On Wednesday, March 9th, state regulators from across the country testified in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the difficulties they face as co-regulators with federal agencies.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management held a hearing yesterday on the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (UMITA), proposed legislation aimed at strengthening the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) and addressing the challenges state and local governments face as they implement congressional and agency mandates.

President Bill Clinton signed the UMRA into law in an effort to improve regulatory practices and to bring more...

CSG Midwest
Nebraska lawmakers voted in early 2016 to maintain the Unicameral Legislature’s secret-ballot method of selecting committee chairs and other leaders. Every two years, each of the state’s 49 senators casts votes for these leadership positions (including the top position of speaker). Under this system, the jockeying among members to become speaker or chair of one of the 14 standing committees can go on for months.
CSG Midwest
Most legislatures do not have firm rules in place, and nearly all committee witnesses still make their statements in person, according to a recent CSG Midwest survey of the region’s legislative service agencies. However, most states in the Midwest do provide remote testimony as an option in certain situations — especially those in which an invited committee guest faces travel-related obstacles.
CSG Midwest

Ohio has joined the list of Midwestern states that require visitors to walk through a metal detector before entering the capitol building. The state’s new security rules, which took effect this fall, also ban backpacks. Gov. John Kasich had called for the use of metal detectors soon after taking office in 2011, cleveland.com reports.

Federal lawmakers are nearing the end of the year with many outstanding issues left on the congressional wish list. Priority centers around a spending bill to fund the federal government past mid-December. Other important issues being discussed include reforms to and reauthorizations of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Highway Trust Fund, Export-Import Bank and special tax credits and tax breaks, known as tax extenders, for certain groups and individuals.

On the eve of Veterans Day, Congress took a major step in supporting the nation’s 22.3 million veterans by passing the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations, or MilCon—VA, bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. The first of 12 appropriations bills to pass both chambers of Congress in 2015, the Senate version provides $82 billion in discretionary funding for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Pentagon construction projects. The fiscal year 2016 bill provides about $8 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 level.

CSG Midwest
For most new state legislators, only a few weeks separate their November election victories and their first day in office. There is a lot to learn in that short time frame — everything from the legislative process and constituent services, to information about the staffing and resources available to them.
Orienting these new members, then, is crucial to helping make the legislative branch run smoothly, especially in states and in election years with high rates of turnover due to term limits and other factors. Offered in every Midwestern state legislature, new-member orientations are run by nonpartisan staff, often with oversight from legislative leaders or a joint or bipartisan legislative committee.

In late October, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio announced his intention to “clean the barn” as much as possible before his successor took the gavel. In keeping his promise, Boehner succeeded in brokering a bipartisan, two-year budget deal to avoid a government shutdown and prevent a government default on its debt. To offset the increased spending caps for defense and discretionary programs, the budget deal included cost-saving provisions for certain programs, some of which—including the following—will have an impact on state governments.

During its state budget debate in 2015, Louisiana turned to a relatively new sin tax. It joined North Carolina and Minnesota and added taxes on e-cigarettes to its revenue sources. Legislators from Louisiana, North Carolina and Minnesota will join a panel discussion on taxation and regulation of e-cigarettes during a policy workshop from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 12, at the CSG 2015 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. An official from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will address proposed federal regulations on e-cigarettes. The FDA is using its statutory “deeming” authority to issue regulations on products that it determines fall under the legal definition of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco and novel products such as nicotine gels and dissolvable tobacco

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