Economics and Finance

With the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) back in the news, the important trade relationship between Canada, Mexico and the states is in the spotlight. For 30 out of the 50 States, Canada or Mexico rank as the first or second largest export market. Here are some quick stats about state exports to these two trading partners and the jobs that rely on that trade relationship.

CSG Midwest
Within a month of President Donald Trump’s taking office, he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met for a White House visit in which they jointly agreed to strengthen cooperation on a range of issues, from regulatory reform and cooperation, to border efficiency and security. 
“It was important for building a foundation,” Stephen Brereton, Canada’s consul general in Chicago, says of this early meeting of the two federal leaders, “and the government ministers will move much of this forward.” 
In part, the February summit between Trudeau and Trump simply reaffirmed a commitment to some ongoing initiatives between Canada and the United States — for example, giving preclearance to cross the border for people who meet certain requirements and better integrating cross-border law enforcement.
CSG Midwest
The majority of Midwestern states determine farm property taxes through a system that assesses the land based on “use value” — how much income it can generate from agricultural production. One of the few exceptions is Nebraska, where a percentage of the land’s actual market value (currently set at 75 percent in statute) is used to determine what a farmer or rancher will pay in taxes. 
With the value of agricultural land rising rapidly in recent years (see table), Nebraska’s agricultural producers have faced big increases in their tax bills, and over the past two years alone, the state’s legislators have intervened by putting more than $400 million into a Property Tax Credit Relief Fund, which for 2016 will provide $89.57 per $100,000 of property valuation. Beginning in tax year 2017, LB 958 provides $20 million in additional funding for property tax relief. 
This legislative year, Sen. Lydia Brasch hopes she and other Nebraska legislators are able to find a more permanent solution. 
CSG Midwest
Indiana, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Iowa have made the top-10 list in a recent U.S. News & World Report study that explores how well state governments are being administered across the country. Four metrics were used to evaluate all 50 states: fiscal stability, government digitalization, budget transparency and state integrity.
CSG Midwest
Big changes in public-sector collective bargaining are coming to Iowa under one of the first bills signed into law during the 2017 session. According to The Des Moines RegisterHF 291 got passed along mostly partisan lines and brought labor-union representatives from across Iowa to the Capitol to protest the rewrite of a 43-year-old state law. 

Maryland Delegate Cory McCray is currently sponsoring a bill moving through the House of Delegates entitled the POWER (Providing Our Workers with Education and Readiness) Apprenticeship Act (House Bill 467). As a graduate of a 5-year apprenticeship program, McCray has been a long-standing advocate for state expansion of apprenticeship legislation.


According to a study produced by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the majority of states are creating barriers for people with criminal records to access occupational licensure opportunities. NELP estimates between 70 and 100 million American (nearly 1 in 3) have a criminal record. Additionally, people with records are on average only half as likely to get a callback after submitting an...

A state trial court judge in South Dakota has ruled that a South Dakota law requiring remote sellers to collect sales tax is unconstitutional. This ruling was expected for precisely the reason the judge stated—a lower court must follow Supreme Court precedent.   

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, decided in 1992, the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax. The South Dakota law directly contradicts this precedent.

According to a new report from Timothy Bartik, senior economist at the Upjohn Institutestate and local governments more than tripled the incentives - mostly tax credits - they offered businesses in hopes of spurring economic growth between 1990 and 2015. In 2015, those incentives totaled $45 billion and the average incentive package had an annual value of over $2,400 per job.

CSG Midwest
The term “boarded up” may not go away anytime soon, but in Ohio, the practice of covering the windows and doors of abandoned buildings with plywood will soon be a thing of the past. HB 463 was signed into law in January. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the new plywood ban will be a “boon ... for clear boarding”: the use of clear polycarbonate on windows and doors. The bill’s proponents say the statutory change will make vacant properties more visually appealing and less of a magnet for criminal activity.

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