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.
The 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.
The SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets, and efficiency in governing.
The SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization affiliated with the Republican State Leadership Committee- home to RLGA, RAGA, RSSC, and the RLCC.
In Reversal, Florida to Take Health Law’s Medicaid Expansion
It was an about-face for Mr. Scott, a former businessman who entered politics as a critic of Mr. Obama’s health care proposals. Florida was one of the states that sued to try to block the law. After the Supreme Court ruled last year that though the law was constitutional, states could choose not to expand their Medicaid programs to cover the poor, Mr. Scott said that Florida would not expand its programs. Mr. Scott said Wednesday that he now supported a three-year expansion of Medicaid, through the period that the federal government has agreed to pay the full cost of the expansion, and before some of the costs are shifted to the states.
U.S. signals agreement with Va. on Medicaid reforms
Agreement with U.S. could allow Va. to expand its program
“We at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are committed to working toward expedited agreements on meaningful Medicaid reforms for the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Cindy Mann, an administrator at the federal agency. Hazel reviewed the letter Tuesday with Virginia Senate representatives on the conference committee that will determine amendments to the two-year state budget, most notably whether Virginia will expand its Medicaid program. House of Delegates members on the panel were invited but did not attend the briefing.
EPA chief over Wyoming resigns, cites personal reasons
The administrator -- named to the position in April 2010 -- was no stranger to controversy during his tenure, announcing his resignation just three weeks after coming under fire from two U.S. senators who questioned his use of an Apple me.com email account to conduct official business. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., asked the agency in late January to disclose emails from the account after a message surfaced from Martin's me.com account to a high-ranking official of the Environmental Defense Fund. The message set up an official meeting.
UPDATE Voter ID bill passes Senate
Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, passed the Senate by a 23-12 vote. Under the bill, a voter would only be allowed to cast a ballot if he or she showed official identification bearing a photograph — a driver’s license, state identification card, concealed-carry handgun license, military ID, a U.S. passport, employee badge or identification document, public assistance identification card or college student identification card. Poll workers are currently required to ask for identification, but voters don’t have to show it in order to cast a ballot.
Failing Indiana schools would face state takeover more quickly under House bill
Under the current law, schools can face state takeover after six consecutive years rated an F. The bill would cut it to three years at F. The bill would instruct the State Board of Education and the Education Roundtable to establish new A to F guidelines, with growth benchmarks that reward students for improving test scores toward the passing score or toward an advanced score for those already passing. A competing Senate bill, which would also dump the current A to F rules but would allow Superintendent for Public Instruction Glenda Ritz to lead a process for outlining a new system, will be discussed in the Senate Education Committee today.
Poll: Optimism rising about SC economy
The 52.1 percent who said they increasingly are feeling more chipper about the state’s economy is up from the poll’s final results of 2012 – just two months ago – when only 49 percent felt optimistic. “That’s important for South Carolina,” said Mark Vitner, Wells Fargo Securities managing director and senior economist in Charlotte. “It says the economic recovery in South Carolina has broadened and strengthened over the last year. There are more areas of the state that are seeing improvement. And there are more industries that are doing better.” In the survey, conducted Feb. 9-17, 48.3 percent said economic conditions for the country as a whole are getting better.
Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper threatens veto of firefighter unions bill in present form
Gov. Bill Ritter, Hickenlooper's Democratic predecessor, vetoed a nearly identical bill in 2009, a move that cost him points with labor groups and his own party. "As a former mayor, I respect the positive good that can result from collective bargaining," Hickenlooper said in the letter to Democratic leaders. "In Denver, we successfully negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the firefighters' union. In those negotiations, we operated with the mutual understanding that we must take into consideration the shared interests of making responsible use of taxpayer funds, prioritizing the well-being and safety of the public and ensuring the safety of the firefighters themselves.
SC GOP kills attempt to expand Medicaid
The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to anyone earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,000. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and her appointed director of the Department of Health and Human Services oppose the expansion, arguing it is too expensive and won’t solve the state’s health problems. Democrats support expansion, saying it would help the poor. Tuesday, Democrats on the House budget committee proposed funding the Medicaid expansion for a year. But Republicans, who control the House, defeated that proposal. State Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, argued lawmakers need to focus instead on a long-term solution to health-care funding. Democrats did push through a budget proposal that would require the state to ask for permission to expand Medicaid – even though it would not require the state to pay for that expansion.
Haley says S.C. doesn't need Washington's help to create good manufacturing climate
Her visit came four days after Rebecca Blank, U.S. deputy secretary of commerce, toured BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer. Blank praised the Upstate as a national model for reinvigorating manufacturing and touted President Barack Obama’s plan for boosting the sector. Asked about Blank’s visit, Haley said South Carolina has created a good business climate by reducing regulations, developing its work force and taking other pro-business steps.
North Dakota Senate amends oil tax bill
An amended version of Senate Bill 2336 came before lawmakers. Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, outlined the amendments to SB2336. One change in SB2336 would require an annual recertification of wells on stripper well properties. It also changes the definition of a stripper well as one producing an average of 40 barrels of oil per day, up from 30. The original bill had moved it to 45. There also was a change in when the state’s oil extraction tax would be lowered from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent. The original date in SB2336 was Jan. 1, 2017. The amendment would allow the reduction to occur on the first day of the next quarter after oil production reaches 1 million barrels per day for three consecutive months.
Lawmakers to debate Branstad's education reforms
Lawmakers approved a plan late Tuesday to increase funding for K-12 schools in the next two academic years, but debate over whether to approve a watered-down version of Gov. Terry Branstad's education reform proposal continued. In a 52-45 vote, the Republican-controlled Iowa House approved 2 percent funding increases for schools in both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years _ less than the 4 percent increase approved last week by the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority. The funding was handled as an amendment to the education reform legislation. "Two percent is a good number for the reason that we can fully fund two percent allowable growth," said Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-Le Mars, who sponsored the amendment. The plan would cost $69 million in the first year and $43 million in the second.
Republicans in the House have scaled back Branstad's $187 million education plan, which aims to improve Iowa schools by boosting minimum teacher pay and offering bonuses to senior teachers who take on other tasks, such as mentoring. Under revisions made to the legislation last week by Republicans in the House Education Committee, school districts could opt-out of the reforms. Branstad wanted to mandate that minimum teacher salaries go from $28,000 a year to $35,000. Under the House Republican proposal, the salary increases would go up to $32,000 for districts that participate in the reform plan.
Senate bill would allow charter schools to multiply
Patrick’s sweeping legislation, filed Monday, would lift restrictions on the expansion of charter schools, which are privately managed schools that receive public dollars. State law currently caps the number of charter operators at 215. It would also create a new entity to authorize and oversee charter schools, responsibilities now split between the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency.
Jeff Meadors: Trigger legislation could put power in the hands of teachers, parents
Led by Georgia House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey with impetus from Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, the original version gave teachers the right to use a secret ballot to beg for turnaround that would fire administrators. Half the teachers and instructional staff would vote at a special meeting, and a majority vote could produce a recommendation their school board must consider. There aren't many teeth in the trigger from that point forward, at least for now. The school board must consider, not agree, but the public relations debacle ensuing from the fervor would trigger more calls to action, possibly more legislation, as Georgia taxpayers weary from decades of achievement purgatory continue to demand control of their dollars
Hassan’s budget increases charter school funding, but isn’t blank check for new schools
That’s good news for charter school advocates, who have been up in arms since Sept. 19, when the State Board of Education said it wouldn’t approve any more charter schools because there wasn’t enough money in the budget to finance them. Public charter schools are free for students to attend and receive grants from the state – $5,450 per pupil in grades 1-12 for the current school year – to help cover their operating expenses. “The governor has been a public charter school supporter in the past and we applaud her for her vision and commitment to public charter school options,” wrote Matt Southerton, director of the New Hampshire Center for Innovative Schools, in an email. The center is a nonprofit that helps set up charter schools.
Scott Walker to unveil budget that will address Medicaid, schools and jobs
Many of Walker's priorities have already been revealed over the past two weeks, from his plans for state Medicaid programs to his aim of refocusing the state's public universities and technical colleges on in-demand professions such as nursing, accounting and machining. One proposal with few details released so far is the governor's plans for a $300 million, or 2%, income tax cut over the next two years. The governor says that would work out to about $100 a year for a "typical family." To become law, the budget bill will have to be approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed by Walker, a process that typically takes until June to complete.
Economy rebounding, but legislators playing it safe
Budget » Lawmakers say tax collections don’t account for the whole picture.
Income, sales and other taxes have come in nearly 11 percent higher than forecast for the first seven months of the fiscal year, according to the most recent figures released this week. The new revenue figures from the Utah State Tax Commission come days ahead of the Legislature and governor’s anticipated release of their new budget forecast for the coming year, which will be the numbers used to build the budget for state programs. While the robust growth would appear to be a sign of economic health, House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, cautioned that the situation in Congress, with $85 billion in automatic budget cuts due to kick on March 1, the Legislature will proceed cautiously.
Gov. John Kasich focuses on Medicaid, job creation, tax reforms in State of the State address
Both Democrats and Kasich's fellow Republicans have found things to like and dislike in his budget, and Kasich used his hourlong speech to push back against the criticism, making an especially impassioned case for the Medicaid expansion, which conservatives have scorned. Kasich argued it is the right thing to do, both fiscally and morally. It will guarantee that Ohio tax dollars return to Ohio to pay for the program, he said. And it will allow those who are impoverished to have access to health care with a primary doctor, rather than high-cost visits to an emergency room that many use now. And it will expand care to those who have mental illnesses.
It’s official: The feds will run most Obamacare exchanges
The federal government did not get many takers. Some of the most closely watched states, including Florida and New Jersey, decided to leave the entire task to the federal government. All told, the federal government will run 26 of the state health exchanges. It also will partner with seven states, where state and federal officials take joint responsibility for the marketplace. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia will take on the task themselves. Here’s what that looks like in map form, via the Kaiser Family Foundation. As for the partisan breakdown, this graph should give you a sense of how politics played a role in state decisions. While you do see some Republican-led states running exchanges—and some states with Democratic governors passing up the opportunity—there is a definite split along party lines.
Sen. Mike Johnston unveils bill to revamp school finance in Colorado
"To give life to the system we built, we must make sure we have the resources and financial incentives to do that," he said. "What you see laid out here is an attempt to build a financial system that matches the policy framework we've built." If passed, the complex, 144-page document would go into effect only if voters approve a statewide initiative to increase education funding — probably by anywhere from $750,000 to $1.1 billion annually.
Haslam's voucher plan is gearing up in TN legislature
Lawmakers, educators split over Haslam's proposal
Haslam’s proposal is drawing a mixed response from lawmakers and educators. A Republican-sponsored bill to create a voucher program passed the Senate in 2011 but was deferred in the House to the following session. When the delay occurred, Haslam had persuaded lawmakers to wait while a task force studied options on school choice.
Senate unveils workers' compensation overhaul bill
An Oklahoma Senate leadership bill to abolish the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court and replace it with an administrative system for compensating injured workers was unveiled Monday to a chorus of cheers and jeers.
The bill is 260 pages long. “It's an incredible bill,” said Becky Robinson, assistant vice president of risk management for Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based retail store chain. “I think it's really unique and certainly does a lot for those that are supporting reform. It's bringing creativity to the pot.” Workers' compensation attorney Bob Burke strongly disagreed.
“Senate Bill 1062 is a direct assault on the rights and benefits of Oklahoma workers who are injured on the job,” Burke said. “The cuts in benefits are deep and unfair.” Burke complained about a lengthy list of benefit cuts contained in the bill. For example, he said a worker making $500 a week would receive $20,000 less for an amputated arm, $16,000 less for an amputated hand and $24,000 less for a loss of hearing in both ears.
Indiana House preparing to vote on state budget without Pence's tax cut
The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, meanwhile, will hold a hearing on a measure that would accomplish Pence’s top legislative priority — reducing Indiana’s individual income tax rate from 3.4 percent to 3.06 percent. Those proposals will be melded into one final product before the Republican-dominated General Assembly adjourns at the end of April — and on Monday, Pence made clear he’ll pressure lawmakers to adopt his tax cut all the way through the legislative session up to that deadline.
Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Sidelined For May Primary Elections Amid Ongoing Lawsuit
Pennsylvania's voter ID measure has been mired in legal troubles since being passed and signed last March. A judge ruled last October to block enforcement of the law for November's general election after finding that the state had failed to make IDs adequately accessible. While ID wasn't required to cast a vote, the judge allowed the state to continue an "education and advertising campaign" informing people about the forthcoming voting requirements. As in November, voters in the May primary will be asked to show applicable photo ID at their polling places, but will be allowed to cast ballots even if they don't have one.
Senate approves voter ID bill; separate House bill advances
Both pieces of legislation — House Bill 1337 and Senate Bill 1256 — would remove several forms of identification, including utility bills and paychecks, that the General Assembly added last year to the list of IDs accepted at the polls. SB1256, sponsored by Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), would go further, requiring that voters present photo identification.
McCrory opposes state run health exchange in NC
States must tell federal officials by Friday if they will partner with Washington to run a health benefit exchange helping the uninsured find coverage. A House committee in North Carolina approved legislation that would block Medicaid expansion even during the three years the federal government pays the whole cost.