Capitol Comments

This morning the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to chief state school officers on matters concerning the implementation of The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The letter specifically addresses the implementation timeline, school improvement requirements for the 2017-2018 school year, and stakeholder consultation requirements that apply to consolidated state plans.

The Kansas Legislature’s attempt to join the ranks of the 31 states and the District of Columbia that have already expanded their Medicaid programs came to a halt during the first week of April. The Kansas House voted narrowly to uphold Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill to expand Medicaid. The vote fell three votes short of the necessary super majority required to override the veto.

In a 7-1 decision in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections the Supreme Court rejected the notions that race predominates in redistricting only when there is an actual conflict between traditional redistricting criteria and race and that the predominance analysis should apply only to new district lines that appear to deviate from traditional redistricting criteria.

Regarding District 75, where the lower court determined race did predominate, the Supreme Court agreed the State’s use of race was narrowly tailored because it had “good reasons to believe” that a target of a 55% black voting-age population (BVAP) was necessary to avoid diminishing the ability of black voters to elect their preferred candidate.

If state legislatures don’t create an exception to their “no-impeachment” rules for jurors who make racially biased statements courts will read such an exception into their rules of evidence following the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado. At least 16 states already have adopted such an exception.  

Most states, including Colorado, and the federal government have a “no-impeachment” rule which prevents jurors from testifying after a verdict about what happened during deliberations with limited exceptions that do not include that a juror expressed racial bias. The rationale behind no-impeachment rules is to decrease the chances of juror being harassed post-verdict and to encourage jurors to “engage in searching and candid deliberations.”

The Seventh Circuit has become the first federal circuit court of appeals to rule that employees may bring sexual orientation discrimination claims under Title VII. This case directly affects state and local governments in their capacity as employers in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate on the basis of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Kimberly Hively is openly lesbian. She sued Ivy Tech Community College where she taught as a part-time, adjunct professor. She applied for at least six full-time positions between 2009 and 2014, didn’t receive any of them, and in July 2014 her part-time contract was not renewed. She believes her sexual orientation is the reason.  

CSG Midwest
On March 10, Ohio became the first Midwestern state (and the second overall, behind New Jersey) to begin providing a safe place for newborns to sleep by offering “baby boxes” to all new parents.
CSG Midwest
State policymakers are increasingly realizing that beyond the importance of early childhood development lies its foundation, a healthy birth outcome for parents and their newborns.
CSG Midwest
With the passage of a new law, Illinois has made it easier for educators with an out-of-state license to teach in the state.
CSG Midwest
Brownfields — former industrial and commercial sites that have been abandoned and are contaminated by pollutants or other hazardous materials — are among the hardest sites to redevelop for other business or residential purposes.

The Trump administration announced a preliminary 2018 budget proposal that included elimination of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Funds from this program are allocated to states and national grantees in states to employ low-income senior citizens. SCSEP funds 43,600 positions nationwide at a cost of $9,698 per position.

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