In this four-part series, analysts at The Council of State Governments (CSG) examine areas that could create long-term impacts in the lives of American Citizens should the $1 trillion spending bill become law.
The $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB) proposes to allocate federal dollars to a multitude of projects. For example, $2 billion is designated for rural road expansion, bridges and surface transportation projects. BIB also provides $3 billion for the Tribal Transportation program over five years. The Tribal Transportation Program is the largest of the Office of Federal Lands Highway, receiving $505 million in Fiscal Year 2020, according to Public Law 114-94.
In July, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) joined the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, lauding the infrastructure plan as necessary because the nation’s infrastructure systems are unacceptable for a 21st Century economy.
However, a 2015 article from McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, points to potential negative ramifications of such large-scale infrastructure projects.
“The risks associated with megaprojects — those that cost $1 billion or more — are well documented. In one influential study, Bent Flyvbjerg, an expert in project management at Oxford’s business school, estimated that nine out of ten go over budget. Rail projects, for example, go over budget by an average of 44.7 percent, and their demand is overestimated by 51.4 percent. McKinsey has estimated that bridges and tunnels incur an average 35 percent cost overrun; for roads, it’s 20 percent. Given that many projects are approved with a 20 percent return on investment expected, this leaves governments to pick up the tab for the rest,” the article stated.
The article went on to assert such infrastructure project timelines often are underestimated and that these projects can often take 10 to 15 years to complete.
In addition, there is growing concern about delays caused by a shortage of skilled workers necessary to completing the projects. According to John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor Construction: “I’d be surprised if there’s any firm out there saying they’re ready for this. “We will have to staff up, and no, there are not enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.”
Overall, the timeline on some of these massive projects that will result from the Infrastructure bill that is currently sitting in the United States House of Representatives could potentially create more headaches in the immediate future — traffic jams and road closures — with final results decades away.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the nation’s mental health. Fortunately, this global pandemic has also placed a spotlight on both the long-standing challenges in providing mental health services and the programs, policies, interventions and legal remedies that have proven most effective in addressing those challenges.
As the pandemic entered its second year, The Council of State Governments (CSG) embarked on a nine-month partnership with The Commonwealth Fund to assemble this Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers. The goal of the project was to highlight the challenges and solutions across these four focus areas in mental health policy:
Social isolation and loneliness
Maternal mental health
Social determinants of mental health
Mental health insurance parity
To inform the content of this resource guide, CSG formed a 19-member advisory group made up of state legislators from six states, state executive branch health officials from eight additional states and subject-matter experts in each focus area. During a series of meetings in the spring and summer of 2021, the group heard presentations about existing research findings related to the challenges in each area and shared strategies for addressing them. The discussions were informed by the work of the CSG research team, which produced extensive research and policy scans for each focus area.
With oversight from The Commonwealth Fund and input from other stakeholders, CSG policy analysts and researchers drew on information gleaned during the advisory group sessions, those extensive summaries and additional research to produce the series of briefs that comprise this resource guide. Each focus area section includes:
A policy brief that succinctly defines the issue, considers the policy challenges and reviews the menu of legislative, programmatic and other opportunities available to policymakers based on previously enacted successful policies
A brief on approaches to data collection and analysis that advises policymakers on strategies to build research that is focused on the most effective interventions and that addresses how to emulate successful programs and how to implement experimental research designs for new programs
A case study brief highlighting a successful program, intervention, initiative or state law designed to address a particular negative outcome, often within a specific community, that has been championed by state policymakers or others
As the nation begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the strategies contained within this resource guide can help policymakers address the mental health challenges that have united many Americans during this time, despite differences in age, race, identity, geography, political leaning or cultural affiliation. These strategies — from the simplest to the most complex — can be an important step forward to further connecting individuals and communities, recognizing the importance of mental health to a collective future.
CSG Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers
On Wednesday, September 29, The Council of State Governments West (CSG West), during its 74thannual meeting in Colorado Springs, awarded the Bettye Fahrenkamp Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership on Behalf of Western States to the Honorable Federico F. Peña.
After graduating from the University of Texas, Austin, with both a bachelor’s and law degree, Peñapracticed law for several years before moving to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, he worked with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund focusing focused on civil rights and voting issues. In 1979 he won a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives where he quickly ascended to the role of minority leader.
After several years of legislative service, he ran a successful campaign to become the mayor of the city of Denver where he made history as the first Hispanic mayor of the city. During his time as mayor, he worked to advance several significant projects including the development of the Denver International Airport and the acquisition of a Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies.
After his service as mayor, Peña’s call to public service led him to the District of Columbia where he served in two cabinet appointments in the Clinton Administration: Secretary of Transportation and then Secretary of the Department of Energy. In addition to his public service, he has founded an investment advisory firm, served as a Managing Director of a private equity firm, and served on the boards of several public companies and non-profit associations.
The Fahrenkamp Award, which is awarded annually, recognizes leaders whose legislative careers demonstrate the ability to see and work beyond the border of their own states in the interest of the West. The award is named in honor of Bettye Fahrenkamp of Fairbanks, Alaska, who served with distinction in the Alaska State Senate from 1979 until her untimely death in 1991.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York resigned, effective Aug. 24, 2021. His Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul was installed as governor the same day.
What are the succession laws and processes in other states?
Forty-five states have an official office of lieutenant governor. Some states have a lieutenant governor who runs on a joint ticket with party gubernatorial candidates, while other states elect the lieutenant governor independently. In Tennessee and West Virginia, the senate president (elected by the chamber’s membership) holds the dual title of lieutenant governor.
In North Carolina, for example, according to general statute 147.11.1, “The Lieutenant Governor-elect shall become Governor upon the failure of the Governor-elect to qualify. The Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of the Governor. The further order of succession to the office of Governor shall be prescribed by law. A successor shall serve for the remainder of the term of the Governor whom he succeeds and until a new Governor is elected and qualified. (2) During the absence of the Governor from the State, or during the physical or mental incapacity of the Governor to perform the duties of his office, the Lieutenant Governor shall be Acting Governor. The further order of succession as Acting Governor shall be prescribed by law.”
From there, the president of the senate is charged with the duties of governor, followed by the state speaker of the house. This is generally the same process for the 44 other states with lieutenant governors, who must be able to fill in should the governor resign, be removed from office or pass away.
In Arizona, Oregon and Wyoming, the secretary of state is next in line to the governorship. In Maine and New Hampshire, the president of the senate is next in line for the governorship.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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
Date of Adoption
Alabama, California (out-of-state), Louisiana, Maine, and Oklahoma
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.