Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
As lawmakers seek to cope with a rising tide of gun violence while preventing accidental firearm-related injuries and deaths, Ohio could become the next Midwestern state to focus on keeping guns out of the hands of kids — that is if a measure currently pending in the state Senate should advance.
In a roundtable discussion during the July meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, Ohio Sen. Vernon Sykes described the proposed Child Gun Safety Act (SB 279), which he and Sen. Charleta Tavares jointly introduced earlier this year.
CSG Midwest
Myriad signs point to the need for better connecting farmers to services that help them deal with stress, depression and other mental health challenges. First, there is the history of the problem: In a study examining various industries between 1992 and 2010, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that farm operators and workers had the highest suicide rate.
Second, many rural U.S. communities struggle with shortages of mental health professionals: 65 percent don’t have a psychiatrist and 47 percent lack a psychologist, according to a 2018 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Third, many of today’s agricultural producers are dealing with high levels of stress, due to factors such as low commodity prices and decreased farm incomes.

When public schools fail to achieve minimum requirements on educational targets for long periods of time, policymakers are often called into action. Several states have proposed amendments to their state’s constitution allowing the state to step in and oversee underperforming schools and districts. While this step seems logical, the results have not reinforced the notion that state takeovers are the best possible solution.

New Jersey became the first state to take control of a school district in 1989. Currently, there are...

In Knick v. Township of Scott the Supreme Court will decide whether to overturn Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985). In that case the Court held that before a takings claim may be brought in federal court, landowners must comply with state law procedures and remedies enacted to provide just compensation. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief urges the Court to keep Williamson County.

The Township of Scott adopted an ordinance requiring cemeteries, whether public or private, to be free and open and accessible to the public during the day. Code enforcement could enter any property to determine the “existence and location” of a cemetery.

States are increasingly pursuing new streams of revenue to effectively operate and minimize debt. Some states have established or are pursuing a “millionaire’s tax” to minimize budget shortfalls and increase state revenue. The tax is primarily an income tax. California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have all established a such a tax. Massachusetts chose to not enact their version of the millionaire’s tax. In Arizona, a ballot measure is up for approval. Every state’s tax structure is different, but it boils down to taxing an individual which makes upward of $250,000 or more.

A growing number of states are shortening the leash on fake service animals. At present, approximately 20 states have enacted laws aimed at deterring individuals from fraudulently misrepresenting their pets as service animals. These laws are in addition to those that exist to deter harassment of or...

The first seven months of 2018 have been a time of significant transition for the nation’s largest ride-hailing companies, Lyft and Uber. With new acquisitions, the companies are re-writing their corporate stories and seeking a future as not just tech-enabled taxi services but full-service, multimodal mobility providers. Meanwhile, policymakers around the country are exploring how to address the impacts of ride-hailing on cities, public transit, the ride-hailing workforce, the economy, the taxi industry, equity of access to transportation and other areas. Here’s a look at what’s happening with ride-hailing in a number of states, along with a collection of links to articles on recent industry developments and the latest research on ride-hailing’s impacts and policy implications.

Climate Adaptation

The Trump administration is preparing to issue a proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks at 2020 levels through at least 2025 and challenge the right of California and other states to set their own tailpipe standards. Not only will this amount to one of the biggest regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration but it could have far-reaching consequences on a wide variety...

As of the end of July, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retired. For many state and local governments he will be forever remembered as the justice who championed allowing online sales tax collection.
In March 2015, Kennedy wrote that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill,” which held that businesses without a physical presence in the state did not have to collect sales tax. In his last majority opinion on the bench, South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Supreme Court overturned Quill.

As of the end of July, Justice Anthony Kennedy is retired. For states and local governments he will be forever remembered as the Justice who championed allowing online sales tax collection.

In March 2015, Justice Kennedy wrote that the “legal system should find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill,” which held that businesses without a physical presence in the state did not have to collect sales tax. In his last majority opinion on the bench, South Dakota v. Wayfair, the Supreme Court overturned Quill.

Justice Kennedy was a pivotal Justice for most of his thirty year tenure on the Supreme Court. He often provided the Court’s crucial fifth vote on hot-button national issues. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Justice Kennedy blazed a middle path, writing part of the opinion that moved the Court slightly to the right while declining to overrule Roe v. Wade. In LGBTQ cases Justice Kennedy played a much more progressive role, writing for the majority to strike down a law allowing for same-sex discrimination and eventually striking down gay marriage bans in Obergefell v. Hodges.

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