Compacts in the News

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the country’s first online gambling compact late Tuesday afternoon.  The bill allows poker players physically located in either Nevada or Delaware to compete online against one another.  Both Governors expressed hope that other states would also join the compact, but to date New Jersey is the only other state in the country to offer online gambling.

A blog written by Robert Kocher that appeared in Health Affairs earlier this week endorses the idea of interstate physician licensing agreements as a way to improve access to health care.  Kocher currently serves on the advisory board of the Harvard Medical School Health Care Policy Department and previously worked in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy.   In his posting he notes that the current physician licensing system limits a physician’s ability to practice across state lines, which in turn has stifled the growth of telemedicine and has also resulted in problems such as specialist shortages in rural and underserved areas. 

Florida Senate Bill 7028, entitled an act relating to telemedicine, would allow the state licensing board and the Florida Department of Health to explore a telemedicine compact for the purposes of increasing access to health care.  The bill was introduced this session and will first be considered by the Committee on Health Policy. 

For the first time since 2011 Georgia appears to be seriously considering rejoining the Interstate Compact for Juveniles (ICJ).  Georgia joined the original juvenile compact in 1955 and operated under the terms of that agreement until it expired on June 30, 2011.  Georgia has since failed to pass legislation that would allow it to join the updated ICJ and operate under the terms of the new agreement. 

The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the case of IBM v. the Michigan Department of Treasury. At issue in the case are IBM’s 2008 Michigan tax returns. IBM, using a formula set forth in the Multi-State Tax Compact, which Michigan joined in 1969, calculated the company was entitled to a tax return of approximately 6 million dollars. The Dept. of Treasury, using a conflicting formula contained in the Michigan Business Act, determined IBM was only entitled to a refund of approximately 1.3 million. Two separate lower court rulings sided with the Dept. of Treasury, finding that IBM was required to use the formula established by the Michigan Business Act. That finding eventually led IMB to appeal the ruling, setting the stage for today’s argument.

A letter dated January 9, 2014 and signed by 16 US Senators commended efforts to develop an Interstate Medical Licensing Compact.  The bi-partisan group of Senators, which was led by Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), applauded the Federation of State Medical Boards and the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Taskforce for beginning work on a medical licensing compact.  CSG, through the National Center for Interstate Compacts, is providing technical assistance to the Taskforce. 

The siting of interstate transmission lines has long-been a problem that has vexed both states and the federal government.  With the expected growth in electricity demand, coupled with the need to bring renewable energy to market and the necessity to enhance and secure the nation’s energy infrastructure, the need for added transmission capacity has never been more apparent.  However federal needs and state interests frequently do not align, leading to an underdeveloped and over-stressed electricity transmission system.

Efforts to draft an EMS Licensing Compact will continue this week in Alexandria, VA.  The drafting team, which was convened jointly by CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts and the National Association of State EMS Officials has been working over the last several months to develop a compact that would provide legal recognition for EMTs that cross state lines in the course of their daily work.  The project is funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

At last week’s annual business meeting the membership of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) endorsed the exploration of an interstate compact.  A compact, if developed, would be designed to reduce barriers for physical therapists seeking licenses in multiple states.  The action taken by the FSBPT’s membership builds on the work of the National Association of EMS Officials and The Federation of State Medical Boards. 

The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) will be highlighted at The Council of State Governments’ 2013 National Meeting in Kansas City.  The session is scheduled from 2- 4 p.m. on Friday, September 20.