Heather Perkins

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Twenty-two state constitutional amendments were enacted in 2017, with voters approving every amendment of state-wide applicability that appeared on the ballot. This included the lone citizen-initiated amendment, an Ohio amendment that strengthened victims’ rights. Other notable amendments require transportation-related taxes to be dedicated to transportation projects, as in Delaware and Louisiana, and authorize courts to reduce or revoke the public pension of officials convicted of felony offenses related to their official duties in New York.  Voters in New York overwhelmingly rejected a referendum on calling a convention to consider changes to the state constitution. A constitutional commission in Ohio came to a premature end, while another commission in Florida began work.

Chapter 1 of The Book of the States 2018 contains the following article and tables:

WHEREAS, over the last 60 years, the number of jobs requiring an occupational license has grown from about one in 20 to nearly one in four; and

WHEREAS, when implemented properly, occupational licensing can help protect the health and safety of consumers by requiring practitioners to undergo a designated amount of training and education in their field; and

WHEREAS, states have a recognized need to employ processes and tools that use evidence to inform policy and budget decisions across the areas examined; and

WHEREAS, relying on a combination of stakeholder education, a strong data infrastructure, and scientific-based analytical peer-reviewed resources can help leaders achieve better outcomes for their communities; and

WHEREAS, the availability of a highly skilled workforce is necessary to support growth and innovation in industries such as manufacturing, health care, telecommunications, biotechnology, information technology, energy, and transportation and logistics; and

WHEREAS, the nation’s industries face challenges to attract new and more diverse talent pools, replace a long serving and experienced workforce, and close gaps in workers’ skills and credentials; and

WHEREAS, equity in education refers to fairness in programs, strategies, and opportunities for all students; and

WHEREAS, equity is achieved when all students receive the resources they need to graduate prepared for success after high school; and

WHEREAS, international trade and foreign investment are major contributors to the United States economy and help support millions of good-paying jobs throughout state and local communities; and

WHEREAS, U.S. exports account for nearly 13 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and support an estimated 11.5 million jobs; and

WHEREAS, the United States and Canada have one of the largest trading relationships in the world, and Canada is the United States’ largest export market, valued at $322 billion in goods and services; and

WHEREAS, in 2016, trade between the United States and Canada totaled over $1.7 billion in goods and services every day, supporting 9 million jobs in the U.S., and Canada is the leading export destination for 32 U.S. states; and

WHEREAS, the Farm Bill supports our nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resource and wildlife habitats, rural communities and the 16 million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry; and

WHEREAS, the Farm Bill addresses America’s critical farm, nutrition, and conservation needs and requires strong bipartisan support; and

WHEREAS, the state and local tax deduction has been a feature of the federal tax code for over 100 years, dating back to 1913; and

WHEREAS, eliminating the state and local tax deduction would increase taxes for approximately 24 percent of taxpayers nationwide; and

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