A state of emergency was declared in eleven states in response to Winter Storm Jonas, which slammed the East Coast last week, killing at least 37 people and leaving 250,000 people without power, according to the Weather Channel. 

A state of emergency was declared in eleven states in response to Winter Storm Jonas, which slammed the East Coast last week, killing at least 37 people and leaving 250,000 people without power, according to the Weather Channel. In addition, the storm could end up causing “multi-billion” dollar economic losses, reinsurance broker Aon Benfield told Fortune on Monday.

It was a typical oral argument at the Supreme Court in a “big” case. Protesters outside with opposing messages tried to out yell each other, but everyone inside was listening to Justice Kennedy.

In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association the Court will decide whether to overrule a nearly 40-year old precedent requiring public sector employees who don’t join the union to pay their “fair share” of collective bargaining costs. More than 20 States have enacted statutes authorizing fair share.

If the Court doesn’t overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) it may instead rule that public employees may be allowed to opt-in rather than required to opt-out of paying “nonchargeable” political union expenditures.

In Heffernan v. City of Paterson, New Jersey the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) Supreme Court amicus brief argues that a government employer’s perception that an employee has exercised his or her First Amendment rights cannot be the basis for a First Amendment retaliation lawsuit. 

Officer Heffernan was assigned to a detail in the Office of Chief of Police. He was reassigned after he was seen picking up a campaign sign for the current police chief’s opponent.

The First Amendment protects non-policymaking public employees who support a candidate in an election. Officer Heffernan maintains that he was in no way involved with the police chief race. The sign wasn’t for himself; it was for his bedridden mother.

“Data is the lifeblood of state government,” reported CSG Senior Fellows Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene in the June cover story of Governing magazine. Unfortunately, in case after case, states’ internal veins and arteries are full of data that’s inaccurate, misleading or out-of-date. In some instances, vital information is simply missing altogether for a variety of reasons, including a tendency of agencies to hoard their own data, missing out on opportunities to be achieved by sharing it with others in their state.

The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. The average governor’s salary grew more slowly during and after the Great Recession, with many states instituting a ban on cost-of-living adjustments; however, as the economic and fiscal health of states has improved, the annual increases normally seen in executive branch pay are returning to a more historically customary level.

The U.S. Census Bureau measures state and local government activity through the Census of Governments and related surveys. The data produced from these efforts are standardized across states and are the only nationwide dataset that allows for comparability both across states and on a national basis. Even with this standardization, the activities of 50 different state political systems present unique challenges to those who collect and use these data. We will introduce the principles by which the Census Bureau classifies governments and their activities. Additionally, through specific case studies, we will illustrate the ways states differ in their operation and in how they conduct the business of public service. Through these illustrations, we will offer a perspective that enables data users to delve into the data with a more thorough and accurate understanding, allowing them to formulate analyses more accurately. 

Chapter 8 of the 2015 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Economics webcast

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, an increasing number of states, including several in the SLC region, are focused on increasing accountability and transparency in the disbursement of taxpayer dollars. Performance-based budgeting—which focuses on efficiency and effectiveness in outcomes—has emerged as a viable tool for states looking for an alternative to routinely funding government operations on a pro forma basis. This webinar provided an overview of performance-based budgeting and highlighted measures initiated in Oklahoma and Mississippi to implement this spending strategy.

 

The opinion upholds the constitutionality of the redistricting commission as a method to draw congressional and legislative redistricting lines after a Census.     

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