While its use dates back before the founding of the United States, the interstate compact mechanism has evolved from a tool to settle land disputes to an agreement between the states that allows policymakers to solve some of America’s most pressing issues. This FREE CSG eCademy offers a tutorial on the interstate compact mechanism and showcases the compact in practical use on issues ranging from healthcare to the criminal justice system and the education of military children.

Competency-based education—also known as proficiency-based, performance-based and mastery-based education—is a personalized, student-centered approach to learning in which students demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills and move toward graduation at their own pace. This FREE CSG eCademy features experts in competency-based education at the K-12 level, and explores the role of state policy in supporting the use of competency-based education.

Nuclear energy has provided commercial electricity generation in the United States since 1957, when a plant in Shippingport, Penn., came online. Between 1966 and 1977, 75 nuclear reactors were built in the U.S. However, a combination of escalating costs and increasing safety and environmental concerns halted almost all construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. after 1978. While the future of nuclear energy is uncertain, the construction of the first new reactors in decades and the continuing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is leading to an increased interest in nuclear energy.

Last week’s settlement by the rideshare company Uber of a pair of class action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts means the company won’t have to change a key part of its business model … at least for now. I also have items about Uber’s involvement in a new lobbying group to promote autonomous vehicles, a new report on how ridesharing services could help fill the gaps in low-income communities not well served by transit and how some communities are trying to deal with the issues presented in allowing Uber to operate in their jurisdictions while protecting the interests of others. Plus updates on a couple of key conferences later this year you might want to attend.

The benefits of e-cigarettes outweigh their potential harms the British Royal College of Physicians concluded after a comprehensive review of the current scientific research on e-cigarettes. The college's April 28 report, reported in Britain by the BBC and in the U.S. by the New York Times, concludes e-cigarettes are "much safer" than smoking conventional cigarettes and can be an important aid to quit smoking.

In Heffernan v. City of Paterson, New Jersey the Supreme Court held 6-2 that a public employer violates the First Amendment when it acts on a mistaken belief that an employee engaged in First Amendment protected political activity. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief taking the opposite position.  

The Court assumed the following facts in this case:  Police officer Jeffery Heffernan worked in the office of the police chief. The mayor was running for reelection against a friend of Heffernan’s, Lawrence Spagnola. Heffernan was demoted after another member of the police force saw Heffernan picking up a Spagnola yard sign and talking to the Spagnola campaign manager and staff. Heffernan was picking up the sign for his bedridden mother.

Since August 2015, three major coal companies--Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and, most recently, Peabody Energy--have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In addition to raising questions about potential layoffs, losses in benefits for employees, mine closures and reductions in state tax revenue, these bankruptcies have left state regulators and the public questioning how these bankruptcies will affect the companies’ mine reclamation obligations.

International trade directors from more than 35 states participated in meetings and discussions with federal officials, foreign dignitaries and other partners at the State International Development Organizations’, or SIDO’s, Washington Forum in Washington, D.C., the first week of April. SIDO members met with federal officials to discuss implementation of two recent legislative actions, namely the passage of the Small Business Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, or the State Trade Coordination Act, and the reauthorization of the State Trade and Export Promotions, or STEP, program.

For state budgets, every dollar counts. But this is perhaps even more so the case at a time when state economies are still recovering from the Great Recession. That’s why New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller decided to take a closer look at state accounts when he was elected in 2014. In February, the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor released the second annual Fund Balance Report, which focuses on unspent funds in state government accounts that don’t automatically revert to the state’s general fund. In New Mexico, Keller took a look at unspent funds across all state agencies that didn’t automatically revert back to the general fund. And the results, he said, were somewhat surprising. “The dollars were much higher than anyone expected.”

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults—United States, 2014 report, which found that nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-60 are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The average hours of sleep Americans get each night vary across states and across geographic locations, the average hours of sleep Americans get each night also vary across racial and ethnic groups, age groups, employment statuses, levels of educational attainment, and relationship statuses.The implications of sleep deprivation extend beyond individual health and can impact public safety and the workforce.

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