Capitol Comments

While 2017 is considered an off-year in most state election cycles, Election Day this year still will find transportation on the ballot in a variety of ways. From two key gubernatorial contests to state and local ballot measures, here’s a preview of what to look for on November 7 as well as updates on a few transportation-related matters already decided by voters.

With insurance coverage for 8.9 million children hanging in the balance, states have been anxiously waiting to find out if federal funding will be extended for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. In early October, bills have passed out of committee in both the House and Senate to extend federal funding through 2022 for CHIP and other related programs. Both bills would extend CHIP funding and maintain the 23-percentage-point increase in the enhanced federal matching rate through FY 2019.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, states that 53.4 percent of post-secondary undergraduate students financed at least part of their education through federal loans in 2011-12, an increase from 34.4 percent in 2003-041. While the NCES’s data does not account for private loans, which would further raise this percentage, it already brings to concern the effect that increased educational borrowing will have on repayment rates and future personal financial indicators, such as credit scores.

By Maria Cristina Castro and Leslie Haymon

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs met on October 12 to discuss draft legislation that would reassess and potentially close Veterans Health Administration facilities. The Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Act of 2017 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, to review its assets and infrastructure, like hospitals and clinics, and establish a...

By Ana Beatriz Goncalves and Leslie Haymon

Severe wildfires in northern California have leveled homes and killed residents, while other fires continue to rage across several other Western states. As the recovery and rebuilding begin, Congress continues to examine the best way to prevent and mitigate wildfires in the West. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works met on September 27 to consider three wildfire related pieces of legislation...

CSG Midwest
It seems a recipe for health care disaster: Combine population growth with an aging population, add expanded health insurance coverage, and … hope for the best? The growing need for health care workers of all disciplines is well recognized. Midwestern states have already moved to address the growing crisis with recruitment and retention strategies, as well as by redefining professionals’ scopes of work and expanding the use of new applications of technology such as telehealth.
CSG Midwest
A year after a report showed the extent to which the state’s expungement policies have failed juveniles with criminal records, Illinois lawmakers simplified the process for young people and also strengthened confidentiality protections.
CSG Midwest
A disagreement in Minnesota over tax and budget issues this spring led to a surprising action — a line-item veto by Gov. Mark Dayton of the $130 million appropriation for the House and Senate.

For a while it seemed certain the Supreme Court would rule on the legality of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). With new regulations proposed to rescind the CPP, Supreme Court review seems less and less likely.  

If there was ever any doubt that President Trump’s March 28 executive order (EO) Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, which called for the “suspending, revising, or rescinding,” of the CPP would not ultimately lead to the repeal of the CPP, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule states directly that it will.

CSG Midwest
Every Midwestern state requires drivers to have auto liability insurance. The rate that individuals pay for this insurance is based on a host of factors — some connected to their driving habits and history, others unrelated. For example, some states may have higher-than-average litigation or medical care costs; their residents pay higher premiums as a result, the Insurance Information Institute notes.
Within a state, too, premiums can vary considerably from one driver to the next. That is because, in setting rates, auto insurers use a mix of “driving factors” and “non-driving factors.” The former includes an individual’s driving record, the type of car being insured and the number of miles driven; the latter includes age, gender, marital status, credit history and where the driver lives.

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