Capitol Comments

Voters in Colorado will head to the polls this November not only to cast their ballots for the next president of the United States, but also to determine whether they will become the only state in the nation to adopt single-payer healthcare.

More than 20 legislators from 16 states--many of them in key leadership positions on health or budget committees that deal with Medicaid in their home states--attended a CSG policy academy in Washington D.C. on September 21-23, 2016, to learn how states are making reforms in their Medicaid program that pursue the health "triple aim": improving the quality of care for individuals, improving the health of populations, and reducing per capita costs of health care.

On September 21 the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), a Department of Defense organization tasked with ensuring that service members and overseas citizens are given the tools and resources necessary to vote, released the findings of the first-ever representative survey of overseas voters who requested an absentee ballot. FVAP will use their analysis of this information to better reach and provide information to overseas voters.

Over 20 state legislators and public utility commissioners attended CSG's "Future of American Electricity" policy academy in Washington, D.C. from Sept. 21-23. One of several 2 1/2 day events put on by CSG policy staff in 2016, this event was designed to give state officials an overview of American electricity along with a deeper dive into more complex and emerging energy and electricity issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this week issued long-awaited guidance delineating responsibilities of the federal and state governments when it comes to policies to pave the way for self-driving cars. This came as the Obama administration signaled that while strong safety oversight will be a hallmark of policies governing testing and deployment, the federal government will encourage innovation in the industry in recognition of the vehicles’ potential to save time, money and lives. Response to the guidance appeared to be largely positive and with the ink not even dry on the document, a number of states appeared poised to move quickly on new autonomous vehicle legislation in the days and months ahead.

Twenty-one states are suing the Department of Labor over new overtime rules which make it more likely states will have to pay more employees overtime. They are seeking an injunction which will prevent the new rules from going into effect on December 1, 2016.

Per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), “white collar” employees do not have to be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. Per Department of Labor regulations, adopted shortly after the FLSA was adopted in 1938, employees must perform specific duties and earn a certain salary to be exempt from overtime as white collar employees.

On May 23, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued final rules nearly doubling the previous salary level test for white collar employees from $455 per week, or $23,660 per year to $913 per week, or $47,476 per year.

CSG Midwest
Thousands of 4-year-olds in Minnesota are attending prekindergarten classes this fall as the result of a $25 million investment made by the Legislature. With this money, the state targets aid for school districts and charter schools that serve high numbers of low-income students as well as areas with limited access to high-quality prekindergarten programs.
CSG Midwest
Some school districts in South Dakota are using new state incentives that allow them to share teachers and, in the process, expand learning opportunities for their students. As part of a package of bills passed by the Legislature to address a shortage of teachers (HB 1182 and SBs 131 and 133), the state created the Employee Shared Service Grant program. The grants last for three years, with aid to the participating districts gradually dropping over that time period. With these grants, districts are hiring and sharing Spanish, arts, and English-language-learner teachers. 
CSG Midwest
Three alternatives to traditional marriage are recognized in different parts of this region: domestic partnerships, civil unions and common-law marriages. 
CSG Midwest
Supply chains linking Canadian and U.S. companies play a crucial role in provincial and state economies, and two recent studies underscore just how important they have become in the world’s largest binational trading relationship.

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