Government

Last week, the Department of Justice announced it would be seeking to reduce and eventually end the practice of using privately operated prisons.  In a memo to the Bureau of Federal Prisons, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates explains that about a decade ago, the Bureau began contracting with privately operated correctional institutions to handle a fast increasing federal prison population. Now, however, the prison population has started to decline.

By Crit Luallen
It would be no surprise if a young person whose perception of public service has been formed through the lens of cable news and its 30-second sound bites was forever dissuaded from choosing a career in the public arena. So much of what we see today involves the negative attacks and divisive rhetoric that have fueled increased polarization in this nation. But an innovative program in Lexington, Kentucky, offers an opportunity for a select group of future leaders to see public leadership in a far different and much more positive way. The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is a nonprofit dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders in the essential skills of diplomacy, negotiation and conflict resolution. Thanks to a collaborative partnership that includes The Council of State Governments, the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky, and Transylvania University, the Henry Clay Center expanded in 2016 to hold both a high school and college-level Student Congress in the same year for the first time.

In the first week of competition at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the 554 athletes representing the United States are bringing home the gold, and lots of it. Here's a state-by-state look at the number of men and women of Team USA who are coming home with a medal.

CSG salutes Team USA!

As the 2016 Olympic Games kick off in Rio de Janeiro, CSG salutes the 554 athletes representing the United States of America. Here’s a state-by-state look at the men and women of Team USA who are going for gold in Rio!

The halls of Congress are quiet once again as lawmakers return home to their districts for the seven-week summer recess. Although Congress goes on recess every August, the adjournment will be longer this year due to the political conventions. Neither chamber will resume formal activity until after Labor Day when lawmakers return for 19 legislative days before adjourning again in October for the presidential election. They will return to a litany of unfinished items, including the annual appropriations bills and measures to address the Zika virus and the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

With Hillary Clinton poised to make history as the first female presidential nominee from a major party, it is noteworthy that women are still underrepresented in state government leadership positions. In 2016, women make up less than one-quarter of state legislators and statewide elected executive officers, and less than one-third of all state court judges. The percentage of female state legislators has largely...

With Hillary Clinton poised to make history as the first female presidential nominee from a major party, it is noteworthy that women are still underrepresented in state government leadership positions. In 2016, women make up less than one-quarter of state legislators and statewide elected executive officers, and less than one-third of all state court judges. The percentage of female state legislators has largely stalled over the last 20 years, while the number of women elected to statewide executive offices has fallen. Only the number of female state judges has seen significant increases in recent years.

The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. The average governor’s salary grew more slowly during and after the Great Recession, with many states instituting a ban on cost-of-living adjustments; however, as the fiscal health of states has improved, the annual increases normally seen in executive branch pay are returning to a more historically customary level in some states, particularly those that provide cost-of-living adjustments annually.

On June 7, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who served as the 2014 CSG national chair, testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Affairs at a hearing regarding “Oversight of EPA Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” The hearing was a continuation of the subcommittee’s oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking process and examined the agency’s compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, or UMRA, and the impact of unfunded mandates on state, local and tribal governments. 

Governors’ salaries in 2016 range from a low of $70,000 to a high of $190,823 with an average salary of $137,415. Maine Gov. Paul LePage earns the lowest gubernatorial salary at an annual rate of $70,000, followed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who earns $90,000 per year. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has the highest gubernatorial salary at $190,823, followed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s salary of $187,500 per year, although Haslam returns his salary to the state. Governors in four states—Alabama, Florida, Illinois and Tennessee—do not accept a paycheck or return all or nearly all of their salaries to the state. 

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