Recent 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)

December 5, 2017

Electronic Filing of Regulations Staff Exchange - November 27-28, 2017 | Richmond, Virginia

The Southern Legislative Conference recently arranged for staff members from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission to visit Richmond, Virginia, to learn more about the state’s Regulations Information System (RIS), a web-enabled application to file regulations and related items with the Registrar of Regulations for publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations, as well as a demonstration of the system. Staff members from the Virginia Division of Legislative Services briefed their Kentucky counterparts on the development and main functions of the RIS and also provided a demonstration of the system. Participants from both states also met with Governor Terry McAuliffe to discuss the RIS program, the staff exchange and the work of the SLC.

December 1, 2017

New SLC Special Series Report | Long-Term Care in the South (Part II)

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.

Download the full report (PDF)

November 29, 2017

SLC Delegation to Cuba | November 7-10, 2017

A second delegation of presiding officers from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) recently travelled to Havana, Cuba, to gain insight into the nation’s growing private sector, agricultural trade opportunities, and to participate in high-level briefings with ministry officials.

Despite a history of economic sanctions, the United States has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports up to 80 percent of its food.  Given Cuba’s geographic and economic position, states in the Southern region of the United States have competitive export advantages in terms of production, quality, logistics and proximity.  Of all states exporting to Cuba, Southern states comprise nine of the top 10.

To gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of U.S. – Cuban relations, delegates met with Larry Gumbiner, the newly-appointed Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Mr. Gumbiner briefed delegates on recent diplomatic developments, opportunities for trade partnerships, and the Trump Administration’s approach to future engagement.

Ms. Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director General of the United States General Division of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefed delegates on the status of U.S. – Cuban relations, as well as opportunities for partnership and collaboration.  Delegates also participated in briefings with senior officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Foreign Trade and Investment, Education, and Transportation to learn about Cuba’s growing economy and industrial development.

Delegates toured organic and cooperative farming operations in the Cuban countryside. Participants learned about the history of the farm, growing techniques, the distribution and sales of their products and how the cooperative has impacted the lives of the workers.

Delegation participants included Speaker Philip Gunn, Mississippi; Speaker Tim Moore, North Carolina; and Speaker Jeremy Gillam, Arkansas.

November 3, 2017

New SLC Issue Brief | NAFTA Trade Data – SLC States, Canada and Mexico
A new issue brief from the SLC compares historical data from SLC’s various publications to the current position of Southern states’ exports and imports to and from Canada and Mexico. 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.

November 1, 2017

Criminal Mental Health Project - Miami, Florida

A delegation of legislators from the Southern Legislative Conference attended a study tour of the Criminal Mental Health Project (CMHP) in Miami, Florida, October 25 – October 27, 2017. A nationally renowned program run by the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, CMHP diverts nonviolent defendants with serious mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders from the criminal justice system into community-based treatment programs. CMHP has served as a model throughout Florida and beyond.

During the two-day visit, delegates attended a private discussion with Associate Administrative Judge Steve Leifman, who founded CMHP in 2000, where they learned about the successes and challenges of CMHP’s many programs, including pre-booking crisis intervention training (CIT), misdemeanor and felony jail diversion, forensic hospital diversion, and access to an array of state and federal benefits. Delegates also had the opportunity to talk first-hand with a CMHP recovery peer specialist, an individual who is diagnosed with a mental illness and now works as a member of CMHP’s jail diversion program to assist participants with community re-entry and engagement in continuing treatment and services.

The SLC delegation observed the felony jail diversion court docket and received a tour of the mental health diversion facility, an ongoing project that will expand the capacity to divert individuals from the criminal justice system into comprehensive treatment programs that will leverage local, state and federal resources when completed in 2019.  Delegates also participated in a ride-along with CIT law enforcement officers who have received specialized training by CMHP experts to interact with individuals in Miami-Dade County suspected of having mental illnesses and/or substance abuse issues.

More than 5,000 law enforcement personnel from all 36 municipalities in Miami-Dade County have received CIT training from CMHP experts. An estimated 16,000-19,000 mental health crisis calls are received each year by CIT officers, resulting in thousands of diversions to crisis units and significant reductions in the number of arrests. Since 2010, the Miami-Dade Police Department and City of Miami Police Department have responded to approximately 72,000 mental health crisis calls, leading to nearly 40,000 diversions and only 138 arrests. 

Delegation participants included Sharon Cooper, Georgia, former chair of SLC’s Human Services and Public Safety Committee; Representative Robert Cornejo, Missouri; Representative Allen McNeill, North Carolina; and Senator Katrina Shealy, South Carolina, vice chair of SLC’s Human Services and Public Safety Committee.

October 20, 2017

Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills - Class of 2017

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) of The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently wrapped up the 11th annual Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS). The program was hosted by our esteemed partners, the University of Arkansas System and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.

The 2017 CALS program included leaders from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The training sessions focused on essential topics such as leadership development, ethics, interpersonal exchanges, and communication skills.

Participants convened at the Old Statehouse for the closing dinner. The closing keynote address on the importance of leadership in all levels of government and lessons from history was presented by Richard Norton Smith, celebrated historian and author.