Infrastructure Impact: The Ramifications of Federal Spending

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Do Emergency Responders Vote?

By Rachel Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statutory Provisions – Date of Adoption

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

 Figure 1: Date of Statute Adoption

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

State Procedures for Voting by Emergency Responders

Extension of Uniformed and Overseas Citizen (UOCAVA) Voting Procedures

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

Extended Period for Ballot Request

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

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

General Authority Extended to the Secretary of State

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

Defining Qualifying Voters

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

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

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

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

Declaring Authority

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

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

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

Sept. 14, 2021

Contact:

The Council of State Governments

[email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

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

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

Congratulations to these 20 leaders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Adkins 

Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has released the following information: 

Opioid Litigation Settlement: Using Evidence to Lead Action 
Monday, August 30 12:30p – 5:00p EST 
via Zoom  

The Office of National Drug Control Policy will host a half-day virtual convening for the nation’s state, local and tribal government leaders to share best practices on the use of forthcoming opioid litigation settlement funds.   

At this convening, attendees will hear from leaders in the Federal government, the states, academia and community organizations about: 

  • Principles to guide decision-making about the use of the funding;  
  • Information from the Federal government on the abatement process; 
  • Tools for assessing community needs and concerns related to substance use disorder and overdose; and  
  • Best practices for collaboration between service providers and State, local, and Tribal governments to deliver evidence-based care and services. 

The event is open to all state, local and tribal members of your association, with ample time for questions and discussion throughout the day.  

An invitation with Zoom link will follow, and we look forward to a productive conversation with you and your Association’s membership. 

Learn more about the opioid settlement: 

What States Need to Know: State Attorneys General Reach Agreement on $26 Billion Opioid Settlement 

In late July, a bipartisan group of attorneys general and local government lawyers from 13 states endorsed a multi-billion-dollar settlement against major drug companies that would end several open civil lawsuits stemming from opioid distribution. The agreement would require three drug distributors and one drug maker to make $26 billion in payments to states and communities to provide, among other things, addition rehabilitation and prevention services.  

Over the last several years, drug firms have faced a barrage of lawsuits for their alleged roles in encouraging the distribution and sale of opioids across the country at a time when drug addiction and opioid overdoses are on the rise. If the settlement is approved by the named states and municipalities — including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — thousands of lawsuits against the named companies would be dropped by states and cities. 

States have a month from July 21 — when this agreement was first reached — to decide if they will accept the deal. Following this decision, states will contact counties and cities who will have 150 days to decide if they would like to be included in the suit and receive funds from the settlement. At least 44 states as well as 95% of cities, counties and others suing the companies and 90% of non-litigating jurisdictions must sign on to the deal to receive a portion of the money. In some states, the final call will rest with the attorney general, while others will require legislative approval. 

Under the agreement, the three distributors — Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson — would make $21 billion in payments over 18 years, while drug maker Johnson & Johnson would pay $5 billion over nine years. The exact amount of the payments to each state and city will be determined by the number of governments who sign on to the agreement and the population and impact of opioid addiction in each region.  

According to The New York Times, a novel feature of this agreement is a provision that distributors establish an independent clearinghouse to track one another’s shipments, a new mechanism to make data more transparent and make it easier to know when oversized orders are placed.  

A separate agreement between these four companies and Native American tribes is still being worked out. This settlement would only bind these four companies. Other suits against different drug manufacturers and distributors are still being processed. 

The CSG Justice Center has resources available to states that are looking for evidence-based strategies to improve outcomes for people with substance abuse disorders. Additionally, the Justice Center also provides resources on best practices for successful reentry for people with opioid addictions and opioid addition screening and assessment for those in the criminal justice system.  

Join the USDA and Stakeholders Including CSG National President Gov. Laura Kelly to Discuss Supply Chain Investment

Elected and appointed officials are invited to hear join the U.S. Department of Agriculture to discuss the $500 million Supply Chain Investment. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will be joined by key stakeholders including CSG National President, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, as well as Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation, Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Alexis Taylor and Renville County EDA Coordinator Jordan Zeller who will examine meat and poultry supply chain challenges in their states and communities. 

To register for this webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 18 from Noon to 1 p.m. ET, visit: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_PlxNdRsHQV2ack0NIv_eBQ. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.  

After the panel, there will be an opportunity for additional attendees to comment on how state, tribal and local governments can partner to leverage these USDA supply chain funds. To learn more: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/07/16/2021-15145/investments-and-opportunities-for-meat-and-poultry-processing-infrastructure

What States Need to Know: State Attorneys General Reach Agreement on $26 Billion Opioid Settlement

By Bailey Pierce and Dakota Thomas

In late July, a bipartisan group of attorneys general and local government lawyers from 13 states endorsed a multi-billion-dollar settlement against major drug companies that would end several open civil lawsuits stemming from opioid distribution. The agreement would require three drug distributors and one drug maker to make $26 billion in payments to states and communities to provide, among other things, addition rehabilitation and prevention services.

Over the last several years, drug firms have faced a barrage of lawsuits for their alleged roles in encouraging the distribution and sale of opioids across the country at a time when drug addiction and opioid overdoses are on the rise. If the settlement is approved by the named states and municipalities — including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas — thousands of lawsuits against the named companies would be dropped by states and cities.

States have a month from July 21 — when this agreement was first reached — to decide if they will accept the deal. Following this decision, states will contact counties and cities who will have 150 days to decide if they would like to be included in the suit and receive funds from the settlement. At least 44 states as well as 95% of cities, counties and others suing the companies and 90% of non-litigating jurisdictions must sign on to the deal to receive a portion of the money. In some states, the final call will rest with the attorney general, while others will require legislative approval.

Under the agreement, the three distributors — Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson — would make $21 billion in payments over 18 years, while drug maker Johnson & Johnson would pay $5 billion over nine years. The exact amount of the payments to each state and city will be determined by the number of governments who sign on to the agreement and the population and impact of opioid addiction in each region.

According to The New York Times, a novel feature of this agreement is a provision that distributors establish an independent clearinghouse to track one another’s shipments, a new mechanism to make data more transparent and make it easier to know when oversized orders are placed.

A separate agreement between these four companies and Native American tribes is still being worked out. This settlement would only bind these four companies. Other suits against different drug manufacturers and distributors are still being processed.

The CSG Justice Center has resources available to states that are looking for evidence-based strategies to improve outcomes for people with substance abuse disorders. Additionally, the Justice Center also provides resources on best practices for successful reentry for people with opioid addictions and opioid addition screening and assessment for those in the criminal justice system.

New CSG Compacts Project Benefits Military Spouses

CSG partners with the Department of Defense to reduce workforce barriers for military spouses and other practitioners of licensed professions 

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How can the states reduce workforce barriers for military spouses and other practitioners of licensed professions?  

That’s the question CSG is exploring through a competitive interstate compacts program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Following a competitive application process, CSG selected five professions to work with the CSG National Center for Interstate Compacts in developing model legislation that would help military spouses and other practitioners gain professional license portability through interstate compacts. The professions selected for compact assistance are cosmetology and barbering, dentistry and dental hygiene, massage therapy, social work and K-12 teaching. 

Kicking off the project, CSG hosted a webinar series that brought together state leaders, subject matter experts and members of the professions to discuss the background and importance of this project. The final installment of the series on Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. (Eastern) will explore the Dentistry and Dental Hygiene Compact. (Click here to register).  

Recordings of previous webinars are available on the CSG YouTube page: 

Massage Therapy Compact Kickoff Meeting 

Cosmetology and Barbering Compact Kickoff Meeting 

Social Work Compact Kickoff Meeting 

K-12 Teaching Compact Kickoff Meeting 

Occupational licensure compacts create reciprocity between states while maintaining the quality and safety of services and protecting state sovereignty. Compacts result in a more efficient distribution of licensed workers by supporting practitioner mobility.  

Prior to its partnership with the Department of Defense, the CSG National Center for Interstate Compacts led the development of interstate compacts for physicians, nurses, emergency medical services personnel, physical therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, licensed professional counselors and audiologists/speech-language pathologists. More than 40 states and territories have adopted at least one of the compacts and over half have adopted three or more. 

“Military spouses work hard to earn professional credentials and establish themselves in licensed occupations while also being willing to sacrifice their professional lives in support of their spouse so they can serve our country,” said Wisconsin state Sen. Joan Ballweg, who serves as the national chair for CSG. “Creating interstate compacts for these occupations will reduce regulatory burdens substantially and restore the career options they deserve. CSG and the Department of Defense chose worthy occupations, and I am encouraged by their progress on this vital project.”