Capitol Comments

The first half of January has already been full of news about federal transportation spending and how things may be different under new House leadership in the nation’s capital. The discussion continues about the potential impact of new House rules on the Highway Trust Fund and what a ban on earmarks may mean for transportation spending. Meanwhile, it appears there may be some movement afoot to tackle new legislation reauthorizing federal transportation programs this year.

Legislative auditors in West Virginia recently endorsed the Prescription Monitoring Program Compact developed by CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts.  The auditors recommended to the state legislature that interstate prescription drug data exchange was essential to eventually reducing the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.  The compact allows states to securely share prescription drug data while also protecting patient privacy.  To read more about the scope of the problem in West Virginia please click here.  To learn more about the compact please click here or contact Crady deGolian at 859-244-8068 or by e-mail at cdegolian@csg.org.

Today's Lexington Herald-Leader has an article about the new National Racing Compact that would create uniformity in the rules and regulations governing horse racing.  CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts served as a consultant during the drafting phase of the compact.  To read the full article and learn more about the compact please click here.

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported 33 governors and governors-elect sent a letter pressing the Obama administration to ease restrictions on cutting Medicaid enrollment. Under provisions of the federal health reform act, and the federal stimulus before that, states are held to “maintenance of effort” and are not allowed to roll back income eligibility levels for Medicaid.

As Congress and state legislatures convene this month, the debate over how to fund transportation in this country resumes. Stoking the fire this week is a U.S. House of Representatives rules change that could result in reduced federal transportation spending and a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group that assesses the claim by highway advocates that roads “pay for themselves” with gas taxes and other charges to motorists.

KY State Senator Damon Thayer has prefiled a bill that would allow Kentucky to join the newly drafted National Racing Compact.  The compact, which was drafted by Racing Commissioners International, with consultation from CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts, aims to create uniform rules and regulations for the horse racing industry.  Other states, including DE, IN, NJ, NY and VA are also expected to consider the compact during the upcoming session.  To track the bill's progress in KY please click here

The Tucson Unified School District has run afoul of a new Arizona state law that bans public schools from offering courses that are designed for a particular ethnic group, according to the state’s outgoing superintendent of public instruction.

Utah targets life science industry to help retool the state economy for the 21st Century. 

As a former social studies teacher who spent seven years in the classroom, I was fortunate never to face an explosive situation. I was never threatened by a student or parent. I never witnessed a student fight that I wasn’t able to deflate. I suspect that’s more than many teachers with similar experience can say. I feel a sense of relief that I never encountered the kind of personal threats that I have recently read about on an all-too regular basis in news articles.

The U.S. Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as “Any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.”

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