CSG South Launches Permitting Reform Federal Affairs Initiative

JANUARY 25, 2024, ATLANTA, GA — The 2023-2024 Council of State Governments, Southern Region (CSG South) Chair, Senate President Craig Blair, West Virginia, announced his 2024 Chair’s Initiative: Permitting Reform.

In an increasingly stagnant federal landscape, the united voice of the leaders of the states of CSG South can leverage their collective strength and advocate on national issues such as permitting reform, federal mandates tied to federal funding, energy independence, and energy resilience.

“Our goal is to light a fire under our colleagues at the federal level and lead by example by passing bipartisan resolutions all over this country urging good faith work across the aisle on this critical issue,” said Blair of his Chair’s Initiative. “This permitting reform federal affairs initiative draws attention to the overly regulated, slow-moving federal permitting processes that inhibit economic development, job growth, energy innovation, and the ability of states to update aging infrastructure.”

Senate President Blair sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 16, passed by the West Virginia Senate on Monday, January 15, and the House of Delegates on January 24, to urge the federal government to enact much-needed reforms to federal permitting policies to accelerate the deployment of new energy infrastructure.

“We’re on our way to a crisis in this country, and unless our Congress acts to reform these permitting laws, we’ll all be seeing higher costs and fewer jobs,” said West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw. “We simply cannot afford any more limitations to our energy infrastructure, and if Congress refuses to do something, it will be a direct line from their inaction to rolling blackouts, national security risks, and even more crumbling infrastructure throughout the country.”

Through a federal affairs-focused survey conducted by CSG South in the fourth quarter of 2023, permitting reform was identified as the top issue of interest to state leaders in the Southern region. Lindsey Gray, CSG South Regional Executive Director, stated, “At the direction of the Senate President Craig Blair and the Executive Committee, CSG South will support the 15 states within the Southern region and carrier forward a unified voice regarding the issue of permitting reform for the states we serve.”

About CSG South

Established In 1947, The Council of State Governments Southern Office (CSG South) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that exists to support members in all three branches of state government. At CSG South, we act as an extension of state government, fostering the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials and staff shape public policy and create problem-solving partnerships.
The mission of CSG South is to promote and strengthen intergovernmental cooperation among its 15 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Legislative leadership, members, and staff depend on CSG South to identify and analyze solutions for the most prevalent and unique policy issues facing Southern state governments. We facilitate outreach in state capitols, leadership development, staff exchange programs, domestic and international policy delegations, and other efforts to support state policymakers and legislative staff to build stronger, more prosperous states.

See More Here:

Blair calls on federal government to reform energy permitting process – WV MetroNews

W.Va. Senate President Craig Blair, Council of State Governments (CSG) South launch permitting reform federal affairs initiative – West Virginia Press Association (wvpress.org)

West Virginia Senate passes resolution in support of federal permitting reform

CSG South launches permitting reform federal affairs permitting reform | WV Legislature | wvnews.com

West Virginia Senate Calls for Reform in Federal Energy Permitting Policies (bnnbreaking.com)

Senators: Liquefied Natural Gas Pause Hurting W.Va. – West Virginia Public Broadcasting (wvpublic.org)

Blair calls on federal government to reform energy permitting process | Metro Valley (spotonwestvirginia.com)

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CSG South Senior Policy Analyst Cody Allen Presented to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission on Legislative Trends in Higher Ed.

On Thursday, January 25, CSG South Senior Policy Analyst Cody Allen attended the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s (THEC) Winter Quarterly Meeting presenting on Southern state legislative trends in higher education policy. His presentation to this state commission focused on national and regional trends, including direct and statewide admissions policies, military and veteran-friendly campuses, enrollment and retention measures, campus food deserts, and the growing world of artificial intelligence policy in education. Notably, with the THEC staff presenting on food insecurity on campuses across the state, his presentation touched on recent proposals and laws in Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia to establish Hunger-Free Campuses. These states took various approaches to address this critical issue, whether providing start-up funding, removing restrictions to allow students to donate meal plan credits, or creating competitive grant programs to incentivize institutions and community organizations to partner on food pantries. These efforts, along with others to provide housing assistance or protections for pregnant and parenting students, represent new efforts to support students holistically – and increase retention and enrollment – given the continued issue of low enrollment, even with more widespread free and reduced-cost higher education opportunities. Additionally, Allen praised the commission for its strong legacy of regional leadership in higher education, as evidenced by its winning the CSG South State Transformation in Action (STAR) Award three years in a row from 2017 to 2019.* He closed by highlighting the ongoing work to restrengthen higher education by eliminating silos and aligning all postsecondary options to provide students with flexible and affordable education pathways.

Download the presentation here:

Click Here

*For more information on the STAR Award program and application instructions, please visit here.

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The National Summit to Advance States’ Criminal Justice Priorities

States face numerous and pressing criminal justice challenges that directly impact communities and agencies across multiple levels of government. State leaders—governors, legislators, and agency officials—play a critical role in ensuring public safety by setting priorities, identifying policies and programs to achieve them, and allocating finite resources that impact every area of the justice system. At the same time, state leaders are struggling to address challenges in accessing treatment across the continuum and acute shortages in the workforce, improve services for victims of crime, and increase opportunities for people returning to their communities from incarceration. Effectively addressing these challenges requires state leaders to examine system operations carefully, define the outcomes they want to see, and work collaboratively to adjust key policies, practices, and budgets to bridge the gaps.

You can view your state’s criminal justice snapshot here:

Alabama

Arkansas

Florida

Georgia

Kentucky

Louisiana

Mississippi

Missouri

North Carolina

Oklahoma

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Virginia

West Virginia

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Southern Pulse Newsletter, December 2023

It’s a wonder-yule life here at CSG South!  This year has been nothing short of amazing, but we couldn’t do it without the incredible support from each of you.

As we wrap up the busy season, we know another one is on the horizon for our staff and members alike. The ringing of legislative bells is quickly approaching, and the CSG South team is here for you.  We offer specialized policy analysis and leadership and professional development, all wrapped up in state-specific bows.  Please don’t hesitate to contact our office for any extra holiday magic you may need.

On behalf of your CSG South family, have the happiest holidays and a blessed New Year. We can’t wait to see you in 2024!  
 

All the best,
Lindsey G.

Click here to read Southern Pulse- December 2023

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All of the Above: Ensuring Energy Independence

Recent events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and lingering supply chain disruptions, have once again highlighted the importance of ensuring the nation’s energy independence. With the push for greater domestic production, states are seeking to expand their portfolios with an “all of the above” energy strategy. Despite its small size, West Virginia is the fifth largest state for energy production. While West Virginia has traditionally been known for coal, the Mountain State has moved to expand its energy portfolio in recent years. In 2022, the Legislature passed bills ending the state’s moratorium on new nuclear energy sites, promoting geothermal energy development, and supporting the use of hydroelectric power. During this two-day Masterclass, participants learned about West Virginia’s energy strategy and ways to emulate and implement these processes in their home states. 

Legislators, legislative staff, and agency officials from across the country convened in Wheeling, West Virginia, for the “All of the Above” Policy Masterclass. Twenty-nine participants from 15 states – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming – and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia participated in the Masterclass. West Virginia Senate President and Lieutenant Governor Craig Blair, 2023 – 2024 Chair of CSG South, provided pre-recorded opening remarks. 

Over three days, participants engaged in programming covering myriad topics related to energy policy. Briefings included topics such as energy security and resilience, federal funding opportunities to strengthen the grid and incentivize local economic development, the future of nuclear energy, permitting policy and reform, carbon capture and sequestration, solar energy and new economy jobs in Appalachia, and the future of energy generation in America. Participants also toured the Alliance Resource Partners’ Tunnel Ridge surface mine and had the opportunity to “choose their own adventure”, opting between an underground mine tour at American Consolidated Natural Resources, or a tour of the MPX Majorsville plant.  

Experts from several prestigious organizations briefed attendees, including the following: 

  • Arnold Ventures
  • ACORE
  • National Association of State Energy Officials
  • HolTec International
  • Brookings Institute
  • Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Diversified Energy
  • Equinox Global Solutions
  • Edelen Renewables
  • West Virginia Legislature
  • Louisiana Legislature

Hosted by CSG South, participants in this Masterclass increased their knowledge of energy policy and examples of state solutions by interacting with subject matter experts and colleagues from across the country.

  • Speaker Roger Hanshaw, West Virginia
  • Senator Bob Hensgens, Louisiana, Vice Chair, CSG South Energy & Environment Committee
  • Senator Mary Boren, Oklahoma
  • Assemblywoman Tracy Brown May, Nevada
  • Representative Jon Conrad, Wyoming
  • Representative Aaron Crossley, Missouri
  • Representative Jack Fortner, Arkansas
  • Senator Hillman Frazier, Mississippi
  • Representative Donna Givens, Alabama
  • Delegate Scot Heckert, West Virginia
  • Representative Jason Hughes, Louisiana
  • Senator Scott Kawasaki, Alaska
  • Representative Cathy Kipp, Colorado
  • Representative Greg Kmetz, Montana
  • Delegate Daniel Linville, West Virginia
  • Representative Kevin McDugle, Oklahoma
  • Representative Orlando Paden, Mississippi
  • Member of Legislative Assembly Iain Rankin, Nova Scotia
  • Senator Cody Rogers, Oklahoma
  • Delegate George Street, West Virginia
  • Representative Lisa Subeck, Wisconsin
  • Senator Robin Webb, Kentucky
  • Delegate Mark Zatezalo, West Virginia
  • Mr. Robert Akers, West Virginia
  • Ms. Abby Berquist, South Carolina
  • Mr. Jeff Billings, West Virginia
  • Ms. Endra Curry, South Carolina
  • Mr. Mark Hendrick, South Carolina
  • Mr. Zachary Rogers, Arkansas

Presentations:

Click here for presentations

Photos:

Click here for photos

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Southern Pulse Newsletter, November 2023

November is a month full of good food, laughter, and a time to reflect on all we are thankful for. As we approach the closure of our fall programming, our office is taking a moment to reflect on the remarkable achievements we’ve experienced, including three outstanding Policy Masterclasses, CALS, SAGE, and our LSA Director’s Group Meeting.  Thank you to everyone who attended our programs, and we hope you continue to stay engaged into 2024! 

The small yet mighty team at CSG South extends thanks to all our members for the ability to collaborate, network, and build lasting relationships, allowing us to serve as your nonpartisan regional resource. Guided by our values and passion, our team navigates through busy months filled with travel, fall programming, research and writing, and a long list of to-dos. We could not do our work without you and are so blessed!  

To all our members, we wish you a peaceful and restful holiday season surrounded by friends and loved ones. We can’t wait to see you again soon! 

All the best,
Lindsey G.

Click here to read Southern Pulse- November 2023

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CSG South Senior Policy Analyst Cody Allen Testified to Lawmakers on the State of School Property Insurance

On Thursday, October 26, CSG South Senior Policy Analyst Cody Allen spoke before an Oklahoma Joint Interim Study Committee examining the state of public school property insurance in the region and possible policy solutions. His presentation to this Joint Education Committee hearing, chaired by Representative Rhonda Baker and Senator Darcy Jech, focused on the North Carolina Public School Insurance Fund, established in 1949 by the General Assembly, as an equitable and lower-cost property insurance option for school districts. Notably, this voluntary program currently enrolls approximately 68 percent of the state’s local education agencies – along with community colleges and charter schools, who choose to participate. He also touched on legislation considered and enacted in Kentucky, Texas, and West Virginia and emergency appropriations from Arkansas to address this crisis and assist struggling school systems. Allen closed his testimony by highlighting the nationwide scope of the property insurance crisis and acknowledging states are continuing to study this issue as they prepare for the 2024 legislative session.

Click here for presentation

Click here to watch the recording

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