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Twenty-two state constitutional amendments were enacted in 2017, with voters approving every amendment of state-wide applicability that appeared on the ballot. This included the lone citizen-initiated amendment, an Ohio amendment that strengthened victims’ rights. Other notable amendments require transportation-related taxes to be dedicated to transportation projects, as in Delaware and Louisiana, and authorize courts to reduce or revoke the public pension of officials convicted of felony offenses related to their official duties in New York.  Voters in New York overwhelmingly rejected a referendum on calling a convention to consider changes to the state constitution. A constitutional commission in Ohio came to a premature end, while another commission in Florida began work.

Chapter 1 of The Book of the States 2018 contains the following article and tables:

Chapter 10 of The Book of the States 2017 contains the following articles and tables:

International trade was a frequent issue of debate during the 2016 presidential election and the results demonstrated a growing concern among voters around the impact of trade agreements and globalization. Many trade experts will point to Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016 as the first indicator in the shift of global trade policy, and reevaluating the impact of international trade agreements. As federal leaders debate the direction of trade policy, states continue to expand exports and attract investments into their respective states; while continuing to improve the coordination with federal agencies to make the trade process easier for their businesses.

With the advancement of research showing how young adults are developmentally different from youth and older adults, state leaders are introducing policies and practices intended to tailor approaches that can improve outcomes for this population and increase public safety.

2016 saw the release of federal guidance designed to define the roles of the federal and state governments in regulating autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. It also saw Michigan enact the most sweeping autonomous vehicle legislation in the nation. But while those efforts sought to focus on the immediate policy concerns and jurisdictional boundary issues involved in the testing and deployment of self-driving cars, others are starting to consider what are expected to be profound long-term policy and planning impacts of these vehicles across a wide variety of sectors in the decades ahead. These include impacts to the economy, the built environment, safety and energy consumption.

While states have made excellent progress during the past 20 years, more work is needed to ensure that existing waste tire stockpiles are remediated and new stockpiles are prevented. This article outlines some of the key criteria contained in states’ waste tire disposal laws and regulations, and assesses best practices undertaken by states.

Community Solar and Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, are two relatively new, increasingly pursued, and still evolving strategies helping to transform the U.S. electricity system. These approaches put local governments at the center of energy purchase and development decision-making efforts. States should pay attention to these two potentially overlapping approaches as they can address a number of energy-related challenges. Their effectiveness depends on the form they take, including whether they are enabled by state legislation. This article describes these programs and recommends support for strategic energy planning to gain a full awareness of challenges and opportunities.

As rural communities struggle to grow their economies and retain skilled labor, work-based learning experiences such as internships and apprenticeships offer a promising strategy to address workforce talent shortages and connect individuals to in-demand careers. To achieve scale, there are promising actions state policymakers can take to better align existing programs and resources to support economic development and educational attainment in the rural areas of their states.

The chair of the Midwestern Legislative Conference, Iowa state Sen. Janet Petersen, is putting a spotlight on healthy birth outcomes in the Midwest, from home visit and safe sleep programs to (sadly, when necessary) child and/or infant death review teams. States can do plenty to help newborns and their parents get a good start to life.

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