Capitol Comments

A new report looking at the experiences of five states (CT, MI, MA, NC, WA) as they move through the early period of implementation of federal health reform legislation finds significant hurdles due to political uncertainties and staffing challenges. Anticipating that states will require information and assistance to meet the implementation requirements and timelines of the Affordable Care Act, CSG plans a full day of sessions on health reform during the 2010 Annual Conference in Providence, RI, on December 3-6.

“Armageddon on Colorado ballots” proclaimed the colorful headline of a Denver Post editorial this week. The doomsday concern is in reference to three ballot measures Colorado voters will consider this November that may be reflective of the anti-tax, anti-spending, anti-borrowing, anti-big government sentiments among the electorate this fall but that could go a long way in determining whether the state has any money in the future to do important things like build and maintain roads.

No sooner was the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010, sponsored by Sens. Bingaman (D- NM) and Brownback (R- KS), introduced in the Senate last week than it was dismissed as being unlikely to proceed by one of its key sponsors.

This month’s Government Accountability Office update on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has 284 pages worth of fodder for both fans and foes of the legislation. But while it has been the speed with which states have spent Recovery Act highway dollars and the overall job creation numbers to date that have gotten most of the attention, it’s a couple of other findings in the report that should also prompt concern.

More evidence this week that renewed investment in the nation’s transportation system is needed--and soon: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released their first-ever Transportation Performance Index, which shows that the performance of the system is not keeping pace with the rate of growth of demands on it. Meanwhile, two states got very different kinds of news about the challenges they face in upgrading that system.

Crady deGolian, Senior Policy Analyst with CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts (NCIC) and Rick Masters, special counsel to NCIC, participated in the Prescription Drug Abuse Forum hosted by the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.  The meeting, which was co-chaired Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05), Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), and Congressman Bill Delahunt (MA-10) provided an opportunity for subject matter experts to brief members of Congress and legislative staffers about the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse and steps that are being taken to combat the problem.  

Inmates in correctional facilities have higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections than the general population. State and local corrections, public health and community-based programs are helping inmates get tested and obtain treatment for HIV and other infections.  Five southern states have higher rates than the national average of inmates living with HIV infections. 

New Kaiser Family Foundation annimated film explains major provisions of the health reform bill in less than 10 minutes.

A newly released report from The Lumina Foundation for Education concludes that more people understand our higher education system must increase its capacity to serve more students, and that improving higher education productivity is essential to accomplishing this.

The recent pipeline explosion in Northern California that killed 4 and left dozens of homes in ruins has raised concern about the safety of our nation’s natural gas pipeline system and questions about how the industry can be better regulated to prevent future catastrophes.

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