Policy Area

As states begin preparing their election systems for the upcoming midterm elections, the federal government is offering support and guidance to state and local election officials to better respond to threats similar to those encountered during the 2016 election cycle.

Cybersecurity has become a central issue for many state officials across the nation. In the past six months, Colorado, Connecticut and North Carolina have all been victims of cybercrime. In today’s world, where so many aspects of daily life depend on data sharing devices that communicate via the internet, state officials are trying to mitigate the damage that can be done by hackers. There is little uniformity among state cybersecurity strategies. However, three states have positioned themselves as...

An uptick in concern about digital privacy is sweeping the nation. Incidents such as injury law firm advertisements targeting emergency room patients based on location, smart home assistants recording conversations unbeknown to their owners, and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal have all contributed to concerns about digital privacy.

It is fairly rare for the Supreme Court to decide a family law case raising constitutional issues. The last noteworthy case meeting this criteria was Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) where the Court ruled same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Sveen v. Melin isn’t as groundbreaking.  

In this case the Supreme Court held 8-1 that applying Minnesota’s revocation-on-divorce statute to a life insurance beneficiary designation made before the statute’s enactment does not violate the Constitution’s Contracts Clause.

Despite the fact that Washington v. United States wasn’t really decided and technically only affects one state, it is still an interesting case because Washington argues the lower court decision will cost it billions of dollars. Also, this decision comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent grant in Murphy v. Royal. In this case the Tenth Circuit held that for the purpose of criminal prosecutions half of Oklahoma may be located on an Indian Reservation.  

In Washington v. United States the Supreme Court was supposed to decide whether a “fishing clause” in a treaty guarantees “that the number of fish would always be sufficient to provide a ‘moderate living’ to the tribes.” Instead the Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit ruling by an equally divide vote. Whenever the Supreme Court deadlocks in a case the lower court decision stands but it doesn’t have precedential value. Justice Kennedy was recused in this case.

In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute the Supreme Court held that Ohio’s processes of removing people from the voter rolls does not violate federal law. If a person doesn’t vote for two years Ohio sends them a confirmation notice. If they don’t respond to the notice and don’t vote in the next four years, Ohio removes them from the voter rolls.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting Ohio. Twelve other states maintain their voter rolls using a similar process.

States and local governments who have sued the Trump administration over the sanctuary jurisdictions executive order, the adding of conditions to receive Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG), and providing documentation to prove they comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 have won all their major claims except one as of June 5.

On June 6 in City of Philadelphia v. Sessions a federal district court became the first to rule that Section 1373 is unconstitutional. This statute prohibits states and local governments from restricting employees from sharing immigration status information with federal immigration officials.

Knowing the ins and outs of interacting with federal agencies is critical for state leaders. Many agencies are large, complex organizations whose sheer size and scope can make it difficult for state officials to know who to contact when problems and questions arise. These challenges can be especially acute when agencies are without key leadership personnel or during presidential transitions when information about who holds decision-making authority may be unclear or unavailable. Despite this, the business of government never stops and a successful relationship between state and federal officials can be an invaluable resource. Below are tips and best practices for building a successful state-federal relationship.

Ranju Das of Amazon recently unveiled a new facial recognition service called Rekognition at a developer conference in Seoul, South Korea. This service is being launched in part with the Orlando, Florida’s police department. This software is capable of live facial recognition and movement tracking using the municipality’s surveillance cameras located around the city. According to a statement from the Orlando Police Department, they are not using the technology in an investigative capacity and in accordance with current and applicable laws.

The home sharing industry is booming and the sharing economy is more than established in many cities across the United States. Companies like Airbnb and Uber are leading the way for the industry’s boom. As expected, property rights will be a hot topic surrounding these companies and property owners for years to come. Efforts made by the states to regulate this industry, promote economic growth and protect the best interests of their constituents will continue to be under a microscope.

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