Katelyn Tye-Skowronski

Author Articles

CSG Midwest
A new law in Nebraska will help victims of sex trafficking clear their records of prostitution or other offenses that were a direct result of their being trafficked. The new statute applies to both convictions (crimes committed by adults) and adjudications (offenses committed by minors).
CSG Midwest
Most states in the region have statutes addressing school safety or emergency preparedness — some more prescriptive than others. Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, for example, require schools or school districts to have a comprehensive school safety or emergency plan.
CSG Midwest

Since 2015, a big change has occurred in how South Dakota handles young people in its juvenile justice system. “Some of these kids didn’t need to go to a juvenile detention center,” Rep. Julie Bartling says about the thinking behind the legislation passed that year (SB 73). “They just needed a little more support.”

Three years later, the state is starting to see results from this shift.
According to Kristi Bunkers, director of juvenile services for the Department of Corrections, the greatest advance has been the statewide expansion of three evidence-based programs that allow young people to receive treatment in the community rather than being detained at a residential facility or correctional center. For example, through a three- to five-month-long intervention program known as Functional Family Therapy, a young person and his or her family work through family conflicts while addressing problems of drug abuse or a range of antisocial behaviors. Of the South Dakota families who completed the program last year, 92 percent demonstrated positive behavioral change.
Like South Dakota, many states have been re-examining and, in some cases, overhauling their juvenile justice systems in recent years.
CSG Midwest
Under a North Dakota law that took effect in January, parents who are sentenced to jail or prison for more than 180 days will have their monthly child support payments suspended throughout their period of incarceration. 
Lawmakers passed the enacting legislation (SB 2277) last year in order to prevent the accrual of large amounts of past-due payments for incarcerated parents with child support orders. 
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement, studies have found that incarcerated parents leave prison with an average of $20,000 or more in unpaid child support. In 2007 (the most recent year available), the population in U.S. state prisons included 686,000 parents who had a total of more than 1.4 million children. 
CSG Midwest
Minnesota Rep. Marion O’Neill first became aware of the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders in the state’s prisons while serving on the Legislature’s Prison Population Task Force in 2015.
CSG Midwest
Starting this year, Michigan law enforcement agencies must keep track of the reason for, and the circumstances surrounding, a law enforcement officer’s resignation.
The result of state legislation passed in 2017 (SB 223), this new requirement aims to prevent officers who resign due to accusations of misconduct from being hired by another department unknowingly.
“Many times, police departments don’t want to risk a lawsuit by giving out a bad report on a former employee; other times, there’s a deal cut between the officer and the police chief or sheriff,” says Sen. Rick Jones, the sponsor of SB 223, who is a former sheriff with 31 years of experience in law enforcement. Such a deal, he adds, would allow an officer to resign in lieu of termination, which allows him or her to remain certified and to have a clean employment record when pursuing another job in law enforcement.
CSG Midwest
Minnesota Rep. Marion O’Neill first became aware of the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders in the state’s prisons while serving on the Legislature’s Prison Population Task Force in 2015.
State corrections officials told the task force that 85 percent to 90 percent of inmates had a chemical dependency, 60 percent had mental health issues, and 11 percent were severely mentally ill.
“It was clear we needed to address these individuals’ underlying issues, not just the criminal behavior,” O’Neill says.
She also learned that the majority of prison admissions — 64 percent in 2016 — were people whose parole or probation was revoked due to technical violations such as missing a meeting or failing a drug test, as opposed to individuals who had committed new crimes.
This year, O’Neill sponsored legislation that requires parole and probation agents to consider community-based alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders who violate the conditions of their probation or parole.
Under the new law, before revoking an offender’s probation or parole for a technical violation, agents must identify “options to address and correct the violation,” such as inpatient substance abuse treatment.
CSG Midwest
In Midwestern communities that host nuclear power plants, the utilities generate more than just electricity. The Nuclear Energy Institute estimates that, on average, a nuclear power plant pays almost $16 million in state and local taxes each year.
Today’s energy markets are being driven by abundant and inexpensive natural gas, which is good for ratepayers, but bad for nuclear generators.
“Nuclear plants make the bulk of their income by energy sales, and the average price of a megawatt hour is down sharply in energy markets around the country,” says Matt Wald, a spokesman for the institute. “In some places, this price is lower than the cost of operating the nuclear reactor.”
Unfavorable market conditions led FirstEnergy, the utility that owns the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants in Ohio, to seek a devaluation — or reduction in the taxable value — of its plants. The devaluations were granted by the Ohio Department of Taxation in early October, meaning municipalities will see the first impact of the tax payment changes in 2018. State officials approved a 73 percent reduction in the tax valuation of Davis-Besse, from $184 million to $49 million.
CSG Midwest
A year after a report showed the extent to which the state’s expungement policies have failed juveniles with criminal records, Illinois lawmakers simplified the process for young people and also strengthened confidentiality protections.
CSG Midwest
In 2013, the Washington State Legislature authorized a civil collection process for unpaid traffic fines, which replaced a requirement that the state suspend a person’s driver’s license for failure to pay a traffic violation.
Under similar legislation enacted in California this year (AB 103), county or court collection programs may not initiate a driver’s license suspension due to failure to pay a fine or penalty, except in the case that an individual fails to appear at a hearing. In addition, the law repealed the authority of the court to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of a person’s failure to pay a fine or bail, with respect to various violations relating to vehicles, thus removing the requirement for the department to suspend a person’s driver’s license upon receipt of that notice.
In the Midwest, a Nebraska law (LB 259) enacted this year allows residents to request a hearing if they believe they do not have the financial ability to pay for a traffic ticket.

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