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The World Health Organization reports that the current outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), which is believed to have begun in March 2014 in West Africa, is the largest and most complex outbreak of the virus since its discovery in 1976. It was not until August 2014, when two American missionaries were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after contracting the disease in Africa, that most Americans became aware of the outbreak. Nearly two months later, the first diagnosis of Ebola was reported in the United States.
This SLC Issue Alert provides a brief account of some of the efforts SLC states have taken in reaction to the Ebola virus disease, as of October 20, 2014. As governors across the nation continue to meet with health officials in their states, the policies and efforts to combat this disease, for which there is no proven treatment, undoubtedly will continue to evolve.
The Southern Legislative Conference will host a complimentary webinar addressing waste storage and water contamination at 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EDT, Thursday, October 30, 2014. In SLC member states, the coal and chemical industries are essential to state economies. Given the importance of these industries to the region for both economic development and employment opportunities, legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with the need for environmental protection and conservation. Hazardous spills in two SLC states—West Virginia and North Carolina—have focused attention on this careful balance. This webinar will examine the spills in those three states and subsequent legislative action to offer lessons learned for other states.
General Assembly leadership, mayors and business leaders of Kentucky gathered today to officially announce Lexington as the host of the 70th Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference, convening July 16-20, 2016. The SLC Annual Meeting offers Southern legislators an opportunity to meet head-on the challenges facing the region by sharing information, experience and understanding across state lines. As current chair elect of the SLC, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers will guide the SLC the deliberations of the 70th Annual Meeting and the Conference. House Speaker Greg Stumbo also announced his commitment to serving as co-chair of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee.
A delegation of state transportation leaders from seven SLC member states, including Senator Bill Hightower, Alabama; Representative George Moraitis, Florida; Senator Steve Gooch, Georgia; Representative Walt Leger, Louisiana; Senator Gary Stanislawski, Oklahoma; Representative Larry Phillips, Texas; and Senator David Marsden, Virginia, recently traveled to Panama for high level briefings on the Panama Canal expansion project. The delegation agenda was designed to reinforce the need for Southern ports to continue essential infrastructure enhancements to accommodate the significantly larger vessels and expanded cargo volumes expected to arrive after the completion of the Panama Canal expansion. This was the third consecutive year that an SLC legislative delegation had travelled to Panama for briefings on the Canal expansion project.
A free webinar, held at 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EDT, Friday, October 3, and arranged by the Regional Offices of the Council of State Governments and the State Ag and Rural Leaders, will follow-up on previous FSMA webinars by examining the FDA’s most recent actions implementing the law, focusing on the supplemental rule proposals and their implications for those in the food and feed supply chain. Specific questions can be submitted ahead of time as well as during the webinar. Special thanks to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture for their collaboration.
The Council of State Governments’ 2014 Transportation Academy for transportation leaders from state legislatures across the country was held in Washington, D.C., on September 15-17, 2014. The Academy included a series of high-level policy discussions, briefings from a range of nationally-recognized transportation experts, meetings with members of Congress and U.S. Department of Transportation officials, and a tour and presentations on Northern Virginia’s latest transportation strategies. Among those attending the CSG Transportation Academy were three legislators from the SLC: Representative Jay Roberts, chair, House Transportation Committee, Georgia; Senator Ernie Harris, chair, Senate Transportation Committee, Kentucky; and Representative William “Bill” Brawley, chair, House Transportation Committee, North Carolina.
Topics of discussion included the Condition of the Nation’s Infrastructure & Resources for Policymakers; States and the Future of Transportation Funding; The Business Community & Infrastructure Investment; Perspectives on the Federal Role in Transportation; Future of the Federal-State-Local Partnerships on Transportation; and Public-Private Partnerships: The Virginia & Maryland Experiences. In addition, legislators attending the Transportation Academy toured several Northern Virginia transportation megaprojects - hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) – that included briefings on Virginia’s approach to public-private partnerships.
SLC Fiscal Policy Manager Sujit CanagaRetna testified on September 10, 2014, before Louisiana's Transportation Funding Task Force. Mr. CanagaRetna's presentation and remarks examined state funding mechanisms for transportation, especially those employed by SLC member states, and provided details on the nation’s transportation and infrastructure network, reasons for current funding and maintenance challenges, common revenue sources and financing tools deployed by states to fund transportation, and recent actions in the states, both proposed and enacted, related to funding transportation. The Task Force, comprising House and Senate members, DOTD Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, and construction and engineering industry representatives, convened in the Louisiana House of Representatives for a public and recorded session, documented here. The presentation also was covered by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and The Republic of Columbus, Indiana. Please visit the SLC Presentations page for further links and materials.
On Thursday, September 18, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. (EDT), the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) – a partner of SLC – will host a complimentary webinar that will examine EPA’s recently proposed rule to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. The webinar, which is open to all SLC members, will provide a focused look at legal issues raised within the proposed rule and its implementation for states and local governments on which they may want to address in their written comments.
EPA has invited comment on a number of issues that may have legal implications for states. Given the compliance obligations this rule will create for states, the National Governors Association has worked with the SLLC to develop a presentation that will provide states with an opportunity to explore topics that will most directly affect them. Some of these topics will be addressed in the webinar and include: