Government

CSG South

As the 2020 legislative cycle approaches, legislators across the South are preparing and pre-filing legislation to address emerging and relevant policy issues in their states. With its regional focus, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is uniquely positioned to identify and research current and emerging policy issues and trends. This report was prepared by Anne Roberts Brody, policy and program manager, and Roger Moore and...

In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause allows families to receive tax-credit funded scholarships to attend religious schools regardless of the Montana Constitution’s no-aid to sectarian schools provision.

The Montana legislature established a program offering tax credits for donations to “student scholarship organization,” which give children scholarships to...

CSG Midwest
As part of her study of the nation’s state legislative institutions, on topics such as term limits and oversight of the executive branch, Marjorie Sarbaugh-Thompson found herself viewing old, archived committee hearings in Michigan from a few decades ago.
The subject was turkey habitats. The place was a cramped committee room in Lansing. Led by two lawmakers — one Democrat, one Republican — the legislative branch was grilling members of the executive branch on implementation of a law to protect the state’s population of wild turkeys.
“They were sharing notes and drilling down with an incredible amount of knowledge, about the law and about turkeys,” she says. “It was a gold standard in legislative oversight.”
That work in Michigan was being done largely outside the public eye, on a subject not likely to win or lose anyone an election. Yet this bipartisan group of lawmakers found it to be an integral part of their responsibility.
“I would hope that legislators see oversight as a big part of their job, at least one-third of it,” says Sarbaugh-Thompson, a professor of political science at Wayne State University. “If we’re spending the money [on a program, agency or regulation], we ought to want to make sure it’s going where it’s supposed to go and that it’s working.”

In a 6-3 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County the Supreme Court held that gay and transgender employees may sue their employers under Title VII for discriminating against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

This case will significantly affect states and local...

On Friday night, close to midnight, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision rejected a request from a number of California churches to strike down the portion of California governor’s stay-at-home order limiting attendance at places of worship to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote a brief, concurring opinion explaining his vote. First, he noted that the churches face a high bar in obtaining...

The Supreme Court heard oral argument in two cases involving subpoenas of President Trump’s pre-presidency tax returns and other financial documents from third parties.

Trump v. Mazars involves House Committees’ subpoenas of the President’s financial records. According to the House Committees, the Supreme...

With no details or dissents, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for an emergency stay of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision upholding Governor Tom Wolf’s executive order “compelling the closure of the physical operations of all businesses and entities that he deemed to be nonlife-sustaining.”

Wolf allowed non-life sustaining...

Beginning this week for the first time ever the Supreme Court is holding oral argument over the phone and allowing the public to listen in live. Today’s argument in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania illustrates the myriad ways live, phone argument is different from the traditional in-person version. 

Other than Justice Thomas asking questions, the Chief Justice’s role is the most...

There have been many innovative and diverse ways for coalitions to form in state legislatures. As the groups of people who participate in the political process change, one such innovative legislative tool to ensure all voices are heard would be a legislative caucus.

Like the constituents they serve, state legislatures across the country are made up of policymakers with diverse viewpoints, backgrounds and life experiences. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 30 years ago represented in a fundamental...

A number of Pennsylvania business owners have requested that the U.S. Supreme Court stay enforcement of Governor Wolf’s executive order “compelling the closure of the physical operations of all businesses and entities that he deemed to be nonlife-sustaining.”

Governor Wolf allowed non-lifesustaining businesses to apply for a waiver; 18,746 waiver applications have been denied to date.

The business owners allege the executive...

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