Capitol Comments

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced plans to hire a Chief Data Officer for the Department. Secretary Pritzker emphasized the breadth and depth of information that the Commerce Department handles and says the new Chief Data Officer will be able to coordinate data collection and help the agency use data strategically. Many states, counties and cities have already realized the benefits of chief data officers. As of July 2014,...

On July 24, 2014, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, introduced a discussion draft outlining a plan to reform federal anti-poverty programs. Ryan’s Expanding Opportunity in America proposal aims to consolidate federal programs to reduce redundancy while also granting states more authority in the administration of federal programs in order to improve overall efficiency.

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) will be highlighted at CSG’s Eastern Regional Conference in Baltimore and again at CSG’s Annual meeting in Anchorage.  The session in Baltimore will begin at 1:15 PM on Tuesday, August 5 and the session in Anchorage will take place at 9:00 AM on Sunday, August 10th.  Both presentations are intended to inform policymakers about the new agreement and the potential benefits it can offer both states and institutions. 

High-profile programs like Race to the Top and Common Core have brought education reform again to the front of the national agenda. Discussion, however, settles over class size, teacher certification and teacher compensation because they seem like the most important issues related to student achievement. Significantly less time is spent on discussing the role of the principal. With increasingly complex duties, higher accountability and only modest pay increases, the principal’s job has become frustrating and unappreciated. Nevertheless, new studies are shedding light on the substantial impact that principals, as a part of institutional leadership, have on student performance.

Friday, a U.S. appeals court upheld a 2011 Florida law that prohibits doctors from discussing gun safety with their patients. The 2-1 ruling...

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma was11 percent in 2013 - nearly 4 percentage points higher than the national average and almost triple the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree. 

Cigarette smuggling across state lines is a serious problem, costing states billions in lost revenue each year and creating challenges for law enforcement. 

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for states to develop methods to place effective teachers in high-poverty schools in a letter earlier this month. Calling for a plan to ensure equal access to qualified teachers regardless of race or income from each state by April 2015, Duncan also introduced the Educator Equity Support Network, which will work with states by compiling best practices and providing technical support related to implementation. Concurrently, the Education Department will provide each state with its data file from the Civil Rights Data Collection which will serve to highlight current income- and race-based gaps in access.

Punting the football… Kicking the can down the roadHitting the snooze buttonStill driving blind… Road to nowhere… Spinning wheelsRiding on four flat tires…  Pick your favorite metaphor and it’s probably been used to describe the House-approved temporary fix that the U.S. Senate appears poised to pass next week to rescue the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund and ensure reimbursements for transportation projects will continue to go out to states through next May. It’s a plan that no one seems to like, that mostly prolongs the uncertainty states have faced in recent years with regards to the federal transportation program and that sets up another battle for next spring, albeit in what could be a substantially different looking new Congress. I also have a look this week at President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative and a super-sized roundup of links from the last three weeks on reauthorization of MAP-21, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

Kentucky’s Senate Bill 7 will now allow nurse practitioners to prescribe medications on their own, after prescribing under a physician in a collaborative agreement for four years. Nurse practitioners in Kentucky will still need a collaborative agreement with a physician to prescribe narcotics. Senate Bill 7 was passed on February 26, 2014 and went into effect on July 15.

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