The smartphone has become an American staple in recent years. Need to know the time? The once required wristwatch has been replaced by the smartphone. Drawing a sudden blank on someone’s name or new job post? A quick check of a social media app can save one from embarrassment at a moment’s notice. More importantly, wireless phones are proving to be a critical tool in expanding access to high-speed Internet service to Americans in rural communities. But the expanded reach of smartphones and other wireless devices into millions of hands across the country has met a significant challenge. The U.S. is facing a wireless spectrum shortage.

According to a new report from the Governing Institute, a majority of legislators understand that cyber threats are evolving and pose a risk to their state, but only 18 percent of respondents currently sit on a committee with cybersecurity as part of its mandate and 80 percent of respondents do not know if their state has a cyber-emergency incident plan in place.

A group of CSG members recently visited the headquarters of CSG Associate member Esri, an international Geographic Information System software company, in Redlands, Calif., to discuss how to use data and apps to make better policy decisions in their states. “More mayors lose their jobs over snowplowing than any other reason,” said Richard Leadbeater, public relations manager for Esri. Leadbeater flashed a map on a screen showing how data can be used to help make better decisions about snowplow deployment.

The arrest of an Uber driver in connection with a shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan last weekend has brought renewed focus to the rigor with which rideshare companies conduct background checks of their drivers. State and local governments have been looking at the background check issue in a number of ways as part of rideshare-related legislation over the past year. Here’s a primer.

CSG Midwest
Most legislatures do not have firm rules in place, and nearly all committee witnesses still make their statements in person, according to a recent CSG Midwest survey of the region’s legislative service agencies. However, most states in the Midwest do provide remote testimony as an option in certain situations — especially those in which an invited committee guest faces travel-related obstacles.

State leaders must evaluate risks and invest in protecting state government against cyberattacks. That’s according to experts who discussed cybersecurity at the 2015 CSG National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., in an attempt to prepare state leaders for the inevitable.

The Act governs how online service providers can collect, access, and use student data and prohibits online service providers from using student data for commercial or secondary purposes, while still allowing for personalized learning and service innovation and improvement. This law will allow educators to use online services while still safeguarding student privacy.

This Act provides that neither the state nor a political subdivision may impose, assess, collect, or attempt to collect a tax on Internet access or the use of Internet access.

In practice, Dig Once policies attempt to lower the cost of broadband deployment by providing internet companies access to state- or city-owned rights of way. This is complemented by the mandatory installation of conduit for fiber-optic cable during road construction, or by allowing qualified broadband deployments to be installed during road construction projects.

Last week, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, or CISA, 74-21. The bill is essentially an information-sharing bill, designed to allow companies that are hit by a hacker to share information--called “cyber threat indicators”--with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS. DHS can then put out an alert, share suspicious code and warn other firms about the threat. Cybersecurity is not just a hot topic in Washington, D.C., but also in statehouses across the country.

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