Posted on March 13, 2015 in Economic Development
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.
HUD also suggests community gardens, green space, special events, festivals and concert series as ways of creating community value with newly vacant open lots. The temporary nature makes the projects low-cost and low-risk approaches to returning land to productive use and engaging the community in the public space. These ideas all support engagement of the community through the process of identifying areas of need, implementing clean up and restoration, deciding future use, and ultimately giving back to the community in a way that promotes a communal sense of ownership.
Following the Great Recession, the most severe economic crisis to sweep over the nation since the Great Depression, triggered at least in part by a collapse in the housing sector, the federal government temporarily made additional grant funding available so that states could initiate a range of reforms to mitigate the adverse consequences this collapse. The collapse of the housing sector during the Great Recession did exacerbate the conditions in a number of the blighted neighborhoods in America’s metropolitan areas. As a result, both public and private sector entities, recognized the importance for urgent action to revitalize these affected areas and transform them into safer, thriving and revenue-generating communities.
The lead role taken by states in these initiatives is exemplified by the actions in Ohio and Michigan during and after the Great Recession. Ohio emphasized blight removal – focusing on deconstructing and demolishing blighted units – to make way for safer, more productive property development. In 2010, the Ohio Legislature passed a law to allow any county to form a nonprofit land bank. Two years later, Ohio issued $68 million dollars in grant funding available to all 88 counties in the state for the purpose of removing blighted buildings and properties. The state’s grant period opened April 2012 and the original deadline for the use of the grant was July 2014. During that period, the attorney general’s office reports grant recipients removed 12,000 blighted building units and extended the deadline through September 2014. The Greater Ohio Policy Center created best practices for strategic demolition for the Ohio Finance Agency as a part of the agency’s Neighborhood Initiative Program.
The emphasis on blight removal departs from traditional neighborhood blight removal efforts and is usually paired with neighborhood revitalization initiatives. In Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), a state-funded marketing , tourism, and economic development corporation, offers grants and loans for community development, as well as guidance and best practices. For instance, some of MEDC’s programs and initiatives include the Michigan Community Revitalization program, Commercial Rehabilitation Act, and the Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act. The Michigan Community Revitalization Program, established through Public Act 252 of 2011, distributes loans and grants to individuals and small groups for physical site improvements. The Commercial Rehabilitation Act, Public Act 210 of 2005, abates property taxes for local governments to offer to developers rehabilitating a blighted commercial property. The Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act similarly allows a local government to apply for tax incentives so an owner or developer may build productive commercial or mixed-use developments. Further examples of strategic community development in Michigan are available on the MEDC website.
These states exemplify two distinct approaches toward blight removal that might prove instructive in other states. Outside the allocation of grants and the establishment of blight removal task forces and neighborhood corporations, direct state actions include defining blight and use of appropriate eminent domain provisions. The role played by states in acting as an intermediary among the different groups in the entire process also remains critical.
Nonprofit Sector Efforts:
The American Planning Association (APA) notes that creative tools can inform and enhance community development more than traditional public surveys, meetings, public hearings and town halls, by engaging a broader audience and aiming for a deeper understanding of the community.
Tools such as social media can elicit participation from community residents who may not go to a public hearing. These tools can inform several stages of the blight removal and redevelopment process. Detroit launched an app so people could report blight and provide ideas for neighborhood revitalization. Apps such as Neighborland similarly provide a forum for residents to discuss and vote on what they want to see in their city, including areas that might be affected by blight. In Lansing, Michigan, a Michigan State professor had a similar, lower-tech idea, and the city’s Office of Planning and Neighborhood Development painted the side of a blighted commercial building with chalkboard paint, stenciling “I wish this were a...,” so people walking by could make suggestions.
Universities have a major stake in the vibrancy of the neighborhoods in which they are located; universities also possess high levels of human and social capital and an abundant supply of volunteers to engage in different innovative and creative ways to address blight. To this end, the Democracy Collaborative has developed recommendations to maximize community outcomes through university partnerships. In addition, HUD offers grants to historically black colleges and universities for addressing community development needs.
In other areas, Cities of Service, a nonprofit organization, emphasizes local community volunteers in its “Love Your Block” program. The group offers grants and a plan for mayors to tailor to their city’s needs. Volunteers help clean up litter, remove graffiti, and install new use, such as community gardens. Other nonprofit urban revitalization programs with a focus on civic engagement include the Knight Foundation’s Cities Challenge and Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization. The Aspen Institute offers a guidebook on cultivating such resident engagement and volunteerism. The Urban Institute’s What Works Collaborative outlines policies and strategies for neighborhood revitalization.
Posted on March 9, 2015 in Public Safety
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
Closer to Home: An Analysis of the State and Local Impact of the Texas Juvenile Justice Reforms - In 2007, following reports of abuse suffered by youth incarcerated in state-run juvenile correctional facilities, leaders in Texas began a concerted effort toward reforming the state’s juvenile justice system. During the next five years, policymakers enacted legislation with an aim of reducing the number of youth in state-run correctional facilities while improving the community-based options and outcomes for the state’s juvenile offenders. In 2012, at the request of juvenile justice architect, state Senator John Whitmire, the CSG Justice Center began to study the impact of these reforms on the state and the juveniles involved with the system. The January 2015 report, Closer to Home, shows that between 2007 and 2012, the number of Texas youth incarcerated in state facilities was reduced by 66 percent and, over the same period, juvenile arrests were down by 33 percent. Utilizing data on more than 13,000 youth released from state facilities between 2006 and 2011, the study also found that juveniles released from state custody were 21 percent more likely to be rearrested than similar offending juveniles released from county-run supervision programs and three times more likely to commit a felony. Although unable to conclusively state the reforms are the cause of these improvements, or guarantee similar results in the future, the report demonstrates they had a positive impact on Texas’ juvenile justice system and may be worthy for consideration by states around the country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared youth violence to be a public health crisis in the United States. By taking a public health approach, the goal of the CDC is to prevent youth violence before it starts. By examining the trends and risk factors associated with youth violence, the CDC evaluates prevention strategies and works with communities to implement and monitor the most promising approaches. In 2000, the CDC began the National Centers of Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention to promote collaboration between youth violence prevention researchers and communities.
Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action
In 2014, the CDC published “Preventing Youth Violence: Opportunities for Action” as a resource guide for public health and community leaders to provide information and action steps they can take when working with partners to prevent youth violence. The guide provides key prevention strategies and actions that youth, families, caregivers, adults who work with youth, and other community members can take to work toward this goal. Table 1 on page 22 of the guide provides details on the four main approaches to preventing youth violence as well as examples of specific programs, policies, and practices that have shown success. Table 3 on page 32 of the guide provides a summary of actions to prevent youth violence for each group of actors. The companion guide, “Taking Action to Prevent Youth Violence,” provides additional details on steps each of these groups can take to reduce youth violence.
The evidence-based approaches detailed in these CDC resource guides for preventing youth violence are:
Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE)
STRYVE is a national initiative led by the CDC to help public health departments and community partners implement evidence-based prevention strategies. The goal of STRYVE is to bridge the gap between what is known about effective prevention activities and what is happening in communities. The STRYVE Online program is a resource that offers training, guidance, and other tools that communities can use to build partnerships to implement community-wide youth violence prevention strategies. STRYVE Online, which also provides research, data, and evaluations, focuses its resources toward those in communities who have the capacity to enact change, including elected officials, appointed agency or institution heads, key staff, and community leaders, and policymakers. STRYVE Online can help state and federal leaders understand the ongoing youth violence prevention efforts in their communities and identify ways in which they could best support these efforts through complementary and reinforcing policies, programs, and practices. Some state-level entities that have worked with STRYVE in the SLC region include the Division of Prevention and Health Promotion at the Virginia Department of Health; Bureau of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease at the Alabama Department of Public Health; and the Kentucky Center for School Safety at Eastern Kentucky University.
Program Evaluations and Databases
The CDC has recognized several organizations for their development and maintenance of online databases to catalog and review evidence-based juvenile justice and youth development programs. Each database offers a program summary, an evaluation on the program’s effectiveness, and some indications on the costs of the program. Blueprints, the Model Programs Guide, and the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices are three of the most recognized databases.
Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is a registry developed by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the Institute of Behavior Science, University of Colorado - Boulder. Each program is evaluated and given a rating of Model or Promising based on its demonstrated effectiveness for changing targeted behavior and developmental outcomes. In addition to providing details about the costs of the program, Blueprint also offers strategies for funding each of the programs. Blueprints currently includes profiles on 56 programs, 13 of which have been rated as Model programs.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has developed the Model Programs Guide (MPG) as a clearinghouse of information on evidence-based programs for juvenile justice, youth prevention, delinquency prevention, and child protection and safety. Program topics in the database range from prevention through sanctions and re-entry. Currently, profiles of 216 programs, each of which has been rated as Effective (51), Promising (129), or showing No Effect (36), are included in the MPG.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) catalogues intervention options with a focus on mental health and substance abuse. For each intervention, the NREPP rates the quality of research supporting intervention outcomes and the quality and availability of training and implementation materials. It does not rate the effectiveness of the programs.
Details on three highly rated programs from each of the databases that seek to address the issue of youth violence in a community-based setting follow.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST): The MST Program is a family- and community-based treatment geared toward 12 to 17 year-olds who have exhibited serious antisocial problem behavior like drug use, violence, and serious criminal behavior at home, school, and in other common settings. Through the program, therapists work with juvenile offenders and their families to identify the problems and factors contributing to delinquency and seek solutions to address those issues for each individual offender. Some of the steps taken once a problem has been identified are working with the parents to remove their barriers from effective parenting, like parental substance abuse or mental health needs, and implementing strategies to decrease the juvenile’s affiliations with delinquent and enabling peers. The program has been profiled in a variety of evidence-based program registries as an effective approach to address youth violence and juvenile offenders. The MST Program has been recognized by several different organizations as an effective option for addressing individual youth violence including, Blueprint, the MPG, and the NREPP.
Adolescent Diversion Program (Michigan State University): The Adolescent Diversion Program (ADP) is an 18-week strengths-based intervention program that diverts arrested youth from the juvenile justice system to community-based services. Over the course of the program, caseworkers spend between six and eight hours a week with the juvenile in his or her home, school, and community providing services specifically tailored to the juvenile’s needs. The focus of their work is to improve his or her skills in various areas, including family relationships, school, employment, and free time activities. The goal of the program is to prevent future delinquency by strengthening the youth’s attachment to family, increase his or her access to community resources, and prevent the youth from encountering the potential stigmas associated with things like the juvenile justice system. The program, which began in 1976, remains active, and targets young offenders between the ages of 13 and 15. Two separate studies found that the program contributes to a significant reduction in recidivism rates. The ADP program has an MPG rating of Effective.
AMIkids Personal Growth Model (PGM): The AMIkids Personal Growth Model focuses on 10 to 17 year-olds who have been adjudicated and assigned to a day treatment program, residential treatment program or an alternative school in lieu of incarceration, as well as those who have been assigned to an alternative school after failing in a conventional school setting. The program, which lasts between six and eight months, targets the risk factors that contribute to delinquent behavior and poor academic performance and seeks to reduce recidivism, improve program completion rates, and promote academic achievement. Prior to receiving services through the AMIkids PGM program, an assessment is conducted on the risk, needs, and motivation to change the youth and his or her family. Following this assessment, a treatment plan incorporating education, treatment, and behavior modification is developed for the juvenile. The program which has been used in the SLC states of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, has been found to reduce the rates of re-arrest and re-adjudication and improve academic achievement among participants.
Posted on March 9, 2015 in Transportation
(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. Uber has opposed (see Uber's System for Screening Drivers Draws Scrutiny) legislation and regulation, however, that increases standards from the company's current practice, as have Lyft and Sidecar. Most legislation, regardless of ridesharing companies' support, centers on regulating driver and passenger safety similar to taxis and livery services. Laws have focused on permitting drivers and vehicles, with some variance between states on permit requirements. While some legislation requires criminal background checks equal to current company policies in place at the ridesharing companies, others would require commercial driver's licenses, or ban those convicted of DUI or sex offenses. Legislation varies also on how and when ridesharing vehicles are insured, and whether the burden of insurance should fall on the ridesharing company or driver (see Sharing a Ride, But Not Insuranceand NAIC Report). Other legislation considers the collection of state sales taxes levied on ride fares.
California was the first state to develop regulations for ridesharing companies. (Also see attachment entitled CA – Property Casualty Owners Press Release). In 2013, the state Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved rules establishing a new class of business – the Transportation Network Company (TNC) – and required these businesses to maintain a license from the Commission, as well as certain safety measures, namely background checks for drivers, vehicle inspections, driver training, and insurance policies with at least $1 million per-incident coverage. The state Department of Insurance held an investigatory hearing and developed the following recommendations:
Require $1 million commercial liability insurance to begin when driver activates the app currently in place by the ride sharing company such as Uber;
Require $1 million uninsured/underinsured coverage to protect driver and passenger;
Require the ride-sharing company to provide the company policy on drivers accessible and in the vehicles;
Require the ride-sharing company to disclose to drivers that personal insurance may not cover the driver;
Require the ride-sharing company to provide comprehensive and collision coverage for the vehicle if the driver has similar personal coverage;
Determine which regulatory authority will have oversight (note: In California, ride-sharing is regulated statewide by the Public Utilities Commission, while taxis are regulated at the municipal level); and
Place burden of insurance coverage on ride-sharing company.
In addition to the Commission's regulation, the governor signed AB 2293 into law on September 17, 2014, which requires ride-sharing certificates demonstrating compliance with state-required vehicle identification and accident liability coverages. As recently as last month, however, there have been conflicts over compliance with the state's law, as Uber suspended drivers who registered vehicles with the commercial permit required by the state DMV and the California Highway Patrol. In order to keep working, some drivers switched to personal registration, despite a DMV memo urging them not to do so. Uber referred to the statute passed in September, which does not address vehicle registration. As a result, the California General Assembly is likely to revisit the issue during its 2015 session.
Given the compliance issues in early-movers like California, as well as the recurrence of legislation in other states, legislation focusing on ridesharing will continue to be a major, developing issue. Recent legislation and regulatory action taken by states, including two states – South Carolina and Pennsylvania – that provisionally allowed operation of ridesharing services pending legislation, is attached. The legislation in these states fit the same broad themes addressed above, but each varies in scope. In each of the states featured in the following section, the relevant legislation and an article from a newspaper in the state on the topic may be listed.
"Lyft, Uber and other ride-sharing companies will have to obtain permits from the Public Utility Commission (PUC) and carry at least $1 million in liability insurance. The companies, or their drivers, will also have to carry primary insurance coverage during the controversial gap period - when a driver is soliciting fares but hasn't been matched with a rider. [Governor] Hickenlooper is urging the PUC to require drivers' vehicles to be inspected by certified mechanics. Drivers, though, will not be required to undergo the same criminal background checks that taxi drivers face, an area of concern for Hickenlooper. Taxi drivers are subject to fingerprint background checks performed by the Federal and Colorado Bureaus of Investigation, while ride-sharing drivers will remain vetted by private companies that use publicly available data.” (source: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_25907057/colorado-first-authorize-lyft-and-ubers-ridesharing-services, bill: http://www.legispeak.com/bill/2014/sb14-125 )
"Among the new rules under review are stricter background checks and insurance requirements for drivers and collecting sales tax on passenger fares.” (source: http://wabe.org/post/lawmakers-consider-new-regulations-uber-and-lyft, bill: HB 225)
"Legislation introduced in the state House on Wednesday [February 4, 2015] would require all drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing programs to pass a state background check.” (source: http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/bill-requires-state-background-check-for-uber-driv/nj4mf/http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/09/a-second-effort-to-oust-uber-from-georgia/, bill: House Bill 224)
"Uber and other ridesharing services would be required to maintain $1 million insurance coverage for all drivers from the moment the driver accepts a ride request to the time the ride ends. House Bill 190 calls for a minimum $300,000 coverage for bodily injury or death and $50,000 for property damage whenever a driver is logged into the company's system.”(source: http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2015/02/09/a-second-effort-to-oust-uber-from-georgia/ , bill: HB 190)
"Illinois' ridesharing rules - passed in May 2014 - require TNCs [Transportation Network Company] to show a photo of a driver and a fare estimate in the app and deliver an electronic receipt upon completion of the trip.” (source: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/01/29/uber-laws-a-primer-on-ridesharing-regulations/ )
"[B]ill calls for background checks and mandatory insurance. It bars sex offenders, and people who have been convicted of a felony in the past seven years.” (source: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/02/02/lawmakers-aim-regulate-ride-share-services/22775705/ )
"The new rules – which require drivers to show proof of insurance and undergo background checks, among other things – are a first step in a "robust process” that will ultimately yield additional regulations for the popular services, said Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation... The rules also clarified that ride-share drivers would need personal car insurance, and limited the definition of a transportation network company vehicle to a ‘personal passenger vehicle.'” (source: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/03/state-takes-major-step-regulating-ride-share-companies-such-uber-lyft/eQKKXBZaW9km1MlRa09inN/story.html )
"Six bills designed to regulate "passenger transportation companies that use an online application" were introduced in the New Jersey Legislature last year . They differed in details but all aimed to require more extensive background checks, stricter licensing requirements, and oversight by the state's Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). In December 2014, the Assembly Transportation Committee combined them into a single piece of legislation to require ride-sharing companies secure permits from MVC before doing business here and drivers meet certain requirements...proof of adequate insurance...specify when insurance is valid...minimum liability standards of $250,000 per incident...$10,000 per person...proof of registration...criminal activity history and results of recent drug testing”(source: http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/02/new_rules_coming_for_ride-sharing.html )
"The legislation would require ride-sharing services to provide insurance and conduct "rigorous background checks" on drivers.” (source: http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3690350.shtml#.VNU1ifnF8fU)
"Under the proposal, ride-sharing services will be required to provide insurance and conduct rigorous background checks on drivers.” (source: http://www.thestate.com/2015/01/29/3957847_2-new-mexico-lawmakers-eye-regulating.html?rh=1 )
"...At its final meeting of 2014, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) board voted 4 to 1 to grant experimental authority for rideshare company Lyft to operate in Allegheny County and statewide. The approval came with conditions and is similar to a license granted last month to rival company Uber...The next step for Lyft and Uber, assuming they meet the Pennsylvania PUC's terms for the experimental licenses, would be a change in state law which would deal more specifically with their business models. What the PUC has granted so far is a permit that covers entities that don't fit into an existing category under its code, which is why the permits are only good for two years.” (source: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2014/12/21/Pennsylvania-utilities-chairman-Powelson-looks-back-on-the-year-of-Lyft-and-Uber/stories/201412210013 )
The Public Service Commission allowed Uber to operate in the state, pending legislation from the General Assembly. (source: http://www.thestate.com/2015/01/29/3958237/uber-allowed-to-continue-to-operate.html )
"Senate Bill 1025 has been hashed out over months, with heavy involvement from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.... The bill requires those companies to be accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners or the state police.” (source: http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-ga-legis-notebook-20150119-story.html, http://www.richmond.com/business/local/article_732bc0b0-388c-5cee-a96b-71c6afaeb499.html )
"The House of Delegates on Friday [January 30, 2015] joined the Senate in passing a bill that would set licensing requirements for such services' drivers...drivers would have to be at least 21 and undergo background checks that examine their criminal history, driving record and sex offender status. The bill also requires that drivers purchase liability insurance with at least $1 million in coverage. The companies would be required to pay an initial licensing fee of $70,000 and then $3,000 every year thereafter...An analysis of the legislation by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget estimated that it will cost $640,000 to regulate the ride-sharing services during the first year and $440,000 annually after that. But the fees paid by the companies and drivers will cover the costs, the Department said.” (source: http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/2015/02/01/virginia-bill-allowing-uber-lyft-approved/22702597/ )
"State Senator Cyrus Habib wants stricter insurance regulations and third party background checks for drivers.” (sources: http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/olympia/2015/02/02/uber-lyft--ride-sharing-senator-habib-regulations-rules-olympia/22777879/, http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/2015/0203/Washington-state-bill-tries-to-force-Uber-Lyft-to-act-more-like-normal-taxis)
"The proposed legislation, which was taken up by the state Senate's Transportation Committee, would regulate rules for ridesharing companies...The law would ensure a ‘driver's compliance with insurance, qualification, conduct, nondiscrimination, maximum work hours, criminal history, and driving record requirements.... The legislation would require that insurance policies are valid from when the driver is logged on to the system, and not just when the rider is in the vehicle.” (source: http://www.autoworldnews.com/articles/12688/20150203/ridesharing-services-could-soon-be-regulated-in-washington.htm)
"[Senate Bill 385] requires the companies receive a permit for operation from the Division of Motor Vehicles at an annual cost of $5,000. Companies would be required to conduct background checks on all drivers, disclose the driver's pictures and license plate numbers, and have estimated ride costs available to the rider before he or she enters the vehicle.” (sources: http://wvpublic.org/post/could-uber-be-coming-west-virginia, http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150202/DM01/150209812)
"The bill requires transportation network companies to maintain coverage at $50,000 for injuries caused to an individual, $100,000 for an aggregate of all passengers and $25,000 for personal property for the period before a driver connects with a passenger via the app...The Senate bill would place oversight of transportation network companies under the state Division of Motor Vehicles...It should be noted the Senate bill does require transportation network companies to perform background checks on all its drivers. It also requires said companies to obtain a permit from the Division of Motor Vehicles at an annual rate of $5,000.”(source: http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150211/DM01/150219789/1420)
Posted on March 6, 2015 in Government Operations
(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
Massachusetts: http://www.mass.gov/dor/docs/dls/mdmstuf/technical-assistance/best-practices/userfees.pdf; http://www.mass.gov/dor/docs/dls/publ/misc/costing.pdf
Examples of Fees
Business License Fees:
Proposed changes for the 2015-17 Executive Budget that would charge larger businesses more, with different rates for different industries
Rate matrix based on Texas's model (not automated, but a uniform policy on fee increases)
“The I-85 Express Lanes are dynamically priced and range from .01 cent to .90 cents per mile. As demand for use of the Express Lanes increases, the toll amount rises to ensure that motorists using the Express Lanes experience more reliable trip times. Motorists can see the posted toll amount before they enter the Express Lanes, so decisions can be made whether or not use them. Tolls on the I-85 Express Lanes are collected electronically, with no toll booths requiring drivers to slow down or stop.”
This model also is standard practice in other settings. The amount charged as a toll to ride in a designated (or Express) lane varies; in some instances, it varies based on the number of motorists at a given time and in other instances, it varies on the time of day. The cost of riding at peak times is higher than at non-peak times.
Variable Gas Taxes:
“The state Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) is added to the cost of each gallon of gasoline and diesel sold in North Carolina. The state MFT rate, under state law, has a fixed portion and variable portion that is based on wholesale prices that can adjust every six months, on January 1st and July 1st. The North Carolina Department of Revenue calculates and sets the state gas tax. For a historic look at state gas tax rates, visit http://www.dornc.com/taxes/motor/rates.html. The state MFT rate for the period of July 1st 2013 through June 30, 2013 was established by the General Assembly at 37.5 cents per gallon.”
In response to Kentucky's depleted revenues, Kentucky Senate Transportation Chair Ernie Harris has a proposed bill (SB 29) that would lock the average wholesale price where it sits at present, at $2.35 a gallon, rather than let it drop to the statutory floor of $1.78. Senator Harris acknowledged that some lawmakers have pledged to never vote for a tax increase, no matter the impact on public services. But, in his opinion, “technically, this plan wouldn't raise the gas tax,” he said, “it just wouldn't let the tax drop any further.”
Voters eliminated part of a 2013 law designed to help gas taxes keep up with inflation.
Ohio Franchise Permit Fee:
Ohio annually assesses each intermediate care facility serving individuals with intensive behavioral needs a franchise permit fee equal to $11.98 multiplied by the product of the following:
The number of beds certified under Title XIX of the "Social Security Act" on the first day of May of the calendar year in which the assessment is determined pursuant to division (A) of section 5112.33 of the Revised Code;
The number of days in the fiscal year beginning on the first day of July of the same calendar year.
Beginning July 1, 2009, and the first day of each July thereafter, fees are determined under division (A) of this section in accordance with the composite inflation factor established in rules adopted under section 5112.39 of the Revised Code.
New Mexico Agricultural Leasing Fee:
The current fee calculation for agricultural leases was implemented in 1988. The fee formula takes into account a wide variety of factors which include the previous year's rates by western livestock ranchers, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. When cattle prices decline and the cost associated with livestock production increases, the grazing fee will decrease in response to these market conditions. Also, when forage is in demand by ranchers, it will tend to increase the grazing fee index resulting in a higher grazing fee. These price rates are used to determine the fee formula.
Formula: $0.0474 (Base Value) x Carrying Capacity (CC) x Acreage x Economic Variable Index (EVI)
California Waste Discharge Fee:
Fees for waste discharge are indexed to acreage.
(1) Tier I: If a discharger is a member of a group that has been approved by the State Water Board to manage fee collection and payment, then the fee shall be $100 per group plus $0.75 per acre of land.
(2) Tier II: If a discharger is a member of a group that has been approved by the State Water Board, but does not manage fee collection and payment, then the fee shall be $100 per farm plus $1.27 per acre of land.
(3)(A) Tier III: If a discharger is not a member of a group that has been approved by the State Water Board, the following fee schedule applies:
|Acres||Fee Rate||Min Fee||Max Fee|
|0-10||$404 + $13.50/Acre||$404||$538|
|11-100||$1,084 + $6.70/Acre||$1,084||$1,756|
|101-500||$3,033 + $3.40/Acre||$3,033||$4,715|
|501 or More||$6,733 + $2.70/Acre||$6,733||No Max Fee|
Pennsylvania state officials' salaries
Hundreds of top elected and appointed officials in Pennsylvania state government received a 1.6 percent increase in pay in November 2014, authorized by a 1995 law designed to counter the effect of inflation. The pay raises are an automatic, annual cost-of-living adjustment.
State-based minimum wage
In nine states, the increase in the minimum wage was automatic on January 1, 2015, an adjustment made to keep the minimum wage in line with rising inflation.
Posted on March 6, 2015 in Economic Development
(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.
Importantly, when President Barack Obama enacted the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (the “Act’) in mid-December 2014, many programs that expired at the end of 2013, including the New Markets Tax Credit Program, were reauthorized. Specifically, the Act authorizes $3.5 billion in allocations for the New Markets Tax Credit Program and these allocations must be used by December 31, 2019. Many states have programs similar to the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program.
Along with the overview of the Program presented below, the following links remain of interest:
Posted on March 2, 2015 in Corrections
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Note: Numbers reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics under the National Prisoner Statistics Program represent the number of prisoners on the day of December 31 of each year.
* 2013 prisoner counts for Oklahoma and Virginia are not comparable to earlier years due to a change in reporting methodology.