Shawntaye Hopkins

Author Articles

On Aug. 31, The Council of State Governments rededicated its national headquarters in Lexington, Ky., after an extensive, $5.5 million renovation to the building where CSG got its start in the Bluegrass State. CSG’s history, however, and the council’s commitment to championing excellence in state governments, dates back even further.

At the George C. Marshall Foundation, we spend a lot of time thinking about Marshall. Our latest endeavor is the Marshall Legacy Series, which explores the distinct and discreet aspects of Marshall’s long career to reveal those salient characteristics that served him so well. Its tagline sums up his genius and his achievements: Visionary in War and in Peace. We define these characteristics in five words.

The Council of State Governments released a report last week that outlines recommendations for state-level policies that help ensure students are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. The report, "A Framework for State Policymakers: Developing Pathways to Ensure a Skilled Workforce for State Prosperity," is the brainchild of CSG's 2014 national leaders who sought to help states prepare today's students for the jobs of tomorrow. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who served as CSG's 2014 national chair, led the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, a multi-year effort to identify obstacles—and alternative pathways—to prosperity for many Americans.

Austin, Ind., a city of about 4,200 people in Scott County, Ind., off Interstate 65, has been the epicenter of an HIV outbreak, said Maureen Hayden, statehouse bureau chief for CNHI Indiana Newspapers. HIV has spread among intravenous drug users and more than 170 cases have now been reported. Hayden, a reporter who continues to cover the outbreak in southeast Indiana, was one of three presenters who discussed Indiana’s situation and substance abuse treatment options during a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Harm Reduction: Needle-Borne Disease and Substance Abuse.”

Federal and state government relations are complicated, and tougher times may be ahead for state legislators as funding for services remains scarce. Three experts discussed the duties, powers and limitations of state governments during a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “How Does the Power Flow in Legislative Branch Federalism?” The webcast was the second in a series of three civics education webinars about the state of federalism.

It can be difficult for a member of the military or their family to vote while serving overseas. Luckily, both the federal and state governments are putting programs in place to help ensure military members’ voices are heard at the ballot box.

Although women now serve alongside men on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, there is one place where male and female soldiers may not be getting the same treatment. That place is after they return home and become veterans.

During a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Rideshare Companies: Insurance and Regulatory Issues for States,” Staking discussed insurance coverage and the risks associated with rideshare services, which he also referred to as transportation network companies. The webcast was part of a collaboration between CSG and The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation.

Delores McQuinn knew her city of Richmond, Va., had challenges with access to healthy foods well before she was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2008. “This little kid … would come to my house almost every other day to see if we had food for (him) and his siblings," she said. I realized … that there were some serious issues of people having access to food.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a census tract with a substantial share of residents who live in low-income areas that have few grocery stores or healthy, affordable food retail outlets.

Economics webcast

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, an increasing number of states, including several in the SLC region, are focused on increasing accountability and transparency in the disbursement of taxpayer dollars. Performance-based budgeting—which focuses on efficiency and effectiveness in outcomes—has emerged as a viable tool for states looking for an alternative to routinely funding government operations on a pro forma basis. This webinar provided an overview of performance-based budgeting and highlighted measures initiated in Oklahoma and Mississippi to implement this spending strategy.

 

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