The Supreme Court will decide in Nelson v. Colorado whether it violates due process to require criminal defendants whose convictions have been reversed to prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence to receive refunds of monetary penalties they have paid.  

Shannon Nelson was convicted of five charges relating to sexually assaulting her children. She was ordered to pay a variety of costs and fees. The appeals court overturned her conviction because the trial court allowed a lay witness to testify about the age at which children have the ability to remember information and relate it accurately. A new jury acquitted her.

She asked the trial court to refund the money she paid in costs and fees. It refused ruling that the legislature has not given it authority to issue refunds.

In its Supreme Court amicus brief in Wells Fargo v. City of Miami and Bank of America v. City of Miami the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) argues that Miami, and other local governments across the country, should have “standing” to sue banks under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for economic harm caused to local governments by discriminatory lending practices.

The City of Miami claims that Wells Fargo and Bank of America targeted black and Latino customers in the City for predatory loans that carried more risk, steeper fees, and higher costs than those offered to identically situated white customers. The City further claims the banks’ lending policies caused minority-owned property to fall into unnecessary or premature foreclosure.

The FHA makes it unlawful for banks to discriminate against mortgage recipients on the basis of race. To bring a lawsuit under the FHA the City of Miami must have “statutory standing,” in other words, “a cause of action under the statute.”

There are not many questions of public policy that economists widely agree upon. The benefits of free trade, negative impacts of rent controls, and the infeasibility of returning to a gold standard, are a few.  Add to that list the use of tax-exempt municipal bonds to subsidize the construction of professional sports complexes, a practice that 85% of surveyed economists disagree with.

While the Supreme Court is still down a Justice, its docket is about half full, which is typical for this time of the year. Five cases in particular on the Court’s docket, described below, will directly impact at least some states. Interestingly, the Court agreed to decide the religion and the takings case before Justice Scalia died last winter.   

On June 7, Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who served as the 2014 CSG national chair, testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Affairs at a hearing regarding “Oversight of EPA Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” The hearing was a continuation of the subcommittee’s oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking process and examined the agency’s compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, or UMRA, and the impact of unfunded mandates on state, local and tribal governments. 

Federalism is again a silent note in the presidential campaign, although some candidates advanced platforms or policies relevant to state-local relations. Despite partisan gridlock,Congress finally reauthorized the highway and education programs, with the latter increasing state and local discretionary authority, but regulatory enactments and Supreme Court diminutions of state powers continue apace. Legalized marijuana still experiences intergovernmental impediments; a revival of the Sagebrush Rebellion was a publicity failure; the federal government is poised to demand states’ compliance with REAL ID while also encroaching upon state regulation of the operation of autonomous motor vehicles.

This article reviews developments in interstate relations pertaining to uniform state laws, interstate compacts and administrative agreements, civil union and same-sex marriage, and other pertinent interstate legal matters since 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide six big cases this term—five of them will directly impact the states. Redistricting and preemption cases are also popular with the court this term. The Supreme Court will decide four redistricting cases—including a “big” redistricting case—and four preemption cases. Justice Scalia’s death is likely to impact the outcome of many of the cases important to the states.

In 2015, the U.S. exported over $56 billion in merchandise to the United Kingdom. That represents nearly 4 percent of all U.S. exports and makes the U.K. the fifth largest export market for the U.S. After hitting a 10 year low in 2013, exports have been on the rise to the U.K. for the past two years. However, those gains could be in jeopardy following the U.K.’s recent vote to leave the European Union, also known as “Brexit”. On a state-by-state basis, exports to the U.K. range from less than one percent of total exports in six states (Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota) to a high of 22.9 percent in Utah and 16.3 percent in Delaware.

Puerto Rico, home of 3.5 million American citizens, is struggling to handle over $72 billion in debt. For many years, the U.S. territory borrowed money by issuing municipal bonds to compensate for declining government revenue. But now Puerto Rico cannot afford to pay back their investors. The territory cannot file for Chapter 9...