Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
With its 1,800 dairy farms across the state, Michigan produces a lot of milk (fifth among U.S. states), but even with all of this economic activity, Michigan Sen. Mike Green sees the potential for more. How much additional sales and revenue could be generated, for example, by adding greater value to Michigan’s homegrown milk — by diversifying or expanding the state’s dairy sector so that more buttermilk powder is being made or condensed milk is being produced for ice cream and baked goods?
The state’s new budget reflects this vision of adding more value to Michigan’s agriculture products. It includes a $4.7 million grant program for mid-sized food and agriculture processing facilities. 
CSG Midwest
Ohio has become the latest state in the Midwest to change its constitution with a goal of improving the rights of crime victims.
CSG Midwest
Minnesota has secured federal approval for its $542 million reinsurance program, which was created earlier this year via legislation (HF 5) and has been credited by officials with lowering premiums on the state’s health insurance exchange by 20 percent.
CSG Midwest
State law sets forth X, but some municipal ordinances set forth X+1 or 2. Or some, but not all municipalities in a given state, regulate smoking, bagging materials, minimum wages or myriad other measures. Which layer of law prevails? Which should?
CSG Midwest
According to the Urban Institute (which tracks state laws on body cameras), all states in the Midwest exempt body camera footage from Freedom of Information Act requests. And over the past three years, legislatures in at least seven Midwestern states — IllinoisIndianaKansasMichiganMinnesotaNebraska and North Dakota — have passed laws that set guidelines on police use of body cameras and/or public access to the recordings.
CSG Midwest
An extensive new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Medicaid Moving Ahead in Uncertain Times: Results from a 50-State Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018,” provides an overview of states’ approaches to eligibility, premiums and managed care initiatives, emerging delivery system and payment reforms, long-term services and support reform, and provider rates and taxes.
CSG Midwest
In states such as Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota, much of this year’s legislative work centered on adjusting to new budget realities — slower-than-expected revenue growth and the need to close budget shortfalls. For lawmakers in Illinois and Kansas, the highest-profile issues involved changes in school funding and increases in the income tax. And across the Midwest in 2017, including in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, many new laws were passed with the hope of stemming a public health crisis related to opioid addiction and overdoses.
Here is a state-by-state review of some of the big issues and new laws that arose out of this year’s legislative sessions.

In April a federal district court issued a nationwide preliminary injunction preventing the Trump administration from enforcing the sanctuary jurisdictions portion of the Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States executive order (EO). The same court has made that injunction permanent. 

Section 9 of the EO says that jurisdictions that refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 are ineligible to receive federal grants. On its face Section 1373 prohibits local governments from restricting employee communication of immigration status information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Congress created the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) in 2005 to provide “flexible” funding for state and local police departments. In April 2017 the Department of Justice (DOJ) required Philadelphia (and eight other jurisdictions) to provide documentation that it complies with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which prohibits states and local governments from restricting employees from sharing immigration status information with federal immigration officials.

Philadelphia sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions arguing that the City complies with 8 U.S.C. 1373. A federal district court in Philadelphia agreed and issued a preliminary injunction preventing Sessions from denying the City Byrne JAG grant funding.

Among other things, Sessions objected to a Philadelphia policy of not responding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) civil immigration detainer requests asking the City to hold an arrested, undocumented person until ICE can pick them up, unless the request is accompanied by a judicial warrant.

energy and environment

It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands when it landed as a Category 4 storm. The disaster has so far resulted in at least 52 fatalities on the islands and the damage total has been estimated to be in the tens of billions. In response, FEMA has deployed more than 15,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members to conduct disaster relief operations. The states are also stepping up to provide assistance with 34 responding to requests for mutual aid in Puerto Rico and 22 supporting requests for mutual aid in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite the continuing response efforts, the islands combined 3.5 million people are still facing challenges to regain basic services.

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