Policy Area

Open enrollment for health insurance policies sold under the Affordable Care Act marketplaces ran for 6 weeks the end of 2017. Enrollment was down from 2017 – by 3.7 percent – but nonetheless 11,760,533 Americans selected a health insurance plan for 2018.

In its Supreme Court amicus brief in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues that states and local governments should be able to ban political apparel at polling places. County election officials and the Minnesota Secretary of State were sued for violating the First Amendment in this case.

At least eight states (Delaware, Kansas, Montana, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont) other than Minnesota have enacted similar bans.

Climate Adaptation

Last week Congress reached an agreement to fund the government and historically boost the budget. The deal increases investments in domestic programs and the military by roughly $300 billion over the next two years. It also includes several key energy provisions that warrant mention.

The bill contains $2...

workforce development icon

CSG, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governor’s Association, released the National Occupational Licensing Database to help state leaders better understand the national licensing landscape. This database contains information on the criteria required to attain a license in 34 occupations with 18 requirements being assessed. Some of the data points include initial and continuing education requirements, training, experience, exams and fees. Additionally, if a certain occupation is selected, a map of the states that require licensure will be produced (See top image below for map produced when searching the database for information on electricians). The database also allows for the user to make comparisons between states and occupations (See bottom image below for an excerpt of search results from the database when selecting to show information on cosmetologists).

I have an article in this week’s issue of The Current State looking at Kentucky’s quest for additional revenues to fund transportation in the future. That makes it as good a time as any to check in on some of my other states to watch in 2018 on transportation funding.

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers recognizes the importance of infrastructure investment to his state, but he expressed concerns about one funding strategy recently implemented in nearby states.

"I am very much opposed to a gas tax (increase)," Stivers, CSG 2018 national chair, told attendees Jan. 18 at the Kentuckians for Better Transportation conference in Lexington, Kentucky. "I am very much for building roads because roads bring jobs and opportunity, but it's not going to be on an antiquated tax system that we currently have in place. … You're going to have to come up with a different structure where you're capturing use on the road, not gallons burned, because that is going to continue to be the shrinking base."

Education Icon

The Department of Defense estimates that approximately 71 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds would fail to qualify for military service based on the current enlistment criteria because of physical or mental health issues, low educational attainment or felony convictions.

Out of those who do qualify, many are not interested in serving. A Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18 to 29 year-olds found, 60 percent support using ground troops against the Islamic State but 85 percent said they would “probably” or “definitely” not join the military.

Florida state and county election administrators recently met in Orlando, Florida to partake in a workshop on “cybertraining” to prepare for their 2018 elections.

Climate Adaptation

States and communities across the country are faced with serious challenges of an aging and inadequate water infrastructure. The number of water main breaks across the country is staggering: at 240,000 per year, and wasting over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. The direct cost of these leaks is estimated to be approximately $2.6 billion per...

Read about top health issues facing states in 2018. Medicaid expenditures are 30 percent of states general fund budgets and states are looking for ways to cut costs. The opioid epidemic shows no signs of letting up, increasing the need for treatment, harm reduction programs and prevention. Questions of how to provide health service to the growing aging population and rural populations are top-of-mind in many states. Finally, state policymakers are beginning to look at the social determinants of health, searching for strategies that are more preventive in nature.