2017 SLC News and Updates


January 17, 2017

New SLC Special Series Report on Long-Term Care in the South
Among the many concerns currently facing America's healthcare system, few are more significant, both medically and fiscally, than long-term care (LTC). Broadly defined as a range of services that support individuals who are limited in their ability to care for themselves, long-term care stands to become one of America's foremost healthcare challenges in the years ahead. With the continuing rise of U.S citizens 65 and over — statistically, the demographic most in need of LTC — states need to begin preparing for the growing pressures that will be placed on their budgets by the nation's aging population. This SLC Special Series Report explores the challenges long-term care poses for states in the SLC region. Subsequent reports will examine possibilities for managing long-term care and highlight actions that states in the SLC region have taken to tackle this important issue.

Applications are Now Open for the 2017 STAR Award

January 24, 2017

Applications Now Open for 2017 STAR Award

The Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG) is now accepting applications for its 2017 State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) award for innovative state government programs and services. The deadline for submitting your program for consideration is May 26, 2017.
The CSG Southern Office recognizes that state employees work hard, not only to provide outstanding services, but also by striving to develop and adapt new and improved programs to make their states a better place to live and work. Such efforts should be recognized, and innovative ideas should be shared among colleagues.
For nearly 40 years, CSG has identified and promoted exceptional state government programs. Through the STAR award, the Southern Office recognizes impactful, creative, effective and transferable state government solutions. Innovative program submissions are accepted from a wide array of state agencies, departments and institutions operating within the executive, legislative and judicial governmental branches.
We encourage you to take a few minutes to submit one or more of your state programs for consideration.
Apply Now!
More Information:
STAR Award page
2017 STAR Brochure
How to Apply
Application Form


January 24, 2017

Southern Office of CSG Webinar: Long-Term Care: Challenges and Solutions for States
Among the many concerns currently facing America’s healthcare system, few are more significant, both medically and fiscally, than long-term care (LTC). With the continuing rise of U.S. citizens 65 and older – statistically, the demographic most in need of LTC – states need to begin preparing for the growing pressures that will be placed on their budgets as a result of the nation’s aging population. Presently, LTC costs are unaffordable for large segments of the population, forcing many LTC recipients to instead rely on other sources for support, primarily Medicaid and unpaid caregiving from friends and family. This webinar addresses the problems LTC poses for states; highlight state and federal legislative efforts to stem rising LTC costs; and include a presentation about long-term care challenges and potential solutions in Virginia.
ARCHIVED WEBINAR NOW AVAILABLE
Presenters:
Kathleen Ujvari, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute
Jeff Lunardi, Principal Legislative Analyst, Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission
Anne Tumlinson, CEO, Anne Tumlinson Innovations LLC

March 1, 2017

2017 SLC Annual Meeting Registration Now Available
Online registration for the 71st Annual Meeting of the Southern Legislative Conference is now open, with discounted registration rates available until June 9. Each year, the SLC Annual Meeting provides policymakers a forum for engaging regional and national policy experts on the issues that matter most to them and their constituents. Of equal benefit, numerous informal discussions allow state government officials to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, a hallmark of the SLC Annual Meeting. Regional and national policy experts address an array of topics germane to the Conference’s six standing committees, which serve as the foundation for policy discussions.

In addition to the substantive programs, the Annual Meeting shines a spotlight on the Host State’s year-long planning to accommodate members from across the region with special activities and events unique to both the host city and state. Click here for more information or register now to secure your spot at the Premier Public Policy Forum for Southern State Legislatures.

March 6, 2017

Arkansas Establishes Used Tire Recycling and Accountability Program
On Tuesday, March 2, SLC Policy Analyst Anne Roberts Brody attended the signing of Arkansas House Bill 1267, creating the Used Tire Recycling and Accountability Program. During the 2017 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly, she testified on House Bill 1267 before the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee of both chambers and, in December 2015, Ms. Roberts Brody testified on waste tire laws and regulations in Southern states before a joint meeting of the Arkansas House and Senate Committee. The testimony provided at these committee meetings was founded on the SLC Regional Resource, Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Waste Tire Disposal Laws in the Southern States, authored by Ms. Roberts Brody and analyzing waste tire laws and regulations in Southern states.

House Bill 1267 simplifies Arkansas's used tire fee structure by creating a rim removal fee, introduces an electronic uniform manifest system, provides funding for illegal dumping control officers and incentivizes the beneficial end-use of waste tires.

April 3, 2017

New SLC Regional Resource | Body-Worn Cameras: Laws and Policies in the South
In recent years, several high-profile, law enforcement officer-involved shootings have thrust body-worn cameras (BWCs), or the lack thereof, into the spotlight. Proponents of BWCs maintain that they increase law enforcement transparency and improve relations between law enforcement and citizens. In contrast, BWC opponents argue that the cameras give an incomplete picture of incidents and add another cost to operating budgets which, in many law enforcement agencies (LEAs), already are stretched thin.
Due to the recent emergence of BWCs and their rapidly developing technology, LEAs and governments still are developing policies and statutes to regulate their use. This SLC Regional Resource examines the history of and predecessors to BWCs; policy issues associated with them, including considerations for implementation such as data storage, staffing and privacy; and existing laws and policies that regulate their use in the 15 SLC member states.


May 1, 2017

New SLC Report: Wind Energy in Southern States

The latest Special Series Report examines wind energy in the Southern region.

Legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with environmental protection. Because Southern states are rich in traditional energy resources, as the renewable energy sector has grown, so have concerns about job losses.

Wind energy can provide economic and environmental benefits to states, while adding to the diversification of a state’s energy portfolio. These benefits include long-term cost competitiveness, economic development, support for rural, agrarian communities and reductions in energy-related water use.

Renewable energy generation technologies are experiencing unprecedented growth. Aided by state and federal tax credits, production costs are declining and implementation is increasing.

Forthcoming reports in this series will:

  • Present case studies from three SLC states
  • Examine SLC states’ capacity for wind energy generation and utilization
  • Analyze state incentives
  • Explore the challenges of wind energy generation in the region

June 1, 2017

Agriculture and Food Law Webinar
Agriculture and food law at the local, state and national level constantly is changing, with impacts to farmers, foresters, food producers, and rural residents.  Since January, significant legal developments impacting rural and agricultural policy have emerged, including: repeal of the Clean Water Rule, state “purple paint” legislation, property tax assessment for farmland, and organic practice rules.  This webinar examined the implications of these and other recent legal developments in agriculture and food policy.

This webinar was presented by the National Agricultural Law Center and the regional offices of The Council of State Governments.

Presenter:
Harrison Pittman, Director, National Agricultural Law Center, Arkansas

ARCHIVED WEBINAR

POWERPOINT SLIDES


June 21, 2017

New SLC Regional Resource - STEM Teacher Preparation and Retention in the South

As technological advancements continue driving innovation and automation across much of the global economy, STEM subjects — including coursework in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — have increasingly become an essential component of educational standards at all levels, from as early as pre-kindergarten up to secondary education and beyond. Local, state and federal policymakers all have emphasized the importance of STEM coursework to America's students, appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to ensure the next generation of workers is equipped with the skills and knowledge to compete in the global workforce.

For the United States to remain competitive in the global economy, it will be important for states to address these shortages in the years ahead. Not to do so compounds the risks that students will fall behind in many critical skills that are essential to maintaining sustainable economic growth in today's globalized, automation-driven workforce. This SLC Regional Resource examines various initiatives in Southern states to increase the number of qualified primary and secondary teachers equipped with the skills and knowledge to successfully educate students in STEM subjects.


August 18, 2017

U.S.-Canada Technical Study Tour

A delegation of legislators from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) participated in a technical study tour of the Canada-U.S. border, August 17-18, 2017. Sponsored by SLC, in partnership with the Midwestern Legislative Conference and Consulates General of Canada in Detroit and Atlanta, the technical study tour was designed to inform legislators of the particular importance of the Windsor-Detroit crossing on Canada-U.S. trading and relations. Participants from the South included Senator Thomas Alexander, South Carolina; Senator Kevin Blackwell, Mississippi; Representative Jeanie Lauer, Missouri, chair of SLC's Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee; Representative Brian Strickland, Georgia; Senator Cam Ward, Alabama; and Senator Mike Wilson, Kentucky.

During the two-day visit, participants received briefings from the Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to learn about cross-border security and ongoing initiatives between the two nations to ensure the Windsor-Detroit crossing, one of the busiest in North America, remains safe and efficiently operated. Participants learned about the history and organization of the Canada-U.S. Shiprider program – a unique partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police that facilitates joint protection of shared waterways – and had an opportunity to ride along the Detroit River on a Shiprider vessel.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority briefed participants on the ongoing planning and preliminary construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge which, once completed, will significantly expand and facilitate Canada-U.S. trading. As proposed, the bridge will provide additional trading capacity, improve processing of goods and services crossing the border, and create two new ports of entry that will be among the largest in North America. The bridge is being designed, built, financed, operated and maintained using a public-private partnership (P3) model, a cooperative venture between a public sector entity and a private sector partner to ensure the project's long-term sustainability. The bridge is expected to be completed in 2022.

Participants also attended an event hosted by the U.S.-Canada Business Association to hear from key border stakeholders heavily involved in Canada-U.S. trading and relations. Presentations during the event focused on regulatory, labor and security concerns that directly impact cross-border goods and services between the two nations.

The relationship between Canada and the United States is one of the largest and most important in the world. According to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, more than $840 billion in goods and services is traded between the two nations each year, 25 percent of which crosses the Windsor-Detroit crossing. Canada-U.S. trading and investments support approximately nine million U.S. jobs, including more than 2.9 million jobs in the 15 Southern states. Canada is the most important export destination for 12 of the 15 Southern states; for the remaining three states, it is among the top three destinations. In the Southern region, trading and investments between Canada and the United States generate approximately $89.5 billion each year.


SLC Delegation to Cuba | October 3-6, 2017

October 13, 2017

SLC Delegation to Cuba | October 3-6, 2017

A delegation of presiding officers from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) recently travelled to Havana, Cuba, to gain insight into the nation’s growing private sector, agricultural trade opportunities, and to participate in high-level briefings with ministry officials.

Despite a history of economic sanctions, the United States has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports up to 80 percent of its food. Given Cuba’s geographic and economic position, states in the Southern region of the United States have competitive export advantages in terms of production, quality, logistics and proximity. Of all states exporting to Cuba, Southern states comprise nine of the top 10.

Delegates toured the Organopónico Vivero Farming Cooperative (UBPC), a 4-hectare farm located on the outskirts of Havana. In response to the food crisis in the 1990s, urban organic garden projects, such as the UBPC, were initiated throughout the country. Participants learned about the history of the farm, growing techniques, the distribution and sales of their products and how the cooperative has impacted the lives of the workers.

Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director General of the United States General Division of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefed delegates on the status of U.S. – Cuban relations, as well as opportunities for partnership and collaboration. Delegates also participated in briefings with senior officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Foreign Trade and Investment, Education, and Transportation to learn about Cuba’s growing economy and industrial development.

Delegation participants included Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, Georgia; Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, Virginia; and Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger III, Louisiana.


October 20, 2017

Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills - Class of 2017

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) of The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently wrapped up the 11th annual Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS). The program was hosted by our esteemed partners, the University of Arkansas System and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute.

The 2017 CALS program included leaders from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The training sessions focused on essential topics such as leadership development, ethics, interpersonal exchanges, and communication skills.

Participants convened at the Old Statehouse for the closing dinner. The closing keynote address on the importance of leadership in all levels of government and lessons from history was presented by Richard Norton Smith, celebrated historian and author.


November 1, 2017

Criminal Mental Health Project - Miami, Florida

A delegation of legislators from the Southern Legislative Conference attended a study tour of the Criminal Mental Health Project (CMHP) in Miami, Florida, October 25 – October 27, 2017. A nationally renowned program run by the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, CMHP diverts nonviolent defendants with serious mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders from the criminal justice system into community-based treatment programs. CMHP has served as a model throughout Florida and beyond.

During the two-day visit, delegates attended a private discussion with Associate Administrative Judge Steve Leifman, who founded CMHP in 2000, where they learned about the successes and challenges of CMHP’s many programs, including pre-booking crisis intervention training (CIT), misdemeanor and felony jail diversion, forensic hospital diversion, and access to an array of state and federal benefits. Delegates also had the opportunity to talk first-hand with a CMHP recovery peer specialist, an individual who is diagnosed with a mental illness and now works as a member of CMHP’s jail diversion program to assist participants with community re-entry and engagement in continuing treatment and services.

The SLC delegation observed the felony jail diversion court docket and received a tour of the mental health diversion facility, an ongoing project that will expand the capacity to divert individuals from the criminal justice system into comprehensive treatment programs that will leverage local, state and federal resources when completed in 2019.  Delegates also participated in a ride-along with CIT law enforcement officers who have received specialized training by CMHP experts to interact with individuals in Miami-Dade County suspected of having mental illnesses and/or substance abuse issues.

More than 5,000 law enforcement personnel from all 36 municipalities in Miami-Dade County have received CIT training from CMHP experts. An estimated 16,000-19,000 mental health crisis calls are received each year by CIT officers, resulting in thousands of diversions to crisis units and significant reductions in the number of arrests. Since 2010, the Miami-Dade Police Department and City of Miami Police Department have responded to approximately 72,000 mental health crisis calls, leading to nearly 40,000 diversions and only 138 arrests. 

Delegation participants included Sharon Cooper, Georgia, former chair of SLC’s Human Services and Public Safety Committee; Representative Robert Cornejo, Missouri; Representative Allen McNeill, North Carolina; and Senator Katrina Shealy, South Carolina, vice chair of SLC’s Human Services and Public Safety Committee.


November 3, 2017

New SLC Issue Brief | NAFTA Trade Data – SLC States, Canada and Mexico
A new issue brief from the SLC compares historical data from SLC’s various publications to the current position of Southern states’ exports and imports to and from Canada and Mexico. SLC has studied the centrality of the Southern region’s economic integration with Canada and Mexico since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) originally was implemented in 1994. After NAFTA’s implementation, the SLC published multiple analyses related to the trade agreement’s impact on the region, including The Influence of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Economic and Social Programs Supported by State Governments in the South; The North American Free Trade Agreement: Changing Economic and Social Programs of Southern States; and NAFTA ’95: A Report Card. The historical context provided by data in SLC’s various publications is essential to understanding the extent to which regional trade has been influenced by NAFTA, and the ways in which it could be impacted if the trade agreement is significantly modified in the months ahead.

November 29, 2017

SLC Delegation to Cuba | November 7-10, 2017

A second delegation of presiding officers from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) recently travelled to Havana, Cuba, to gain insight into the nation’s growing private sector, agricultural trade opportunities, and to participate in high-level briefings with ministry officials.

Despite a history of economic sanctions, the United States has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports up to 80 percent of its food.  Given Cuba’s geographic and economic position, states in the Southern region of the United States have competitive export advantages in terms of production, quality, logistics and proximity.  Of all states exporting to Cuba, Southern states comprise nine of the top 10.

To gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of U.S. – Cuban relations, delegates met with Larry Gumbiner, the newly-appointed Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Mr. Gumbiner briefed delegates on recent diplomatic developments, opportunities for trade partnerships, and the Trump Administration’s approach to future engagement.

Ms. Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, Director General of the United States General Division of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefed delegates on the status of U.S. – Cuban relations, as well as opportunities for partnership and collaboration.  Delegates also participated in briefings with senior officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Foreign Trade and Investment, Education, and Transportation to learn about Cuba’s growing economy and industrial development.

Delegates toured organic and cooperative farming operations in the Cuban countryside. Participants learned about the history of the farm, growing techniques, the distribution and sales of their products and how the cooperative has impacted the lives of the workers.

Delegation participants included Speaker Philip Gunn, Mississippi; Speaker Tim Moore, North Carolina; and Speaker Jeremy Gillam, Arkansas.


December 1, 2017

New SLC Special Series Report | Long-Term Care in the South (Part II)

As the nation’s population continues to trend older, it increasingly is apparent that long-term care (LTC) — defined as a range of medical and social services required by individuals in need of extended support due to illness and frailty — is becoming a growing concern for state and federal policymakers. Across the country, the number of people aged 65 and over is growing rapidly, a shift that will continue for several decades. As noted in Part I of this SLC Special Series Report, there will be approximately 88 million people over age 65 by 2050, almost double the 47.8 million recorded in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More importantly, the number of people aged 85 and older, the demographic most likely to require longterm care, also will grow dramatically, from 6.3 million in 2015, to an estimated 19.0 million in 2050.

Part I of this SLC Special Series Report detailed many of the broader concerns that long-term care poses for Southern states, including challenging demographic shifts, deteriorating health status among key segments of the population and prohibitively high costs of various LTC services. Part II outlines the role that insurance plays in financing long-term care and reviews potential insurance-related solutions that could create more affordable care in the future for states and LTC recipients.

Download the full report (PDF)


December 5, 2017

Electronic Filing of Regulations Staff Exchange - November 27-28, 2017 | Richmond, Virginia

The Southern Legislative Conference recently arranged for staff members from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission to visit Richmond, Virginia, to learn more about the state’s Regulations Information System (RIS), a web-enabled application to file regulations and related items with the Registrar of Regulations for publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations, as well as a demonstration of the system. Staff members from the Virginia Division of Legislative Services briefed their Kentucky counterparts on the development and main functions of the RIS and also provided a demonstration of the system. Participants from both states also met with Governor Terry McAuliffe to discuss the RIS program, the staff exchange and the work of the SLC.