State elections officials around the country are expressing confidence that they’re ready to protect the November 2018 vote from potential cyber threats and, if necessary, deploy new tools and communications protocols put in place since the 2016 election, which saw 21 states targeted by Russian hackers.

“Yes, we feel confident that we’re in good shape,” said Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos. “But I will also say that cybersecurity … is like the race without a finish line. It’s a never-ending proposition. This is the new normal. We will always be focused on cybersecurity.”

From a gas tax repeal in California to a proposed gas tax increase in Missouri and from a lockbox amendment in Connecticut to dueling bonding proposals in Colorado, state ballots this November will include a variety of measures that could have a profound impact on the future of transportation around the country. Transportation is also being raised as an issue in many of the nation’s gubernatorial contests this year. Here’s a roundup of some of the transportation policy-related choices voters will face on Election Day and links to where you can read more.

On Oct. 22, the federal government issued new draft regulations concerning 1332 waivers. In a call to CSG from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), officials explained the new regulations would provide more flexibility to states, revising the “guardrails” set in the 2012 regulations. Plans previously considered non-ACA compliant could be sold on the marketplaces and could qualify for federal subsidies. 

The issue in Timbs v. Indiana is whether the Eighth Amendment Excessive Fines Clause applies to the states. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) Supreme Court amicus brief rejects the argument that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates all rights included in the first eight Amendments. It also argues that the forfeiture in this case isn’t unconstitutionally excessive.

The repeal of net neutrality rules under the Obama administration has now been in effect for four months. During this time, states have re-enacted the rules at the state level, urged the federal government to reinstate the rules, and appealed the decision to a D.C. federal court. Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers—including Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and others—should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

The consortium of states participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice project recently began their second round of project meetings to discuss occupational license reform. The 11 states--Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Wisconsin--are individually meeting to further review their licensure process, engage with policy experts and develop action plans. The state team meetings will culminate this year in the project’s second multistate learning consortium summit to be held Nov. 28-30 in Clearwater, Florida.

CSG Midwest

In September, South Dakota lawmakers met in special session to finalize a policy change that Gov. Dennis Daugaard said was “50 years in the making.” He signed two bills that allow the state to act on its new legal authority to collect taxes from remote and online sales.

Under SB 1, which takes effect on Nov. 1, South Dakota will enforce sales tax collections from online retailers who have at least $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions a year. A second bill approved in the recent special session (SB 2) requires online marketplace providers such as Amazon to attain a sales tax license and remit sales taxes on behalf of sellers that use their services.

CSG Midwest
Michigan is the first state in the Midwest with a law requiring employers to offer paid sick time to their workers. But after the legislative vote, it was unclear how long the new measure would stay on the books. The Earned Sick Time Act began as an initiative petition and was scheduled to be on the November ballot. However, the Michigan Constitution gives the Legislature the opportunity to consider proposed ballot initiatives. Legislative approval of paid sick time came in early September — meaning no statewide vote on the measure.
CSG Midwest

Indiana’s highways, largest airport, commuter rail lines, recreational trails and broadband infrastructure are set to get a $1 billion funding boost. According to the governor’s office, an amended agreement between the state and the private company that runs the Indiana Toll Road will generate the money needed for this new infrastructure investment. (In 2006, Indiana entered into a 75-year agreement to lease the toll road to private investors.) In exchange for the $1 billion, the state is allowing the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, LLC, to increase toll rates on heavy vehicles by 35 percent.

CSG Midwest
Following more than a year of negotiations, and many days when it seemed as though talks would fail, Canada, Mexico and the United States reached agreement on a trilateral trade pact on Sept. 30. The deal has a new name — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — and some new provisions, but also is notable for what it keeps in place.
“About 70 percent is the same [as the North American Free Trade Agreement],” notes Chad Hart, an associate professor of economics at Iowa State University. “What this means is that the rules we have been playing under for the last 20-plus years have been reaffirmed, and this adds market certainty.”

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