CSG East Housing Summit (March 2024)

CSG East will convene an inaugural housing summit to address the supply and affordability of housing, taking place in March 2024, and hosted by Connecticut at the state capitol in Hartford. Attendance is by invitation only.

This housing summit will bring together policy experts with an audience of state legislators to address the current shortage of affordable housing. The policy sessions during the summit will discuss the costs and financial solutions for developing affordable housing, creative solutions for where to build housing and the appropriate typology, zoning and land use reforms that could lead to increased production, and ways that various levels of government can work together on comprehensive housing strategies. Legislators will have an opportunity to discuss new bills and goals for upcoming legislative sessions. There will also be a site visit to an award-winning affordable housing apartment complex led by its development team.

Attendance is limited to two legislators from each jurisdiction of CSG East, who serve on their state’s housing committee. To join the waitlist, please email Joseph Shiovitz ([email protected]).

Pending SCOTUS Cases Could Strengthen Call for State Action on Climate and Energy in 2024

 

This year, the Supreme Court is set to hear two major cases over fishing rules that could impact the federal government’s broader ability to interpret and implement regulations in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Jarkesy. Depending on whether the Court decides to restrict the executive powers of federal agencies in these cases, we may see greater calls for state action in 2024 and beyond on issues relating to the energy transition and climate change.

At stake in both cases is the fate of the so-called “Chevron deference” doctrine—first articulated in the landmark 1984 decision of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. and cited in thousands of cases since its first issuance. The doctrine, which stipulates that courts should defer to reasonable federal agency interpretations of ambiguous laws, has served as a linchpin in administrative law and has set the terms governing the relationship between regulatory bodies and the judiciary. In essence, the doctrine prioritizes federal agencies’ technical expertise and experience when questions of interpretation present challenges to federal regulations, their implementation and their enforcement.

Now, nearly four decades years after its issuance, the Chevron doctrine is being challenged in Loper against the backdrop of the fishing industry’s opposition in Rhode Island and New Jersey to a regulation introduced in 2020 by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Relying on a present interpretation of a 1976 maritime law, the regulation requires industry vessels to carry and pay the salaries of overfishing monitors. A companion case, Relentless Inc. v. Department of Commerce, similarly originates from disputes over fishing regulations. In both cases, the Court’s rulings on the constitutionality of this now decades-old precedent will therefore have wide-reaching effects. As Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar stated in her amicus brief to the Court, “Overruling Chevron would be a convulsive shock to the legal system.”

What could these rulings mean for states? Where environmental regulations are concerned, the Court’s decision could, for instance, dramatically rein in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the nation’s chief regulator of electricity and natural gas transmission, placing a greater regulatory onus on states. By affecting FERC’s ability to use precedent to act decisively on climate change, these rulings could shift power from federal agencies to Congress and the courts. Crucially, they could also alter the balance of power between federal and state regulators in determining the cost of new fossil fuel infrastructure as global temperatures rise.

In a securities case, Jarkesy, the Supreme Court may hinder FERC—along with other federal regulators—from enforcing its own rules as it reviews the SEC’s authority to use in-house judges to handle regulatory enforcement proceedings. Depending on how the Court rules, the decision’s impacts could reverberate through FERC, the EPA, and other federal agencies that rely on in-house courts to adjudicate matters related to implementing and enforcing environmental regulations.

With federal regulators’ power to regulate emissions under threat, it may become more necessary than ever in 2024 for state governments to collaborate on regional solutions to climate change, environmental stressors, and the energy transition.

The Court’s rulings are expected sometime this summer.

In Memoriam: Former NH State Rep. Suzanne Smith

Former New Hampshire State Representative Suzanne Smith passed away over the weekend.

Suzanne served in the New Hampshire legislature from 2008 until her retirement in 2022, including on the Environment and Agriculture Committee, and was a long-time member of the CSG East Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

“She was an avid hiker and birder, and her love of nature was what drove her to sponsor many bills that helped to protect NH natural resources,” said Tara Sad and Bob Haefner, who both served in the New Hampshire legislature alongside Suzanne before joining CSG East.

“We had fun traveling with her to many CSG East and SARL meetings over the years and got to know her as a friend as well as a colleague,” said Sad. “She was a wonderful person and will be sorely missed.”

News of Suzanne’s passing was also reported by Paula Tracy at InDepthNH.org:

“Our amazing Suzanne—conservationist, birder, hiker, wildlife tracker, reader, scuba diver, singer, NH House representative, local library volunteer, and a friend to all, passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon,” [former state Rep. Joyce Weston] wrote to friends. “She was surrounded by her daughters and close friends.”

[…]

Smith was sponsor of bills on OHRV use, definitions for “wake” boats, greenhouse gas emissions legislation, composting, rail trail management, rural access to broadband and sponsored a bill in support of the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid which is being forced to move from the former Laconia State School property due to its pending sale.

Born in Green Bay, Wisc., in 1948, she was a copy editor and broadcaster and owned a natural food store from 1977 to 1998.

She was treasurer of the New Hampshire Audubon Pemi-Baker Chapter from 2008.

Smith was certified by the Council for Homeopathic Certification in 2002 and served as assistant editor/copy editor for the American Homeopathic Journal.

Suzanne was also a graduate of the CSG East Eastern Leadership Academy, class of 2013, and was active on the regional Energy and Environment committee. She was a frequent attendee at the Annual Meeting and will be sorely missed by CSG East members and staff alike.

Details of memorial or funeral services had not yet been shared as of Tuesday morning.

CSG East job opening: Program Manager, Eastern Trade Council

The program manager has primary responsibility for managing CSG East’s Eastern Trade Council (ETC) and providing support to the ETC board of directors (“Board”) and executing the directives from the Board. In addition to supporting the ETC, the program manager is responsible for providing policy analysis and research support, which includes monitoring, understanding, and sharing analysis on relevant state policy issues.

This position has work from home flexibility with preference to fill in the New York, NY area.

Apply here

How you apply:

If you’re interested in helping state trade directors facilitate trade in the Northeast, please upload the following elements with your application via the CSG employment portal:

  1. Cover letter explaining your interest in the position and CSG East. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered. (See this article from Indeed on how to write a simple cover letter.)
  2. Resume

CSG believes that pay equity and pay transparency advance workplace fairness. Compensation will be equitable and based on experience and education. The salary range for this position, based in New York City, is $90,000 to $115,000. This salary range is subject to change based on work location and market conditions.

Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to characteristics including but not limited to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status. CSG is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

 

What you’ll do:

Eastern Trade Council (ETC) responsibilities:

  • Recommend general policies and program initiatives for the ETC Board’s consideration.
  • Implement and monitor the administration of all policies and program initiatives adopted by the Board.
  • Plan, coordinate, and execute ETC trade missions, trade shows, seminars, and other trade development events as directed by the Board.
  • Prepare annual budgets for the Board’s consideration; monitor all expenditures for compliance with approved budgets.
  • Plan, coordinate, and execute quarterly board meetings, including budget and progress reports.
  • Secure, with assistance of the CSG East director, annual dues from ETC member jurisdictions.
  • Solicit private or public grants and corporate contributions; identify public and private sector partners to assist ETC in carrying out its goals and objectives.
  • Hire and supervise interns and oversee consultants as needed to carry out ETC projects in consultation with the Board.
  • Serve as the primary liaison for ETC with the CSG East Executive Committee, and report on the status of ETC projects and finances as required by the CSG East director.

Policy analysis responsibilities:

  • Maintain communication, conduct outreach, and establish rapport with policy committee and legislator members, as well as with federal, state, provincial, and local government officials, and representatives of other regional entities.
  • Participate in the planning, organizing, and convening of policy workshops, online webinars, technical tours, and state visits by identifying topics, arranging for speakers, supporting logistical planning, preparing information, and participating in such programs.
  • Develop and manage relationships with state officials and policymakers, including legislative and other governmental contacts.
  • Conduct policy research, surveys, and develop suggestions for the consideration by policymakers.
  • Prepare concise written responses to information inquiries initiated by members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
  • Contribute to Eastern Office publications, web-based resources, and social media efforts as directed.
  • Serve as member of other in-house teams as assigned.
  • Participate in/contribute to various CSG-wide activities.

What you’ll bring:

  • Bachelor’s or advanced degree in public policy, political science, international relations, or related field (additional relevant experience may be substituted for education requirement).
  • Three years’ experience in state government, public policy, association management, or related field.
  • Experience in international trade.
  • Research, writing, and policy analysis experience preferred.
  • Working knowledge of the legislative, executive, and judicial processes at the state level.
  • Experience working collaboratively with multiple partners, including having worked with public officials.
  • Appropriate interpersonal skills to build relationships with both internal and external partners to maintain open and frequent communication with international and state trade officials, as well as with legislators.
  • Knowledge of state and federal legislative processes.
  • Understanding of exporting, foreign direct investment, and current trends in international trade.
  • Excellent research, writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and be an approachable, collaborative member of a team.
  • Ability to organize, prioritize, and complete multiple projects in a detail-oriented manner.
  • Facility with Microsoft Office programs and computer competency.
  • Ability to travel by plane, train, and vehicle domestically or internationally, overnight, and for varying lengths, to fulfill duties and responsibilities as needed.
  • Ability to interact effectively with diverse people in different contexts and foster equity and inclusion through self-awareness, cultural sensitivity, and valuing others.
  • Dedication to public service with an unfailing commitment to act with civility, be nonpartisan in performing CSG duties, and be a responsible steward of member and donor funds.

Funding Housing Supports with Medicaid 1115 Waivers

Federal Medicaid funding is available for states to invest in housing supports using 1115 demonstration waivers. Medicaid 1115 Waivers grant states flexibility to design experimental pilot projects if they serve the general objectives of the Medicaid program. Although 1115 waivers may allow the most flexibility over program design, housing supports can be funded through a variety of Medicaid authorities, and states should determine which options best serve their intended outcomes.

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development advises states to consider the selection of target populations and the scope of housing services that will be provided under a Medicaid benefit.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published guidance on which housing services can be provided under the various programs.

Since 2020, CMS has increased its efforts to address social determinants of health (SDOH) and health-related social needs (HRSN), which includes housing stability. “These needs, when unmet, can drive lapses in coverage and access to care, higher downstream medical costs, worse health outcomes, and perpetuation of health inequities,” according to the agency. CMS also created the Healthy Adult Opportunity (HAO), under authority of section 1115(a)(2), providing states with more flexibility to provide coverage to some populations not otherwise eligible for Medicaid benefits.

Guidance from CMS on “Addressing Health-Related Social Needs in Section 1115 Demonstrations” includes the following list of available services and basic descriptions:

Intervention Description
1. Rent/temporary housing (+/- utilities) for up to 6 months Limited to: individuals transitioning out of institutional care or congregate settings; individuals who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or transitioning out of an emergency shelter as defined by 24 CFR 91.5; and/or youth transitioning out of the child welfare system
2. Traditional respite services Temporary, short-term relief for primary caregivers provided by an at-home provider, a health care facility, or an adult day center
3. Day habilitation programs & sobering centers For <24 hours, no room and board
4. Pre-tenancy & tenancy sustaining services Including tenant rights education and eviction prevention
5. Housing transition navigation services Including individualized case management
6. One-time transition & moving costs Including security deposit, first month’s rent, utilities activation fees, movers, relocation expenses, application and inspection fees, fees to meet identification requirements, etc.
7. Medically necessary home accessibility modifications & remediation services Including carpet replacement, mold and pest removal, and ventilation improvements
8. Medically necessary home environment modifications As needed for medical treatment and prevention, including air conditioners, heaters, air filtration devices, and generators
Source: https://www.medicaid.gov/sites/default/files/2023-01/addrss-hlth-soc-needs-1115-demo-all-st-call-12062022.pdf

States with Approved 1115 Waivers to Fund Housing Supports

CMS maintains a State Waivers List for approved and pending 1115 waivers, including application and approval documentation, along with other supporting materials. Approvals nationwide can also be found using KFF’s Medicaid Waiver Tracker.

A few states in the Northeast have recently been approved for housing support services:

CSG East 1115 Waivers including housing support
State Waiver Name Approved Housing Support
Massachusetts MassHealth 11/03/2023 (i) Pre-tenancy and tenancy sustaining services, (ii) transition navigation services, (iii) one-time transition and moving costs, (iv) medically necessary environment and accessibility modifications.
New Jersey FamilyCare Comprehensive Demonstration 9/13/2023 (i) Medically necessary environment and accessibility modifications, (ii) pre-tenancy and tenancy sustaining services, (iii) transition navigation.
Vermont Global Commitment to Health 11/21/2023 (i) Pre-tenancy and tenancy sustaining services, (ii) transition navigation, (iii) transition and moving costs, (iv) medically necessary environment and accessibility modifications.

New Provisions for HRSN services

Approvals for Massachusetts and New Jersey allowed both states to fund expanded services for health-related social needs, including housing supports. In each of the approval letters, specific services are described (see p. 118 for MA and p. 85 for NJ). Only specific populations are eligible, and strict protocols must be followed to implement and monitor the program.

Vermont’s Supportive Housing Assistance Pilot

The approval of Vermont’s waiver allowed the state to establish its Supportive Housing Assistance Pilot. The new program will fund assistance with locating and applying for housing, assistance with maintaining benefits, development of living skills, eviction protection services, help with security and utility deposits, and other additional services (see p. 134).

Vermont Legal Aid, a group in support of the program, called upon the legislature to offer perspectives on program design, help to track progress of program implementation, and, if necessary, help to make additional resources available in the program’s initial stages.

Applying for 1115 Waivers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides detailed guidance on the application process, while precise application procedures can be found in Sec. 431.412 of Medicaid’s Review and Approval Process for Section 1115 Demonstrations. In brief, applications must include:

  1. Comprehensive descriptions of the program, goals, and delivery system.
  2. Current enrollment data and projections.
  3. Research hypotheses in support of proposed changes.
  4. Evidence of budget neutrality.
  5. Compliance with public notice requirements.

States may also submit a pre-application concept paper or confer with CMS prior to submitting the application.

For state officials interested in applying for Medicaid 1115 Waivers, the first step is to contact your State Medicaid Agency.

Webinar Recap: State Measures to Improve Affordable Housing Access

States across the nation are facing housing shortages resulting in an affordability crisis, and the Northeast is no exception. Fewer new homes are being built now than prior to the Great Recession, according to national findings by Fannie Mae and a regional study by the Regional Planning Association.

As the cost to purchase or rent a home increasingly becomes out of reach for many, income inequality is rising in the United States. Median household incomes also fell in the aftermath of the Great Recession, contributing to a 15-year stagnation. It took until 2015 for median household income to climb back to where it was in 2000 (adjusted for inflation). The widening gap between high-income and low-income earners is being reflected in the market’s behavior. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that an increasing share of the limited new home construction is being built for the higher-cost market segment.

To unpack these challenges, CSG East hosted an affordable housing webinar on Tuesday, November 14 on “State Measures to Improve Affordable Housing Access.” Opening remarks were delivered by Peggy Bailey, the Vice President for Housing and Income Security at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who highlighted several ways states can influence housing affordability and access: “When it comes to housing, many of those policy choices can be mitigated at the state and local level, policies that can reverse redlining and improve residential integration, that direct resources to affordable housing and community development, and thinking about helping ease the capital costs that it takes to build affordable housing.”

Recommendations to states for improving affordable housing access include the following:

    1. Rental subsidy for low-income workers
    2. Expanding tenant-based protections to reduce evictions
    3. Talking with developers about financing challenges
    4. Addressing zoning laws and advancing inclusionary zoning
    5. Addressing the burdensome environmental review process

Ag Labor: Congressional Working Group Releases Interim Report Highlighting Challenges

On April 28 and 29, 2023, members of the CSG East Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy Committee gathered in Baltimore, Maryland, for a summit to discuss policy options for overcoming the challenges around labor shortages in the farm and food processing sector. At the summit, industry experts and government representatives discussed the problems currently facing the agricultural sector and possible solutions.

Since then, a Congressional Working Group, made up of members of the House Agriculture Committee, has published an interim report on the challenges agricultural producers and processors face in securing a steady and reliable source of labor. The bi-partisan working group, chaired by Congressmen Crawford (R-AK) and Davis (D-NC), issued the report, based on the results of five roundtable sessions and surveys.

An excerpt of the report is published below. Click here to read and download the full report.

 

Introduction

As Members of the House Committee on Agriculture, we are responsible for the authorization and oversight of federal policies critical to supporting farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, foresters, rural communities, and consumers. We also have a duty to be voices in Congress on issues and policies impacting the livelihoods of these constituencies, even if legislative jurisdiction rests in another committee or committees.

An urgent challenge facing the agricultural sector is producers’ lack of access to an adequate workforce. This has been a problem for decades, and it continues to worsen. Farmers in the U.S. are already reeling from record-high production costs that have translated into thin margins. The inability to find and hire workers is only exacerbating this negative trend.

In the summer of 2023, the House Committee on Agriculture formed the Agricultural Labor Working Group (ALWG) to identify the issues causing the lack of available domestic workforce, the impact this has on our nation’s domestic food supply, and the potential solutions to address this critical challenge. The ALWG has been engaged in a rigorous agenda and has received input from numerous stakeholders, employers, and workers around the country with a specific focus on the H–2A visa program for non-immigrant agricultural workers.

Food security is a national security issue. A large threat to America’s food supply is an unstable workforce available to deliver safe, affordable, and abundant food. This issue deserves the focused attention of the House Committee on Agriculture and the broader Congress and is a necessary undertaking to ensure the success of the agricultural industry for years to come.

Previous efforts to reform the H–2A program have been largely unsuccessful. But that does not mean the effort is over. In the coming months, the ALWG will utilize the information contained in this report, as well as past and future testimonials and information, to develop a final list of policy recommendations to refer to the committee of jurisdiction: the House Committee on the Judiciary.

This report is a summary of what we have heard from various stakeholders, the current state of affairs, and the bevy of issues that farm employers and workers face when utilizing the H–2A program. This report is intended to be a politically neutral document to inform policy makers rather than advocate for particular policy solutions. This report will:

    • Detail the many complexities and burdens employers and workers face that make the H–2A program more difficult to comply with and administer.
    • Cover the pros and cons of the possibility of expanded access to the H–2A program for various sectors, as well as impediments to hiring workers in a timely manner.
    • Describe the cost burden employers face and how participation in the program will impact labor expenses and profitability for producers as well as discuss the types of wage possibilities for domestic and foreign workers which may reflect regional and national economic trends.
    • Discuss the working and living conditions of H–2A workers, and their relationship with producers that use the program.
    • Reference testimonials from farmers, producers, employers, workers, and stakeholders from across the country who have contributed to our ALWG survey.
    • Provide a detailed accounting of problems with the H–2A program and the negative impacts these issues are having on our domestic food supply.

Food security is a national security issue. A large threat to America’s food supply is an unstable workforce available to deliver safe, affordable, and abundant food. This issue deserves the focused attention of the House Committee on Agriculture and the broader Congress and is a necessary undertaking to ensure the success of the agricultural industry for years to come.

 

SBA announces $19 million in grants for state trade development

Trade represents nearly 58 percent of the world’s $80 trillion economy—and 95 percent of the world’s consumers are located outside the United States, presenting an enormous opportunity for U.S. small business.

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was designed to assist states with increasing the number of small businesses that export — as well as the value of those exports, an important way for U.S. small businesses to grow revenue and boost local economies.

In September SBA announced a total of $19 million in grant awards to fund 46 state international trade agencies in the program’s ninth grant cycle.

The principal goal of the STEP program is to increase the number of small businesses exporting to foreign markets and to increase the value of those exports.

 

RPA – housing production is lower now than before the Great Recession

Housing production across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut remains lower than it was prior to the Great Recession, according to a report by the Regional Plan Association (RPA).

It found that building permits for housing units were down 7.5% during 2010-2022 (when 684,000 units were permitted) compared to 1997-2009 (when 741,000 units were permitted). Despite fewer homes being built, the population has increased faster since 2009, and these households are increasingly cost burdened by rents and mortgages.

The report also highlights a steep decline of mid-size (2-4 units) housing development as a major shortcoming. “The decline of mid-sized buildings partly explains the housing gap between the two time periods.” Read the full report here.

States discuss regional strategies to address PFAS

In recent years, a growing number of states have established policies to address contamination from per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), which have been used in the manufacture of thousands of products, including cookware, cosmetics, food packaging, carpets, and firefighting foams. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. One common characteristic is that PFAS do not break down in the environment or in our bodies – and hence, they have been dubbed “forever chemicals.”

During a panel discussion at the 2023 CSG East Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Maine State Representative Lori Gramlich described a situation that she called the “perfect storm.”

In November 2016, Fred Potter, a dairy farmer, learned that his water contained PFAS at levels that were two times higher than what the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency considered to be safe. Potter later learned that the PFAS contamination stemmed from the spreading of municipal sludge back in 1986. The PFAS levels were so alarming that Potter could no longer sell the milk produced by his dairy cows. He had to euthanize most of the herd. “And he and his family have been plagued with health problems ever since,” said Gramlich.

During Gramlich’s first term in the legislature in 2019, she learned about Potter’s experience from a colleague who represented his district. Since then, Maine has become a leader in addressing PFAS contamination. Governor Janet Mills created a task force bringing together state agencies and other stakeholders to explore the extent of PFAS contamination in the state and create a plan to address it. Gramlich, who serves as House chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, introduced several measures that have been enacted, including legislation that requires transparency from manufacturers who add PFAS to their products, and will compel them to phase out their use in Maine.

During the panel, Gramlich was joined by Rhode Island State Representative Terri Cortvriend, and Maryland State Senator Katie Fry Hester, who discussed efforts among them and their colleagues to assess the extent of PFAS contamination in drinking water, pesticides, and other products; remediate where possible; ban or phase out their use in a wide range of products; and promote safer alternatives.

Given the pervasiveness of PFAS contamination and broad concerns about how to protect communities from harm, several members suggested that CSG East organize a regional summit in the coming months, to convene officials from all three branches with a range of experts to explore alternatives to PFAS and discuss best practices.


CSG East looks forward to continuing this important conversation with our members going forward. You can sign up for future meeting notices via Constant Contact using this link.