Executive Branch

President Trump’s “2 for 1” executive order where for every federal regulation proposed two must be “identified” for repeal, unsurprisingly, has been criticized by some and applauded by others. Per the executive order, for every regulation added the cost of the new regulation must be offset by eliminating two regulations.

Those who are for the executive order argue it will be good for the economy. Those who are against it argue most regulations exist for good reason and eliminating regulations like “limiting lead in drinking water and cutting pollution from school buses” will harm Americans. Those opposing the executive order also argue it is arbitrary to eliminate regulations based solely on cost without considering benefit.

President Trump’s refugee executive order has resulted in confusion and lawsuits which will continue to be resolved in the upcoming months. Cities have been affected by protests, airports have been overrun, and 16 attorneys general have spoken out against the executive order.

President Obama, like most of the Presidents that recently preceded him, issued about 300 executive orders. On the campaign trail President Trump promised to cancel President Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive orders. Meanwhile, in his first days in office President Trump has signed a number of executive orders of his own.    

Through executive orders Presidents are able to direct the work of administrative agencies and implement authority granted to the President by a federal statute or the U.S. Constitution.

With President-elect Donald Trump set to take office in January, all eyes are on the administration’s transition process, a sweeping and intensive effort that requires the participation of public servants from all levels of the federal government. While the transition looks different from president-elect to president-elect, there are a few key components that are universal to all successful transitions, Edmund Moy, the former director of the United States Mint who worked on George W. Bush’s transition team, told attendees at the “The Next Presidential Administration & Relations with the States” session Dec. 10 at the 2016 CSG National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. 

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.

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. 

In this presidential election year, many state government chief executives found themselves in the proverbial “hot seat.” Some had to deal with a precipitous drop in state revenues and so broached taboo topics in their state of state speeches, like painful cuts or new taxes. Others deflected criticisms related to religious liberty bills or defended themselves in the face of gross state mismanagement and ineptitude or even moral lapse. In light of a still sluggish economy and the caustic election climate, state chief executives, for the most part, keep their addresses short and focused. On average, governors addressed fewer issues than in the recent past. Also, the average number of topics addressed by at least two-thirds of governors dropped by half to two, from an average of four, evidenced over the last six years—that is, at least 66 percent of governors outlined their education and jobs agendas.1

As states harness technology to modernize their election systems, no area of policymaking has more momentum than voter registration. Online registration, automatic voter registration and Election Day registration are increasingly popular options, with election officials predicting unprecedented levels of eligible voter enrollment and government cost-savings in 2016. Yet as states move away from inefficient paper forms to embrace digital processes, new questions are emerging about verifying, sharing and securing voter registration data. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, launched an initiative in 2014 to encourage issuers and underwriters of municipal securities to self-report certain violations of the federal securities laws rather than wait for their violations to be detected. The Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation, or MCDC, Initiative is intended to address widespread violations of the federal securities laws by municipal issuers and underwriters in connection with certain representations about continuing disclosures in bond offering documents. The SEC began issuing fines and penalties against underwriters in July 2015, and is now turning its attention to issuers.

Several situations in 2015 and 2016 challenged the attorney general’s role as representative of the state in litigation and his or her ability to determine when to seek judicial review, particularly in connection with policy issues that are being hotly debated. Additionally, attorneys general have the vital task of cooperatively enforcing state laws and promoting sound law enforcement policies. To that end, the second half of this article covers police body-worn cameras as part of a national AG initiative on 21st century policing.

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