Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
As a library media specialist in a Minnesota middle school, Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein comes across potential teachers all the time. It’s the students themselves. “At our school, students are often mentoring other students, and we are flabbergasted at what we see,” she says. “They have the patience. They have the understanding. They connect well with that other student.
“And we think, ‘This kid would make such a great teacher.’”
As a legislator, Rep. Kunesh-Podein also thinks about this: What state policies could expose more of these young people to the profession, and get them on a path to becoming a teacher? One idea, part of a legislative proposal in Minnesota this year (HF 824/SF 1012), is to bring college-level, credit-bearing Introduction to Education classes into the state’s high schools; another is to identify and eliminate barriers (financial or otherwise) that stand in the way of lower-income individuals getting certified to teach.
Attracting more teachers, as well as retaining them, has been on the minds of many state policymakers in the Midwest, as evidenced by the burst of new legislative proposals, laws and investments over the past few years.

Fear of losing Medicaid coverage can deter people with disabilities from entering the labor market. Medicaid buy-in programs allow workers with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage that enables them to participate in the workforce without losing health care benefits. A large majority of states such as Colorado, Illinois and Ohio, amongst others, are participating in or pursuing these kinds of programs.

In 2003, New York implemented the Medicaid Buy-In for Working People with Disabilities program, or MBI-WPD. In doing...

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In addition to many decades of leadership in federal advocacy and international policy change, CSG’s newest associate, the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO), is taking a leadership role in strategic state advocacy through an Amazon supported initiative called Why Not Kids. This movement is based on successful efforts in Kentucky that focus on working with state governments—educating them and informing them of their unique role and responsibility—to close the gap between budget allocations for adult and childhood cancer...

On Sept. 3, 2019, Virginia became the first state to fully digitize its professional licensing and credentialing system. Many professions take advantage of current technology to offer digital copies of licenses and certifications, but before September, no state offered universal electronic licensing. Through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and the free online credentialing service, Merit, all licensed professionals in Virginia will be able to receive a digital copy of their...

The focus on helping individuals with mid-career disabilities stay in or return to the workforce is emerging in the economic and health sectors of the public policy arena. This focus comes from the drive to retain good employees in the workforce, which benefits state governments, employees and employers.

The state of Washington has taken a step in the disability employment policy arena to expand return-to-work...

Occupational licensure is one of the most overarching labor market issues facing low-income workers. The proportion of the labor force required to obtain a license exceeds that of both minimum wage earners and union members.1,2,3 The costs of licensing, such as exams, training courses, continuing education, and application and renewal fees, can present significant barriers to work, particularly for those for whom money is the tightest: Americans who are low-income, unemployed, and/or dislocated workers.  

On July...

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a group of United States federal laws specifying the annual budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense and was first passed in 1961. Currently, the government is going through its process to finalize the NDAA for 2020. In reviewing the current draft documents that make up the 2020 NDAA, The Council of State Governments (CSG) and its Overseas Voting Initiative (OVI), a collaboration between CSG and the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), feels there is a missed opportunity to aid the nation’s military voters in casting their ballots while they are stationed away from their homes. Currently, there is no specific mention of the OVI Military Ballot Tracking Pilot in the NDAA documents. While the act is in conference committee, there is still a chance to ensure that the NDAA serves our overseas military citizens by implementing the Military Ballot Tracking Pilot program.

On May 1, 2019, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 124 into law.  The bill allows military and overseas citizens with a Common Access Card, or CAC, to digitally sign their Federal Post Card Application for voter registration, to request an absentee ballot, or return a voted ballot.  A CAC is only issued after a thorough vetting by the U.S. Department of Defense and is only issued to members of the armed services, civilian employees of the DOD and DOD contractors.

In an amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) urges the Supreme Court to not apply strict scrutiny to regulations of guns carried in public.

In this case the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether New York City’s ban on transporting a handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits violates the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, or the constitutional right to travel. The Second Circuit held the law is constitutional on all accounts.

If you’ve studied the issue of occupational licensing reform for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard about African hair braiders. The issue of state government regulating the hair braiding industry is a compelling one. Why would a state subject a hair braider to obtain a full cosmetology license, endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay thousands of dollars before they can legally work? Furthermore, the courses required to obtain the required license do not even directly apply to hair braiding but are more...

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