Spring 2021 Virtual Programs

12:00 p.m. (EST), Wednesday, March 10
SLC Education Committee

Preparing the Workforce of Tomorrow: COVID-19 and Computer Science Education

During the past year, pandemic-related disruptions have upended traditional learning and business operations leading to a virtual shift for students and workers across the country. Despite this, only 47 percent of high schools nationally offer computer science courses, leaving many students unprepared for this new environment. According to a 2020 report from the Code.org Advocacy Group, a nationwide computer science education alliance, only five states in the nation and one in the South - Arkansas - have implemented all of the recommended policy frameworks to establish computer science as a fundamental part of the K-12 education system. This program examines the state of computer science education and training in the South and discusses how policymakers can best prepare students for an increasingly technology-dependent future.


Anthony Owen, Director, Computer Science Education, Department of Education, Arkansas
Amy Roberts, Director, State Government Affairs, Code.org, Minnesota

12:00 p.m. (EDT), Wednesday, March 17
SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee

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 have been 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 virtual program 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.


Keerthi Sugumaran, Attorney at Law, Jackson Lewis PC, Massachusetts

12:00 p.m. (EDT), Wednesday, March 24
SLC Energy & Environment Committee

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 2016 hacking of Vermont's Burlington Electric by foreign actors exposed the vulnerability of computer systems and served as a warning to other utility providers. Experts predict that this type of attack and others will continue. This program explores the policies and initiatives that governments and utility providers are undertaking to increase the security and resiliency of America's energy grid.


Amy Thomas, Senior Government Relations Director, American Public Power Association, Washington, D.C.
Sam Rozenberg, Senior Director, Security & Resilience, American Public Power Association, Washington, D.C.

12:00 p.m. (EDT), Wednesday, March 31
SLC Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee

Going the Distance II: Remote Work Implications for State Income Tax Collections

As a consequence of the ongoing pandemic, many individuals and businesses have implemented short- and long-term shifts to teleworking. As nine states - including three in the South - do not levy individual income taxes, this work-from-home transition has led to a sizeable virtual workforce whose employers may be located in a state with a very different income tax structure than the one in which employees now reside and work. This program examines how this transition may impact state income tax collections and also explores the arguments over a state income tax collections case – New Hampshire v. Massachusetts – pending petition before the U.S. Supreme Court.

12:00 p.m. (EDT), Wednesday, April 7
SLC Human Services & Public Safety Committee

The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health and Suicide Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety, isolation and economic pain for millions of people, leading to a deterioration in mental health. According to a survey released in August 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 percent of respondents reported having symptoms of anxiety or depression or increased substance abuse, in addition to other related struggles, as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, more than 10 percent reported seriously considering suicide in the preceding 30 days. This program reviews the immediate and long-term implications of the pandemic for mental health and suicide trends and examines what states can do to address this critical public health issue.