Michigan is the first state in the Midwest with a law requiring employers to offer paid sick time to their workers. But after the legislative vote, it was unclear how long the new measure would stay on the books. The Earned Sick Time Act began as an initiative petition and was scheduled to be on the November ballot. However, the Michigan Constitution gives the Legislature the opportunity to consider proposed ballot initiatives. Legislative approval of paid sick time came in early September — meaning no statewide vote on the measure.
Indiana’s highways, largest airport, commuter rail lines, recreational trails and broadband infrastructure are set to get a $1 billion funding boost. According to the governor’s office, an amended agreement between the state and the private company that runs the Indiana Toll Road will generate the money needed for this new infrastructure investment. (In 2006, Indiana entered into a 75-year agreement to lease the toll road to private investors.) In exchange for the $1 billion, the state is allowing the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, LLC, to increase toll rates on heavy vehicles by 35 percent.
Reflective of a national trend that has states re-examining how they evaluate the performance of teachers, Ohio is moving ahead with a revamped system that relies less on student test scores and places a greater emphasis on professional development.
Today, grand juries are viewed mostly as a tool for prosecutors, a means of gathering evidence and seeking indictments. But they have long had a second important function as well — to control the government and its power to prosecute.
Six states, including Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota in the Midwest, have laws on the books that put a twist on this government-checking role: Allow local citizens themselves to form grand juries. The target of these state statutes is not overzealous prosecutors, but inactive ones.
Answer: A mix of state and federal laws makes it illegal for certain individuals to own or possess a firearm. At the federal level, the U.S. Gun Control Act prevents gun access to convicted felons, individuals addicted to a controlled substance, domestic violence abusers, and certain people with mental illnesses, among others.
By 2022, every hospital emergency room in Illinois must have staff that can provide specialized care to victims of sexual assault. This new requirement is the result of HB 5245, a bill passed unanimously by the General Assembly and signed into law this summer. Under the law, a trained provider will have to be present in the emergency room within 90 minutes of the patient arriving in the hospital. According to the Illinois attorney general’s office, few hospitals currently provide specialized care for sexual assault victims.
The state of gambling in the Midwest already varies considerably from one jurisdiction to the next.
Want to try your hand at a casino table game? You have no such chance on one side of the Iowa-Nebraska line, where the latter’s constitutional language prevents commercial casinos. Cross the Missouri River from Omaha into the Iowa town of Council Bluffs, though, and three casinos are only minutes away.
How about playing a table-style casino game while at a bar or other local establishment, via a “video gaming terminal”? In Illinois, more than 6,000 locations now have these terminals. For most other states in the region, this type of activity is nonexistent, or at least limited to charitable or tribal gaming.
These state-by-state differences in gambling are the result of a mix of constitutional language, politics and legislative decision-making. These same factors are likely to cause states in the Midwest to take varying approaches to intrastate sports betting. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal law that had blocked this type of gambling activity, and a handful of states outside the region already have new laws in place.
In some Midwestern states, the odds seem pretty good that sports betting will be authorized (maybe as early as next year). In others, legalization appears much more of a long shot.
A trio of recently enacted bills in Michigan aims to help legislators take a longer, systematic view of how to meet the state’s infrastructure needs. According to Gov. Rick Snyder, his state is the first in the nation to implement this type of coordinated effort to manage drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, transportation and private utilities.
Vacancies, whether the result of a member’s death, an appointment to a new position, or resignation for other reasons, occur on a regular basis in U.S. state legislatures. Less common is for this turnover to get much or any public attention....