Capitol Comments

In Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center the Supreme Court held 5-4 that Medicaid providers cannot rely on the Supremacy Clause or equity to sue states to enforce a Medicaid reimbursement statute. 

The Court’s rejection of a private cause of action under the Supremacy Clause has implications well beyond this case.  Had the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, the Supremacy Clause would have provided a cause of action for every federal statute that arguably conflicts with state law.  

With record low voting turnouts, adequate proposals to ease voter registration are being discussed by various states. Such regulatory changes are expected to increase voter turnout and have acquired much support from the American public thus far. This month, Oregon became the first state to use data from their Department of Motor Vehicles for the purpose of automatically registering voters.  

Young v. United Parcel Service presents a dilemma most employers, including state and local governments, can relate to.  What should an employer do if a pregnant employee’s job requires that she lift an amount well above what her doctor has approved during pregnancy? 

The specific issue the Court had to decide in this case was whether an employer violated Title VII because it accommodated many but not all nonpregnancy-related disabilities but...

In the March/April issue of Capitol Ideas, I wrote about how the state of Utah has used transportation investment to drive the state’s economic growth. Among those I talked with were two legislators—one a civil engineer, the other an economist—as well as a planning official for the Utah Department of Transportation. But there is plenty more to the story of Utah’s success as I learned in this February interview with Abby Albrecht of the Utah Transportation Coalition, which arrived too late to be included in the published article. The coalition is an organization formed by the Utah League of Cities and Towns, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Association of Counties.

In Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama the Supreme Court held 5-4 that when determining whether unconstitutional racial gerrymandering occurred—if race was a “predominant motivating factor” in creating districts—one-person-one-vote should be a background factor, not a factor balanced against the use of race.  And Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) does not require a covered jurisdiction to maintain a particular percent of minority voters in minority-majority districts.  The Court sent this case back to the lower court to reconsider in light of its opinion.

Econ Piggy

In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress officially designated the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” In honor of this month, here are a few stats about women in the United States.

I learned a few things last week when I was visiting with Indiana Rep. Ed Clere, one of the new co-chairs of CSG’s Health Public Policy Committee.

  • That week, the state announced the 100,000th person enrolled in the Medicaid expansion waiver, called HIP 2.0 in Indiana, after the program opened less than a month before. Indiana had three Medicaid managed care organizations already engaged in the state and the state Medicaid office and the
  • ...

The comment period closed for the EPA's proposed update to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone on March 17th. Based on recommendations from EPA’s science advisers and staff, the EPA is expected to announce a more stringent standard, likely in the range of 70 to 60 parts per billion, down from the 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion...

CSG Midwest
Iowa became the first state in the Midwest this year to approve a plan to raise taxes for roads, but it may not be the last. According to The Des Moines Register, Iowa’s SF 257 increased the gas and diesel tax by 10 cents (to 31 cents for gas and 22.5 cents for diesel). It will bring in an additional $215 million annually for city, county and state roads. The gas tax in Iowa hadn’t been raised since 1989; the new rates took effect March 1.
 
CSG Midwest
Over the last six years, nearly $2 billion has flowed from Washington, D.C., in support of more than 2,000 Great Lakes-related projects. Much progress has been made under the historic Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, says Todd Ambs of the Healing Our Waters Coalition, but it’s far from a job done.

“It’s really just a down payment,” Ambs says about federal spending to date. “When you’re talking about what needs to be done to restore the Great Lakes, this initiative needs to go on for years.”

President Obama created the program early in his presidency, building on work that had been done by his predecessor, George W. Bush, through the Great Lakes Regional Collaborative. In each of his proposed annual budgets since fiscal year 2010, Obama has included a line item to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. But will the initiative continue once he leaves office?

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