Government

CSG Midwest
Federal laws and regulations on the environment often serve only as a “floor,” with states having the leeway to enact tougher rules or statutes of their own. However, some state legislatures and governors have adopted measures (either state laws or executive orders) designed to rein in the actions of their own environmental agencies. Most recently, in February, Indiana’s HB 1082 became law. It applies to any Department of Environmental Management rule that is “more stringent than a restriction or requirement imposed under federal law” or “applies in a subject area in which federal law does not impose a restriction or requirement.”
CSG Midwest
Starting in July, Minnesotans will have the option of buying alcohol on Sunday, the result of legislation (HF 30) signed into law in March. Minnesota and Indiana have been the only two states in the Midwest with Sunday-sales bans. Indiana’s SB 83, introduced in January, would allow the state’s grocery and drug stores to get a supplemental dealer’s permit and sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday; liquor store dealers would not need this permit. 

Confirmation hearings generally follow a predictable course; Judge Gorsuch’s hearings have been no exception. Senators from the other side of the aisle as the President ask the nominee pointed questions on controversial topics which the nominee does his or her best to politely avoid answering. As a result, many issues of interest to states and local governments receive little meaningful attention.

While a friendly Senator (Flake, R-AZ) asked Judge Gorsuch whether a particular case he ruled in was consistent with the “principle of states as laboratories of democracy” and another friendly Senator (Crapo, R-ID) asked Judge Gorsuch to discuss the Tenth Amendment, federalism was rarely discussed as such and preemption wasn’t discussed at all. Likewise, many of the issues of particular importance to local governments—qualified immunity and property rights—also were not discussed.

Judge Gorsuch did discuss numerous times that judges should not act as legislators. “I get four law clerks for one year at a time. If you were to make laws, you wouldn't design a system where you'd let three older people with four law clerks straight out of law school legislate for a country of 320 million people.”

Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis and Connecticut Deputy Speaker Bob Godfrey have collected a few tips for legislating effectively over their combined 46 years of state legislative service. CSG’s Capitol Ideas magazine sat down with them during the 2016 CSG National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, to get their thoughts on what freshman legislators need to know as they start their terms.

In its Supreme Court amicus brief in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues that interveners to lawsuits must have standing even if there is a genuine case or controversy between the existing parties.

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 foreclosed on the property.

Whether a first-time elected official or a veteran policymaker, all members of The Council of State Governments share in common a distinguishing characteristic. By their very nature, state elected and appointed officials have demonstrated leadership—in their professions, in their communities, in their aims to strengthen their states.

President Trump released a fiscal 2018 budget plan today, which includes a $54 billion increase to defense spending and a corresponding decrease to domestic spending by the same amount. The fiscal plan, called a “skinny budget,” only contains the top-line spending numbers for each federal agency.  The plan also highlights the major cuts and increases to federal programs that the administration is seeking.

The full budget...

As the only organization representing all three branches of state government, CSG, in 2005, established an Interbranch Awareness Working Group, which later became the Interbranch Affairs Committee, that seeks to foster collaboration and understanding among and between the branches of state government. We asked the 2017 CSG Interbranch Affairs Committee co-chairs why interbranch cooperation is so important and how the states are helping to promote more multibranch approaches to public policy. Here’s what they had to say.

When it comes to comparing state legislative salaries, there are lots of caveats. In 2016, seven states paid legislators a per diem salary rather than an annual salary. Thirty-eight states paid their legislators an annual salary, with a huge range. In Texas, legislators were paid $7,200 per year while in California lawmakers earned $100,113. The average annual salary for these 38 states was $37,447.

President Trump signed a revised version of the Executive Order on Immigration yesterday, after the original order was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. The purpose of the order is to protect U.S. citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals. It states that the U.S. will improve screening and vetting and the process of visa issuance. The revised order removes Iraqi citizens from the travel ban and scraps the provision that protected religious minorities. The order also suspends the refugee program for 120 days and lowers the acceptance of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 a year.

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