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Meet your 2017 CSG leadership: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Nevada state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers and Delaware state Rep. Helene Keeley.

Prevailing wage laws are laws created by state governments or local municipalities to set a rate of pay that is thought to be standard for a labor group contracted to do public-sector projects in that area. The standard rate of pay is oftentimes determined by analyzing local wage data and identifying the median or average rate of pay for a labor group or project.Twenty-nine states currently have prevailing wage laws.

The Council of State Governments has released its annual listing of the top five issues legislators will face this session in nine key policy areas, including education, workforce development, energy and the environment, federal affairs, fiscal and economic development, health, interstate compacts, transportation, and international affairs.

CSG Director of Federal and International Affairs Andy Karellas and Senior Policy Adviser Jeff Stockdale outline the top five issues in federal affair for the states in 2017, including the presidential transition, strengthening states' roles in federalism, fiscal uncertainty, civic education and intergovernmental relations.

CSG Director of Federal and International Affairs Andy Karellas and Senior Policy Analyst Jack Cobb outline the top five issues in international affairs policy for 2017, including the impacts of macroeconomic policy, global trade, national security, conflicts overseas and global public health.

CSG outlines the top five issues in energy and environment policy for 2017, including an uncertain future for federal environmental policy, infrastructure, water quality and management, solar energy, and natural gas.

State leaders are focused on skill development and apprenticeships as the way forward in increasing labor participation and attracting mid- and high-wage jobs to their states. As states and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, both are attempting to do so in a new environment. The 21st century has seen two historic shifts related to economics and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is the new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories employ fewer people but require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees.

The election of Donald J. Trump in November left some state transportation advocates scratching their heads about the role states and localities will need to play in the years ahead to ensure that progress on transportation continues, that priorities are maintained and that future investments reflect those priorities.

Global conflicts, health risks, populist political movements and changing attitudes toward trade all represent unpredictable influences on global economic stability, which has significant impact on states’ economies. In 2016, the world saw a number of political and trade issues—such as the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the European Union, also known as Brexit, and Americans’ resistance to international trade agreements—emerge unexpectedly that will continue to resonate in 2017. With little certainty as to how these and other issues will play out, global economic instability will be the most important international issue facing states this year.

All but three state legislatures will meet in 2017 to adopt budgets. Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program that currently covers about 73 million Americans, is the single-largest component of state budgets. It is all but certain that big changes are ahead for Medicaid under the Trump administration, but the shape, fiscal impact and speed of those changes are likely to remain unclear before sine die adjournment in many states.

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