SLC Publications (2017-present)

Prepared under the auspices of SLC’s six standing committees, SLC Regional Resources provide a regional analysis on the background and current status of the most prevalent and unique state government policy issues facing Southern states. Focusing on policy issues, trends and developments particular to the South, these reports provide a point of reference that allows SLC members to view their state’s governmental policies in relation to their closest neighbors.

SLC Special Series Reports provide an in-depth analysis of key policy issues facing Southern states. Addressing governmental issues with multiple layers and highly nuanced solutions, these reports provide an extensive analysis of national, economic and political trends, along with an additional focus on how these developments relate to the SLC member states and the region as a whole.

SLC Issue Alerts comprise concise reports on recent and quickly approaching state and federal developments of importance to the Southern region. These communications keep SLC members apprised of forthcoming opportunities, concerns and deadlines on policy issues with short timelines.

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.


Comparative Data Report | July 18, 2018

Adult Correctional Systems

Monique Appeaning, Fiscal Analyst/Special Projects Coordinator, Legislative Fiscal Office, Louisiana

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Comparative Data Report | July 17, 2018

Education

Hank Hager, Counsel, Senate Education Committee, West Virginia

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Comparative Data Report | July 16, 2018

Medicaid

Fiscal Analyst Zach Rau and Section Director Shawn Hotstream, Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Comparative Data Report | July 15, 2018

Transportation

David Talley, Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Policy Analysis | June 11, 2018

Distracted Driving Laws in SLC Member States

In recent years, states across the South have enacted laws to mitigate distracted driving caused by the proliferation of cell phones and other portable electronic devices. The extent to which the laws impact drivers varies by state, though there are similarities across the region. Fourteen of 15 SLC member states, for example, prohibit all drivers from texting while driving and one, Missouri, prohibits texting by all drivers under the age of 21. Similarly, 10 of the 15 states prohibit all usage of wireless communication devices by novice drivers, generally defined as drivers under 18 years old who hold restricted licenses. Most states in the region have not implemented statewide bans on hand-held devices; however, several states have prohibited the use of hand-held devices in certain areas, such as designated school zones. Only Georgia and West Virginia have banned hand-held devices for all drivers.

Penalties vary widely across the region. Most states have implemented a tiered system whereby drivers face increasingly severe penalties for each subsequent offense. Eight states have fees that do not surpass $100 per violation, while another five states have fees that range between $100 and $300. Two states, Arkansas and Louisiana, permit fees up to $500 and $1,000, respectively, for repeat offenders.

Alabama does not have a statewide hand-held device ban for drivers. However, all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, and novice drivers – defined as 16- and 17-year-old drivers who hold a restricted driver’s license – are prohibited from using all wireless communication devices while operating a vehicle. Drivers who violate the texting ban are subject to a $25 fine for the first offense, $50 fine for the second offense and a $75 fine for each subsequent offense. Novice drivers who use a mobile device while operating a vehicle are required to hold a restricted driver’s license for an additional six months or until they are 18 years old.

Code of Ala. § 32-5A-350; § 32-6-7.2

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Policy Analysis | May 10, 2018

Agriculture Sector's Contribution to State GDP, 2016-2017

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 2.3 percent nationally between 2016 and 2017.  Economic growth was widespread, with 20 of 22 industry groups contributing to the increase.  Despite this growth, the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector decreased 9.4 percent nationally – the culmination of five consecutive quarterly declines.  While still struggling, states in the Southern region fared better than their Midwestern neighbors, which experienced the sharpest declines.  Although the agriculture sector declined in each of the Southern states, only Louisiana experienced an overall decline in real GDP.  As Congress continues to draft the 2018 Farm Bill, states reliant on farm economies will be paying close attention to any changes that may revive this important sector.

Contribution of Southern states' agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors to percent change in real GDP, 2016-2017
State Percent change in real GDP Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
Alabama 1.2 -0.03
Arkansas 1.1 -0.16
Florida 2.2 -0.08
Georgia 2.7 -0.01
Kentucky 1.8 -0.08
Louisiana -0.2 -0.07
Mississippi 0.3 -0.12
Missouri 1.1 -0.21
North Carolina 2.3 -0.05
Oklahoma 0.5 -0.15
South Carolina 2.3 -0.02
Tennessee 2.5 -0.03

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SLC Regional Resource | May 8, 2018

Opioids and Organ Donations: A Tale of Two Crises

Nick Bowman, Research and Publications Associate

Download the full report (PDF)

At least 42,249 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2016, a 28 percent increase from 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Opioids now kill more Americans each year than guns, breast cancer or automobile accidents and have contributed to the shortening of the average U.S. life expectancy for two consecutive years. The last recorded decrease in U.S. life expectancy was in 1993, due to the AIDS epidemic. The last time life expectancy decreased in two consecutive years was in 1962 and 1963 due to an influenza outbreak.

As of early April 2018, approximately 115,000 Americans were listed on the national organ transplant registry waiting on a lifesaving organ transplant, with a new person added to the list every 10 minutes. Despite advancements in technology and surgical techniques, a large gap remains between the number of organs needed and the supply of donated organs. While 95 percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, only 54 percent have enrolled to be organ donors. Every day, an average of 95 organ transplants are performed in the United States, and an average of 20 Americans die daily waiting for a transplant. Contributing to this tragic scenario is the fact that only three in 1,000 deaths in the United States occur in a manner conducive to organ donation.

This SLC Regional Resource raises policy considerations and highlights the connections between the ongoing opioid crisis and the national shortage of organs for transplantation. Additionally, an examination of the history and process of organ donation and transplants is provided, as well as actions taken by the federal government and state governments to facilitate and promote organ donation. A discussion of how the national opioid crisis, critical to this discussion, is affecting organ transplant rates is included.


Policy Analysis | April 25, 2018

Chamber Vote Adjustment in the South

Multiple Authors

Of the 30 legislative chambers in the South, 25 chambers allow members to adjust their vote after the initial vote has been taken, either by rule or custom. The reasons for permitting a vote adjustment vary among chambers, with several chambers allowing members to change their votes when the vote was recorded incorrectly or the member voted erroneously, while other chambers only will permit a vote change prior to the announcement of the vote. Furthermore, 26 chambers have rules addressing a member’s ability—or lack thereof—to change their vote, while four chambers operate based on custom. There is no rule regarding vote adjustment in either chamber of the Arkansas General Assembly. However, the rules for both Arkansas chambers state that Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure—followed by 70 of the 99 state legislatures in the United States—shall be followed for all matters not covered by chamber rules. Mason’s Manual permits a member to change their vote after the roll call is completed, but before the vote is announced. This brief report examines rules or customs regarding chamber vote adjustment. When available, the text of the rule excerpted from the state source and a link to chamber rules are provided.

Chamber Vote Adjustment in the South
State/Chamber Are legislators permitted to adjust their vote? Rule or custom regarding chamber vote adjustment
Alabama
House
No. Custom: Members may file a statement indicating that they mistakenly selected the wrong choice. This statement is registered in the House Journal, but does not change the vote.
Alabama
Senate
Yes, until the Senate Journal is prepared for the day. Custom: Votes may be changed until the Senate Journal is prepared for the day.
Arkansas
House
Yes, prior to the announcement of the vote. Arkansas House Rule 31: In every case not provided for in the House rules, the speaker, the parliamentarian, and the members shall be guided by Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure. Each member of the Rules Committee may be furnished a copy of the current edition and of each new or revised edition of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure and additional copies may be available to other members from the Parliamentarian, upon approval of the Rules Committee.

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, Section 535(6): After the roll call has been completed, but before the vote is announced, a member may arise and address the presiding officer and, upon being recognized, may change his vote by saying, “aye to no” or the reverse. It is not out of order for a member to change his vote without waiting to be recognized by the presiding officer, but the best practice is to secure recognition before changing the vote. After the vote has been announced, it is too late to vote or to change a vote.

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Policy Analysis | April 16, 2018

SLC - China Trade Data

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

With the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China have much to lose in the event of prolonged trade disruptions between the two countries. In 2017, the total number of goods traded between the United States and China amounted to approximately $636 billion, a large majority of which consisted of Chinese goods entering the U.S. market.

Southern states rely heavily on China as a major export market, as well as a critical source for many of the goods that are imported into the region. In 2017, nine of the 15 states in the South — including Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina and Missouri — were among the top 20 recipients, nationally, of Chinese goods imported into the United States. Similarly, nine states in the South — including Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida — ranked in the top 20 in the number of goods exported to China.

In the Southern region, exports to China comprised approximately 8.8 percent of the total, with relatively large variations existing among the states. In Alabama and South Carolina, for example, exports to China were 16.7 percent and 19.3 percent, respectively, of all goods exported from those states in 2017. On the other hand, exports to China from Florida and Oklahoma amounted to 3.4 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, of their total. China was the largest export market for two states in the South, Louisiana and South Carolina, and among the top five markets for 11 other states in the region.

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Policy Analysis | April 11, 2018

Efficacy and Adverse Effects of Medical Marijuana: An Overview

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

State legislatures continue to grapple with the myriad issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana – both medical and recreational.  This brief summarizes the findings of several peer-reviewed studies focusing on the efficacy and outcomes of medical marijuana and CBD in the treatment of disease, the association between marijuana use and motor vehicle crashes, and the 2017 National Institute on Drug Abuse update on marijuana.  Hyperlinks have been provided to all studies referenced herein.

Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) are now widely used to treat or alleviate a variety of diseases and symptoms.  While often conflated, the ratio in botanical and pharmaceutical preparations determines therapeutic or psychoactive effects.  Tetrahydrocannabinoil (THC) is the cannabinoid in marijuana that produces psychoactive effects, whereas CBD is nonpsychoactive. 

Marijuana has been approved for recreational and medicinal use in a growing number of states. According to Governing, 30 states and the District of Columbia have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form as of January 2018.  Of those, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.  Twenty-two states allow for limited use of medical marijuana under certain circumstances.  Some medical marijuana laws are broader than others, with types of medical conditions that qualify for treatment varying from state to state. 

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Policy Analysis | April 3, 2018

Apiculture and Land Use Valuation

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

Apiculture - the maintenance of honeybees and hives - provides farmers and hobbyists with a variety of enterprises including production of beeswax, honey and other edible bee products; crop pollination services and sale of bees to other beekeepers. Due to the extensive problems caused by various diseases and pests of the honeybee, many feral or wild honeybees have been eliminated, which has had a significant negative impact on the pollination of flowering plants.

The domestic honeybee plays a vital role in agriculture. Honeybees pollinate many of the plants which produce the food consumed by humankind. Examples of plants pollinated by honeybees include almonds, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. The rapid decline of feral honeybees has greatly increased the need for managed honeybees to serve this crucial role of plant pollination.

Because of the important linkages between apian populations and agricultural production, many states in the Southern region extend a “current use” exemption to bee keepers. Current use valuation allows the valuation of agricultural land to be based on the actual use of the property, rather than market value. Of the 15 states comprising the Southern Legislative Conference, six explicitly include apiaries or apian products in the statutory definition of agricultural purposes/land eligible for a current use valuation.

Information relative to the six Southern states that designate apiaries as agricultural land is outlined below.

States with Apiaries Designated as Agricultural Land
State Definition Citation Type
Alabama Agricultural and forest property: all real property used for raising, harvesting, and selling crops or for the feeding, breeding, management, raising, sale of, or the production of livestock, including beef cattle, sheep, swine, horses, ponies, mules, poultry, fur-bearing animals, honeybees, and fish, or for dairying and the sale of dairy products, or for the growing and sale of timber and forest products, or any other agricultural or horticultural use or animal husbandry and any combination thereof. Code of Ala. § 40-8-1 Current Use

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The State of Retail in Southern States
Issue Brief | January 29, 2018

The State of Retail in Southern States

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Download the full report (PDF)

The retail industry, historically one of the largest and most important drivers of economic growth in the United States, is being challenged by technological advances and shifting consumer habits that are undermining sustained growth across much of the industry. The popularity of online retail — most prominently exemplified by the rise and dominance of Amazon and similar online shopping platforms — coupled with growing preferences for discounted shopping and experiences instead of material purchases, have profound implications for an industry that employs millions of people across the nation. According to many financial experts, the industry is confronting a so-called “retail apocalypse,” characterized by depressed profits, store closures and, in several instances, bankruptcy among some of the nation’s largest, most recognizable retailers.

Given such perceived disruptions to a pillar of the national economy, it is instructive to understand the role of retail in each state’s economic landscape and the extent to which the industry’s difficulties have impacted states’ workforces in recent years. This SLC Issue Brief reviews Occupational Employment Statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, for three prominent retail occupations — cashiers, retail salespersons and retail supervisors — to determine how employment in these areas has evolved since 2012. Several states in the South have maintained solid growth in these occupations, in some cases surpassing the national average by wide margins, despite the many challenges confronting the industry. However, such growth likely cannot be sustained due to the ongoing and accelerating shift to online commerce.


SLC Special Series Report | January 8, 2018

Blown Away: Wind Energy in the Southern States (Part II)

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

Download the full report (PDF)

Remarkably, without much fanfare, the nation’s wind energy sector continues to grow, a testimony to both advances in technology and deliberate measures by policymakers to create an environment to stimulate the development of this power source. At the close of 2016, installed wind capacity in the United States exceeded 82,000 megawatts (MW), surpassing hydropower for the first time in the nation’s history. In total, installed wind energy capacity grew by 8,203 MW over the previous year and now generates about 5.5 percent of the country’s electricity, enough to power 24 million homes.

Given this burgeoning sector’s ability to create jobs and provide additional energy security and independence in the United States, the often asked question regarding the viability of utility-scale wind power development depends on several factors, including quality of the available wind resources, regional market prices for electrical power, transmission capacity and accessibility, and state-specific policies. While these factors are crucial to the successful development of wind power, states with limited wind resources may benefit from expanded utilization of this renewable resource. This SLC Special Series Report, the second in a series exploring the myriad impacts of wind energy expansion in the Southern region, examines the development of the industry in Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia. Specifically, this report explores the resources, capacity and transmission; policies and incentives; and economic impacts of wind energy generation in these states, thus demonstrating the opportunities available.


SLC Special Series Report | December 1, 2017

Long-Term Care in the South (Part II)

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Download the full report (PDF)

As the nation’s population continues to trend older, it increasingly is apparent that long-term care (LTC) — defined as a range of medical and social services required by individuals in need of extended support due to illness and frailty — is becoming a growing concern for state and federal policymakers. Across the country, the number of people aged 65 and over is growing rapidly, a shift that will continue for several decades. As noted in Part I of this SLC Special Series Report, there will be approximately 88 million people over age 65 by 2050, almost double the 47.8 million recorded in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More importantly, the number of people aged 85 and older, the demographic most likely to require longterm care, also will grow dramatically, from 6.3 million in 2015, to an estimated 19.0 million in 2050.

Part I of this SLC Special Series Report detailed many of the broader concerns that long-term care poses for Southern states, including challenging demographic shifts, deteriorating health status among key segments of the population and prohibitively high costs of various LTC services. Part II outlines the role that insurance plays in financing long-term care and reviews potential insurance-related solutions that could create more affordable care in the future for states and LTC recipients.


Issue Brief | October 30, 2017

NAFTA Trade Data – SLC States, Canada and Mexico

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Download the print version (PDF)

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) has studied the centrality of the Southern region’s economic integration with Canada and Mexico since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) originally was implemented in 1994. After NAFTA’s implementation, the SLC published multiple analyses related to the trade agreement’s impact on the region, including The Influence of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Economic and Social Programs Supported by State Governments in the South; The North American Free Trade Agreement: Changing Economic and Social Programs of Southern States; and NAFTA ’95: A Report Card. The historical context provided by data in SLC’s various publications is essential to understanding the extent to which regional trade has been influenced by NAFTA, and the ways in which it could be impacted if the trade agreement is significantly modified in the months ahead.

As officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States attempt to renegotiate NAFTA’s stipulations, it is instructive for policymakers to understand the current position of SLC states with regard to the export and import of goods with Canada and Mexico, prior to any overhaul of the expansive agreement. Canada and Mexico are important trading partners for SLC member states, meaning any disruption to trade as a result of renegotiation could have significant ramifications across state economies, including in the agriculture, automotive and manufacturing industries.

Since NAFTA’s implementation in 1994, trade between the SLC region and Canada and Mexico has changed dramatically. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, national exports and imports to/from Mexico increased by 455 percent and 637 percent, respectively, between 1993 and 2016. Meanwhile, exports and imports to/from Canada increased 165 percent and 150 percent, respectively, during the same period.

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Policy Analysis | September 21, 2017

SLC Member State Revenue Increases

Nick Bowman

Despite its official end in 2010, the lingering effects of the Great Recession still are felt in states across the nation. Several SLC member states have been forced to make difficult decisions throughout a sluggish recovery. Alabama, Oklahoma and West Virginia, for example, have faced considerable budget shortfalls and had to cut services and/or raise taxes and fees to balance their budgets. This analysis focuses on statewide revenue enhancements passed by SLC member states in 2016 and 2017; county-level and municipality-level increases have been excluded. Statewide revenue increases adopted in 2015, but implemented in 2016 and 2017, also are included.

Read the full analysis (PDF)


Comparative Data Report | July 19, 2017

Adult Correctional Systems

Monique Appeaning, Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Comparative Data Report | July 19, 2017

Medicaid

Zach Rau and Shawn Hotstream, Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Office

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Comparative Data Report | July 19, 2017

Education

Hank Hager, Senate Education Committee, West Virginia

Comparative Data Reports (CDRs) are prepared annually by select SLC states’ fiscal research departments. These reports track a multitude of revenue sources and appropriations levels in Southern states and serve as a useful tool to legislators and legislative staff alike in determining their respective state spending.

Download this report (PDF)


Policy Analysis | June 22, 2017

Bail and Pretrial Reforms in Southern States

Mitchell Gray

Lawmakers in several SLC member states have enacted legislation aimed at reducing correctional populations and curtailing costs by addressing bail and pretrial options. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, 62 percent of people in jail are not serving sentences but, rather, waiting for their cases to be heard. While there are limited examples of extensive bail reform in SLC states, other pretrial options, such as court notification systems, supervision services, and other community-based programs, have been implemented. State lawmakers also have sought to increase felony theft thresholds: the monetary value that prosecutors use to categorize stolen money or property as a felony. Multiple SLC states have enacted legislation detailing methods for collecting fines and fees from indigent defendants, for example, through individualized payment plans, reduced and/or deferred fines, or community service in lieu of owed payments. The information below reflects the trends in policies relating to bail reform and pretrial processes in SLC states.

Jail population by conviction status

Source: Prison Policy Initiative (accessed June 22, 2017)

Median annual pre-incarceration incomes for people in local jails unable to post a bail bond, ages 23-39, in $USD (2015), by race/ethnicity and gender.

Note: The median bail bond amount nationally is almost a full year’s income for the average person unable to post a bail bond.
Source: Prison Policy Initiative (accessed June 22, 2017)

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SLC Regional Resource | June 21, 2017

STEM Teacher Preparation and Retention in the South

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

As technological advancements continue driving innovation and automation across much of the global economy, STEM subjects — including coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — have increasingly become an essential component of educational standards at all levels, from as early as pre-kindergarten up to secondary education and beyond. Local, state and federal policymakers all have emphasized the importance of STEM coursework to America's students, appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to ensure the next generation of workers is equipped with the skills and knowledge to compete in the global workforce.

For the United States to remain competitive in the global economy, it will be important for states to address these shortages in the years ahead. Not to do so compounds the risks that students will fall behind in many critical skills that are essential to maintaining sustainable economic growth in today's globalized, automation-driven workforce. This SLC Regional Resource examines various initiatives in Southern states to increase the number of qualified primary and secondary teachers equipped with the skills and knowledge to successfully educate students in STEM subjects.


Webinar | June 14, 2017

Recent Developments in Agriculture and Food Law: Impacts on the States

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

Agriculture and food law at the local, state and national level is changing constantly, with impacts to farmers, foresters, food producers, and rural residents. Since January, significant legal developments impacting rural and agricultural policy have emerged, including: repeal of the Clean Water Rule, state “purple paint” legislation, property tax assessment for farmland, and organic practice rules. This webinar examined the implications of these and other recent legal developments in agriculture and food policy.

This webinar was presented by the National Agricultural Law Center and the regional offices of The Council of State Governments.

Presenter: Harrison Pittman, Director, National Agricultural Law Center, Arkansas
Presentation: Archived Webinar | PowerPoint Slides

SLC Special Series Report | May 1, 2017

Blown Away: Wind Energy in Southern States (Part 1)

Anne Roberts Brody

The nation's energy sector is undergoing substantial changes, as political and economic factors converge to encourage diversification in generation. Aided by state and federal tax credits, renewable energy generation technologies are experiencing unprecedented growth as production costs decline and implementation increases.

As the renewable energy sector continues to grow, concerns that such expansions could lead to widespread job losses in traditional energy sectors, such as coal, have proliferated. Southern states are rich in traditional energy resources; thus, many state economies have long depended on these resources. Because of the importance of these industries to the region, both in terms of economic development and employment opportunities, legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with the need for environmental protection and conservation.

This SLC Special Series Report, the first in a series exploring the myriad impacts of wind energy expansion on SLC states, examines the benefits of wind energy in the Southern region. Forthcoming reports present case studies from three SLC states, examine SLC states' capacity for wind energy generation and utilization, analyze state incentives, and explore the challenges of wind energy generation in the region.


Policy Analysis | April 28, 2017

Cross-State Health Insurance Policies

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

The idea of selling health insurance “across state lines” has gained traction over the past several years and, per its proponents, has the potential to lower the costs of private health insurance for consumers. Those in support of cross-state sales assert they can lead to the proliferation of national and/or regional markets for insurance policies, thereby creating additional competition to drive costs down and offer more alternatives for consumers. Proponents contend cross-state policies, if applied correctly, allow health insurers to bypass burdensome state regulations and expensive benefit mandates that drive costs up and provide little meaningful value for many consumers, particularly younger and healthier people. 

It is not widely known that states have the authority to sanction sales across their borders and define the conditions under which such sales can be made. According to the Commonwealth Fund, six states have enacted policies allowing out-of-state health insurance plans in their markets: Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming. However, not one out-of-state health insurer has offered policies in a new market that allows cross-state sales. Experts and officials in the insurance industry attribute this to the fact that establishing local provider networks, a necessity for all health insurers, is an extremely difficult and timely undertaking, particularly for an entity based in another state, as it involves negotiating contracts with local doctors and hospitals so that customers can be covered in their respective areas. In fact, setting up a local provider network reportedly is the biggest barrier for insurance companies that may be interested in selling their policies in another state, more so than restrictive regulatory environments or costly benefit mandates.

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Policy Analysis | April 27, 2017

Bill Introduction Limits and Pre-Filing Requirements in SLC Member States

Nick Bowman

Introduction

In recent years, several states and legislative chambers have created a limit on the number of bills that may be introduced each legislative session. Proponents have argued that this will force legislators to only introduce legislation that is likely to pass and may decrease the need for longer sessions or special sessions. In some chambers, the limit only applies after the chamber’s pre-filing deadline. Table 1 displays the limits placed on legislation introduced each session in the 15 Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states. Six SLC member states apply a limit in at least one of their legislative chambers.

Table 1. Limits on Bills Introduced Per Session in SLC Member States
State/Chamber Limit on Legislation Introduced Per Session
Alabama No limit
Arkansas No limit
Florida House Six bills per member
Florida Senate No limit
Georgia No limit
Kentucky No limit
Louisiana Five bills that were not pre-filed
Mississippi No limit
Missouri No limit
North Carolina House 15 bills per member
North Carolina Senate No limit
Oklahoma House Eight bills or joint resolutions per member *
Oklahoma Senate No limit
South Carolina No limit
Tennessee House 15 bills per member
Tennessee Senate No limit
Texas No limit
Virginia House 15 per member in odd-numbered years; five non-pre-filed bills after the pre-filing deadline
Virginia Senate Eight non-pre-filed bills after the pre-filing deadline

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Policy Analysis | April 25, 2017

Fixed-Rate Tuition Pricing

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Three Southern Legislatures — North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas — have enacted statewide, fixed-rate tuition pricing for in-state undergraduate students attending public universities. Under fixed-rate tuition policies, incoming freshmen and qualifying transfer students are guaranteed a constant tuition rate until they graduate, under specified conditions. Only one other state in the nation, Illinois, has a similar statewide policy.

North Carolina General Statutes

In-state freshmen or transfer undergraduate students who have been admitted to any constituent institution of The University of North Carolina receive fixed-rate tuition for eight semesters of a four-year bachelor’s degree and 10 semesters of a five-year bachelor’s degree. A student must maintain continuous enrollment at their university of choice during the entire tuition period to continue receiving the fixed-rate tuition. At the end of the fixed-rate tuition period, the cost of tuition for all remaining semesters is charged at the current tuition rate of the institution.

§ 116-143.9
Effective 2016-2017 academic year

Oklahoma Statutes

The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education must offer incoming in-state students a fixed-rate tuition plan for four years or more, depending on the length of a bachelor’s program, as determined by the institution. Students who choose to participate in the fixed-rate tuition plan must maintain continuous enrollment for the duration of their bachelor’s program.

Institutions must provide to students the annual tuition rate and the percentage increase of regular tuition for the previous four academic years, as well as the annual tuition rate and percentage increases that would need to occur during the following four years for the traditional tuition plan to surpass the costs of the fixed-rate tuition plan of their selected bachelor’s program. The costs of fixed-rate tuition plans cannot exceed 115 percent of the traditional tuition plans during the same academic year.

§ 70-3218.8
Effective 2008-2009 academic year

Texas Education Code

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SLC Regional Resource | April 1, 2017

Body-Worn Cameras: Laws and Policies in the South

Nick Bowman

In recent years, several high-profile, law enforcement officer-involved shootings have thrust body-worn cameras (BWCs), or the lack thereof, into the spotlight. Proponents of BWCs maintain that they increase law enforcement transparency and improve relations between law enforcement and citizens. In contrast, BWC opponents argue that the cameras give an incomplete picture of incidents and add another cost to operating budgets which, in many law enforcement agencies (LEAs), already are stretched thin.

Due to the recent emergence of BWCs and their rapidly developing technology, LEAs and governments still are developing policies and statutes to regulate their use. This SLC Regional Resource examines the history of and predecessors to BWCs; policy issues associated with them, including considerations for implementation such as data storage, staffing and privacy; and existing laws and policies that regulate their use in the 15 SLC member states.

Policy Analysis | March 30, 2017

Human Trafficking

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

The Southern Legislative Conference has previously focused on the issue of human trafficking. For further reference, see the 2009 SLC Regional Resource, Human Trafficking: Preventing, Prosecuting and Protecting, and 2013 SLC Webinar, Human Trafficking: State Responses to Modern-Day Slavery.

In the past several years, many states have introduced laws aimed at curbing human trafficking of both minors and adults. States have especially focused on increasing penalties for those convicted of trafficking, with more severe punishments when the victim involved is a minor. Punishments include decades of imprisonment and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia all have passed such measures in the past three to four years.

All states in the Southern region have passed anti-trafficking legislation to some degree. Provisions found in prior pieces of legislation include:

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Webinar | February 16, 2017

Long-Term Care: Challenges and Solutions for States

Roger Moore

Among the many concerns currently facing America’shealthcare system, few are more significant, both medically and fiscally, than long-term care (LTC). With the continuing rise of U.S. citizens 65 and older – statistically, the demographic most in need of LTC – states need to begin preparing for the growing pressures that will be placed on their budgets as a result of the nation’s aging population. Presently, LTC costs are unaffordable for large segments of the population, forcing many LTC recipients to instead rely on other sources for support, primarily Medicaid and unpaid caregiving from friends and family. This webinar addresses the problems LTC poses for states; highlight state and federal legislative efforts to stem rising LTC costs; and includes a presentation about long-term care challenges and potential solutions in Virginia.

Presenters

Kathleen Ujvari, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute
Jeff Lunardi, Principal Legislative Analyst, Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission
Anne Tumlinson, CEO, Anne Tumlinson Innovations LLC

Archived Webinar | PowerPoint Slides

Webinar | January 24, 2017

Interstate Groundwater Disputes and the U.S. Supreme Court

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

More than 30 interstate compacts govern the use of water from shared lakes and rivers in the United States. However, there is not a single legal agreement in place between states to guide the apportionment of groundwater that crosses state lines. In 2013, Nevada and Utah appeared poised to be the first two states to reach such an agreement, but ultimately failed. Now, with a longstanding groundwater dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, a legal precedent governing the apportionment of interstate groundwater is imminent. The outcome of Mississippi v. Tennessee could have implications for all contiguous U.S. states. This webinar addresses the possible outcomes of Mississippi v. Tennessee, implications for interstate groundwater policy, and the role of interstate compacts in resolving water disputes between states.

Presented by CSG west and the Southern Office of the Council of State Governments

Presenters

Noah D. Hall, Associate Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School, Michigan
Michael Campana, Ph.D., Professor of Hydrogeology and Water Resources Managment, Oregon State University
Technical Director, American Water Resources Association

Archived Webinar | PowerPoint Slides

SLC Special Series Report | January 17, 2017

Long-Term Care in the South (Part 1)

Roger Moore

Among the many concerns currently facing America's healthcare system, few are more significant, both medically and fiscally, than long-term care (LTC). Broadly defined as a range of services that support individuals who are limited in their ability to care for themselves, long-term care stands to become one of America's foremost healthcare challenges in the years ahead. With the continuing rise of U.S citizens 65 and over — statistically, the demographic most in need of LTC — states need to begin preparing for the growing pressures that will be placed on their budgets by the nation's aging population. This SLC Special Series Report explores the challenges long-term care poses for states in the SLC region. Subsequent reports will examine possibilities for managing long-term care and highlight actions that states in the SLC region have taken to tackle this important issue.
SLC - Serving the South

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) of The Council of State Governments was established in 1947 and comprises presiding officers and key legislators from 15 Southern states. The SLC is a non-partisan organization located in Atlanta, Georgia.

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