State News

Washington Offers Low-Cost Plan to Uninsured
By: Josh Fangmeier
Washington will expand its health care coverage by offering the same benefits as the state’s Basic Health plan, which subsidizes the premiums for citizens below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, through the Washington Health ProgramAdditional enrollees in Washington Health will face no income restriction but will pay the full premium plus a small administrative fee, ensuring that the new plan will be cost neutral to taxpayers.

Washington Health coverage includes: basic coverage of routine office visits and immunizations; preventive screenings; prescription drug benefits; emergency room and hospital care; maternity care; diagnostic imaging and lab work; help with chronic illnesses; and access to a 24-hour nurse line.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)

Colorado to Establish All-Payer Claims Database
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter recently signed legislation that calls for a statewide all-payer claims database to be created by 2013 containing comparable information for public and private health care consumers to compare health plans, insurers, facilities and providers. In addition, the database can be used to determine utilization patterns and rates to identify anomalies in health care usage. 

The law calls for an advisory panel composed of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds to make recommendations on the database’s creation and implementation by March 1, 2011.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)

Connecticut Enacts Education Reforms
Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell signed legislation increasing the number of credits required of students and establishing core subject exams before high school graduation. Other aspects of the legislation include:

  • Allowing retired teachers to be rehired for up to one year in a shortage area or priority school district for up to 45 percent of the current maximum salary;
  • Eliminating enrollment caps for high-performing charter schools; and
  • Requiring schools with a dropout rate of 8 percent or higher to establish an on-line credit recovery program to help students earn needed credits.

(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)

States Continue to Adopt Common Core Standards
Maryland recently joined Hawaii, Kentucky, and West Virginia in officially endorsing the Common Core State Standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. Final approval is expected later this summer.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the NGA Center and the Council of Chief State School Officers. After the State Board gives final approval to the Common Core State Standards, Maryland will begin a broad-based, year-long process to revise its curriculum to align with the new standards. Hundreds of classroom educators, instructional leaders, administrators and higher education representatives will help state officials refine and align the current Maryland state curriculum. The new curriculum is expected to be ready for State Board adoption in June 2011, an accelerated process made possible by the state’s previous work in this area.
(Contact: Laura Harris)

Governors Prepare for Hurricane Season
Governors in Florida, Louisiana and North Carolina have begun to encourage their citizens to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

  • Florida Governor Charlie Crist convened the 24th Annual Governors Hurricane Conference to work with emergency managers, first responders and volunteer agencies in advance of the hurricane season. As part of the conference, Gov. Crist encouraged families to develop a preparedness and evacuation plan.
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has also worked to engage families in the hurricane planning process by working with the state Department of Education to develop the Kids Get a Game Plan campaign. First- through fourth-grade students throughout the state received an all hazards activity book to work on with their parents.
  • North Carolina state agencies convened for a two-day exercise to simulate the landfall of a Category 4 storm. The exercise involved officials from state agencies, volunteer organizations, and costal county governments that would be impacted by a severe storm.

(Contact: Allison Cullin)

New York Investigates Police-on-Police Shootings
By: Alisha Powell
The New York Police-on-Police Shootings Task Force has presented Governor David Paterson with a final report, which examined fatal and non-fatal police-on-police confrontations in an attempt to develop strategies to prevent future incidents. The Task Force was formed by executive order in response to speculation that confrontations between on-duty and off-duty officers were associated with race. The final report revealed that 10 of 14 total police‐on‐police shootings over the past 15 years have been people of color. The report found that police-on-police confrontations are most prevalent in jurisdictions where training has been poor or non‐existent, where protocols are unclear and especially where the officers are from different law enforcement agencies. To prevent future confrontations and combat racial biases, the Task Force Report puts forth the following recommendations, among others, for state and federal governments:

  • Develop common protocols on when and how to take police action while off-duty or out-of-uniform to minimize mistaken-identity fatal confrontations;
  • Expand police training to include a focus on diversity within police agencies, drawing on the experiences of officers of color who have been mistaken for offenders; and
  • Improve data collection by establishing a mandatory statewide reporting system for all firearms discharges and conducting an annual survey to report police-on-police confrontations.

(Contact: Blaire Jones)

Iowa Develops Maps to Predict Flooding
By: Rachel Escobar
The Iowa Flood Center is developing a mapping tool to predict flooding in areas around the Iowa River. The tool will provide specific information on the probability an area would be flooded, with the capability to offer risk assessments for individual homes. Flow and height of the river could be adjusted, as well as the extent of flooding after a certain amount of time. Government officials would be able to use this tool to better designate susceptible areas and set priorities for the days following floods.
(Contact: Andrew Kampour)

Colorado Seeks Clean-Tech Investment
By: Kate George
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter submitted two executive orders to promote investment and financing of clean technology and bioscience in the state. The first order creates a Colorado Bioscience and Clean Technology Investment Opportunity Index to increase visibility for early stage bioscience and clean–tech companies. The Index will be located on the Colorado Office of Economic Development’s website.

The second executive order calls for the creation of the Advisory Committee on Venture Capital in Aerospace, Bioscience, Renewable Energy and Information Communication Technology. The Advisory Committee, composed of 17 key industry leaders and staff from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, will provide recommendations for encouraging industry investment in the state.
(Contact: Andrew Kampour)

California Challenge Grants to Spur Green Job Training
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has created Green Innovation Challenge Grants by making $20 million available to potential recipients through the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD). The funds will provide up to five Challenge Grants, at up to $4 million each, for businesses to develop and implement new workforce training strategies to prepare workers for jobs in a broad range of clean technologies.

The intent of the grant is to encourage industry leaders to fill immediate employment needs and support employment growth in the green economy for up to 10 years. Successful applicants will have business-led partnerships, which may include entities in higher education, workforce development, economic development, employee and scientific associations, along with venture capital entities. The funding comes from a combination of state contingency funds, Workforce Investment Act funds and Wagner-Peyser funds.
(Contact: Erin Andrew)

Maryland Bill Provides Legal Right to Foreclosure Mediation
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation providing homeowners facing foreclosure the legal right to mediation. The new law requires lenders to notify homeowners of the mediation option and provide borrowers with a Request for Foreclosure Mediation form. The law also prohibits lenders from filing a foreclosure action without taking action to prevent foreclosure through certain actions, including: completion of a loan modification review; and providing reasons for denial or demonstrating that a review could not be completed because the borrower failed to participate in the review process. Lenders must document that other loss mitigation alternatives were considered.

The law applies to all foreclosures that begin after June 30, 2010, and a court could decide to apply the law to foreclosures already in process before that date.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)


Other News

New Report Encourages Creation of All-Payer Databases
A recent report prepared for State Coverage Initiatives provides an overview of statewide All-Payer Claims Databases (APCD). APCDs are large databases that collect health care claims data from a variety of payer sources. Once collected, the data can be used to develop data-drive health reform effectors, including improved access to care, reduced costs and improved quality.

The report describes the status of states in APCD development as well as the benefits and challenges states have in implementing an APCD. In addition, the report presents options for governance and funding of statewide APCDs.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)

Report: Citizen Preparedness is Lagging for Natural Disasters
Most Americans remain unprepared for natural disasters, according to an insurance industry survey of 1006 households. Fewer than 22 percent of respondents felt fully prepared for a disaster; 51 percent felt somewhat prepared; and 23 percent reported that they were not prepared at all. In addition, 40 percent had not prepared a basic disaster kit, and 36 percent did not know if they had adequate insurance to recover from a disaster. The survey was conducted by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
(Contact: David Henry)

New Index Measures U.S. Energy Security Risk Levels
By: Rachel Escobar
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released the Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk: Assessing America’s Vulnerabilities in a Global Energy Market, calculating energy security risk levels from 1970 through 2030. The energy security risk index was calculated annually from four sub-indices: geopolitical, economic, reliability and environmental. The Index is designed to help policymakers better understand the implications of different policy choices on energy security. Annual updates to the Index will track energy security over time.

The Chamber has also launched an interactive version of the Index that allows the user to view the indices, trend analyses and various metric categories by year.
(Contact: Greg Dierkers)

New Business Rate Highest in Fourteen Years
The number of new businesses created in the in 2009 is the highest the nation has seen in the past 14 years, according to a recent report from the Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity finds that 340 out of 100,000 adults started new businesses each month in 2009 –a 4 percent increase over 2008, or 27,000 more starts per month than 2008 and 60,000 more starts per month than 2007.

The report reveals new sources of entrepreneurship, both demographically and regionally. African-Americans experienced the largest increase in entrepreneurial activity between 2008 and 2009. Rising from 0.22 percent in 2008 to 0.27 percent in 2009, the rate was the highest over the 14 years of reported data, but remains below other racial groups. Regionally, business-creation rates increased the most in the Midwest, but remain low in this region overall. The report includes data on entrepreneurship rates for all fifty states.
(Contact: Erin Lamos)

Report: Percentage of High-Poverty Schools Rises
A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that the percentage of public schools where more than three quarters of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch — a key indicator of poverty — has increased in the past decade. Students at these schools are less likely to attend college, to be taught by teachers with advanced degrees and face other disadvantages. According to the report, the percent of high poverty schools rose from 12 percent to 17 percent between the 1999-2000 and 2007-2008 school years.
(Contact: Laura Harris)


What's New
NGA, State Education Chiefs Launch Common State Academic Standards
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) have released the Common Core State Standards, a set of state-led education standards. The release, announced at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia, by Governors Sonny Perdue and Jack Markell, marks the conclusion of the development of the Common Core State Standards and signals the start of the adoption and implementation process by the states. These standards define the knowledge and skills students should gain in K-12 education to graduate high school fully prepared for college and work.

In the coming months, each state will follow its own procedures and processes for adoption of the Common Core State Standards. The NGA Center and CCSSO recognize that meaningful and effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards is critical. The two organizations are continuing to work closely with a range of partners to support states and districts as they move from adoption to implementation. To learn more about the Common Core State Standards, please visit www.corestandards.org.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)