SLC Regional Resource

The Southern Legislative Conference has released its latest Regional Resource - Municipal Bonds: Trends in 2011. The Resource examines how the municipal bond market fared in 2011, if fears expressed by certain experts regarding widespread bond defaults were realized, if investors shed their holdings in municipal bonds and fled to other asset categories and a number of related topics.

The U.S. food safety system has developed over a lengthy period, often in response to health concerns or threats. Because of this, the system does not have a coherent, strategic focus, but is a patchwork of legal and regulatory activities that distributes the responsibility for, and information about, food safety across numerous federal, state and local entities.

Establishing a prevention-oriented national food safety system will require investments at all levels, innovative use of existing technology, commitments among partners to share resources and responsibilities across both jurisdictional borders and institutional barriers, and initiatives to boost capacity across the system. Food safety requires an integration of public health, agriculture, the food processing industry, and the research community to achieve a truly seamless system where risks are assessed accurately, mitigated appropriately, monitored thoroughly and outbreaks are responded to effectively.

This SLC Regional Resource examines current practices in regards to food safety, as well as best practices to ensure that foodborne illnesses are reduced to a minimal level.

Americans understand the value of a college education and have continued to prepare financially for the costs of post-secondary schooling even as the economy has slowed. Almost every state in the South offers parents an opportunity to save for college through Section 529 programs, tax-preferred accounts named after the section of the tax code created by the IRS to authorize their special treatment under federal law. These programs take the form of prepaid tuition plans which allow participants to “lock in” current tuition at state schools college savings plans structured investments designed to realize gains in excess of tuition increases under normal circumstances.

In recent years, both types of Section 529 plans have faltered, due to a poor investment climate and rising tuition. When most programs were instituted, there was an unfailing optimism in the potential for the stock market to continue to expand and create returns that would outstrip any increase in tuition which historically ranged below 5 percent, making the extension of this state guarantee a risk of a presumably remote nature. As tuition skyrocketed and the stock market failed, however, states have been forced to reconsider the guarantee extended to prepaid tuition plans, and college savings plans are not keeping up with rising costs. This SLC Regional Resource offers a look at recent trends and events on state section 529 plans within the SLC member states.  

Methamphetamine, or meth, is a highly addictive, synthetically produced, central nervous system stimulant that, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is the most common synthetic drug manufactured in the United States. The recent, rapid growth of methamphetamine users in the United States largely is due to the ability to produce it using conventional, easily  accessible chemicals and supplies.

CSG South

This Regional Resource from The Council of State Government's Southern Office, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), relates to the water allocation and management strategies in the Southern states. Water, both as a resource and a commodity, is a pivotal variable in the equation relating to the future health and vitality of the United States. Americans are accustomed to turning a faucet to access, what is assumed to be, limitless amounts of fresh, clean water. However, the resource does not adhere to lines drawn on a map, and population growth and other factors that increase demand for water do not necessarily coincide with areas where it is plentiful. Due to increased consumption, along with pollution, diversion and depletion of the region’s finite water supply, the South is running out of freshwater sources. For a number of years, the Southern Legislative Conference has been examining Southern states’ policies regarding water allocation and withdrawals. This Regional Resource investigates the continuing trends that have played a role in the South’s numerous water crises and explores ways in which states can better develop policies regarding withdrawal, regulation, diversion, and conservation of water resources.