Policy Area

Today the EPA released its proposed update to the air quality standards for ground-level ozone.  The proposal lowers the ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion, where it’s been since 2008, to a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion.   EPA estimates most areas will be in compliance with the standard by 2025. 

A revised ozone standard of 70 to 60 parts per billion was recommended by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, a scientific panel that advises EPA in setting the national ambient air quality standards...

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, the 2014 Council of State Governments national chair and a 2002 CSG Toll Fellow, selected “State Pathways to Prosperity” as his chair’s initiative. He believes states can play a role in helping to ensure residents have the necessary skills to fill the jobs. The initiative focuses not only on education, but also on other issue that might affect an individual’s ability to work.

Econ Piggy

According to The National Association of State Budget Officer's State Expenditure Report, total state spending (including both state and federal funds) grew by an estimated 5.7 percent in FY 2014, a significant jump from the 2.2 percent growth rate in FY 2013. In FY 2012, year-over-year total state spending fell by 1.1 percent. The recent boost in state expenditures is due primarily to a jump in spending from federal funds, which increased by 7.6 percent in FY 2014. Spending from state funds, on the other hand, grew by 4.8 percent.

Following the deluge of major transportation funding packages passed by states in 2013, elections and other factors combined to make 2014 a somewhat quieter year on that front. But as 2015 legislative sessions approach, a large number of states appear poised to tackle transportation funding. While some states are holdovers from years past as a result of previously unsuccessful efforts, there are also a handful of relative newcomers to the list this year. Their reasons for addressing the issue now and the urgency with which they are approaching it may vary, but there are plenty of common justifications and common solutions that already appear to be emerging.

President Obama addressed the nation in a prime time speech Nov. 20 to define his executive action on immigration. In a highly anticipated move, the president’s executive order has focused the nation on the future of U.S. immigration policy and aims to encourage Congress to pass comprehensive legislation. Congressional and some state leaders have threatened law suits, impeachment, and a government shutdown over the President's executive order.

In an era of constrained capital budgets and escalating expenses associated with transportation project construction, policymakers may be tempted to consider only the short-term, upfront costs of those projects with little thought about their future costs. But improving long-term decision making will require planners and policymakers to begin thinking more about maintaining and operating transportation assets over time and factoring the accompanying costs into their planning. This eCademy highlights a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Eno Center for Transportation, including policy innovations recommended at the federal, state and local levels for expanding the use of life cycle cost analysis to more accurately reflect the actual costs of transportation investments.

On Thursday, Nov. 20 a group of state legislators and education officials met with staff from the White House Intergovernmental Affairs and representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.  An update on the Administration's priorities, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and critical early education initiatives were discussed.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a new National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone. Based on recommendations from EPA’s science advisers and staff, the EPA is expected to announce a more stringent standard, likely in the range of 70 to 60 parts per billion, down from the 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion. A more strict ozone requirement could be a challenge for some states and counties to attain, generating areas of noncompliance around the U.S. accompanied by a hefty price tag. This CSG eCademy session offers federal, state and industry perspectives on the complexity of meeting lower ozone emission standards and the associated costs.

U.S. veterans involved in the justice system face unique challenges. Since 2008, court officials have begun to step in to prevent jail time for veterans suffering from mental health disorders. Judge Robert Russell of Buffalo, N.Y., has offered one solution--specialized veterans treatment court.

The new advertising campaign for the Federal Voting Assistance Program makes clear its mission for military and civilian voters living overseas: “Americans make small votes every day and we want to make sure that you get your most important vote home.” The program, a part of the U.S. Department of Defense, is using that campaign—in addition to an active social media presence and other efforts—to spread the word about the resources it is providing for citizens living overseas, according to Scott Wiedmann, the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s director of communications.

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