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The halls of Congress are quiet once again as lawmakers return home to their districts for the seven-week summer recess. Although Congress goes on recess every August, the adjournment will be longer this year due to the political conventions. Neither chamber will resume formal activity until after Labor Day when lawmakers return for 19 legislative days before adjourning again in October for the presidential election. They will return to a litany of unfinished items, including the annual appropriations bills and measures to address the Zika virus and the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

For Kate Wren Gavlak, the work of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission, or MIC3, is about more than legislation; it is work she engages in every day. Gavlak, who is chair of the commission, represents California, which has the largest population of active duty, Reserve and Guard service members in the nation. She also serves as the superintendent of the Travis Unified School District, a district created in 1962, in part, to serve the children of military personnel stationed at Travis Air Force Base.

With Hillary Clinton poised to make history as the first female presidential nominee from a major party, it is noteworthy that women are still underrepresented in state government leadership positions. In 2016, women make up less than one-quarter of state legislators and statewide elected executive officers, and less than one-third of all state court judges. The percentage of female state legislators has largely stalled over the last 20 years, while the number of women elected to statewide executive offices has fallen. Only the number of female state judges has seen significant increases in recent years.

Michael Botticelli serves as the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House. In long-term recovery from a substance use disorder for more than 26 years, Botticelli has worked to confront the stigma associated with substance use disorders, which can prevent individuals from seeking treatment. He believes making a variety of treatment options available is key to addressing the opioid epidemic and saving lives.

In 2015, the U.S. exported over $56 billion in merchandise to the United Kingdom. That represents nearly 4 percent of all U.S. exports and makes the U.K. the fifth largest export market for the U.S. After
hitting a 10-year low in 2013, exports have been on the rise to the U.K. for the past two years, but recent political developments could put those gains at risk.

The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. The average governor’s salary grew more slowly during and after the Great Recession, with many states instituting a ban on cost-of-living adjustments; however, as the fiscal health of states has improved, the annual increases normally seen in executive branch pay are returning to a more historically customary level in some states, particularly those that provide cost-of-living adjustments annually.

When Hurricane Ike hit Harris County, Texas, in 2008, the damage was substantial. The second costliest hurricane in America’s history destroyed a vast stretch of housing in the area, leaving thousands of people homeless and devastating local infrastructure. This created a host of challenges for public officials, not least of which was restoring access to water and electricity and rebuilding homes. Using funding from a Community Development Block Grant and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Harris County began its recovery process. Unfortunately, the county quickly encountered difficulties with contractors regarding code review and safety standards.

During a recent webcast presented by The Council of State Governments in collaboration with The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation, experts discussed vehicle telematics technology and its impact on the insurance industry.

On June 22, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, or H.R. 2576, which provides for a major overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. While TSCA was enacted to regulate chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had only mandated testing on approximately 200 of the tens of thousands of chemicals used in commerce since TSCA’s inception. In addition, the EPA had restricted the uses of only five chemicals in existence before the passage of the TSCA in 1976.

In recent years, many jurisdictions have modernized and eased longstanding alcohol restrictions. In June, both Colorado and Pennsylvania enacted laws that were described as the biggest changes to the industry since Prohibition was repealed.

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