SLC 2021 Logo

Program Agenda

All programs and events, unless otherwise noted, will be at the Grand Hyatt Nashville.

(Clicking on individual sessions provides additional details. Alternatively, to show all session descriptions.)

Attending substantive committee sessions may qualify for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for state government officials in SLC member states. Substantive committee sessions are identified with a superscript CLE following the session title. Forms and further information will be available on-site at meeting registration.

Saturday, July 10

7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Registration

11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Supreme Court Update

As the Supreme Court tackles its current term, many new cases of interest to states and local governments have been added, ranging from a takings case to a case involving college athlete pay. This session assesses the implications of those cases for state governments and previews what the rest of the 2021 term may hold.

The State and Local Legal Center supports state and local government interests in Supreme Court litigation and, since 1983, has filed more than 300 amicus curiae briefs in the court on their behalf. These briefs help the Supreme Court understand the practical implications of their decisions for state and local governments.

Lisa Soronen, Executive Director, State and Local Legal Center, Washington, D.C.

COVID-19: A New Operating Model for State Government

COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of the workforce as we know it and state government is no exception. This session will explore the adaptability and resiliency of various state governments across the SLC region during the pandemic and how they envision these new processes will guide their work in the future.

Demographic Changes in State Government

The demographics of the nation have experienced great change in the past 50 years. With most Baby Boomers expected to retire in the next decade and diversity in race and gender increasing nationally among the American workforce, this trend is projected to continue for the foreseeable future. This session explores changes in age, race, and gender demographics and how they will affect the U.S. workforce and state governments.

Data Protection: Cybersecurity and Unemployment Claim Fraud

While unemployment claim fraud has always remained to be an issue among states, the problem has developed to varying degrees, including a new wave of scammers who use online forums and messaging apps to access people's personal information. With many states using older technologies to operate a significantly larger influx of unemployment claims due to COVID-19, this session will discuss how scammers overseas access the data and risks to look for and avoid.

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Executive Committee Session

5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Come participate in a unique opportunity to network with your staff colleagues across all branches of state government.

Starts at 6:00 p.m.

Opening Reception at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Sunday, July 11

7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Registration

8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Committee Sessions CLE

Broadband Internet: Access and Challenges in Rural America

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted temporary stay-at-home orders and a move to working and learning from home. This change was difficult for all Americans, but especially so for those living in rural areas that often lack broadband internet access. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 80 percent of the 24 million American households that do not have reliable, affordable high-speed internet are in rural areas. This session examines the reasons why rural Americans lack broadband internet access and policy initiatives aiming to close this digital divide.

COVID-19 and Agriculture: Pandemic Response and Agriculture Forecast

Like all sectors of the American economy, the agriculture sector has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the largest purchasers of agricultural products—including restaurants, schools, and hotels—have closed or operated at limited capacity due to the pandemic. Farmers and ranchers have had to adjust their methods to meet these new trends. This session provides an update on how the agriculture sector is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the outlook for American farmers.

Improving and Expanding Infrastructure in the South

Experts widely agree the nation's infrastructure is in dire need of maintenance and repair. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the national 10-year infrastructure investment gap is nearly $2.6 trillion, up from $2.1 trillion in 2017. In recent years, many Southern states have successfully pushed initiatives to expand and improve critical infrastructure needs, using a combination of higher fuel taxes, bond sales, tolls, and additional fees for electric vehicles to increase revenue. These advancements are essential; however, much more needs to be done. This session provides an overview of ASCE's 2021 Infrastructure Report Card – published every four years to outline the condition and performance of American infrastructure – and highlights the implications for states if a federal infrastructure package passes this year.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important economic development, transportation and cultural affairs issues taken up in SLC member states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state brief the Committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

COVID-19 and School Governance: Lessons for State and Local Policymakers

The unprecedented public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic placed unbelievable stress on education systems. Schools and lawmakers implemented various measures to continue providing education access during a public health emergency. This panel, featuring perspectives from state and local education officials, reexamines public education's shared governance and explores how state and local officials can better collaborate to respond to future crises – learning from responses to COVID.

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Campaign Against Hunger

noon - 1:30 p.m.

Women in Leadership Forum

2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Committee Sessions CLE

New Federal Energy Changes

The start of a new presidential administration brings new priorities, agency heads and rule changes. The Biden administration is pushing for a move to renewable energy and has promised job growth in the renewable energy sector. What will this move mean for states that have relied upon fossil fuel energy and how will it affect employment in the energy sector? This session examines the new federal policy agenda and its impact for Southern states.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Energy Sector

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted temporary stay-at-home orders and a move to working and learning from home. This change profoundly impacted the economy, energy consumption, and daily life for all Americans. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, energy use decreased considerably in 2020 and it will likely take years to return to pre-COVID levels. This session studies how COVID-19 effected the energy sector and the post-COVID outlook for Southern states.

The State of the South: Surveying the Current and Future Fiscal Landscape

In fiscal year 2020, state general fund revenues declined for the first time since the Great Recession. In addition to more than $345 billion in federal aid, states implemented many new and expanded revenue streams to better respond to the changing economic landscape. At the same time, other states looked to reserve accounts or rainy-day funds to assist with pandemic and other related expenses. This session provides a comprehensive examination of the region's current fiscal landscape, focusing on federal funding, new and emerging revenue streams, and reserve funds' health as policymakers look beyond the pandemic.

Public Pensions: Resiliency and Reforms to Weather Uncertainty

While concerns over a complete collapse of public pension systems in response to the pandemic appear to have been overblown, decreased actuarial funding levels and reductions in scheduled pension payments may lead to future pension issues. In summer 2020, according to data collected by Pew, the 50-state pension funding gap rose to an unprecedented $1.4 trillion. Whether reforming pension structures, implementing robust stress testing, or diversifying investments, lawmakers can take various steps to create more resilient and stable public pension systems. This program highlights the resiliency of state public pension systems in response to the recent economic downturn, as well as policies and reforms policymakers may wish to consider implementing to strengthen their systems.

Juvenile Collateral Consequences

A growing number of states have limited restrictions related to education and employment for people with criminal records. However, few have devoted the same attention to how these "collateral consequences" impact people with juvenile records. Like adults, people with juvenile records can experience various barriers to their continued education and employment, even as a result of committing minor offenses. These restrictions especially affect people of color due to persistent racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice involvement rates. This session provides sample legislation and best practices that policymakers can use to ensure people with juvenile records have the opportunity to attain economic and personal success.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation

Human trafficking and exploitation are prevalent throughout the United States, part of a worldwide industry involving billions of dollars and millions of victims. Due to underreporting and the difficulty of identifying victims, there is no official estimate of the number of people trafficked nationally. However, tens of thousands of cases have been reported involving both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. This session highlights approaches to connecting services and treatment for victims of trafficking and exploitation and identifies actions taken in Southern states.

Kathryn A. Moorehead, Director, Violence Against Women Act and Human Trafficking Programs, Office of the Attorney General, South Carolina

5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

We invite CALS and SAGE participants to reconnect with fellow alumni and those interested in the program to come by and learn more!

Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills

Promoting nonpartisan leadership among elected and appointed Southern state government officials

The Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS) is an annual four-day program designed for new and mid-career Southern state officials from all branches to reinforce and refine their skills in communication, conflict resolution, consensus building and critical decision making.

Visit slcatlanta.org/CALS/ for more information and the online application.

Staff Academy for Governmental Excellence Logo

Developing future leaders supporting Southern state governments

The Staff Academy for Governmental Excellence (SAGE) is a professional leadership development program for Southern state legislative, judicial, executive and agency staff. In addition to developing their leadership skills, participants have the opportunity to build a network of their peers from across the Southern region.

Visit slcatlanta.org/SAGE/ for more information and the online application.


Full scholarships — covering the cost of tuition, travel, lodging and meals — are provided to those selected to participate the CALS or SAGE program.

6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Family Night at Topgolf Nashville

Monday, July 12

7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Registration

8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Committee Sessions CLE

Ensuring the Security and Resiliency of America's Energy Grid

In recent years, the security and resiliency of America's energy grid have come under increased scrutiny due to cyber security threats, terrorism, and natural disasters. The 2020 Solar Winds cyberattack and power outages caused by winter storms and other weather events have highlighted the importance of this issue. This session explores the policies and initiatives that governments and utility providers are undertaking to increase the security and resiliency of America's energy grid.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important energy and environment issues taken up in SLC member states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states.

Comparative Data Reports

Prepared annually by legislative staff in Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia, comparative data reports track a multitude of revenue sources, performance measures, program variances and appropriations levels in the SLC member states. They remain invaluable tools for both legislators and legislative staff in crafting effective legislation and implementing policy decisions.

Adult Corrections

Monique Appeaning, Legislative Fiscal Office, Louisiana

Education

Hank Hager, Senate Education Committee, West Virginia

Transportation

Justin Perry and David Talley, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important fiscal and governance issues taken up in SLC member states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states.

The Social and Economic Impact of Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

The aging of America's population poses significant financial and public health challenges for every state. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the number of people currently living with Alzheimer's and related dementias. In 2020, the direct costs of caring for individuals with these diseases amounted to approximately $305 billion nationally – with Medicare and Medicaid covering two-thirds of the total – in addition to billions of dollars in economic value provided by unpaid caregivers. This session reviews actions taken by states to address the social and economic impact of Alzheimer's and related dementias, including providing financial support for unpaid caregivers, building a dementia-trained healthcare workforce, and creating task forces to coordinate statewide efforts to address this critical public health issue.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important human services and public safety issues taken up in SLC member states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state brief the Committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Opening Plenary Session

noon - 1:30 p.m.

Policy Plenary Session

2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Committee Sessions CLE

Rural Hospital Response to COVID-19

With decreasing rural populations, geographic isolation, and changing federal regulations, many rural hospitals have struggled to maintain financial viability in recent years. According to the University of North Carolina's Sheps Center for Health Services Research, 180 rural hospitals have closed across the nation since 2005, with most closures in the South. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted this issue, as many rural Americans had to travel long distances to be tested or receive a vaccine. This session examines the state of rural hospitals in the South, their response to COVID-19, and the outlook for rural hospitals.

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement: Impact to the Agriculture Sector

Many in the agriculture sector have welcomed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Phase One Agreement with China as opportunities to provide their products to growing consumer bases and to promote free and fair trade. The USMCA went into effect in 2020 and replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994. Under the Phase One Agreement, the United States and China agreed to pause tariffs and work to increase trade between the two nations. This session offers a briefing on these two important trade deals and explores how they affect the U.S. agricultural sector.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important agriculture and rural development issues taken up in SLC member states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state brief the committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states.

Utilizing Workshare Programs During Economic Downturns

Workshare programs, also known as short-time compensation, allow businesses to temporarily reduce employees' hours, rather than resorting to layoffs, during economic downturns. Approved workshare programs allow employees to qualify for a percentage of unemployment benefits, determined by the amount of time their hours are cut. Designed to reduce overall unemployment, worksharing has the potential to benefit businesses and workers, while also supporting state unemployment coffers by reducing the total amount paid toward unemployment claims. Currently, more than two dozen states have approved workshare programs. This session provides an overview of worksharing, how it has been used during the current economic downturn, and what actions states can take to utilize such programs in the future.

Emerging Trends in Occupational Licensure Policy

Over the last 60 years, the number of jobs requiring an occupational license has grown from about one in 20 to nearly one in four. When implemented correctly, occupational licensing protects consumers' health and safety by requiring practitioners to undergo designated training and education in their field and enforces oversight in cases where harm occurs. However, differences and disparities in occupational licensing laws across states create barriers for those looking to enter the market and make it harder for workers to relocate across state lines. Specific populations – including military spouses and families, immigrants with work authorization, people with criminal records, and unemployed and dislocated workers – are disproportionately affected by variation in occupational licensing requirements. This session features a panel discussion with experts on enacting licensing regulations that ensure states maintain qualified, successful, and inclusive workforces.

Catching-Up to Get Ahead: State Strategies to Correct the "COVID Slide"

The unprecedented disruptions to education over the past year have led to concerns of long-term effects on student achievement and performance. Using data from fall 2020, research from the NWEA showed concerning drops in math performance while reading achievement stayed level. However, pre-pandemic National Assessment of Education Progress testing exhibited concerning declines in reading and math performance across the Southern region. This program examines possible solutions for policymakers to not only mitigate the pandemic's impact but emerge from this disruption with a more solid foundation for student success.

Now Hiring: Creative Solutions to Address Education Staffing Shortages

Over the past decade, the number of students studying to become educators has plummeted. According to the U.S. Department of Education data for the 2020-2021 school year, 43 states reported shortages in math teachers, 42 in science teachers, and 44 in special education teachers. Overall, there has been a reported 8 percent decrease in total public school employment over the past year. Exacerbated by the pandemic, the myriad issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of teachers and school support staff require creative strategies. This session highlights innovative policy solutions lawmakers can implement to address staffing shortages while maintaining high-quality standards.

Legislative Roundtable

The Legislative Roundtable highlights important education issues taken up in SLC member states during recent legislative sessions. Members from each state brief the Committee on new measures undertaken in their respective states. This provides policymakers with the opportunity to share their experiences with others facing similar challenges and opportunities, exchange ideas, and serves as a foundation for substantive policy discussions.

6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Program Interval

9:00 - 11:30 p.m.

Host State Reception: Oklahoma 2022

Tuesday, July 13

7:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Registration

8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Closing Plenary & Business Breakfast Session

Executive Committee

Meets upon conclusion of the Closing Plenary

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Award Judges Panel CLE

11:15 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Committee Site Visits

Agriculture & Rural Development

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs

Energy & Environment

6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Reception & State Dinner

Please note, this event is intended for guests age 18 and over.

Wednesday, July 14

6:00 a.m. - noon

Departures