Associates in Action: Novartis to Partner with HBCUs and Med Schools for Health Equity

by Julianne Stahl 

Novartis, a CSG Associate, announced a 10-year collaboration to co-create programs that address the root causes of systemic disparities in health outcomes and create greater diversity, equity and inclusion across the research and development ecosystem. Project partners include Coursera, the National Medical Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Morehouse School of Medicine and 26 Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools (HBCUs). 

Leaders from these companies, organizations and learning institutions have signed a pledge to co-develop programs focused on building trust in the health care system with communities of color and making measurable progress towards health equity. The collaboration will focus on improving access to high-quality education, technology, improved health outcomes and promising jobs; increasing clinical trial and clinical trial investigator diversity; addressing inherent bias in the data standards used to diagnose and treat disease; and finding actionable solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect health among communities of color. 

Over an initial period of 10 years, the collaboration will focus on four key areas: 

  1. Enable the next generation of Black and African American leaders by creating equitable access to high quality education and professional development for future leaders in health science, technology and business-related fields. 
  1. Support the establishment of Digitally Enabled Clinical Trial Centers of Excellence, managed and led by clinical researchers of color, to build trust, increase diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials and contribute to improved health outcomes for people of color. 
  1. Research and validate existing data standards that drive diagnosis, clinical trial endpoints and population health policy to identify areas for increased inclusivity and ensure accurate data collection and unbiased treatment decisions. 
  1. Establish Digitally Enabled Research Centers on the impact of the environment and climate change on health to identify solutions to environmental and climate issues that disproportionately affect communities of color. 

As an initial step, the Novartis US Foundation plans to invest $20 million in scholarships, mentorships and research grants over the next 10 years to help create equitable access to high quality education and professional development for HBCU students in health-related fields. 

Administered by Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the program will train and prepare up to 1,200 students: 

  • Scholarships: Three-year scholarships of $10,000 a year for up to 360 students at select Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Medical Schools 
  • Mentorships: Novartis employee volunteers will mentor up to 400 HBCU students, including the scholarship recipients, for a period of three years each, for a total of up to 1,200 students. Students also will receive career readiness and leadership development training 
  • Internships: HBCU undergraduate and medical school students will be encouraged and supported to apply for the Novartis annual internship program 
  • Research grants: Competitive faculty research grant program offering up to ten grants of $25,000 each year to HBCU faculty, focusing on actionable solutions to health equity issues 

“At Novartis, we envision a world with equity in health for all. Just as there are a multitude of factors and causes behind racial disparities in health and education, there is no single solution to this critical challenge. It will take the concerted, urgent action of diverse stakeholders across the public and private sectors,” said Vas Narasimhan, MD, CEO of Novartis. ”We are honored and humbled to work together with these organizations to build enduring solutions to some of the most pressing, deeply rooted, and historic challenges in the United States, and we invite other like-minded companies and organizations to join us in creating this paradigm shift in health equity.” 

For more information about this commitment, please visit www.novartis.us.   

Infrastructure Impact: Ramifications of Product Shortages

In this four-part series, we examine areas that could create long-term impacts in the lives of people in the U.S. should the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending bill become law.

As the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, consumers are seeing substantial shortages of products and materials. For example, semiconductors, intel chips, and lumber are in high demand and short supply.

Semiconductors can be found in most modern-day electronics and are essential to the operation of nearly all vehicles on the road today.

Due to the pandemic, vehicle purchases decreased dramatically as unemployment increased and lockdowns reduced traffic. According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, automakers reduced production in the second quarter of 2020. However, semiconductor chips remained in high demand due to their use in health care, virtual learning and work-from-home efforts. As the economy began to rebound and car purchases increased, automakers need for semiconductors dramatically increased as well.

But the association notes that “this supply-demand imbalance cannot be remedied with the ‘flip of a switch.’” Semiconductor manufacturing is not suited to rapid and large shifts in demand, since it takes time to ramp up production. Making a semiconductor is one of the most complex manufacturing processes.

As competition for the limited supply of semiconductors increased, the shortage impacted personal computers as intel processors were in limited supply. Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Ian King reported the shortage was exacerbated by ongoing trade wars between China and the United States. “U.S. companies dominate the semiconductor industry as measured by sales and design,” King wrote. “But production, a vital element in determining the capabilities of chips, has shifted to Asia, where Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. have taken leadership.”

Intel Corporation’s CEO Pat Gelsinger told King the chip industry would not be back to healthy supply levels until 2023.

Since April 2020, the cost of lumber caused the price of an average single family home to surge $30,000, according to the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB).

“What is driving the increase in lumber prices are recent convergence of Canadian lumber tariffs, increase in demand for home remodeling and building of homes brought on by the pandemic and hiccups in supply related to transportation,” said Robert Bardon, a North Carolina State University professor of forestry and environmental resources and associate dean for extension at the College of Natural Resources.

Bardon expects lumber prices to return to normal levels as the U.S. comes out of the pandemic. Prices are already dropping, according to NAHB, returning to pre-pandemic levels beginning in July.

Infrastructure Impact: The Ramifications of Federal Spending

In this four-part series, we examine areas that could create long-term impacts in the lives of people in the U.S. should the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure spending bill become law.

One of the ramifications of large-scale federal spending is the risk of higher prices for goods and services. As more money is injected into the economy, consumer demand increases and supplies are strained, creating upward pressure on prices. The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 11 that “Consumer prices rose 5.4 percent in July from a year earlier.”

Prices for hotels, restaurants, groceries, and gasoline all increased from the month of June. However, some of the jump could be attributed to recovery from the economic shutdown as consumers release pent up demand for goods and services.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) found that costs rose 5.4 percent since last year. In July, the CPI rose 0.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis. And the index for all items, less food and energy, increased 0.3 percent in July; up 4.3 percent over the past year. As the economy recovers, businesses face worker shortages, placing inflationary pressure on wages. The Bureau reports: “Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, from March 2021 to June 2021. Over the year, total compensation rose 2.9 percent, wages and salaries rose 3.2 percent, and benefit costs rose 2.2 percent.”

As fear over the Delta variant of Covid-19 grows, The Washington Post reports prices will continue to rise. “For months, the Fed (Federal Reserve Board) and White House have said inflation will keep climbing as consumer demand surges while supply chains struggle to catch up. Their expectation is that as supply backlogs have time to clear, inflation will settle back down closer to the Fed’s 2 percent annual target,” the article reports.

The Council of State Governments continues to follow the latest updates on the infrastructure bill and has a full rundown of ways states can utilize potential funding and the impact that funding will have. To access our growing resources for state recovery, visit: https://web.csg.org/recovery.

How Do Emergency Responders Vote?

By Rachel Wright

When disaster strikes, first responders are on the front lines to protect vulnerable people and communities. But what happens if a disaster occurs close to an election? If emergency responders can’t vote in person, and if they’re unable to comply with traditional absentee voting deadlines and procedures, their ability to vote may be very limited.

Although many states have adopted general statutory provisions that facilitate voting among those who are experiencing a personal emergency, fewer have adopted provisions that specifically outline alternative voting procedures for emergency responders.

Currently, 11 states delineate alternative voting procedures for those who are called to work in response to an in-state or out-of-state emergency. Among these states, there is significant variation in the voting procedures afforded to emergency responders. These procedures can be broadly grouped as follows:

  • Extension of Uniformed and Overseas Citizen (UOCAVA) voting procedures
    • Extension of absentee ballot request period
    • General authority provided to the Secretary of State to take necessary measures to facilitate voting

Wyoming was the first state to adopt statutory provisions specifically delineating separate voting procedures for emergency responders. These measures were incorporated into statute in 1998. Virginia is the most recent state to adopt similar procedures, with legislation approved by the General Assembly in 2020. Currently, there is one bill in each house of the Minnesota legislature that would, if enacted, afford separate voting procedures to the state’s emergency responders.

Significant variation also exists in how states refer to and define emergency services workers in statute. Terms used range from “emergency services worker” in New Hampshire to “trained or certified emergency response providers” in Mississippi. Overall, few states provide explicit definitions of these terms and those that do refrain from listing specific qualifying professions as to not exclude those who may benefit from these provisions.

Statute often delineates which elected official has the authority to declare an emergency that permits alternative voting procedures for emergency responders to come into effect.

Most states recognize the authority of its Governor, any other state’s Governor, and the President. Three states don’t specify this authority while New York and Virginia recognize that of another “competent authority.”

Statutory Provisions – Date of Adoption

Apart from Wyoming, state adoption of legislation pertaining to voting by emergency responders has been a recent trend. In the mid-2000s, New Hampshire and California were among the first states to outline explicit procedures for emergency responders. The remaining eight states were soon to follow suit. Virginia is the most recent state to adopt such legislation, VA HB242, in in April 2020. Currently, there are two bills being considered in both Chambers of the Minnesota legislature, that if enacted would allow emergency responders to vote by absentee or UOCAVA ballot procedures. Figure 1: Date of Statute Adoption included below outlines the year in which each state adopted alternative voting procedures for emergency responders.

 Figure 1: Date of Statute Adoption

StateDate of Adoption
Wyoming1998
New Hampshire2006
California (in-state)2009
Alabama, California (out-of-state), Louisiana, Maine, and Oklahoma2013
Mississippi2014
New Mexico2015
New York2016
Virginia2020
MinnesotaPending

State Procedures for Voting by Emergency Responders

Extension of Uniformed and Overseas Citizen (UOCAVA) Voting Procedures

Four states — Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico and Virginia — extend uniformed and overseas citizen (UOCAVA) voting procedures to emergency responders. Of these states, Maine and Mississippi are the only to allow this group to utilize the Federal Post Card Application and Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot.

Extended Period for Ballot Request

Two states — New York and Oklahoma — permit an extended by-mail request period for emergency responders. For example, New York statute reads that an application or letter may be delivered to the Board of Elections “without regard to deadlines for the receipt of absentee ballot applications.”

California stands alone among the states in its provision of different procedures to emergency responders depending on whether they are called to work in response to an in-state or out-of-state emergency. Under California statute, personnel called in response to an out-of-state emergency are authorized to vote using a vote-by-mail ballot and to submit a request for this ballot even after the close of the application period specified for other by-mail voters.

General Authority Extended to the Secretary of State

Four states — Alabama, Louisiana, Wyoming and New Hampshire — delegate general authority to the Secretary of State to adopt the necessary procedures to facilitate voting among those called to work in response to an emergency. Potential measures include working closely with the state attorney general, local election officials and the United States Postal Service to ensure the timely transit and return of ballots.

Defining Qualifying Voters

Significant variation exists in state statute pertaining to the terminology used to define those covered by emergency responder provisions. Examples of terminology employed in the states include:

  • Emergency Services Worker (New Hampshire)
  • Trained or Certified Emergency Response Provider (Mississippi)
  • Emergency Responder (New York)

Four states — California, New Hampshire, New Mexico and New York — have provided definitions of those statutorily covered as emergency responders. Defining the term employed in statute provides clarity to who is exactly is covered. These definitions, however, refrain from specifying which professions are covered under statute, with the exception being New Hampshire.

New Hampshire statute does specify professions covered under emergency responder provisions (e.g., New Hampshire National Guard, utility workers, etc.). However, the statute provides authority to the Department of Safety to declare additional professions as emergency services workers. This serves to maintain clarity in the scope of the statute while not excluding those who are not traditionally considered emergency responders.

Declaring Authority

States differ in recognizing which elected official or officials have the authority to declare a state of emergency that allows for these alternative voting procedures to come into effect. In the states, a declaration of emergency is issued by the governor. At the national level, this authority rests with the president. The application of alternative voting procedures for emergency responders is often dependent upon the declaration of an emergency by one or a combination of these elected officials.

  • The majority of states analyzed recognize the authority of their state’s governor, any other state’s governor, and the president in declaring an emergency that permits the application of alternative voting procedures for those called to work in response.
  • Only three states — Louisiana, Oklahoma and Wyoming — fail to specify which public official has authority to permit the application of alternative voting procedures for emergency responders.
  • New York and Virginia are the only two states to recognize the authority of another “competent authority” to permit the application of these voting procedures.

The Council of State Governments Announces its 2021 20 Under 40 Leadership Award Recipients

Sept. 14, 2021

Contact:

The Council of State Governments

press@csg.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Council of State Governments Announces its 2021
20 Under 40 Leadership Award Recipients

Lexington, Ky. – The Council of State Governments is excited to announce the 2021 recipients of the CSG 20 Under 40 Leadership Award. This annual honor recognizes the outstanding work of 20 up-and-coming elected and appointed officials from across the country who not only exemplify strong leadership skills but have also demonstrated a true commitment to serving the citizens of their states.

“The state officials named to the 2021 class of The Council of State Governments 20 Under 40 Leadership Award represent a broad cross-section of the exceptional leaders that successfully govern our states,” said David Adkins, CSG executive director/CEO. “Those recognized this year come from diverse backgrounds, different political parties, different branches of state government and from every region of our country, but they share a singular commitment to make a difference for those they serve.”

Congratulations to these 20 leaders:

The Council of State Governments is a nonpartisan organization that brings state officials together to learn from each other and to craft solutions to today’s public policy challenges.

“The hard-working leaders recognized with the CSG 20 Under 40 Leadership Award have demonstrated the ability to productively collaborate to achieve consensus and produce results,” Adkins said. “While they may be young, their public service honors the oldest and best values of our democracy.”

Award recipients will be honored at the 2021 CSG National Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico in December.

To learn more about the 20 Under 40 Leadership Award, visit web.csg.org/20-40/.To learn more about The Council of State Governments, the nation’s only nonpartisan organization serving all three branches of state government, visit csg.org.

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Supreme Court Adds Spiritual Advisor Lethal Injection Case to its Docket

In Ramirez v. Collier the U.S. Supreme Court may decide whether Texas prison officials violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by disallowing John Henry Ramirez’s spiritual advisor to vocalize prayers and lay his hands on Ramirez as Ramirez is executed by lethal injection.

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Statement by David Adkins, Executive Director and CEO of The Council of State Governments on the Observance of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Terror Attacks of Sept. 11, 2001

Sept. 11, 2001, dawned as a beautiful day with the kind of clear sky aviators describe as “severe clear.”  Beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time that blue sky would darken as the first plumes of smoke began rising from what would become the worst terrorist incident in U.S. history. 

When the two iconic towers of the World Trade Center fell that morning, over 2,600 people from 90 countries perished. The Council of State Governments office, located in a nearby World Trade Center building, would also be destroyed. Thankfully, no CSG employees perished or were physically injured in the attacks. The New York City offices of The Council of State Governments would be relocated many times in the years following the attacks, but our resolve to stay in the financial district of New York City remained steadfast. 

Twenty years hence, The Council of State Governments remembers that dark day. We remember the lives lost in New York City, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the 40 brave passengers and crew members who perished aboard United Flight 93 when it was brought down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  

We also remember the unforgettable personal experiences of the men and women who found themselves caught at the center of an unprecedented human event. And we commemorate the spirit of all those who came together across the globe in the wake of the attacks to serve others.  

We honor the memory of the 344 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers and other helpers who gave the last full measure of devotion on that day. We remember the more than 3,000 children who lost a parent in the attacks. We remember the 55 members of the armed services who were killed at the Pentagon that day. We reflect on the incredible bravery of the passengers of Flight 93 who, surely knowing their lives would be lost, chose to overtake the hijackers and, in doing so, likely prevented their plane from being flown into the seat of our nation’s government, the United States Capitol. In all, nearly 3,000 people would die as the innocent victims of this unspeakable violence.   

On 9/11 many sacrificed, and many served and many were called to serve. From the ashes of the attacks, the stories of countless every day Americans performing extraordinary acts of service emerged. The nation came together, united in compassion and resolve. It is this part of the legacy of 9/11 that continues to call all of us to honor our obligations as citizens and to give selflessly of ourselves in service to others.  

The CSG New York office is now located just a block from Ground Zero. I have taken the short walk to the National September 11 Memorial many times during my visits to our office. Each time, I reflect on the magnitude of loss and think of all those who continue to face health challenges because of the events of that day.  

Our states and nation face considerable challenges. On this twentieth anniversary commemoration of the attacks of 9/11, we, as citizens, can honor the victims of 9/11 and further their legacy by rededicating ourselves to serve the common good, by condemning hate in all its forms, by reaching out to our neighbors in need, by honoring those who serve in harm’s way in our stead and by comforting those who have suffered loss. We have the power to confront those who wish our nation harm by doing all in our power to preserve, protect and defend democracy and the rule of law.  

Two decades later, the enormity of the events of 9/11 still defy comprehension, but this much is clear, in the wake of one of the most horrific events in our nation’s history, countless, vivid examples of the best of America emerged. I recall seeing the words, “United We Stand,” proudly displayed throughout the U.S. in the weeks and months following the attacks. As we remember 9/11, let us now each pledge to do our share of the hard work necessary to unify our country, knowing that when Americans come together as one nation, nothing can stop us. 

May God bless the memory of those who perished because of the events of 9/11 and may God bless The United States of America.  

David Adkins 

The Entertainment Software Association Launches Initiative with Black Girls Code to Expand Opportunities for Young Women Interested in Tech

by Julianne Stahl 

In March, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a CSG Associate, announced a $1 million, multi-year initiative with the ESA Foundation and Black Girls CODE (BGC) to support educational and mentoring programs for girls and young women interested in technology. The initiative boosts BGC’s mission of teaching coding and technology skills to one million girls and young women by 2040. Black Girls CODE introduces computer programming and technology to girls ages 7 to 17 by providing workshops, hackathons and after-school programs. Areas of focus include web design, robotics, game development, mobile app development and more. 

“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Our industry is committed to expanding opportunities in our sector by working to grow talent and spark interest and excitement for STEAM careers, especially for those from underrepresented groups,” ESA President, CEO and ESA Foundation board chair Stanley Pierre-Louis said. “Since the ESA Foundation’s mission focuses on diversity as a central tenet, it is ideally positioned to lead, develop and manage this industry initiative and bring to life our partnership with Black Girls CODE. Our goal is to attract more girls and young women into software coding and related technology fields. We look forward to celebrating the success stories of these young women as they develop their skills and become technology leaders in the video game industry and beyond.” 

According to ESA’s “2021 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry,” the video game player community identifies as 45% female and 55% male. Among the community, 73% identified as ethnically white and only 8% identified as Black or African American. The commitment of the ESA and Black Girls CODE introduces an expansion of representation for young women from underrepresented backgrounds to explore the video gaming industry among other technology-related fields early on in their life.  

“The partnership between the ESA Foundation and Black Girls CODE is tailor-made for this moment,” ESA Foundation Executive Director Anastasia Staten said. “We believe our program will have a lasting impact on girls and young women who otherwise might never have considered careers in the video game industry. And the most exciting part for me is that, beyond their generous financial support, some of the world’s leading video game companies and their teams are committed to mentoring young women in ways that will open up opportunities to explore STEAM careers and create entertaining video games that all of us will want to play.” 

The partnership includes direct financial support as well as investments in volunteer time and other industry resources to support curricula, workshops and mentorships. For more information, about the Entertainment Software Association, visit www.theesa.com.