Justin Fisk

Author Articles

Access to export capital continues to be one of the largest barriers for American small business exporters. While the federal government does have successful programs for helping small businesses find the financing necessary to become exporters, another potential Congressional roadblock is showing the importance of state programs to keep goods moving. The U.S. Export-Import Bank, also known as the EX-IM Bank, is the official export-credit agency of the United States. The bank’s mission is to support American jobs by facilitating exports of domestic goods and services through direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital and export credit insurance

Hardly a day goes by without news of a cyberattack on an American business or government agency. The threats all Americans face in the cyber world today have become far more aggressive, the attacks more frequent and the techniques employed far more sophisticated than just five years ago. This advancing threat underscores the need to respond with the tools and authorities necessary to protect the nation’s security and financial resources. President Obama in February signed an executive order, advisory in nature, which urges companies to share cybersecurity threat information with one another and the federal government. The executive order is part of a broader White House effort to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure, which the administration has been pushing on Capitol Hill.

The right of 12 same-sex couples to marry—and the rights of states to choose whether to recognize those marriages—is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

On April 28, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Obergefeel v. Hodges, centered on whether  same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage and, if not, whether states may refuse to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed out of state.

According to Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, the case has far-...

In his State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Obama promoted international trade as a way to improve the U.S. economy. As the federal government focuses on concluding two large free trade agreements on the international front, state trade offices are well positioned to help small businesses navigate the export process here at home. And the State International Development Organizations, a CSG affiliate program commonly known as SIDO, is helping states do this even better.

Budget proposals released by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month look to make significant changes to a number of key federal and state programs, including the State Children's Health Insurance Program—or CHIP—Medicaid, the Highway Trust Fund and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Both budgets would make significant cuts in discretionary spending while increasing military spending. The House budget aims to cut national spending by $5.5 trillion in 10 years and balance the federal budget by 2024. The Senate budget would cut the deficit by $5.1 trillion over 10 years and reaches a balanced federal budget by 2025.

Congress has by the end of this week to pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security. After Feb. 27, the department will be forced to cut all nonessential personnel. The funding dispute between Republican and Democrat lawmakers largely revolves around the executive order on immigration President Obama issued last November that expanded the number of people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. To add more uncertainty to the issue, a federal court in Texas has temporarily blocked the executive order saying it would place major burdens on state governments and strain state budgets. President Obama has vowed to appeal the court’s decision; however, the administration will not proceed with the provisions outlined in the executive order until the appeals process is completed.

President Obama continued to build on the theme of his State of the Union speech—middle class economics—in his $3.99 trillion budget proposal. It calls for an end to fiscal austerity and proposes higher spending levels for domestic and military spending to be paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.The budget proposes significant reforms in infrastructure, workforce development and education. The president’s budget also proposes the creation of new federal-state partnerships and modifies several existing programs.

Despite political gridlock and partisanship in Washington, D.C., Congress and the president recognize intellectual property as a driver of economic growth in America. Unfortunately, cybercrime is on the rise, and intellectual property is oftentimes the primary target of cyber criminals. To protect intellectual property, the White House, Congress, and state governments all are working diligently to enhance cybersecurity.

President Obama focused on what he called “middle-class economics” in his sixth State of the Union address Jan. 20. Many of his plans to boost income and mobility for middle-class Americans—including tax reform and workforce development initiatives—will directly impact state governments. During the national address, the president expressed optimism the economy would continue “growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.” Obama urged Congress to work with the White House on joint initiatives like trade and cybersecurity reform to continue this progress. But he also promised that he would veto any legislation that would reverse his efforts on immigration, climate change or health care.

President Obama announced Dec. 17 that he would make efforts to ease travel and trade restrictions to Cuba in an effort to empower “Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” The White House has expanded the list of authorized travelers to Cuba and has authorized new goods and services to be exported to Cuba. The departments of Treasury and Commerce have jurisdiction over many of these regulatory changes, and each department submitted its final rules to the Federal Register Jan. 16. The final rules take effect immediately.

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