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Real gross domestic product – the total value of the production of goods and services adjusted for price changes – grew in 49 states in 2013. Nationally, nondurable–goods manufacturing contributed the most to real GDP growth, while mining played a key role in the fastest growing states – North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

Veterans are enrolling in postsecondary education institutions in large numbers, most of them with extensive occupational experience. Many colleges use Prior Learning Assessments to award academic credit when the knowledge and skills an individual has gained outside the classroom--including employment, military training and service, civic activities, and volunteer service--can be matched to college-level coursework. Veterans who earn credit for general courses are able to complete their degrees in a shorter period of time, reducing...

by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, CSG Senior Fellows

We spend a great deal of time in an activity they refer to as “radar screening.” The whole point of the effort is to read as much as we can about state government, while interviewing dozens of officials and observers every month. Then we connect the proverbial dots and try to discern the most important topics for the states, whether or not they’ve actually reached the general press. Here, we outline five items we think will grow ever more significant to the states as the new year moves along.

Who would have believed that a holiday trip to California’s Disneyland could lead to the sudden spread of measles, a disease formerly believed to have been nearly eradicated? The new outbreak of measles—reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have infected 121 people in 17 states and the District of Columbia between Jan. 1 and Feb. 6, 2015 —has brought the topic of vaccinations into the public eye and become one of the top political discussions of the day.

The Border Legislative Conference, a program of The Council of State Governments West, released a report, “The U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in Transition,” at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of four Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums held along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 to collectively generate a shared vision and policy recommendations to strengthen economic competitiveness. The report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development, compiles the many innovative ideas developed at the forums and weaves them into a series of policy recommendations that draw on the experiences of those who understand the border best: the individuals who live in border communities and who cross back and forth between Mexico and the United States as a part of their daily lives.

In most years, it's education and health care. At least, those issues rank at the top of the list in governors' state of the state addresses from 2012 to 2014.

Insourcing is a practice that reverses the trend of multinational corporations operating overseas. Businesses increasingly are choosing to relocate to the United States, and in some cases, foreign-owned corporations are employing American workers for the first time. Insourcing saves and creates jobs, and state policy can play a pivotal role in affecting businesses’ decisions to locate stateside.

The Council of State Governments has been providing the tools state policymakers need to get the job done for more than 80 years. CSG offers a number of valuable programs and publications to give state leaders the information they need to better serve their constituents.

Several states appear poised to tackle transportation funding during the 2015 legislative sessions. During this eCademy, CSG takes you around the country to get progress reports on funding initiatives from state house reporters, legislators and others following the activity. James Corless of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization Transportation for America also provides a perspective on the latest revenue mechanism trends and a rundown of resources available to policymakers.

 

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States face a conundrum as they struggle to regulate and tax e-cigarettes and other vapor systems that deliver nicotine to their users. Definitions in current tobacco and smoking laws can be amended to apply; however the evidence-base to establish equivalency to tobacco has not yet been established. Only three states have totally prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in public places, but 41 states prohibit the purchase of e-cigarettes to minors. Just two states have established taxes on these new products.

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