Capitol Comments

At a Saturday, December 4, session at the CSG 2010 National Conference policy experts from around the country will discuss how some states have implemented innovative comprehensive programs to address this elusive policy goal.  Presenters include Vernon Smith, consultant to NGA and other national groups, and Jason Helgerson, Wisconsin Medicaid Director.

2009 Toll Fellow Matthew Dunlap shared his thoughts as he looks ahead to next week's elections. Dunlap is currently Maine's Secretary of State and President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

The country is buzzing as we close in on the 2010 midterm elections.  How many seats will change hands? Will the Republicans take the House and/or Senate?  How many governor's mansions will change hands? These questions are especially relevant to several Toll Fellows.

According to American Medical News, early indications are that relatively few employers are dropping mental health coverage as they go into open enrollment for the 2011 calendar year.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed in 2008 but fully in effect in 2011, requires companies that offer mental health benefits to restrict them no further than they do physical health coverage.

According to the 2010 Employer Health...

Jon Kingsdale will be the featured speaker in a session on health insurance exchanges on the first day of the 2010 CSG National Conference in Providence, RI, in December. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts Connector, created in 2006 and a model for the new health exchange requirement in federal health reform.

High-speed rail is one of the Obama administration’s major transportation priorities. Last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $8 billion aimed at developing high-speed intercity passenger rail service along 13 new corridors and this year Congress added an additional $2.3 billion. But the outcome of some key state elections next week could determine how fast that train arrives, if at all.

We have a new Capitol Facts & Figures policy brief out today that attempts to survey this year’s State Transportation Finance Legislation and Trends. As mentioned in the brief, Georgia was one state that managed to make a name for itself this year in transportation finance. It did so with a plan that at first glance seemed to both kick the can down the road and pass the buck. But the plan could be the path many cash-strapped and tax increase-averse states choose to follow in the years ahead. And, although their plan isn’t designed to come to fruition until after the 2012 election, Georgia may be able to learn some things from transportation-related ballot measures other states will consider this November.

Voters in at least nine states will have the opportunity when they go to the polls November 2 to decide the outcome of education-related referenda - most of which would either increase or reduce public school funding. The ballot measures will provide an interesting display of voter priorities – the desire by some for tax relief versus a call by others for more funding for education.

On March 3, 2010, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on behalf of his state alleging that federal health care reform—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—was unconstitutional. The lawsuit brought the debate about the roles state and federal governments should play in national health care reform front and center.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced plans to accelerate the development of offshore wind power in the United States.  The US, particularly along the East Coast, has vast reserves of offshore wind.  According to Willett Kempton of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration at the University of Delaware, offshore wind has an estimated 18 times the resource of offshore oil.[i]  DOE intends to realize 54 gigawatts (GW) of wind by 2030 within a cost range of 7-9 cents per kilowatt-hour.[ii]

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