supreme Court this term, several related bills have been introduced in capitols across the Midwest.

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