Capitol Comments

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.  

A new national strategy to combat HIV/AIDS released this week refocuses current efforts by several federal agencies, integrates Affordable Care Act programs, and provides targeted funding for community organizations.  

The National Center for Interstate Compacts, in conjunction with CSG’s Energy and Environment Task Force, will be convening two advisory committee meetings to explore the possibility of an interstate compact to govern interstate transmission line siting.  The first meeting of the advisory panel,  which will be comprised of state and federal officials, subject matter experts, interested stakeholders, and compact experts, will be hosted by Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Moeller’s Office July 29 and 30 at FERC headquarters in Washington, DC.  The meeting will be co-chaired by Representative Tom Sloan of Kansas and Representative Kim Koppelman of North Dakota.  For more information about the effort and about the National Center for Interstate Compacts please click here

In case you missed it, two news items in recent weeks may demonstrate the increasing desperation of state governments in trying to pay for transportation improvements.

The National Juvenile Justice Network, a coalition of juvenile justice advocates, has released a new report with recommendations for cost-effective strategies to improve juvenile justice systems in cash-strapped states.

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