Policy Area

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.

By Therese Murray, Massachusetts Senate President

As president of the Massachusetts Senate, I have encountered—and still encounter—many challenges. Being a leader is never without struggle, but it can be especially difficult when you are also a woman.

A July 14 ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court is being hailed a victory for interstate compacts. In the ruling the Court upheld the right of a taxpayer to utilize the elective tax apportionment formula made available under the Multi-State Tax Compact of which Michigan is a member. The Court’s 4 to 3 decision reversed the decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals which had held that a subsequent legislative enactment had repealed the Compact’s election provision by implication.

State leaders received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, released June 2, with mixed reactions. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback considers the new regulations on existing coal-fired power plants to be “more of the Obama administration’s war against middle America.” Kansas, like many...

Even though it has been a few weeks since the opinion was handed down, unless you happen to read Land Use Prof Blog you probably have no idea that the birth control mandate case is likely to affect land use regulation. 

As usual, on the last day of the Supreme Court’s term it released its opinion in the biggest case of the term:  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.  The Court held 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as applied to closely held corporations.  

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief, which Justice Ginsburg quoted in her dissenting opinion, because of the possible effect on land use. 

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