Government

In certain cities across the United States, there is a battle for broadband brewing in the halls of municipal and state legislatures. Currently, 19 states have laws in place that make it difficult for municipal governments to provide broadband service via public power utilities. Cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina are petitioning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to preempt state laws that restrict the right to offer broadband.

Even though the Supreme Court’s next term won’t officially begin until October 6, the Court has already accepted about 40 of the 70 or so cases it will decide in the upcoming months. 

For a more detailed summary of all the cases the Court has accepted so far affecting states, read the State and Local Legal Center’s Supreme Court Preview for State Governments.

Here is a quick highlight of what is on the Court’s docket right now that will...

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Earlier this year, Roll Call — the news source dedicated to covering Capitol Hill — ran a short headline that summed up much of U.S. policymaking today. "It’s the states, stupid,” the magazine declared. Gridlock continues to reign in the nation’s capital, with power divided among two political parties that have become more ideologically distinct and among members of U.S. Congress who have become more ideologically distant from one another. That contrasts with trends at the state level, where a single party now controls the governor’s office and both legislative chambers in close to 80 percent of state capitols. That is the highest rate of unified government in more than 50 years.

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In Michigan, the state’s legislators meet year-round, earn among the highest legislative salaries in the nation, and get support from a staff of more than 700 people. For a time earlier this year, some inside the Capitol wondered if that might all soon change.
A petition drive to make Michigan a part-time legislature — with much lower staffing levels and legislative pay, along with session days limited to 60 days per year — was being pushed with plans to put it on the ballot later this year.
That drive has since stalled, though supporters of the change have vowed to continue to seek wider support statewide. And the recent activity in Michigan begs the question: Is one model, part-time legislature or full-time legislature, better than the other?

By Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

Throughout my career, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to serve Nevada as a legislator, gaming regulator, attorney general, federal judge and now as governor. To have worked in all three branches of government has broadened my perspective, and my experiences have been a tremendous asset in my current job as governor. Each branch is very distinct, and each position presents a unique set of challenges. That being said, the one constant, no matter the position, has been the necessity to make key decisions and, when the time comes, to lead.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA--Political polarization and economic inequality dramatically affect civic education in the United States, speakers at the session, “Understanding and Promoting High Quality Civic Education,” said.

Diana Hess, senior vice president of the Spencer Foundation at the University of Wisconsin Madison, said the movement to the political extremes leaves very little in the middle. In fact, she said, only 35 of the 435 seats n the U.S. House of Representatives are competitive.

Noted author, professor and CNN senior political analyst David Gergen told attendees at Monday’s luncheon session that he’s worried about the world these days.

“We’re coming through a time when the country and the world are in a hell of a mess,” he said. “This is one of the roughest times I can remember, one of the toughest to understand. … There are surprises coming at us regularly both on the domestic side and the international side.”

It is not what you say that matters, it is what they hear.

And, according to Deb Sofield, the public speaking coach at the CSG West Women in Politics session, “they hear less and less.”

While much of Sofield’s presentation, “Next Level Leadership: Promoting Your Position,” was directed primarily to women and about empowering them to be leaders, her advice on making the most of public speaking and media opportunities applies to all elected officials.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments commends the National Conference of State Legislatures on 40 years of exceptional service to the states; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments celebrates the tireless efforts of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ leaders, members, management and staff in advancing and sustaining the role of the states in our federal system.

When Susan O’Malley was in junior high school, she wrote a paper about what she wanted to do when she grew up—be president of an NBA franchise.

While her teacher gave her high marks for the paper, she told O’Malley it was an unrealistic goal for a young girl.

O’Malley was the first woman to serve as president of a professional sports franchise when, in 1991, she was picked to lead the Washington Bullets. She left the NBA Board of Governors meeting in May wondering how she would turn around what she called “a mess of a franchise.”

So she turned to the lessons of leadership she learned at home, the same lessons she shared with the attendees at Sunday’s luncheon session, “Seven Leadership and Life Lessons.” She threw in an eighth rule for good measure.

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