Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
The only state in the Midwest that does not automatically restore the voting rights of people with criminal felony convictions is considering a change in this policy, via an amendment to its Constitution. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed the idea in her Condition of the State address, and it has since been the subject of legislative committee hearings.
According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa and Kentucky are currently the only two U.S. states where a felon is permanently disenfranchised, minus an action taken by the governor or president.
CSG Midwest
The nation’s high school graduation rates continue to rise, new federal data show, though progress has slowed on this achievement indicator — one of the fundamental ways that states will assess the performance of their schools, districts and overall K-12 systems under the U.S. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
In the Midwest, rates for the 2016-’17 school year ranged from a high of 91.0 percent in Iowa (tops in the nation) to a low of 80.2 percent in Michigan. Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin joined Iowa in exceeding the U.S. average of 84.6 percent, which was up half of a percentage point from the previous school year.
CSG Midwest
For decades, the lack of a commercial hemp industry has made the United States an outlier among most of the world’s developed countries. That may soon change, and some states in the Midwest have already been pursuing policies to ensure their farmers can make the most of this new market opportunity.
“Hemp could be a valuable crop,” North Dakota Rep. Dennis Johnson says, “but we need processors and market diversity and reliable regulations. “The 2018 farm bill goes a long way toward doing this.”
Enacted at the end of last year, the new law legalizes industrial hemp (it must have a THC concentration level of below 0.3 percent), allowing for market-scale cultivation and the interstate sale of products. In another important change for producers, the new farm bill allows hemp to be included in federal crop insurance.

If a state or local government discharges a pollutant from a point source to a navigable water it must obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA). But what if that pollutant is conveyed in something—say groundwater—between the point source and the navigable water? Must the state or local government still obtain a permit? That is the question the Supreme Court will decide next term in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund.

In April the Supreme Court will hear argument in a case that will determine whether a citizenship question will appear in the 2020 census. A decision in Department of Commerce v. New York is expected by the end of June, in time presumably to include or exclude the question from the print version of the census.

In January a federal district court held...

There is a tremendous pressure on cities. Already, 1.4 million people around the world are moving to cities and by 2050 they are expected to provide for 70 percent of the world’s population. Although this influx can fuel economic growth and cultural vibrancy, it can also strain cities’ abilities to keep their residents safe, healthy and prosperous. In the wake of recent natural disasters and civic threats, there is a real sense of urgency to make cities more resilient and sustainable.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in Kisor v. Wilkie asking the Supreme Court to overturn Auer v. Robbins (1997). It that case 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.

In Kisor v. Wilkie the Federal Circuit deferred to the Veterans Administration’s (VA) definition of “relevant” when determining whether a veteran’s claim for benefits can be reconsidered.

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In March, ADAPT Pharma, a subsidiary of Emergent BioSolutions and CSG Associate, announced the expansion of its program offering free NARCAN Nasal Spray – the leading community use naloxone – to U.S. high schools and eligible colleges and universities. NARCAN Nasal Spray 4mg is the only FDA-approved, needle-free formulation of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. As part of this effort, ADAPT Pharma will:

• Expand free NARCAN Nasal Spray availability by eliminating the prior 20,000 cartons cap for eligible colleges and universities
• Double the allocation to high schools from one free carton (two 4mg doses) to two free cartons (four 4mg doses)
• Extend the term of the free NARCAN Nasal Spray offer until it is in every high school and eligible college and university in the United States

The 2018 CSG National Conference in Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati in December featured a day-long policy academy on “The Intersection of Innovation and Infrastructure.” The event included policy discussions on autonomous and connected vehicles and truck platooning, state strategies for advancing the electric vehicle marketplace, ride-hailing and mobility innovations, how to enable the technology underpinning infrastructure innovation and the infrastructure investments and policy changes needed to drive innovation forward. In addition, Michael Stevens, chief innovation officer for the city of Columbus, Ohio, gave a keynote address about the city’s multi-million-dollar smart city initiative. Here’s a summary of what took place along with select comments from the day’s speakers. Below you’ll also find a variety of links to articles and reports that drive the conversation forward on many of these topics.

The issue the Supreme Court will decide in McDonough v. Smith is whether the statute of limitations for a due process fabrication of evidence claim begins to run when the criminal proceedings terminate in the defendant’s favor, or when the defendant becomes aware of the tainted evidence and its improper use.

Edward McDonough, former Democratic Commissioner of Rensselaer County Board of Elections, approved forged absentee ballot applications which he claims he didn’t know had been falsified. Youel Smith investigated and prosecuted McDonough. McDonough claims Smith “engaged in an elaborate scheme to frame McDonough for the crimes by, among other things, fabricating evidence.” After two trials, McDonough was ultimately acquitted.

Just before three years passed since McDonough was acquitted he sued Smith under Section 1983 for violating his due process rights by fabricating evidence and using it against him. Section 1983 allows citizens to sue state and local government officials in federal court for constitutional violations.

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