Capitol Comments

CSG Midwest

Few if any U.S. states have been hit harder than Ohio by the crushing rise in drug use, abuse and overdose deaths. That state’s rate of overdose deaths was second in the nation in 2017: 46.5 per 100,000. Behind those numbers, too, are tragic stories that have personally touched many Ohio legislators — and helped lead their ongoing search for policy solutions.

“For multiple years, multiple general assemblies, it has been a legislative priority,” says Ohio Sen. Jay Hottinger, a member of the General Assembly since 1995. “If you wrote just a paragraph on each bill, it would be about 17 or 18 pages.”
He was a sponsor of one of Ohio’s most recently passed bills — last year’s SB 119, known as Daniel’s law in honor of a young Ohio man who died from an opioid overdose after years of fighting addiction. Daniel Weidle had found success in his fight through the use of naltrexone (one of the medications federally approved for treatment of opioid-use disorder), but after losing his provider, Daniel got turned down several times in trying to refill his prescription.
CSG Midwest
This past year marked the 100th anniversary of daylight saving time in the United States, and it also included the introduction of numerous bills — in the Midwest and elsewhere — seeking an end to the “spring forward, fall back” ritual that now occurs in communities across the country.
Similar proposals are likely to appear in the year ahead. Entering 2019, only two U.S. states, Arizona and Hawaii, did not observe daylight saving time — an option for all states under federal law. At one time, much of Indiana did not observe daylight saving time, but that changed with the passage of legislation 14 years ago instituting its use across the state.
CSG Midwest
In September 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified 21 states (including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin in the Midwest) that Russian hackers had targeted their voting systems before the 2016 elections. 
While most of the attempts were not successful, voter registration systems were breached in at least two states: Arizona and Illinois. (According to DHS, there was no evidence that any information had been altered in these two states.)
Fast-forward to today, with just months before the 2018 general elections that will determine partisan control of the U.S. Congress and several state legislatures, and elections security experts are recommending that immediate steps be taken to secure the country’s election infrastructure — for example, identifying the potential avenues for attacking election systems, replacing outdated voting machines, ensuring the security of registration systems, and conducting post-election audits.

Whether and when this occurs will depend in part on a mix of help from the federal government and new state-level policies and investments.

CSG Midwest

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 35 states currently offer tax credits for historic preservation (HTCs). Fifteen states, including Michigan and South Dakota in the Midwest, offer no tax credits, while Illinois allows their use in a limited number of cities.

CSG Midwest
Since its inception in the 1970s, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has enjoyed wide bipartisan support. Designed to encourage and reward work, a low-wage worker’s EITC grows with each additional dollar of earnings until his or her wages reach a maximum value — an incentive for people to leave welfare for work and for low-wage employees to increase their work hours.
And the EITC is refundable: If the amount of the credit exceeds what the worker owes, he or she gets a refund.
“For conservatives, the EITC is pro-work, it is pro-personal responsibility. Liberals like that too, but also it is directed toward low-income people, so you get that mix,” says Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Plus, it works. There is very rigorous research to show that it encourages more work.”
According to the IRS, the 42-year-old Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty programs. In tax year 2015, for example:
  • More than 27 million filers received about $67 billion in earned income tax credits. 
  • Four of five people eligible for the EITC claimed it.
  • The EITC and the separate Child Tax Credit lifted an estimated 9.4 million people out of poverty, including 5 million children. 
In the 11-state Midwest, more than 4.6 million federal EITC claims for tax year 2015 provided almost $11.2 billion in credits. The average refund was $2,343. (The maximum federal credit in 2016 ranged from $506 for a childless individual to $6,269 for a family with three or more children.)

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