CSG Midwest

This year, the region's legislators tackled some of the nation's biggest issues, from school safety to labor shortages. Notable changes in state tax policy, gun laws, retirement systems and legislative pay also marked the 2018 legislative year.

The CSG Overseas Voting Initiative Working Group consists of 27 members representing 14 states and nine local election jurisdictions. Combined, these states and local jurisdictions transmitted 50.9 percent of the overall number of blank ballots sent to military and overseas voters by U.S. election jurisdictions.

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Guest

According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional poisoning is now the leading cause of injury death for all age groups. This includes overdoses of drugs or chemicals and the mistaken over use of drugs or chemicals by toddlers, teens or adults. Unintentional poisoning has surpassed motor vehicle traffic fatalities as the leading cause of injury death in the U.S. every year since 2008.

During the 2018 National Conference, CSG will release the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work (SAT/RTW) Toolkit. The U.S. Department of Labor and the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s State Exchange on Employment and Disability collaborated on the toolkit. It was designed to provide states with policy options, best practices and implementation strategies to aid efforts in increasing employment retention and labor force participation of employees who acquire, or are at risk of developing, work disabilities.

Ballot measures to expand Medicaid eligibility in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah passed in the mid-term elections. Montana voters rejected a measure to continue the expansion in their state.

In its first opinion of the term in Mt. Lemmon Fire District v. Guido the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to state and local government employers with less than 20 employees. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief arguing that it should not apply. State and local governments often rely on small special districts to provide services they don’t provide.  

John Guido was 46 and Dennis Rankin was 54 when they were laid off by the Mount Lemmon Fire District. They claim they were terminated because of their age in violation of the ADEA. They were the oldest of the district’s 11 employees. 

The fire district argued that the ADEA does not apply to it because it employs fewer than 20 people. The Ninth Circuit disagreed.

Climate Adaptation

The sales of electric vehicles (EVs) continue to grow nationwide and are projected to continue to increase rapidly over the next two decades. State utility regulators are key actors in ensuring the efficient deployment of EVs and their charging infrastructure. As electric utilities make plans for investments in grid infrastructure to accommodate more and more EVs on the road, many state regulators are considering proposals from utilities to develop and operate EV charging infrastructure and structure customer rates to effectively...

In Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association the Supreme Court will decide whether a local government has violated the First Amendment by displaying and maintaining a 93-year-old, 40-foot tall Latin cross memorializing soldiers who died in World War I.  

Prince George’s County citizens and an American Legion Post raised money to build the monument. In 1925 it was dedicated at a Christian prayer service. Over the years Christian religious services have been held at the cross.

In 1961 the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission took title of the land and the cross because it is located in the middle of a busy traffic median. The cross is part of a park honoring veterans. Other monuments are located anywhere from 200 feet to a half-a-mile from the cross. None are taller than 10 feet.

In an amicus brief in Gamble v. United States, the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) asks the Supreme Court not to overrule the “separate sovereigns” exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause. This exception allows states and the federal government to convict and sentence a person for the same conduct.

Gamble was prosecuted for and convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under both Alabama and United States law. His challenge to the “separate sovereigns” exception is unsurprising given that Justice Thomas joined Justice Ginsburg’s concurring opinion in Puerto Rico v. Sanchez-Valle (2016), which suggested the Court do a “fresh examination” of the “separate sovereigns” exception. These Justices are on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum and typically don’t vote together in close cases. 

In Sanchez-Valle the Court held that the Double Jeopardy Clause bars both Puerto Rico and the United States from prosecuting a person for the same conduct under equivalent criminal laws. Puerto Rico isn’t a sovereign distinct from the United States because it derived its authority from the U.S. Congress.

As we enter election season, it's critical for voters to know the key issues of the day and where their representatives stand on them. That civic duty can be inhibited when the language of a legislative text becomes lengthy, ambiguous or just plain bad.
The complexity of the legal jargon found on voter ballots isn’t a new issue. Just last year, both Ballotpedia and political scientists from Georgia State University (GSU) conducted assessments to analyze just how complicated the average ballot reads. Both parties used the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which measures how many words are in a sentence and how many syllables are in those words. Both studies found that the average ballot question requires at least some college-level education. Ballotpedia found that the average question required a graduate-level education.

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