CSG Midwest
In rural areas that lack access to high-speed internet, the productivity of farm operations is hurt, and access to telemedicine, distance education and e-commerce opportunities is hindered. That disconnectedness, Nebraska Sen. Curt Friesen says, is the reality for too many of his state’s residents.
Officially, about 37 percent of rural Nebraskans lack access to broadband, a figure based on data from the Federal Communications Commission. But Friesen believes the percentage is even higher, because the FCC’s use of census blocks to measure broadband likely overestimates access. (The federal agency is, in fact, now changing how it collects data in order to get more accurate figures.)
Friesen is hopeful, though, that a mix of recent policy changes and new recommendations can help begin closing the state’s connectivity gap. This fall, a rural broadband task force laid out a plan for state action. According to Friesen, who served on the task force and sponsored the legislation creating it (LB 994 from 2018), two strategies stand out as ways to help build out broadband in Nebraska: one, modernizaton of the state’s Universal Service Fund (USF); and two, support for the Public Service Commission’s use of “reverse auctions.”
CSG Midwest
With tens of millions in new state dollars to incentivize farmers, along with a list of best practices known to reduce phosphorus runoff, Ohio will spend the next two years implementing its most comprehensive effort to date to prevent harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
And it’s likely just the beginning of the commitment needed to tackle the problem.

CSG Leadership Circle member Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, made a three-year grant commitment to support science, technology, engineering and math initiatives in a public school in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that sustained severe damage during Hurricane Maria. PhRMA’s STEM Talent Pipeline grant was awarded to the school in November 2019 for the second consecutive year.  Joined by New York City and New York State officials, PhRMA recently led a day of service to help rebuild the school.


If you went to the Supreme Court today to check on Justice Ginsburg’s health, you were in luck. She asked the very first question (and many after) in oral argument in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York.

If you came to hear a robust discussion of whether New York City’s now-repealed gun regulation violates the Second Amendment...

Legislation recently introduced in Wisconsin could change the way the state studies proposed occupational licensing regulations. Sponsored by Senator Chris Kapenga and Representative Rob Hutton, Senate Bill 541 calls for the establishment of a sunrise review process that would formally require certain information to be collected and analyzed during the legislative process.

On November 13th, The Council of State Governments, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governor’s Association, and representatives from the states participating in the Occupational Licensing Policy Learning Consortium were on hand to share some of the successes stemming from the multi-year, Department of Labor funded project. The event saw over 60 individuals in attendance, representing a variety of public and nonprofit policy organizations

Following Thompson v. Hebdon states with low individual-to-candidate or individual-to-group campaign contribution limits may want to review their constitutionality.

In a per curiam (unauthored) opinion the Supreme Court instructed the Ninth Circuit to decide again whether Alaska law, which limits the amount an individual can contribute to a candidate for political office or to an election-oriented group other than a political party...

The state of Washington launched a new and modernized voter registration system this summer to enable citizens to register to vote, update their voter profile and review customized election information in a centralized system, while also supporting the needs of Washington’s local election officials. The system, known as VoteWA, is a one-stop-shop for all things election-related.

CSG South

With decreasing rural populations and changing federal regulations, many rural hospitals have struggled to maintain financial viability in recent years. In 2017, 6,210 total hospitals operated in the United States; 2,250, of these are rural hospitals. Nationally, 113 rural hospitals have closed since January 2010. Furthermore, the rate of rural hospital closures from 2013 to 2017 was twice as high as the rate of the previous five years. In January 2010, SLC member states had approximately 831 rural hospitals. Since then, 81 rural...

CSG Midwest
A new working group in Iowa will look for ways to reduce recidivism among former offenders and eliminate racial bias from the state’s criminal justice system.
Gov. Kim Reynolds asked the group, chaired by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg — a former state public defender — to deliver recommendations by December, to inform several proposals she will submit to legislators when they reconvene in January.
The racial disparity in Iowa’s criminal justice system is indicated by Bureau of Justice Statistics and census data from 2017 — black Iowans are incarcerated at a rate 9.5 times higher than white Iowans, which is tied with Nebraska for the second highest rate in the Midwest. Both states trail Wisconsin (11.7), and are just ahead of Minnesota (9.2) and Illinois (8.2).