The half-day introductory workshop established by The National Institute for Civil Discourse entitled, “Building Trust through Civil Discourse,” was an outgrowth of an effort by The Council of State Governments Midwest, which brought together two legislators from different political backgrounds and different states for a workshop at its annual regional conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2012. Rep. Ted Celeste, a Democrat from Columbus, Ohio, and Rep. Scott Raecker, a Republican from Urbandale, Iowa, teamed up to facilitate this first session for legislators from the Midwest region. CSG promoted the session in its materials about the annual conference, but did not have any idea how much interest there might be in the program.
In recent years the movement of women into state-level offices has slowed after several decades of gains, and the 2014 elections did not alter this pattern. Efforts to actively recruit women for elected and appointed positions will be critical in determining what the future holds for women in state government.
A well-structured office of lieutenant governor gives a state a competitive advantage and increases governance efficiency. Thorough succession laws contribute to smooth transitions of governance when needed. Lieutenant governors impact states every day in all issue areas and by leading parts of government. Governors, lieutenant governors and legislators have roles to ensure the office of lieutenant governor is positioned to propel a state forward.
The U.S. Census Bureau measures state and local government activity through the Census of Governments and related surveys. The data produced from these efforts are standardized across states and are the only nationwide dataset that allows for comparability both across states and on a national basis. Even with this standardization, the activities of 50 different state political systems present unique challenges to those who collect and use these data. We will introduce the principles by which the Census Bureau classifies governments and their activities. Additionally, through specific case studies, we will illustrate the ways states differ in their operation and in how they conduct the business of public service. Through these illustrations, we will offer a perspective that enables data users to delve into the data with a more thorough and accurate understanding, allowing them to formulate analyses more accurately.
Voters who want to share a selfie with their marked ballot on Election Day need to think twice. Many states make it a crime to take photos or videos in the voting booth, and at least one state has adopted strict new penalties for sharing your ballot selfie via social media. States with such bans say the laws are necessary to ensure ballot secrecy and discourage vote selling, but election officials say the prohibitions are tough to enforce. In an era where more and more voters have smartphones, states are grappling with just how smart it is to ban ballot selfies.
The United States faces a pressing national security and competitiveness challenge rooted in a shortage of a diverse, highly skilled workforce, particularly in vital cross-disciplinary fields such as data science and analytics, cybersecurity, and information technology. To address this challenge, the Business-Higher Education Forum launched the National Higher Education and Workforce Initiative, employing a model of strategic business engagement with postsecondary education to meet the highest priority workforce needs. Through the initiative, the education forum plans, launches and assesses projects, partnerships and scaling strategies that are designed to enable business and higher education to move from transactional engagement in low-touch, piecemeal activities to strategic, long-term partnerships that align postsecondary education with workforce needs. Two of these projects—in Maryland and Ohio— offer models of such partnerships.
There were many issues facing governors in 2014. Even as the stock market rebounded and state budgets grew at a moderate pace, unemployment and underemployment remained high. Public discontent with government has been indiscriminate in its focus, levied at not only politicians in Washington, but also those in state capitals. This led to political fallout from voters as they vented their anger and frustration on elected leaders on Election Day.1