Policy Area

McKinney v. Arizona is an excellent illustration of the complexity and disagreement on the Supreme Court over the death penalty. The Supreme Court held 5-4 that a court rather than a jury may reweigh improperly excluded mitigating evidence in a death penalty case on collateral review.

In 1992 James McKinney was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. To receive the death penalty at least one aggravating circumstance must be found. A...

The Second Circuit has become the first federal court of appeals to rule in favor of the Attorney General’s decision to add conditions to receiving federal Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (Byrne JAG) grants.

Congress created Byrne JAG in 2006 to provide “flexible” funds for state and...

CSG Midwest

In September, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) requiring gig economy workers to be classified as employees. The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, is intended to make it more difficult for companies to hire workers as contractors. AB 5 affects more than 1 million low-wage workers in California as it transforms a range of industries from trucking to technology. [1]

In order to remain classified as a contracted worker, the company must prove...

In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia the Supreme Court will decide whether local governments may refuse to contract with foster care agencies who will not work with gay couples…and possibly much, much more.

The City of Philadelphia long contracted with Catholic Social Services (CSS) to place foster care children. The City stopped doing so when it discovered CSS wouldn’t work with same-sex couples. Philadelphia requires...

CSG Midwest
From targeted tax relief and monetary compensation, to help finding a job or pursuing a postsecondary degree, Midwestern states have a number of laws and programs in place to assist military veterans. Almost every state in the region, for example, doesn’t tax retired military pay. The lone exceptions are Nebraska, which offers a partial income-tax exemption, and Indiana, which currently is phasing in a full exemption between now and 2023 (the result of last year’s HB 1010).
CSG Midwest
From targeted tax relief and monetary compensation, to help finding a job or pursuing a postsecondary degree, Midwestern states have a number of laws and programs in place to assist military veterans. Almost every state in the region, for example, doesn’t tax retired military pay. The lone exceptions are Nebraska, which offers a partial income-tax exemption, and Indiana, which currently is phasing in a full exemption between now and 2023 (the result of last year’s HB 1010).
CSG Midwest
Six years ago, with a $2 million legislative appropriation, Minnesota launched a pilot program to help some of that state’s most at-risk students — young learners who lack stable or adequate housing. The state began partnering with schools and local organizations to provide vulnerable families with subsidies that helped pay their rent over two school years. The goals: Stabilize housing and prevent homelessness, thus improving school attendance and, over the long term, academic performance among these students.
The early results, says Eric Grumdahl, were a “powerful signal” that this kind of intervention worked.
Ninety percent of the pilot program’s students with a known housing status were stably housed. (All of them had entered the program experiencing housing instability or school changes.) Further, these young people were more likely to be attending school on a regular basis than their homeless peers.
“That encouraged us to take this to a larger scale,” adds Grumdahl, who works for Minnesota’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Department of Education.
The “larger-scale,” permanent program is now called Homework Starts with Home, and the Legislature appropriated $3.5 million for it this biennium as part of Minnesota Housing’s base budget.
The hope among legislators is to reach more young people, and to stop what can be a destructive cycle — homeless students are much more likely to fall behind and drop out of school; individuals who don’t complete high school are at a much higher risk of homelessness as young adults.
“The more children have to change schools [because of housing instability], the further they fall behind,” notes Barbara Duffield, executive director of the nonprofit SchoolHouse Connection, which advocates for policies that help these students. “They’re losing time and they’re losing coursework. At the same time, they’re also losing attachments to friends and teachers, and all of those emotional pieces of stability.”
Not surprisingly, then, the achievement gaps between homeless students and their peers are wide. Nationwide, for example, less than two-thirds of homeless youths graduate from high school on time. That compares to 84 percent among all students, and 77 percent among low-income students who have stable housing.
CSG Midwest
Legalized sports betting has come to a fourth state in the Midwest, thanks to bipartisan bills signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December. The package of legislation marks the culmination of years of work by lawmakers to change state policy on sports betting and internet gaming. The end result: Michigan residents will be able to wager on sports events (amateur and professional) and participate in online, casino-style gaming such as poker through the state’s commercial and tribal casinos.

CSG Midwest
Three recent national studies underscore the strength of state economies, fiscal conditions and revenue collections entering the new legislative year in the Midwest. Data from the Urban Institute, for example, compares state tax collections between the third quarters of 2019 and 2018 (July to October) — for every state in the region, revenue was up, and North Dakota was one of eight U.S. states with year-over-year increases of 7.5 percent or more. Nebraska and Wisconsin also experienced significant revenue gains.
CSG Midwest
In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has made improving economic opportunities to all areas of the state a top priority. To do this, she has placed a particular focus on rural Iowa and the challenges faced by those communities.
Since 2018, state and community leaders have taken part in the governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative in order to address the challenges facing the state’s rural communities. The initiative’s work resulted in legislation and a set of recommendations for continued action.
Sixty percent of Iowans live in counties with populations less than 100,000 and 30 percent live in counties with less than 25,000, making rural Iowa critical to the entire state, says Iowa Sen. Mark Lofgren.

Pages