Category Archives: State Government

State and Local Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Medical Surge

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, OEI-02-08-00210, September 2009

This report determines the extent to which selected States and localities have prepared for a medical surge in response to an influenza pandemic and have conducted and documented exercises that test their medical surge preparedness. We found that although the selected States and localities that we reviewed are making progress in preparing for a medical surge, more needs to be done to improve States’ and localities’ ability to respond to an influenza pandemic.

Study Shows Persistent Pattern of Discrimination Against Gay and Lesbian Employees by State and Local Governments

Source: Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy, Press Release, September 23, 2009

Unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation occurs with the same high frequency in state and local governments as in the private sector, Brad Sears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute, told a congressional panel today.

Sears presented the findings during a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, which would prohibit job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. Workplace discrimination on those bases is now legal in a majority of states.

The finds come from a year-long study of workplace issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals across the country. The study – the most comprehensive review of discrimination against LGBT people in the public sector – examined employment surveys, administrative and legal complaints, wage records, and other publications to evaluate the extent and persistence of LGBT discrimination.
See also:
Appendices- 50 State Reports

United States: State Legislation on Comprehensive Health Care Coverage

Source: Law Library of Congress, 2009

As the national debate on health care continues, state laws provide small scale models of legislation that might be implemented on a larger scale. State Legislation on Comprehensive Health Care Coverage provides an overview of certain legislation in Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont as well as links to state codes.

Accessing Government: How difficult is it?

Source: Terry Pastika, Natalie Brouwer, Midwest Democracy Network, 2008

From the press release:
While every state in the nation has laws that require public access to government records and meetings, in five Midwestern states that were recently analyzed, documents are often kept secret and doors can remain tightly closed.

According to a study released by the Citizen Advocacy Center, open government laws in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota have systemic barriers that chill public participation and access to government, which weakens our democratic system designed to be by, for and of the people.

The Promise of Going ‘Lean’

Source: Ken Miller, Governing, May 21, 2009

In these incredibly tough budget times, you would think government agencies would be working extra hard to find ways of doing things more efficiently. Unfortunately, leaders across the country are grabbing the same old playbook — hiring freezes, travel restrictions, delaying maintenance and so on.

They’re not examining the actual work being done — the operations are fundamentally the same. Instead, they’re left with tired, overworked employees trying to do the same operations with fewer resources.

This approach creates an illusion of efficiency. Real efficiency is about looking at the systems — the way work itself is designed — and finding ways to streamline the work so that we do our important tasks very well in less time and with less hassle. Systems are where the costs are incurred. Systems are where the customers show up. Systems are where the value of the agency is created. And systems appear to be the last thing anyone is focusing on.

A Contract Campaign Across Unions

Source: Doug Swanson, Labor Notes, February 20, 2009

As Wisconsin faces a nearly $6 billion budget deficit, state employee unions are determined to make sure the crisis isn’t “solved” on our backs. All union contracts with the state will expire June 30. As we strategize, we’re remembering our successful campaign–“A Deal’s a Deal”–from 2003.

Assessment of States’ Operating Plans to Combat Pandemic Influenza: Report to Homeland Security Council

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, January 2009

Pandemic influenza could produce a public health emergency that is more daunting than any other type of naturally occurring, accidental, or terrorist-instigated event that our nation has experienced or is likely to experience. First, an influenza pandemic could affect essentially every community in the nation almost simultaneously – i.e., within the space of a few weeks – and, if comparable to or more severe than the influenza pandemic of 1918, could result in 25 percent or more of the population ultimately experiencing life-threatening illness and/or being forced to dispense with normal activities to care for victims. Second, response activities within each affected community not only will need to be sustained for several months, generally with little or no outside help, but also might be degraded due to substantial influenza-induced absenteeism across the participating entities – public and private. Third, coping with degraded functioning in virtually every aspect of society could be so demanding as to preclude the initiation of significant recovery activities for many months.

Trade-off Time: How Four States Continue to Deliver

Source: Pew Center on the States, Issue Brief, February 2009

From the press release:
As governors and policy leaders put together their budgets this year in the face of serious shortfalls, states that use performance data to make decisions about where to cut and what to keep are saving taxpayer dollars.

More and more states, spurred by one of the most difficult fiscal environments in years, are making policy decisions based on research measuring the performance of government programs. Trade-off Time: How Four States Continue to Deliver, a report released today by The Pew Center on the States, features four states–Indiana, Maryland, Utah and Virginia–that are leaders in measuring the performance of government programs, and are making smarter budget decisions as a result.

Florida — Commission on Open Government Reform — Final Report

Source: Commission on Open Government Reform, January 2009

Generally considered a leader in the area of open government, Florida has a long history of providing access to the meetings and records of its government. This rich tradition of open government culminated in the 1992 general election when Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to the records of all three branches of state government and to the meetings of the collegial bodies of state agencies and local governments at which public business is to be transacted or discussed.

Although both the open meetings law and the public records law have been amended since first enacted and some reforms made, never in Florida’s long history of open government have both laws been reviewed in their entirety. As a result, there are inconsistencies and redundancies in the law, and some argue that the state’s open government laws have failed to keep pace with today’s technology, resulting in an erosion of the public’s constitutional right of access to government meetings and records.