CSG Midwest
K-12 education consistently makes up the largest share of state general fund spending each year, hovering between 34 percent and 36 percent since 1996, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In fiscal year 2015, more than $260 billion went to elementary and secondary education. Although no two states distribute education dollars exactly the same way, the vast majority of funding formulas are built around a “foundation” or “base” amount of funding that is the minimum each student receives. 
State formulas then further adjust per-pupil funding depending on the type of student (for example, special needs, English-language learner, low-income) and the wealth of the school district. The systems that work best are based on research — specifically, tying the amount that flows to each school to the cost of providing an education that meets the state’s academic standards, says Michael Griffith, a school finance strategist with the Education Commission of the States. 
North Dakota, for example, used an evidence-based approach developed by an outside consulting firm as it made multiple improvements to K-12 funding over the past decade. The firm was hired in 2008 to make recommendations on an “adequate funding level,” or how much the state should spend per student based on the state’s curriculum standards.
CSG Midwest
For 40 years, Mary Murphy has been introducing legislation and casting votes that shape public policy in her home state of Minnesota. But the longtime state representative always had her eye on being part of another vote, and this past year, she finally got the chance. In December, Rep. Murphy and nine other fellow Minnesotans met in St. Paul to make the state’s official votes in the U.S. Electoral College. A packed room of people — some of them high school teachers and students who had participated in a statewide mock election run by the secretary of state — watched the proceedings in the Senate Office Building.
“It was everything I expected, and more,” Murphy said a few days after casting her votes for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.
The event had special meaning for Murphy because of her many years as a high school history and civics teacher. But for most people, in most presidential elections, the Electoral College is little more than an afterthought. This time was different. First, for one of the few instances in the nation’s history, the winner of the nation’s popular vote (Clinton) lost the race for president. Second, between the Nov. 8 general election and the Dec. 19 Electoral College vote, some electors in states where Donald Trump won the popular vote were pressured to cast a vote for someone else.
CSG Midwest
In 2015, lawmakers in North Dakota passed legislation (SB 2057) requiring the legislature to undertake an evaluation of 21 of the state’s tax incentive programs at least once every six years. According to Pew’s Business Incentives Initiative, North Dakota is one of 21 states (four in the Midwest; see map at right) that have passed laws since 2012 requiring regular evaluations of tax incentive programs offered by the state.
CSG Midwest
Michigan lawmakers are looking for ways to improve the availability, reliability and affordability of electricity in the state’s Upper Peninsula, and one potential solution is to bring in more power from neighboring Ontario.
In a letter this fall, the province backed Michigan’s request for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator to study the idea of extending electric-generating connections across the U.S.-Canada border.
“Interconnections with neighboring jurisdictions provide significant economic and reliability benefits on a daily basis,” wrote Glenn Thibeault, Ontario’s minister of energy, adding that these connections can help provide backup when areas lose their primary generating source.

Pursuant to Article VI Section I of the adopted Bylaws of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission and of Section 11, Subsection H of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, duly adopted by the Legislative Bodies of, and, signed into law by the hand of the Governors of the assembled member states of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission, notice of a public meeting of the full Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission is hereby served.

CSG Midwest
After a tumultuous year in national politics, and in advance of a new U.S. Congress and presidential administration, advocates of Great Lakes protection and restoration won some important legislative victories at the tail end of 2016. Those accomplishments, perhaps most notably a formal authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, provide the region with some much-needed certainty about federal Great Lakes policy during a period of change in Washington, D.C., said Chad Lord, policy director of the Healing Our Waters Coalition.
CSG Midwest
South Dakota was the fastest-growing Midwestern state between 2015 and 2016, and the only one that topped the national growth rate of 0.7 percent. The latest U.S. Census Bureau data, released in December, also show that South Dakota (overall growth rate of 0.9 percent) was the only state in this region with a net gain due to domestic migration. 
CSG Midwest
In an effort to save young lives at risk due to drug overdoses, the state of Michigan is giving its schools the chance to stock naloxone, an “opioid antagonist” drug. SB 805 and 806, signed into law in December, set several parameters for school districts.
CSG Midwest
Two state legislatures in the Midwest took actions this past year to encourage private investments in affordable housing. In late 2016, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law (SB 2921) extending a tax-incentive program that has been in place since 2011. It provides a 50-cent tax credit for every dollar donated to a not-for-profit group that is working to create or preserve housing for low-income residents. Since its inception, Illinois officials say, the tax credit has leveraged more than $370 million in private investment and helped create or preserve over 18,000 affordable housing units.
Nebraska’s LB 884 was signed into law in April 2016.
CSG Midwest
Unlike criminal forfeiture, in which a legal action is brought as part of the crime that a person is charged with, civil forfeiture laws by and large allow assets to be seized by police upon only upon a suspicion of wrongdoing.
In recent years, stories of innocent citizens having cash and other property seized — and facing arduous, uphill battles to reclaim their property — have prompted efforts from entities as disparate as the Charles Koch Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union to modify or repeal civil forfeiture laws.

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