Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest
States are accustomed to working together and helping one another through times of crisis or natural disasters. Between 2016 and 2019 alone, via the congressionally authorized Emergency Management Assistance Compact, more than half of the U.S. states requested assistance from others. Every state but one provided help to another state during this time. In all, more than 29,000 personnel were deployed to states in need of help.
But the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has brought challenges to states that they have not previously faced. That includes how to facilitate interstate cooperation and support.
CSG Midwest
Even as the U.S.-Canada border shut down earlier this year to all but trade and the movement of essential workers, the strength and durability of the relationship between the two countries was on display.
“[They] worked as partners to restrict, but not [totally] close, the border,” Chris Sands, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said during a May webinar for state and provincial legislators.
This cooperative effort (which included Mexico, via a separate border agreement with the United States), he said, was “historic.” And looking ahead, as the border begins to “reawaken,” he views the North American trading relationship as potentially more important than ever before.
According to Sands, one of the likely takeaways from the COVID-19 pandemic will be a push to change supply chains for essential goods such as medical equipment and supplies — away from producers in markets such as China to those in North America. Not only will this be a deliberate policy shift among governments, he said, some manufacturers “will no longer want to put their supply chains at risk.”
CSG Midwest
On a given day, an average of $2 billion in goods and services travels between the United States and Canada. In the middle of much of that cross-border activity: the Midwest’s states and their neighboring Canadian provinces.
The month of March 2020 will be remembered as a historic one in that relationship.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the two countries closed all nonessential traffic at the border. Though these rules did not apply to most trade, automakers (central to cross-border trade and supply chains in this region) subsequently shut their factories.
Somewhat overshadowed by these extraordinary actions, though, was the start of an important new chapter in U.S.-Canada trade relations. On March 13, the Parliament of Canada approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, thus ensuring that this successor to the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement will go into effect. (The USMCA already had received formal approval by the U.S. and Mexican governments.)
CSG Midwest
Legislation in nearly every state in the region provides a purchasing preference to products manufactured or produced using recycled content. However, the extent of the preference varies, including whether the state has statutory language that spells out a price preference for bidders who offer recycled products.
Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota are examples of states that specify a particular price preference. Indiana offers a price preference of between 10 and 15 percent for products containing recycled content, while Kansas provides a 5 percent price preference.
CSG Midwest
As of September, Illinois and Minnesota were among the 15 U.S. states that banned all drivers from using handheld devices, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. These are all primary enforcement laws, which means that police can stop drivers for violating the ban; no other infraction needs to have occurred. (With secondary offenses, officers must have first stopped the driver for another violation.)

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