Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed 11 bills into law in July that seek to address myriad facets of the state’s opioid crisis. The bills were the product of a special session held earlier in the year.
CSG Midwest
Eight years have now passed since the Great Recession rocked state finances, and since that time, state policymakers have had to settle for a modest recovery and still deal with a difficult fiscal environment. In a July presentation to state legislators, John Hicks, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, detailed just how different — and more challenging — this period has been compared to other post-recession eras.
Since 2011, year-to-year revenue growth in the states has never reached the historic annual average of 5.5 percent, and for fiscal year 2018, the nation’s governors were recommending an increase of only 1.0 percent (and just 0.17 percent in the 11-state Midwest).
“That’s a notable item eight years into a recovery, and it isn’t because we’re cutting taxes and having to balance our budget as a result,” Hicks said during his presentation at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting’s Fiscal Leaders Roundtable. Instead, this slow rise in state spending reflects a “new normal” in tax collections, the result of only moderate increases in gross domestic product and, on top of that, a gap between changes in U.S. gross domestic product and the taxes being collected by states.

CSG Midwest
Illinois has become the first state in the Midwest to offer automatic voter registration, a tool for increasing electoral participation already being tried in eight other states. SB 1933 received unanimous approval in the Illinois House and Senate. Under the measure, voters will be registered when they visit the Illinois secretary of state and other state agencies for services. Individuals will be able to opt out of the system.
CSG Midwest
One high school in North Dakota might want to launch a “technology academy” where its 12th-graders intern and earn credits toward graduation at a nearby Microsoft campus. Another school could change the way it awards credits, moving away from required “seat time” and toward a model based on students’ mastery of the subject area or on their practical learning experiences. Or perhaps some middle schools would like to create “accelerated learning environments,” where students can earn high school credits in subjects such as 
Algebra I.
Whatever the idea, if it has the potential to advance education, the North Dakota legislature wants to make sure the state’s statutes and regulations aren’t standing in the way, Sen. Nicole Poolman says.
CSG Midwest
Over the next two years, Indiana will invest an additional $20 million in a pilot initiative that provides low-income families with access to pre-kindergarten programs. First established in 2014, On My Way Pre-K currently serves nearly 2,300 students in five counties.
Additional state dollars will expand the initiative’s reach to 15 more counties. To participate, students must be 4 years old and reside in a family at or below 127 percent of the federal poverty level. (For the original five counties, the income thresholds could be loosened.) The state also will provide funding for in-home, online early-childhood education in parts of the state that lack high-quality providers.
CSG Midwest
Ohio has become the latest state in the Midwest where community colleges will have the chance to develop and provide bachelor’s degree programs for students. Under HB 49 (the state’s budget bill), these programs must be limited to applied and technical fields and be approved by Ohio’s chancellor of higher education. To get the go-ahead, a community college must show that its four-year program has buy-in from a regional industry or area businesses — for example, they agree to offer work-based learning and employment opportunities to students. In addition, the degree must meet a regional workforce need and fill a void not already met by a four-year college.

The very simple question in Artis v. District of Columbia is what does it mean for a statute of limitations to “toll” under 28 U.S.C 1367(d)? The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed a Supreme Court amicus brief agreeing with the District of Columbia’s interpretation of “toll.”

A year after the fact, Stephanie Artis sued the District of Columbia in federal court bringing a number of federal and state law claims related to her termination as a code inspector. It took the federal district court over two and a half years to rule on her claims. It dismissed her sole federal claim as “facially deficient” and no longer had jurisdiction to decide the state law claims.

In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute the Supreme Court will decide whether federal law allows states and local governments to remove people from the voter rolls if the state or local government sends them a confirmation notice after they haven’t voted for two years, they don’t respond to the notice, and then they don’t vote in the next four years.

While Ohio is being sued in this case twelve other states use a similar process. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting Ohio.

Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) has quadrupled, accounting for six out of every 10 drug overdose deaths. Current estimates show that 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC1.

In July the Department of Justice (DOJ) added two new requirements for states and local governments to receive federal Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) for law enforcement funding. Chicago, San Francisco, and California have filed lawsuits against Attorney General Jeff Sessions arguing that these new requirements are unlawful. Chicago argues that another requirement added earlier is unlawful as well.    

Congress created Byrne JAG in 2005 to provide “flexible” funding for state and local police departments. In April 2017 DOJ required Chicago (and eight other jurisdictions) to provide documentation that it complies with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which prohibits states and local governments from restricting employees from sharing immigration status information with federal immigration officials.

In July 2017 DOJ added a “notice” and an “access” requirement to receive Byrne JAG funds. Recipients must now (1) provide 48 hours advance notice to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding the scheduled release of “aliens” and (2) allow access to correctional or detention facilities to meet with “aliens” and inquire about their right to be in the United States.

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