Michigan Rest Areas Get Solar Upgrade
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels at three state rest areas to reduce energy costs and demonstrate the benefits of distributed solar PV generation in the state. A Michigan-based company will install three ground-mounted solar PV arrays, two of which will have the capacity to generate 10 kilowatts (kW) each and a third that can generate up to 16 kW.
The three installations are expected to save the state approximately $4,000 annually in energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 tons. Each installation will also include a lobby kiosk that displays real-time information on energy use, generation, and savings at the rest area.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
New York Expands Net Metering Eligibility
New York is expanding the energy resources eligible for net metering. Net metering is the process through which customers with distributed energy resources such as solar. Customers are able to sell excess power back into the electric grid when they generate more than they are able to consume.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills as part of this effort: the first bill makes fuel cell batteries up to 1500 kilowatts (kW) in capacity owned or operated by non-residential customers eligible for net metering. Fuel cells at residential sites with a capacity of up to 10 kW are already eligible for net metering. The second bill allows micro-hydropower generation to be eligible for net metering. Residential customers may utilize net metering for systems of up to 25 kW, while commercial and industrial customers may install systems of up to 2000 kW for net metering purposes. Previously the New York law applied to residential solar, farm waste, non-residential solar electric generating systems and micro-combined heat and power generating equipment. Governor Cuomo has expanded it to include fuel cell and micro-hydroelectric generation.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Nevada Offers New Lending to Small Businesses
Nevada will offer more than $138 million in small-business loans to support state-level, small-business lending programs by leveraging $13.8 million through the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Small Business Credit Initiative. Nevada expects to generate at least $10 in new private lending for every $1 in federal funding to support the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative and a new Nevada Collateral Support Program. The potential impact on job growth by the program is estimated by the state to be 1,035 new positions throughout Nevada, with an emphasis on manufacturing, utilities, construction, and health services.
(Contact: Garrett Groves)
Washington State Consolidates Back-Office Functions of Agencies
Washington has combined all or some back-office functions of five formerly separate agencies into a single, consolidated Enterprise Services agency. The consolidations could save $18 million over two years and create a more responsive and efficient way to deliver common services to other agencies. Those services include:
- State payroll;
- Human Resources and recruitment/training;
- Legal contracts;
- Real estate management;
- Vehicle fleet management;
- Purchasing and keeping accounting and budgeting tools;
- Custodial and groundskeeping functions;
- Printing; and
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)
Oklahoma Governor Sets Goal to Increase College Graduation Rates
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced a new goal to boost the number of college degrees earned in Oklahoma by 67 percent over the next 12 years. The plan involves a variety of initiatives, including:
- Redesigning remedial education;
- Strengthening the rigor of high school courses;
- Providing more support to students; and
- Enhancing current state degree completion programs.
The state has also adopted the principals of the National Governors Association Complete to Compete initiative, an effort aimed at the number of students completing their higher education and improving the cost effectiveness of state efforts to achieve this goal.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Michigan Privatizing Prisoner Health Care
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder plans to turn over all prison health care and mental health services from the state to a private contractor. The move comes as part of a larger effort to meet the state's fiscal year 2011-2012 budget requirement that the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) achieve savings through competitively bidding facility operations or other measures to reduce the custody, treatment, clinical, and administrative costs associated with housing prisoners. A recent analysis focusing on moving prisoner health care management to a private contractor found that a private contractor could provide adequate services and potentially save the state $30 million in 2012, which amounts to 10 percent of the DOC's health care expenses. The state is releasing a request for proposals to allow private organizations to bid on providing the services.
(Contact: Alisha Powell)
California to Classify Sex Offenders by Risk Level
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed several bills into law related to sex offenders, including one that requires the state to adopt an empirically validated instrument to identify sex offenders at higher risk for committing another violent crime. Specifically, the purpose of the bill is to develop a new containment model that will better assist the state in identifying and treating sex offenders who are at risk of committing new crimes. Some of the prescribed tools to deal with high-risk sex offenders include more supervision, increased use of polygraph tests, and psychological exams.
Other bills signed into law include: making the state eligible for $12 million to pay for medical examinations and treatment for victims of sexual abuse; ensuring that all sex offenders who move to California register after they relocate to the state; providing protection from civil liability to certified professionals for any criminal acts committed by persons on parole or probation who receive supervision or treatment; and authorizing crime victims to receive notifications of pending parole or release of a prisoner through email or other electronic means.
(Contact: Jeff McLeod)
Washington Medicaid Program Limits Non-Emergency ER Visits
The Washington State's Medicaid program will limit coverage for non-emergency use of hospital emergency rooms. Medicaid will pay for three non-emergency visits per client per year; clients will be billed for services provided in subsequent visits. Certain exceptions to the rule include instances where beneficiaries are delivered to the emergency room by ambulance, police, or EMT, and visits that result in an inpatient admission, admission for observation, or emergency surgery.
Washington's Medicaid program also has been working with providers and hospitals to establish alternatives to emergency rooms. Alternative options include walk-in clinics near the hospitals staffed with primary care providers, as well as state case managers to work with emergency rooms, primary care providers, and hospitals to identify the most appropriate source of care for enrollees.
(Contact: Kathryn Bailey)
Wisconsin Details State's Health Proposals Online
Wisconsin's Department of Health Services launched a website that outlines proposals being considered by the state to reform its Medicaid program. The website provides a platform that allows the public and other stakeholders to view the initiatives and submit comments for consideration before the state formally submits its proposed changes to the legislature and the federal government for approval.
Summaries of each proposal are listed individually by program and by four reform categories on the website: service delivery, payment reforms, benefits, and eligibility. Additional reforms will be added to the site over the next several weeks.
(Contact: Brad Finnegan)
Iowa Targets Teacher, Principle Effectiveness
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad released a blueprint for comprehensive education reform that focuses in large part on building teacher and principal effectiveness. The plan's recommendations include:
- Attracting and supporting talented educators by increasing starting pay for teachers, developing selective teacher preparation programs, and improving recruiting and hiring practices;
- Creating educator leadership roles in schools and a four-tier teacher compensation system with Apprentice, Career, Mentor and Master levels;
- Developing a meaningful peer-based evaluation system;
- Tying job protections to assessments of teacher effectiveness; and
- Providing value-added measures for all districts, schools, grades and educators.
The plan also aims to develop an assessment framework aligned to the Common Core State Standards and sets goals for student outcomes, including all students being able to read by the end of the third grade and a 95 percent high school graduation rate. Gov. Branstad and his top education advisers will host a series of town-hall meetings to solicit feedback on the blueprint before submitting it to the General Assembly in January.
(Contact: Amanda Corcoran)
Report Offers First State-Level Data on Higher Education Achievement
A new report from Complete College America highlights state data on student progress in higher education. The report analyzes college completion data from 33 states that adopted the common completion metrics developed by the National Governors Association. The data shows that:
- Less than 25 percent of students earn a credential when given twice the standard time—regardless of target degree level;
- Half of students pursuing degrees required remediation; and
- On average, students take more credits than are required for graduation.
In order to address some of the concerns brought to light, the report presents recommendations to states, including introducing uniform measures of progress and success toward state and campus goals, reducing the time required to earn a degree by reforming transfer agreements across campuses, systems, and states, and strengthening remediation programs.
(Contact: Stephanie Shipton)
Data from Metro Areas Show Impact of Government Cuts
A recent report titled "Tracking Economic Recession and Recovery in America's 100 Largest Metropolitan Areas" reveals metropolitan trends that are not reflected by national trends because most metropolitan economic indicators are available only through the second quarter of 2011, ending in June. Based on data for the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, the report shows widespread but generally slow growth in both jobs and economic output. The metropolitan areas that suffered least since the beginning of the recession typically had increases in the number of government jobs—federal, state, and local combined. The areas that suffered the most typically lost government jobs. Nearly all the metropolitan areas economies that suffered the least since the start of the recession rely substantially on government, education, or energy production and had increases in government employment since the start of the recession in 2007.
Specific findings include:
- Federal government employment fell in all but one of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the second quarter of 2011;
- State government employment fell in 58 of the 100 metropolitan areas;
- Local government employment fell in 72; and
- Overall government employment fell in 89.
The report also explores data on rates of unemployment, housing prices, workers' earnings, and other related trends across metropolitan areas.
(Contact: Lauren Stewart)
FEMA Introduces New Guidelines for State Disaster Preparedness
As a result of the recently released National Preparedness Goal, states will have a modified set of capabilities with which to measure preparedness. State preparedness reports—where states can communicate their accomplishments and investment justifications for homeland security—are required for any state applying for homeland security grants. When drafting their preparedness reports, most states use the list of capabilities identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Target Capabilities List. The National Preparedness Goal modifies that list by expanding focus to include mitigation. Drawing on lessons learned from past large-scale and catastrophic events, the National Preparedness Goal draws on input from all levels of government, including states. The modified goals are intended to play a role in creating a secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk. Those enhanced capabilities will also serve as the basis for the development of performance measures for states to track their progress. The National Preparedness Goal is the first deliverable called for by Presidential Policy Directive 8 and was signed by the Secretary of Homeland Security on September 23, 2011.
(Contact: Carmen Ferro)
Report Highlights Military's Clean Energy Deployment
A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights advances and initiatives by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to promote clean energy deployment within the military and how these initiatives can advance energy innovation beyond the military. Liquid petroleum fuels account for 75 percent of DoD's energy consumption and cost the military $11 billion per year. DoD's energy security budget has risen from $400 million to $1.2 billion per year, and DoD investment in advanced energy technology will likely reach $10 billion per year by 2030. Efforts already underway include an initiative to insulate 9 million square feet of temporary structures, reducing energy consumption by 77,000 gallons of fuel per day. The report focuses on three areas in which DoD has or is attempting to deploy new technologies to reduce its reliance on liquid petroleum fuels for electricity generation or vehicles by:
- Developing more efficient vehicles to reduce battlefield fuel demand;
- Harnessing advanced biofuels as an alternative to petroleum fuels; and
- Deploying energy efficient and renewable energy technologies at fixed and forward based.
The report also discusses DoD's past successes in developing or rapidly deploying new technologies—such as GPS and the internet—and how a similar opportunity exists in the clean energy sector. Also included in the report are profiles of the four military branches, with a breakdown of their energy demands and key clean energy projects in which they have invested or tested in recent years.
(Contact: Andrew Kambour)
Report: Turning Community Health Centers into Medical Homes
The Commonwealth Fund released a report examining how modifications to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) could support their transformation to patient-centered medical homes. Medical homes are defined as an approach to providing comprehensive primary care that facilitates partnerships between patients and providers, and seeks to increase the value and quality of care and improve overall health.
The report, titled "Transforming Community Health Centers into Patient-Centered Medical Homes: The Role of Payment Reform," uses survey data of state primary care associations, and interviews of health center, state agency, and managed care staff about medical home initiatives in their states. The authors make several financing recommendations, including:
- States should include FQHCs in Medicaid health home programs and demonstrations, even though they are typically paid differently from other practices;
- States may consider providing monthly case management fees to FQHCs as an incentive to build medical homes, but should maintain the all-inclusive per-visit payment rates in Medicaid; and
- States should request that CMS clarify how states may increase FQHC payment levels under Medicaid.
(Contact: Kathryn Bailey)
States Invited to Participate in Regional Summits on Growing State Economies
As part of the yearlong NGA Chair's Initiative on Growing State Economies, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices will be hosting four regional summits. These summits will provide states an opportunity to learn from experts and business owners about the best strategies to create an environment focused on the importance of high-growth businesses in all its forms—startup firms, scalable enterprises, and transformational corporations. The summits also will provide time for states to engage in strategic planning and share successful examples.
States in good standing with NGA are invited to send a team of up to seven high-level individuals to one of the four regional summits. Travel and hotel expenses will be covered for three senior advisors (e.g., commerce director and policy advisor) from each state. State teams may include up to four additional individuals, at the state's expense, who play important roles in economic development (e.g., business leaders, industry association leaders, research park directors, or venture fund managers).
The four regional summits will be held in the following locations:
Hartford, Connecticut on October 11–12, 2011;
Nashville, Tennessee on November 14-15, 2011; *Date changed since original annoucement
Seattle, Washington on January 24-25, 2012; and
Omaha, Nebraska on April 24-25, 2012.
Please contact Erin Sparks if you have questions about the summits or application.
(Contact: Erin Sparks)