Capitol Comments

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.

This week the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a survey that indicated that local governments would be forced to slash over 500,000 jobs if Congress does not pass a $75 billion local jobs bill. 

Last week I had the pleasure to speak at a conference on sustainable transportation hosted by the organization Women in Government in Newport, Rhode Island. Thirty-two state legislators representing 20 states attended the forum and heard from a number of distinguished experts on such topics as federal and state transportation funding, complete streets programs, commuter transportation, community design and integrating transportation networks to improve mobility and spur economic development. Here’s a rundown of what participants heard at the conference along with some links to resources that may be useful in setting your state’s sustainable transportation goals.

In a recent Capitol Facts & Figures on women in state government, I noted that 27 states had never had a female governor.  This is guaranteed to change, as both New Mexico and Oklahoma have two women facing off against each other in this year's gubernatorial election, something that has happened only two other times.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have emerged as finalists for more than $3 billion in funding in Phase Two of Race to the Top. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the 19 finalists during a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday.

An overriding question concerning adoption of common core state standards has apparently been answered by an education think tank. One recurring question many policymakers have asked has been whether common core state standards, which would create uniform standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, would be superior to existing state standards.

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