Capitol Comments

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voters between the ages of 18-24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups since 1964. Consequently, states are enacting statutes allowing for persons under the legal voting age of 18 to pre-register to vote.

In Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman the Supreme Court held unanimously that a New York statute prohibiting vendors from advertising a single price and a statement that credit card customers must pay more regulates speech under the First Amendment. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus ...

While President Trump’s executive order (EO) on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth merely calls for the “review” of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), it has been widely viewed as the President’s first step to dismantle President Obama’s signature climate change measure. The EO goes on to say after review the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules.”

Per the CPP by 2030 carbon pollution from the power sector is supposed to be 32 percent below 2005 levels. State-by-state targets are to be accomplished by increased production of renewable energy.

With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) back in the news, the important trade relationship between Canada, Mexico and the states is in the spotlight. For 30 out of the 50 States, Canada or Mexico rank as the first or second largest export market. Here are some quick stats about state exports to these two trading partners and the jobs that rely on that trade relationship.

In a 5-3 decision in a capital case the Supreme Court rejected a Texas court’s reliance on a 1992 definition of intellectual disability and the use of a number of factors as indicators of intellectual disability which the Court described an “invention…untied to any acknowledged source.”

In Atkins v. Virginia (1992) the Supreme Court held that executing the intellectually disabled violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Court tasked states with implementing Atkins.

Generally, to be intellectually disabled for purposes of the death penalty a person must have an IQ of 70 or less (adjusted plus or minus five for the standard error of measurement) and “adaptive deficiencies” (an inability to learn basic skills and adjust behavior to changing circumstances) onset as a minor.

This month, Kentucky became the 44th state to authorize charter schools, which are publicly funded schools that are operated by non-governmental entities. Will there be a 45th state to join the ranks of those with a charter school law any time soon? Possibly.

CSG Midwest
Within a month of President Donald Trump’s taking office, he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met for a White House visit in which they jointly agreed to strengthen cooperation on a range of issues, from regulatory reform and cooperation, to border efficiency and security. 
“It was important for building a foundation,” Stephen Brereton, Canada’s consul general in Chicago, says of this early meeting of the two federal leaders, “and the government ministers will move much of this forward.” 
In part, the February summit between Trudeau and Trump simply reaffirmed a commitment to some ongoing initiatives between Canada and the United States — for example, giving preclearance to cross the border for people who meet certain requirements and better integrating cross-border law enforcement.
CSG Midwest
The majority of Midwestern states determine farm property taxes through a system that assesses the land based on “use value” — how much income it can generate from agricultural production. One of the few exceptions is Nebraska, where a percentage of the land’s actual market value (currently set at 75 percent in statute) is used to determine what a farmer or rancher will pay in taxes. 
With the value of agricultural land rising rapidly in recent years (see table), Nebraska’s agricultural producers have faced big increases in their tax bills, and over the past two years alone, the state’s legislators have intervened by putting more than $400 million into a Property Tax Credit Relief Fund, which for 2016 will provide $89.57 per $100,000 of property valuation. Beginning in tax year 2017, LB 958 provides $20 million in additional funding for property tax relief. 
This legislative year, Sen. Lydia Brasch hopes she and other Nebraska legislators are able to find a more permanent solution. 
CSG Midwest
Federal laws and regulations on the environment often serve only as a “floor,” with states having the leeway to enact tougher rules or statutes of their own. However, some state legislatures and governors have adopted measures (either state laws or executive orders) designed to rein in the actions of their own environmental agencies. Most recently, in February, Indiana’s HB 1082 became law. It applies to any Department of Environmental Management rule that is “more stringent than a restriction or requirement imposed under federal law” or “applies in a subject area in which federal law does not impose a restriction or requirement.”
CSG Midwest
From demonstrations trying to stop proposed pipelines to rallies denouncing deadly police encounters with civilians, the number of protests in the Midwest has been unusually high over the past year. The region’s legislators have taken notice, revisiting their states’ laws on criminal trespassing, loitering, picketing, blocking roadways and disorderly conduct. As of early March, protest-related legislation had been introduced in 2017 in at least five of the region’s 11 states. North Dakota and South Dakota were the first two Midwestern states where those bills became law.

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