Category Archives: State Government

Fighting Back, Fighting Forward: An Agenda for State & Local Pro-Worker Reforms

Source: Judith M. Conti, National Employment Law Project (NELP), Legislative Brief, October 2017

From the introduction:
Though it is easy to look at what is happening in Congress and our federal government these days and feel despair, now is the time for advocates across the country to double-down on their efforts to fight for progressive reform at the state and local level wherever possible. In states with leadership open to progressive reforms, advocates should be looking for every opportunity to introduce and work toward passing either this year or in the near future the kinds of reforms that will help low-wage workers gain a foothold in the economy and be more economically secure.

Even in states where the policy terrain is less favorable, finding legislators to champion progressive policies is both a messaging victory demonstrating to the electorate what is possible, but also can be an effective weapon to fight off ill-advised proposals aimed at taking power and rights away from workers and giving more to corporate employer interests.

The fact is that our nation’s low-wage and middle class workers are more vulnerable than they have been in most of our lifetimes, and this is particularly true for immigrant workers and people of color. The tone and tenor of so much of the national dialogue these days is deeply negative and divisive. But bringing together community-based organizations, their members, advocates and legislators at the state level can help turn the tide toward the positive. We can work together to present an alternative vision of what this nation should be about and how it should value its working people.

The legislative proposals discussed in this brief present advocates with a menu of options they can explore with state legislators and allies. Any one of them would represent a significant step forward to marginalized and low-income workers, and NELP staff are able to provide campaigns with technical assistance to help get off the ground and build for success.

2016 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, September 28, 2017

From the tip sheet:
The 2016 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll statistics provide a comprehensive look at the employment of the nation’s state and local governments. The survey provides state and local government data on full- and part-time employment, part-time hours worked, full-time equivalent employment, and payroll statistics by governmental function.

Public employment and payroll data are used by federal, state and local governments, and educational and research organizations for a variety of activities such as the development of the government component of the gross domestic product and for comparative studies.

City governments are raising standards for working people—and state legislators are lowering them back down

Source: Marni von Wilpert, Economic Policy Institute, August 26, 2017

From the press release:
Progressive cities are raising their labor standards, but conservative state legislatures are preempting them

A new report by EPI Associate Labor Counsel Marni von Wilpert analyzes the recent wave of preemption laws that have swept across the country in the last decade. State governments use preemption laws to supersede city or county laws, or prevent local governments from legislating in certain areas at all—including blocking local governments’ efforts to raise labor standards. The paper explores the rise of preemption in five key areas of labor and employment: minimum wage, paid leave, fair work schedules, prevailing wages, and project labor agreements.
Related:
Summary

The Promise of the State-Federal Partnership on Workforce and Job Training

Source: National Governors Association and the National Associations of State Workforce Liaisons and State Workforce Board Chairs, 2017

Report from the National Governors Association and the National Associations of State Workforce Liaisons and State Workforce Board Chairs on the importance of strong partnership between states and the federal government on workforce development.

State and Local Government Workforce: 2017 Trends

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, June 2017

From the summary:
Recruiting and retaining qualified personnel was the top priority for 91 percent of respondents to the 2017 workforce trends survey released today by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). Respondents also rated staff and leadership development (77 and 76 percent) and succession planning (74 percent) as important workforce issues.

Key findings:
– Key findings from the annual survey, conducted by SLGE, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and National Association of State Personnel Executives were:
– 74 percent reported hiring staff
– 47 percent hired contract or temporary employees
– 38 percent shifted more health care costs to employees
– 24 percent established wellness programs.
– Every year since 2010, a majority of respondents to the annual survey has reported making changes to health insurance benefits. On the other hand, the pace of changes to retirement plans has slowed in recent years. In 2012, 24 percent reported increasing current employee contributions to retirement plans compared with 9 percent increasing current employee contributions in 2016. Positions hardest to fill in 2016 were:
– Police officers (21 percent)
– Information technology (17 percent)
– Engineers (14 percent) and
– Health care (13 percent)
– Skills in greatest demand were in interpersonal relations (65 percent), written communications (53 percent), and technology (51 percent).

Attention, State Government Watchdogs: You Might Need This

Source: Linda Poon, CityLab, February 9, 2017

A new search engine called Digital Democracy can comb through videos, transcripts, and records of what goes on in America’s statehouses. … Some of this kind of information is recorded, but little is released in a timely manner or can be easily accessed by the public. Blakeslee aims to change that with Digital Democracy, an online tool that archives every state hearing in California—and now, New York—since 2015 through videos, transcripts, and records of who said what. The tool also keeps track of elected officials and their financial ties to lobbyists and big corporations—all searchable by name, issue, bill number, etc. Think of it as Google for state government. … First launched in 2015 in California with cofounder and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the tool is now being taken across the country to New York via a partnership with NAACP. Digital Democracy now has information on some 15,000 individuals involved in policymaking in those two states. Eventually, Florida and Texas will get their own platforms, expanding Digital Democracy’s reach to roughly a third of all U.S. citizens….

Preemption conflicts between state and local governments

Source: Ballotpedia, Last updated on January 2, 2017

Out of 15 resolved preemption cases tracked by Ballotpedia, states were able to preempt local ordinances or initiatives in 14 cases.

A tug-of-war between cities and state governments has developed behind the scenes of the 21st century’s biggest policy debates. Interest groups advancing policy reforms ranging from bans on fracking to higher minimum wages have led local and state officials to tussle over appropriate responses. Mayors, city councils, and community activists are passing ordinances and initiatives on wages, gun control, and LGBT issues in order to fill gaps perceived in existing law. Governors and state legislators have pushed back against these local responses, citing their interests in creating uniform policies across all local governments in their states.

This struggle continues the decades-long evolution of preemption, a legal concept that allows a state law to supersede a conflicting local law due to the state’s power to create cities as granted by state constitutions….

State Employee Mileage Reimbursement Rates 2016

Source: Jennifer Burnett, Council of State Governments, Knowledge Center November 1, 2016

The federal mileage reimbursement rate in 2016 is 54 cents per mile, down 3.5 cents per mile over the 2015 rate but up 9.5 cents over the rate 10 years before–44.5 cents per mile on Jan. 1, 2006.

Thirty-five states have a reimbursement rate that is the same as the federal rate. For those 15 states whose rates differ from the federal rate, reimbursement rates range from 31 cents to 52 cents per mile. No state reimburses at a rate higher than the federal rate. ….