The halls of Congress are quiet once again as lawmakers return home to their districts for the seven-week summer recess. Although Congress goes on recess every August, the adjournment will be longer this year due to the political conventions. Neither chamber will resume formal activity until after Labor Day when lawmakers return for 19 legislative days before adjourning again in October for the presidential election. They will return to a litany of unfinished items, including the annual appropriations bills and measures to address the Zika virus and the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
On June 7, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who served as the 2014 CSG national chair, testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Affairs at a hearing regarding “Oversight of EPA Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” The hearing was a continuation of the subcommittee’s oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking process and examined the agency’s compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, or UMRA, and the impact of unfunded mandates on state, local and tribal governments.
States may reap some revenue rewards following the rollout of new rules by the U.S. Treasury Department related to corporate income taxes. On April 4, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the issuance of new regulations that are intended to make it more difficult for companies to pursue corporate inversions—the practice used by companies to reincorporate overseas in order to reduce their tax burden on income earned abroad—and to reduce subsequent profits for tax purposes through a tactic called earnings stripping. Earnings stripping is a technique employed by companies after a corporate inversion to minimize U.S. tax obligations by transferring debt to a foreign parent company and declaring the interest on the debt as a deduction.
The authorizing committees in both the House and Senate are taking steps toward developing a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in 2016, which provides the authorization for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activities undertaken to meet the demands of maintaining navigable channels, reducing flood and storm damage, and restoring aquatic ecosystems throughout the country. Once a biennial affair, only two WRDA authorizations have been enacted in the last 14 years. The 2014 bill marked the first WRDA passage in seven years....
The smartphone has become an American staple in recent years. Need to know the time? The once required wristwatch has been replaced by the smartphone. Drawing a sudden blank on someone’s name or new job post? A quick check of a social media app can save one from embarrassment at a moment’s notice. More importantly, wireless phones are proving to be a critical tool in expanding access to high-speed Internet service to Americans in rural communities. But the expanded reach of smartphones and other wireless devices into millions of hands across the country has met a significant challenge. The U.S. is facing a wireless spectrum shortage.
CSG Director of Education Policy Elizabeth Whitehouse and Senior Policy Advisor Jeff Stockdale outline the top five issues in education policy for 2016, including college access and affordability, Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, WIOA implementation, and student veterans.
As state leaders outline their goals for 2016, educators and policymakers will look for strategies that ensure America’s students receive a high-quality education while addressing workforce challenges that inhibit economic growth. 2016 promises to be another busy year in transformational strategies in education. State leaders will likely address these top 5 issues facing states this year:
As part of its State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, CSG released a report in August that outlines recommendations for state-level policies to ensure students are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. The report, “A Framework for State Policymakers: Developing Pathways to Ensure a Skilled Workforce for State Prosperity,” containing the work of the CSG National Task Force on Workforce Development and Education, represents more than a year of study, dialogue and deliberation by state officials from both parties, all regions of the U.S. and from diverse perspectives. This session featured some of the experts and policymakers who dedicated their time to crafting these options for robust state-level policies and explored how states are preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow.
Congress returned from the August break facing the challenge of having to address a long list of critical issues in the dwindling legislative year. These important issues include reaching agreement on the budget and debt ceiling; addressing the expiring highway funding authority; overhauling federal education policy; and discussing cybersecurity legislation.
The Obama administration released the final version of the Clean Power Plan last week at a White House ceremony attended by a crowd of administration officials, members of Congress and environmental advocates. This highly anticipated plan is the first comprehensive federal rule to target carbon emissions from existing, new and modified power plants. It is touted as the most ambitious regulation ever aimed at combating climate change.