Recent SLC News and Updates


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

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

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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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