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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.

Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of the military. Many of them become entrepreneurs: nearly half of military veterans start their own business after completing their military service.

A new Idaho law went into effect yesterday. Senate Bill 1254 permits individuals with concealed carry licenses to carry firearms onto university and college campuses in order to promote public safety on campuses.  However, firearms are not allowed in dormitories or public entertainment facilities such as an arena, stadium, theater or other such facilities that seats more than 1,000 persons. Violators will lose their concealed carry license for three years. The law also prohibits individuals from carrying weapons while intoxicated and carries a penalty of a misdemeanor.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When CSG’s 2014 chairman Mark Norris talks about the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, he says “it’s something like awakening the sleeping giant.” Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader, spoke at The Council of State Governments 2014 Leadership Council meeting in June.

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The state of Nebraska is planning to take a more active role in turning around its lowest-performing schools. Under LB 438, the state will designate three “priority schools” based on poor performance in areas such as student graduation rates and test scores. Nebraska’s education commissioner will then establish five-member intervention teams for each of these schools. Each team will submit plans to the Nebraska Board of Education on how to improve performance and to measure progress. A local school district must follow these plans or risk losing accreditation.

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From the standards they set for becoming a teacher to how they oversee the programs that train the future education workforce, state policymakers can play an important role in teacher preparation. And strengthening that oversight role has been the focus of measures passed in states such as Indiana and Wisconsin in recent years.
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Leaders at Wichita State University have a vision for boosting innovation development and high-tech commercialization in Kansas.
This year, the state Legislature bought into that vision, allocating $2 million (as part of HB 2506) for a new Innovation Campus that will house early-stage entrepreneurial companies and partner with high-tech businesses. Lawmakers also restored $500,000 for the university’s National Center of Aviation Training, a welcome decision for the state’s aviation manufacturers and related industries that have clustered in Kansas.
These actions in Kansas underscore a major trend in U.S. higher education — the growing role of universities in technology-led economic development. Ten years ago, this role was just beginning to be understood and encouraged. Today, it has been widely accepted.
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WASHINGTON, D.C.--U.S. companies looking for employees often must take that search elsewhere. But, said Kelli Wells, executive director for education for the GE Foundation, those companies would rather find a prepared workforce on U.S. soil. The Council of State Governments' State Pathways to Prosperity Initiative has a similar goal.

The Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program allows schools with high concentrations of poverty to feed their entire student body at no cost to the students. More than 28,000 schools serving over 44 percent of all students will be eligible for the program in 2014-2015, the first year it is available nationwide. 

In 2011, some 5 percent of high school students reported carrying weapons to school. Between the 2000-01 and 2010-11 school years, 468 deaths occurred at school, during school events or when the victim was traveling to or from school. Schools use many methods to protect students, staff and visitors, including controlling access to the school building and the use of security guards. Following the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., several states have also enacted legislation to formally regulate firearms in schools