Government

On Dec. 16, the president signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last week. The legislation is a mix between a short-term continuing resolution, known as a “C.R.,” and a long-term omnibus spending bill. The legislation, known as the “CR-omnibus,” funds most of the government through September 2015. The exception is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only through Feb. 27, 2015.

capitol hill ideas logo

In Sheehan v. City & County of San Francisco, the Supreme Court will decide whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to arrests.

When police officers entered Teresa Sheehan’s room in a group home for people with mental illness, she threatened to kill them with a knife she held, so they retreated. When the officers re-entered her room soon after leaving it, Sheehan stepped toward them with her knife raised and...

capitol hill ideas logo

Many congressional leaders have expressed their interest in passing a tax extender bill in the Congressional lame duck session. Around 70 tax credits have expired in 2013 or will expire in 2014. If the president fails to extend these tax credits by Dec. 31, taxpayers will not be able to claim them for the current tax year. These tax extenders represent billions of...

capitol hill ideas logo

WASHINGTON, D.C.—While last winter was harsh and this one is expected to be similar, federal grants to states for heating assistance have dropped precipitously.

The grants from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, popularly known as the LIHEAP, help low-income families pay a portion of their home energy needs. Mayors across the U.S. are formally requesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to...

Econ Piggy

Recently, Inc. surveyed entrepreneurs and executives from 300 fast growing companies about which issues they consider the biggest impediments to U.S. growth. The top answer? Political gridlock in Washington. Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents said political gridlock on Capitol Hill is hampering the economy’s performance. Government regulations came in second at 54 percent and health care costs were third at 50 percent (irrespective of health care reform, which was a separate category and came in at 44 percent of respondents).

President Obama addressed the nation in a prime time speech Nov. 20 to define his executive action on immigration. In a highly anticipated move, the president’s executive order has focused the nation on the future of U.S. immigration policy and aims to encourage Congress to pass comprehensive legislation. Congressional and some state leaders have threatened law suits, impeachment, and a government shutdown over the President's executive order.

U.S. veterans involved in the justice system face unique challenges. Since 2008, court officials have begun to step in to prevent jail time for veterans suffering from mental health disorders. Judge Robert Russell of Buffalo, N.Y., has offered one solution--specialized veterans treatment court.

CSG Midwest logo
More than 100 years ago, the state of Wisconsin started what has since become an indispensable part of the daily work of state legislatures — the nonpartisan legislative service agency. From bill drafting to a host of research services, agency staff help make the legislative process work in capitols across the country, as political scientist Gary Moncrief noted this summer in a presentation to the Midwest’s state legislators.

Since the 1970s, he said, state legislatures have been professionalized and their role in public policy enhanced thanks to a series of reforms, among them a rise in legislative staff. For example, between 1979 and 2009, the median number of legislative staff per member of the legislature has risen from 2.7 to 3.9. (That also includes partisan staff and staff for individual legislators.)

“These reforms were largely effective in making legislatures co-equal branches of government,” Moncrief told the Midwestern Legislative Conference.
But while all states rely heavily on nonpartisan staff, the structure and duties of these agencies can vary.
capitol hill ideas logo

Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate and maintained their control of the U.S. House of Representatives during the midterm elections Nov. 4.

Republicans also had success at the state level, winning governorships and seats in state legislatures across the nation. President Obama, acknowledging the election results, has expressed his intention to work in a spirit of cooperation with the Republican Congress for the next two years.

capitol hill ideas logo

The U.S. Senate has a full docket of White House nominations to consider when lawmakers return to Congress this week, including 35 ambassadorships, 16 federal district court judgeships and other administrative positions.

The most anticipated is the nomination of federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch to replace departing Attorney General Eric Holder. In addition to the nominees, President Obama has selected Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson as the new White House liaison to state and local governments. Abramson was Louisville’s longest-serving mayor and also was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the early 1990s. Abramson’s priorities will include helping states coordinate on the second open enrollment process under the Affordable Care Act and helping push for a raise in the minimum wage in states and cities.

Pages