Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
State constitutions were changed and policies on issues ranging from medical marijuana to the death penalty were decided on by voters across the Midwest this November.
In all, 20 ballot proposals were voted on in seven states in the region. Here is a review of some of the proposals that won voter approval.
CSG Midwest
With the pending shift in partisan control of the Iowa and Minnesota senates to the Republican Party, nearly every legislature and governor’s office in the 11-state Midwest will be led by the GOP over the next two years.
Power will be divided among the parties in only two of the region’s states: Illinois, Republican governor and Democratic legislature; and Minnesota, Democratic governor and Republican legislature. (Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature is nonpartisan.)
CSG Midwest
Between 2003 and 2009, a string of high-profile foodborne illnesses hit consumers across the United  States. There were salmonella outbreaks from produce, hepatitis A infections from raw or undercooked green onions, and cases of pet foods contaminated with melamine. And nine people died and more than 700 got sick from eating salmonella-tainted peanut butter traced back to a single processing plant in Georgia.
In the wake of these deaths and illnesses, federal food-safety legislation that had been many decades in the making finally got signed into law.
CSG Midwest
Ridership on seven of nine state-supported Amtrak routes in the Midwest has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 10 fiscal years, but has dropped during the last five — a situation that state officials attribute at least in part to construction projects that aim to increase ridership and improve travel times over the long term.
Total ridership on the routes grew 42 percent from fiscal years 2006 to 2016 (up to a total of 2,705,848 passengers), but dropped 8 percent from FY 2011 to FY 2016.

This year marks a major milestone for the planet’s climate. 2016 is on track to be the hottest year on record and last month carbon dioxide levels passed the 400 parts per million threshold, at a time when atmospheric carbon is traditionally at its lowest concentration. Scientists project that we will not see carbon dioxide fall below 400 parts per million again in our lifetimes. The continued warming of the planet has already caused changes such as loss of sea ice, sea level rise, and more powerful heat waves. What is the fate of the Clean Power Plan under the a Trump Administration and how does this affect states?

Seema Verma, a health policy consultant from Indiana, has been picked by President-elect Donald J. Trump to direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services according to Politico.

The first case of local transmission of the Zika virus outside of Florida has been reported in Brownsville, Texas.

A Texas federal district court issued a nationwide injunction preventing new overtime rules from going into effect. These rules would have made it more likely states and local governments would have had to pay more employees overtime.

Twenty-one states and a number of business organizations sued the Department of Labor. The rules were to go into effect on December 1, 2016.

Today the U.S. Department of Education (Department) issued final regulations to implement provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regarding school accountability, data reporting, and state plans. The regulations incorporate the feedback from state leaders from The Council of State Governments (CSG) that the Department received through the public comment process.  The Department stated that the public feeedback is incorporated, while maintaining the focus on providing states with new flexibility to ensure that every child...

A record number of ballot initiatives regarding recreational and medicinal marijuana were considered during this election season. Five states (Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) considered legalizing recreational marijuana and four states (Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota) voted on allowing or extending the use of medicinal marijuana.

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