Shawntaye Hopkins

Author Articles

Vermont recently became the fourth state—following Oregon, California and West Virginia—to enact automatic voter registration. Starting July 1, 2017, eligible Vermont residents will be automatically registered to vote when they apply for a state driver’s license.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles will have a system that identifies the eligible voters and automatically sends their information to the appropriate town or city clerk for addition to voter checklists, unless the individual opts out.

“While states...

Many believe that taxes paid at the gas pump are what financially support roads, bridges, buses, trains and other public transit. While it is true that gas tax revenues are used to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, this revenue stream is no longer sufficient to pay for public transportation needs. Several states have begun to explore alternatives to the gas tax, such as the road usage charge—also known as the mileage-based user fee and the Vehicle Miles Traveled method. This eCademy session from The Council of State Governments West provided an overview of the road usage charge, as well as an update on how pilot programs are beginning to take shape in a few Western states.

California would follow Hawaii to become the second state to change its smoking age to 21 if a bill passed by lawmakers earlier this month is signed by the governor. The California bill would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 as well as the purchase of tobacco products by anyone under that age. The age limit also would apply to electronic devices that deliver nicotine or other vaporized liquids. On June 19, 2015, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a law that prohibited the sale, purchase, possession or consumption of cigarettes, other tobacco products and electronic smoking devices--also known as e-cigarettes--to anyone under age 21. The law went into effect Jan. 1.

Frustration and disappointment are often part of the ticket-buying process for people who want to see their favorite megastars live in concert. Single ladies might have a better chance at getting into one of the upcoming Beyoncé concerts than couples and groups, and Adele fans might have more than lost love to cry about when they’re left empty-handed without a ticket to one of her shows this fall. Blame it, at least partly, on bots, software that allows scalpers to quickly snag large quantities of tickets online.

Change is commonplace and expected in the auto industry. In recent years, however, talk has been not only about body styles but also about whether or not a body is needed at all—a human body, that is.

Product stewardship laws have a goal of reducing the environmental, safety and health impacts of consumer products. These laws typically focus on the end-of-life management of these products and generally require the manufacturers to take responsibility for recycling or safely disposing of these products when consumers cease using them. This FREE eCademy webcast featured Chaz Miller, director of policy and advocacy for the National Association of Waste and Recycling, who discussed emerging issues and trends in product stewardship laws in the states.

On a luminous August afternoon, civic leaders from across the country gathered before the longstanding canopy of brick arches at The Council of State Governments’ home in Lexington, Ky., to observe a milestone in the organization’s history. Casting shadows on the pavement, the group watched as David Adkins, the council’s ninth executive director, joined CSG national leaders on Aug. 31, 2015, for a rededication of the headquarters after an extensive, $5.5 million renovation to the building where CSG got its start in Kentucky nearly 50 years ago. The council’s history, however, dates back even further

Civic leaders across the country have organized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations—from marches to musical performances—to recognize the civil rights activist today, the third Monday in January. Each celebration is different. Similarly, each state can tell a different story about the origins of the holiday. Some states, in fact, even call the holiday by a slightly different name, recognizing Confederate leader Robert E. Lee on the same day or honoring all individuals who have fought for justice.

State leaders must evaluate risks and invest in protecting state government against cyberattacks. That’s according to experts who discussed cybersecurity at the 2015 CSG National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., in an attempt to prepare state leaders for the inevitable.

Best-selling author Hampton Sides called the 1879 voyage of the USS Jeannette, and the hardships of the men who aspired to reach the North Pole, one of the greatest survival stories of all time. Yet the story—now detailed in his most recent book, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette—fell through the cracks of history and was forgotten.

However, there is much to be learned from the USS Jeannette’s two-year drift through ice and the 92-day trek by 33 men and their dogs toward the coast of Siberia after the ship’s demise.


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