CSG Midwest


March 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Illinois is in the process of becoming the latest U.S. state — and the second in the Midwest — to allow residents to purchase and use marijuana for medical purposes. Earlier this year, the state Department of Public Health issued proposed rules to implement legislation signed into law in 2013.
Nearly half of the U.S. states (including Illinois and Michigan) now have laws allowing patients with certain conditions to use marijuana for medical purposes.

February 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »

In 1977, South Dakota’s state prisons held just 550 inmates. Over the next 35 years, however, that population would multiply six times — and, in the process, drive costs through the roof.
By 2011, the state’s corrections budget was more than $100 million and had quadrupled in 20 years. And the prison population was projected to grow by another 25 percent in 10 years, with costs increasing to the tune of $224 million.
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Across the Midwest, state legislators have heard stories about the promise of high-speed broadband, and the problems of having inadequate or no connections at all. In her home state, Sen. Jennifer Shilling says, family-owned dairies in rural Wisconsin have been able to expand product sales well beyond state and even national borders — thanks to having a strong Internet presence. But at the same time, she has talked to emergency responders in rural parts of her district who couldn’t find a nearby Internet connection reliable enough to simply complete a state-mandated certification course. 

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Apprenticeships — in which an individual is paid to learn a set of skills through on-the-job training — help meet labor demands of businesses, while offering workers higher wages and better employment outcome. A December report by the Center for American Progress analyzed the effectiveness and return on investment for apprenticeships. These programs, the study found, not only generate a high level of satisfaction among employers, but also lead to significant increases in lifetime earnings for workers — as much as $300,000. The apprenticeship model, however, is not widely used in the United States. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, less than 5 percent of U.S. secondary-school students take part in apprenticeships. But the model has begun to attract the attention of more state lawmakers.

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For years, the Wisconsin city of Waukesha has had a water problem: High levels of radium in the town’s supply of drinking water, and a federal requirement that it find a new water source by 2018. Its proposed solution to this local problem will require support from the entire Great Lakes region.