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While women continue to make gains in terms of their participation in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government, more progress is needed before they will reach parity with their male counterparts. Women currently hold 25.3 percent of state elected executive offices, 24.3 percent of legislative seats and 29 percent of state court judgeships.

During much of the past year, the White House has been engaged in an ambitious foreign policy agenda that includes restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, finalizing a nuclear deal with Iran and negotiating a free-trade agreement with 11 countries along the Pacific Rim. In December 2014, President Obama announced he would re-establish diplomatic ties with Raul Castro’s Cuba. Six months later, Obama announced that the U.S. had reached an unprecedented multilateral agreement that would prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In the next few months, the Obama administration is expected to finalize one of the largest free-trade agreements ever concluded. Following is a roundup of the administration’s recent foreign policy activities in each of these areas and what it means for states.

The average annual salary for U.S. governors in 2015 is $135,289—up just 0.5 percent from the average in 2014, a new survey by The Council of State Governments reveals. As in 2014, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, earns the lowest gubernatorial salary at an annual rate of $70,000, followed by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who earns $87,759 per year. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has the highest gubernatorial salary at $190,823, followed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s salary of $184,632 per year, although Haslam returns his salary to his state.

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.”

Earlier this year, an unexpected outbreak of HIV in southern Indiana triggered a high-profile emergency response while demonstrating the dangerous link between substance abuse and certain infectious diseases. This FREE eCademy webcast explores lessons from Indiana's experience, policy options and the latest research on effective treatment of substance abuse.

On August 15, state policy legislators and education officials attended the CSG Policy Academy on Innovative Delivery Models in Postsecondary Education as part of the CSG East Annual meeting held in Wilmington, Delaware.

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.

More voters are registering online, and military and civilian absentee ballot submissions from overseas are on the rise. Those are some of the key findings from a recent report of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, or EAC. As the American electorate turns its focus toward the 2016 presidential election, the EAC, an independent, bipartisan commission that serves as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration, released its Election Administration and Voter Survey for the 2014 midterm election. The 2014 survey included figures from the National Voter Registration Act—also known as NVRA or “motor voter”—and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed two bills: one that would have set up a required quarterly schedule for the state to make payments into its public pension fund and another that would have required making a $300 million lump payment into the fund for fiscal year 2016. Democrats argued that these measures were necessary to put the state’s pension fund on the right fiscal track. According to the Wall Street Journal, New Jersey’s pension system serves 773,000 current and retired state workers and is facing a funding shortfall of $37 billion. It also contributes to its fund at one of the lowest levels among all 50 states.

While occupations in the science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—fields may not make up a huge portion of total jobs, those positions are growing quickly. STEM jobs are a bigger part of the workforce in some states or localities than in others. In addition, not all STEM positions are created equal. Wages for STEM positions can depend heavily on which industry they are in or where they are located.

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