Policy Area

CSG Midwest
Under a North Dakota law that took effect in January, parents who are sentenced to jail or prison for more than 180 days will have their monthly child support payments suspended throughout their period of incarceration. 
Lawmakers passed the enacting legislation (SB 2277) last year in order to prevent the accrual of large amounts of past-due payments for incarcerated parents with child support orders. 
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement, studies have found that incarcerated parents leave prison with an average of $20,000 or more in unpaid child support. In 2007 (the most recent year available), the population in U.S. state prisons included 686,000 parents who had a total of more than 1.4 million children. 
CSG Midwest
Over the next 12 years, Iowa will commit an additional $282 million to water quality, the result of legislation passed early in 2018 after years of unsuccessful legislative initiatives in past sessions. Even with SF 512 now law, Rep. John Wills says, it still is only “the beginning of the conversation [on water quality], not the end” in Iowa.
The measure was passed along a party-line vote, with opponents expressing concern that the bill does not do enough to hold accountable those who receive dollars from the state — either through benchmark goals or the ongoing testing of waterways.
Sen. Kevin Kinney, too, originally opposed the bill and had sought changes by backing several amendments. But in the end, he voted in favor of SF 512 because “Iowans want resources to continue and expand water quality initiatives, and this is a first step that we can build on.”
No new tax dollars will be raised under SF 512. Instead, a mix of existing revenue sources will be used — for example, money from a tax on metered drinking water will gradually be diverted from the general fund, and, starting in 2021, some state gambling revenue will be used.

On January 30, 2018, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on a number of bills ended to speed deployment of broadband to rural and underserved areas.  Many state leaders face the challenge of expanding access to broadband internet, a critical service to link rural citizens with economic and educational opportunities.  It is particularly important to make...

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) states that when a prisoner wins a civil rights case “a portion of the judgment (not to exceed 25 percent) shall be applied to satisfy” his or her attorney’s fees award.

In Murphy v. Smith the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that this statute means “the court must pay the attorney’s entire fee award from the [prisoner’s] judgment until it reaches the 25% cap and only then turn to the [prison guards].” In other words, the court may not exercise its discretion and take any amount it wishes from the prisoner’s judgment to pay the attorney “from 25% down to a penny.”

If a collective bargaining agreement contains a general durational clause, retiree health insurance benefits last the duration of the agreement and aren’t vested for life the Supreme Court held in a per curiam (unauthored) opinion in CNH Industrial N. V. v. Reese.

CNH Industrial N.V. agreed to a six-year collective bargaining agreement providing those who retired under the pension plan health insurance but no other insurance benefits. The Sixth Circuit concluded the agreement was ambiguous as to whether retiree health insurance vested for life because it “carved out certain benefits” like life insurance “and stated that those coverages ceased at a time different than other provisions.” Extrinsic evidence supported lifetime vesting.

While the Supreme Court has agreed to review the constitutionality and legality of the third travel ban, the Fourth Circuit has joined the Ninth Circuit in striking it down. The Fourth Circuit concluded it likely violates the Establishment Clause because its primary purpose is to discriminate against Muslims.

Per a December 2017 Supreme Court order, the third travel ban is currently in effect regardless of the Ninth and Fourth Circuit rulings.    

On September 24, 2017, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation (the third travel ban) indefinitely banning immigration from six countries:  Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, and Yemen. Lawsuits were brought immediately in the Ninth and Fourth Circuits.

On Monday, President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019. The $4.4 trillion budget that adds $7 trillion to deficits contains massive cuts to clean energy, environmental, and climate change programs, and is being met with sharp criticism from clean energy and environmental advocates. While the budget faces a steep uphill climb to enactment, it is significant to the extent that it depicts the administration’s priorities and goals on core issues.


On Friday, February 9, 2018, President Trump signed a continuing resolution, or CR, and spending deal that ended a brief government shutdown that morning. The two-year deal funds the federal government at current levels until March 23.

CSG Midwest

Wisconsin appears likely to become the first U.S. state to establish a “Green Alert” system to help locate at-risk, missing veterans, The Washington Post reportsSB 473 was passed by the state Senate in January. Under the proposal, law enforcement agencies would use the state’s crime alert network (administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice) to send along reports of missing veterans to broadcasters and outdoor advertisers. Similar alert systems already are in place in many states (including Wisconsin) for children, seniors and certain at-risk adults.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon announced recently that $7 million will be available to Minnesota counties on a matching basis in the form of technology grants to buy new election equipment.