Missouri’s SB 54, the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act," doesn’t go into effect until this coming Sunday, August 28, but the law’s student-teacher social media ban is already facing a legal petition from the Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA).  The law was intended to protect students from abuse by making it illegal for students and teachers to have private conversations on social media channels, but the MSTA’s petition raises several potential issues with the current scope of the law. 

CSG Research & Expertise in the News: 8/7-13, 2011

The following compilation features published news stories during the week of Aug. 7-13 that highlight experts and/or research from The Council of State Governments. For more information about any of the experts or programs discussed, please contact CSG at (800) 800-1910 and you will be directed to the appropriate staff.  Members of the press should call (859) 244-8246.

The Atlantic has a great piece on how social media is changing the way governments interact with the public they serve.  The author explores some examples specifically of how social media is working for state government, including connecting the public with e-services and assisting with state elections.  Even the insights for federal and foreign governments could prove inspirational to innovative state leaders.  Check out "How Governments Deal with Social Media" here.

Senator Jane Cunnigham, representing Missouri's seventh district, sponosored SB 54, the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act."  It was signed by Governor Nixon late last week.  The Act includes a variety of provisions intended to safteguard students against sexual abuse like that suffered by Amy Hestir, one of Missouri's former students.  What makes this bill unique is its requirement that students and teachers not become friends on social networks, such as Facebook.

The Pew Center on the States' Stateline.org surveyed governors' use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.  According to their research, every governor used at least one form of the social media channels surveyed, and 47 out of 50 governors used both Facebook and Twitter.

NPR has published a story exploring the pros and cons of allowing children to join social networks like Facebook. As the article notes, most social networks have a cut off age of 13, in accordance with privacy protections mandated by the Children's Online Protection Act of 1998.  Protecting children online is also a policy priority of several state leaders, such as Kentucky's Attorney General Jack Conway.  The AG's website contains an entire section on cyber saftey, including a list of tips for parents and kids detailing proper precautions to follow when using social media.

Wyoming has gone Google.  Just a few years ago, the productivity of Wyoming state government was burdened by a complex patchwork of information technology software. As Renny MacKay, a spokesman for Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead puts it, “We had 13 different platforms for 10,000 employees, which made communicating more difficult than it should have been.”

Indiana GOP Senators are using QR codes on mailers and signs to help connect the print world to the online world (Read the press release here).  

Get some mail from your state senator with an odd looking barcode on it?  Scan it with your phone, and you could automotically be directed to her or his web page on your phone's web browser without having to go through the troubleof typing in the URL on a tiny phone keyboard or starting up your computer.


Carolyn Cournoyer writes for Governing on a Texas bill that would make sending and receiving text messages illegal for lawmakers, in the interest of keeping public business open.

As Cournoyer explains:

The measure, introduced in March by Rep. Todd Hunter, would make it illegal for Texas legislators to send or receive a text, e-mail or instant message, or make posts to websites, during public meetings. It’s not a question of whether lawmakers are paying