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.

N.J. Governor Moves to Expand Tax Incentives; Other States Tentative

Written by Elaine S. Povich for Stateline on September 10, 2013Economic Prosperity
While states continue to question whether tax incentives do enough to boost economies and jobs, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threw his support behind a bill to consolidate and expand the state’s main tax incentive programs. The state Assembly  Monday approved the minor changes the governor requested on an overwhelming vote. The Senate will consider the bill later this week. Christie praised its main provisions, but asked the legislature to strike a provision requiring businesses that get the tax credits to pay prevailing wages for maintenance workers at their facilities.

"This bipartisan approach will help keep New Jersey's economy growing and on the right track, and I commend lawmakers on both sides for all their hard work," the Republican governor said in a statement.He said the bill will streamline the economic development programs and “boost our economy.” While New Jersey is set on expanding the tax incentive programs, other states are questioning whether they work as advertised to increase jobs and expand economic growth. Maine, for example, has set up a task force to find $40 million in savings within the state’s tax incentives. Its first meeting is scheduled next week. Without the savings, the state faces cuts to municipal revenue sharing.
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Oklahoma Legislature passes 25 lawsuit reform bills to end weeklong special session

Written by RANDY KREHBIEL & BARBARA HOBEROCK for Tulsa World on September 09, 2013Legal Reform
OKLAHOMA CITY - The House took some persuading, and even then the Republican leadership and the Fallin administration didn't get exactly what they wanted, but a sheaf of 25 lawsuit reform bills went through the final stage of adoption by the Oklahoma Legislature on Monday to bring a weeklong special session to an end. The bills are intended to replace a single, omnibus measure enacted in 2009 and declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in June. Twenty-four of the 25 bills are intended to correct the 2009 law's violation of the state's single-subject rule. The 25th and most controversial deals with the so-called certificate of merit requirement, which the court has twice thrown out on other grounds. House Speaker T.W. Shannon had to come out on the House floor to rustle up the last few votes on that one, SB 1x, as 15 Republicans joined the 21 Democrats on the floor in voting no. Three other Republicans voted "constitutional privilege," and three more were absent, leaving Shannon the bare minimum 51 votes needed for passage.

He never did get the 68 votes needed for the emergency clause, a small victory for the Democratic minority that went through the special session kicking and screaming to the end. The emergency clauses on the last three bills through the House also failed, this time because too many Republicans had left and none of the remaining Democrats cared to bail out the majority. The failed emergency clauses were the only items on Gov. Mary Fallin's to-do list not to be checked. The 21 bills with emergency clauses will become law as soon as they are signed by Fallin. The four without won't become effective until 90 days after signing.
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Indiana Right-to-Work Law Ruled Unconstitutional by State Judge

Written by Andrew Harris for Bloomberg News on September 09, 2013Labor Reform
Indiana’s right-to-work law making it a crime to charge union dues as a condition of employment was ruled unconstitutional by a state court judge. Enacted by now-former Governor Mitch Daniels last year, the measure made it a misdemeanor to require a worker to pay fees, assessments or other charges to a union or a third party to get or keep a job. Opponents called the legislation a wage-lowering union buster. State court Judge John M. Sedia in Hammond concluded it was unlawful because it forced unions to provide benefits to non-members without just compensation. “There is no court which is more loathe to declare any state statute unconstitutional than this one,” Sedia said in a Sept. 5 ruling, saying he had no choice other than to void the law. The judge delayed enforcement of his ruling during an appeal. State Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office said today it will seek to reverse the ruling.
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The Latest Evidence of Voter Fraud — and Discrimination

Written by Hans Von Spakovsky and John Fund for National Review Online on September 09, 2013Election Law
Obama-administration officials and their liberal camp-followers who routinely claim there is no reason to worry about election integrity because vote fraud is nonexistent suffered some embarrassing setbacks last week. Federal law requires states to clean up their voter rolls.  In 2009, the Obama Justice Department dismissed, with no explanation, a lawsuit filed by the Bush administration asking Missouri for such a clean-up. It has since taken no action against any other state or jurisdiction since it has an unofficial policy of not enforcing this requirement. But private parties are starting to force changes. In Mississippi last Wednesday, the American Civil Rights Union won a significant victory for election integrity when a federal judge approved a consent decree in which Walthall County agreed to finally clean up its bloated voter-registration list. The county has more registered voters than the Census says it has eligible voters. The ACRU sued the county (which went for Romney in 2012) under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires election officials to maintain accurate voter rolls through a regular program that removes ineligible voters.

Walthall County will have to remove felons, noncitizens, decedents, and voters who have moved away from its registration list.  As part of the consent decree, the county agreed to start checking its voter list against other state and federal records maintained by the Mississippi DMV, the state departments of vital records and corrections, the local court and local tax authority,  the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security. The county must also notify local and federal law-enforcement officials when it finds individuals who registered or voted illegally, such as felons and noncitizens. The ACRU has a second suit still pending against Jefferson Davis County, Miss. (which went for Obama in 2012). This is the first time in the 20 years that the NVRA has been in force that a conservative group has sued to enforce Section 8, while liberal advocacy groups have filed many cases to try to stop election officials from cleaning up their registration lists, a practice which they foolishly label “voter suppression.”
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Teacher evaluations take center stage in Michigan Legislature on Wednesday

Written by Brian Smith for Michigan Live on September 09, 2013Education Reform
LANSING -- The question of how Michigan should evaluate its public school teachers will be up for debate Wednesday in a joint meeting of education committees in the Michigan Legislature. The House and Senate education committees will hear a presentation from Dr. Deborah Ball, chair of the Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness. The council was created by legislators to make recommendations on how the state should conduct teacher evaluations, which are a key component of Michigan's waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements under federal law. Michigan lawmakers enacted the evaluation requirements as part of a package of bills that made changes to the state's teacher tenure system in 2011.

The report issued by the council earlier this summer recommended a system where direct observation of both teachers and administrators was used along with student performance to determine effectiveness. The system would apply to both teachers and principals. Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), who chairs the Senate committee, said after the report was released that the report would be a positive step for the state's public schools. "Student achievement is the top priority, and an evaluation system that supports educators and encourages professional growth will be a game changer for Michigan schools. I want to thank the Council for their dedication to this important task. Future generations of students will greatly benefit from their expertise and hard work," Pavlov said.
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Major N.J. tax break measure a step closer

Written by Maddie Hanna for The Philadelphia Inquirer on September 09, 2013Economic Prosperity
TRENTON - Accepting changes required by Gov. Christie, the Assembly passed legislation Monday that would expand the availability of tax breaks for businesses across the state, with one lawmaker calling the measure "the most comprehensive overhaul of state incentives" in New Jersey's history. The bill, which goes back to the Senate, includes perks for South Jersey: Businesses in eight southern counties would have to create fewer jobs and invest less than companies elsewhere in the state to qualify for the tax credits. Christie, who conditionally vetoed the Economic Opportunity Act earlier in the day, said he would support the sweeping bill only if the Legislature struck provisions that would require maintenance workers on qualifying projects to be paid a prevailing wage and that would give incentives to developers for repurposing health-care facilities. The Assembly voted, 70-6, to go along with Christie's changes. The Senate is to vote on the revised measure Thursday. The bill, which would streamline the state's five economic incentive programs into two, would allow small businesses to qualify for tax breaks as well as companies outside urban areas.
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In Louisiana's health insurance exchange, five companies seek to offer plans

Written by The Times-Picayune for Katherine Sayre and Rebecca Catalanello on September 06, 2013Health Care
In three weeks, millions of the nation's uninsured will be able to go online and shop for health insurance. It will mark the most visible implementation of the much debated Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law three years ago. Five Louisiana companies have asked to offer dozens of plans to Louisiana residents looking for coverage in the online marketplace, often called an "exchange." But how much consumers will be asked to pay remains to be seen. To get the word out, federally funded groups across Louisiana say they are preparing to storm the state with trained counselors who can help residents enroll beginning Oct. 1, when the exchanges launch. Insurance companies Humana, Coventry, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, Vantage and a new organization, Louisiana Health Cooperative, have applied to participate in Louisiana's marketplace and submitted as many as 90 proposed plans to the state Department of Insurance, officials said this week.
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As healthcare law rolls out, its effects will depend on your state

People living in states that back the Affordable Care Act will get substantial help unavailable to those in states that are fighting it. The law kicks in next month.

Written by Noam N. Levey for The Los Angeles Times on September 06, 2013Health Care
WASHINGTON — Colorado residents shopping for health insurance next year will be able to compare health plans using a star system that ranks insurance companies on quality. In Oregon and Maryland, consumers will save as much as 30% on some plans after state regulators forced insurers to lower 2014 premiums. Californians will get extra help selecting a health plan next year from a small army of community workers paid in part by foundations and the state. As President Obama's healthcare law rolls out next month, even supporters acknowledge there will be problems. But Americans who live in states backing the Affordable Care Act will receive substantial protections and assistance unavailable to residents in states still fighting the 2010 law. That could mean confusion and higher insurance premiums for millions of consumers in states resisting the law.

Leaders in these resistant states have not set up consumer hot lines. Several state insurance regulators are refusing to make sure health plans offer new protections required by the law, such as guaranteed coverage for people who are ill. In response to the law, Florida suspended its authority to review how much insurance companies charge consumers. "I would certainly rather be in a state that is trying than in one that is not," said Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Heath Policy. "There are going to be some big differences." The Affordable Care Act was supposed to smooth out disparities in insurance coverage and healthcare quality between states, providing all Americans with a basic level of protection.
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Oil tax bill referendum to appear on August 2014 ballot

Written by Matt Buxton for The Fairbanks Daily News – Miner on September 06, 2013Energy & Environment
FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Division of Elections has certified a referendum on Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax bill for the ballot next year. Elections Director Gail Fenumiai, in a letter to lead referendum backer Vic Fischer earlier this week, certified that the referendum has met all the requirements necessary to appear on the Aug. 19, 2014, statewide primary election ballot. The letter confirmed that petitioners across the state gathered 45,664 voter signatures, surpassing the 30,169 signature requirement that was based on the 2012 general election turnout. The group gathered 52,649 signatures, some of which were disqualified in the review process.

Fischer, who is a former state senator and delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, applauded the step in a news release Thursday. “This is a great victory for Alaskans,” said Fischer, a prime sponsor of the repeal effort. “Alaskans deserve a fair share of the wealth generated from our oil fields. Repealing the giveaway will help ensure that.” Parnell and a newly elected Republican majority in the Legislature passed Senate Bill 21 earlier this year to cut overall taxation on oil in a bid to reverse decades of faltering production. Opponents, like Fischer, have argued against the bill, saying it gives too much away and contains no guarantees of new production. If passed, the bill would return Alaska to the Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, or ACES, tax, which both Republicans and Democrats agreed needed revisions.
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New Wyoming education director supports reform

Written by Associated Press for The Casper Star-Tribune on September 06, 2013Education Reform
CHEYENNE — Wyoming is on the right track in its effort to hold schools and educators accountable for the academic performance of their K-12 students, according to Richard Crandall, the new director of the state Department of Education. “I do think we need a common vision of where we want to be five years from now so that everybody can play a key role in it,” Crandall said. “I think we’ll be able to agree on that and then it’s just a matter of implementing the plan.” With the amount of money Wyoming spends on education — the state is among the highest nationally in education spending per capita — it’s proper to ask why students aren’t among the top five performers nationally in the classroom, Crandall said. The state Legislature has been working for several years on establishing the best ways to test and measure student academic performance and how to hold individual schools, administrators and teachers responsible for students not being prepared for college or careers. The effort has included requiring all 11th-grade students take the ACT test and requiring a 16-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grades.

While some education reform measures have been implemented, others, such as how to evaluate teachers, are still being worked out by lawmakers. The Education Department is a key player in implementing the reforms. It is one of the reasons why the Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead decided to enact a law replacing the statewide superintendent of public instruction with a director appointed by the governor. The idea was to take the agency out of the hands of politicians and place it in the hands of an administrator who has a better understanding of complicated education issues. Crandall, who took over the agency Aug. 5, said in a recent interview that implementing Wyoming’s education reform will be challenging because it will take time to see results.
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W.Va. attorney general criticizes lack of health care answers

Written by The Associated Press for The Charleston Daily Mail on September 05, 2013Health Care
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is criticizing federal health care officials for refusing to respond to questions over a plan to hire workers to help walk people through their health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act. Morrisey and a dozen other state attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month pointing out privacy concerns with the plan to hire navigators to help roll out the health care reforms. They asked for a response by Aug. 28. Morrisey's office also sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the department Aug. 21 seeking information on the program. Morrisey said Wednesday he was disappointed he hasn't received a response.

"We are very concerned about the risk of identity theft if holes in the policy aren't addressed immediately or if the implementation of health care exchanges isn't delayed to allow for better regulations, more training for consumer outreach programs and better fraud prevention," Morrisey said in a release. "We had sincerely hoped for a response from the Department to at least let us know that they were working to address our concerns." A department spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. Navigators will provide a variety of services to those trying to choose an insurance plan under the new exchanges -- online marketplaces to purchase health insurance. Exchanges are scheduled to begin enrolling applicants Oct. 1. The navigators could have access to a variety of personal information, including Social Security numbers and tax documents. Morrisey and other attorneys general argued that the rules fail to ensure that navigators will be adequately trained to protect private information, nor do they make clear who is responsible if an identity theft occurs.
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Miss. to set up exchange for business health plans

Written by Jeff Amy for Associated Press on September 05, 2013Health Care
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney plans to move ahead with a health insurance exchange for small businesses after federal officials approved regulations to allow the move. The Department of Health and Human Services had proposed a rule that would have barred states that didn’t run an individual marketplace from setting up a separate exchange for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Last week, federal officials adopted a rule advocated by Chaney that allows Mississippi to set up what’s called a Small Business Health Options, or SHOP exchange. Chaney said he’s scheduled to meet Sept. 18 with federal officials and expects to get formal approval then, with plans to roll out the new marketplace in early 2014.

Utah already has approval to run only a SHOP exchange, and Chaney said he knew of no other state besides Mississippi expected to follow that route immediately. Chaney fought for Mississippi to run the individual marketplace as well. But his effort was blocked by Gov. Phil Bryant, a fellow Republican, who opposes participation in the federal health overhaul. As a result, the federal government will run Mississippi’s individual market when enrollment begins Oct. 1.
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Mead remains uneasy on Medicaid expansion

Written by Trevor Brown for Wyoming Tribune Eagle on September 05, 2013Health Care
CHEYENNE -- Gov. Matt Mead said he still is apprehensive about plans to extend health coverage to more than 17,000 low-income residents by entering into an optional Medicaid expansion. Mead said Wednesday that he still has many of the same concerns about the expansion that he did last year. "The tough decision, of course, for all of us is whether or not we do the optional expansion," he said. "(Questions remain about) how it will be paid for by the federal government, whether they live up to that obligation and, if they fail to live up to that obligation, what would we do about it as a state and how would we address that." The optional expansion n eligibility to most adults with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty line n is a key component of the federal Affordable Care Act. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that states can decide if they want to extend Medicaid.

The federal government says it would pay 100 percent of the costs of the expansion group for the first three years. States would then pay 5 percent in 2017, 6 percent in 2018, 7 percent in 2019, and 10 percent in 2020 and beyond. Mead’s comments come on the heels of a recently released Wyoming Department of Health report that identifies several new ways that the state could enter the expansion. Among the choices it considered, the department recommended an option that would work similarly to the traditional expansion. However, it would offer fewer or more limited benefits that could be tailored to the new expansion group. The proposal, which is being called “Medicaid Fit,” would still require the benefits to meet the standards of a similar private insurance plan. But it would give the state additional flexibility after meeting those benchmarks. “‘Medicaid Fit’ provides a middle ground between private insurance and traditional Medicaid,” the report states.
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State OKs 11 new charter schools for Charlotte area

Written by Ann Doss Helms for The Charlotte Observer on September 05, 2013Education Reform
The Charlotte region will remain at the center of North Carolina’s charter-school boom for at least one more year, as the state Thursday approved 11 new schools to open in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties in 2014. The N.C. Board of Education approved 26 charters statewide, including nine in Mecklenburg and two in Cabarrus. The new schools expect to serve about 3,200 students in 2014-15, growing to about 9,900 total seats as they add grades. No other area had nearly as many. The Triangle area will get six new schools, including four in Wake County, which has the state’s largest public school district.

Charters are an alternative type of public school, approved by the state and run by independent nonprofit boards (some contract with for-profit management companies). They charge no tuition and are not limited by county lines or other attendance boundaries. Unlike regular public schools, they don’t have to offer busing or meals, and they don’t get local money for buildings. Since state lawmakers lifted the 100-school cap in 2011, the state has seen a surge of interest in charters, especially in the Charlotte region. This year 23 new charters opened statewide, including six in the Charlotte area.
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Special Session Starts Today

Written by Michael Cross for KOSU on September 03, 2013Legal Reform
State lawmakers return to the capitol today for a Special Session to fix a Comprehensive Tort Reform bill declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June. Justices ruled House Bill 1603 passed in 2009 and signed by then Governor Brad Henry contained too many subjects and thus constituted log rolling. The Governor and legislative leaders are hoping to get through as many as 30 bills passed over the next two weeks. While it’s been seven years since lawmakers called a special session, this one wasn’t much of a surprise to political science professor Keith Gaddie.

“If you look back at the history of what the Republican legislature has been doing, this is one of the hallmark pieces of legislation that the chamber and the business community have been pushing for. Hearing that it had been overturned by the Supreme Court you had to know a special session was going to follow.” The seven to two ruling came down from the State Supreme Court just a few days after lawmakers ended the regular session. Over the past two and a half months, Senate staffers worked tirelessly to create the individual bills needed to replace House Bill 1603. Also, state leaders needed to plan the perfect time when all of their lawmakers returned from their summer vacation. Gaddie says the sooner the better as timing becomes essential.
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Virginia lawmakers try to enshrine right-to-work law in state Constitution

Published in Fox News on September 03, 2013Labor Reform
As Americans everywhere celebrate work by taking a day off from it, the future of worker freedom in the Old Dominion isn't set in stone. And some Virginia lawmakers want to make sure it is. Virginia has long touted its status as a right to work state, meaning a person a person can't be denied a job or fired for not joining a labor union. But the law, despite its sacred status among Republicans and many Democrats, has never made it into the safety net of Virginia's Constitution. And as disagreements over the role of labor unions highlight the 2013 race for governor, the life and death of a law can hinge on who holds power. Lawmakers say the law is strong and safe for now -- but that isn't a guarantee for future generations.

"I think it's important because the right-to-work law, as great as it is -- and I'm glad we have it -- it's statute and it's always subject to change," said Delegate Richard "Dickie" Bell, who attempted in both the 2012 and 2013 sessions to pass legislation that would begin the uphill battle of  enshrining the law in the state's constitution. "An administrative change or someone with opposing views to right to work, with the right numbers in place, could overturn it," Bell said. "I don't think that'll happen in Virginia in my lifetime, but the possibility does exist. If we make it a part of the constitution, it becomes much more permanent. And undoing it would be very difficult, if not impossible." But, nearly as impossible is etching something into Virginia's Constitution. The Old Dominion requires both the Senate and House of Delegates pass a bill in two separate legislative cycles, with an election in between those passages. Then, that bill has to go to the people for a vote at the ballot box.
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10 years on, tort reform sees suits, payouts drop

Written by The Associated Press for The News Observer on September 01, 2013Legal Reform
AUSTIN, Texas — Ten years after the Texas Legislature capped damages in the state's medical malpractice lawsuits, the number of suits and the amounts paid out have fallen sharply. The Austin American Statesman reported ( ) Sunday that state Department of Insurance data shows medical malpractice claims, including lawsuits, resolved in a year fell by nearly two-thirds between 2003 and 2011 to 450. The average payout declined 22 percent to about $199,000. Supporters of the "tort reform" law say doctors worry less about being sued and have seen their malpractice insurance premiums fall. Opponents counter that tort reform has barred many injured by doctors from going to court or relatives suing after losing a loved one due to medical malpractice. The law took effect Sept. 1, 2003, and limited damages for pain and suffering in most malpractice cases to $250,000. Texas is one of 31 states to cap damages, though there is no limit on economic damages like reimbursement for medical bills or lost wages.
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Immigration Reform 2013: House Gang Preps Comprehensive Bill For October Push

Written by Laura Matthews for International Business Times on August 29, 2013Immigration & Homeland Security
After years of waiting and several missed deadlines, the House of Representative’s bipartisan “Gang of Seven” is ready to push its 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill sometime in October, a Democratic staffer close to the group told International Business Times. Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said earlier this week, while speaking in Republican territory in Virginia, that he’s already signed off on the measure and eager to introduce it. According to the staffer, all the Democrats on the bipartisan group support the agreement and are waiting for their Republican counterparts to sign off on it.

When the Republicans give the OK, the group will wait for the “right bipartisan moment” to introduce the bill, probably sometime in October. By that time the bipartisan group hopes Congress will be over the budget fight, with an appropriations bill passed to avert the threat of a government shutdown. “I think the work has been done,” the staffer said. “I think they’ve got a good proposal. I think they’re waiting to see whether there is any chance that a comprehensive bill is going to be looked at, or components of this bill could be looked at. But I think there are probably some additional machinations that have to happen first.”
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Right-to-Work Laws Improve Economic Well-Being

Written by By Michael D. LaFaive and Dr. Michael J. Hicks for Mackinac Center for Public Policy on August 28, 2013Labor Reform
Michigan’s right-to-work law — which took effect earlier this year — may prove to be an economic boon for the state, particularly over time. The cumulative effect of right-to-work appears to have dramatically boosted the standard of living in the states which have adopted it. Our new study assumes that growth rates in such as things as personal income, population and employment are proxies for a state’s overall well-being. We measured changes in each over time, including a 64-year sweep from 1947 through 2011 and three other distinct and smaller time periods. According to our model, states with right-to-work laws enjoyed an annual average increase in real personal income of 0.8 percentage points and average annual population growth by 0.5 percentage points compared to what they would have experienced without such laws. From 1970 through 2011, these laws also boosted average annual employment growth by 0.8 percentage points. Data in this last category is not available back to 1947.
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White House Official Says Immigration Reform Vote Not Likely Until October

Written by Elizabeth Llorente for Fox News Latino on August 28, 2013Immigration & Homeland Security
The Obama administration’s domestic policy director urged supporters of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday to do as the civil rights leaders of the 1960s did – not let opponents defeat them. Cecilia Muñoz, one of the most senior Latino officials in the White House, linked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with today’s fight for immigration reform in an interview with Fox News Latino. “Today is about celebrating how far we’ve come and recommitting to the work that is ahead,” Muñoz said, adding that just as the civil rights movement of the 1960s addressed jobs, so does immigration reform.

“Immigration reform is just one piece of the agenda,” she said, “we can now quantify what it means for creating jobs, not just for immigrants, but for the rest of us.” Muñoz, who has been a point person for Obama on immigration policy, said that significant movement on an immigration reform measure, or measures, was unlikely to happen before October. She said there are few legislative days in September, when members of Congress are to return from summer recess, and that their focus will be the debt ceiling and the budget. That is later than the August deadline that President Obama had hoped for earlier this year, expressing concern that delays could hurt the chances of an immigration reform bill passing by December.
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State employee insurance costs could increase under proposal

Subcommittee reluctantly approves plan; needs approval from full SEIB

Written by Brian Lyman for The Montgomery Advertiser on August 28, 2013Health Care
Out-of-pocket costs for state employees would increase in several areas under a plan approved by a subcommittee of the State Employees Insurance Board on Wednesday. If accepted by the full SEIB next month, state employees would see a new charge for dental services each month and increased out-of-pocket expenses for urgent care and prescription drugs.

The proposal passed the three-member subcommittee unanimously, but without enthusiasm. Reflecting divisions in the full board, subcommittee members struggled to find a balance between closing a projected deficit and keep health insurance costs reasonable. “It’s not a good day for state employees at all,” said Paige Hebson, vice-chair of the State Employees Insurance Board and a field supervisor for the Department of Rehabilitation Services, following the meeting. “I don’t feel like we won. I feel like we attempted (to reach) middle ground. I don’t think we got middle ground.” William Ashmore, CEO of the SEIB, said he expected the full board to take up the proposal within the next two to three weeks. A plan must be in place by Oct. 1, the start of the 2014 fiscal year.
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EPA to finalize regional haze plan for WY by Nov.

Written by Irina Zhorov for Wyoming Public Media on August 28, 2013Federal Overreach
The comment period closed Monday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Regional Haze Plan. The plan seeks to address the issue of air pollution produced by coal fired power plants. Wyoming put together its own regional haze program, but the EPA rejected parts of it, saying it wasn't strong enough, particularly when it came to nitrogen oxide emissions at four plants. Governor Mead says EPA’s plan circumvents the Clean Air Act’s directive to let states lead the way in regional haze control. He adds that the EPA’s plan will cost more – $1.2 billion dollars in upfront costs and $170 million in annual costs. The Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Shannon Anderson says that's an exaggeration.

“Both EPA and the state of Wyoming and the utilities overestimate the costs for the pollution control technology. This particular technology that reduces nitrogen oxides is currently installed at over 200 power plants across the country, it’s widely used, it’s not cost prohibitive by any means, so we believe it’s more than reasonable to require it at Wyoming coal plants,” Anderson says. Anderson says that both the EPA and the state overestimate the cost of updating power-generating facilities and ignore another pollution source, the state’s oil and gas industry. The EPA plans to release a final rule by November 21st.
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Arizona officials take on electricity deregulation

Published in The Arizona Daily Star on August 28, 2013Energy & Environment
State officials are being told that eliminating the monopoly status of utilities that sell electricity to retail customers could either benefit consumers by providing more choices and generating competition or create turmoil putting those same consumers at risk of having to pay higher rates. Advocates on both sides of the issue spoke Tuesday during a workshop held by the state Residential Utility Consumer Office, The Arizona Republic reported ( RUCO advocates on behalf of consumers in Arizona Corporation Commission proceedings involving regulated utilities such as Arizona Public Service Co. and Tucson Electric Power. Under deregulation, customers can choose their power suppliers. Local utilities still use their wires to deliver power to customers' meters, for a price, but customers can buy the power from a source other than the local utility.

Some power companies support deregulation, while opponents of deregulation include APS, the state's largest utility. "The benefits are unknown but the costs and risks are very real," said Jeff Guldner, APS senior vice president of customers and regulation. The Corporation Commission is expected to hold a public meeting on deregulation by early October. Whatever it decides would have impacts outside Arizona because the state's utilities share ownership of various power plants.
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N.C. governor: Protect election integrity

Law I signed ensures North Carolina will remain a national leader in ballot access.

Written by Governor Pat McCrory for USA Today on August 28, 2013Election Law
Imagine if the Transportation Security Administration decided airline passengers no longer need a photo ID. Providing a name and destination would be good enough to board an airplane. No doubt, the public and our national elected representatives wouldn't stand for such lax protection. Similar concern has been expressed by new residents of North Carolina when they discover a photo ID isn't required at the polls. They're amazed that providing a name and address is all it takes to get inside the voting booth.

Newcomers aren't the only ones concerned. The vast majority of North Carolinians believe that photo ID should be required to cast a vote. In 2016, photo ID will be required to vote in North Carolina, just as it is today when citizens cash a check, apply for government benefits or even when buying cold remedies such as Sudafed. The need for photo ID has been questioned by those who say voter fraud isn't a problem in North Carolina. However, assuming fraud isn't a threat when multimillion dollar campaigns are trying to win in a state where millions of votes are cast is like believing oversight isn't needed against Wall Street insider trading.
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Tax credits aim to benefit Missouri youth by encouraging education

Written by Meghan Boggess for The Columbia Missourian on August 28, 2013Education Reform
JEFFERSON CITY — Youth development and crime prevention programs in Missouri will receive nearly $1 million in tax credits this year. The Missouri Department of Economic Development announced Monday that seven not-for-profit organizations will receive tax credits through the Youth Opportunities Program. The program aims to support Missouri children at a local level through projects including youth activity centers, mentoring programs and helping them graduate. The approved organizations will receive a total of $955,848 in tax credits. The program awards $6 million in tax credits each year and focuses on programs that will encourage education for Missouri youth, according to a news release. Pathways Community Behavioral Healthcare in Rolla will receive $250,000 in tax credits for 2013.

The organization, which offers resident and outpatient care for adolescents with substance-use disorders, is building a new group home that will cost $1.7 million, according to Linda Grgurich, Pathways president. The tax credit will "provide a building dedicated to youth," Grgurich said. Currently, Pathways uses two separate homes for male and female participants. Grgurich said the new home would allow for more flexibility because they won't be limited by a set number of beds in the separate girls' and boys' homes. The Boys and Girls Club of Poplar Bluff will also receive a tax credit that will fund 30 percent of some of its after-school programs. In the last three years, the group has doubled the amount of kids it can serve. Each day, on average, they are able to serve more than 400 children at six different sites. The tax credit "has been an integral part of us being able to grow our program," said Chris Rushin, executive director of the program in Poplar Bluff.
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