Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers recognizes the importance of infrastructure investment to his state, but he expressed concerns about one funding strategy recently implemented in nearby states.

"I am very much opposed to a gas tax (increase)," Stivers, CSG 2018 national chair, told attendees Jan. 18 at the Kentuckians for Better Transportation conference in Lexington, Kentucky. "I am very much for building roads because roads bring jobs and opportunity, but it's not going to be on an antiquated tax system that we currently have in place. … You're going to have to come up with a different structure where you're capturing use on the road, not gallons burned, because that is going to continue to be the shrinking base."

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The Department of Defense estimates that approximately 71 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds would fail to qualify for military service based on the current enlistment criteria because of physical or mental health issues, low educational attainment or felony convictions.

Out of those who do qualify, many are not interested in serving. A Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18 to 29 year-olds found, 60 percent support using ground troops against the Islamic State but 85 percent said they would “probably” or “definitely” not join the military.

Florida state and county election administrators recently met in Orlando, Florida to partake in a workshop on “cybertraining” to prepare for their 2018 elections.

Climate Adaptation

States and communities across the country are faced with serious challenges of an aging and inadequate water infrastructure. The number of water main breaks across the country is staggering: at 240,000 per year, and wasting over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. The direct cost of these leaks is estimated to be approximately $2.6 billion per...

Read about top health issues facing states in 2018. Medicaid expenditures are 30 percent of states general fund budgets and states are looking for ways to cut costs. The opioid epidemic shows no signs of letting up, increasing the need for treatment, harm reduction programs and prevention. Questions of how to provide health service to the growing aging population and rural populations are top-of-mind in many states. Finally, state policymakers are beginning to look at the social determinants of health, searching for strategies that are more preventive in nature.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling that the state’s 2011 Congressional redistricting plan constitutes an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. This is the fourth court in a relatively short period of time to rule that partisan gerrymandering may be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing two of those decisions, one from Wisconsin and the other from Maryland, this term.

In Weyerhaeuser Company v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the Supreme Court will decide whether the “critical habitat” designation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may include land currently uninhabitable for the species in question. The Court will also decide whether a court may review the Service’s economic impact analysis.

Alabama and 17 other states filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to review this case because: “Critical habitat determinations have serious consequences for the economic and ecological interests of the States. Designations of critical habitat that go beyond what the statute allows cost jobs and tax revenue, while the States’ efforts to comply with these designations often require the expenditure of taxpayer funds.”    

For state officials, knowing what lies around the corner is half the challenge, and the CSG Policy & Research team is committed to providing key insights and analysis on emerging issues across the policy spectrum to state officials. Each year, CSG policy experts take a look at the top issues facing states in education, energy and environment, fiscal and economic development, federal affairs, health, international affairs, interstate compacts, transportation and infrastructure, and workforce development.

Here’s a look at the most important topics on states’ workforce development agendas in 2018.

President Trump’s State of the Union speech and a leaked outline of his infrastructure package last month produced no shortage of opinions about what the administration has in mind for one of his major policy priorities. Many from across the transportation and public policy communities and from across the political spectrum have expressed serious concerns about the shape the package may be taking. Here’s a roundup of some of the reaction so far.

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During CSG’s 2017 National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, state leaders asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel what skills has the Department of Defense identified new recruits lack that states could consider addressing in their K-12 school systems.

DOD and the Department of Education’s Military Affairs team provide a comprehensive answer to what our federal partners have identified K-12 students need to be military ready when they graduate.

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