The poverty guidelines for 2015 are available and published here in the Federal Register. These guidelines -- often cited as 100 percent of the federal poverty line -- are used to determine eligibility for a number of stata and federal programs. Sometimes eligibility is greater than 100 percent; for instance, the Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of federal poverty. 

E-cigarettes are a nicotine delivery system. They heat liquid containing nicotine and flavorings into a vapor by passing it over a small electronic battery. According to The Wall Street Journal, sales grew from $2 million in 2009 to $722 million in 2013.

States know that increased international exposure can contribute to economic growth and increased trade and foreign investment. While higher education institutions traditionally have focused on recruiting international students, several states now are formalizing their approach to attracting foreign students and encouraging foreign exchange in strategic economic and workforce development plans. This eCademy session identifies trends in state government activity supporting internationalization and examines why this is an area of increasing opportunity for states.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, average gas prices in January 2015 are at the lowest point in over 5 years and are on track to dip below $2 a gallon by February 2015. Missouri has the lowest average gas price of any state at $1.77 per gallon while Alaska ($2.81) and Hawaii ($3.31) have the highest prices.

President Obama announced Dec. 17 that he would make efforts to ease travel and trade restrictions to Cuba in an effort to empower “Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” The White House has expanded the list of authorized travelers to Cuba and has authorized new goods and services to be exported to Cuba. The departments of Treasury and Commerce have jurisdiction over many of these regulatory changes, and each department submitted its final rules to the Federal Register Jan. 16. The final rules take effect immediately.

The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit with a mission to increase understating of solar energy, recently published its annual National Solar Jobs Census 2014 report.  The report found the U.S. solar industry created jobs at a rate nearly 20 times higher than the average employment growth for a second consecutive year.

Jennifer Burnett, Program Manager for Fiscal and Economic Development Policy, outlines the top five issues in fiscal and economic development policy for 2015,  including job creations strategies, state innovations in health care spending, public pension solvency, and federal funding uncertainty. 

In their 2015 State of the State speeches, Governors across the country will spotlight the importance of states remaining globally competitive—creating opportunity for state exports and attracting new investment from international partners. Year on year states are increasing their international engagement, attracting investment and students from abroad and looking to export everything, everywhere. Exports have proven to be a catalyst to sustainable growth and jobs for small firms. A recent study by the International Trade Commission (ITC) found companies that exported grew by 37 percent, while non-exporting firms declined by 7 percent from 2005 to 2009.

As state leaders outline their strategies and goals for 2015, they are keeping a close watch on the actions of the federal government and how such policies will impact their respective state. Such federal actions – whether in the form of federal funds, congressional legislation, executive orders, and regulations – can dramatically influence the direction and overall strategy of the state. With nearly one third of state funds appropriated from the federal government, many state programs are dependent on a consistent source of funds. This close relationship between the federal government and states has grown more complex in recent years, leaving less certainty about the roles and responsibilities of each respective government.

Andy Karellas, CSG's Director of Federal Affairs, outlines the top five issues in federal affairs policy for 2015, including unfunded mandates, pre-emption, international trade agreements, intergovernmental coordination, and the discontinuation by the U.S. Census Bureau of the Consolidated Federal Funds Report. 

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