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International trade directors from more than 35 states participated in meetings and discussions with federal officials, foreign dignitaries and other partners at the State International Development Organizations’, or SIDO’s, Washington Forum in Washington, D.C., the first week of April. SIDO members met with federal officials to discuss implementation of two recent legislative actions, namely the passage of the Small Business Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, or the State Trade Coordination Act, and the reauthorization of the State Trade and Export Promotions, or STEP, program.

For state budgets, every dollar counts. But this is perhaps even more so the case at a time when state economies are still recovering from the Great Recession. That’s why New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller decided to take a closer look at state accounts when he was elected in 2014. In February, the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor released the second annual Fund Balance Report, which focuses on unspent funds in state government accounts that don’t automatically revert to the state’s general fund. In New Mexico, Keller took a look at unspent funds across all state agencies that didn’t automatically revert back to the general fund. And the results, he said, were somewhat surprising. “The dollars were much higher than anyone expected.”

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults—United States, 2014 report, which found that nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-60 are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The average hours of sleep Americans get each night vary across states and across geographic locations, the average hours of sleep Americans get each night also vary across racial and ethnic groups, age groups, employment statuses, levels of educational attainment, and relationship statuses.The implications of sleep deprivation extend beyond individual health and can impact public safety and the workforce.

Two years ago, Colorado reported success in dramatically reducing the state’s teen birth and abortion rates by 48 percent from 2009 to 2014 through a privately funded initiative that provided long-acting reversible contraception, known as LARCs. LARCs—intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and subdermal contraceptive implants—are highly effective forms of birth control, with a pregnancy rate of less than 1 percent within the first year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For comparison, oral contraceptive pills have a pregnancy rate of 9 percent and male condoms have a pregnancy rate of 18 percent in the first year. The LARC devices are effective for three to 10 years. In the last days of budget negotiation in Colorado in early April, legislators approved $2.5 million in state funding to provide LARCs to low-income women.

States may reap some revenue rewards following the rollout of new rules by the U.S. Treasury Department related to corporate income taxes. On April 4, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department announced the issuance of new regulations that are intended to make it more difficult for companies to pursue corporate inversions—the practice used by companies to reincorporate overseas in order to reduce their tax burden on income earned abroad—and to reduce subsequent profits for tax purposes through a tactic called earnings stripping. Earnings stripping is a technique employed by companies after a corporate inversion to minimize U.S. tax obligations by transferring debt to a foreign parent company and declaring the interest on the debt as a deduction.

Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have produced a whirlwind of state government activity since 2013 with more than 30 states and the District of Columbia approving legislation to address the legality of the services and a host of other issues. The issue of the adequacy of insurance for rideshare drivers has produced some of the most significant questions for lawmakers. A model law developed by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators has become a template for many of the state laws passed in recent months but some states have approved rideshare laws with unique features.

Pension administrators and policy experts presented success stories, strategies for managing public pensions and tools for collecting data on public pensions across the country at a March 29 CSG eCademy webcast, “The Facts on Public Pensions.” The webcast, which was presented in partnership with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, introduced the Public Plans Data website, a free tool to compare plans across states and help inform debates about retirement security issues.

Although not set on the usual April 15 date this year, the deadline to file federal tax returns is quickly approaching. Millions of people across the country will receive tax refunds and face decisions about how to spend the money. According to the annual Tax Returns Survey released in February, 49.2 percent of those expecting a refund planned to save the money rather than spend it immediately, the highest percentage in the survey’s history.

Representatives from correctional systems in 12 states came together in early March to set strategies for and share experiences related to reducing recidivism in their states and across the country. Convened by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, or BJA, and The Council of State Governments Justice Center’s National Reentry Resource Center, the 2016 Statewide Recidivism Reduction, or SRR, Forum brought together grantees of the SRR program—one of the Second Chance Act grants offered by BJA, which challenges state correctional systems and their partners to reduce recidivism and serve as models for the rest of the country. BJA officials—including Deputy Director Kristen Mahoney, Associate Deputy Director Ruby Qazilbash and Policy Advisor Andre Bethea—were on hand to discuss best practices.

From economic and workforce development, to infrastructure and education, any number of items could have dominated discussions during the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, or NGA, in February. Yet, as the governors began to immerse themselves in committee reports and assemble a list of priorities for their meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, it was the issue of opioid abuse and overdose deaths that dominated the agenda.

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