Capitol Comments

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Seven years later, 43 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions.

According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, which tracks new business creation across the U.S., Montana had the highest entrepreneurship rate in 2013 with 610 per 100,000 adults creating businesses each month during the year. Montana is followed by Alaska (470 per 100,000 adults), South Dakota (410 per 100,000 adults), California (400 per 100,000 adults) and Colorado (380 per 100,...

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released its latest Elections Performance Index, or EPI, which now includes an interactive tool that allows states to compare their election administration performance to one another and across similar elections. The annual Pew study measures election administration by evaluting indicators like wait times at polling locations and voter turnout. The report found that, between 2008 and 2012, state election performance overall improved by 4.4 percentage points, and 40 states plus DC improved their score over the same time frame. 

According to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG), Indiana ranks first among states when it comes to  making public spending information available online. Rankings from the group's fifth annual report, “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, are based on an inventory of the content and ease-of-use of states' transparency websites. The report notes that last year was the first time that all 50 states operated websites to make information on state spending accessible to the public.

State policymakers are flooded with data, from big picture economic trends to how many people in their state signed up for health insurance last week. When new data comes out, it is entirely possible that one analyst will say the sky is falling while another will brush the news aside as inconsequential. It can be hard to know what numbers to trust and what those numbers really mean. Ben Casselman, the chief economic writer for Nate Silver's newly launched website FiveThirtyEight.com, offers three rules for making sure you are a more informed economic data consumer: question the data, know what you are measuring and look outside the data.

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