Midwest

CSG Midwest
A requirement on where legislatures “shall meet” is a common element of state constitutions. This year, that language demanded an unusual amount of attention among state legislative leaders, as they grappled with ways to protect the health of members while still conducting the business of their state during a pandemic.
According to research done by the Midwestern Office of The Council of State Governments (including a survey of most of the region’s legislative service agencies), at least eight of the Midwest’s 11 states have constitutional provisions on where legislatures must meet and hold sessions.
CSG Midwest
In a national scorecard analyzing how state policies will either enable or inhibit the ability of individuals to vote by mail, the Brookings Institution gives most states in the Midwest a passing grade, in large part because of their rules on witness signatures, the timeline for accepting ballots, and the delivery of vote-by-mail applications. The highest grades went to U.S. states (nearly all in the West) that are automatically sending ballots to registered voters. No state in the Midwest is taking this approach.
CSG Midwest

How should the state tax its citizens? Should the recreational use of marijuana be legal? Does the state need to do more to protect consumers from payday lenders? These are among the policy questions that will be decided this fall not by legislatures, but by the voters themselves.
In all, ballot measures of some kind are a part of this year’s elections in six Midwestern states.

CSG Midwest recently interviewed legislators and others about these measures, and what’s at stake. Here is an overview of some of the measures to be decided on in Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

CSG Midwest
Just a few months ago, all signs pointed to an economic crisis in the nation’s animal agriculture industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meat processing plants were being closed, or operations greatly curtailed, due to health concerns and illnesses among employees. By late April, nearly 40 percent of U.S. processing capacity was idle. Livestock slaughter plummeted (see graphic).
In the meantime, prices were falling for producers, who were also forced to hold livestock longer or euthanize slaughter-ready animals. While most cattle could be slowed down and held a little longer, the situation was disastrous for hog and poultry producers. For the eight weeks from April 11 through May 30, there were 22,000 cattle and 125,000 hogs per day ready for processing with nowhere to go.
“We faced a real disaster, and challenges remain, but the impressive way state officials, farmers and producer organizations have worked together to address the COVID-19 crisis is making a big difference,” says Cody McKinley of the National Pork Producers Council.
He and others credit the spirit of partnership, creative thinking and communication for helping the agricultural sector weather the storm. In April, some analysts were predicting that up to 2 million hogs would need to be euthanized; the number turned out to be much less.
CSG Midwest
The statistics about drug addiction and its consequences — the number of overdose deaths, and the rates of people arrested and imprisoned — are everywhere for policymakers to see.
But Ohio Sen. John Eklund says those numbers can’t tell the full story, and often fall short of moving legislators to reconsider their states’ policies on drug crimes and punishment.

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