Policy Area

CSG Midwest

The scale and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned a spotlight on the role of states in responding to a new public health emergency in a manner quite unlike a tornado, flood or even recent viral concerns such as H1N1 or Ebola. By April, all states and provinces in the CSG Midwest region had declared either states of emergency or public health emergencies. In many, governors or premiers had enacted “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders for the first time in living memory.

For state legislatures, the early response centered on working with their governors (oversight, consultation, etc.) and providing emergency funding where it was needed most.

“It’s not our job to micro-manage the response, but to understand what the professionals already have in place, what they need, and what they say we’ll need next,” Minnesota Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michelle Benson says. “Our job is to listen to them and have some clear conversations about how we’re going to help.”

CSG Midwest

In March, Senate President Roger Roth got the call to prepare for an unprecedented — but not unthinkable — event in the legislative history of Wisconsin. “Whatever you have to do,” he was told by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, “we need to be able to have a contingency plan in the midst of this coronavirus [outbreak].” 

Roth’s job as presiding officer: Get the state Senate ready for a first-ever virtual meeting of the entire chamber, so that it could pass essential bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping its 33 members and legislative staff safe. “I immediately called our legislative service agencies: our technology folks, our lawyers, our parliamentarians,” Roth says. “And from that point on, they haven’t stopped working.”

After much preparatory work, practice and dress rehearsals, actual virtual sessions of the Wisconsin Senate began being held in April.

“First, you want to protect the health and safety of our members, and one-third of [the senators] are 68 or older,” Roth says, noting that older people are at a higher risk of developing serious, potentially fatal, complications if exposed to COVID-19. Just as important, in the midst of these extraordinary circumstances, people are looking for stability and want to be reassured. I think it’s important to show that even in these challenging times, our government, just like our people, will endure.”

This year marks the 100th anniversary of federal-state vocational rehabilitation programs and services. The 1920 Smith-Fees Act, also known as the Civilian Rehabilitation Act, put forth the necessary funding for states to provide prosthetics, vocational guidance, training, occupational adjustment and placement services to individuals with disabilities.

Since the passing of this bill, state legislators have not only sought to fund research regarding vocational rehabilitation (VR)...

Pennsylvania Disability Summit Billboard

Pennsylvania Representative Dan Miller hosted his seventh annual Disability and Mental Health Summit in Pittsburgh at the beginning of March.  The event highlights a variety of critical issues faced by people with disabilities. Over 2,000 legislators, advocates, youth, and practitioners were in attendance.

The all-day event covered a variety of topics including sessions on Building a Youth Mental Health Advocacy Network, Navigating Medicaid for a Child with a Disability, and From Referral to Job Placement: Led by the...

Whether lower courts may issue nationwide injunctions is one of a number of legal issues the Supreme Court will decide in Trump v. Pennsylvania and Little Sister of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania. Nationwide injunctions are controversial because they benefit non-parties. For...

CSG Midwest
On a given day, an average of $2 billion in goods and services travels between the United States and Canada. In the middle of much of that cross-border activity: the Midwest’s states and their neighboring Canadian provinces.
The month of March 2020 will be remembered as a historic one in that relationship.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the two countries closed all nonessential traffic at the border. Though these rules did not apply to most trade, automakers (central to cross-border trade and supply chains in this region) subsequently shut their factories.
Somewhat overshadowed by these extraordinary actions, though, was the start of an important new chapter in U.S.-Canada trade relations. On March 13, the Parliament of Canada approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, thus ensuring that this successor to the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement will go into effect. (The USMCA already had received formal approval by the U.S. and Mexican governments.)
CSG Midwest
Screening mammograms are used to check for breast cancer in women who have not yet shown any signs or symptoms of the disease. Diagnostic mammograms, on the other hand, are used when additional images are needed after the screening mammogram discovers possible indicators of breast cancer.
These indicators include lumps and dense breast tissue; the latter is an important indicator because women with extremely dense breasts are four to six times more likely to develop cancer than women with fatty breasts, according to Densebreast-info, Inc., an online educational resource. Additionally, it is often hard to detect cancer via routine screening mammograms in higher-density breasts, thus necessitating further tests.
Beyond more in-depth X-ray diagnostic mammograms, other detection tests include ultrasounds (sonograms) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs). Since 2010, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance providers must cover screening mammograms once a year for women ages 40 to 74 with average risk for breast cancer, and once every two years for all other women. However, insurance providers are not required to cover diagnostic tests under federal law.
CSG Midwest
Starting in 2025, all egg-laying hens in Michigan will be cage-free, the result of legislation signed into law late last year after negotiations among lawmakers, industry leaders and animal-rights groups. “[It] synchronizes Michigan’s hen-housing law with state and national retail and restaurant commitments of only buying eggs from 100 percent cage-free farms by 2025,” says Sen. Kevin Daley, the sponsor of SB 174.
Under the law, retailers can only sell eggs from hens in a “cage-free housing system”; to qualify as cage-free, the housing must “provide enrichments that allow the hens to exhibit natural behaviors” — for example, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas.
Michigan is the first Midwestern state with a cage-free law, and now the largest egg-producing state that dictates hen housing. Outside the region, California, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon and Rhode Island already have such laws. In October 2019, the North American Meat Institute filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s voter-approved animal-confinement rules.
CSG Midwest

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one in five 15-year-olds doesn’t understand basic financial concepts. For those young people, too, some very important financial decisions lie only a few years ahead — how to save and invest, how to choose between college and work, how to borrow wisely, how to manage debit and credit cards, etc.

One response by states to the challenge of improving personal financial literacy: Require more of high schools and students in this subject area, with the hope that it lays the groundwork for long-term economic success. “Well-implemented state financial education mandates lead to a clear improvement in financial behaviors,” according to a 2019 report by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Wisconsin’s election today is both a presidential primary and an election of numerous judgeships, over 500 school board seats, and several thousand other positions. Per the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in person voting will go on. Per the United States Supreme Court, only absentee ballots received or postmarked today will be counted.

Yesterday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued an executive order suspending in-person...

Pages