Lisa McKinney

Author Articles

What do natural disasters, the sharing economy and an aging population have in common? These are all policy topics where a basic knowledge of risk management and insurance can help state leaders make better policy decisions. In collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, The Council of State Governments addresses these topics and more throughout a four-part webinar series designed to provide public policymakers with a greater understanding of risk management insurance through the lens of emerging issues. Part two of the series focused on property and casualty insurance.

By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene
It may appear that efforts to adopt an evidence-based approach using data to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of law enforcement had its genesis back in 1995, when New York City kicked off work on its so-called CompStat system. In that very successful effort, geographic information systems, or GIS, were used to identify the places in the city where officers could be deployed to their best use. It worked so well that New York’s crime rates plummeted and a number of other places tried to emulate the work. But while CompStat may have been at the forefront of using technology in this way, “the history of quantitative crime analysis spans decades,” wrote Jennifer Bachner, a director in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Governmental Studies. As Bachner pointed out, in 1829 “an Italian geographer and French statistician designed the first maps that visualized crime data,” including three years of property crime rates as well as education information garnered from France’s census. The maps showed a correlation between the two—more education tended to equate to less crime. Jump forward about 190 years and you’ll find that a number of states, counties and cities have been using the seemingly magical capacity of computers to advance this work dramatically.

During The Council of State Governments' eCademy webcast, "Building the Grid of the Future: How Technology Can Help," panelists discussed the aging electric grid, how new technologies can help meet energy reliability and affordability objectives, and how policymakers can help ensure the grid continues to meet consumer demands.

West Virginia state Sen. Ron Stollings, or Dr. Stollings to his patients, used his experience as a physician to inform his policy decisions while serving as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee for four years. “I have boots on the ground,” said Stollings. “I see up to 20 patients a day and I see what all is troubling them and what issues they are having and frequently I can take those issues to the statehouse and try to implement changes that might positively impact people.” Stollings said only about 20 percent of health outcomes are attributable to the traditional medical care system, so he focused on public health issues such as obesity, vaccinations and tobacco use during his time as the Health Committee chair.

Massachusetts took an innovative approach to closing the wage gap between men and women with first-of-its-kind legislation barring employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. Bill S.2119, or An Act to to Establish Pay Equity, was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on Aug. 1 and will go into effect July 1, 2018.

“I am pleased to sign bipartisan legislation to create a more level playing field in the Commonwealth and ensure that everyone has...

By Crit Luallen
It would be no surprise if a young person whose perception of public service has been formed through the lens of cable news and its 30-second sound bites was forever dissuaded from choosing a career in the public arena. So much of what we see today involves the negative attacks and divisive rhetoric that have fueled increased polarization in this nation. But an innovative program in Lexington, Kentucky, offers an opportunity for a select group of future leaders to see public leadership in a far different and much more positive way. The Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship is a nonprofit dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders in the essential skills of diplomacy, negotiation and conflict resolution. Thanks to a collaborative partnership that includes The Council of State Governments, the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Kentucky, and Transylvania University, the Henry Clay Center expanded in 2016 to hold both a high school and college-level Student Congress in the same year for the first time.

By Sallie Clark

Counties are at the forefront of assisting individuals with behavioral health needs, annually investing $83 billion in community health systems, including behavioral health services. Through 750 behavioral health authorities and community providers, county governments plan and operate community-based services for people with mental illnesses and substance abuse conditions. County-based behavioral health services exist in 23 states that collectively represent 75 percent of the U.S. population. Counties also help to finance Medicaid, the largest source of funding for behavioral health services in the U.S., and serve as the local safety net, administering wrap-around human services support.

In light of recent high-profile incidents and data affirming high rates of sexual assaults on college campuses, elected officials and college administrators across the country are working to identify solutions to this problem. This webinar provides lawmakers with an opportunity to hear from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, or OCR, about national trends and what OCR is doing to enforce Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance, and learn about approaches that some colleges and universities have instituted to prevent sexual assaults and enhance support for victims.

During The Council of State Governments’ eCademy webcast, “Human Trafficking—How States are Responding,” panelists discussed legislation, task forces and funding to combat human trafficking at the state level.

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which people, often children, are forced into sex work or other labor. The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that works to combat human trafficking, estimates that the number of adults and children being forced into labor in the United States numbers in the...

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ strict regulations on abortion clinics, in the court’s most significant decision on abortion rights in decades. At issue in the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, is to what extent states can regulate abortion within their borders, and the ruling likely will have ramifications for states across the country that have passed similar legislation restricting abortion in recent years. Lisa Soronen, director of the State and Local Legal Center, describes the case as the “most significant abortion case since Planned Parenthood v. Casey,” the 1992 Supreme Court case that held that state lawmakers could restrict abortion rights as long as they do not provide an “undue burden” to women seeking an abortion. In the Casey decision, the court defined an undue burden as a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s fundamental right to choice.”

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