Governmental Operations

Chapter 8 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

In Harris v. Quinn the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from home health care providers who do not wish to join or support a union. 

Medicaid recipients who would otherwise be institutionalized may hire personal assistants.  In Illinois, the Medicaid recipient is the employer and is responsible for almost all aspects of the employment relationship.  But the personal assistant is a state employee for collective bargaining purposes.  A number of personal assistants did not want to join the union or pay it dues. 

Imagine yourself going through a security screening. Annoying, right?  Now imagine yourself getting paid to go through a security screening.  Better, right?  But what if you are a state government with a security screening process that as a result of a court decision must now pay employees to go through security screenings?  Sometime in the next year, the Supreme Court will affirm or reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision to this effect in ...

Policymakers today have no shortage of information when considering a specific topic or legislation.
Supporters and opponents both use a wide range of information when arguing a position, and it is not always easy to tell if that information is based on sound science....

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently released its latest Elections Performance Index, or EPI, which now includes an interactive tool that allows states to compare their election administration performance to one another and across similar elections. The annual Pew study measures election administration by evaluting indicators like wait times at polling locations and voter turnout. The report found that, between 2008 and 2012, state election performance overall improved by 4.4 percentage points, and 40 states plus DC improved their score over the same time frame. 

There are 21.8 million government employees—federal, state and local—which make up 16 percent of total, non-farm employment.

Capitol Hill IDeas

Following the federal government shutdown, Congress reached a deal to go to budget conference, which it hasn't done for years. Since it's been a while since the traditional budget process was followed, here's a refresher for what is supposed to happen.

Two weeks and a day after the federal government shut down, and the day before a default on the national debt, Senate leadership reached a deal to reopen the government and avoid default. The shutdown was lengthy and, had the government defaulted on its debt, it would have been the first time in history—except for a technical, computer-glitch-inspired default in 1979.

According to Melissa Maynard of Stateline, many financially stressed state and local governments are turning towards creating special districts in order to provide services. Indeed 885 special districts have been created since 2007.

According to a recent Stateline article, federal disaster aid regulations are often unclear much to the exasperation of the governors’ of the states. Consider two contrasting examples: when wildfires raged in Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer asked President Obama to declare a federal disaster, he declined. However when a plant exploded in Texas and Governor Rick Perry asked President Obama to declare it a federal disaster, Obama did so.  FEMA does have a set of guidelines for categorizing disasters but most experts say that it is unclear and often ignored.