Ongoing Projects

In a recently released report by the Western Governors Association entitled Ten Year Energy Vision: Goals and Objectives, interstate compacts were mentioned as a way to promote a more robust energy infrastructure.  WGA went on to mention compacts as a viable way to promote interstate cooperation and more effectively lead to the siting of interstate projects. 

The Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts is working with several stakeholder groups on issues ranging from electric transmission lines, distance learning, and licensing of EMS and other medical services personnel. Find out more about compacts relating to these issues, all of which are in various stages of development.

Earlier this week the Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC) encouraged the US Department of Energy (DOE) to more actively engage in efforts to support the Electrical Transmission Line Siting Compact.  The compact, which was developed by CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, is intended to improve efficiencies and create standardization during the siting process by establishing common applications, joint hearings, predetermined timelines, uniform public comment periods, and a common record for judicial review.

The US Dept. of Education recently announced a series of public hearings to solicit comments on a host of topics, including, but not limited to:

 

  • State Authorization
  • Gainful employment;
  • Credit Hour Conversions; and
  • Campus Safety.

The first of these hearings occurred May 21 in Washington, DC.  In the course of the discussion Department officials received considerable testimony about state authorization, including the difficulties of complying with varying state authorization requirements for institutions wishing to offer degree programs in multiple states.  During the testimony there was considerable support for The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) and other forms of interstate compacts that would allow states to govern distance learning short of federal regulations. 

Interstate licensing compacts are not new.  Compacts such as the Driver’s License Compact, the Nurse Licensure Compact, and the Interstate Compact on Licensure of Participants in Horse Racing with Pari-Mutual Wagering have each been in existence for over 10 years.  In the last year though there has been a renewed emphasis on the development of licensing compacts. 

More than 6.7 million college students took at least one online course during the 2011-12 school year, making online classes the fastest growing segment in higher education. But while students across the country seem to be rapidly embracing online education, federal and state laws have some catching up to do. States have adopted numerous approaches to authorizing and regulating online higher education over the past two decades. This confusion has limited student access and created an inconsistent regulatory process for institutions seeking approvals to operate in multiple states.

In order for Excelsior College to offer online courses in Florida, staff members took five months to complete the initial state application and then waited another six months before the college was granted approval to operate. The lengthy application process is just one hurdle higher education institutions must cross before being able to provide distance learning programs across state lines. A compact known as the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, SARA for short, could make it easier for institutions to reach students interested in distance learning.

Crady deGolian, Director of CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts, outlines the top 5 compacts to watch in 2013, including those dealing with the siting of electricity transmission lines, surplus insurance lines, interstate reciprocity regarding online education, and EMS licensing.  

Interstate Compacts to Watch in 2013

Dating back to America’s colonial past, interstate compacts are among the few tools specifically granted to states by the U.S. Constitution. The modern compact provides states with a sophisticated administrative mechanism, allowing interstate collaboration to resolve complex policy challenges.

Compacts, which are governed by the tenets of contract law, give states an enforceable, sustainable and durable tool capable of ensuring permanent change without federal intervention. With more than 215 interstate compacts in existence today and each state belonging to an average of 25 compacts, the legal and historical precedence for the development and use of the tool is considerable.

The siting of interstate electricity transmission lines has long been a problem for both states and the federal government. With the expected growth in electricity demand—combined 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 in the United States has never been more critical. Attendees learned more about a member-driven initiative aimed at improving the siting process through common applications, pre-determined timelines and coordinated publichearings during this session. This new compact will be ready for legislative introduction beginning in 2013. Subject matter experts discussed the need for the compact, the development process and specific areas covered by the new interstate agreement.

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