Policy Area

States spend billions each year on tax and financial incentives and in some states, tax expenditures can exceed revenues. The costs can also be unpredictable. The costs of some state tax incentive programs have increased quickly and unexpectedly by tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. With every public dollar being scrutinized, it is important to ask—are these incentives getting the scrutiny they deserve?

More than half of states have now legalized marijuana use—recreational or medicinal. That’s a massive shift in policy from just a decade ago. With this shift comes a slew of legislative, regulatory and fiscal questions for state policymakers to tackle. This day-long policy forum will provide an overview of the current legal landscape and best practices for taxation, regulation and licensing. The forum will discuss emerging trends and provide attendees direct exposure to Nevada’s marijuana legalization experience.

The Council of State Governments will host its 2017 National Conference from December 14th-16th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting will offer engaging policy sessions geared toward state officials in all three branches of government. To access copies of speaker presentations, please visit the individual session pages below.

More than a quarter of U.S. workers now require a license to do their jobs, with most of these workers licensed by the states. States across the country are striving to engage more people in the workforce and at the same time protect the public interest. This session will cover innovative and successful models of state licensure for professions, as state leaders balance consumer protections, flexibility and accessibility for workers.

In states across the country, few topics are as hot with state policymakers as grid modernization. From California and New York to Ohio and Nevada, states and utilities are investigating how best to upgrade the electric power grid to enhance its efficiency and integrate more clean energy technologies. At the same time, large scale investment in grid modernization triggers key questions: Is it worth it? How can states maximize the potential benefits of grid modernization? As utilities come to the table for grid modernization funds, state policymakers have an opportunity to plan now to get ahead of the process and generate the most benefits from those investments. This session will explore strategies for wisely designing a grid modernization program that can guide utility investment and increase the chances that customers get the most out of grid modernization efforts.

This 90-minute session will be a helpful tool for state leaders to learn about state ESSA plans and the innovative education practices and policies each state proposed. Speakers from the U.S. Department of Education and the Education Commission of the States will lead a discussion on the shared challenges and possible policy solutions that are addressed through ESSA. This session will also cover the projected top five issues in education and workforce for 2018.

Water issues are some of the most important policy questions facing state officials across the nation. Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 9 trillion gallons of water and dumped more than an average year’s worth of rainfall in some places—leaving underwater as much as 30 percent of Harris County, home to Houston, our nation’s fourth largest city. Science tells us that flooding is becoming more common and severe, meaning that hurricanes like Harvey and Irma are likely harbingers of disasters to come. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, resulted in an estimated $385 billion in social costs, stemming from toxic levels of lead in the city’s drinking water. Other water issues, including water quality improvements, droughts, water resource management, integrated water planning and the impacts of new federal regulations, raise a host of policy concerns for state leaders now and in the future. This one-day policy academy will explore a variety of these topics and highlight innovative policies being adopted across the country.

State-action immunity provides states and, in some instances, local governments immunity from federal antitrust liability. In Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District v. SolarCity the Supreme Court will decide whether a lower court’s refusal to rule state-action immunity applies to a particular entity may be appealed immediately or only after the case is fully litigated.

Water consumption, quality, and water supply have become hot button issues in the past few years with hundreds of cities and towns at risk of significant shortages either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it. Recent events, such as drought in California and the Flint water crisis, have focused attention on competing demands for this limited resource.

According to a report from the U.S. Government...

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) recently released research introducing the “UOCAVA Gap,” a new and more effective metric that examines the effect of voting obstacles faced by Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) active duty military (ADM) members. Trends in the UOCAVA Gap suggest that, despite fluctuations in the ADM participation rate, overall UOCAVA obstacles to voting have been relatively stable from 2010 to 2016.

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