Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
Reflective of a national trend that has states re-examining how they evaluate the performance of teachers, Ohio is moving ahead with a revamped system that relies less on student test scores and places a greater emphasis on professional development.
SB 216 was signed into law this summer.
CSG Midwest
Following Nebraska’s first execution of a death-row inmate in 21 years, some legislators are calling for statutory revisions that would change who witnesses the death and what they are able to see. “If the state is going to do something as serious as taking a person’s life, we need to be transparent,” Nebraska Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks says.
Carey Dean Moore was put to death on Aug. 14 for the murder of two cabdrivers nearly 40 years ago. He died by lethal injection, the first time that Nebraska used this method of execution. (In 2008, the state Supreme Court ruled electrocution to be unconstitutional.) The four-drug combination used by Nebraska had never been used by any other state: a sedative, an opioid pain killer (fentanyl) and a paralyzing drug, followed by potassium chloride, a drug that causes heart failure.
CSG Midwest
Today, grand juries are viewed mostly as a tool for prosecutors, a means of gathering evidence and seeking indictments. But they have long had a second important function as well — to control the government and its power to prosecute.
Six states, including Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota in the Midwest, have laws on the books that put a twist on this government-checking role: Allow local citizens themselves to form grand juries. The target of these state statutes is not overzealous prosecutors, but inactive ones.
CSG Midwest
AnswerA mix of state and federal laws makes it illegal for certain individuals to own or possess a firearm. At the federal level, the U.S. Gun Control Act prevents gun access to convicted felons, individuals addicted to a controlled substance, domestic violence abusers, and certain people with mental illnesses, among others.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, many states have adopted more-expansive restrictions than those spelled out in the federal law.
CSG Midwest
By 2022, every hospital emergency room in Illinois must have staff that can provide specialized care to victims of sexual assault. This new requirement is the result of HB 5245, a bill passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed into law this summer. Under the law, a trained provider will have to be present in the emergency room within 90 minutes of the patient arriving in the hospital. According to the Illinois attorney general’s office, few hospitals currently provide specialized care for sexual assault victims.
CSG Midwest
It is too common a story line in farm country: The parents pass away, and the entire farm has to be sold to resolve inheritance disputes. In many states, when heirs can’t agree on how to split the property, one common option for a judge is to order a “partition by sale,” with the money then proportionally divided among them. 
But what if one of the family members would like to continue farming the land?
“Partition by sale” doesn’t account for this desire among some heirs — a concern that led Iowa legislators to pass SF 2175 this year. “It is a bill to save family farms,” Rep. Lee Hein says of the new law, which took effect in July.

Oct. 1 marks the start of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy began celebrating NDEAM in 1945. People with disabilities continually face unemployment rates much higher than the national average. Each year, October is designated to highlight the importance of developing an inclusive workforce of individuals with a variety of abilities.

In today’s data-driven environment, nearly every program and initiative is analyzed to determine its effectiveness and overall return on investment. In September, the State International Development Organizations, or SIDO, an affiliate of The Council of State Governments, issued a report on performance metrics for international trade programs.

“This best practice report will help federal and state policymakers better understand the role of state international trade programs and how to measure them,” David Mathe, export director for the state of Delaware and SIDO president, wrote in the report’s foreword.

The Council of State Governments, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislators, or NCSL, and the State Exchange on Employment and Disability, or SEED, provided technical assistance to Oregon’s House Workgroup on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities. The workgroup is made up of representatives from Oregon’s House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee chaired by Rep. Jeff Reardon. Other members include Rep. Gene Whisnant, the vice chair, and Rep. Janeen Sollman.

Six states currently do not have laws pertaining to hazing, and of the 44 states that do, the penalties are typically not harsh. After the death of freshman student, Max Gruver, at a fraternity hazing event at Louisiana State University, Louisiana legislators worked to create harsher punishments.

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