The scale and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned a spotlight on the role of states in responding to a new public health emergency in a manner quite unlike a tornado, flood or even recent viral concerns such as H1N1 or Ebola. By April, all states and provinces in the CSG Midwest region had declared either states of emergency or public health emergencies. In many, governors or premiers had enacted “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders for the first time in living memory.
For state legislatures, the early response centered on working with their governors (oversight, consultation, etc.) and providing emergency funding where it was needed most.
“It’s not our job to micro-manage the response, but to understand what the professionals already have in place, what they need, and what they say we’ll need next,” Minnesota Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michelle Benson says. “Our job is to listen to them and have some clear conversations about how we’re going to help.”
Vaping burst into the national consciousness this summer when hundreds of people reported lung damage and at least 12 people died from what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “vaping-associated pulmonary injury.”...
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a sweeping gambling expansion into law in May, legalizing sports betting at the state’s casinos and “racinos” (racetracks with casino games), as well as on mobile devices.
In early March, the North Dakota and South Dakota legislatures passed bills that aim to make a clear distinction between how animal-based meat and meat substitutes are labeled for consumers.
North Dakota’s HB 1400 defines “meat” as only edible flesh from an animal raised for human consumption. Cell-cultured “meats” would need to be clearly labeled as “a cell-cultured protein food product.” They also “may not be packaged in the same, or deceptively similar, packaging as a meat food product.” Under South Dakota’s SB 68, a food product is “misbranded” if labeled in such a way “that intentionally misrepresents the product” as meat. Both measures were signed into law in early March; they received overwhelming support in the North Dakota and South Dakota legislatures.
How should the powers of a state’s attorney general be weighed against those of a state’s legislative branch? That question arose most recently and prominently at the end of 2018 in Wisconsin, when lawmakers made statutory changes in an extraordinary session which altered that power balance in favor of the Legislature.
In October, the Trump Administration adopted new rules for short-term (or “skinny”) health insurance plans. Since then, some states have weighed in by adopting new rules of their own, while also reminding insurers that they must still comply with state-level regulations.
The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation teamed up in 2010 in the “Results First Initiative” to help states implement and make use of cost-benefit analyses. The goal was (and is) to help them identify policies and programs which evidence shows are working.
In less than eight weeks, some Midwestern voters will be asked to decide more than just who will sit in which legislative seats. Depending on their location, they’ll be asked about redistricting, legalizing marijuana, ethics reform, Medicaid expansion, and more.