Matthew Shafer

Author Articles

The Council of State Governments, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislators, or NCSL, and the State Exchange on Employment and Disability, or SEED, provided technical assistance to Oregon’s House Workgroup on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities. The workgroup is made up of representatives from Oregon’s House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee chaired by Rep. Jeff Reardon. Other members include Rep. Gene Whisnant, the vice chair, and Rep. Janeen Sollman.

States continue to take significant actions in attempts to lessen barriers to workforce entry caused by occupational licensing. CSG currently facilitates a consortium of 11 states looking at occupational licensing reform as a part of the Occupational Licensing Assessing State Policy and Practice project in partnership with NCSL and NGA, funded by the US Department of Labor. However, the examples below come from states not currently participating in this project’s consortium, signifying that occupational licensing reform is a priority for states nationwide, and not just the 11 states participating in this CSG project.

A commonly cited argument for occupational licensing reform states that licensing results in restricted employment growth and higher wages for licensed workers, which in turn increases consumer costs. Higher wages benefit licensed workers, but wage disparity leads to inefficiency and unfairness, including reducing employment opportunities and depressing wages for excluded workers.

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The Department of Defense estimates that approximately 71 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds would fail to qualify for military service based on the current enlistment criteria because of physical or mental health issues, low educational attainment or felony convictions.

Out of those who do qualify, many are not interested in serving. A Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18 to 29 year-olds found, 60 percent support using ground troops against the Islamic State but 85 percent said they would “probably” or “definitely” not join the military.

For state officials, knowing what lies around the corner is half the challenge, and the CSG Policy & Research team is committed to providing key insights and analysis on emerging issues across the policy spectrum to state officials. Each year, CSG policy experts take a look at the top issues facing states in education, energy and environment, fiscal and economic development, federal affairs, health, international affairs, interstate compacts, transportation and infrastructure, and workforce development.

Here’s a look at the most important topics on states’ workforce development agendas in 2018.

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During CSG’s 2017 National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, state leaders asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel what skills has the Department of Defense identified new recruits lack that states could consider addressing in their K-12 school systems.

DOD and the Department of Education’s Military Affairs team provide a comprehensive answer to what our federal partners have identified K-12 students need to be military ready when they graduate.

In the wake of devastating mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas last fall, policymakers are feeling pressure to do more to protect citizens from gun violence.

Although federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to individuals with mental illness, lax reporting by states and our armed forces make it far too easy for people experiencing severe mental health problems to obtain firearms. The federal database that runs all background checks prior to purchasing a firearm is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (...

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Ohio Representative Bob Cupp is addressing the pervasive issue of achieving better academic results for children in low-income households through a legislative task force. In July, Representative Cupp established the Ohio Education-Poverty Task Force to review policies that could lessen the effect of the achievement gap between low income students and their wealthier counterparts, and help students from all schools succeed. The ten-member task force hopes to generate information that will be useful in the Ohio General Assembly’s discussions on education policy, and to derive some proven strategies that can be practically implemented by state policy.

Charters

The Trump administration is making school choice expansion a cornerstone of their education policy. In a recent speech, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos promised “the most ambitious expansion of school choice in our nation’s history.” Charters and other school choice options are...

Most Americans learn the process of how a federal bill becomes a law in elementary school civics class. However, what is not typically taught is how different the legislative process can be from state to state. Each state develops a procedure that meets its unique needs. Things such as how long a legislative session lasts and how often the sessions occur differ and affect the process for how bills are passed into law. Pennsylvania and Vermont are two examples of how states fluctuate in the way they pass legislation.  ...

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