Shawntaye Hopkins

Author Articles

During a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Improving Species Conservation in the West,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the Endangered Species Act needs revision because the finish line—recovering species and removing them from the endangered species list—is often unreachable for states.

Mead is leading an initiative, as chairman of the Western Governors’ Association, to improve the Endangered Species Act and species conservation efforts. He wants to send a message to Congress that the initiative is a bipartisan effort and species are not only important to the West but also to the country as a whole.

Suicide rates are climbing in the United States—a recent study showed the age-adjusted rate increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014—and suicide is among the leading causes of death for young people. Many state leaders are working to end the suicide trend by adopting training requirements for schoolteachers.

On Sunday, June 12, Broadway stars will gather for theater’s biggest night, the Tony Awards. Aired live, viewers across the country will get their chance to see and hear the cast of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.” But ticket bots have made it difficult for Broadway fans, especially fans of the ultra popular show about one of the nation’s founding fathers, to see shows in person; and the same applies for concerts and sporting events. State leaders are trying to fix the problem while urging fans to be careful about purchasing from third-party sellers. At least a dozen states have laws that ban ticket bots, software that allows scalpers to quickly snag large quantities of tickets online. In addition, a bill that would prohibit the software was introduced in Congress last year.

Following the release of the final rule addressing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants through Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the Clean Power Plan pending judicial review. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit took another unexpected step by rescheduling oral arguments on challenges to the Clean Power Plan to September. During this eCademy session, presented by CSG and the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, attorneys discussed legal arguments for and against the Clean Power Plan, what state officials should watch for during oral arguments, and the impact of the rescheduled argument timeline.

A new rule by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that bans the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 will go into effect Aug. 8. In most cities and states, however, selling e-cigs to anyone under 18 is already prohibited. In some cases, restrictions apply to those under 19 or 21. On May 4, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that prohibits the sale, and purchase, of tobacco products and electronic devices that deliver nicotine to anyone under 21. The law makes California the second state, after Hawaii, to change its smoking age to 21.

Vermont recently became the fourth state—following Oregon, California and West Virginia—to enact automatic voter registration. Starting July 1, 2017, eligible Vermont residents will be automatically registered to vote when they apply for a state driver’s license.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles will have a system that identifies the eligible voters and automatically sends their information to the appropriate town or city clerk for addition to voter checklists, unless the individual opts out.

“While states...

Many believe that taxes paid at the gas pump are what financially support roads, bridges, buses, trains and other public transit. While it is true that gas tax revenues are used to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, this revenue stream is no longer sufficient to pay for public transportation needs. Several states have begun to explore alternatives to the gas tax, such as the road usage charge—also known as the mileage-based user fee and the Vehicle Miles Traveled method. This eCademy session from The Council of State Governments West provided an overview of the road usage charge, as well as an update on how pilot programs are beginning to take shape in a few Western states.

California would follow Hawaii to become the second state to change its smoking age to 21 if a bill passed by lawmakers earlier this month is signed by the governor. The California bill would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 as well as the purchase of tobacco products by anyone under that age. The age limit also would apply to electronic devices that deliver nicotine or other vaporized liquids. On June 19, 2015, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a law that prohibited the sale, purchase, possession or consumption of cigarettes, other tobacco products and electronic smoking devices--also known as e-cigarettes--to anyone under age 21. The law went into effect Jan. 1.

Frustration and disappointment are often part of the ticket-buying process for people who want to see their favorite megastars live in concert. Single ladies might have a better chance at getting into one of the upcoming Beyoncé concerts than couples and groups, and Adele fans might have more than lost love to cry about when they’re left empty-handed without a ticket to one of her shows this fall. Blame it, at least partly, on bots, software that allows scalpers to quickly snag large quantities of tickets online.

Change is commonplace and expected in the auto industry. In recent years, however, talk has been not only about body styles but also about whether or not a body is needed at all—a human body, that is.

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