Policy Area

October proved to be a successful month for civic engagement in West Virginia as voter registration drives in high schools across the state led to over a thousand registered high school students.

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner announced on November 1 that during the first month of statewide effort to register high school students to vote, 1,096 high school students were registered.

Parents play the most essential role in a child’s life, but when families struggle or break down, states often become responsible for providing a safe and secure home base. There has been a shift in focus, however, to help families overcome challenges so that more parents and children can be reunited.

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.

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The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) has filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to agree to hear South Dakota’s petition in South Dakota v. Wayfair. In this case South Dakota is asking the Supreme Court to hold that states may require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax.

In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992), the Supreme Court held that states cannot require retailers with no in-state physical presence to collect sales tax.

In this Ohio v. American Express Ohio has asked the Supreme Court to offer guidance on its “rule of reason” test under antitrust law. The “quick-look” version of this test requires the government to show anticompetitive harms and the defendant to show procompetitive benefits. The party proving greater harms or benefits wins. This case is relevant to states because 11, including Ohio, have sued American Express claiming one of its contract provisions with merchants accepting American Express credit cards violates the Sherman Act (antitrust law).  

American Express charges merchants who accept its credit card higher fees than its competitors. American Express’s standard contract non-discriminatory provision (NDP) requires merchants to not say or imply that they prefer any payment method over American Express.   

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission the Supreme Court will decide whether Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, violates a cake artist’s First Amendment free speech and free exercise rights. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief supporting Colorado arguing that the Court should not create an exception to Colorado’s public accommodations law for wedding businesses. 

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 21 other states have public accommodations laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Numerous local governments have adopted similar ordinances.

Climate Adaptation

We are living in an era of “big data,” with big data and evidence-based decision making transforming the world, from energy to health care sector—and increasingly in the public sector as well. We have access to monthly and annual energy consumption by the residential and commercial sector, which together account for 40 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. We know what is the monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data across U.S. states, counties, metropolitan areas, and even cities. If we want to know how...

While 2017 is considered an off-year in most state election cycles, Election Day this year still will find transportation on the ballot in a variety of ways. From two key gubernatorial contests to state and local ballot measures, here’s a preview of what to look for on November 7 as well as updates on a few transportation-related matters already decided by voters.

With insurance coverage for 8.9 million children hanging in the balance, states have been anxiously waiting to find out if federal funding will be extended for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. In early October, bills have passed out of committee in both the House and Senate to extend federal funding through 2022 for CHIP and other related programs. Both bills would extend CHIP funding and maintain the 23-percentage-point increase in the enhanced federal matching rate through FY 2019.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, states that 53.4 percent of post-secondary undergraduate students financed at least part of their education through federal loans in 2011-12, an increase from 34.4 percent in 2003-041. While the NCES’s data does not account for private loans, which would further raise this percentage, it already brings to concern the effect that increased educational borrowing will have on repayment rates and future personal financial indicators, such as credit scores.

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