CSG South

As the 2020 legislative cycle approaches, legislators across the South are preparing and pre-filing legislation to address emerging and relevant policy issues in their states. With its regional focus, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is uniquely positioned to identify and research current and emerging policy issues and trends. This report was prepared by Anne Roberts Brody, policy and program manager, and Roger Moore and...

CSG South

In recent years, Southern states have been inundated by major flooding events. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), annual flood records are expected to be broken again in 2020 and beyond. Taken together, these repeated flood events can create a significant and long-term strain on states’ economies, both in terms of tangible losses and damages, as well as lost productivity. This SLC Regional Resource...

The Flint water crisis was one of the more notable events of the last decade. Unsurprisingly, it led to litigation. So far, the Sixth Circuit has refused to dismiss the case against a number of the state and local government officials who were sued. This week the Supreme Court refused to hear their case challenging the Sixth Circuit...

CSG Midwest
With tens of millions in new state dollars to incentivize farmers, along with a list of best practices known to reduce phosphorus runoff, Ohio will spend the next two years implementing its most comprehensive effort to date to prevent harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
And it’s likely just the beginning of the commitment needed to tackle the problem.
CSG Midwest
Opposition to a proposed pipeline that would bring more oil from Canada to refineries around the United States has come from many directions since being introduced more than a decade ago. Landowners and Native American tribes along the route have fought the Keystone XL proposal. Environmental groups have said it would trample on sensitive land, endanger water resources and enlarge the nation’s carbon footprint.
For many years, the state of Nebraska has been at the center of this political and legal fight. But it may now be over in the Cornhusker State, as the result of a ruling this summer by the Nebraska Supreme Court affirming a 2017 Public Service Commission decision to OK a pipeline route.
CSG Midwest
Before they voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, legislators in Illinois committed to learning as much as possible from the experiences of other states. Rep. Kelly Cassidy, lead sponsor of the bill signed into law in June (HB 1438), and others spent two years visiting growers, processors and dispensaries across the United States; they also held more than 100 stakeholder meetings in the state.
The end result: a 600-plus-page bill much different than any other state’s law on marijuana legalization. For example, the bill focuses heavily on ensuring diversity in ownership of the new businesses that come from legalization, and investing in the communities and people disproportionately impacted by enforcement of the state’s old laws on cannabis. But another facet of the new law stands out as well, and reflects what lawmakers found in their fact-finding work prior to the bill’s introduction. “[We were] struck by the intensive power and water usage involved in growing marijuana,” Cassidy says. In response, lawmakers included environmental requirements and efficiency standards for those seeking a license to cultivate marijuana.

CSG Midwest
The mix of electric power generation has changed dramatically over the past decade or so in much of the 11-state Midwest — more wind power and more natural gas plants, for example, and much less reliance on coal. Will the shift be even more dramatic in the years ahead?
That is the vision laid out in new legislative proposals this year in states such as Illinois and Minnesota, as well as in recent plans unveiled by some utility companies themselves.

Let’s hope Justice Kagan is wrong about this ominous prediction in her dissenting opinion in Knick v. Township of Scott: “today’s decision means that government regulators will often have no way to avoid violating the Constitution.”

In a 5-4 opinion the Supreme Court held that a property owner may proceed directly to federal court with a takings claim. In Knick the Court overturned Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985), which held that before a takings claim may be brought in federal court, a property owner must first seek just compensation under state law in state court. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief urged the Court to keep Williamson County.

The Supreme Court held 6-3 in Virginia Uranium v. Warren that Virginia’s statute prohibiting uranium mining isn’t preempted by the federal Atomic Energy Act (AEA).

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing for this result. The SLLC brief encouraged the Court to not inquire into the intent of the Virginia legislature in deciding whether the statute was preempted. Justice Gorsuch, writing for himself and Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh, went to such great length discussing “the perils of inquiring into legislative motive,” that Justices Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, only joined his plurality opinion as to its result (not its reasoning).

In February 2019, lawmakers in Oregon introduced House Bill 2020 that would make Oregon the second state to have an economy-wide cap-and-trade system. The basic premise of a cap-and-trade system is a cap is set on the total carbon emissions of an area; in this case, the state of Oregon. This total allotment of carbon emissions is then divided up into permits. Each company that produces emissions above a certain threshold is required to purchase...

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