Capitol Comments

It seems that each day brings a barrage of new articles on what’s going on with autonomous and connected vehicle policy around the country. Just in the two months since we convened the CSG Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy for a group of state policymakers in Detroit (check out the meeting archive with extensive summaries of each policy academy session), there have been plenty of developments. Here’s a collection of some of the recent news, state updates and reports on this multifaceted, rapidly evolving transportation topic.

Drug abuse is an ever-growing epidemic in the United States. In a series of research briefs, CSG will examine the effects of drug abuse on the states through incarceration, treatment and the workforce.

The number of unemployed persons per job opening fell to 1.13 in June 2017, a 10-year low and significantly lower than the July 2009 peak of 6.6. In other words, we are close to having a job opening for every person that is unemployed. In the Midwest, the number of unemployed per job opening has now dropped to less than one, the lowest of any region.

A recently released report by MForesight, America's Next Manufacturing Workforce: Promising Practices in Education & Skills Building, outlines a range of successful educational initiatives, policy interventions, and pilot programs to strengthen manufacturing careers. The report emphasizes initiatives that are effective, replicable and scalable.

Recently in Las Vegas, the 25th Annual DEF CON took place July 27-30. DEF CON, short for “Defense Condition,” is one of the oldest and largest hacking conferences. To many in the election field, one of DEF CON’s Hacking Villages this year drew their attention – the Voting Machine Hacking Village.

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As big data becomes more available, cities are plugging in to solve many of their problems—both old and new. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation, or DOT, launched the Smart City Challenge. The winner of the challenge, a city that proposed an innovative use of big data to improve urban life, was to receive a $40 million grant to carry out the proposal.

CSG convened the Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy June 12-14, 2017 in Detroit. A group of state policymakers from around the country attended the event. The academy included a June 13 panel on the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy issued in 2016 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its model state policy. Panelists included Cathie Curtis of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Staff Sgt. Terence McDonnell of the New York State Policy traffic services section and Santa Clara University law professor Robert Peterson.

CSG convened the Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Policy Academy June 12-14, 2017 in Detroit. A group of state policymakers from around the country attended the event. The academy included a special briefing June 13 by Robert Peterson, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California, who explained how insurance and liability will change as autonomous vehicles come online.

Earlier this month, the state of Colorado announced that it will become the first state to implement risk-limiting audits to ensure votes are counted efficiently and accurately in elections. The unexpected election results in a few of the “swing” states in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election prompted the demand of recounts to be sure the results accurately portrayed how the voters casted their ballots. In the wake of the Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania recounts, digital security specialists and computer scientists argued that recounts could be all together eliminated by implementing risk-limiting audits. Currently only New Mexico and Colorado have the capability of doing so, and Colorado has been launched into the spotlight as an example for other states to follow.

Since 2013, odd-number years have seen a significant number of states seek new revenues for transportation.
In 2013, six states approved transportation funding measures that included gas tax increases.
In 2015, 11 states either increased gas taxes or adjusted them to prevent steeper reductions in revenue.
2016 saw one state—New Jersey—increase its gas tax.

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