What State Leaders Need to Know about the Build Back Better Proposal

The Biden administration announced Oct. 28 a proposed framework for its Build Back Better initiative. After weeks of negotiations and with still more to come as details and budget language are finalized, the approximately $1.8 trillion package includes substantial federal investments for: 

  • Free universal preschool education to children ages three and four. 
  • Subsidies for child care. 
  • A one-year extension in the expanded child care tax credit. 
  • An increase in the maximum Pell Grant award. 
  • Assistance for low-income renters. 
  • Subsidies for individuals who purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act (until 2025).  
  • Hearing coverage under Medicare.  
  • Support for in-home and in-community elder care. 
  • Tax incentives to increase electric vehicle manufacturing and purchase and move utilities toward solar and other renewable energy sources. 

The proposal is paid for by a series of tax increases on corporations and high-income earners.  

The proposal does not include other discussed initiatives, including free community college access, paid leave for workers, expansion of Medicare to include vision and dental coverage and authorizing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

What this Means for State Leaders 

While details of the bill are finalized, the Biden administration’s Build Back Better framework provides state leaders insight into how this package will impact their states. The framework relates to state and local government efforts in facilitating access to preschool, child care, postsecondary education, health care and housing security. State and local government involvement will be further clarified as the legislative language is finalized. 

Bill Outlook 

The proposal is being developed only by Democrats in Congress and, as such, is intended to move toward passage in the Senate and House through a budget maneuver known as reconciliation. This process allows for a proposal to pass by majority vote in both chambers, bypassing several points of congressional procedure including the need for the Senate to approve a cloture motion (i.e. to end debate on a bill), which takes 60 votes. With the Senate divided among 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents (who caucus with the Democrats), reconciliation is the only vehicle forward in the absence of Republican votes. 

As the bill is finalized, it will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office to clarify the cost of the package and the revenue raised by the tax increases and other changes to ensure the bill is revenue neutral (i.e. pays for itself). The Senate Parliamentarian also will review the final measure to ensure everything in the package is sufficiently budget related (a requirement for the reconciliation process). A potential sticking point is whether proposed language related to changes in U.S. immigration policy are appropriate for reconciliation. For example, the proposal includes investments to streamline immigration processing to reduce the backlog of visa applications. 

Much of the negotiation centered around whether and how the proposal will be paired with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill currently under consideration in the House. The Senate approved the measure in August (by a vote of 69-30), but progressive Democrats in the House have withheld support until agreement on the Build Back Better package is reached.  

The Biden administration announcement came in the shadow of two important dates. First, the president leaves Thursday for Europe, where he will attend a G-20 Summit focused on climate change. Democratic leaders in Congress wanted to provide assurance to other countries of the U.S. intent to invest in clean energy initiatives. Second, voters head to the polls to elect governors in New Jersey and Virginia. Congressional Democrats wanted to produce a result, even if unsettled, before the election in an effort to boost Democratic candidate chances in the two elections, which are expected to be close. Pundits have traditionally seen the results of these two elections as indicative of the public’s mood heading into the following year’s congressional elections. 

More information on the Build Back Better proposal is available here

As with the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March 2021, analysts at The Council of State Governments will continue analyzing the Build Back Better proposal and Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and provide to members regular updates, particularly as it relates to how funds will be distributed among state and local governments and any guidelines attached to the funding. 

Stay Safe Online

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. With so much of today’s business and communications managed with the help of the internet, the understanding and practice of cyber security is a requirement.


“Always be vigilant,” said Rob Main, interim state chief risk officer with the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Main said that so often people fall prey online to the often unrecognizable “telltale signs of malicious intent.”

Main said that often someone might fill out a survey on social media that will ask questions that could be used as password clues for secure websites.


“Malicious intent involves the execution of social engineering methods which can occur through vishing, phishing, and smishing (among other means),” Main said. “These methods would include a sense of urgency, misspellings or mispronunciations, an enticement to reveal protected information and/or malicious content. The takeaway: a healthy dose of skepticism will help maintain vigilance when dealing with questionable communication.”

During Spring 2021, internet hackers were able to cause severe disruption to Colonial Pipeline, the nation’s largest refined oil pipeline. According to Bloomberg, hackers were able to access to the company’s network through a private account. From there, hackers were able to shut down operations, causing fuel delays along the East Coast. The hackers issued a ransom note for $4.4 million in cryptocurrency. The company shut down operations and ended up paying the ransom to restore fuel to Americans.

Bloomberg reported that, while the hacked account used a virtual private network (VPN), no multi-factor authenticator was used.

Main, who urges the use of multi-factor authentication, said he had spent time at Microsoft headquarters. There, a vice president with the company cautioned that 99.8% of security-related concerns would be mitigated by multi-factor authentication.

Stay Safe Online, a program of the National Cybersecurity Alliance, offers several tips to stay safe while using the internet.

Tips to Stay Safe

  • Use strong passwords, avoiding contact specific words like “MarysLaptop.”
  • Passwords should restrict common words.
  • Keep operating systems current.
  • If using a personal device, always keep antivirus and spyware software updated and turned on

For more safety tips, visit staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month.

Infrastructure Fallout: The Long-Term Ramifications of Federal Spending

In this four-part series, analysts at The Council of State Governments (CSG) examine areas that could create long-term impacts in the lives of American Citizens should the $1 trillion spending bill become law.

The $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB) proposes to allocate federal dollars to a multitude of projects. For example, $2 billion is designated for rural road expansion, bridges and surface transportation projects. BIB also provides $3 billion for the Tribal Transportation program over five years. The Tribal Transportation Program is the largest of the Office of Federal Lands Highway, receiving $505 million in Fiscal Year 2020, according to Public Law 114-94.

In July, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) joined the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, lauding the infrastructure plan as necessary because the nation’s infrastructure systems are unacceptable for a 21st Century economy.

However, a 2015 article from McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, points to potential negative ramifications of such large-scale infrastructure projects.

“The risks associated with megaprojects — those that cost $1 billion or more — are well documented. In one influential study, Bent Flyvbjerg, an expert in project management at Oxford’s business school, estimated that nine out of ten go over budget. Rail projects, for example, go over budget by an average of 44.7 percent, and their demand is overestimated by 51.4 percent. McKinsey has estimated that bridges and tunnels incur an average 35 percent cost overrun; for roads, it’s 20 percent. Given that many projects are approved with a 20 percent return on investment expected, this leaves governments to pick up the tab for the rest,” the article stated.

The article went on to assert such infrastructure project timelines often are underestimated and that these projects can often take 10 to 15 years to complete.

In addition, there is growing concern about delays caused by a shortage of skilled workers necessary to completing the projects. According to John M. Irvine, a senior vice president at Anchor Construction: “I’d be surprised if there’s any firm out there saying they’re ready for this. “We will have to staff up, and no, there are not enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.”

Overall, the timeline on some of these massive projects that will result from the Infrastructure bill that is currently sitting in the United States House of Representatives could potentially create more headaches in the immediate future — traffic jams and road closures — with final results decades away.

Sources:

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/megaprojects-the-good-the-bad-and-the-better

https://highways.dot.gov/federal-lands/programs-tribal

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/09/us/politics/biden-infrastructure-plan

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/02/us/roads-infrastructure-bill.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/25/business/infrastructure-deal-bipartisan-roads.html

Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers

By: Sean Slone

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the nation’s mental health. Fortunately, this global pandemic has also placed a spotlight on both the long-standing challenges in providing mental health services and the programs, policies, interventions and legal remedies that have proven most effective in addressing those challenges.

As the pandemic entered its second year, The Council of State Governments (CSG) embarked on a nine-month partnership with The Commonwealth Fund to assemble this Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers. The goal of the project was to highlight the challenges and solutions across these four focus areas in mental health policy:

  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Maternal mental health
  • Social determinants of mental health
  • Mental health insurance parity

To inform the content of this resource guide, CSG formed a 19-member advisory group made up of state legislators from six states, state executive branch health officials from eight additional states and subject-matter experts in each focus area. During a series of meetings in the spring and summer of 2021, the group heard presentations about existing research findings related to the challenges in each area and shared strategies for addressing them. The discussions were informed by the work of the CSG research team, which produced extensive research and policy scans for each focus area.

With oversight from The Commonwealth Fund and input from other stakeholders, CSG policy analysts and researchers drew on information gleaned during the advisory group sessions, those extensive summaries and additional research to produce the series of briefs that comprise this resource guide. Each focus area section includes:

  • A policy brief that succinctly defines the issue, considers the policy challenges and reviews the menu of legislative, programmatic and other opportunities available to policymakers based on previously enacted successful policies
  • A brief on approaches to data collection and analysis that advises policymakers on strategies to build research that is focused on the most effective interventions and that addresses how to emulate successful programs and how to implement experimental research designs for new programs
  • A case study brief highlighting a successful program, intervention, initiative or state law designed to address a particular negative outcome, often within a specific community, that has been championed by state policymakers or others

As the nation begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the strategies contained within this resource guide can help policymakers address the mental health challenges that have united many Americans during this time, despite differences in age, race, identity, geography, political leaning or cultural affiliation. These strategies — from the simplest to the most complex — can be an important step forward to further connecting individuals and communities, recognizing the importance of mental health to a collective future.

CSG Mental Health Resource Guide for State Policymakers

Read the Resource Guide Executive Summary

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Social Isolation and Loneliness

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Maternal Mental Health

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Social Determinants of Mental Health

Read the Resource Guide Materials on Mental Health Insurance Parity

CSG West Presents Fahrenkamp Award to The Honorable Federico F. Peña

On Wednesday, September 29, The Council of State Governments West (CSG West), during its 74thannual meeting in Colorado Springs, awarded the Bettye Fahrenkamp Award for Distinguished Legislative Leadership on Behalf of Western States to the Honorable Federico F. Peña.

After graduating from the University of Texas, Austin, with both a bachelor’s and law degree, Peñapracticed law for several years before moving to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, he worked with the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund focusing focused on civil rights and voting issues. In 1979 he won a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives where he quickly ascended to the role of minority leader.

After several years of legislative service, he ran a successful campaign to become the mayor of the city of Denver where he made history as the first Hispanic mayor of the city. During his time as mayor, he worked to advance several significant projects including the development of the Denver International Airport and the acquisition of a Major League Baseball team, the Colorado Rockies.

After his service as mayor, Peña’s call to public service led him to the District of Columbia where he served in two cabinet appointments in the Clinton Administration: Secretary of Transportation and then Secretary of the Department of Energy. In addition to his public service, he has founded an investment advisory firm, served as a Managing Director of a private equity firm, and served on the boards of several public companies and non-profit associations.

The Fahrenkamp Award, which is awarded annually, recognizes leaders whose legislative careers demonstrate the ability to see and work beyond the border of their own states in the interest of the West. The award is named in honor of Bettye Fahrenkamp of Fairbanks, Alaska, who served with distinction in the Alaska State Senate from 1979 until her untimely death in 1991.

A Governor’s Line of Succession — How Does it Work?

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York resigned, effective Aug. 24, 2021. His Lieutenant Governor, Kathy Hochul was installed as governor the same day.  

What are the succession laws and processes in other states?

Forty-five states have an official office of lieutenant governor. Some states have a lieutenant governor who runs on a joint ticket with party gubernatorial candidates, while other states elect the lieutenant governor independently. In Tennessee and West Virginia, the senate president (elected by the chamber’s membership) holds the dual title of lieutenant governor.

In North Carolina, for example, according to general statute 147.11.1, “The Lieutenant Governor-elect shall become Governor upon the failure of the Governor-elect to qualify. The Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor upon the death, resignation, or removal from office of the Governor. The further order of succession to the office of Governor shall be prescribed by law. A successor shall serve for the remainder of the term of the Governor whom he succeeds and until a new Governor is elected and qualified. (2) During the absence of the Governor from the State, or during the physical or mental incapacity of the Governor to perform the duties of his office, the Lieutenant Governor shall be Acting Governor. The further order of succession as Acting Governor shall be prescribed by law.”

From there, the president of the senate is charged with the duties of governor, followed by the state speaker of the house. This is generally the same process for the 44 other states with lieutenant governors, who must be able to fill in should the governor resign, be removed from office or pass away.

In Arizona, Oregon and Wyoming, the secretary of state is next in line to the governorship. In Maine and New Hampshire, the president of the senate is next in line for the governorship.

Sources: https://ballotpedia.org/How_gubernatorial_vacancies_are_filled

https://knowledgecenter.csg.org/kc/system/files/hurst_9.pdf

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

by Julianne Stahl 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Infrastructure Impact: Ramifications of Product Shortages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Infrastructure Impact: The Ramifications of Federal Spending

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Do Emergency Responders Vote?

By Rachel Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statutory Provisions – Date of Adoption

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

 Figure 1: Date of Statute Adoption

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

State Procedures for Voting by Emergency Responders

Extension of Uniformed and Overseas Citizen (UOCAVA) Voting Procedures

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

Extended Period for Ballot Request

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

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

General Authority Extended to the Secretary of State

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

Defining Qualifying Voters

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

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

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

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

Declaring Authority

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

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