Policy Area

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Summary drafted by The Council of State Governments

Congress’ swift passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) demonstrates the importance of modernizing federal workforce and jobs training programs to help equip workers with the skills need for 21st century jobs. Shrinking the skills gap and placing workers in good-paying jobs is the cornerstone of CSG’s 2014 “State Pathways to Prosperity” initiative, and this legislation is an important step. This memorandum will provide an overview of WIOA and the key changes for states.

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The Council of State Governments, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense, launched a $3.2 million Overseas Voting Initiative in late 2013 to improve the U.S. overseas voting process. CSG is working to develop policy solutions to ensure that overseas voters have the tools to vote while serving their nation abroad. That effort will be the subject of a workshop 9-11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11, during the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference.

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Will the fate of the Obamacare subsidy be in the Supreme Court's hands soon?

Short answer: almost certainly.

In an unusual turn of events, two federal courts of appeals on Tuesday issued opinions on whether the Affordable Care Act permits tax credits on insurance purchased through federal exchanges. Less surprisingly, perhaps, the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit disagreed, making Supreme Court review almost inevitable.

The ACA provides tax credits to low and middle income purchasers of health...

According to new research by the Urban Institute, yesterday’s court rulings on Obamacare subsidies could mean a big drop in federal funds flowing into some states. The Urban Institute says that 11.8 million individuals are expected to enroll in the 34 Federally Facilitated Marketplaces (FFMs) in 2016 and of those, 7.3 million are estimated to receive federal subsidies to purchase insurance. Some of the lowest income recipients will also receive additional subsidies to lower the cost of their co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance.

On July 22, 2014, two federal appeals courts handed down opposing rulings on the legality of tax credits to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums purchased in the 36 states with federally facilitated exchanges. In those states, 4.7 million individuals receive tax subsidies, averaging $264 per month, to make their premiums affordable. No changes are anticipated in the availability of tax subsidies during the appeal of these decisions. Pundits are betting that the ultimate stop for the cases will be the U.S. Supreme Court. 

According to the Washington Post, New York has become the first state to propose separate regulations for virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The New York Department of Financial Services announced yesterday in a press release that it has released it’s first draft of regulations. According to the press release, the proposed regulatory framework "is the product of a nearly year-long DFS inquiry, including public hearings that the Department held in January 2014 – contains consumer protection, anti-money laundering compliance, and cyber security rules tailored for virtual currency firms". The proposed rules will be published in the New York State Register’s July 23, 2014 edition at which point the 45-day public comment period will begin. After the comment period, the rules are subject to additional review and revision based on that public feedback before DFS finalizes them.

In Harris v. Quinn the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from home health care providers who do not wish to join or support a union. 

Medicaid recipients who would otherwise be institutionalized may hire personal assistants.  In Illinois, the Medicaid recipient is the employer and is responsible for almost all aspects of the employment relationship.  But the personal assistant is a state employee for collective bargaining purposes.  A number of personal assistants did not want to join the union or pay it dues. 

InfraAmericas logoAs states continue to experience infrastructure deficits and uncertainty about how those needs will be met going forward, public-private partnerships (P3s) have become an important tool in the toolbox for some when it comes to project finance and delivery. But the types of projects being pursued and the types of agreements states are entering into with the private sector have evolved considerably in recent years. Past experiences have made both states and private investors more discerning and deliberative partners. Federal tools such as the TIFIA loan guarantee program have helped many large P3 projects advance but doubts about the future of the federal transportation program overall have prompted some states to hesitate in pursuing many large, long-term projects.

Policymakers across the country continue to focus on expanding the collaboration between education--at the high school and postsecondary levels--and economic development in an effort to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce. Cooperation between the education and economic development sectors in state government, combined with active input from the corporate sector, is a critical factor in recruiting and retaining industry, particularly in manufacturing. Several states in The Council of State Governments' Southern...

While marijuana use for medicinal purposes has been on the legislative agenda in many states outside the Southern region for a number of years, Southern state legislatures only recently have begun to grapple with the complexities of the issue. Many Southern lawmakers cite stories of families with children suffering from severe seizure or muscular disorders as the impetus for the push toward some form of legalization. But for every family that puts a face on the issue, lawmakers are confronted with a plethora of questions about the science behind medical marijuana and about ways to implement a program in their state.

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