What percentage of school districts are connected to high-speed internet in the SLC member states?
How did SLC member states fare on the American Lung Society's annual State of the Air report?
The American Lung Society recently released its annual State of the Air report. Overall, SLC states fared well in several of the “cleanest cities” categories. Cities in SLC member states comprise half of the top 10 cleanest cities for Ozone Air Pollution and also six of the top 10 cleanest cities for Short-Term Particulate Pollution.
More information on the cleanest cities can be found here.
More information on the most polluted cities can be found here.
Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution:
Cleanest U.S. Cities for Short-term Particulate Pollution:
States Assisting the Formation of Community Gardens and Farms in Abandoned Urban Areas and Working to Eradicate Food Deserts
Presently, it appears that most of the action related to the promotion of community gardens and farms in abandoned urban areas has occurred at the local or municipal level. However, there is legislation in California, The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act (Assembly Bill 551), introduced by Assembly Member Phil Ting and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2013, that emerged at the state level. This piece of legislation, that drew bipartisan support in both the California Assembly and Senate, went into effect on January 1, 2014. The bill aims to accomplish two things: (1) increase the use of privately owned, vacant land for urban agriculture and (2) improve land security for urban agriculture projects. The legislation does this by allowing city governments in California, with approval from their county board of supervisors, to designate areas within their boundaries as "urban agriculture incentive zones." In these areas, landowners who sign a contract to commit their land to agricultural use for at least five years will receive a reduction in their property taxes. Specifically, their parcel's property tax assessment will be based on the agricultural value of the land rather than the market-rate value of the land. California's legislation generated interest across the country, particularly at the local level. (More can be learned about the state effort here and the actual legislation here.)
2015 Update on Common Core in SLC Member States
This SLC recent research is a brief update to the February 2015 SLC Regional Resource, and includes short summaries of any developments that have occurred in the SLC member states in relation to Common Core up to October 19, 2015. As it stands, the majority of states have adopted 90 percent or more of Common Core and customized them to invididual state-specific learning environments and priorities. For complete details regarding SLC member state developments related to Common Core, please refer to the SLC Regional Resource.
As noted in the SLC Regional Resource, on November 20, 2011, after a year of reviewing the needs of Alabama students, the Board adopted Common Core along with a set of additional state-specific standards, collectively referred to as the Alabama College- and Career-Ready Standards (CCRS) for Mathematics and English Language Arts. Legislative efforts (e.g., SB101 of 2015) to repeal Common Core continued during the 2015 legislative session, but did not succeed. The Alabama College- & Career-Ready Standards continue to be used throughout the state.
In SLC states, how many acres of land were burned by wild or prescribed fires in 2014?
|State||Number of wild fires||Acres burned||Number of prescribed fires||Acres burned||Total acres burned|
Source: National Interagency Coordination Center
Manufacturing Products Top SLC State Exports in 2014
|Image courtesy of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation|
|Image courtesy of BMW Manufacturing News Center|
"U.S. businesses exported $2.35 trillion of our goods and services in 2014, hitting a record high for the fifth straight year. Exports support 11.3 million American jobs, and contributed one-third of our annual growth between 2009 and 2013."‐ Penny Pritzker, Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce
Exports from the United States continue to power ahead and, in 2014, they registered a record high for the fifth consecutive year, $2.35 trillion in goods and services to be exact.¥ U.S. exports hit records in a number of categories including capital goods; consumer goods; petroleum products; foods, feeds and beverages; and automotive vehicles and parts. Importantly, reflecting the composition of the U.S. economy, services exports recorded an all-time high of $710.3 billion in 2014, led by travel and transport; charges for the use of intellectual property; and financial services. As noted by Secretary Pritzker, the critical role played by the export sector in generating millions of jobs for Americans cannot be overemphasized, along with the role played by the export sector in promoting economic growth across the country.
What are the vaccination rates for one- to three-year-olds in SLC member states?
On August 27, 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released data from the 2014 National Immunization Survey (NIS) looking at immunization coverage among children 19-35 months of age with state-level estimates, along with vaccination coverage among children at school entry by state during the 2014-2015 school year. Vaccines remain one of the most effective tools available for the prevention of childhood diseases. Since 1994, NIS has monitored vaccination coverage among U.S. children aged 19‐35 months for vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. To gauge progress toward achieving full vaccination with recommended childhood vaccines, observed coverage levels are compared to targets set by Healthy People 2020.
|State||Percentage of children aged 19‐35 months with a combined vaccine series *|
How many death row prisoners are confined in SLC member states?
On December 31, 2013, the most recent date for which data is available, 35 states and the federal government held prisoners who had been sentenced to death. The table below shows how many prisoners were currently being held under sentence of death by state or federal jurisdiction as of December 31, 2013, and the average number of years those prisoners had been on death row since sentenced. The total includes prisoners sentenced between 1974 and 2013, who remain sentenced to death. It should be noted that not all of these prisoners will be executed given that some may die while in custody, have their sentence commuted, or have their sentence overturned.
|State||Total Prisoners Under Sentence of Death||Average Number of Years Under Sentence of Death|
Note: West Virginia abolished the death penalty in 1965.
Public Pension Trends & Developments
The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) has intensely focused on public pensions and the entire retirement architecture of the United States for more than 15 years. An SLC presentation before the Alabama Legislature a few years ago captures some of the important trends and developments on the topic. Even though the presentation is several years old, the essential elements of the presentation remain valid and provide a good synopsis of the topic. This presentation may be viewed here. Some of the strategies adopted by dozens of states to bolster their public pension plans include: increasing employee contributions; limiting COLA increases (a strategy complicated by recent court decisions); increasing age and vesting limits; trimming benefits; and issuing pension obligation bonds.
In the wake of the 2008-09 market decline and Great Recession, nearly every state and many cities have taken steps to improve the financial condition of their retirement plans and to reduce costs. Although some lawmakers have considered closing existing pension plans to new hires, most determined that this would increase – rather than reduce – costs, particularly in the near-term. Based on the most recent information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, 3.9 percent of all state and local government spending is used to fund pension benefits for employees of state and local government. Pension costs have remained within a narrow range over a 30-year period, declining from a high point of 5 percent to a low of 2.3 percent in FY02, and reaching 3.9 percent in FY12. State and local governments contributed, in aggregate, an estimated $109 billion to pension funds in FY13, a figure equal to 3.9 percent of projected state and local direct general spending for that year. This February 2015 National Association of State Retirement Administrators Issue Brief, entitled 'State and Local Government Spending on Public Employee Retirement Systems,'provides more details on these trends.
Has there been a change in the percentage breakdown of the major tax categories in the SLC states between 2004 and 2014?
|GSU - General Sales and Use||II - Individual Income||T - Tobacco|
|MF - Motor Fuel||CI - Corporate Income||S - Severance|
|MVOL - Motor Vehicle Operator and License||AB - Alcoholic Beverage||O - Other|
(click on headers to sort by column)
|State||GSU 2004||GSU 2014||MF 2004||MF 2014||MVOL 2004||MVOL 2014||II 2004||II 2014||CI 2004||CI 2014||AB 2004||AB 2014||T 2004||T 2014||S 2004||S 2014||O 2004||O 2014|
Debate on Proposals to Privatize State-Administered Alcohol Sales
Information from selected states on the debate regarding the privatization of alcohol and beverage control (ABC) operations follows. One of the major areas of discussion when states consider privatizing their monopoly of the sale of alcohol is the potential public health and safety implications of the change. A number of studies have been conducted on this topic, including the following:
Virginia is one such state and when then Governor Bob McDonnell floated the proposal after his election in 2009, George Mason University carried out the following study. The study's conclusions indicate that "government-spirits monopolies do not generate the health benefits that their proponents trumpet. The plain fact seems to be that alcohol-related problems are unrelated to whether or not a state government prevents private, competitive businesses from selling spirits to the general public." Also, in Virginia, in January 2015, Senator Ryan McDougle sponsored SB 1032 in an effort, in his words, to "allow ABC to operate like a business as opposed to a government agency." Similarly, in the Virginia House, Delegate Dave Albo, proposed HB 1776 with the goal of replacing ABC with the authority to operate outside of government authority.
North Carolina is another Southern state that has grappled with the option of privatizing their ABC operations. The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law released a detailed report entitled North Carolina's ABC System Needs Modernization. In addition, North Carolina's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission released its 2014 annual report recently. Also, of relevance in this connection is an interview with the chair of the NC ABC Commission, recently appointed by Governor Pat McCrory.
Recent Trends Related to State Worker's Compensation Laws
The National Federation of Independent Businesses is a collection of 350,000 small and independent business owners that came together to promote and protect the right to own, operate and expand their businesses. Here is a compendium on the workers' compensation laws by state. Worker's compensation insurance requirements for employers vary from state to state. Information on what these insurance requirements are for the specific state is critical for protecting businesses, particularly small-business owners. While some states never require worker's compensation insurance, some always require it, and for others, whether it is required depends on the number of employees at the business. This list of resources provides details on the status of all 50 states.
Pro Publica is a New York-based independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. They have compiled several projects related to worker's compensation trends in the states and information on this research is available here and here.
Business Insurance Magazine is an industry publication that presents news and information for executives concerned about risk and the impact on their business. In the March 2015 issue, the publication included an article entitled "States consider workers compensation reform" highlighting recent workers' compensation trends in the states, which can be found here.
State Purchasing Regulations and Reform
States across the country continue to explore strategies to lower overall spending while providing citizens with critical services. In this connection, reforming their purchasing regulations and introducing procurement reforms remain a strong management feature in a number of states. In fact, given their reputation as the laboratories of democracy, many states have introduced innovative and creative ways with regard to their procurement processes by utilizing new tools and establishing best practices.
Four such states are Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota and Wisconsin, which, in recent years have enacted some significant and successful procurement reform efforts in a number of their state agencies that possibly could be adopted in other settings. Georgia and Virginia have enhanced their procurement systems to optimize savings and spending potential by adopting e-procurement tools and emulating successful procedures from the private sector. Similarly, Minnesota and Wisconsin have made groundbreaking strides in procurement reform by sharing resources, consolidating services and pursuing joint contracts.
"Nothing is simple when it comes to government contracting, especially for large technology projects. Yes, there are good reasons for having all those checks and balances in place. After all, taxpayers foot the bill for these projects, and there must be some assurance that the funds are being spent wisely, particularly given some of the high-profile failures of public-sector IT deployments. But the downside is these rules can be so restrictive that they choke off competition and innovation."1 More about some of the factors that stifle competition can be found here.
In Washington, a new state law went into effect on January 1, 2013, that consolidated procurement laws under the state's Department of Enterprise Services. The goal of the new law is to make the procurement process more transparent, competitive and efficient. Additional information about this law can be found here.
Retiree Health Care and GASB Statements 74 and 75
The impact of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statements 74 and 75, designed to improve the accounting and financial reporting by state and local governments for Other Post-Employee Benefits (OPEB), primarily retiree health insurance, varies across the United States.
Along with challenges related to funding their pension plans, states also face critical challenges related to adequately funding their retiree health care costs. GASB Statements 74 and 75, designed to go into effect in the fiscal year beginning after June 15, 2016 (Statement 74) and in the fiscal year beginning after June 15, 2017 (Statement 75), pose additional complications for policymakers as they seek to devise mechanisms to adequately fund these expenditures.
In the last decade or so, the number of state governments offering retiree health care benefits has been declining. In recent years, states have deployed a number of different strategies to transfer a greater portion of the cost of providing retiree health care to employees and retirees compared to earlier periods.
In probing the states with the highest unfunded actuarial liability (or UAAL) in terms of their OPEB, of which retiree health care costs are the most significant component, the following top 10 loom large:
How do SLC member states evaluate teacher effectiveness?
Trends in Teacher Evaluation: How States are Measuring Teacher Performance, a report from the National School Boards Association's (NSBA) Center for Public Education, provides a thorough state-by-state analysis of state government approaches to teacher evaluation regulations. Out of the 15 SLC member states, nine (Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas) practice high to medium state involvement, meaning that the state mandates the requirements and components of the evaluation system (high) or provides model evaluation systems that districts can either adopt fully or adapt to some degree (medium). Of these nine SLC member states, six (Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) recommend or require that quantifiable student achievement indicators comprise half of a teachers' evaluation.
NSBA identified two common approaches to quantitative teacher evaluations: the value-added model (VAM), which attempts to measure the impact a teacher has on students' academic growth in relation to other causal variables, and student growth percentiles (SGP), a measure of how much progress a student has made relative to other students, each with particular advantages and disadvantages. Of the six SLC member states with similar quantitative teacher evaluation methods, only three (Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) practice the VAM method for linking teachers and student achievement.
(click on headers to sort by column)
|State||State's Level of Involvement in Evaluation Systems||Student Achievement as Measure of Teacher Effectiveness||Statistical Model for Evaluation|
|Alabama||Low||Not specified||Not specified/other|
|Arkansas||Medium||50 percent||Student Growth Percentiles|
|Florida||Low||50 percent||Value-Added Model|
|Georgia||Medium||50 percent||Student Growth Percentiles|
|Kentucky||Low||Not specified||Student Growth Percentiles|
The Status of Medicaid Expansion in SLC States
ALABAMA Governor Robert Bentley (R) indicated in December 2014 that he was open to the possibility of Medicaid expansion in the form of a state-designed program that uses private sector insurance and imposes work and job training requirements on the recipients. Governor Bentley has signaled that he may ask the federal government for a block grant to accomplish this expansion. The Alabama Legislature currently is considering a Joint Resolution that reaffirms their opposition to Medicaid expansion and urges Governor Bentley from taking any steps to expand the state's program. The resolution passed the Alabama Senate on April 21 and currently awaits action in the House.
ARKANSAS Arkansas has reauthorized funding for its private option alternative to Medicaid expansion through FY 2016. Under additional legislation passed during the 2015 session, the private option expansion will terminate on December 31, 2016, and a newly created legislative task force will make recommendations on alternative coverage models and reforms for the entire Medicaid program by December 31, 2015. Given that the General Assembly is not scheduled to meet again for a regular legislative session until 2017 (2016 is a fiscal session), Governor Hutchinson expects that a special session will be necessary to take action on the future of the state's Medicaid program.
According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, 188,023 individuals have enrolled through the private option program, with an additional 25,117 medically frail individuals enrolled in traditional Medicaid, as of November 30, 2014.
Rural Hospital Funding in Non-Expansion States
Improving Funding for Rural Hospitals Between January 2010 and December 2014, 47 rural and critical access hospitals have closed around the country, 31 of which are in SLC states. As of January 2015, 24 of those hospitals remain closed, 10 have been converted to outpatient and primary care rural health clinics, nine have been converted to urgent or emergency care centers, and four have been converted to rehabilitation or nursing facilities. 1 Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments were set to begin phasing out in FY2014. Under the plan, the phasing out of DSH payments, which are intended to provide additional funding to hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid and uninsured low-income patients, was set to be complete in FY2020. The design of the ACA was for the reduction in DSH payments to be off-set with a reduction in uninsured patients through Medicaid expansion and subsidies for private insurance. Although the implementation of DSH reductions has been delayed until FY2017, additional reductions, including a 2 percent sequestration reduction on Medicare payments, have quickly contributed to the demise of already financially fragile rural hospitals. With this trend expected to accelerate in the future, particularly in non-Medicaid expansion states, some states have begun to discuss alternatives for funding rural hospitals. The most prevalent strategies being discussed for addressing the declining health of rural and critical access hospitals is creating partnerships or mergers with larger hospitals, developing innovative delivery models that rely on integrated healthcare, and expanded utilization of telemedicine in rural areas.
The following information provides details on approaches taken by several SLC states to address the declining fiscal health of rural hospitals, as well as other options that may be worth considering when crafting a solution to address these issues.
Georgia: Rural Hospital Stabilization "Hub and Spoke" Pilot Project In 2014, Governor Nathan Deal announced the formation of the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee, bringing together policymakers and other stakeholders, to identify the needs of the rural hospital community and provide potential solution for addressing those needs.
What are the governing entities for higher education in SLC member states?
from Online Database for Postsecondary Governance, Education Commission of the States (ECS)
|Alabama||The Alabama Commission on Higher Education, the statutory coordinating agency for public postsecondary education, was established in 1969. The Commission is composed of 12 members, 10 appointed by the governor and 1 each by the lieutenant governor and speaker of the house. All are subject to confirmation by the Senate. No more than 2 members can be from any one congressional district and each is charged with representing the state as a whole. Commissioners serve 9-year terms. The statutory authority of the Commission includes planning, coordination, budget review for individual institutions, recommendations of a consolidated budget and program review for the state's public senior and junior institutions. Program review involves new program approval authority for all public postsecondary institutions. The Commission has advisory authority relative to the review of existing programs. The commission also has approval authority for off-campus instruction and programs offered in the state by out-of-state institutions. |
The State Board of Education is a constitutional entity with responsibility not only for K-12 but also for governing 1 upper-division college, 3 junior colleges, 18 community colleges and 7 technical colleges.
|Arkansas||The Arkansas Department of Higher Education, established in 1971, functions as a statutory cabinet department of the state government and is charged with the coordination of postsecondary education in Arkansas. The department administers the policies set by the Higher Education Coordinating Board, which replaced the State Board of Higher Education in 1997. Consisting of 12 members who are appointed to 6-year terms by the governor, the Higher Education Coordinating Board has statutory responsibility for the planning and coordination of public 4-and 2-year institutions. The Board also has statutory authority for budget review and recommendation, approval of institutions role and scope, and the review and approval of new or existing degree programs for public postsecondary institutions. The executive officer of the agency is appointed by the Higher Education Coordinating Board with substantial input from the Presidents Council and is confirmed and serves at the governor's pleasure.|
State Funding of Gaming, Fishing and Wildlife Departments
Budgets for the state departments overseeing gaming, fishing and wildlife operations in 11 states were evaluated to identify and compare annual budgets and major funding sources; fee schedules for hunting and fishing licenses; and to determine whether the state offered lifetime licenses.* The states reviewed are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Of these 11 states, two (Ohio and Kentucky) did not offer lifetime licenses; the remaining nine states did offer lifetime licenses.
A file with 13 different spreadsheets providing information on budget amounts, major funding sources and per capita spending levels in each of the 11 states listed above is linked here. The first two spreadsheets, Appendix 1 (State Funding of Gaming, Fishing and Wildlife Departments) and Appendix 2 (Details of State Funding Levels) are macro-level analyses of the information compiled. In addition, an individual spreadsheet for each of the 11 states that details the various amounts charged for the different kinds of licenses (hunting, fishing etc.) along with a wealth of information on the fees associated with the different states is included.
There was a great deal of variation in terms of the budget size and major funding sources in the different states. Figures 1 and 2 reflect these trends:
Source: Departmental budgets (Data and sources in Appendix 1). Please note that not all fiscal years are the same, as preference was given to detailed departmental (rather than overall state) budgets, and data was extracted from the most recent, available fiscal year.
Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) with a Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM) Clause Related to Higher Education Buildings
Ongoing fiscal pressures on state budgets are increasingly causing states to focus on P3s as a means to generate funds to initiate essential infrastructure projects. Despite this growing reliance on P3s for major infrastructure projects, few states have offices dedicated solely to reviewing the feasibility of different P3 projects. Among the limited number of states with these independent offices, several SLC states stand out: Florida, Texas and Virginia. While P3s related to transportation infrastructure have gathered the most attention in recent years, a growing number of state and local governments also are authorizing P3s – with a DBFOM provision – in the arena of higher education-related infrastructure investments.
Specifically, seven states have laws pertaining to public-private partnership funding for state-level educational facilities: California, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The following sections outline the provisions of those laws and, where relevant, applications of the law to provide private funding for university facilities generally. In addition, the American Institute of Architects offers a Legislative Resource Guide on Public-Private Partnerships for Public Facilities.
California law has provided for P3s for transportation infrastructure since 1989, and expanded its application and authorized public entities since. In 1996, the state granted local governments authority to enter into fee-producing infrastructure projects and the broad definition of local government includes university systems:
What are the primary election formulas of SLC Member States?
|State||Primary Formula||Primary (approx.)||Runoff||Citation|
|Alabama||June, 1st Tuesday||early June||6th Tuesday following the Primary||17-13-3|
|Arkansas||Preferential Primary: Tuesday 3 weeks prior to general primary election; General primary election: second Tuesday in June preceding the general election||late May||June, 2nd Tuesday (General Primary Election)||7-7-202; 7-7-203|
|Florida||Tuesday, 10 weeks prior to general election||mid to late August||. . .||100.061|
|Georgia||24th Tuesday before Nov. General in Even years||mid to late May||9th Tuesday after Primary||21-2-150|
|Kentucky||May, 1st Tuesday after 3rd Monday||mid to late May||35 days after Primary||118.025|
|Louisiana||October, 2nd to last Saturday||late October (odd)||4th Saturday after Primary||18.402|
|Mississippi||August, first Tuesday after first Monday||early August (odd)||3rd Tuesday after Primary||23-15-191|
|Missouri||August, first Tuesday after first Monday||early August||. . .||115.121.1|
|North Carolina||May, first Tuesday after first Monday||early May||7 weeks after Primary||163-1|
|Oklahoma||June, last Tuesday||late June||August, 4th Tuesday||26-1-102|
Public and Nonprofit Organization Initiatives to Rejuvenate Blighted Neighborhoods
Local, state and federal governments have taken different approaches with regard to implementing programs to address the range of issues related to blighted neighborhoods in America’s metropolitan areas. Neighborhood blight, which can negatively affect the health and safety of citizens and lower revenue inflows as a result of declining property values, remain a significant challenge in several American cities. Due to the local nature of these conditions, local or community level organizations typically target blight removal, using federal and state funds channeled through state agencies. Along with assistance either offered or funneled through various government agencies, a number of nonprofit organizations also are actively involved in creating innovative solutions to eradicating blighted neighborhoods.
Initiatives to address this issue emerge from three main groups: federal, state and nonprofit.
Several federal agency programs offer grant funding for use by states to remove blight, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Neighborhood Stabilization Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields and Land Revitalization Act, National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund Grants-in-Aid for State, Tribal, and Local Government Programs, U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration Planning and Local Technical Assistance Program, and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Program. The federal HUD agency also compiles data on vacancy rates and highlights strategies for identifying, targeting, and eliminating urban blight, as well as innovative ways to rejuvenate affected areas and the surrounding communities.
Programs and Strategies for Reducing Youth Violence
Although the details may vary, the issue of youth violence is one that almost all communities will encounter. Approaches to addressing this issue are as diverse as the juvenile offenders themselves. The following information provides details on a number of programs and resources available that aim to reduce the prevalence of youth violence.
St. Louis Nightwatch
St. Louis Nightwatch Program - Created in 2000, the Nightwatch Program is a partnership between the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Juvenile Division of the St. Louis City Family Court. The goal of the program is to increase the accountability of juveniles under court supervision by conducting random checks on their compliance with court-ordered curfews. From its inception in 2000 through December 2013, 123,546 visits were made to juveniles. The St. Louis Family Court reported that from October 2012-September 2013, 6,260 visits yielded a compliance rate of 83.2 percent.
A 2005 evaluation of the Nightwatch Program found the rate of recidivism to be much lower among juveniles assigned to the program than among their juvenile counterparts not enrolled in the Nightwatch Program.
CSG Justice Center - Texas Juvenile Justice Reform
Proposed Ridesharing Laws in the States
(Accurate as of February 12, 2015)
Legislation regarding ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar has proliferated over the past two years (see Transportation Network Company Ride Sharing Issue Status). In some instances, ridesharing companies – particularly the largest company, Uber – have backed legislation to open markets, gain credibility and legal protection, but also that could create barriers to entry for smaller ridesharing companies. Typically, such legislation matches current company policies on background checks for drivers, vehicle inspections, driver training, and insurance requirements.
Statewide, Blanket Policies for Fee Adjustment for State and Local Government Services
(Accurate as of February 6, 2015)
State and local governments rely on an assortment of fees and charges to help fund services. The information request posed whether there were instances where certain fees were automatically adjusted based on a fixed number of metrics or inputs without the intervention of the legislative body, either state or local government. One such example of a fee or a charge automatically adjusting without legislative intervention involves the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) in North Carolina. While the MFT is added to the cost of each gallon of gasoline and diesel sold in the state, North Carolina's MFT rate springs from two sources: a fixed portion and a variable portion. While the fixed portion remains unchanged, unless modified by state law, the variable portion is automatically adjusted and is based on the wholesale price of gasoline every six months, on January 1st and July 1st.
There are several examples of uniform fee adjustment policies within state agencies even though no blanket policies that crossed state agencies were discovered. Some statewide guidelines exist, such as those issued by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and guidelines for local government user fees issued by the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. In addition, the Government Finance Officers Association has best practice guidelines for establishing government charges and fees, including recommendations for periodic review and updates.
Examples of statewide, departmental fees adjusted according to changes in certain inputs or metrics are outlined. Because fees usually are based on the cost of service provision, inputs or metrics can be highly specific to the service provided and adjustments typically incorporate inflation indirectly. For example, and as noted previously, North Carolina adjusts the MFT biannually, according to the wholesale price of gas; as changes in the wholesale price captures changes in inflation, so, too, does the adjusted motor fuel tax rate. Two examples of non-fee rates adjusted directly to inflation are state salaries and minimum wages.
State Best Practices/Reviews
States and the Federal New Markets Tax Credit Program
(Information Compiled on February 4, 2015)
The New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) was established by Congress in 2000 to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The NMTC Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs). The credit totals 39 percent of the original investment amount and is claimed over a period of seven years (5 percent for each of the first three years, and 6 percent for each of the remaining four years). The investment in CDEs cannot be redeemed before the end of the seven-year period.
In 1994, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, or CDFI Fund, was created under aegis of the U.S. Department of the Treasury to promote economic revitalization and community development through investment in and assistance to community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The CDFI Fund achieves its purpose by promoting access to capital and local economic growth through initiatives such as the NMTC Program. Since its inception, the CDFI Fund has made 836 awards allocating a total of $40 billion in tax credit authority to CDEs through a competitive application process. This $40 billion includes $3 billion in Recovery Act Awards and $1 billion of special allocation authority to be used for the recovery and redevelopment of the Gulf Opportunity Zone.
How many prisoners are under the jurisdiction of state correctional authorities in the SLC member states?
(click on headers to sort by column)
How Do States Regulate Combat Sports?
(Compiled February 11, 2015)
Most states regulate contact sports through athletic or boxing commissions, housed within departments of labor and professional or occupational licensing and regulation.The conclusion of this document provides a detailed breakdown of how the 15 Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) states regulate and oversee contact sports. Within the SLC region, Arkansas and North Carolina are two exceptions: Arkansas houses its athletic commission within the Department of Health, while North Carolina houses its boxing authority within the Department of Public Safety. Outside the region, the Nevada Athletic Commission operates under the Department of Business and Industry.
The Arkansas General Assembly transferred the state Athletic Commission to the Department of Health after a series of organizational failures within the Commission and the resignation of the chair. Minutes from the Arkansas State Board of Health meeting on November 8, 2012, show that the governor had asked the Department to consider oversight of the Athletic Commission, as well as the Board of Sanitarians and Health Educators (see page 6 of Minutes). Prior to its transfer, the Board did not undergo a sunset review, though the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit periodically reviewed the Commission’s internal controls and compliance.
Regulation of mixed martial arts (MMA) has progressed very quickly across the country, with New York being the only state where professional MMA still is illegal, and there currently is legislation in the Assembly and Senate to legalize the sport and establish regulations and taxes. As of late 2013, 16 states did not regulate the sport.
February 2015: The Status of Medicaid Expansion in the SLC States
ALABAMA Governor Robert Bentley (R) indicated in December 2014 that he was open to the possibility of Medicaid expansion in the form of a state-designed program that uses private sector insurance and imposes work and job training requirements on the recipients. Governor Bentley has signaled that he may ask the federal government for a block grant to accomplish this expansion. Since the governor’s re-positioning, legislative leaders in Alabama have been relatively quiet on the idea, but Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) has said he does not think the issue would gain much traction in the Legislature. Support or opposition for the governor’s proposal may become more pronounced in the coming weeks, as legislators get ready to convene the legislative session on March 3, 2015.
ARKANSAS Arkansas has reauthorized funding for its private option alternative to Medicaid expansion through FY 2016. Under additional legislation passed during the 2015 session, the private option expansion will terminate on December 31, 2016, and a newly created legislative task force will make recommendations on alternative coverage models. According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, as of November 30, 2014, 188,023 individuals have enrolled through the private option program, with an additional 25,117 medically frail individuals enrolled in traditional Medicaid.
What are the minimum number of school days per year in SLC member states?
|State||State Code Section||Number of Days||Minimum Hours for Instructional Day|
|Alabama||[ALA. CODE § 16-13-231(a)(1) and (b)(1)(c)] |
|180 or hourly equivalent||6 hours (Excludes lunch and recess)|
|Arkansas||[ARK. CODE ANN. § |
|178||6 hours/day or 30 hours/week|
|Florida||[FLA. STAT. ch. |
|Georgia||[GA. CODE ANN. § 20-2-168(c); GA. COMP. R. & REGS. r. 160-5-1-.02(2)||180||Grades K-3, 4.5 hours; grades 4-5, 5 hours; grades 6-12, 5.5 hours|
|Kentucky||[KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 158.070; 702 Ky. Admin. Regs. 7:140]||170 (185-day calendar that includes 170 instructional plus four days for professional development)||N/A|
|Louisiana||[LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § 17:154; LA. ADMIN. CODE tit. 28 pt.,CXV § 333, 1103]||177 (Includes two days for staff development)||6 hours (Excludes recess)|
|Mississippi||[MISS. CODE ANN. § 37-13-61, 63,67]||180||5.5 hours|
|Missouri||[MO. REV. STAT. § 160.041, 171.031]||N/A||N/A|
|North Carolina||[N.C. GEN. STAT. § 115C-84.2(a)(1),(d)]||185||N/A|
|Oklahoma||[OKLA. STAT. tit. 70, § 1-109, 111]||180||6 hours|
|South Carolina||[S.C. CODE ANN. § 59-1-425]||180 (Plus three days for mandatory professional development, up to two days for professional development and up to five days for planning, parent conf., etc. to total 190 days)||6 hours (Elementary includes lunch; secondary excludes lunch)|
State Occupational Boards and Commissions Fees
Licensure, a policy mechanism designed to ensure minimum competency among practitioners in markets with high risk of harm, affords protection to the public by granting licensees exclusive rights of practice. In effect, no person without a license may legally provide those regulated goods or services. This definition offers an important distinction from certification and registration, which do not offer exclusive rights of practice. Typically, licensure guarantees certain practitioner training regarding public health, safety or sanitation, so consumers, for example, do not receive the wrong medication at a pharmacy or spread disease at a spa. It is a means of indirectly providing information to consumers about the quality of a service. Licensure, however, also has the effect of driving up service costs and practitioner wages by restricting market entry. Consequently, training or language and residency requirements for licensure may restrict qualified practitioners from offering services in a state, dampening job creation opportunities and economic growth.
Boards and commissions were examined in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. States varied in organizational structure and consolidation of boards, as well as the number and distinction of occupations in each board’s jurisdiction and the complexity of fee schedules. For example, some states, like Tennessee and Nebraska, house occupational boards and commissions within administrative or executive departments, such as the departments of health or labor. Others, such as Georgia, have separate boards for cosmetologists and barbers. Most states did not report the number of licensees under each board, and no states reported the number of licenses by occupation. Table 1 depicts the name of each analogous board or commission, if it exists. Table 2 demonstrates the range of application or initial fees and renewal fees. These ranges capture the different occupations regulated by the boards. It does not capture, however, additional fees levied on firms, inspections or examinations that many boards impose.
State and Local Regulations on the Use of Golf Carts on Public Roads
While not commonly considered a category governed as transportation, several states in the Southern region have passed laws governing the use of golf carts as transportation on public roads. These regulations vary widely in terms of how, where and when golf carts may be used legally. In some places, such as Peachtree City, Georgia, and The Villages in Florida, local governments have invested in transportation infrastructure designed for the use of golf carts, creating a network of trails complete with bridges, tunnels and signage. In other places, it is illegal to drive a golf cart on a street or sidewalk any farther than a half mile from a golf course or approved event.
Information relating to the legal street and trail use of golf carts, as well as low speed vehicles (LSV) or personal transportation vehicles (PTV), in six states in the region is presented in the accompanying table. These vehicles all have different designations, and are regulated separately by both federal and state governments; however, these regulations serve very similar purposes and, in many jurisdictions, a modified golf cart may meet the legal definition of low speed or personal transportation vehicle. The table shows the relevant state codes for legal use of these vehicles, including who may drive them, where they may be driven, whether they may be driven at night, and any required safety features. In addition, because many states allow municipal or county governments to regulate use of golf carts, the table includes example local ordinances for each state where applicable.
In addition to state and local laws on safety equipment, some golf carts must meet federal safety standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates golf carts with top speeds between 20 and 25 miles per hour as LSVs (49 CFR Part 571). Golf carts with top speeds of less than 20 mph are not required to meet federal safety standards. Dealers that modify or customize golf carts to exceed top speeds between 20 and 25 mph, however, must comply with the LSV safety standards. These standards require headlights, front and rear turn signals, taillights, stop lamps, reflex reflectors, rearview mirrors, parking brake, windshield, vehicle identification number and seat belts.
How many states have Departments of Elder Abuse and/or Aging?
|State||Division Name||Superior Department||Elder Abuse Services||Website||Elder Abuse Related Service Provision or Referral Department|
|Alabama||Department of Senior Services||Independent||Yes||http://www.alabamaageline.gov/||Elder Justice and Advocacy Program, Interagency Council for the Prevention of Elder Abuse; Refers elder abuse reports to local law enforcement, local Area Agencies on Aging, the Aging & Disability Resource Center, Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services, the Department of Healther, or the Attourney General's Office of Consumer Protection|
|Arkansas||Division of Aging & Adult Services||Department of Human Services||Yes||http://www.daas.ar.gov/||Offers a hotline; Refers elder abuse reports to Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services|
|Florida||Department of Elder Affairs||Independent||Yes||http://elderaffairs.state.fl.us/index.php||Runs elder abuse prevention program, tracks elder abuse reports; Refers reports of abuse to the Florida Abuse Hotline operated by the Department of Children and Families|
|Georgia||Division of Aging Services||Department of Human Services||Yes||http://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/||Houses Adult Protective Services and investigates all reports of abuse|
|Kentucky||Department for Aging & Independent Living||Cabinet for Health & Family Services||Yes||http://chfs.ky.gov/dail/||Elder abuse awareness; Refers reports of abuse to Adult Protection|
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