Capitol Comments

June unemployment figures were released today and states are looking a little better than they were in May.  Thirty-nine states experienced a small decrease in unemployment over last month, while five states had increases and six states reported no change in their rates.  New Hampshire had the biggest month-over-month drop, falling .50% from May to 5.9%, while Nevada and Louisiana had the biggest increases, each jumping .20% in a month. 

China officially passes the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer, according to the International Energy Agency, although the US is still the world’s leader in energy consumed per capita by a considerable margin.  However, that per capita gap is expected to decrease as the Chinese economy becomes wealthier and consumers purchase more energy intensive products.

Last night, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill to hold a special election this November to fill the seat of the late Sen. Robert Byrd.  Governor Joe Manchin immediately signed the bill into law, and this morning, announced his intention to run for the seat. 

Kansas Senator Vicki Schmidt will be making a presentation about the Prescription Drug Monitoring compact at the National Conference of State Legislators Legislative Summit July 28 in Louisville, KY.  The compact, which was developed by CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, aims to allow states to share prescription drug data across state lines.  Senator Schmidt, who chaired both CSG’s advisory committee and drafting team, has been instrumental in the compact’s development.  CSG staff will also be available during the session should any questions come up about the compact. 

Download Sen. Schmidt's Power Point Presentation:  Prescription Drug Monitoring Compact

The interconnectedness of the nation’s transportation system and the needs of that system are put into sharp focus when one considers what our shipping ports and highways may look like after 2014. That’s when the $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is expected to be complete.

An article in today's Washington Post reports on the flurry of new state laws targeting human trafficking, including dozens of laws to increase criminal penalties against traffickers and provide assistance to victims. 

This week new federal rules were released that will require insurance plans to provide preventive health services without any co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. The move to ensure that prevention is without cost to the consumer comes from the federal health reform legislation passed earlier this year.

The Associated Press is reporting that West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin will appoint Carte Goodwin, his former general counsel, to the Senate seat previously held by the late Robert Byrd. 

According to a report released today by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), substance abuse treatment admissions for prescription pain relievers have increasd by 400 percent in the last decade.  

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