The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) firmly believes that real government reform, innovative policy changes, and the big ideas that will solve America's problems are going to be found in state capitols and not Washington, D.C. As has been the case for several years, there is grid-lock in Washington, and Federal government spending and regulation are out of control, while our country's problems continue to be unaddressed by Washington.

Contrast this with the states, who are getting things done -- some better than others. America is at its most prosperous and productive when there is limited government, less spending, less taxes, less dictation from Washington, and less encroachment into the states.

SGLF will promote innovative reforms advocated by our conservative elected leaders and defend them when the special interest proponents of the status quo attack these elected leaders. SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets, and efficiency in governing.

SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and is a strategic partner to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) - home to the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Republican Secretaries of State Committee.

SGLF Launches Ad Buy on Secretary of State Jon Husted’s Record in Ohio

Published on December 02, 2015Economic Prosperity
Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) launched a digital ad buy highlighting Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s unwavering support for small business and free enterprise. The five-figure ad buy will run for two weeks throughout the state, beginning this afternoon.
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SGLF Launches Ad Buy On Billy Nungesser’s Record of Public Service

Published on November 16, 2015Economic Prosperity
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) launched a multi-platform ad buy highlighting Billy Nungesser’s outstanding record as a public servant in Louisiana. The radio and digital ads are set to run for the next six days in Louisiana and seek to remind citizens of Nungesser’s history as an unyielding advocate for Louisiana families...
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SGLF Launches Ad Buy Highlighting Commissioner Jim Donelon’s Record for Louisiana

Published on October 14, 2015Economic Prosperity
Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) introduced a five-figure digital ad buy that highlights Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon’s history of fighting for Louisiana residents’ insurance needs. The digital ads will run for 10 days in the state and are designed to remind citizens of Donelan’s record of lowering insurance rates and increasing taxpayer protection in the years since Hurricane Katrina when many in the state needed reliable and affordable insurance the most.

“Protecting and earning the trust of Louisiana citizens who greatly depend on quality insurance coverage at affordable rates is not an easy task, and Commissioner Donelon has done just that,” said SGLF Executive Director Matt Walter. “During his tenure, he has fought back against flood insurance rate hikes, has increased the size of the state’s insurance market and has cut costly regulatory red tape. At a pivotal moment in the state’s history following Hurricane Katrina, his efforts helped Louisiana rebuild.”

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SGLF Launches Radio Ad Buy Promoting Commissioner Chaney’s Record of Success

Published on July 31, 2015Economic Prosperity
Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) launched a radio ad buy on the Mississippi Gulf Coast promoting state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney’s extensive record of fighting to protect Gulf Coast residents. The radio ads will run for one week and serve to remind Mississippians of the steps Commissioner Chaney has taken while in office to look out for those in Mississippi who may need insurance protection the most.

“From opening a Gulf Coast office to better serve South Mississippi residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina to fighting to lower flood insurance costs, Commissioner Chaney has made protecting Mississippians a top priority during his time in office,” said SGLF Executive Director Matt Walter. “In a state where affordable, quality insurance coverage is so critical to all of its residents, the Magnolia State has an ally in Commissioner Chaney.”


Radio Script:

“When it comes to watching out for Mississippi families, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is getting the job done. By opening a Mississippi Insurance Department office on the Gulf Coast to serve thousands of residents devastated by Hurricane Katrina and fighting to lower insurance premiums and better protect the homes of thousands of recovering families. And when it comes to safeguarding our tax dollars and financial future, Commissioner Chaney has dedicated his career to doing just that by helping return nearly $16 million dollars to consumers in claims and premium payments and helping reduce auto insurance premiums by up to 20 percent. And when the Federal Government wanted to increase our flood insurance costs - Commissioner Chaney fought back until Congress passed a new law to reverse the higher costs. Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney - A resilient fighter who will keep protecting Mississippi. Paid for by the State Government Leadership Foundation.”

RSLC Launches REDMAP 2020, Sets $125 Million Investment Goal

Published on July 16, 2015Redistricting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) – in partnership with its strategic policy partner, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) – launched REDMAP 2020 with a $125 million investment goal through 2022. REDMAP 2020 is modeled after the RSLC’s successful REDistricting MAjority Project (REDMAP) program in 2010 that was instrumental in Republicans picking up 21 new legislative majorities that year and putting Republicans in a strong position before the decade’s redistricting. Similarly, REDMAP 2020 will prioritize electing Republican legislators in states across the country in an effort to keep and expand Republican-controlled legislative chambers in advance of 2020 redistricting. Also as part of REDMAP 2020, the SGLF will now help the Republican redistricting data acquisition efforts and provide targeted legal strategic advice in redistricting cases.

“We are launching REDMAP 2020 to stay on offense at a time when Republicans are at historic highs in state chambers around the country,” said RSLC Chairman Bill McCollum. "The launch of REDMAP 2010 marked the beginning of strong gains in the number of Republican-controlled legislative bodies at the state level that led to helping both solidify a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and winning back the U.S. Senate a few years later. It’s important to maintain that success at all levels of government, and by investing $125 million over the next seven years, we plan to help do just that.”

“When we started REDMAP in 2010, we were able to utilize the in-depth knowledge and resources of the RSLC’s vast network of Republican elected leaders who represent all 50 states,” said SGLF Chairman and former NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds. Reynolds served as REDMAP Chairman in 2010. “To now expand that role from winning critical legislative majorities that help shape the redistricting process to also providing targeted legal strategic advice and commentary for ongoing redistricting legislation is exciting for the REDMAP 2020 program. It’s exciting for the future of the Republicans Party.”

Through REDMAP 2010, the RSLC raised $30 million and led Republicans to take control of 21 new chambers, including capturing control of both chambers in several states President Obama went on to win twice: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Republicans today control a Party-record 69 of 99 state legislative chambers. REDMAP 2020 will work to maintain the historic highs we hold today, including those in Obama-blue states, while working to pick up additional majorities in states like Kentucky, Maine and New Mexico where the legislatures play a vital role in crafting district boundaries, and Republicans currently control only one of the two state chambers.

As part of REDMAP 2020, the RSLC’s strategic policy partner the SGLF will take on an increased role in helping to support the Republican Party’s data acquisition efforts. The SGLF will also actively file amicus briefs with controlling authorities for select cases in states as it relates to redistricting.

SGLF Launches Ad Buy on Speaker Madigan’s Inexcusable Debt

Published on July 15, 2015Economic Prosperity
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) launched a digital ad buy asking Illinoisans to stand up to Michael Madigan and the massive debt each citizen has incurred since he became Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1983. Since then, Illinois’ total debt levels have risen to more than $321 billion, or $24,959 per person in the state, giving Illinois the fifth highest debt levels in the country. While Madigan keeps Springfield in gridlock with his dire attempt to raise the debt another $4 billion, the digital ads ask citizens to tell Madigan to quit digging Illinois into a ditch.

“The over 12 million people of Illinois are owed answers by Speaker Madigan on why he insists on deepening 30 years of reckless spending with his current budget proposal,” said SGLF Executive Director Matt Walter. “Such an enormous debt impacts every member of the Prairie State, and it’s time to tell the Speaker that enough is enough.”

The digital ad buy launched today and will run through the rest of the week around the state.

SGLF Releases Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision on Redistricting

Published on June 29, 2015Redistricting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) Chairman Tom Reynolds released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision today on Arizona redistricting:

“State governments have long served in a critical role making decisions that closely impact voters. They have been entrusted with this role as elected bodies who are uniquely held accountable by voters. Today’s decision allows a delicate process that extends back to our nation’s creation to remain in the hands of those who were not elected and have little accountability to voters. Five years ago, our REDistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) helped state legislatures in their efforts to build fair and competitive districts, and we are disappointed Arizona’s legislature will remain unable to drive that process for its constituents going forward. We will continue to push for state governments to take the lead on this important task.”

SGLF Releases Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision on ObamaCare

Published on June 25, 2015Health Care
WASHINGTON, D.C. – State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) Chairman Tom Reynolds released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision today on ObamaCare:
“Today’s decision will invigorate conservatives to continue pushing for bottom-up, common-sense solutions that will finally fix our broken healthcare system so deeply damaged by ObamaCare. Things went from bad when Nancy Pelosi warned ‘we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,’ to worse when ObamaCare quickly caused rising healthcare costs and canceled plans. President Obama’s one-size-fits-all healthcare legislation cannot work when every different state should have its own answer as to how to address the healthcare needs of its constituents. Conservatives and all those who want the best healthcare system possible will continue working to undo the damage brought by ObamaCare by advocating for free-market solutions that allow healthcare innovations to thrive and patients to receive the quality care from their doctors that they deserve.”

SGLF Launches Center for Conservative Initiatives: A National Effort on State Ballot Initiatives

Published on March 13, 2015Federal Overreach

WASHINGTON D.C.  – As liberal groups ramp up their efforts to push ballot initiatives in response to their waning power at the state level, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) announced today the Center for Conservative Initiatives (CCI) to provide important information that is readily available to the public and offers a balance to the left’s efforts. CCI will leverage resources to oppose or support ballot initiatives, encouraging common sense conservative governing, limiting bureaucratic growth and protecting free enterprise and individual liberties.

“The left has made it clear since their significant losses last November that they will increasingly throw their efforts – and money – behind ballot initiatives, understanding that they no longer have control in state chambers to push through their liberal policies,” said SGLF Executive Director Matt Walter. “Not until now have right-of-center groups had the structure in place to thoughtfully fight back. We look forward to promoting conservative policies and thwarting liberal attempts to advance their policies when voters have already rejected them.”

2015 will be the focus pilot project year for CCI that will initially compile and index expertise on the highly complex process by which issues reach the ballot. Detailed studies will be conducted on which issues and approaches ultimately succeed or fail. CCI will identify states and issues that rank as high priorities for conservative leaders. CCI will then strategize with those leaders and invest resources to accomplish specifically stated goals. The SGLF is prepared to raise millions through CCI to inform the public.

“The SGLF has proven to be an incubator of successful, conservative free market solutions, and CCI is a natural next step for our organization,” said Walter. “In the same way that tomorrow’s future national leaders are born at the state level, so too are good ideas. We are thrilled to launch the Center for Conservative Initiatives and look forward to growing it as we continue our fight for small, smart government.”

'Clean fuels' bill is a trust buster that deserves a veto: Editorial

Published on March 05, 2015Energy & Environment

In her inaugural speech last month, Gov. Kate Brown emphasized again and again the need to restore public trust in government. To that end, she said, "we must seize this moment to work across party lines." Yet now, according to her office, she's poised to sign a bill that embodies hyperpartisanship, that provides a link to her predecessor's ethical decay, and that would harm the very "everyday Oregonians - children and working parents, small business owners and senior citizens" whose concerns she promised to hear.

If the governor meant half of what she said on Feb. 18, she would exhibit the kind of leadership her office requires and veto Senate Bill 324.

The bill, which the House approved by a 31-29 vote Wednesday following lengthy and bruising debate, allows the full implementation of a complicated program to reduce the "carbon intensity" of road fuels. Carbon intensity is a measure not only of the emissions released by using a fuel, but also those released by producing, moving and storing it. The program, called a low carbon fuel standard, seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of road fuels by 10 percent over a decade. Because there's only so much ethanol blending suppliers of conventional gas and diesel can do, they'd have to buy credits from the producers of low-carbon fuel. Those who support this model seem to have learned little from the spectacular failure of Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit.

But leaving aside the program's complexity (not to mention the state's track record of mismanaging complex initiatives), its benefits simply aren't worth the costs. Slashing the carbon footprint of Oregon's road fuels by 10 percent would have no effect on global warming. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide emissions attributed to the state's transportation sector are relatively stable. In 2012, the latest year for which the federal government has data, state emissions from transportation were lower than at any time since 1990. Emissions in 2012, in fact, were 13 percent lower than in 1999. These numbers hardly point to a crisis requiring an expensive response. Yet implementing SB324 would boost fuel costs by up to 19 cents per gallon. That's the equivalent of a 63 percent hike in the state's gas tax.

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How the GOP Wave Could Boost Chances for a Constitutional Convention of the States

Written by Fred Lucas for The Blaze on November 27, 2014Legal Reform
The 2014 Republican tide might lift the movement for a convention of states to amend the Constitution, advocates said. Republicans now control 69 state legislative chambers across the country, surpassing the party’s record of state Houses and Senates the GOP controlled in 1920, picking up of nine chambers this year. The party controls both the House and Senate in 30 states. Tennessee and Louisiana passed resolutions calling for a Convention of the States in the 2014 legislative sessions to approve a federal balanced budget amendment, bringing the tally to 24 states, according to the State Government Leadership Foundation, a conservative group advocating for a convention. Some of those resolutions stretch back to the 1980s. That’s within 10 of the magic 34 states needed to reach the two-thirds of state legislatures to call a state convention under Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution. If a convention approves an amendment, three-fourths of the states – 38 – must vote to ratify it. This option has never been used for amending the Constitution.

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Tax Foundation Ranks State Business Tax Climate

Written by Jackson Brainerd for NCSL on November 14, 2014Economic Prosperity
Wyoming and South Dakota topped the rankings for states' business tax climate in the 2015 State Business Tax Climate Index released last week by the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The Index compares state' tax systems in terms of their friendliness to business and conduciveness to economic development. The 2015 Index is based on the premise that taxes play an important role in where businesses choose to locate, and that states use their tax systems to compete with one another for those businesses. For that reason, the Index asserts that an analysis of state tax policy offers the best explanation for economic growth.
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U.S. Supreme Court blocks Wisconsin's voter ID law

Written by Todd Richmond and Steve Karnowski for Associated Press on October 09, 2014Election Law
MADISON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked Wisconsin from implementing a law requiring voters to present photo IDs, overturning a lower court decision that would have put the law in place for the November election. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the law constitutional on Monday. The following day, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to block the ruling. On Thursday night the U.S. Supreme Court issued a one-page order that vacated the appeals court ruling pending further proceedings. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the application should have been denied because there was no indication that the 7th Circuit had demonstrably erred. "Obviously we're thrilled that people are going to be able to vote in this election," said Molly Collins, associate director for the ACLU of Wisconsin.

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Small Firms Slow to Embrace ACA Business Exchanges

Written by Christine Vestal for Stateline on August 27, 2014Health Care
Unhappy with the choices her insurance broker was offering, Denver publishing company owner Rebecca Askew went to Colorado’s small business health insurance exchange last fall. She found exactly what she’d been hoping for: affordable insurance options tailored to the diverse needs of her 12 employees. But Askew is in a tiny minority. Only 2 percent of all eligible businesses have checked out so-called SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) exchanges in the 15 states where they have been available since last October under the Affordable Care Act. Even fewer purchased policies. In November, three more state-run SHOP exchanges are slated to open, and the federal government will unveil exchanges for the 32 states that chose not to run their own. SHOP exchanges were supposed to open nationwide on Oct. 1, the same day as exchanges offering health insurance for individuals. But the Obama administration postponed the SHOP launch, citing the need to fix serious technical problems with the exchanges for individuals, which it said were a higher priority.
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Some states propose compact to give them free hand in running health care programs

Written by DIANE STAFFORD for The Kansas City Star on August 26, 2014Health Care
Kansas, Missouri and seven other states have signed on to a movement that would wrest regulation of most of the nation’s health care insurance systems from the federal government. Those state legislatures want to be part of a proposed interstate Health Care Compact. The compact would let participating states use federal funds — in the form of block grants — to design and operate their own Medicare, Medicaid and other health care programs, except the military’s. Critics say the idea is unworkable and faces long political odds. Indeed, states need Congress to approve any interstate compact. But the movement has some traction, partly to air grievances with Obamacare and partly because of supporters’ belief that states individually would do a better job managing health programs and expenses.
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S&P puts negative outlook on Illinois credit rating

Written by Reuters for Chicago Tribune on July 23, 2014Economic Prosperity
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday revised the outlook on Illinois' A-minus credit rating to negative, citing risks over the implementation of a recent pension reform law. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday warned that Illinois' already low credit rating could sink further if the state is unable to implement reforms to curb its big unfunded pension liability and balance its budget. The credit rating agency revised the outlook on Illinois' A-minus credit rating to negative from developing, citing a recent state supreme court ruling that could derail a new pension reform law and the state's structurally imbalanced state budget. “If the pension reform is declared unconstitutional or invalid, or implementation is delayed and there is a continued lack of consensus and action among policymakers on the structural budget gaps and payables outstanding, we believe there could be a profound and negative effect on Illinois' budgetary performance and liquidity over the next two years and that this could lead to a downgrade,” S&P said in a statement.
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Ohio collecting more in online sales taxes

Written by Associated Press for Dayton Daily News on July 21, 2014Economic Prosperity
DAYTON — Online sales-tax collections hit a record $45 million in Ohio in the budget year that just ended, a 68 percent increase from five years ago. The money is pouring in after Ohio officially joined a multistate effort to streamline sales tax for online purchases in January. The Ohio Department of Taxation estimates that the state stands to eventually tap into $308 million worth of tax revenue from online sales. Still, Ohio doesn’t have legal authority to collect from online retailers that don’t have a physical location in the state.’s closest warehouse is in Hebron, Ky. The result: Many consumers don’t get charged sales tax on millions of dollars’ worth of purchases. While consumers save money, local businesses say the practice hurts them because bargain hunters will turn to online retailers that don’t charge taxes, especially for big-ticket items. Local governments say that even though the state is collecting more online sales taxes, they still are missing out on taxes that could help pay for paving roads and prosecuting criminals.
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Officials mull using drones to watch over Ohio prisons

Written by Jeremy Pelzer for Northeast Ohio Media Group on July 17, 2014Immigration & Homeland Security
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio is considering becoming the first state in the nation to use aerial drones to patrol state prisons, according to corrections officials. The idea is still in its very early stages, but Department of Rehabilitation and Correction officials say unmanned aircraft would be a big help in monitoring inmates and catching outsiders throwing guns and other contraband over prison fences. The DRC is seeking public input on whether to move ahead with testing drones at two southwest Ohio prisons, Lebanon Correctional Institution and Warren Correctional Institution. If public response is positive, the DRC would begin testing in late August or early September for about six months, said Ed Voorhies, the agency's managing director of operations.
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Common Core faces test in North Carolina

Written by Sarah Ferris for The Washington Post on July 17, 2014Education Reform
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory will allow the State Board of Education to rewrite its Common Core standards, backing away from his previous support of the controversial curriculum. The state Senate approved a bill last week that charges a statewide commission to review the two-year-old math and reading standards — but falls short of a full repeal. McCrory said Wednesday that he would sign the bill. “It does not change any of North Carolina’s education standards,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “It does initiate a much-needed, comprehensive and thorough review of standards.” The Republican-controlled House and Senate had put forward dueling bills to repeal the standards before the start of the next school year. A compromise bill reached last week puts the decision in the hands of a 17-member review commission, made up mostly of education and business leaders, rather than immediately abandoning the standards.
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S.D. GDP gets boost from agriculture, health care

Written by David Montgomery for Argus Leader on June 13, 2014Economic Prosperity
South Dakota's economy continued to grow last year, a broad boom led by agriculture, health care and finance. The 6.8 percent growth in South Dakota's GDP was fourth highest in the nation and almost twice the national rate. Adjusted for inflation, South Dakota's gross domestic product grew by 3.1 percent last year. That's still among the best rates in the country. Adjusting for inflation accounts for rising prices and provides a better comparison of the economy's strength. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is called "real GDP." The biggest contributor to South Dakota's economy boom was the farm sector. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting combined grew to $6.3 billion last year from $4.7 billion in 2012 — a 14.4 percent increase, adjusted for inflation.
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After hours of strife, lawmakers pass budget without Medicaid expansion

Written by LAURA VOZZELLA for The Washington Post on June 13, 2014Health Care
RICHMOND — The Virginia General Assembly adopted a long-delayed state budget late Thursday, acting after an hours-long debate among newly ascendant Senate Republicans who fought among themselves over whether the plan threw up sufficient barriers to Medicaid expansion. The Republicans, who gained control of the Senate Monday when a Democrat resigned from what had been an evenly split chamber, approved a spending deal hashed out by a bipartisan group of House and Senate negotiators. But they first amended it in a way intended to make it harder to expand the federal-state healthcare program for the poor under the federal Affordable Care Act — Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top legislative priority. As midnight approached, the plan moved over for consideration by the House of Delegates, where it quickly passed. It was expected to then head to McAuliffe’s desk, but with no certainty that he would approve it and avert a government shutdown before July 1.
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Fallout from fracking bans: Family farms, elderly devastated in Mountain West

Written by Valerie Richardson for The Washington Times on June 12, 2014Energy & Environment
LOVELAND, Colo. — When foes of fracking complain about moneybags billionaires profiteering from “Big Oil,” they’re probably not thinking of people like Bob and Cristy Koeneke. The Koenekes are wheat farmers who lease the mineral rights on their property to oil and gas producers. The royalties they receive from the leases enabled the retirees to put two sons through Colorado State University and keep up the family farming operation. “It’s not that we’re wealthy fat cats,” said Mr. Koeneke, a retired truck driver who farms land on Colorado’s eastern plains that his family has owned for generations. “This [income] allows us to continue to farm.” Overlooked in Colorado’s fierce political battle over the booming practice of hydraulic fracturing are the state’s 600,000 mineral owners, many of whom depend on the royalties from oil and gas leases for their livelihoods. Those owners are growing increasingly alarmed as anti-fracking groups demand moratoriums or outright bans on oil and gas production in jurisdictions across the state.
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Boom offers economic growth, opportunities in La.

Written by TED GRIGGS AND TIMOTHY BOONE for The New Orleans Advocate on June 12, 2014Economic Prosperity
Methanex’s decision to relocate two methanol plants from Chile to Geismar demonstrates the advantages driving the industrial boom in south Louisiana: easy access to the Mississippi River, natural gas and large plots of land, as well as a major limitation, transportation, said Jessica Kemp, vice president of policy and advocacy at the Center for Planning Excellence. “If you drive down River Road, you’ll see a dozen similar sites and you’ll notice they all have these great big parking lots for these thousands of workers,” Kemp told attendees at the Connect Boom Without Bust Policy Forum. “You’ll also notice there’s only one way in and one way out." About 100 people were on hand for the opening session. The challenge for the state and southeast Louisiana in particular will be figuring out the best way to accommodate the coming industrial, business and residential growth and the resulting traffic, Kemp said. The goal is to create sustainable growth and avoid the bust that often follows a boom. The most conservative estimates show $60 billion in major project investment in the state, with $21 billion in the Baton Rouge-to-New Orleans corridor. “We don’t see a lot of what’s coming yet, but right now, it’s like a big cannonball moving through a python,” said Dan Borne, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association.
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Bentley, state leaders announce prison overhaul effort

Written by The Associated Press for The Montgomery Advertiser on June 11, 2014Legal Reform
Gov. Robert Bentley and state leaders on Tuesday announced an attempt to overhaul the state's severely overcrowded prison system, considered at risk of a federal takeover. Bentley said state prisons are at 192 percent of capacity. "It's an issue that is not going to wait. We need help," Bentley said. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, a partnership between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Department of Justice, will examine the state system and suggest ways to contain costs without risking public safety. The nonpartisan Council of State Governments will help Alabama through the review. Bentley requested the assistance after a series of blistering findings about state prisons. The Department of Justice in January sent a letter accusing the state of keeping female inmates in unconstitutional conditions because of widespread sexual abuse at Alabama's only prison for women.
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California laws on teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissal are struck down

Written by Sharon Noguchi for San Jose Mercury News on June 10, 2014Education Reform
In a landmark decision with national ramifications, a Los Angeles judge ruled Tuesday that California laws governing teacher tenure, firing and layoffs violate students' constitutional right to education equality -- a stunning victory for the Silicon Valley nonprofit that brought the lawsuit on behalf of nine students, including three from the Bay Area. The long-awaited ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu found that the evidence of how poor teachers affect students "shocks the conscience" and that "there is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms." He noted that the current laws protect bad teachers, harm students and disproportionately affect poor and minority pupils.

Treu ordered the state to stop enforcing tenure, dismissal and layoff laws but stayed his orders pending possible appeals by the state and California's two major teachers unions. The decision was a huge defeat for the powerful teachers union and sent a clear signal to legislators to begin rewriting those laws to make it easier to fire poorly performing teachers, to delay or change tenure rules and to rework layoff criteria so that newly hired teachers aren't always the first to lose their jobs. The advocates in the case, which had been closely watched across the country, hailed the ruling as historic. "This is a monumental day for California's public education system," said lead co-counsel Theodore J. Boutros Jr., who also successfully argued the case that struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage. "This decision is going to reverberate powerfully across California and across the nation." Unions, however, denounced the decision in the case known as Vergara vs. California.
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