Congress created the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG) in 2005 to provide “flexible” funding for state and local police departments. In April 2017 the Department of Justice (DOJ) required Philadelphia (and eight other jurisdictions) to provide documentation that it complies with 8 U.S.C. 1373, which prohibits states and local governments from restricting employees from sharing immigration status information with federal immigration officials.

Philadelphia sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions arguing that the City complies with 8 U.S.C. 1373. A federal district court in Philadelphia agreed and issued a preliminary injunction preventing Sessions from denying the City Byrne JAG grant funding.

Among other things, Sessions objected to a Philadelphia policy of not responding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) civil immigration detainer requests asking the City to hold an arrested, undocumented person until ICE can pick them up, unless the request is accompanied by a judicial warrant.

energy and environment

It has been more than two months since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands when it landed as a Category 4 storm. The disaster has so far resulted in at least 52 fatalities on the islands and the damage total has been estimated to be in the tens of billions. In response, FEMA has deployed more than 15,000 federal civilian personnel and military service members to conduct disaster relief operations. The states are also stepping up to provide assistance with 34 responding to requests for mutual aid in Puerto Rico and 22 supporting requests for mutual aid in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Despite the continuing response efforts, the islands combined 3.5 million people are still facing challenges to regain basic services.

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the House passed H.R. 4174, the “Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2017,” under suspension of the rules, which is a fast-track procedure that bars amendments and requires a two-thirds vote for approval. 

The bill, introduced in the House by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and in the Senate by Patty Murray (D-WA), draws on recommendations from a...

Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors' Association, brought webinar participants up to speed on the creation of the Western Policy Network. The network is an effort by a number of western organizations to improve the state consultation process with the federal government. Pete Obermueller, executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, will focused how his organization has attempted to improve the state consultation process as it applies directly to the local government level.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program just announced the release of their updated Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB), as well as the 2018-2019 Voting Assistance Guide. The Guide is available now on FVAP.gov and will be distributed to Voting Assistance Officers in December.

California law requires that licensed pregnancy-related clinics disseminate a notice stating that publically-funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion are available. It also requires unlicensed pregnancy-related clinics to disseminate a notice they are unlicensed. The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) operates 111 pregnancy centers in California. None offer abortions or abortion referrals; only 73 are licensed.

In NIFLA v. Becerra NIFLA claims that both requirements violate the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. The Ninth Circuit disagreed.

In Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky the Supreme Court will decide whether banning political apparel at polling places violates the First Amendment. At least eight states (Delaware, Kansas, Montana, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont) other than Minnesota have enacted similar bans.

What if a police officer arrests someone in retaliation for engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment but the officer also had probable cause to arrest that person for different, legitimate reason? In Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach the Supreme Court will decide whether that person may sue the police officer for violating his or her First Amendment rights.

Fane Lozman lived in a floating house in the Riviera Beach Marina. The City proposed to redevelop the marina using eminent domain and Lozman became “an outspoken critic” regularly criticizing the mayor and city council at council meetings. At a city council meeting Lozman offered comments about former county commissioners who had served in other communities being arrested. A councilperson had Lozman arrested for refusing to stop talking. Lozman was not ultimately charged with disorderly conduct or resisting arrest.

2017 was a big year for state transportation funding efforts, following in the footsteps of recent odd-number years 2013 and 2015 that also saw significant activity. So, what’s on tap for 2018? Here’s my annual look ahead.

Happy Veterans Day! In California, citizens can honor veterans and active service members though California’s Honor Veterans. Vote. Program. The program gives California voters the opportunity to pay tribute and dedicate their vote to a veteran or active duty service member.

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