High-profile programs like Race to the Top and Common Core have brought education reform again to the front of the national agenda. Discussion, however, settles over class size, teacher certification and teacher compensation because they seem like the most important issues related to student achievement. Significantly less time is spent on discussing the role of the principal. With increasingly complex duties, higher accountability and only modest pay increases, the principal’s job has become frustrating and unappreciated. Nevertheless, new studies are shedding light on the substantial impact that principals, as a part of institutional leadership, have on student performance.

Friday, a U.S. appeals court upheld a 2011 Florida law that prohibits doctors from discussing gun safety with their patients. The 2-1 ruling...

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma was11 percent in 2013 - nearly 4 percentage points higher than the national average and almost triple the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree. 

Cigarette smuggling across state lines is a serious problem, costing states billions in lost revenue each year and creating challenges for law enforcement. 

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan called for states to develop methods to place effective teachers in high-poverty schools in a letter earlier this month. Calling for a plan to ensure equal access to qualified teachers regardless of race or income from each state by April 2015, Duncan also introduced the Educator Equity Support Network, which will work with states by compiling best practices and providing technical support related to implementation. Concurrently, the Education Department will provide each state with its data file from the Civil Rights Data Collection which will serve to highlight current income- and race-based gaps in access.

Punting the football… Kicking the can down the roadHitting the snooze buttonStill driving blind… Road to nowhere… Spinning wheelsRiding on four flat tires…  Pick your favorite metaphor and it’s probably been used to describe the House-approved temporary fix that the U.S. Senate appears poised to pass next week to rescue the dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund and ensure reimbursements for transportation projects will continue to go out to states through next May. It’s a plan that no one seems to like, that mostly prolongs the uncertainty states have faced in recent years with regards to the federal transportation program and that sets up another battle for next spring, albeit in what could be a substantially different looking new Congress. I also have a look this week at President Obama’s Build America Investment Initiative and a super-sized roundup of links from the last three weeks on reauthorization of MAP-21, the future of the Highway Trust Fund, state activity on transportation revenues, public-private partnerships and tolling and state multi-modal strategies.

Kentucky’s Senate Bill 7 will now allow nurse practitioners to prescribe medications on their own, after prescribing under a physician in a collaborative agreement for four years. Nurse practitioners in Kentucky will still need a collaborative agreement with a physician to prescribe narcotics. Senate Bill 7 was passed on February 26, 2014 and went into effect on July 15.

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Summary drafted by The Council of State Governments

Congress’ swift passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) demonstrates the importance of modernizing workforce and jobs training programs to help equip workers with the skills needed for 21st century jobs. Shrinking the skills gap and placing workers in good-paying jobs is the cornerstone of CSG’s 2014 “State Pathways to Prosperity” initiative, and this legislation is an important step. This memorandum will provide an overview of WIOA and the key changes for states.

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The Council of State Governments, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense, launched a $3.2 million Overseas Voting Initiative in late 2013 to improve the U.S. overseas voting process. CSG is working to develop policy solutions to ensure that overseas voters have the tools to vote while serving their nation abroad. That effort will be the subject of a workshop 9-11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11, during the CSG National and CSG West Annual Conference.

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Will the fate of the Obamacare subsidy be in the Supreme Court's hands soon?

Short answer: almost certainly.

In an unusual turn of events, two federal courts of appeals on Tuesday issued opinions on whether the Affordable Care Act permits tax credits on insurance purchased through federal exchanges. Less surprisingly, perhaps, the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit disagreed, making Supreme Court review almost inevitable.

The ACA provides tax credits to low and middle income purchasers of health...

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