Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
For his first job out of college, psychologist Mark Weist went to work at a mental health center, splitting his time between providing services at the center and a local school. The differences in the two settings were dramatic.
“At the mental health center, people weren’t showing up,” Weist, a professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, said during a presentation at this year’s Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting. “We’d be scheduled to see six or seven families in a day, for example, and only somewhere between one and three showed up.
“But in schools, there was this tremendous pent-up need for services.”
That experience nearly 30 years ago has led Weist to become a national leader in efforts to bring the mental health system into the schools, allowing community practitioners to work alongside school psychologists, nurses, social workers and counselors. He listed multiple benefits of school-based mental health: better identifying students in need, improving service access and use, and reducing barriers to learning. 
CSG Midwest
One year ago, Iowa legislators passed a bill to advance the instruction of computer science. With the start of the new school year, two key objectives of that measure are in place. The Iowa Department of Education announced in June that new voluntary academic standards and a $1 million fund for professional development had been established. Developed by the State Board of Education, the new standards outline what students in every grade should know and be able to do in the area of computer science. The fund will go to local schools that help staff pursue teaching endorsements or other learning opportunities in computer science.
CSG Midwest
In a July session that largely examined the future of a cornerstone of the Midwest’s economy, three expert speakers also illustrated to legislators just how far it has come over the past few years. “Manufacturing is coming back to North America,” Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, told lawmakers who attended a meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference’s Economic Development Committee.
On the U.S. side of the border, more than 900,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since 2009, an increase of nearly 8 percent. In Canada, manufacturers have added more than 130,000 jobs since June 2013.
Nowhere do these trends matter more than in the MLC’s 11 states (home to one-third of U.S. manufacturing employment) and four affiliate Canadian provinces (which account for more than half of that nation’s jobs in the manufacturing sector).
CSG Midwest
As lawmakers seek to cope with a rising tide of gun violence while preventing accidental firearm-related injuries and deaths, Ohio could become the next Midwestern state to focus on keeping guns out of the hands of kids — that is if a measure currently pending in the state Senate should advance.
In a roundtable discussion during the July meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, Ohio Sen. Vernon Sykes described the proposed Child Gun Safety Act (SB 279), which he and Sen. Charleta Tavares jointly introduced earlier this year.
CSG Midwest
Myriad signs point to the need for better connecting farmers to services that help them deal with stress, depression and other mental health challenges. First, there is the history of the problem: In a study examining various industries between 1992 and 2010, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that farm operators and workers had the highest suicide rate.
Second, many rural U.S. communities struggle with shortages of mental health professionals: 65 percent don’t have a psychiatrist and 47 percent lack a psychologist, according to a 2018 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Third, many of today’s agricultural producers are dealing with high levels of stress, due to factors such as low commodity prices and decreased farm incomes.

When public schools fail to achieve minimum requirements on educational targets for long periods of time, policymakers are often called into action. Several states have proposed amendments to their state’s constitution allowing the state to step in and oversee underperforming schools and districts. While this step seems logical, the results have not reinforced the notion that state takeovers are the best possible solution.

New Jersey became the first state to take control of a school district in 1989. Currently, there are...

In Knick v. Township of Scott the Supreme Court will decide whether to overturn Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985). In that case the Court held that before a takings claim may be brought in federal court, landowners must comply with state law procedures and remedies enacted to provide just compensation. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief urges the Court to keep Williamson County.

The Township of Scott adopted an ordinance requiring cemeteries, whether public or private, to be free and open and accessible to the public during the day. Code enforcement could enter any property to determine the “existence and location” of a cemetery.

States are increasingly pursuing new streams of revenue to effectively operate and minimize debt. Some states have established or are pursuing a “millionaire’s tax” to minimize budget shortfalls and increase state revenue. The tax is primarily an income tax. California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have all established a such a tax. Massachusetts chose to not enact their version of the millionaire’s tax. In Arizona, a ballot measure is up for approval. Every state’s tax structure is different, but it boils down to taxing an individual which makes upward of $250,000 or more.

A growing number of states are shortening the leash on fake service animals. At present, approximately 20 states have enacted laws aimed at deterring individuals from fraudulently misrepresenting their pets as service animals. These laws are in addition to those that exist to deter harassment of or...

The first seven months of 2018 have been a time of significant transition for the nation’s largest ride-hailing companies, Lyft and Uber. With new acquisitions, the companies are re-writing their corporate stories and seeking a future as not just tech-enabled taxi services but full-service, multimodal mobility providers. Meanwhile, policymakers around the country are exploring how to address the impacts of ride-hailing on cities, public transit, the ride-hailing workforce, the economy, the taxi industry, equity of access to transportation and other areas. Here’s a look at what’s happening with ride-hailing in a number of states, along with a collection of links to articles on recent industry developments and the latest research on ride-hailing’s impacts and policy implications.

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