Research / Health & Human Services

Policy Analysis | January 2019

Medical Marijuana Laws in Southern States

Anne Roberts Brody, Policy Analyst

Of the 15 states comprising the Southern Legislative Conference, six (Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and West Virginia) have laws establishing comprehensive medical marijuana programs.* Of those, only Florida’s medical marijuana program is fully operational. Programs in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and West Virginia are still in the developmental phases.

Within the public policy community, a consensus has emerged on what constitutes a comprehensive medical marijuana program. Such programs are characterized by four key criteria:

Continue Reading

Other | January 2019

Issues to Watch - 2019

Anne Roberts Brody, Cody Allen and Roger Moore

As the 2019 legislative cycle begins, legislators across the South are preparing and pre-filing legislation to address emerging and relevant policy issues in their states. With its regional focus, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is uniquely positioned to research and identify current and emerging policy issues and trends. This report was prepared by SLC policy analysts Anne Roberts Brody, Cody Allen and Roger Moore as a snapshot of issues and trends that are anticipated to emerge during the 2019 legislative term.

This report previews current and emerging trends that have been identified under the purview of the SLC’s six standing committees, which are relevant to poli­cymakers across the South. The Agriculture and Rural Development preview discusses industrial hemp cultivation and the struggles of rural hospitals, while the Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs preview considers occupational licensing regulations and the funding of transportation and state infrastructure. In Education policy, teacher pay legislation and school counseling are trends to watch for the 2019 legislative term, while the management of coal combustion residuals — commonly referred to as coal ash — is an important emerging issue in the Energy and Environment arena. The Fiscal Affairs and Government Operations preview compares online sales tax legislation in the wake of the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision, and the Human Services and Public Safety preview examines balance billing policy at both the state and federal level.

SLC Issue Brief | October 2018

The Growth of Synthetic Opioids in the South

Roger Moore, Policy Analyst

Download the full report (PDF)

The drug epidemic, driven in large part by the ongoing opioid crisis, continues to ravage tens of thousands of families and communities across the United States. The latest provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released in September 2018, estimated that more than 71,500 drug overdose deaths occurred nationally between January 2017–January 2018, an increase of 6.6 percent during the same period the previous year, and 31.4 percent higher compared to January 2015– January 2016.1 In the Southern region, drug overdoses were responsible for more than 24,000 deaths in 2017, approximately one-third of the national total.

This SLC Issue Brief reviews the rise of dangerous synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, and their evolving role within the broader opioid crisis afflicting the United States. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the popularity of fentanyl and related synthetic opioids will remain unchallenged for the next several years, making it crucial for state and local leaders to understand the extent of the crisis and identify potential solutions for its mitigation.

2018-2019 Chair

Katrina Shealy

South Carolina

Representative Fredrick Love, Arkansas
2018-2019 Vice Chair

Fredrick J. Love


Immediate Past Chair

(Former) Senator
Doug Overbey


Roger Moore
Committee Liaison

Roger Moore
Policy Analyst

Among states’ most pressing concerns are ensuring the public’s general welfare and protection, with both areas constituting increasing shares of state budgets. States have been taking the lead in health policy, welfare reform and child care, and have maintained their predominant role in the areas of public safety, corrections and sentencing. The Human Services & Public Safety Committee has a broad agenda which most typically addresses the challenges states face in the areas of human services and corrections, and policies and programs utilized to meet them. The Committee has undertaken assessments of Medicaid and reform; nursing shortages; long-term healthcare; and such corrections issues as criminal justice DNA statutes; the aging inmate population; female offenders; mental health parity in prisons, and prison staffing patterns in Southern states.

More SLC Research into Health & Human Services

Policy Analysis | September 2018

Poverty Statistics for Southern States

Policy Analysis | August 2018

Suicide Rates in the South

Comparative Data Report | July 2018


SLC Regional Resource | May 2018

Opioids and Organ Donations: A Tale of Two Crises

SLC Special Series Report | December 2017

Long-Term Care in the South (Part II)

Comparative Data Report | July 2017


Policy Analysis | April 2017

Cross-State Health Insurance Policies

SLC Special Series Report | January 2017

Long-Term Care in the South (Part 1)

Comparative Data Report | June 2016


SLC Regional Resource | May 2016

Spread of Zika: Impact on Southern States

SLC Regional Resource | April 2015

Vapor Rising: E-Cigarettes in the SLC States

Webinar | October 2014

Food Safety Modernization Act

Comparative Data Report | August 2014


SLC Regional Resource | March 2014

A Special Condition: Medical Marijuana in SLC States

Comparative Data Report | July 2013


Comparative Data Report | July 2012


Policy Analysis | September 2011

Prospective Changes in Long-Term Care Policies

Policy Analysis | May 2011

A Prescription Drug Epidemic

Comparative Data Report | March 2011


SLC Regional Resource | July 2010

Meth: Resurgence in the South

SLC Regional Resource | January 2010

Autism and Schools

Policy Analysis | January 2010

Which SLC states have drug recycling programs?

SLC Issue Alert | January 2009

An HIV Epidemic?

Comparative Data Report | December 2008


Comparative Data Report | November 2007


Comparative Data Report | November 2006


Comparative Data Report | November 2005


Comparative Data Report | November 2004


Comparative Data Report | November 2003


Comparative Data Report | November 2002


Comparative Data Report | November 2001


Comparative Data Report | November 2000