Capitol Comments

Three federal district judges have ruled on the constitutionality of the federal health reform law’s requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance beginning in 2014 or face a tax penalty. The first two found the law constitutional, but on December 13, 2010, Judge Henry Hudson of federal District Court in Richmond found the “individual mandate” unconstitutional. He declined to grant an injunction – which was requested by the state of Virginia – to block the government’s implementation of the law. 

The 2011 Suggested State Legislation "Embryo Adoption" defines embryos and establishes criteria for legal custodianship of embryos.

Meeting Minutes - Docket 32A, CSG Committee on Suggested State Legislation - The CSG Committee on Suggested State Legislation convened Saturday, December 3, 2010 and December 6, 2010 to consider 101 bills on the first docket in the 2012 SSL cycle. Notable topics addressed by legislation on this docket include biobased products, geothermal energy, using computers to purchase large blocks of event tickets, harassing people online, enhanced foster care, nursing care indicators, and health benefit exchanges. The committee voted to include 31 bills in the 2012 Suggested State Legislation volume. It deferred 2 bills for further consideration, and it rejected the remaining 68 bills. Council staff hope to publish the 31 bills on line in Part I of the 2012 Suggested State Legislation volume by March 2011. The committee will meet next in March 2011 at the 2011 CSG Summit. February 1, 2011 is the deadline to submit bills to that docket. 

Communicating with doctors and emergency personnel can be hard for anyone, but especially when patients or their families don't speak English. The draft "Medical Interpreter Act" in the 2011 Suggested State Legislation volume could help improve such communication.  

Hawaii moves toward sustainable energy.

Hawaii is the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation. The Clean Energy Initiative is a partnership and strategy between the U.S. Department of Energy and the state to transform Hawaii into a model for achieving energy independence and sustainability.

Washington prisons go "green."

This Washington initiative is a partnership between the state Department of Corrections and Evergreen State College to make prison facilities environmentally sustainable and train inmates for jobs in that field. The project currently operates in 4 state prisons. Participants include correctional officers and administrators, inmates, Evergreen faculty and students, visiting scientists, and organizations such as The Nature Conservancy.

Kentucky sets up a unique mechanism to promote using energy efficiently in public buildings. The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet established a "Green Bank" to makes loans of $50,000 or more to state agencies to help pay for projects to make state buildings more energy efficient.

Pennsylvania quantifies state export efforts. 

Pennsylvania’s Performance Metrics Regimen for State Export Promotion Programs: Given today’s global economy, the need to quantify state export assistance to businesses is vital, and particularly to a state that generates more than $300 million in export sales each year. The Pennsylvania Center for Trade Development developed this system to set performance standards for its field offices and to clearly illustrate the return on the state’s investment in its export assistance program.

A special court helps crime victims collect restitution. 

During the Council of State Governments' National Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, the CSG Transportation Policy Task Force hosted a roundtable discussion on December 5th looking at the impact of the 2010 election and what’s ahead for transportation in 2011. Here is a summary of what transpired.

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