2021 SLC News and Updates


March 16, 2021

CSG Justice Center Releases Analysis on Structural Barriers Caused by Juvenile Records

A first-of-its-kind analysis from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, Reducing Structural Barriers to School and Work for People with Juvenile Records, examines education- and employment-related barriers in 12 states that affect people following their involvement with the juvenile justice system.

People with a juvenile record can face legal barriers—imposed through state statute or employers and postsecondary institutions—that prevent them from continuing their education, earning credentials, and obtaining meaningful employment. And these consequences even apply to people who committed a minor offense, such as trespassing, or a status offense—acts that are illegal only when committed by juveniles—such as truancy or breaking curfew.

While statutes in the studied states acknowledge the difference between juvenile adjudications and adult criminal convictions, the CSG Justice Center found that state policies don't effectively distinguish between the two and are often undermined by vague language, explicit exceptions, and a lack of clear criteria. This is particularly evident in consideration of "good moral character" or "fitness" requirements for a particular job or license that often lack guidance for how decisions will be made, and thus, could include a consideration of juvenile records.

The center also is hosting a live event open to the public, including study presentation and panel discussion, on Wednesday, April 21st from 1-2 pm EDT. Registration for the virtual event is available here.


June 18, 2021

CSG COVID-19 Resources for State Leaders

The Council of State Governments COVID-19 Resources for State Leaders provides updated information on state economic recovery, interactive COVID-19 vaccination maps, state executive orders, and more.

CSG’s State Recovery Resource Center provides the organization’s ongoing analyses of the various components of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) in relation to housing and education, and other resources state leaders can use to inform state economic and civic recovery.

States across the country have submitted COVID-19 vaccination plans to be reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Plans are based upon the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations as developed by the CDC. Visit CSG’s interactive vaccination plan map to view each state’s current draft vaccination plan.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking overall COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration across the country. For state by state numbers on total number of vaccines distributed and total doses administered, please visit the CDC's COVID data tracker.

View all of CSG’s COVID-19 Resources here.

Are you a state leader with specific questions about the American Rescue Plan or other state recovery efforts? CSG Research and Policy Analysts are eager to answer your questions. Send them an email at research@csg.org to ask a question or request technical assistance.


July 14, 2021

2021 State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Recipients

The Southern Legislative Conference's State Transformation in Action (STAR) 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.

Congratulations to the 2021 STAR recipients! After an extensive application review and finalist presentations at the SLC 75th Anniversary Annual Meeting, this year's recipients are the Virginia Military Medics and Corpsman (MMAC) program from the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and the Virginia Housing Reform for Inmates with Serious Mental Illnesses (SMI) program from the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Virginia Military Medics and Corpsman (MMAC), Virginia Department of Veterans Services

Virginia’s Military Medics and Corpsmen program offers clinical, leadership, and non-clinical career pathways to veterans and military spouses seeking healthcare careers within the commonwealth. When they transition to the civilian workforce, veterans may struggle to translate their military healthcare experience and into civilian healthcare employment. Many are unemployed, underemployed or not working in the healthcare field. The Military Medics and Corpsmen program addresses this challenge by recruiting, reviewing, and referring candidates to healthcare employers statewide. By facilitating hiring MMAC reduces healthcare staffing shortages and supports quality patient care.

Virginia Housing Reform for Inmates with Serious Mental Illnesses (SMI), Virginia Department of Corrections

The Virginia Department of Corrections’ Secure Diversionary Treatment Program addresses a critical need to safely manage the increasing population of inmates with a Serious Mental Illness (SMI) in the criminal justice system. The program was developed to divert inmates with an SMI who are at risk of engaging in disruptive and serious incidents from a restrictive housing setting into a program where their unique needs are met and supported. By diverting these inmates into a treatment-focused environment, dedicated staff can provide opportunities for participants to manage their mental illness, improve pro-social metrics, and eventually thrive in the general population or in the community upon release.

View all STAR presentations here.


July 19, 2021

2021 Carter/Hellard Legislative Staff Award Recipient

Named in honor of the late Sam Carter, Director of Research of the South Carolina House of Representatives, and the late Vic Hellard, Jr., Director of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, the Carter/Hellard Legislative Staff Award is given to a staff member who has demonstrated excellence and dedication in service to state legislators in the South.

Ms. Teresa Arnold, Deputy Director for Research and Communications for the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission,was selected by the Legislative Directors Group as the 2021 recipient. Teresa was nominated by Jay Hartz, Director of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.

"In her 18 years with LRC, Teresa’s dedication to service and exceptional skills have allowed her to successfully take on wide a range of duties critical to the work of the Kentucky general assembly." - Jay Hartz


July 20, 2021

Thomas B. Murphy Longevity of Service Award

The Thomas B. Murphy Longevity of Service Award is presented to a legislative member of the SLC who has demonstrated a commitment to public service.

The recipient of the 2021 Thomas B. Murphy Longevity of Service Award is Senator Emmett Hanger of Virginia. Senator Hanger served in the House of Delegates from 1983 - 1992 and in the Senate from 1996 to the present. Senator Hanger has been a longstanding SLC committee member and has served as chair of the Human Services and Public Safety Committee in 2013 and 2014.


Workforce Development
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September 13-14, 2021 | Atlanta, Georgia

Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Workshop
Enhancing Workforce Development in the South

Legislators and staff from across the Southern region convened in Atlanta for a policy workshop, titled “Enhancing Workforce Development in the South.” Representatives from eight CSG South states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia – participated in the two-day event.

Organized by the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG-South), the workshop afforded participants an opportunity to examine state- and region-specific workforce development policy issues, including expanding apprenticeship programs to boost skills and employee readiness; developing safe and effective occupational licensure laws; strengthening workforce readiness and retention in rural areas; and building comprehensive broadband infrastructure to serve all urban and rural areas. Presentations were given by The Council of State Governments’ Center of Innovation and Justice Center, Federation of State Medical Boards, Pineland Telephone Cooperative in Metter, Georgia, Urban Institute, Jobs for the Future, and Consulate General of Switzerland in Atlanta.

In addition to these briefings, participants engaged in scheduled roundtable discussions, allowing them to identify common workforce development concerns, share best practices and obstacles, and review recently enacted legislation. By engaging with peers and subject matter experts, participants deepened their understanding of other states’ efforts and successes, along with existing challenges.

The workshop was hosted by CSG South’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee. The participants included:

  • Representative Randall Shedd, Alabama
  • Representative Margie Wilcox, Alabama
  • Representative Stan Berry, Arkansas
  • Representative Chuck Martin, Georgia
  • Representative Kenneth Walker, Mississippi
  • Senator Adam Pugh, Oklahoma
  • Senator Thomas Alexander, South Carolina
  • Senator Jeff Yarbro, Tennessee
  • Delegate Mark Keam, Virginia
  • John Friedenreich, Legislative Fiscal Analyst, Alabama
  • Blake Doss, Policy Analyst, Georgia
  • Hayley Williams, Senior Policy Analyst, Georgia

Presentation: David Altstadt, Policy Unit Associate Director, JFF
Presentation: Dina Klimkina, Program Director, The Council of State Governments
Presentation: Dustin Durden, Executive Vice President, Pineland Telephone
Presentation: James Tatum, Policy Analyst, The Council of State Governments
Presentation: Josh Gaines, Project Manager, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Presentation: Lisa Robin, Chief Advocacy Officer, Federation of State Medical Boards
Presentation: Peter Zimmerli, Consul General, Switzerland
Presentation: Zach Boren, Senior Program Manager, Urban Institute


October 11-12, 2021 | Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Testifying at the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee

On Monday, October 11, CSG South Policy Analyst and Education Committee Liaison Cody Allen testified on the state of teacher licensure examinations and recent legislative actions in Southern states before the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee’s interim study on teacher certification meeting chaired by Representative Rhonda Baker. His presentation illustrated a comparison in initial elementary teacher licensure passage rates among Southern states - highlighting deficiencies in the first-attempt passage and walk-away rates - and examined select state legislation. These measures proposed shifting teacher licensure assessment to competency and performance-based models, expanding alternative licensure pathways, and the benefits of teacher preparation program data sharing and transparency.

On Tuesday, October 12, CSG South Policy Analyst and Education Committee Liaison Cody Allen testified on student learning loss and Southern state policies to address the “COVID Slide” before a Joint Oklahoma Education Committee interim study on COVID Learning Loss meeting chaired by Senator Adam Pugh and Representative Rhonda Baker. In his presentation, Cody discussed the learning loss risk and project impacts of the “COVID Slide” on states in the region. He also shared possible solutions such as statewide tutoring corps, intensive summer accelerated and remediation learning camps, afterschool programs, and the importance of adequate educator staffing and the teacher-student relationship.

Presentation: Teacher Certification Exams & Recent Legislative Reforms in the South
Recording: October 11, 2021
Presentation: Southern State Solutions to the "COVID Slide"
Recording: October 12, 2021


Workforce Development
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October 12-14, 2021 | Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Energy & Environment Committee Delegation
CSG South Water Management Forum

Southern state legislators convened at The Water Campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the CSG South Water Management Forum. The Forum was hosted by CSG South’s Energy and Environment Committee and moderated by committee chair Representative Jim Gooch, Jr. of Kentucky, and committee vice chair Senator Ken Yager of Tennessee.

During the Forum, legislators participated in discussions with water management experts from The Water Institute of the Gulf, Louisiana State University (LSU), the LSU Center for River Studies, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, University of Texas at Austin, South Carolina Floodwater Commission, and many more. Louisiana Speaker of the House Clay Schexnayder hosted an opening reception to welcome participants to the Pelican State.

Discussions ranged from Louisiana’s science-based Coastal Master Plan developed by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to lessons from the South Carolina Floodwater Commission as well as the Dutch Dialogues model for addressing the challenges faced by coastal communities around the world. Participants also witnessed a demonstration of the LSU Center for River Studies’ Lower Mississippi River Physical Model.

Participants included:

  • Representative David Hillman, Arkansas
  • Representative Lynn Smith, Georgia
  • Representative Debra Bazemore, Georgia
  • Representative Marvin Lim, Georgia
  • Representative Jim Gooch Jr., Kentucky
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Beth Mizell, Louisiana
  • Senator Bob Hensgens, Louisiana
  • Representative Jerome Zeringue, Louisiana
  • Senator Ken Yager, Tennessee
  • Delegate Mark Keam, Virginia

Mental Health Crisis in Our Schools
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October 21-22, 2021 | Atlanta, Georgia

Education Committee Delegation
Addressing Mental Health in Our Schools

Legislators and staff from across the Southern region convened in Atlanta for a policy workshop titled “Addressing the Mental Health Crisis in Our Schools.” Representatives from six CSG South states –Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina – participated in the two-day event.

Organized by the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG South), the workshop allowed participants to examine state- and region-specific school mental health policy issues. Topics included the importance of school counselors and school psychologists, opportunities to partner with the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on student mental and behavioral health, improving training and policies surrounding school resource officers, and building comprehensive support systems via school-based health centers and expanded telehealth opportunities.

Participants received briefings from experts affiliated with the National Center for School Mental Health; the National Association of School Psychologists; the School-Based Health Alliance; the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the American School Counselor Association; and the University of Florida’s Education Policy Research Center.

These interactive briefings allowed attendees to engage with presenters to identify common student mental health concerns, share best practices and obstacles, and review recently enacted legislation. By engaging with peers and subject matter experts, participants deepened their understanding of other states’ efforts and successes, along with existing challenges.

CSG South’s Education Committee hosted the workshop. The participants included:

  • Representative Denise Garner, Arkansas
  • Representative Fredrick Love, Arkansas
  • Representative Mandi Ballinger, Georgia
  • Representative Angelika Kausche, Georgia
  • Representative Rebecca Mitchell, Georgia
  • Representative Josie Raymond, Kentucky
  • Representative Amber Baker, North Carolina
  • Senator John Haste, Oklahoma
  • Representative Rhonda Baker, Oklahoma
  • Senator Greg Hembree, South Carolina