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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—The solar electricity industry in the United States has seen dramatic growth in the past few years. But some believe states could be doing more with policy to put solar on a more level playing field with electricity produced by fossil fuels. That’s what two consultants told attendees Aug. 13 at a daylong policy academy during the recent CSG National and CSG West Annual Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—Strict adherence to the American principle of separation of powers should not stop members of the three branches of state government from coming together to improve child welfare and juvenile justice services to vulnerable children. That was the feeling at a panel discussion Aug. 13 at the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference moderated by Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—The UPS headquarters in Louisville, Ky., has found a way to attract good workers and connect those workers to higher education. UPS/Metropolitan College covers the cost of tuition, books and academic bonuses to employees who work in the UPS overnight air operation while they’re attending school. The company partners with the University of Louisville, one of the largest universities in Kentucky, and the Jefferson County Community and Technical College to offer the program, Nick D’Andrea, director of state government affairs for UPS, told attendees at the Aug. 13 session, “Linking Education, Workforce Development for More Competitive States,” during the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—Nicholas Burns, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former adviser to four U.S. presidents, thinks the world is in pretty bad shape right now. That’s a sobering thought considering he began his career in public service during the height of the Cold War....

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—Nearly 200 state leaders, guests and Alaska legislative staff helped pack 32,000 meals for the Alaska Food Bank during The Council of State Governments’ service project Aug. 13. The project—which began in 2010-11 during Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris’ year as chair of CSG’s Southern Legislative Conference—grew this year to be part of Norris’ initiative as CSG national chair, “State Pathways to Prosperity.” The service project occurred on the final day of the joint CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—For the past three years, states have been finding new ways to work together in the health care arena to help avoid the ever-dreaded 800-pound gorilla called federal pre-emption....

By Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval

Throughout my career, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to serve Nevada as a legislator, gaming regulator, attorney general, federal judge and now as governor. To have worked in all three branches of government has broadened my perspective, and my experiences have been a tremendous asset in my current job as governor. Each branch is very distinct, and each position presents a unique set of challenges. That being said, the one constant, no matter the position, has been the necessity to make key decisions and, when the time comes, to lead.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—While states across the country have made changes to their public employee retirement plans, some of them have ended up in court for one key reason. “There’s a theme that comes where reform efforts have worked and where they don’t and a lot of them end up getting them challenged in court,” Robert D. Klausner, a partner with a law firm that handles retirement system cases, said during the CSG policy academy, “Accounting for the State of Public Pensions,” Saturday, Aug. 9. “The places where it doesn’t get challenged in court are places where employees have been engaged early in the process.”

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—While public pension plans still face problems, the situation isn’t as bleak as the headlines report, according to Dana Bilyeu, executive director of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. In fact, public pension plans across the country are 80 percent funded, on aggregate; that’s down from 101 percent funded in 2001, Bilyeu said. She spoke at The Council of State Governments policy academy, “Accounting for the State of Public Pensions,” Aug. 9.

Alabama Rep. Mac Buttram thinks it’s about time people start thinking about career and technical education in a different way. Buttram recently was appointed to Gov. Robert Bentley’s new Alabama Workforce Council. The council, comprised primarily of state business leaders, is designed to help K-12 and higher education institutions in the state better meet the needs of businesses and industries. He was one of the featured speakers at CSG’s Policy Academy on Workforce Development, held Aug. 9 at the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference in Alaska.

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