Capitol Comments

Issue: After years of saying they were still years away, autonomous vehicles and other technologies are here—or nearly here (at least to some degree). Uber has a fleet of autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh. Uber’s self-driving truck company, Otto, recently delivered a truck full of beer in Colorado. So now the question becomes how will state governments respond and how will they need to respond? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued guidelines last summer for states to consider in drafting autonomous vehicle legislation. But in trying to encourage the development of these technologies and perhaps reap an economic windfall, states will need to guard against doing more harm than good through legislation and regulation.

Issue: During the campaign, Donald Trump called for a $1 trillion package to invest in the nation’s infrastructure. But the devil likely will be in the details for both Republicans and Democrats when it comes to funding the plan and deciding what to fund. Beyond any one-time infrastructure investment in 2017 though, will Congress be able to hit the ground running so they can be ready when it comes time to reauthorize the FAST Act transportation authorization bill in 2020?

The Supreme Court issued a unanimous per curiam (unauthored) opinion overturning a lower court’s denial of qualified immunity to a police officer in an excessive force case. White v. Pauly was decided without oral argument.

A new study from the Commonwealth Fund finds that repeal of two major federal spending provisions of the Affordable Care Act, insurance premium tax credits and the expansion of Medicaid, would ultimately lead to the loss of 2.6 million jobs in 2019. The data, generated by researchers at George Washington, breaks down the impact of repeal for each state. California would lose the most jobs, 334,000 their multistate economic forecasting model suggests, and Wyoming the least with 4,000 jobs lost.

Issue: The 2016 election saw the passage of ballot measures to enable new transit investments in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle. But in Washington, D.C. and other cities, years of neglect of transit systems are burdening public officials with funding, safety and service challenges. Meanwhile, ride-hailing services are continuing to evolve to fill increasingly essential roles. As governments look to provide and enable all these mobility options, how do they ensure that successful communities are built around transit, that housing remains affordable and that those communities work for all their residents?

Issue: State transportation funding efforts could be back in the spotlight in 2017. The list of those that could tackle transportation revenues includes as many as 16 states. Some have been at this for several years and haven’t achieved success due to political challenges. Some have had a task force or special commission in place in 2016 to come up with funding ideas. Plenty of old ideas (gas taxes, registration fees, tolls) are likely to be considered. But mileage-based user fees and other innovations are likely to get a look as well.

A new study out of Michigan concludes that the state’s Medicaid expansion is to the state’s financial advantage.

When the legislature approved the expansion in 2013, it required that Michigan achieve other health care savings and revenue to offset the state match required starting Jan. 1, 2017 – or the state would reverse its expansion.

Updated to include updated dial-in information:

CSG Midwest
Lost in the din of Kansas’ recent budget woes, an innovative mechanism is quietly funding dozens of early-childhood education and wellness programs across the state. The Children’s Initiatives Fund, Kansas Endowment for Youth and the state’s Children’s Cabinet were created in 1999 to support programs promoting the health and welfare of Kansas children using the state’s share of the national tobacco Master Settlement Fund.
CSG Midwest
An informal group of 20 to 24 lawmakers in Wisconsin will concentrate its efforts in 2017 on proposals to boost the state’s supply of rural health care workers and services. The Rural Wisconsin Initiative unveiled its legislative agenda during the latter part of 2016.

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