Legislative Branch

CSG Midwest
Ohio already has a plan in place that will change how the state’s legislative lines are drawn after the next U.S. census, and voters will have the chance in May to change the process for congressional districts. SJR 5 was passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, culminating months of bipartisan legislative negotiations, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reports.

On January 30, 2018, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on a number of bills ended to speed deployment of broadband to rural and underserved areas.  Many state leaders face the challenge of expanding access to broadband internet, a critical service to link rural citizens with economic and educational opportunities.  It is particularly important to make...

By Sam Gaston and Leslie Haymon

“The state of the rural economy is fragile,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue while testifying to the House Committee on Agriculture on February 6, 2018.  The Agricultural Act of 2014, which reauthorized agricultural and farm programs expires this year. This hearing is part of the effort to draft the next reauthorization, colloquially knowns as the farm bill.

Falling commodity prices distress farmers...

CSG Midwest
A redrawing of the nation’s political maps is still three years away, but 2018 might someday be remembered as a year that changed how redistricting itself is done. If so, some states in the Midwest will be a big part of that story.
In Ohio and Michigan, voters may have the chance in the coming months to decide the fate of their states’ respective redistricting processes. The U.S. Supreme Court, meanwhile, has taken on a case that centers on the current Wisconsin Assembly map and that raises questions about the constitutionality, and future, of partisan gerrymandering around the country.
Legislatures themselves, too, continue to consider making changes of their own.
CSG Midwest
In late October, an open letter detailing “#MeToo” stories in Illinois government became part of the larger national story about sexual misconduct, discrimination and harassment. “Ask any woman who has lobbied the halls of the Capitol, staffed Council Chambers, or slogged through brutal hours on the campaign trail,” the letter begins. “Misogyny is alive and well in this industry.”
It then recounts specific stories of unwanted sexual advances, crude jokes, and inappropriate texts and comments. “Illinois deserves responsible stewards of power. Let’s demand better,” concludes the letter, signed by more than 300 legislators, lobbyists, staffers and policymakers.
It didn’t take long for the General Assembly to respond.
Because of the timing of the letter, the national #MeToo movement and a fall veto session, Illinois became one of the first states to pass legislation in the wake of the heightened awareness about sexual discrimination and harassment.
CSG Midwest
State law sets forth X, but some municipal ordinances set forth X+1 or 2. Or some, but not all municipalities in a given state, regulate smoking, bagging materials, minimum wages or myriad other measures. Which layer of law prevails? Which should?

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the House passed H.R. 4174, the “Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017,” under suspension of the rules, which is a fast-track procedure that bars amendments and requires a two-thirds vote for approval. 

The bill, introduced in the House by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and in the Senate by Patty Murray (D-WA), draws on recommendations from a...

On November 2, House Republican lawmakers released their plan to retool the U.S. tax code, the biggest adjustment in over 30 years. This far-reaching bill, titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, seeks to streamline the existing code and lower the corporate rate to a level closer to that of other nations. The legislation also eliminates or changes some popular deductions and makes adjustments to the use of so-called pass through entities.


By Maria Cristina Castro and Leslie Haymon

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs met on October 12 to discuss draft legislation that would reassess and potentially close Veterans Health Administration facilities. The Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Act of 2017 requires the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, to review its assets and infrastructure, like hospitals and clinics, and establish a...

By Ana Beatriz Goncalves and Leslie Haymon

Severe wildfires in northern California have leveled homes and killed residents, while other fires continue to rage across several other Western states. As the recovery and rebuilding begin, Congress continues to examine the best way to prevent and mitigate wildfires in the West. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works met on September 27 to consider three wildfire related pieces of legislation...