Capitol Comments

It isn’t encouraging when a professor from the Columbia University Law School, who specializes in redistricting, tells you that your state will almost certainly be sued when redistricting takes place across the country next year.

“You are going to get sued,” said Nathaniel Persily, the professor in question, at the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee meeting Sunday afternoon. ”That’s true. There’s going to be a lot of that.”

One of the big issues that may be generating some of the lawsuits concerns how prisoners...

Like many women, North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt was asked to run for office. And like many women her knee-jerk response was, “What do you mean, me?”

“As a woman, sometimes we have doubts, we don’t talk very nice to ourselves,” Schmidt said. Not only that, with four sons (the youngest was nine at the time), the decision to run was as much about her family as her own career.

“I had to decide and my family was going to decide,” she said.

But Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta doesn’t...

No one really knows what’s going on in Washington, but one thing is clear.

“Washington is up to its ears in politics,” Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor for PBS’ “Washington Week,” said during Sunday’s afternoon keynote address. “They’re having a hard time in policy and a harder time keeping a grip on the reality American people have asked them to keep a grip on.”

Great nations can come crashing down in just one generation—not thousands of years as conventional wisdom dictates. That’s according to David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN and professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government where he is also director of its Center for Public Leadership.

“We’re into that caution light that is blinking at us saying, ‘watch out guys, we’re in serious trouble,’” Gergen said of America’s financial standing at Sunday’s opening session at The Council of State Governments 2010...

Negative and misleading ads seem to be the norm in political campaigns these days, but they sometimes backfire, leaving voters feeling like they have to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of voting for a candidate they feel proud of supporting. How do you strike a balance in your political messaging and make sure your message is effective?

Chad Gallagher, a 2006 Toll alum and campaign adviser to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, lead a panel discussion on crafting political messages in a Sunday afternoon...

There may have been a lot of people in the room looking at all sides of health care reform through different colored glasses, but there was one central message no matter their position.

Clement Cypra, deputy vice president for State Affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), summed it up when he said, “Everybody knew that some fundamental changes had to be made and it was waiting for a political solution.”

And even though federal health care reform provided that solution—or at...

While states may be facing a tremendous challenge with the economic impact of spiraling Medicaid rolls, they can take the lead and make true changes in the cost and quality of health care.

In Saturday’s session, “Public Policymakers’ Guide to Reducing Health Care Costs,” former Michigan Medicaid Director Vernon Smith said the Great Recession has added huge numbers of people to Medicaid rolls across the country; more than 50 million people are now served by the federal-state health care program.

“Under the radar,...

If you’re taking antibiotics for a sore throat, earache or bronchitis, you might as well be taking sugar pills. That’s according to Dr. David Newman, emergency room doctor and director of clinical research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Ilya Shapiro worries about the ultimate impact of the federal health care reform law—he calls it Obamacare—Congress passed this year.

“Without exaggeration, if Obamacare, especially the individual mandate, is allowed to stand, there will be no further principled limits on federal power,” Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, said Saturday morning during the opening session of The Council of State Governments’ 2010 National Conference.

States must begin operating health insurance exchanges by Jan. 1, 2014.

But for states, “January 1, 2014, is tomorrow,” said Jason Helgerson, Medicaid director for Wisconsin and principal project sponsor for the state’s BadgerCare Plus.

States must start planning now for implementation of that portion of the federal health care reform, Helgerson and other panelists of a Saturday afternoon session focusing on “The Future Health Care Marketplace: Understanding Health Insurance Exchanges said.