Report From Massachusetts: Employers Largely Support Health Care Reform, And Few Signs Of Crowd-Out Appear

Source: Jon R. Gabel, Heidi Whitmore, and Jeremy Pickreign, Health Affairs Web Exclusive, Vol. 27 no. 1, November 14, 2007

Based on a 2007 survey of 1,056 randomly selected Massachusetts firms, this paper presents findings about employers’ attitudes about, knowledge of, and responses to recently enacted reform legislation. A majority of Massachusetts employers agree that all employers bear some responsibility for providing health benefits, firms not offering benefits should be required to pay a “fair share” contribution up to $295 annually per employee, and employers with ten or fewer employees should not be exempt from this requirement. Only 24 percent of employers with 3-50 workers are familiar with the Connector purchasing pool. About 3 percent of Massachusetts small employers intend to drop coverage, similar to national figures.

Local Government Involvement In Disaster Preparedness In The USA

Source: Colin P. Falato, Susan M. Smith, Tyler Kress, International Journal of Emergency Management Vol. 4, No. 4, 2007
(subscription required)

From a summary:
A recent study in the International Journal of Emergency Management suggests that the nation’s federal and state governments should help local communities prepare for a range of large-scale disasters, United Press International reports. In analyzing local and federal response efforts, University of Tennessee researchers identified 902 disaster declarations made across the last 25 years related to hurricanes, fires, windstorms, earthquakes, tornadoes and floods.

N.J. nurses are overworked according to Rutgers College of Nursing professor

Source: Rutgers University, Press Release, November 12, 2007

New Jersey registered nurses are teetering on the brink of exhaustion due to heavier work loads, feeling that they are not able to provide proper patient care and receiving little support from management, according to a survey conducted by Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member Linda Flynn.

The 11-page survey, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was mailed to the homes of 44,343 New Jersey registered nurses and more than 21,000 nurses responded to the survey. It was the largest and most comprehensive surveys of New Jersey nurses ever conducted.

Findings from the survey, The State of the Nursing Workforce in New Jersey: Findings from a Statewide Survey of Registered Nurses, also indicated that nurses face frequent and chronic exposure to verbal abuse, complaints and work-related injuries and one in three nurses reported that their work loads are so heavy that they actually miss important changes in their patients’ conditions. More than 50 percent said that there was not enough staff to get the work done.

Should Employers Be Required to Provide Health Benefits?

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

How do Americans feel about requiring employers to provide and contribute to health insurance coverage for their workers? Would Americans be willing to pay more in federal income taxes to make sure everyone has health insurance? The 2007 Health Confidence Survey, released recently by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), asked some basic questions to gauge reactions to some of the health care policy changes that are currently being considered at the national level. Several of these questions concerned means by which health care coverage could be expanded to include all Americans. Others concerned the tax treatment of health care benefits.

Social Security: Issues Regarding the Coverage of Public Employees

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

There are no easy answers to the difficulties of equalizing Social Security’s treatment of covered workers and noncovered public employees. About one-fourth of public employees primarily state and local government workers are not covered by Social Security and do not pay Social Security taxes on their government earnings. Nevertheless, these workers may still be eligible for Social Security benefits through their spouses’ or their own earnings from other covered employment. To address concerns with how noncovered workers are treated compared with covered workers, Social Security has provisions in place to take noncovered employment into account and reduce Social Security benefits for public employees.

Report
Highlights

2006 State Legislation Related to Immigration: Enacted and Vetoed, October 31, 2006

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

In 2006, 570 pieces of legislation concerning immigrants have been introduced in state legislatures around the country. At least 90 bills and resolutions passes the legislatures in 2006. 84 bills were signed into law, more than double the amount of 2005. 6 bills were vetoed. While legislation covered a wide variety of topics, many states focused on education, employment, identification and driver’s licenses, law enforcement, legal services, public benefits, trafficking, and voting procedures.

NCSL 50-State Legislative Tracking Web Resources

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Updated August 2007: At the request of NCSL’s Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) staff section, NCSL has developed this resource of 50-state compilations covering various issues that concern state legislators and legislative staff. Here you will find a topical, alphabetical listing of legislative and statutory databases, compilations and state charts/maps.

Public Libraries in the United States: Fiscal Year 2005

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This report includes national and state summary data on public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an introduction, selected findings, and several tables. The report, based on data from the Public Libraries Survey for fiscal year 2005, includes information on population of legal service area, service outlets, library collections and services, full-time equivalent staff, and operating revenue and expenditures. The report includes several key findings: Nationwide, visits to public libraries totaled 1.4 billion, or 4.7 library visits per capita. The average number of Internet terminals available for public use per stationary outlet was 11.2.

Full Report (PDF; 608 KB)

National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2006

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, benefit incidence, and detailed benefit provisions. This bulletin presents estimates of occupational pay for the nation. These national estimates originate from the NCS locality survey data and are weighted to represent the nation as a whole. Data for more than one-half of the 152 individual NCS localities used for national estimates have been previously published.

States failing FOI responsiveness

Source: Better Government Association and National Freedom of Information Coalition

Freedom of information laws are only as good as the response mechanisms built into the laws themselves. After all, if citizens can’t take action to enforce their right of access shy of filing suit, what good are FOI laws?
When it comes to responsiveness measures, not much good at all.

The Better Government Association (BGA) and the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) have united to review the recourse afforded citizens in the public records laws of all 50 states, and the conclusions make for some relentlessly depressing reading.

The tools available to citizens to enforce their rights under state FOI laws are, with rare exceptions, endemically weak. The haphazard construction of state public records laws has resulted in an information gap that significantly affects the citizenry’s ability to examine even the most fundamental actions of government, the study found.

States failing FOI responsiveness (also available in PDF)