Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

The impact of Dodd-Frank on credit ratings and bond yields: The municipal securities’ case

Source: Craig L. Johnson, Yulianti Abbas, and Chantalle E. LaFontant, Indiana University, April 2018

We empirically test the reputation and disciplining hypotheses on the potential impact of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) on Standard & Poor’s (S&P) state government credit ratings and bond yields. Our empirical findings indicate that S&P ratings after Dodd-Frank are higher and more stable, as evidenced by fewer total rating changes. We find fewer overall negative rating actions, fewer rating downgrades, and more rating upgrades. We also find that after Dodd-Frank bond yields are lower and that Dodd-Frank impacted bond yields through credit ratings. The impact of Dodd-Frank on bond yield is significant across all rating classes. Our findings are consistent with the disciplining hypothesis, and we find no support for the reputation hypothesis.

View LaFontant’s slides
View Goodfield’s slides
Ashton Goodfield (Deutsche Asset Management)

President’s Selection of a Nominee for a Supreme Court Vacancy: Overview

Source: Barry J. McMillion, Congressional Research Service, CRS Insight, IN10923, June 27, 2018

On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy, after serving on the Supreme Court as an Associate Justice since 1988, announced his intention to retire from the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy indicated that his retirement would be effective July 31, 2018. This Insight provides an overview of several issues related to the selection of a nominee by a President for a vacancy on the Court.

Justice Kennedy Retires: Initial Considerations for Congress
Source: Andrew Nolan, Michael John Garcia, Congressional Research Service, CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10159, June 28, 2018

This Sidebar highlights various areas of lawin which Justice Kennedy —either by authoring or joining a Supreme Court opinion— proved consequential to the trajectory of Supreme Court jurisprudence. In so doing, this post provides a broad overview of key legal issues Congress (and, more specifically the Senate, through its advice and consent role) may wish to consider as it reflects on Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence and how his eventual successor might shape the future of the Court, Congress, and the nation as a whole.

Supreme Court Nomination: CRS Products
Source: Andrew Nolan, Congressional Research Service, CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10160, June 29, 2018

On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, effective July 31, 2018, ending a thirty-year tenure on the Court. Below are key CRS products related to Supreme Court vacancies and nominations.

Local government – Minnesota – Legislation will reduce pension liabilities, but changes are far from a cure-all

Source: Benjamin J VanMetre, Daniel Simpson, Rachel Cortez, Alexandra S. Parker, Moody’s, Sector Comment, June 26, 2018
(subscription required)

The State of Minnesota (Aa1 stable) approved legislation late last month that will change certain public pension benefits and modestly increase plan contributions by government employers and employees. The changes are credit positive for the state and its local governments because they will reduce unfunded pension liabilities and improve plan funding. Even after the changes, however, local governments across Minnesota, particularly school districts, will continue to face high pension burdens….

Internet Sales Tax Ruling Helps States Avoid Revenue Erosion In The New Economy

Source: David G. Hitchcock, S&P Global Ratings, June 21, 2018
(subscription required)

S&P Global Ratings believes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to require out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax will have a beneficial effect on long-term state credit quality. However, the immediate credit effect may be muted. The Wayfair decision, will help stem state tax erosion in a changing economic environment.

How Courts Structure State-Level Representation

Source: Jonathan P. Kastellec, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Volume 18 Issue 1, March 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
I examine how courts condition the relationship between state-level public opinion and policy. The system of federalism in the United States allows federal and state courts to establish the types of policies that states are constitutionally allowed to implement. In particular, federal courts can set “federal floors” for policy, below which no states can go. State courts, in turn, can raise the level of this floor. Thus, both federal and state courts shape whether state policy can match the preferences of the median voter in a given state. Analyzing data on public opinion, judicial decisions, and state-level policy on the issue of abortion, from 1973 to 2012, I show that changes in the set of allowable abortion restrictions, according to the combined decisions of state and federal courts, significantly affect whether states implement majority-preferred policies. I also show that ignoring the influence of courts on the policymaking environment significantly affects the estimated level of policy congruence and thus conclusions about the scope of representation. These results demonstrate the importance of placing courts in the larger study of state-level representation.

An Overview of U.S. Immigration Laws Regulating the Admission and Exclusion of Aliens at the Border

Source: Hillel R. Smith, Congressional Research Service, CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10150, June 15, 2018

Reports of a “migrant caravan” traveling from Central America to the United States have sparked considerable attention on the treatment of non-U.S. nationals (aliens) without legal immigration status who are arrested at or near the U.S.-Mexico border. The “caravan” comprises aliens primarily from Honduras, many of whom purportedly came to the United States to escape crime and political instability in their native countries. In recent months, there has been a marked increase in the number of apprehensions of aliens at the border seeking to unlawfully enter the country, with roughly three times as many border apprehensions in May 2018 compared to the same time last year.

In response to this influx of unauthorized border crossings, President Trump and other administration officials have called for stricter immigration laws and enhanced border security. In addition, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute aliens who unlawfully enter the United States at the southern border; a policy which has reportedly led to the separation of children from parents awaiting prosecution for unlawful entry. The Administration and its supporters argue that these policies serve as a “tough deterrent” that is necessary to curb illegal border crossings. Opponents of these policies claim that U.S. immigration laws offer inadequate protections for those seeking a “safe haven” in the United States, and some have also legally challenged the separation of families on constitutional grounds.

The situation at the border and U.S. immigration authorities’ response to it has prompted significant attention and, in some cases, confusion regarding the governing laws and policies. This Legal Sidebar briefly examines the laws governing the admission and exclusion of aliens at the border, including the procedures for aliens seeking asylum and the circumstances in which arriving aliens may be detained. The Sidebar also addresses special rules concerning the treatment of unaccompanied alien children (UACs), as well as legislative proposals that would alter the scope of protections for arriving aliens at the border. A concluding Table provides an overview of the existing laws governing the detention and removal process for aliens.

50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies

Source: Louisa Diffey, Education Commission of the States, June 4, 2018

High-quality, early elementary years offer a critical opportunity for development and academic learning for all children. Key components of a quality, K-3 experience include kindergarten, qualified teachers, seamless transitions, appropriate assessments and interventions, family engagement, social-emotional supports and academic supports. Education Commission of the States has researched the policies that guide these key components in all 50 states to provide this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for 50-State Comparisons, showing how all states approach specific policies, or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

Key Takeaways
– Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, require children to attend kindergarten, although the length of day varies across states.

– Thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, require the district to offer full-day kindergarten.

– Eighteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have policies in place to guide the transition from pre-K to kindergarten. This guidance often includes written transition plans, family engagement, teacher/provider meetings and assessment data linkages.

– Forty-two states, plus the District of Columbia, detail the interventions available to K-3 students, often including extended instructional time, parental engagement, evidence-based instruction, summer reading opportunities and small group instruction.

– Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have retention policies in place, which are designed to support students who are not on grade level by the end of third grade.

– Forty states, plus the District of Columbia, emphasize social-emotional learning in K-3 in statute, rules or regulations. Usually, social-emotional learning is emphasized in kindergarten entrance assessments, school readiness definitions and/or teacher training requirements…..

Can Mass Shootings be Stopped? To Address the Problem, We Must Better Understand the Phenomenon

Source: Jaclyn Schildkraut Margaret K. Formica Jim Malatras, Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, May 22, 2018

The mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, happened nearly two decades ago, yet it remains etched in the national consciousness. Columbine spurred a national debate — from personal safety to the security of schools, workplaces, and other locations and to broader considerations of guns and mental illness. To this day, communities still are grappling to find solutions to the complex and multifaceted nature of mass shootings.

Early Learning Legislation in the States: 2018 Update

Source: Adrienne Fischer, National Conference of State Legislatures, May 23, 2018

States are leading the way with creative and timely solutions to support pre-K through third grade education (P-3).

Red and blue states alike are increasing investments in public pre-K programs, while others that are new to providing state-funded pre-K are looking at initial outcomes. Meanwhile, several other states are grappling with funding decisions.

Overall, legislation varies widely, from assessing school readiness in Utah, to providing quality improvement grants for low-income pre-K students in Colorado, to limiting suspension and expulsion of P-3 students in Virginia.

Check out NCSL’s new P-3 Education Bill Tracker for an interactive look at P-3 education bills introduced and enacted  from 2018 legislative sessions. States have filed more than 300 bills across a broad spectrum of issues related to early learning. Legislators’ focus this session has been on pre-K, comprising 22 percent of all P-3 education bills filed.