The Council of State Governments will host its 2017 National Conference from December 14th-16th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting will offer engaging policy sessions geared toward state officials in all three branches of government. To access copies of speaker presentations, please visit the individual session pages below.

The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative released Practical Considerations Related to Release and Sentencing for Defendants Who Have Behavioral Health Needs: A Judicial Guide and an accompanying bench card, which were developed with the support of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and the CSG Justice Center. The resources are designed to assist judges in making informed connections to treatment for people with behavioral health needs who enter their courts.

In states such as Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota, much of this year’s legislative work centered on adjusting to new budget realities — slower-than-expected revenue growth and the need to close budget shortfalls. For lawmakers in Illinois and Kansas, the highest-profile issues involved changes in school funding and increases in the income tax. And across the Midwest in 2017, including in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, many new laws were passed with the hope of stemming a public health crisis related to opioid addiction and overdoses.
Here is a state-by-state review of some of the big issues and new laws that arose out of this year’s legislative sessions.

CSG Midwest

Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors' Association, brought webinar participants up to speed on the creation of the Western Policy Network. The network is an effort by a number of western organizations to improve the state consultation process with the federal government. Pete Obermueller, executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, will focused how his organization has attempted to improve the state consultation process as it applies directly to the local government level.

By Sarah Pingel
Postsecondary education is expensive and students are paying more and more for college each year. Amid concerns about rising tuition, state legislatures have become increasingly active in tuition policy even though there’s only one state legislature—Florida’s—that has the authority to set tuition in the four-year sector and two legislatures—Florida’s and California’s—that havethe authority to do so for two-year institutions. In most states, legislatures have adopted statutes that grant the authority to set tuition to campus- or system-level boards.