Government

The Supreme Court’s 2016-2017 docket is now set. The Court is still down a Justice but has accepted as many cases as usual (about 75). In theory all the cases discussed below will be decided by June 30, 2017. The Court may decide to rehear tied (4-4) cases next term, when a new Justice will presumably join the bench.

This articles covers cases of interest to the states which the Court agreed to hear this term accepted after September 15, 2016. Here is a summary of cases of interest to the states which the Court agreed to hear before September 15, 2016.

Voting on H.J. Res. 66 and H.J. Res. 67 took place Wednesday afternoon, February 15, on the House Floor. These joint resolutions passed to roll back rules set in place in August and December 2016, respectively, by the Department of Labor, or DoL. The DoL rules allowed state and local governments flexibility in creating a marketplace of retirement options for employees of the private sector that otherwise could be interpreted as unallowable by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the president, the DoL rules will then hold no force or effect and programs could be unallowable under the preemption of ERISA statute.

Republicans in the House of Representatives are slowly moving forward with plans to resume use of earmarks, which are being rebranded as congressionally directed spending. The House Rules Committee plans to review the issue in the months ahead and issue a recommendation on whether to continue the current ban on the practice or allow it to resume. 

Global conflicts, health risks, populist political movements and changing attitudes toward trade all represent unpredictable influences on global economic stability, which has significant impact on states’ economies. In 2016, the world saw a number of political and trade issues—such as the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, also known as Brexit, and Americans’ resistance to international trade agreements—emerge unexpectedly that will continue to resonate in 2017. With little certainty as to how these and other issues will play out, global economic instability will be the most important international issue facing states this year.

On Jan. 20, President Donald Trump took the Oath of Office to be sworn in as America’s 45th president. Thousands stood along the National Mall to watch him offer his inaugural address. Meanwhile, behind the scenes of the inaugural festivities and mostly out of the public eye, frenetic activity has been taking place to plan and prepare for the transition to the next administration. The president’s transition team must fill 4,000 political appointments to lay the groundwork for implementing the new administration’s policy agenda, and provide for the effective management of our civil service and military.

Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates involves a long, complicated story and legal issue.

Steven Sherman sued the Town of Chester alleging an unconstitutional taking as the town refused to approve a subdivision on plots of land Sherman intended to sell to Laroe Estates. Laroe Estates advanced Sherman money for the land in exchange for a mortgage on the property. Sherman defaulted on a loan to a senior mortgage holder who...

On February 10th, Education Secretary Besty DeVos issued a letter to Chief State School Officers that addressed a number of ongoing efforts related to the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, and its associated state plans and regulations. The letter is written in response to uncertainty as a result of the White House Chief of Staff’s January 20th memo ordering a freeze to all pending regulations, as well as Congressional efforts to repeal the regulations issued by the Obama Administration.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of the U.S. Department of Education with a 51-50 vote. What should states expect in education policy under Secretary DeVos and the Trump administration?

As President Trump’s Cabinet nominees continue to move through the confirmation process it is encouraging to see ten former state officials among them.  

Early Friday, Feb. 10, Dr. Tom Price was confirmed by the Senate in a 52 to 47 vote as the new secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Representative from Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, moved into politics when he first ran for the Georgia State Senate in 1996 and then moved on to Congress in 2004.

“The role of the Department in improving lives means it must carry out its responsibilities with compassion. It also must be efficient, effective, and accountable, as well as willing to partner with...

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