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New Mexico secretary of state works collaboratively to improve elections for Tribal communities.
By Lexington Soures
When New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver served as Bernalillo County clerk, she learned firsthand the challenges of translating election language. In the Navajo Nation, where Diné bizaad is spoken, no direct translation exists for Republican or Democrat.
When Toulouse Oliver attended her first Navajo Nation chapter meeting, she learned more about how election and political terms may differ from community to the next. While one community may identify a Democrat as a “donkey rider,” another may use the phrase “someone who walks with a donkey.” This experience led her to prioritize word choice.
“That was that was one of the big, mind-blowing things for me — how do we communicate,” Toulouse Oliver asked. “What terminology do we use even within the context of the Navajo language to make sure that that idea is communicated accurately? That is one of our big challenges.”
Toulouse Oliver acknowledged that assimilation and language eradication occurred in many Native communities. However, some voters maintain a traditional lifestyle.
“I have people in New Mexico that live in hogans with no running water and no electricity,” Toulouse Oliver said. “They live their very traditional way of life and that has not changed in their lifetime. So, what do we want to do? Leave these folks behind when it comes to the voting process? No, we have to come to them.”
Before 1948, the New Mexico Constitution did not allow certain Native people to vote. Miguel Trujillo, a member of the Pueblo of Isleta and a World War II Marine Corps veteran, then stepped in to challenge the constitution’s language. Prior to Trujillo coming forward, voting rights were denied to Natives who did not pay private property taxes on reservations despite having paid all state and federal taxes. With the right to vote eventually secured, Native voters faced limited access to voting locations and a lack of translated voting materials that included instructions, notices and even ballots.
While some counties complied with federal law and Department of Justice intervention, others were slow to adapt their processes.
“There’s sort of a history of really needing to get with it in terms of complying with federal law,” Toulouse Oliver said. “Fast forward to today, we have one letter of agreement left in existence for one county. We have the Native Voting Task Force in my office and then we passed the Native American Voting Rights Act this year.”
This year, New Mexico’s Legislature passed HB 4, covering a variety of voting rights issues including the first Native American Voting Rights Act. The bill expands a nation, tribe or pueblo’s ability to apply for amended voting locations and a secure ballot drop box, and allows voters to use government buildings as their mailing address.
“We gave them the opportunity to ask for and receive a secured monitor container, also known as a drop box, for once they receive that ballot, especially if they receive it at that tribal government building,” Toulouse Oliver said. “They can also deposit the ballot back at the government building. They don’t necessarily need to send it back through the mail.”
Local tribal governments were also provided much more flexibility through the bill. As a result, they can now establish the site of their polling locations, in addition to choosing where and how long early voting takes place.
“We’re hoping all of those things go a long way towards really improving some of those ballot access challenges,” Toulouse Oliver said.
Implementation is the secretary of state’s next major challenge. She and her office plan to provide resources to Native communities that include the new options and work to determine what is best for each community.
Otero County Clerk Robyn Holmes said the bill helps solve some challenges her county faces, such as a central address for ballot delivery. Otero County has around 12,196 Native voters who live on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.
“We work as county clerks with the Secretary of State’s Office and we come up with things that we feel will help voter outreach and get people out to vote,” Holmes said. “For that, we get along very well with our secretary of state. Our legislator’s listen to us and subsequently they pass the laws.”
Holmes said this hasn’t always been the case, though. However, over time, and despite party differences, clerks and legislators have been able to work together with Toulouse Oliver to communicate voters’ needs.
“We’ve been very fortunate with the offices of the secretary of state and clerks working so well together. It’s not always perfect, but for the most part, we can work it out and make it work for everybody,” Holmes said. “It’s different when you have large cities in one county and then you have very small, rural counties with two people working in their offices. It’s hard to implement bills and policies and procedures exactly the same for everybody.”
Toulouse Oliver recognizes that policy cannot be copied and pasted between New Mexico’s 23 federally recognized tribes, who speak eight different languages. The Native American Voting Rights Task Force was created in 2017 by the secretary of state to better connect with the needs of New Mexico’s three main tribes, including the Navajo Nation, the Pueblos and the Apache Tribes. The task force has representation from all of these groups, as well as an urban Native representative, but limits membership to a few members to remain productive. Members collaborate to inform the Secretary of State’s Office on areas of outreach and improvement, in addition to useful and appropriate language and messaging.
“We don’t want to copy and paste, first of all,” Toulouse Oliver said. “We don’t want to treat all of our tribal areas the same and all of the individuals because they have different cultures, different languages.”
While Holmes doesn’t need to translate ballots, her office does translate the portion of the proclamation affecting the reservation. These translations are recorded and played through the local radio station.
Because each tribe has a unique voting culture, including who can vote and what positions are open for election, it is important to approach each tribe with their culture in mind, according to Toulouse Oliver.
“There are just so many culture and language ins and outs that, as a white woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, I am not the expert, nor am I ever going to try to be, nor am I ever going to try to superimpose what I think works in tribal areas,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I want folks to tell us what works in [their] community. What creative ideas do you have? How can we invest in those? How can we live those? That’s kind of the work that [the task force members] do.”
Despite progress, Native voters continue to face challenges, including limited ballot collection services, language translation and the digital divide. A report by the Native American Rights Fund found voting barriers typically fell under 11 categories, including geography, infrastructure concerns, nontraditional addresses and IDs, and the digital divide. The 2020 report found only 66% of eligible native voters across the nation are registered.
Toulouse Oliver uses buildings of cultural importance, like chapter houses in the Navajo Nation, to help increase access to polling locations.
“We use schools, we use other public buildings where available, but even then, you’re often talking about an individual having to drive 50 to even as many as 200 miles to get to the nearest in-person polling place,” Toulouse Oliver said. “We’re trying to expand — as much as we can — mobile early voting units [that travel] to these communities to be there for two or three days to a week during the early voting period.”
Because many who live on reservations receive their mail at a post office box or reside in remote, nontraditional areas without valid U.S. mailing addresses, New Mexico law allows voters to describe their addresses.
“We’ve done a really good job in New Mexico for years at addressing the issue of not having a standard physical address,” Toulouse Oliver said. “You can literally draw a map, write a description or say, ‘I live three streets down from the giant cottonwood tree after you get off of the exit at Highway 85.’”
While voters are able to describe their address, this can be challenging when ballots or other voting materials need to be delivered. Toulouse Oliver said mail delivery can be infrequent, or that individuals may not receive mail at their home. In New Mexico HB 4, the Legislature addressed issues regarding ballot delivery, allowing individuals to use their local tribal government building as an individual’s mailing address. Toulouse Oliver said this eases the process because the U.S. Postal Service delivers to every tribal government building in the state.
“One good thing that came out of this last session was that the Legislature passed the law that on reservations they could have one location, like at their community center or wherever they designate,” Holmes said.
“They’ve created this law that allows our reservation to say, ‘Anybody that wants to request a ballot that was on the reservation, you can have it mailed back to our community center and we’ll get it to you,’ as opposed to going to their address where apparently they feel like they don’t get their mail all the time.”
Native voters living in urban areas face challenges that are different than those on reservations. Based on the population, some urban areas are required to have translated ballots or a translator on call. Many urban native voters have access to broadband internet and are aligned with their nonnative neighbors, but there may be more cultural challenges.
“I think there is a particular part of the Native community that may live physically within an urban area. They live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Gallup, New Mexico, or Farmington, but they still consider their whole chapter and maybe their parents’ or their grandparents’ residence [to be] where they actually live, where they are from,” Toulouse Oliver said. “In many ways, it’s interesting to see our urban Native voters needing to go back to that place of origin in order to vote or to apply for and get an absentee ballot. The challenge there then is just going like we would do with any other group. What is what makes you interested in wanting to vote? How can we make it easier for you to register and get your ballot?”
Another challenge is the size and resources available for some communities. A tribal community’s size or economic resources may lead them to be more invested in federal elections, or the opposite may be true. Toulouse Oliver added that opinions on the importance of elections may differ even within communities, increasing the challenges of civic education.
Many of these smaller communities also struggle with access to broadband connectivity or phone service. This creates an additional challenge for election officials.
“How do we make sure those voters have information and access to the ballot box in the same way that a voter who lives in Gallup or Shiprock,” Toulouse Oliver said. “Those are the kinds of challenges we’re trying to navigate.”
One program tackling this challenge is the Native American Election Information Program. Created in 1988, the program facilitates voter education programs in counties with the largest Native populations. The program educates communities on the election process, upcoming elections, and provides election assistance for both tribes and county clerks to ensure compliance with federal and state law.
Toulouse Oliver increased the number of staff to better cover the needs of Native communities. The liaisons translate necessary documents into both the appropriate language and the correct media. For example, publication requirements necessitate the use of radio in some communities.
“It’s a lot of work for two people, but they do an amazing job,” Toulouse Oliver said. “They’re the ones who are physically out there in the communities, hearing from those tribal leaders on what they need, what we need to be doing better and what is something that they need from us versus what is something they need from county government. Sometimes we can all three work together to get something accomplished.”
In counties with a larger Native population, a tribal liaison works with the county clerk to provide tools or resources. As well, while not required, each Native community hires poll workers from their community. These workers provide a cultural connection and can help with any language or assistance needs. Toulouse Oliver said this lessens the stress and intimidation of voting, especially for new or infrequent voters.
Holmes said she does not work with a liaison, but she has built close relationships with community members, like an attorney on the reservation. For voter drives, a member of the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office joins Holmes’ office.
“I’m friends with the attorney up there,” Holmes said. “We make sure we have an open dialogue between us. If they need anything or if we need something, [we’re both very good to accommodate each other].”
Looking ahead, Toulouse Oliver hopes to expand her office’s work with the Native community. A facilitator will join the Native American Voting Task Force to help the group explore programs and funding for the future. Toulouse Oliver said the successes, or failures, of this “regearing” phase will determine future programs.
The work of the Secretary of State’s Office with the Native community can, in a larger sense, be applied to other minorities. Toulouse Oliver said that while not all marginalized communities may face the same challenges, other voters benefit from the lessons learned from listening to communities’ needs and allocating appropriate resources to them.
“As an elected official, you have to be open to saying, ‘You tell me what you think your community needs. I’m not here to tell you what I think it needs,’” Toulouse Oliver said. “If it’s not me, who can I give tools and resources to that are needed to be that person, that messenger. Not all marginalized communities have the same challenges. [We’re] not just taking that cut and paste approach.”
Facing social media’s rapid advancement, the Great Lakes state sets the tone with support from a multitude of resources and strategies
By Trey Delida
It’s safe to say that social media has impacted nearly everyone’s day-to-day lives, both personally and professionally. This decades old technology — now dating back to 1997 — has permanently altered the way we communicate, share and receive information.
As rapid advancements in the field continue, government organizations remain in pursuit of fully understanding social media, its ever-changing nature and all it has to offer, while simultaneously trying to reap the benefits of its dominance in society.
In 2023, there are approximately 308 million social media users in the United States alone. So, how do state governments intend to continue navigating this growing, dynamic juggernaut?
When looking at the states, there is one that seems to have its finger on the pulse. Boasting millions of followers across its platforms, the state of Michigan’s award-winning social media program utilizes a plethora of tools to engage, support and provide processes for staff managing social media accounts across its many state departments.
Michigan was ahead of the curb when it came to embracing social media, even adopting a statewide “Social Media Day,” celebrated annually on June 30. The Great Lakes state was one of the first states to adopt a centralized social media strategy for its executive branch departments, which now supports more than 300 staff managing more than 800 state-affiliated accounts across 11 different platforms.
According to Andrew Belanger, statewide social media director and digital content administrator with the state of Michigan, the state’s centralized governance strategy for social media has been key to fostering a proactive statewide digital footprint.
“We believe governance is an important element to a strong and proactive social media program,” Belanger said. “Over the years we have developed numerous statewide resources that support our program and provide guidance to our agency teams as they manage their accounts.”
Through such resources, Belanger’s team established a statewide social media standard, developed social media guidelines and best practices, hosted routine trainings, and standardized many processes across the state that were once decentralized across agencies.
“From a centralized governance perspective, our program resources and processes have been helpful in establishing a baseline for our staff and our activities on social media,” Belanger said. “We reference these resources daily as our teams share content and engage with residents across the state, nation and globe.”
Michigan was one of the first to establish statewide social media policies, issuing its “Social Media Standard” in 2011. That particular document created guidelines for any state-affiliated account and established best practices for creating and using state-affiliated social media accounts.
The standard outlines everything state social media professionals may need, including how to request an account, properly deactivate or close an account, and how to recognize content that may be at risk for violating community and state guidelines.
“In addition to our social media standard, we created a social media guidelines book containing things that are subject to change based on platform functionality and best practice,” Belanger said. “The guidelines book addresses and outlines processes, shares tips and tricks and best practices, and helps guide staff as they manage their accounts and share content.”
Belanger added the state also developed statewide social media community guidelines and a customer use policy that identifies criteria for content moderation. The criteria are used for staff who are monitoring and engaging with user-generated content that may potentially violate state policy or the terms and conditions of a specific platform.
“Standardizing our community guidelines and customer use policy across agencies was a game changer for our agencies,” Belanger stated. “Independent of where staff work and what programs and services they support, our application of consistent statewide guidelines, and criteria, helps promote a unified user experience as users reach out and engage with us across agencies, platforms and accounts.”
Since 2016, Belanger has overseen the state’s entire social media program, including branding, best practices, training and enforcing statewide social media policies and standards. His support of government social media has led to him being featured in publications like USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, U.S. News World & Report and more.
One of Belanger’s first projects was to establish a social media governance board. Now known as Michigan’s Statewide Social Media Governance Council, the council, comprised of members from all state departments and agencies, support him in guiding policy, branding, best practice, education and scaling of social media for the state.
“We found that it’s really important to have that regular touchpoint with all of our teams so they can provide feedback and suggestions on policy, training and best practice,” Belanger said. “During our council meetings, we also have dedicated time set aside to provide support and discuss content collaboration, and how we can best partner on interagency campaigns and high-level messaging coming out of the governor’s office.”
As part of Michigan’s effort to provide structure and support for agencies across the state, they are regularly reviewing and updating their approach to ensure they adhere to industry best practices. They continually monitor policies, standards and practices in other states, the federal government, and those of community partners and local governments.
“We are always looking for opportunities to improve our standards, guidelines and strategies to best meet our business needs and the needs of our constituents,” Belanger said. “Through the council, our collaborative approach to social governance, our commitment to service delivery and our focus continues to be on our users. We seek to provide users with the information they need on the platforms where they feel most comfortable.”
With streamlined processes in place, partnered with open lines of communication, Michigan maintains consistency with its digital footprint while ensuring the people who are running these social media accounts are equipped with the information, they need to create successful, on-brand content.
Consistent messaging is essential for public sector institutions. In a world where news can break to millions of people at any given moment, it is important for states to be able to tell their story and be able to share dependable information in real-time.
Social media is used as a daily source of news by 50% of Gen Z, 44% of millennials, 39% of Generation X and 24% of Boomers, according to a Morning Consult poll published in August 2022 and later reported by Statista. That same source reported that U.S. Congress members were utilizing social platforms heavily, sending out 477,586 posts on X, formerly Twitter, in 2021.
“Social media has played an important role in government communications over the last decade — we’ve seen it,” Belanger said. “Now, more than ever, we see the immediate impact it can have in disseminating information in real time. Whether it’s in times of crisis, a natural disaster, a public safety situation or public health emergency, social media will continue to play an important role in government communications.”
Belanger credits state leadership for recognizing social media’s value, which allowed Michigan to become one of the first states to embrace social media and roll out their policies.
“For a successful social media program, it’s important to have leadership buy-in and understand the value and the benefits that social media can provide,” Belanger said. “Being able to enhance transparency, communication, customer service, collaboration and information exchange in real-time and in times of crisis can help humanize the people, programs and services that government agencies provide.”
When it comes to developing these processes, Belanger said it starts by bringing people together, asking questions and sharing information.
“If you’re not having conversations with your team, other agencies or departments, start having them,” Belanger said. “Start by asking questions: What are other agencies doing? What do they have in place? How can we partner and collaborate?”
These questions can be a starting point for reviewing or updating your agency’s social media resources. As Belanger put it, social media is here and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Just like organizations and businesses across the globe, there is potential for governments to leverage this technology to connect and better serve their public.
“The platforms and the strategies we use may change, but the idea of connecting and exchanging information, engaging with our constituents, is not going to go away,” Belanger said. “We need to adapt and evolve as the social landscape continues to change.”
Fifty-seven pieces of licensure compact legislation enacted in 2023; 290 enacted since 2016.
By Jessica Thomas and Kaitlyn Bison
A recent uptick in the number of newly enacted licensure compacts has come as result of support from both sides of the aisle. The rise in these compacts, which establish mutual agreement between member states for professional licensure, offer state legislatures an opportunity to safeguard state sovereignty while also ensuring the quality and safety of services.
Since 2016, 290 pieces of licensure compact legislation have been enacted and, to date, 46 states, Washington, D.C., and three territories have enacted licensure compact legislation. A total of 15 professions currently have a compact available to states for enactment. In 2023, 57 pieces of compact legislation were enacted, with six new compacts becoming available for states to enact.
The National Center for Interstate Compacts, housed within The Council of State Governments, played a role in the development of all active licensure compacts. Through the work of NCIC, as well as policymakers sponsoring compact-related legislation, licensees in compact member states can more quickly obtain authorization to practice and get to work in other member states.
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR WORKFORCE ADVANCEMENT
Compact legislation has experienced success in states with majorities from both sides of the aisle, while also having been sponsored by legislators from both parties. Support for state workforces proved to be a unifying theme among sponsors of 2023 compact legislation.
Rep. Michelle Caldier, a Washington Republican elected into the House in 2014, was grateful for the bipartisan support she received when sponsoring the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact, which is recognized in Washington as HB 1576. Resolving workforce issues in the state, especially within health care, has been a priority.
“I think trying to resolve Washington’s workforce issues is one of those things — across the board — that we acknowledge as one of the state’s goals,” Caldier said. “Breaking down the borders and allowing people from other states to come in and practice easily was one we could get a win on, so that was one of my focuses.”
Bipartisan support led to the enactment of the Cosmetology Compact bill in Arizona, where the successful HB 2049 was sponsored by Republican Rep. Tim Dunn.
“This is a bipartisan bill that promotes the flexibility for stylists to move between states,” Dunn said. “Arizona has a lot of winter visitors, and this could provide work for them when they visit.”
In Indiana, Democratic Sen. J.D. Ford coauthored both SB 251 ‚ the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, and SB 160, the Counseling Compact. In addition to highlighting the bipartisan sponsorship of these bills, he explained ways in which he collaborated with his counterparts in the Indiana General Assembly to learn about and address community health needs.
“Access to care isn’t a partisan issue, it impacts all communities,” Ford said. “I think we were able to really come together well in that common goal with these compact bills.”
MILITARY FAMILY BENEFITS
Legislators often mention how compacts break down barriers for military families who move frequently and face challenges working in a licensed profession. Without a licensure compact, both military members and their spouses must navigate each state’s process for licensure.
Nebraska Sen. Carol Blood, a Democrat motivated to sponsor several compacts, believes they offer many benefits and opportunities to military families.
“Interstate compacts benefit others in specific licensure areas, but the reason I started working with these compacts is because of our military families,” Blood said. “Military families tend to move every two to three years, which means new schools, new doctors, new homes and more. This is one less headache for these families to deal with.”
Due to the increased military support, the Department of Defense facilitated the development of interstate compacts as a mechanism for ensuring the portability of professional licenses for military spouses. In September 2020, the Department of Defense entered into a cooperative agreement with CSG to fund the creation of new interstate compacts designed to strengthen licensure portability.
“[Compacts] are very positive for military partners who move to our state and people who are moving out of active service but want to continue working in a field where they are already licensed in another compact state,” said Colorado Rep. Mary Young.
Many sponsors of compact legislation were licensed professionals themselves. The sponsors of Colorado HB 23-1064, the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, worked in the field of education and understand the barriers teachers face.
Young, a Democrat and former special education teacher and school psychologist, noted having her own experience with barriers to licensure as a teacher upon moving to Colorado. She admired efficiency and ease that compacts brought to licensure and wanted teachers moving to Colorado to remain in the profession.
“With the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, we can ensure that teachers who want to come to Colorado can do so,” said Colorado Rep. Meghan Lukens, a Democrat and former social studies teacher. “Giving teachers
the flexibility to live and work in any state in the compact benefits everyone. This compact will help incentivize teachers to stay teachers because of the flexibility that is provided to move to other states.”
As a former dentist, Caldier, like Lukens and Young, was also familiar with the compact profession she sponsored. She also recognized the need for license mobility and the need to address the shortage of dental hygienists in Washington. Although she continues to support the field of dentistry, Caldier’s support of compacts extends to other professions as a cosponsor on the Counseling Compact, the Nurse Licensure Compact and the Occupational Therapy Compact.
Licensure Compact Enactments by State and Territory
Licensure compacts for health care professions can bring an added benefit to states: access to telehealth services. Ford said that compacts can “provide us with the opportunity to have more providers move to Indiana, but also greatly expand telehealth opportunities when you can meet with specialists in other states.”
Much of the general population can benefit from the increase in telehealth that compacts present. Communities that do not have access to health care providers, as well as people with low mobility due to a lack of public transportation or low accessibility, can all benefit from a rise in telehealth.
Of the 15 available licensure compacts, Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, Counseling, Occupational Therapy and Social Work include provisions specific to telehealth.
Blood offered the example of Nebraska LB 1034, the Psychology Compact, as psychology is a licensed profession. If a patient moves or travels to a different state than where their psychologist is licensed, their care can be stalled or halted.
“Prior to that compact, Nebraska psychologists could not legally counsel someone over the phone if they were to have a mental health crisis in another state because that psychologist would not be licensed in that state,” Blood said. “With the compact, if the psychologist belongs [to the compact] as well as the state the patient is calling from, that psychologist can provide care for their patient.”
With the rise of telehealth and telemedicine, compacts are an important tool to meet the needs of patients. As more states join compacts, the pool of providers grows, and patients access to care expands.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR INCREASED STATE INVOLVEMENT
Legislators developed key takeaways throughout the process of introducing and enacting compact legislation. Attending informative events, involving key stakeholders, and working with colleagues from all parties enabled success.
Several legislators noted how collaborative convenings, such as the CSG National Conference, are useful for learning from other leaders who have sponsored compact legislation. At the 2022 CSG National Conference, Caldier learned about the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Compact while Kansas Sen. Pat Pettey was impressed by discussion on the Teacher Compact.
Pettey, a Democrat, and Washington Republican Sen. Ron Muzzall both suggest involving others, including other legislators and members of boards and professional associations.
“Engage stakeholders on an individual basis and engage with Department of Defense and organizations dedicated to supporting military spouses,” said Muzzall, who introduced Washington SB 5219, the Counseling Compact.
As the sponsor for Kansas SB 66, the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, Pettey recommended looking at compacts with an open mind.
“Take note of compacts your state may already be involved in,” Pettey said. “Make sure that you talk to other legislators on either side of the aisle about the legislation that you are considering introducing, as well as talking to your state board of education and your teachers’ associations. Doing early work to make contact with other parties will be helpful for when they actually introduce [legislation].”
More information on compacts can be found at the following website: compacts.csg.org. Policymakers interested in sponsoring a licensure compact can reach the National Center for Interstate Compacts via email at [email protected].
By Maggie Mixer and Abeer Sikder
Across the country, from Kentucky to Wisconsin to New Mexico, educators have been elected to the highest executive offices in their states. While their careers as teachers, coaches and administrators have taken different paths, they have all been driven by a commitment to serving their communities and future generations. Education, for them, is the cornerstone and catalyst of their public service.
Serving the State by Serving Youth
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers started as a teacher before climbing the educational administration ladder, advancing positions that ranged from principal to state superintendent. After his three terms at the helm of the Department of Public Instruction, which manages all of Wisconsin’s public education systems, he was elected as governor on a platform that put education front and center.
Throughout Evers’ career in education administration and elected office, he has been driven by his goal to ensure that the education system “had the resources they needed” to set Wisconsin’s students on the path to success. His favorite adage — “what’s best for our kids is best for our state” — is a slogan he joked his longtime supporters are tired of hearing, yet he said it still rings true and has served as a guide stone during his career.
“Public education is still at the core of my being and it continues to be. I get in front of schools as much as possible,” Evers said. “What I learn on a daily basis is the most important thing is to get out and talk to people, ask them what they need, what they’re irritated about, how we can help.”
Regardless of who he is talking to around Wisconsin, Evers always asks them about the kids in their life and what the state can do to improve the education system. Despite all possible differences in policy discussions, he still sees the unifying power of education. This approach has served Evers well as he coordinates with his state agencies, the state Legislature, community organizations and constituent groups across the state to create a better future for Wisconsin.
“Whether you’re in front of a classroom of kids that come from any kind of background you can imagine, to working with parents and school boards, the ability to bring people together and accomplish things is critically important,” Evers said.
This year, concerned about the crises he was “seeing in every part of the state,” Evers declared 2023 the “Year of Mental Health in Wisconsin” and directed his administration’s resources towards strengthening the mental health support systems available throughout the state. Through negotiations with the Wisconsin Legislature, he secured $30 million in the most recent budget for school mental health programs.
The Accidental Advocate
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman has also prioritized student mental health during her term. An educator for more than a decade, she first served as a teacher before later becoming an assistant principal. During that time, according to Coleman, she became an “accidental advocate,” choosing to teach social studies and civics because “there were so many young people that didn’t understand how government should work and their role in ensuring that it does work.”
Although Coleman loved her time as an educator, “the lack of resources, the lack of funding, the attacks on teachers … were all things that really drew [her] to more of the advocacy arena.”
“With every challenge that we face in Kentucky, the solution — or at least part of the solution — is education. I see [every challenge] through the eyes of the kids in our classrooms and the families that I got to work with every single day as a teacher.”— Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman
In 2021, Coleman launched the Team Kentucky Student Mental Health Initiative. She said schools are “microcosms” of the communities that make up Kentucky, which is why it is so crucial to include the perspectives of teachers and students in the legislative process.
As part of the initiative, Coleman’s office held 10 regional summits where students facilitated conversations with their peers and used that information to create policy recommendations. These recommendations became the “North Star” of the administration’s efforts after they were presented to the Legislature, state agencies and community partners. Coleman credited the initiative with helping her secure $40 million in federal funding to support Kentucky’s mental health care workforce and strengthen mental health services in schools.
An educator and “lifelong learner,” Coleman’s recent work pushed her to also extend her own education on student mental health. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Kentucky and plans to focus her dissertation on the topic.
Special Education and Service
Educators’ focus on building a better future has been crucial for pushing policy forward, especially in the face of serious setbacks. After teaching special education for 10 years, New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales served in the state Senate for 11 years before taking office as lieutenant governor.
In the Senate, Morales proposed the creation of an Early Childhood Education and Care Department to organize New Mexico’s support structures for early childhood development. The bill failed to pass, but he continued working and was able to oversee the department’s creation during the beginning of his term as lieutenant governor.
Morales’ effort was part of his long-term goal to improve not only K-12 and higher education opportunities, but also New Mexico’s programs and services around early childhood, extracurricular and adult education, so that all New Mexicans can receive a quality education.
“Being a special educator, I think it has really shown that it’s about the personalization of the educational process. I believe that we’ve focused all too often across the country on student proficiency or student achievement when, in reality, we should be focusing on student engagement.”— New Mexico Lt. Gov. Howie Morales
Through Morales’ work, “a historic $20 million appropriation” was directed toward after-school programs that engage students “beyond the walls of a classroom.” Known as the General Appropriate Act of 2023, New Mexico HB 2 was signed into law in April.
Morales’ goal for more personalized education comes from both personal and professional experiences as the first member of his family to attend college and graduate school. From a young age, as a member of student council, he was committed to his “responsibility” to ensure that the students after him had access to the educational path that transformed his life. His experiences and family also instilled in him the idea that “leadership is about service … it’s not about a position, it’s about action.”
“I left the classroom to make a difference in policy,” Morales said. “Above all, what I love more than anything is to interact with people … to be there shaking hands, to be accessible, be respectful and always have the opportunity to create those relationships.”
By Trey Delida
Last week, CSG staff and members attended the 2023 Transatlantic Apprenticeship Study Trip in Germany. From Stuttgart to Munich, Bayreuth to Berlin, attendees saw firsthand how well-developed apprenticeship programs impact communities.
Hosted by DIAG USA, a nonprofit that gathers stakeholders based on the example of German apprenticeship programming, the goal was to show how one country successfully implements apprenticeships.
Other organizations from the United States included the Urban Institute, the Colorado Office of Apprenticeship, the Workforce Development Board system in California, members of the Pennsylvania Senate and more.
As states face workforce shortages across sectors, apprenticeships could be a viable solution in expanding work-based learning and upskilling workers.
“As rapidly changing technology is revolutionizing the way we work, we are on the forefront of preparing our partners for this transformation,” DAIG USA posted on its LinkedIn. “Many companies are looking for a sustainable pipeline of talent that more effectively supports their goals for growth and profitability. We believe that Apprenticeship programs offer an innovative and win/win solution.”
The trip included visits to German businesses, government offices, schools and the German Chamber of Commerce, all of which utilize apprenticeships as a career pathway.
CSG has partnered with DIAG USA for several years. Center of Innovation Deputy Director of National Programs Sydney Blodgett shared that the trip allowed attendees to learn about the established German apprenticeship system firsthand.
“We visited the different stakeholders involved in workforce development and learned how they encourage folks to get into different career pathways and all the different entry and exit points,” Blodgett said. “We’ve worked with them for a couple of years now, and as apprenticeships are growing in the US, people are looking at alternative pathways to careers as the student debt crisis grows in the U.S., people are really looking at other ways to get into careers.”
CSG works extensively with several organizations and stakeholders on the expansion of apprenticeships in the United States.
For more information on CSG’s work to improve access to apprenticeships, click here.
By Katie Boggs, CSG Advancement Fellow
The devastating early August wildfires in Maui, Hawaii, were fueled by the arrival of Hurricane Dora, a category four storm. On Aug. 8, the fire’s blazes spread, making parts of the island nearly unrecognizable. Officials said most of the fires have been contained, however, the number of confirmed deaths continue to rise.
Many CSG Associate members took action to help those that were displaced and impacted by the natural disaster. Aid in the form of monetary donations, supplies, health care and network services have all been implemented to support Hawaii.
Amazon Partners with Disaster Relief Programs to Battle Maui Wildfires
Amazon is partnering with local Hawaiian and national disaster aid programs to provide needed supplies and support on the ground following the deadly wildfires.
Amazon launched its Disaster Response team within 72 hours of the fires. The company, through Amazon Air, flew in critical supplies like tarps, tents, coolers and totes to the American Red Cross who were already active on the ground. After short and long-term relief needs were estimated by officials, Amazon has been able to provide aid in the form of emergency assistance items and financial support on the ground.
“Everyone at Amazon is eager to help, as the situation is truly heartbreaking,” said Abe Diaz, principal technical product manager for Disaster Relief by Amazon. “We’re in contact with organizations on the ground to assess additional needs and determine how we can use our inventory, infrastructure and connectivity technology to help communities as soon as possible — from item donation to helping reestablish internet.”
On the ground, Amazon partnered with organizations such as the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Hawaii Chamber Foundation Business Relief Fund, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, Feeding America and Operation BBQ Relief.
For more information, please visit: https://www.aboutamazon.com/news/community/maui-fires-amazon-disaster-relief.
Teladoc Health Offers 24/7 Telehealth Services to Those Impacted by Hawaii Wildfires
Teladoc Health, the largest global virtual health care provider, is focused on making general medical care needs accessible to Hawaiian residents and first responders displaced due to the fires.
Through the use of their natural disaster hotline, the organization is offering free, 24/7, easy-to-access telehealth services from licensed health care professionals. Non-emergency services, including mental health treatment, are provided.
“When medical resources are already strained during natural disasters, virtual care can help patients manage wildfire-induced flare ups of chronic illnesses, such as asthma,” said Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella, chief medical officer at Teladoc Health. “Virtual care is a proven solution that supports community health during these times, and we are grateful to provide access to care as Hawaii rebuilds and recovers from the fires.”
For more information, please visit: https://www.teladoc.com/disaster-hotline/.
The Credit Union National Association Donates $20,000 for Hawaii Wildfire Relief
Through CUNA’s CUAid: Disaster Relief program, the organization provided monetary assistance to Hawaiians. An additional $10,000 was allocated to the Maui Food Bank, the island’s safeguard for food security.
“The people of Maui are in need of immediate help to recover from these devastating wildfires, and this contribution was recommended by our friends at the Hawaii Credit Union League as a way to help with efforts to take action,” said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle.
For more information, please visit: https://www.ncuf.coop/disaster-relief/.
AT&T Works to Recover Communications in Hawaii and Raises $100,000 for Relief
AT&T raises funds for Hawaii wildfire relief, while its ground efforts focus on restoring network and mobile connectivity across Hawaii, ensuring public safety.
AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery front, alongside with the FirstNet Response Operations Group worked with local officials to provide five portable cell sites and wireless networks for Hawaiian residents and first responders. As of Aug. 19, coverage in all impacted areas of Maui County has been restored, however the team is still working on ensuring permanent connectivity among the islands.
Partnering with other organizations, AT&T has also been providing devices to Hawaiians that have lost their phones in the fires. Motorola, Samsung and Google donated devices to help connect locals with their loved ones and access relief resources.
Additional efforts have been geared toward working with national disaster relief teams. Through the Mobile Giving Foundation, AT&T implemented four ongoing text-to-give campaigns providing anyone with a mobile phone the opportunity to contribute. In addition, AT&T contributed $100,000 to aid recovery efforts for Maui residents and communities. Half of the donation was allocated to the Hawaii Community Foundation, $30,000 to the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center and $20,000 to the American Red Cross.
For more information, please visit: https://about.att.com/pages/disaster-recovery/2023/maui-wildfires.
Honda Raises $500,000 and Offers to Match Associate Donations for Hawaii Relief
Honda companies in the United States donated $500,000 for humanitarian relief efforts toward those affected by the wildfire damage to Maui, Hawaii.
Alongside the original fund that was collected, Honda is also offering its associates the opportunity to be involved in helping Hawaii recover. The organization announced they will match donations up to $1,000 per associate. All money raised goes to help the American Red Cross. In addition, the organization is working with its Hawaii Honda Dealers network in support of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
For more information, please visit: https://hondanews.com/en-US/honda-corporate/releases/release-e888887b6471c0aba407829ba70c3335-honda-contributes-500000-to-maui-hawaii-wildfire-relief-efforts#press-release.
About CSG Associates in Action
Associates in Action articles highlight CSG Associates’ philanthropic efforts and public-private partnerships throughout the states.
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer and Earth’s safest place to work. Customer reviews, One-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon.
About Teladoc Health
Teladoc Health empowers people everywhere to live their healthiest lives by transforming the health care experience. As the world leader in whole-person virtual care, Teladoc Health uses proprietary health signals and personalized interactions to drive better health outcomes across the full continuum of care, at every stage in a person’s health journey. Teladoc Health leverages more than two decades of expertise and data-driven insights to meet the growing virtual care needs of consumers and healthcare professionals. For more information, please visit www.teladochealth.com or follow @TeladocHealth on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Credit Union National Association advocates on behalf of America’s credit unions, which are owned by more than 135 million consumer members. CUNA, along with its network of affiliated state credit union leagues, delivers unwavering advocacy, continuous professional growth and operational confidence to protect the best interests of all credit unions. For more information about CUNA, visit cuna.org. To find your nearest credit union, visit YourMoneyFurther.com.
AT&T helps more than 100 million U.S. families, friends and neighbors, plus nearly 2.5 million businesses, connect to greater possibility. From the first phone call over 140 years ago to our 5G wireless and multi-gig internet offerings today, AT&T innovates to improve lives. For more information about AT&T Inc., please visit us at about.att.com. Investors can learn more at investors.att.com.
About American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Established in Los Angeles in 1959, and currently headquartered in Torrance, California, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., leads the U.S. sales, marketing, service, distribution and export of Honda and Acura automobiles, Honda powersports, power equipment and marine products, along with design, planning and market research for products that are produced at Honda’s North American production facilities. Learn more through Honda’s Digital FactBook.
State leaders from five states — Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire and New York — gathered in Denver in September to discuss and set goals to recruit and retain diverse and representative talent in the state government workforce.
The Council of State Governments partnered with Representative Democracy for the CSG State Exchange on Public Servant Recruitment and Retention.
In the U.S., state governments employed 3,825,097 full-time workers in 2022, around 1.5% of the total population. This makes state governments one of the largest employers in the country. However, in recent years state government employment growth has lagged behind the growth seen in the private sector. By the end of 2022, state and local government employment as still 2.3% below pre-pandemic levels, according to the Economic Policy Institute, driven largely by vacancies in public education and public health. Creating robust and diverse pipelines to state government career is one way to fill these job shortages in the coming years.
“I’m leaving here feeling like we’re not so alone,” said Rosina McNeil-Cusick, director of equity for the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration. “Knowing Colorado isn’t the only state trying to solve these hiring problems.”
Through legislation, executive orders and other actions and policies, states take a variety of approaches to recruiting and retaining public employees from different backgrounds, including the development of equal opportunity offices, the creation of apprenticeship and internship programs, providing opportunities for veterans and individuals with disabilities, and removing barriers to employment.
At the state exchange, state leaders swapped ideas about recruiting new talent, creating a culture that would inspire state workers to continue their employment, opportunities for competitive wages and benefits, leadership development and more.
“We’re finding that the person making the biggest difference in culture starts at the top,” said Lori Wolff with the Idaho Division of Human Resources. “We have to invest in our leaders.”
Ahead of the program, CSG developed a series of resources analyzing the state government workforce. Those resources are available here:
In recognition of Telehealth Awareness Week, The Council of State Governments joins the American Telemedicine Association to highlight a national need for consistent, quality care for patients in both in-person and virtual settings. Observed Sept. 17-23, participation in this year’s third annual event is encouraged by telehealth providers, hospitals, medical practices, advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders.
Concurrent with Telehealth Awareness Week, an ATA Action meeting was held Sept. 18-19 in Washington, D.C., with members of Congress discussing federal virtual care policies and issues impacting access to telehealth services.
Leaders at the state level have also been active in supporting telehealth legislation. Since Telehealth Awareness Week’s launch in 2021, temporary orders implemented as result of the COVID-19 pandemic have transitioned telehealth into permanently enacted measures for many states. Actions at the state level include reducing regulations associated with telehealth, and allowing in- and out-of-state practitioners to deliver telehealth services.
A detailed look at legislation addressing telehealth that has already been enacted or currently under review can be found below for 2022 and 2023.
2023 Telehealth State Legislation
|Signed by the governor on Sept. 8, 2023.
|Authorizes telehealth providers to meet Medi-Cal in-person referral requirements by maintaining protocols for patient referral to appropriate in-person care, when the standard of care cannot be met by video synchronous interaction or audio-only synchronous interaction.
|Enrolled on Sept. 11, 2023.
|Extends authorization for a person who holds a license in another state as a marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker or professional clinical counselor to provide services in the state for a period not to exceed 30 consecutive days in any calendar year if certain conditions are met.
|Enrolled on Sept. 11, 2023.
|Known as the David Hall Act, the bill allows a person licensed and in good standing as a physician and surgeon in another state would be authorized to deliver health care via telehealth to a patient who has a disease or condition that is immediately life-threatening and meets other statutory requirements for care.
|Signed by the governor June 26, 2023.
|This legislation establishes standards concerning consumer health data and prohibits geofencing of certain health data among other provisions, among other actions.
|District of Columbia
|Notice of Intent to Act on B25-0125. Published in the District of Columbia Register. Referred to Committee on Health on Feb. 24. 2023.
|As introduced Bill 25-125 would provide that licensed health practitioner in the District may provide health care through telehealth. It also expands the circumstances under which qualified our -of -state practitioners are permitted to deliver telehealth services to patients located in the District.
|Approved by the governor on May 11, 2023.
|Modifies the definition of telehealth to allow audio-only phone calls as a permitted telehealth modality.
|Signed by the governor on May 8, 2023.
|A health care provider that utilizes certified electronic health record technology must ensure that all patient information stored in an offsite physical or virtual environment is physically maintained in the continental United States or its territories or Canada.
|Transmitted to the governor on May 3, 2023.
|Clarifies that telehealth services provided by way of an interactive telecommunications system can be temporarily reimbursed to comply with Federal guidelines.
|Signed by the governor on March 27, 2023.
|Adopts Interstate telehealth licensure for mental and behavioral health.
|Signed by the governor on March 21, 2023.
|Clarifies a prescriber-patient relationship can be established for the purposes of prescribing via telehealth. The bill also allows for cross-state practice without an Idaho license in certain circumstances.
|Re-referred to Assignments on March 31, 2023.
|Amends the Medical Assistance Article of the Illinois Public Aid Code, specifically on issues of vendor enrollment.
|Signed by the governor on May 4, 2023.
|Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, the office of Medicaid policy and planning may not require a licensed provider offering telehealth services to maintain an address in the state or that a telehealth provider group licensed in the state have an in-state address to be eligible for enrollment as a Medicaid vendor or Medicaid provider group.
|Signed by the governor on April 6, 2023.
|Prohibits the Department for Medicaid Services and any Medicaid managed care organization from requiring health professionals or medical groups exclusively offering telehealth services to maintain a physical location or address in Kentucky to be eligible for enrollment as a Medicaid provider.
|Signed by the governor on June 12, 2023.Effective Jan. 1, 2024.
|Amends and re-enacts provisions relative to telemedicine, namely by using “telehealth” as conforming language. The bill specifies that telehealth includes a physician’s practice of medicine when conducted through electronic communications. State agencies are now required to promulgate telehealth rules. Any in-person requirement physical examination or patient history before engaging in telehealth is alleviated, unless the provider is prescribing a controlled dangerous substance.
|Signed by the governor on May 3, 2023.
|Extends the classification of certain audio-only telephone conversations under the definition of “telehealth” to June 30, 2025, because of reimbursement and coverage of telehealth requirements by the Maryland Medical Assistance Program and certain insurers, nonprofit health service plans and health maintenance organizations.
|Approved by the governor on May 29, 2023.
|Removes the sunset for the requirement of third-party payer who is not an industrial insurer to cover services provided through telehealth.
|Signed by governor on June 16, 2023.
|Revises provisions relating to consumer health data.
|Passed Senate.To House for concurrence on May 18, 2023.Senate moved for nonconcur with House Amendment on June 1, 2023.
|The bill modifies prescribing procedure for physicians, physicians assistants and APRNs in relation to non-opioid and opioid controlled drugs when utilizing telemedicine.
|Signed by the governor on May 12, 2023.
|Amends prescribing requirements for opioids and controlled substances. Edits the definition of telemedicine under the Nursing Practice Act. Allows practitioners of telehealth medicine to prescribe opioids. Sets out the process for prescribing schedules II-V through telemedicine.
|To the governor on June 6, 2023.
|The bill allows physicians or physician assistants who are out of state to provide specified care to Oregonians.
|HB 5556/SB 574
|House and Senate Committees recommended the measures be held for further study.
|Adopts the Uniform Law Commission Uniform Telehealth Act.
|HB 5352/SB 965
|House Committee Meeting with proposed substitute postponed.
|Amends the Telemedicine Act by adding a definition of patient provider relationship which states that the relationship may be defined by synchronous or asynchronous telemedicine technologies without a prior in-person meeting as long as the standard of care is met.
|Signed by the governor on March 21, 2023.
|Provides clarification as to the Medical Assistance Act of 1968, distinctly that the act does not require a vendor, healthcare provider or telehealth provider group providing telehealth healthcare services to have a physical address or site in Tennessee in order to be eligible to enroll as a vendor, provider or provider group for the medical assistance program.
|HB 1602/SB 1418
|Signed by the governor on March 21, 2023.
|Health care providers are not required to maintain a physical presence in Virginia to maintain eligibility to enroll as a Medicaid provider. Under the bill, telemedicine services provider groups with health care providers licensed by the Commonwealth are not required to maintain an in-state service address to maintain eligibility to enroll as a Medicaid vendor or Medicaid provider group.
|Signed by the governor on March 30, 2023.
|Extends the use of both audio and video real-time telemedicine to establish a relationship for the purpose of providing audio-only telemedicine for certain health care services. Senate companion to HB 1027.
|Signed by the governor on April 27, 2023.
|Known as the Washington My Health Data Act, this bill addressed the aggregation, sharing or any similar acts of personal data.
2022 Telehealth State Legislation
|Signed by the governor in April 2022.
|Provides a technology-neutral definition of telehealth; allows licensure flexibilities for providers delivering “irregular or infrequent” care and those in consultation with a licensed physician, among other requirements.
|Enrolled May 18, 2022.
|Enables in-state providers to deliver telehealth services without an in-person exam if the provider’s license is in good standing and mandates that out-of-state providers not licensed in Alaska only render telehealth services to patients referred by someone licensed in Alaska. The bill also discusses prescribing opioids.
|Approved by the governor on Sept. 25, 2022.
|Amends the Welfare and Institutions Code in relation to telehealth
|Approved by the governor on Sept. 28, 2022.
|Holds “mental health app developers” to new privacy requirements and requires mental health app developers to register with the attorney general.
|Signed by the governor.
|The bill enacts the “Interstate Licensed Professional Counselors Compact.”
|Signed by the governor.
|Requires the Behavioral Health Administration to create and implement a behavioral health-care provider workforce plan.
|Signed by the governor on Oct. 21, 2022.
|Permits health care providers who are licensed outside of Delaware to offer telehealth and telemedicine health care services so long as a provider-patient relationship has been established; amendment renders
most permissive provisions in this bill void.
|Laid on the table. Substituted by SB 312. SB 312 was signed by the governor.
|SB 312 amends language to prohibit telehealth providers from prescribing only Schedule II drugs except under certain circumstances.
|Signed by the governor on March 10, 2022.
|Indiana adopts the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
|Signed by the governor on March 3, 2022.
|Prohibits regulatory boards from certain restricting licensure flexibilities.
|Approved by the governor on April 18, 2022.
|Revises the definition of telemedicine in the insurance code.
|Signed by the governor on Aug. 9, 2022.
|Amends the definitions of telehealth and telemedicine to include both synchronous and asynchronous technologies. The bill also enables pharmacists and physicians to establish patient-provider relationships via telemedicine.
|Signed by the governor on May 13, 2022.
|Grants out-of-state licensure reciprocity to behavioral health providers. Social workers licensed in South Carolina are allowed to provide services via telehealth methods.
|Signed by the governor on April 1, 2022.
|Extends the statutory provision regulating reimbursements for health care services provided during a telehealth appointment, among other things.
|Signed by the governor on March 24, 2022.
|Enters Utah into the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact.
|Signed by the governor on May 9, 2022.
|Creates a telehealth license and a telehealth registration scheme for out-of-state providers.
|Approved by the governor.
|Allows out-of-state physicians to care for patients in Virginia via telemedicine if such practice is for the purpose of providing continuity of care and the provider already has an established relationship with the patient.
|Signed by the governor on March 30, 2022.
|Amends the definition of “established relationship” in the insurance code.
A learning agenda can be a powerful tool for structuring communication with evaluation stakeholders. It also assists in ensuring that the right people are involved in guiding what programs are evaluated and informed of relevant evaluation results and responsive to any reforms suggested by evaluators.Continue reading