Author Archives: Info Center

States Perform

Source: Council of State Governments, 2017

States Perform provides users with access to interactive, customizable and up-to-date comparative performance measurement data for 50 states in six key areas: fiscal and economic, public safety and justice, energy and environment, transportation, health and human services, and education. Compare performance across a few or all states, profile one state, view trends over time, and customize your results with graphs and maps.

Congress.gov

Source: Library of Congress, 2016

From about:
Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC’s Congressional Research Service.

Congress.gov is usually updated the morning after a session adjourns. Consult Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for the specific update schedules and start date for each collection.

The scope of data collections and system functionality have continued to expand since THOMAS was launched in January 1995, when the 104th Congress convened. THOMAS was produced after Congressional leadership directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public.

Until all data sets from the legacy system are available from the new system, THOMAS will be accessible. THOMAS Retirement – Frequently Asked Questions provides additional information.

Congressional documents from the first 100 years of the U.S. Congress (1774-1875) can be accessed through A Century of Lawmaking.

Related:
Congress.gov Spring Cleaning: Expanded Quick Search
Source: Andrew Weber, Law Library of Congress, In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress blog, April 4, 2016

Over the last several months, we have added a variety of enhancements to Congress.gov.  It began with the Communications in October, the Congressional Record Index in December, and the XML Bulk Data via GPO in February.  Today’s update focuses on expanding Quick Search on Congress.gov.

Congress.gov Enhancements
Below is a timeline of releases that incorporated new content and improved features to Congress.gov.

A Collection of Materials About Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Portrait of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
From the National Archives and Records Administration.
Resources from The King Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Complete Transcript of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination Conspiracy Trial
Martin Luther King Encyclopedia (via Stanford University)
Digitized: Official March on Washington Program (via NARA)
This program listed the events scheduled at the Lincoln Memorial during the August 28, 1963.
● The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University
Martin Luther King, Jr. Newspaper Archive
Over 50,000 full text and full image newspaper articles about the life and work of Dr. King. Access to the database and its contents is free. Registration or subscription are not required to access the material.
MLK Day Resources (via Infoplease.com)
Includes: History of the Holiday, Biography of Martin Luther King, Civil Disobedience, King Assassination Conspiracy Theories, The March on Washington, Excerpt from the “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King Speeches, Quotes from Martin Luther King, Timelines: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights Movement
Voices of Civil Rights Online Exhibition (via Library of Congress)
The exhibition Voices of Civil Rights documents events during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. This exhibition draws from the thousands of personal stories, oral histories, and photographs collected by the “Voices of Civil Rights” project, a collaborative effort of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), and the Library of Congress, and marks the arrival of these materials in the Library’s collection.
Court Documents Related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memphis Sanitation Workers (via National Archives and Records Administration)
tion)
We Shall Overcome, Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement (via National Park Service)
Online exhibition.
Nobel Peace Prize Materials (via NobelPrize.org)
Presentation Speech Gunnar Jahn*, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, 1964
MLK’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
December 10, 1964
Transcript of MLK’s Nobel Lecture
December 11, 1964
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement Resources (The Seattle Times)
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (via National Park Service)
CNN Student News One-Sheet: Martin Luther King Jr. (via CNN)

Right to Work Laws: Legislative Background and Empirical Research

Source: Benjamin Collins,Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R42575, December 6, 2012

Currently, 24 states have RTW laws. Of these, 12 states passed RTW laws prior to 1950 and another six passed them prior to 1960. The two most recent states to adopt RTW laws are Indiana and Michigan, both of which enacted legislation in 2012. Several other state legislatures are debating RTW laws.

Recent legislative proposals, with substantial numbers of cosponsors, would expand RTW policies nationwide. Advocates of national RTW laws claim that they would enhance personal freedom and employer flexibility. Opponents argue that such laws would weaken workers’ abilities to collectively bargain for more favorable compensation and working conditions. Proposals aiming to expand RTW policies typically strike the provisions of the NLRA that permit union security agreements.

National RTW proposals are often discussed in the context of the economic performance of states that have adopted them. However, research that compares outcomes in RTW and union security states is inconclusive. The recent data trends between RTW and union security states are relatively distinct, but, since it is difficult to determine the effect of a single variable on broader economic outcomes, the influence of RTW laws in these trends (if any) is unclear.
• Unionization rates in RTW states are less than half of what they are in union security states. It is ambiguous what portion of this difference is attributable to RTW laws, what portion is due to diverse preferences among states’ populations regarding unionization, and what portion is due to other factors.
• In the past decade, aggregate employment in RTW states has increased modestly while employment in union security states has declined. It is unclear if this growth is attributable to RTW, other pro-business policies (which tend to be concentrated in RTW states), or other factors.
• Wages are lower in RTW states than union security states. Historical research has suggested that RTW laws have little influence on these differences. More contemporary scholarship has come to diverse conclusions, depending on the researchers’ methodology….

Difficulties associated with rigorously studying the relationships between RTW laws and various outcomes are likely to continue to make it difficult to generate definitive findings about these relationships. As such, the ongoing debate on RTW may be driven by factors other than rigorous empirical evidence.

The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class

Source: Edward N. Wolff, US2010 Project, May 2013

After rising sharply through 2007, the collapse of the stock market and the sudden collapse in home prices took and immense toll on the assets of the middle class. This report summarizes what happened and why.

The most telling finding is that median wealth plummeted over the years 2007 to 2010, and by 2010 was at its lowest level since 1969. moreover, inequality of net worth, after almost two decades of little movement, rose sharply between 2007 and 2010. Inequalities rose by income class, by race/ethnicity, and across age groups.

The middle class benefited from very rapid asset appreciation during the 2001-2007 period (6.0 percent per year). But the steep drop in asset prices during the recession, particularly housing, hit the middle class harder than more affluent Americans and was the main cause of increasing wealth inequality after 2007. Similar trends are found for racial and age inequalities. Blacks and Hispanics increased their net worth relative to whites during 2001-2007 as did young adults in relation to older Americans, mainly because so much of their assets were tied up in home ownership. But these gains were wiped out durung the recession.

Key findings:
– Median wealth plummeted over the years 2007-2010.
– Middle class debt exploded from 1983 to 2007, already creating a highly fragile middle class. The situation worsened during the Great Recession. As a result inequality of net worth, after almost two decades of little movement, rose sharply between 2007 and 2010.
– The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth widened considerably in the years between 2007 and 2010. Blacks and especially Hispanics lost in net worth and equity in their homes.
– Young households (under age 45) also were pummeled by the Great Recession, as their wealth declined sharply in both absolute terms and in comparison with other households.

Related:
The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class
Source: Edward N. Wolff, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 18559, November 2012

“Amazon Laws” and Taxation of Internet Sales: Constitutional Analysis

Source: Erika K. Lunder, Carol A. Pettit Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R42629, April 3, 2013

As more and more purchases are made over the Internet and states experience more and more fiscal distress, states are looking for new ways to collect taxes for sales generated online. There is a common misperception that states cannot tax Internet sales; however, the reality is that they may impose sales and use taxes on such transactions, even when the retailer is outside of the state. However, if the seller does not have a constitutionally sufficient connection (“nexus”) to the state, then the seller is under no enforceable obligation to collect a use tax. The purchaser, on the other hand, is still generally responsible for paying the use tax, but the rate of compliance is low.

Recent laws, often called “Amazon laws” in reference to the large Internet retailer, represent fresh attempts by the states to capture taxes on Internet sales. States enacting these laws have used two basic approaches. The first is to impose the responsibility for collecting use tax on those retailers who compensate state residents for placing links to the retailer’s website on the state residents’ websites (i.e., online referrals or “click-throughs”). The other is to require remote sellers to provide information about sales and taxes to the state and/or the in-state customers. New York was the first state to enact click-through legislation. Colorado was the first to pass a notification law. These laws have received significant publicity, in part due to questions about whether they impermissibly impose duties on remote sellers who do not have a sufficient nexus to the state….

..Until Congress decides otherwise, physical presence remains the standard used to determine the constitutionality of states’ “Amazon laws.” Both the Colorado and New York laws have been challenged on constitutional grounds. Colorado’s notification law appears to be the more constitutionally problematic approach—it was recently struck down by a federal district court. So far, New York click-through law has been upheld….

Public Sector Transformation, Racial Inequality and Downward Occupational Mobility

Source: George Wilson, Vincent J. Roscigno, Matt L. Huffman, Social Forces, First published online: December 9, 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
New “governance” reforms entailing shifts toward privatization have permeated the public sector over the last decade, possibly affecting workplace-based attainments. We examine the consequences of this reform for African American men, who during the civil rights era reached relative parity with whites. We analyze race-based inequities on one socioeconomic outcome-downward occupational mobility-among professionals, managers and executives. Results from a Panel Study of Income Dynamics sample indicate that the “new government business model,” characterized by increased employer discretion has disproportionately disadvantaged African Americans. Narrower racial gaps in the incidence, determinants and timing of downward mobility found in the public sector, relative to the private sector, during the pre-reform period (1985-90) eroded during the reform period (2002-07) because of widening racial gaps in the public sector.

Employee Representation in Non-Union Firms: An Overview

Source: Paul J. Gollan, David Lewin, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Vol. 52 supplement 1, 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
For many decades, employee representation and voice in the employment relationship were manifested mainly through unionism and collective bargaining, but that is no longer the case. Today most employees do not belong to unions, but they may be represented and exercise voice through a variety of other mechanisms and arrangements. This paper provides an overview of a special issue of Industrial Relations containing eight papers that analyze various types of non-union employee representation. These papers feature a wide variety of research designs as well as industry, company, and employee settings. Empirically, they draw upon data from the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia. As a set, these papers provide the most comprehensive knowledge to date of employee representation in non-union firms, and also offer recommendations for future research to further enhance such knowledge.

Articles include:
The Comparative Advantage of Non-Union Voice in Britain, 1980-2004 by Alex Bryson, Paul Willman, Rafael Gomez and Tobias Kretschmer

Individual Voice in Employment Relationships: A Comparison under Different Forms of Workplace Representation by David Marsden

Participation Versus Procedures in Non-Union Dispute Resolution by Alexander J. S. Colvin

Where Informality Really Matters: Patterns of Employee Involvement and Participation (EIP) in a Non-Union Firm by Mick Marchington and Jane Suter

The Effect of Gender on Awards in Employment Arbitration Cases: The Experience in the Securities Industry by David B. Lipsky, J. Ryan Lamare and Abhishek Gupta

Keeping the Commitment Model in the Air during Turbulent Times: Employee Involvement at Delta Air Lines by Bruce E. Kaufman

Does Non-Union Employee Representation Act as a Complement or Substitute to Union Voice? Evidence from Canada and the United States by Michele Campolieti, Rafael Gomez and Morley Gunderson

The Challenges of a Representation Gap: Australian Experiments in Promoting Industrial Citizenship by Troy Sarina

Employee Tenure Trends, 1983-2012

Source: Craig Copeland, Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Notes, Vol. 33, No. 12, December 2012

From the summary:
– The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data show that the overall median tenure of workers–the midpoint of wage and salary workers’ length of employment in their current jobs–was slightly higher in 2012, at 5.4 years, compared with 5.0 years in 1983.
– However, the median tenure for male wage and salary workers was lower in 2012 at 5.5 years, compared with 5.9 years in 1983. In contrast, the median tenure for female wage and salary workers increased from 4.2 years in 1983 to 5.4 years in 2012. Consequently, the increase in the median tenure of female workers more than offsets the decline in the median tenure of male workers, leaving the overall level slightly higher.
– The data on employee tenure–the amount of time an individual has been with his or her current employer–show that career jobs never existed for most workers and have continued not to exist for most workers. These tenure results indicate that, historically, most workers have repeatedly changed jobs during their working careers, and all evidence suggests that they will continue to do so in the future.

Views on Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2012 Health Confidence Survey

Source: Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Notes, Vol. 33, No. 12, December 2012

From the summary:
– Enactment of PPACA has raised questions about whether employers will continue to offer health coverage to their workers in the future. Yet the importance of benefits as a criterion in choosing a job remains high, and health insurance in particular continues to be, by far, the most important employee benefit to workers.
– The 2012 EBRI/MGA Health Confidence Survey (HCS) finds most Americans are satisfied with the health benefits they have now and prefer not to change the mix of benefits and wages. Three-quarters (73 percent) report that they are satisfied with the health benefits they currently receive while 15 percent say they would trade wages to get more health benefits, and 9 percent say they would surrender health benefits for higher wages.
– Choice of health plans is important to workers, and they would like more choices, but most workers expressed confidence that their employers or unions have selected the best available health plan. Moreover, they are not as confident in their ability to choose the best available plan if their employers or unions did, in fact, stop offering coverage.
– If current tax preferences were to change, and employment-based coverage became taxable, 39 percent of individuals say they would continue with their current level of coverage, compared with 29 percent who indicated that preference in 2011.