Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

Repressing Radicalism

Source: Chip Gibbons, Jacobin, June 15, 2017

The Espionage Act turns 100 today. It helped destroy the Socialist Party of America and quashes free speech to this day. …. A century later, as socialist politics gain favor again in the United States, it’s important to remember the role that brute repression played in the SP’s downfall — and the continued threat the Espionage Act poses to democratic freedoms today. ….

Elder Care Is a Looming Crisis. Hawaii Is Facing It Head-On

Source: Christina Cauterucci, Slate, Better Life Lab blog, June 5, 2017

…. If Gov. David Ige signs this legislation, people who work at least 30 hours a week outside the home and serve their kupuna as primary caregivers will be eligible for up to $70 a day in help from trained home aides. The Kupuna Caregiver Assistance Program would help a family caregiver continue to work outside the home, get some necessary breaks in caregiving work, and give her the money to pay a fair wage to the care workers she hires. It’s an important step toward meeting the needs of a fast-aging population and the family members who are expected—but too often financially unequipped—to shoulder the burden…..
Hawaii Long-Term Health-Care Bill Serves as National Model
Source: Rachel M. Cohen, American Prospect, January 12, 2016

Hawaii legislators are tackling the nation’s elder care crisis head-on with a bill that would offer universal long term care to the state’s senior citizens.

Law & Water — A Deep Dive Into Current US Water Utility Rate Case Issues

Source: David T. McGimpsey, Journal – American Water Works Association, Volume 109 Number 4, April 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Welcome to my first Law & Water column for Journal AWWA. This column addresses legal issues affecting water utilities. I live and work in the United States and rely on sources at or in working with regulatory commissions in the United States for their insights on novel issues and emerging trends. For matters outside the United States, I will tap into experts in those countries where pertinent developments are occurring.

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014: Structure and Effects

Source: Sridhar Vedachalam, R. Richard Geddes, Journal – American Water Works Association, Volume 109 Number 4, April 2017

From the abstract:
Many US municipalities confront serious challenges due to aging water and wastewater infrastructure. Many systems require immediate repairs, upgrades, and replacement, but available funding is scarce. Readily available low-interest financing is of great help to such municipalities. The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) approved by Congress in 2014 was a step in that direction. WIFIA is a five-year pilot program focused on supporting large-scale projects that may be under-served by existing state revolving funds (SRFs). The authors examine the structure and implementation of WIFIA and its impact on existing financing mechanisms. The cost of debt service in four representative communities in New York was compared under WIFIA, SRFs, and tax-exempt municipal bonds. Although WIFIA financing offered the lowest debt service cost, savings from WIFIA depended on the spread between US Treasury rates and borrowing rates of the SRF-administering agency.

State Tax Actions 2016

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, Special Fiscal Report, 2017

From the overview:
Following the same trend as in 2015, this past year saw net reductions in personal and corporate income taxes and increases across most other tax categories. This is a result of a continued phase-in of major tax reduction packages passed during previous legislative sessions. Increases in sales and use, health, tobacco, and motor-fuel-related taxes led to a $2.3 billion revenue increase across all reporting states. Illinois did not enact a FY 2017 budget during the 2016 legislative session, and some states—such as Texas, Montana and Nevada, where the legislature only convenes biennially—did not have significant tax changes to report.

This report includes tax actions taken during regular and special legislative sessions in 2016, as well as actions approved by voters during the November 2016 general election. Fifty states provided information, which was obtained through a survey of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices.

Highlights include:
– Collective actions taken by the 50 states resulted in a net tax increase of $2.3 billion, representing 0.3 percent of the prior year’s tax collections. This compares to relatively little activity in 2015 and a $3.1 billion, or 0.4 percent, decrease in 2014.
– Illinois did not enact a FY 2017 budget during the 2016 legislative session, but Pennsylvania, which did not enact a budget during the 2015 legislative session, passed an extensive tax package in 2016, increasing net tax revenue for the state by $633 million, or 1.9 percent.
– Across the nation, the multiyear trend of lowering personal and corporate income taxes continues. Tax increases included motor fuel taxes to fund state infrastructure projects, substantial sales tax increases in two states, increased health care provider taxes to offset insurance costs and tax increases on many tobacco products.
– Of the 50 reporting states, five—Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Wisconsin—reduced net taxes by more than 1 percent. There were six states—Louisiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and West Virginia—that reported a net tax increase of more than 1 percent. Thirty-nine states made no significant net tax changes in 2016. see Figure 2 above.
– In addition to tax changes, states approved nontax revenue changes, including fee increases or decreases, revenue accelerations or decelerations, and tax compliance initiatives for a net increase of $426 million. This resulted in a combined total revenue increase of about $2.8 billion in 2016.
Executive summary

H.R. 1628, American Health Care Act of 2017

Source: Congressional Budget Office, Cost Estimate, May 24, 2017

From the summary:
CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting the legislation—which would repeal or modify many provisions of the Affordable Care Act—would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade.

CBO and JCT estimate that in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. After additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program took effect, the increase in the number of uninsured people would rise to 19 million in 2020 and then to 23 million in 2026.

Strategy Labs Postsecondary Legislative Tracking

Source: Education Commission of the States, 2017

As a partner supporting the Strategy Labs platform, Education Commission of the States tracks legislative activity across several key issue areas, providing valuable and timely information on state postsecondary legislation. This map displays postsecondary education related bills for the 2017-18 sessions.

Legislation is tracked from introduction through final action. To sort by state, click on a state on the map and the bills will display below the map. To sort by issue and sub-issue, click an issue area bar then a sub-issue bar to display the bills. Click the arrow at the right side of the bill list to see specific information related to the bill. To reset the map, use the “reset” button at the bottom of the page.

Symposium: Court clarifies review of racial gerrymandering, but does not impose strict scrutiny on every intentional creation of a majority-minority district

Source: Kristen Clarke and Ezra Rosenberg, SCOTUSblog, May 22, 2017

As we prepare for the upcoming round of 2020 redistricting, the opinions in Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and Cooper v. Harris make clear that what constitutes unlawful racial gerrymandering will prove critical. Although states and localities can act intentionally to preserve and create majority-minority districts, they must do so in a way that complies with the Constitution. First, and put simply, race cannot predominate over every other consideration. And, second, unlawful racial gerrymandering cannot be justified as an attempt to achieve partisan ends.

The decisions provide a workable approach for addressing allegations of unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, while at the same time rejecting the proposition that the intentional creation of a majority-minority election district automatically triggers strict scrutiny. This is clear from the sum and substance of the majority opinions, and from the explicit language in the separate opinions of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in Bethune-Hill and that of Thomas in Cooper. A contrary result would have imperiled legitimate attempts by state legislatures to create majority-minority districts….