Policy Area

Food safety in restaurants made headlines last year when E. Coli outbreaks linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill sickened 60 people in 14 states. All Chipotle restaurant locations closed until 3 p.m. Feb. 8, 2016, for an all-staff food safety meeting that was broadcast live. Preventing and controlling foodborne illness outbreaks is a collaborative effort between local and state health departments and federal agencies. 

Community solar is a program where a utility or third-party provider constructs a solar array in an external location and a group of participants voluntarily pay for a share of that project. The electricity produced by the array flows to the electricity grid instead of directly to the customers’ homes, but the subscriber receives a benefit for the electricity produced by the array, usually as a credit on their utility bill.

On Feb. 2, Obama unveiled a $1.1 billion funding proposal to help states fight the growing tide of drug abuse. The proposal includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand treatment access for substance abusers. More than 90 percent of the $1 billion will support cooperative agreements with states to expand medication-assisted treatment options or to make already existing services more affordable. Federal funding will be allocated to states based on the severity of the crisis and the feasibility of the states’ plans for responding to it.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) for the first time ever has asked the Supreme Court to accept and decide a case. The SLLC is asking the Court to hear United Student Aid Funds v. Bible and overturn Auer deference to federal agencies.  

In Auer v. Robbins (1997) the Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. (1945) that courts must defer to an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations (even if that interpretation is articulated for the first time in an amicus brief during litigation).

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office has launched its new online voter registration system just in time for the March 1, 2016 Alabama Presidential Primary. This makes Alabama the 30th state, plus the District of Columbia, to offer online voter registration.

Individuals who wish to register to vote in Alabama may either fill out the online registration form or print an application online, both of which would go to county registrar’s offices for final processing. The deadline to register for the Alabama primary is...

Efforts around the country to revitalize downtowns and create economically vital and aesthetically pleasing communities, often centered on transit hubs, have created a greater need for a private-public entity that can manage these areas to ensure their long-term sustainability. While most states have laws on the books to enable these special districts, some experts say they are still too difficult to establish and that some of the decades-old laws may need to evolve to reflect the expanding mission of these districts and the changing nature of the communities they serve.

America’s water infrastructure is at a crossroads. Water lines installed, in some cases, more than 100 years ago are nearing or past their useful lifespans. In addition, an estimated 6.5 million water lines across the country contain lead, which as exhibited by the current crisis in Flint, Mich., can have devastating consequences to communities if not appropriately managed. Combined with a growing population that demands new infrastructure as new communities are built, the cost of maintaining and expanding the country’s water infrastructure has outpaced available funding. The following infographic provides a snapshot of the state of the nation’s water infrastructure.

On January 29, President Obama announced an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government how much they pay their employees, broken down by gender, race and ethnicity. The action is part of a larger effort to close the pay gap between men and women.

On February 7, the eyes of sports enthusiasts from around the world will turn to Santa Clara, California for Super Bowl 50. The road to hosting a Super Bowl is long, often very expensive for host states and cities, and possibly very financial rewarding. Kickoff for Super Bowl 50 will take place in a two-year-old, $1.3 billion dollar stadium, $114 million of which was funded using public dollars. With Super Bowl 50 estimated to have an economic impact of between $200-$800 million dollars in the San Francisco Bay Area, hosting may prove to be the best investment the region could hope for.

Product stewardship laws have a goal of reducing the environmental, safety and health impacts of consumer products. These laws typically focus on the end-of-life management of these products and generally require the manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling or safely disposing of these products when consumers cease using them. This FREE eCademy webcast featured Chaz Miller, director of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Waste and Recycling, who discussed emerging issues and trends in product stewardship laws in the states.

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