2018 SLC News and Updates

January 8, 2018

New SLC Special Series Report | Blown Away: Wind Energy in the Southern States (Part II)

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.

Download the full report (PDF)

The State of Retail in Southern States

January 29, 2018

SLC Issue Brief - The State of Retail in Southern States

A new 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.

April 4, 2018

Louisiana State Visit
On April 3-4, SLC Director Colleen Cousineau, along with three SLC policy and research staff – Anne Roberts Brody, Roger Moore and Nick Bowman – visited legislative members and staff of the Louisiana Legislature to discuss services available to them from the Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments. During multiple meetings at the capitol, Director Cousineau and staff also provided updates on recent legislative developments in the Southern region; the upcoming 2018 SLC Annual Meeting, convening in St. Louis, Missouri, from July 21-25; 2018 Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills; and 2018 State Transformation in Action Recognition. The visit also included planning discussions with Speaker Barras, SLC’s 2017-18 Chair Elect, and select House and Senate staff for the upcoming 2019 SLC Annual Meeting, convening July 13-17, 2019, in New Orleans.

May 8, 2018

New SLC Regional Resource - Opioids and Organ Donations: A Tale of Two Crises
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.

2018 Delegation to Washington, D.C.

June 6, 2018

SLC Energy & Environment Committee Delegation

On June 5-6, a delegation comprising members of the Energy & Environment Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference, led by Representative Lynn Smith (Georgia), chair of the committee, traveled to Washington, D.C. to engage in meetings with senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U. S. Department of the Interior (DOI).

As the nation’s energy infrastructure becomes increasingly interconnected, cybersecurity concerns persist. Deputy Assistant Secretary Doug Little and Jennifer Silk, senior advisor to the secretary, provided an update on the DOE’s cybersecurity initiatives and the outcomes of GRIDEX IV, a biennial exercise designed to simulate a cyber/physical attack on electric and other critical infrastructures across the country. Preston Cory, director of the EPA’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations, briefed delegates on the agency’s regulatory reform agenda, including the repeal of the Clean Power Plan and forthcoming revisions to the Clean Water Rule. Delegates also received a briefing from Todd Wynn, director of the DOI’s Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, on the agency’s proposed expansion of the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, as well as the newly created Hunting and Shooting Sports Conservation Council. Through meetings and dialogue with these officials, delegates gained a deeper understanding of each agency’s policy priorities and shared their state’s perspective on pressing energy and environmental issues.

Other delegation participants were Senator Ed Emery, Missouri, vice chair of SLC’s Energy & Environment Committee; Representative William E. “Bill” Sandifer III, South Carolina, immediate past chair of SLC’s Energy & Environment Committee; Senator Robin Webb, Kentucky; and Senator Dave Sypolt, West Virginia.

August 24, 2018

SLC 2018 Post-Meeting Materials are Now Available

Thank you for joining us at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference in St. Louis, Missouri!

Post-meeting materials, including photos, session presentations and the 2018 Summary Report, are now available online.

Take a look at the 2018 Summary Report for:

Overviews of the presentations at the SLC standing committee sessions and legislative staff workshop;

Summaries of the technical tours highlighting successes in the St. Louis region; and

Information on the winners of the 2018 STAR Award, Carter/Hellard Legislative Staff Award and Thomas B. Murphy Longevity of Service Award.