Carl Sims

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The consortium of states participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice project recently began their second round of project meetings to discuss occupational license reform. The 11 states--Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin--are individually meeting to further review their licensure process, engage with policy experts and develop action plans. The state team meetings will culminate this year in the project’s second multistate learning consortium summit to be held Nov. 28-30 in Clearwater, Florida.

energy and environment

It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands when it landed as a Category 4 storm. The disaster has so far resulted in at least 52 fatalities on the islands and the damage total has been estimated to be in the tens of billions. In response, FEMA has deployed more than 15,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members to conduct disaster relief operations. The states are also stepping up to provide assistance with 34 responding to requests for mutual aid in Puerto Rico and 22 supporting requests for mutual aid in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite the continuing response efforts, the islands combined 3.5 million people are still facing challenges to regain basic services.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics, or NCES, states that 53.4 percent of post-secondary undergraduate students financed at least part of their education through federal loans in 2011-12, an increase from 34.4 percent in 2003-041. While the NCES’s data does not account for private loans, which would further raise this percentage, it already brings to concern the effect that increased educational borrowing will have on repayment rates and future personal financial indicators, such as credit scores.

The recent hack of the consumer reporting agency Equifax compromised the security of 143 million Americans’ personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the perils of identity theft and its impact on consumer credit reports. As a response to these concerns, certain credit monitoring and control provisions have been granted to consumers through federal and state. 

Right-to-Work legislation has garnered renewed activity in states across the country. Since 2012, six states—Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia and Wisconsin—have adopted right-to-work legislation. Conversely, New Hampshire and New Mexico voted against such a measure during their 2017 legislative sessions. Though legislation varies by state, right-to-work laws allow an employee to work for a business without being obligated to join a labor union. Union groups strongly oppose such legislation as they argue it would jeopardize worker wages and benefits and allow workers who do not pay dues to benefit from union wage and benefit negotiations. Advocates of the law maintain that it encourages economic development and provides options for employees.

The importance of the internet extends to nearly every function of modern society including education, the economy, public safety, health care, entertainment, social offerings and transportation/travel. In fact, internet access is becoming increasingly seen in the United States as important to communities as traditional utilities like water and sewer service.

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