Capitol Comments

The number of transactions conducted with credit and debit cards has grown steadily in the United States over the last decade. Electronic transactions conducted with credit cards and debit cards increased from 27 billion in 2001 to 105 billion in 2016, an annual increase of about 19 percent.

This trend has caused U.S. governments to encourage their agencies to use electronic payment methods even as the agencies continue to accommodate cash and check payments. During the CSG 2018 National Conference in Northern Kentucky – Greater Cincinnati Dec. 6-8, CSG will release a report titled Cash-less State Governments: Electronic Collections & Benefit Disbursements.

California recently became the first state to restrict the distribution of plastic drinking straws in order to reduce plastic pollution and ocean waste.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Full-service restaurants will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless the consumer requests a straw. In bars and restaurants across the country, plastic straws have become a popular target among those aiming to reduce waste.

A national, nonpartisan group formed just five years ago has been busy organizing young policymakers at the state and national level to bring change in government.
In fall 2013, as opinion polls ranked partisanship as a top threat to democracy, as a government shutdown loomed and as the approval ratings of members of Congress and state governments dropped, a group known as the Millennial Action Project launched with a goal to look forward to the next generation of government leaders.
Steven Olikara, founder and president of the Millennial Action Project, said the group wanted to address how the millennial generation would do things differently. Would they transcend the partisan divide to build a better governing system?

Divisive politics can be disheartening for both constituents and elected officials, but collaboration across party lines still happens in government.

Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, a Progressive/Democrat, is proud of efforts that have been made in his state to put individuals before party affiliation. A former state representative and former state senator, Zuckerman said members of the minority party have served in some of the committee chair and vice chair positions for most of the 20 years that he has been in office.

The Council of State Governments convened its final meeting of the organization’s CSG Overseas Voting Initiative, or OVI, in Las Vegas last week culminating with a presentation to CSG’s national membership and the release of two major reports that detail best practices and associated case study materials resulting from the past three years of research by CSG, and its Technology Working Group, on ways technology can potentially advance military and overseas voting.

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