America’s infrastructure needs are great. As concerns about federal transportation programs endure, state governments are making strides to address their needs. While major transportation funding packages got much of the attention in 2013, states are implementing numerous strategies to address needs related to bridges, highways, transit and future funding.
As of early 2014, 20 states plus the District of Columbia have passed measures permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and two states—Washington and Colorado—have legalized the use, cultivation and distribution of small amounts of marijuana for all adult users. While the federal prohibition of marijuana remains in effect, a growing number of states are considering and implementing other regulatory models for marijuana. This article discusses these trends and looks to the future of federal-state relations in this area.
President Barack Obama’s June 2013 executive order directing the Environmental Protection Agency to develop greenhouse gas emission standards for the nation’s fossil fuel power plants signaled a new era in protection of air quality under the Clean Air Act. For the first time, new and existing power plants will have to meet standards for carbon dioxide emissions under Section 111 of the act. This article explores the environmental and socioeconomic implications of this initiative and how effective it will be in achieving emission reductions.
The long awaited return to normal for the nation’s population growth and migration flows after a long lull that began during the Great Recession has yet to surface. This can be gleaned from a spate of recently released demographic statistics. The continued slowdown has implications for population growth in most states, especially the rapid population gainers of the pre-recession period. The continuing freeze on previously free-flowing migration streams across broad regions of the country suggests a revival will not occur anytime soon.
In December 2013, The Federal Aviation Administration selected six public entities and set a course that will lead to the development of unmanned aircraft systems and the economic,environmental, safety and security benefits that will accompany this research. Congress mandated the test sites to conduct research into the certification and operational requirements required to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace over the next several years.
The movement of women into state-level offices has slowed in recent years after several decades of gains. Efforts to actively recruit women for elected and appointed positions will be critical in determining what the future holds for women in state government.
State Medicaid programs are large and complex and their directors are faced with implementing changes required by the Affordable Care Act at the same time they continue to work with limited resources, both fiscal and human. Medicaid programs are also leading by example in major transformations of the health care system, including payment reforms, quality oversight, system accountability, and targeted care coordination.