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Capitol Research

CSG's Capitol Research Policy Reports
The Council of State Governments is pleased to offer state leaders a variety of publications focused on today's most important policy issues. Through CSG'sCapitol Research series, CSG policy experts examine the ways key issues are impacting your state, how the issues are evolving and how your state can respond - now and in the future.
Through our various policy products, CSG tracks trends and issues in demographics, state economies, information technology, critical infrastructure and federal-state relations. Additional reports explore trends in income distribution and civic engagement, public safety and individual privacy, energy and environment, P-16 education and health care expenditures and outcomes.
In addition, CSG strives to examine the breadth of cultural and transformational change impacting states and how cross-cutting themes are increasingly central to most policy challenges, such as accelerating rates of change, increasing interconnectedness, over-consumption, and opportunities for new partnerships.


Recent Publications


HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Among Prisoners
Inmates in state prisons and jails have higher rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections than the general population. Incarceration is often the first time inmates are diagnosed with infections of which they were unaware. Treating the infections protects others in communities when inmates are released.
Green Transportation
Green transportation is transportation that produces less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline. States are updating vehicle fleets, advancing alternative fuels and electric vehicles as well as considering policies that go beyond automobiles such as the Obama administration's "complete streets."


State Cigarette Taxes
State cigarette taxes are a means to raise state revenue in a down economy as well as to discourage the use of tobacco. But states fail to use increased tax revenues to expand tobacco and prevention control programs.
Women in State Government
Women hold 22.9 percent of the 315 available executive branch offices across the country and 24.5 percent of the 7,382 legislative seats. Women hold the highest percentage of seats in the judicial branch--26. 4 percent of 17,108 seats.
Provider Taxes
As revenues decline and Medicaid enrollment grows, states increasingly are turning to taxes on hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers to pay for health care. Revenue from these taxes is used as the state share to qualify for additional matching funds from the federal government.
State Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds
Unemployment rates remain high and people are uninsured for longer periods, exhausting state trust funds quickly. More states are borrowing from the federal government to cover costs.
Wind Energy
Wind energy is a growing source for energy in the U.S. Wind energy is becoming increasingly economical and has environmental benefits. But it faces challenges that must be overcome before it can be further developed.
Soda Taxes
While only 14 states levy a sales tax on food, 39 states and Washington, D.C., impose a sales tax on at least some soda purchases. The interest in taxing sodas is gaining interest in states as a way to fight obesity.
Judicial Selection in the States
States have a variety of procedures for filling high court judgeships. While each state is free to determine its own selection method, most states use one of two systems: direct judicial elections by the people or judicial appointment from a list of candidates developed by a judicial nominating commission.
Expedited Partner Therapy to Reduce Sexually Transmitted Infections
In almost half the states, physicians can legally provide antiobiotic treatment for the sexual partners of their patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea infections without ever seeing the partners. This cost-effective treatment approach is known as expedited partner therapy.
Energy Affordability
The average price of electricity rose in the U.S. from 6.74 cents per kilowatt hour in 1998 to 9.74 cents per kilowatt hour in 2008, an increase of 45 percent in 10 years. For individuals and families at the bottom of the income bracket, energy expenditures can take up to 20 percent of their total take-home pay.
Prescription Drug Monitoring
Several states have programs targeting prescription drug abuse, but patients often travel across state lines to access these drugs. The Council of state Governments, through its National Center for Interstate Compacts, is working with an advisory committee to develop interstate compact legislation enabling state programs to electronically share prescription information.
Intelligent Transportation Systems
Intelligent transportation system technologies, including traffic cameras and real time road and traffic information lines, can make travel safer, more efficient and less impactful on the environment.




Trends in America

Changing Teacher Compensation Methods
The bedrock of teacher pay has historically been a combination of educational attainment and experience. New models of teacher compensation based on performance have been gathering steam recently.
Focus on: Improving Adolescent Literacy
Many middle and high school students lack the literacy skills necessary to be successful in their classes and beyond high school. While many strategies to improve literacy skills require action at the school or district level, there are several actions state policymakers can take to promote improved literacy skills.
Nuclear Energy
Nearly 20 percent of our nation's electricity is generated by nuclear energy, which is expected to play a key role in mitigating climate change. Federal and state governments offer numerous incentives to promote nuclear energy, but several barriers prohibit more widespread adoption
National School Lunch Reauthorization
The National School Lunch Program, up for reauthorization by Congress this year, is a major source of nutrition for millions of American children. BIllions of free and reduced-price lunches are served at school every year through the program.
Work Force Retraining
With unemployment rates hovering around 9 percent nationally, states are handling the massive increase in unemployed workers needing retraining in many ways.But only 11 states offer free tuition for retraining workers, according to a University of Alabama survey.
Work Force Development in the Electric Utility Sector
Half the work force in the electric utility sector is retiring in the next 10 years leaving that industry short of experienced workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The shortage could affect energy reliability and innovation across the country.
Focus On: Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax
Charging motorists a tax based on the amount of miles their vehicle travels could be a potential replacement to state and federal fuel taxes to fund transportation improvements. Oregon piloted the vehicle miles traveled tax in 2006.
Sex Offenders
When it comes to sex offenders, states are working to balance tougher laws and public fears with effective policy to ensure community safety. At the same time, there are still some common myths about sex offenders that continue to influence public policy.
Information Literacy
As the global community gets smaller thanks to the growing use of the Internet, the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow. At no time in history has the phrase, "knowledge is power," been more accurate.
Community Colleges
More community colleges have taken mid-year budget cuts as the economic crisis has worsened. State appropriations and tuition are the two biggest sources of revenue for community colleges.
State Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds
Unemployment rates remain high and many have been unemployed for quite a while. Congress expanded federal unemployment benefits, extending the time an individual can receive benefits significantly. Dire unemployment situations have put state unemployment insurance trust funds on shaky grounds.
Medical Malpractice Tort Reform
The cost of medical malpractice is significant, accounting for approximately 2 percent of total health care expenditures in 2009. States have tried to address those costs with tort reform and have experimented with several approaches.
Climate Change and Transportation
As the second-leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, transportation constitutes a key target in the battle against climate change. By taking a proactive approach to mitigating and adapting to climate change, states can moderate its effects and reduce its impacts while saving potentially billions of dollars in remediation costs in the long-run.
Medicaid Policy Actions
Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped states avoid or reduce cuts to Medicaid benefits, the number of states making benefit reductions in the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years increased significantly from the 2008 fiscal year.
Alzheimer's Disease
Millions of Americans have Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. As the incidence of Alzheimer's has increased, research has broadened from treatment to prevention. People with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are high users of health care and long-term care services.
Medicaid Enrollment and Spending
The recession increased Medicaid enrollment growth in the 2009 fiscal year higher than originally projected. The growth of Medicaid spending also increased in the 2009 fiscal year. The economic recession was the main factor in the growth of Medicaid enrollment and spending.
Carbon Markets
Carbon markets are an essential component of cap-and-trade programs that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using a market-based approach. Even if the U.S. does not commit to a cap-and-trade program, voluntary markets and regional markets will continue to expand.
Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility
Over the past decade, considerable progress has been made in covering families and children through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.
Plug-in Hybrid Technology
In the wake of rising gas prices and growing concern over combating climate change, the market for more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles has grown exponentially in recent years.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programcalled SNAP for short—is the nation's largest anti-hunger program, serving approximately 33 million Americans in 2009. SNAP benefits provide a significant boost to local economies; every $5 in SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in total economic activity.
The Economic Impact of Substance Abuse
The cost of substance buse and addiction is staggering—hitting state budgets hard. Alternative methods of managing substance abuse can pay off for states. State fiscal crises have provided opportunities to develop new strategies for substance abuse programs and forced funding decreases for successful programs.
Adolescent Vaccines
The percent of adolescents who have received routinely recommended vaccines increased from 2007 to 2008. Changes in vaccine policy, recent experiences with outbreaks or efforts to remove cost as a barrier can improve adolescent vaccination rates in states.
Focus on: Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth
Haphazard development occurs as a result of a lack of coordination between state and local departments responsible for transportation, housing and the environment. It results in the inefficient use of land and requires the extensive use of automobiles to travel from point to point, thereby reducing physical activity and increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon capture and storage technology is becoming more important across the U.S. as policymakers deal with a balancing act—how to mitigate climate change while keeping the cost of electricity down.
Facts and Figures: HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
HIV and AIDS continue to take a toll on the U.S. after more than 25 years. State and federal HIV prevention programs support testing, treatment and prevention efforts, including education on how to prevent HIV infection.
Facts and Figures: Adolescent and Young Adult Sexual Health
Teen births are on the rise and rates for sexually transmitted diseases among young adults and adolescents are alarming.
Facts and Figures: State Gubernatorial Succession Law
Despite the increasing rate of gubernatorial succession and federal directives to develop proven succession plans, states are not readily addressing known gaps and conflicts in gubernatorial succession laws.
Focus on: P–16/20 School Governance
Only seven of 10 students graduate from high school in the U.S. Among those who do, many are academically unprepared for postsecondary education. Consequently, remediation rates are high and nearly half of all students in public four-year colleges fail to earn bachelors’ degrees within five years. Because of the need for more college graduates over the next 15 years, this lack of college readiness is widely viewed as a crisis needing the attention of policymakers.

mobile devices art work

Restricting Use of Mobile Devices in Cars
Cell phone use while behind the wheel is just one aspect of distracted driving, but the rapid proliferation of the devices has prompted many states to take action against talking and texting while driving. Some states are focusing on handheld devices, while others are including both handheld and hands-free devices in their legislation.

Smart Grids

Smart Grids
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $4.5 billion of mostly grants to industry for the development of a smart grid in the hopes of achieving President Obama's goal of installing 40 million smart meters in homes and modernizing 3,000 miles of transmission lines. That's a testament to the desperate need for a smart grid and states can help the cause. ...

Infrastructure Cost Awareness

Increasing Public Awareness of Infrastructure Costs and Finance
Despite an infusion of cash from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, states still have billions of dollars in unmet needs, and state governments face an uncertain future in trying to pay for them. ...
Mobile Devices TIA
Facts and Figures: Mobile Devices (UPDATED)
Using mobile phones while driving affects driver performance. A 2006 study concluded that nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Some states are taking action.

Compensation art

Facts and Figures: State Government Compensation
Compensation varies widely across the states and branches of government. While executive branch salaries continue to rise, the pace of increase is slowing. Legislative branch salary types and amount vary widely. While the pay for judges is increasing, the annual percentage change is decreasing. ...

Early College

Focus On: Early College High Schools
The U.S. needs more than 15 million more college graduates by 2025 to equal the degree attainment in top-performing countries. One initiative that has gained momentum over the past decade is the Early College High School movement-a movement that could help the U.S. address its degree-attainment needs. ...
campus safety pic
Campus Violence and Mental Health
Shootings on college campuses have sparked numerous government studies examining how postsecondary institutions can improve the identification of students with serious mental illnesses and provide them with appropriate treatment. University officials also face confusion about when it is appropriate and legal to release educational and health information that is generally covered by privacy laws.


Mental Health parity
Mental Health Parity
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act signed by President Bush Oct. 3, 2008, will have a significant impact on the people enrolled in group health insurance plans.
ap programs
Facts and Figures: Advanced Placement Programs
Advanced Placement courses prepare students for college coursework and often provide students with college credits. Comprehensive AP policies make rigorous courses available to more students
Health Information Technology
Facts and Figures: Health Information Technology
Adoption and use of electronic health records are still limited. In some states, the creation of statewide health information exchanges and regional health information organizations is helping to connect the records that do exist.
Roads and bridges
Facts and Figures: Funding Highways and Bridges
Some states are falling short on investment in roads and bridges, but others are finding success finding money to put into that infrastructure.
high risk insurance
Facts and Figures: High-Risk Insurance Pools
Nearly three-fourths of the states have established high-risk insurance pools for individuals who cannot get insurance in the private market at affordable rates because of pre-existing medical conditions. In 2009, 35 states had these high-risk health insurance pools. Since the first pool was created in 1975, at least 1 million Americans have been insured this way
public transportation
Facts and Figures: Public Transportation
Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2008 -- that's 400 million more than in 2007. Public transportation is growing but despite the increased ridership, benefits to the environment and traffic congestion mitigation, public transportation continues to face financial road blocks and cuts
Facts and Figures: Water Quality
The United States is facing severe water quality and quantity problems. Some 195 million Americans are exposed to contaminated water on a daily basis. In the South, severe drought conditions has resulted in water restrictions in Georgia, curtailed nuclear power generation in Alabama and reduced water flow for fisheries in Florida.
Women in Government art
Facts and Figures: Women in State Government
Women hold 23.9 percent of 314 available positions in the executive branch of state government across the country. Of those 74 women in executive offices, eight are governors. In the legislative branch, 24.2 percent of the 7,382 seats are held by women.
Covering the Uninsured
Facts and Figures: Covering the Uninsured
Record numbers of individuals are going without health insurance. During their 2008 legislative sessions, many state legislatures focused on expanding coverage to those people.
Emergency Services art
Facts and Figures: Access to Emergency Services
Demand for emergency care is growing fast and the nation is unable to meet this demand. Some states are increasing Medicaid fee levels to attract providers and assure access. Still others are taking additional steps to meet this demand.
Interstate Compacts
Facts and Figures: Interstate Compacts
Interstate compacts are contracts between two or more states creating agreements on a specific policy issue. States have discovered many benefits from being a member of such compacts.
Physician Shortages
Facts and Figures: Health Professional Shortages
All states face some physician shortages and the problem is expected to worsen. Solutions include increasing the number of physicians through medical school enrollment and incentive packages.
Student Retention TIA
Facts and Figures: Student Retention
There's a degree gap - the number of degrees awarded and the number of degrees needed to compete in the world economy - in the United States. The problem is not too few students entering college; it's that too many students are dropping out before they finish degrees.
Identity Theft
Facts and Figures: Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, and is costly to both individuals and businesses. Some states have passed legislation to target offenders and assist victims in recovery.
Electricity Transmission
Facts and Figures: Electricity Transmission
The electricity transmission system in the U.S. is increasingly outdated and inadequate, and strains on the system are increasing. States are taking action.
Nuclear Power art
Nuclear Power May Make Comeback
Nuclear power may be on the brink of a comeback in the United States, thanks to concerns about climate change, energy independence and the rising cost of energy.
Energy Future
Facts and Figures: Energy Future
Demand for electricity is expected to increase 1.1 percent annually through 2030. Coal will increase its share of electricity generation to 54 percent, natural gas will decline to 14 percent, nuclear energy will expand its output and renewables will increase from 9 percent to 14 percent.
Medicaid Enrollment
Facts and Figures: Medicaid Enrollment
Medicaid enrollment is on the rise: In 2008, Medicaid enrollment grew by 21 percent nationwide, the first time since 2002. That means spending on Medicaid is growing, including a 5.3 percent increase in the 2008 fiscal year, higher provider rates and higher utilization of services.
State Lobbying
Facts and Figures: State Lobbying
Interest groups are playing an increasingly larger role in state capitals. Consider this: In 2005, lobbying at the state level became a billion dollar business for the first time. Of the 43 states reporting lobbying expenditures for 2006, there was almost a 10 percent increase in reported spending in 2005.
Childhood Obesity
Facts and Figures: Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is a rapidly growing problem in the United States. In fact, in 2007, 13 percent of high school students were obese. And the prevalence of overweight has more than doubled among American children and tripled in adolescents in the last 20 years.
Long Term Care F/F
Facts and Figures: Long-Term Care
More than 80 percent of Americans express a preference for aging at home. State resources redirected to provide home and community-based services are cost-effective and responsive to the needs of the aging and people with disabilities.
State Spending
Facts and Figures: State Spending
In the 2007 fiscal year, state general expenditures increased by more than 9 percent compared to the 2006 fiscal year. The economic situation is creating financial difficulties across the country.
Adult Obesity
Facts and Figures: Adult Obesity
Obesity rates are climbing fast in this country. Find out what some states are doing to deal with the problem.
Climate control
Facts and Figures: Climate Change
The earth's climate is changing, and states are taking the lead in dealing with that change.
RPS Standards
Renewable Portfolio Standards
As of September 2008, 26 states and Washington, D.C., had enacted renewable portfolio standards, with six other states setting renewable energy goals. A renewable portfolio standard is a law regulating electricity generation in a state that requires a certain percentage of the retail electricity power consumed-or load-must come from renewable energy sources.
Expanding Medicaid
Facts and Figures: Expanding Medicaid
Despite a faltering economy, 24 states expanded or plan to expand benefits in their Medicaid programs.
Facts and Figures: Federal Grants to States
State and local governments rely more heavily on federal government support.
Facts and Figures: 2008 Elections
Get quick information about this year's political season.
Water quality
Water Quality
When it comes to water quality issues, states not only struggle with a lack of federal funding but also with finding approaches that address the many and varied sources that contaminate the nation's water.
STEM education art
STEM Education
The United States isn't number one anymore. We're not even number two. In fact, the U.S. doesn't even make the top 10 list in science or math literacy among 15-year-olds worldwide, according to the most recent Program for International Student Assessment scores. Find out what states are doing to improve students' understanding of science, technology, engineering and math.
Housing Woes photo
One in nearly 200-that's how many U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in just the first quarter of this year, according to RealtyTrac, a Web site that tracks foreclosures. And for the first time in at least 40 years, the national median price of a single-family home dropped last year.
Transportation TIA
Public Transportation
Americans took more than 10 billion trips on public transportation in 2007-the highest public transit ridership levels in 50 years. In fact, with gas prices hovering near record levels, more and more Americans are using public transportation. But the increase in public transit ridership may be affecting funding sources for the nation's road system ...
Long-term care art
Long-Term Care
Record growth in the aging population  in the U.S. is creating greater demand for long-term health care services and spurring states and communities to develop innovative new strategies to address the growing needs of seniors.
Focus On: Health IT
State governments increasingly are concluding that the electronic exchange of health information holds the potential to enhance efficiency, improve the quality of health care and save lives. This brief examines state initiatives on health IT and roles of the federal government and private sector.
Physician Shortages art
Physician Shortages
Sixty million people-approximately one-fifth of the country's population-reside in more than 3,000 shortage areas. The lack of doctors in those places has dramatic consequences for access to medical care.
Electricity Transmission Brief
Electricity Transmission
Nearly 50 million people were left without power in 2003 after untrimmed tree branches obstructing electricity transmission lines near Cleveland, Ohio, caused a blackout in seven U.S. states and one Canadian province. It was the largest blackout in U.S. history and totaled $6 billion in economic costs.
Immigration Enforcement
As lawmakers nationwide debate legislation related to immigration issues, law enforcement officials are urging them to consider the effects such policy will have on policing their communities. Learn about the challenges some states face in enforcing immigration laws.
Water Scarcity
Water scarcity is a growing problem across the United States, and the problem is only expected to grow as states debate access and usage of our most precious resource. Learn more about how states are responding to the potential water shortages.



2007 Trends Publications

Climate Change Mitigation
The impact of climate change on local and regional communities is vast. Learn more about what states are doing to combat climate change.
Combating Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesitiy is a very real and increasing threat for states. Find out what states are doing to increase the health of our nation's children.
POS: Defending Children on the Internet
The very nature of the Internet can allow individuals to engage in criminal conduct with virtual anonymity, committing crimes regardless of physical location. Learn more about what states are doing to defend children online.
Financial Literacy: The States' Role
American families are increasingly confronted with severe economic hardships, oftentimes struggling with personal finance issues. Learn more about how state treasurers are helping Americans overcome debt.
Financing Transportation Infrastructure
With increasing congestion, rising fuel costs and the impending Federal Highway Trust Fund deficit, states are looking for innovative ways to finance transportation infrastructure. Learn more about how states are picking up the slack for transportation infrastructure.
Public Pension Plans
Very few topics generate as much interest among both policymakers and the general public as a discussion of the financial viability of the United States' retirement infrastructure. Learn about how states are finding solutions to the public pension plan crisis.
State Funded Early Childhood Education
Research over several decades shows the earlier children start their educational journeys, the better they will perform in school, thus becoming more productive members of society. Learn what works and what doesn't for early childhood programs.
State Programs to Cover the Uninsured
Facing continued increases in the number of uninsured, declines in employer-sponsored insurance and a lack of national consensus on a way forward, states are taking matters into their own hands. Learn what states are doing to try to cover the 47 million uninsured Americans nationwide.
State Responses to Federalism
Since its founding, the nation has seen fluctuations in the distribution of regulatory and decision-making power between states and the federal government. Learn how some states are saying "enough is enough" to the recent spike in federal power.
State Responses to Technological Obsolescence
Although technology is considered primarily beneficial, it also presents major social and environmental challenges. Learn how states are responding to the challenges of technological obsolescence.
Voting in the States
In a representative democracy like the United States, democratic participation is essential, yet only 35 percent of the adult population in the country votes regularly. Learn how states are trying to strike a balance between increasing voter security and encouraging citizens to vote.



Trends in America Reports

Trends in America cover
10 Forces of Change States Can't Ignore
Included in this 2007 publication are forecasts for the most important trends affecting state government such as demographic changes, state economic stresses, critical infrastructure problems, federal-state relations, energy and environment concerns, and much more.
Trends in America: Navigating Turbulence to Success
Navigating Turbulence to Success
This 2005 Trends in America report explores the range of options states considered in dealing with the rapidly changing 21st century and provides state-specific policy examples.
Trends in America: Charting the Course Ahead
Charting the Course Ahead
This 2005 report outlines the major long-term trends shaping society and their implications for state governments. The first in our Trends in America series, this report describes 10 major trends that will influence the direction of public policy in the next five years and beyond.