Capitol Comments

IndyStar.com reported today that Indiana University employees must "stop smoking and control risk factors such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels or face higher health insurance premiums" up to about $1900 per year.

The future of transportation was very much on the minds of participants at the annual meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference held earlier this month in Charleston, South Carolina. The role of transportation in economic development, the status of a new federal highway bill, state funding of infrastructure improvements and efforts to prepare southern ports for the expansion of the Panama Canal all received attention from various speakers over the course of the five-day meeting. Here is just some of what I heard on those topics.

Last week, I, along with members of CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, participated in a meeting hosted by the office of Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Philip Moeller and co-chaired by Rep. Tom Sloan (KS) and Rep. Kim Koppelman (ND).  The meeting explored the potential for interstate compacts to facilitate transmission line siting across state boundaries.

Following a vote in the Senate today to advance a state aid package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced through Twitter that the House would reconvene next week to consider the legislation.

The Senate cloture vote on extending the enhanced Medicaid match passed 61-38 today, August 4, with Maine Senators Collins and Snowe voting with the Democrats.

On Monday, August 2, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced to put on hold the vote for the extension of the enhanced Medicaid match for the period January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011.

A survey released today by AAA and Seventeen magazine reports that nearly nine in ten teenage drivers have engaged in distracted-driving behaviors - such as texting and talking on cell phones, adjusting radios, driving with four or more passengers, and applying makeup - even though they know that their actions increase their risk of an accident.

In tight finacial times for the states, many have had to rely on late payments on contracts, and more specifically late on payments to nonprofits for services rendered to the public.  Several states are in violation of their own prompt pay laws or have passed emergency spending bills to pay on overdue invoices .  But how significant is the issue? One state's comptroller dug a little further to find out.

With states facing budget deficits, several are finding a new way to save the tax payers a few more dollars - by limiting the pay of nonprofit CEOs that are contracted to provide services.

As President Obama welcomed activists from across the country to the White House to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), similar scenes played out in state capitols across the country with governors and state legislative leaders marking this important anniversary. However, for the 54 million Americans living with a disability, the future of the programs and services they depend on to live, learn, and earn is deeply tied to a host of tough budget choices and Byzantine program requirements faced by policymakers in the state house as well as the White House.

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