Our American States show

Our American States

Summary: The Our American States podcast is where you hear compelling conversations that tell the story of America’s state legislatures, the people in them, the politics that compel them, and the important work of democracy.

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  • Artist: NCSL
  • Copyright: (c) National Conference of State Legislatures

Podcasts:

 Top Energy Official Talks Technology, Security | OAS EPISODE 58 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

In this episode of “Our American States,” we talk with one of the federal government’s top energy officials. It’s easy to take energy for granted. From turning on the first light in the morning to fixing a meal, taking a hot shower and working on a computer—we generally accept that the energy we need is going to be there. And we become upset when it’s not. For policymakers, though, the regulation and oversight of energy is a series of complex issues, and it’s often difficult for states to make decisions on changes and consider new choices. Our guest is Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent agency created by Congress in 1920, whose responsibilities include regulating retail electricity and approving all interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, electricity and pipeline projects.  A common theme you will hear from him: the security of the nation’s energy sources. He’s a strong proponent of the rights of states in the federal system, but recognizes that with energy grids crossing state lines it’s going to take some coordination and cooperation to keep our energy secure. We started by asking Chatterjee about the biggest opportunity in the energy field today—he says it’s technology. But it might also be the nation’s biggest challenge. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 58 Find NCSL resources for state legislatures on energy policy.

 Child Support Program Changes Result in Stronger Families | OAS Episode 57 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The nature and demographics of employment are changing, with fewer men entering the workforce and the gig economy chipping away at traditional job relationships and structures. And state programs that oversee child support programs are taking notice. We talk with officials in two states that are seeing success by working to address the issues and concerns of those who owe child support payments, and, as a result, are improving relationships between parents and their children. Our guests are: Larry Desbien, director, Colorado Division of Child Support Services Noelita Lugo, assistant deputy director of Field Initiatives, Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 57

 What I Wish I Knew: Veteran Legislators Reflect (Part 2) | OAS Episode 56 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

In this episode, we complete our two-part series aimed at the more than 20 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators who are new to the job in 2019. We talk with two current and two former state legislators—all who have held leadership positions—and ask them to give newly elected legislators advice or offer what they wish they knew when they walked into that legislative chamber for the first time. Our guests, in alphabetical order, include: Utah Senator Curt Bramble (R), former NCSL president Illinois Senator Toi Hutchinson (D), current NCSL president David Long (R), former Indiana senator and Senate president pro tem Terie Norelli (D), former New Hampshire House speaker and former NCSL president Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 56

 What I Wish I Knew: Veteran Legislators Reflect (Part 1) | OAS Episode 55 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

If you could write a letter to your younger self before starting your career, what would you say? That’s the premise of this special two-part presentation of “Our American States.” “What I Wish I Knew” is aimed at the more than 20 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators who are new to the job. In these episodes, we talk with two current and two former state legislators—all who have held leadership positions—and ask them to give newly elected legislators advice or offer what they wish they knew when they walked into that legislative chamber for the first time. Our guests, in alphabetical order, include: Utah Senator Curt Bramble (R), former NCSL president Illinois Senator Toi Hutchinson (D), current NCSL president David Long (R), former Indiana senator and Senate president pro tem Terie Norelli (D), former New Hampshire House speaker and former NCSL president Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 55

 Insuring the Insurers: States Work to Lower Health Premiums | OAS Episode 54 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

State legislatures recently began noticing that, because of the high-risk cases insurance companies must cover, individual premiums were escalating. As a result, they began to look into ways to create a pool to limit those losses and reduce premium costs. This led to the creation of reinsurance programs, which appear to be having the intended effect of reducing premiums and protecting insurance companies from financial disaster. We’ll discuss how two politically different states have addressed the issue and find out how it’s playing out in other states. Our guests are: Colleen Becker, policy specialist in the NCSL Health Program Maryland Senator Thomas Middleton (D), who sponsored legislation in his state to establish a reinsurance program Alaska Senator Cathy Giessel (R), who discusses actions her legislature took to become the first state to establish a reinsurance program Blue Cross Blue Shield financially supported this episode of “Our American States.” Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 54

 Hot Issues for State Legislatures in 2019 | OAS Episode 53 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

For our first podcast of 2019, we take a look at the key issues America’s state legislatures will be considering this year. Our guest, William Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, breaks down those issues, offering his views on budgets, revenues, election reform, education, criminal justice and a host of other topics. He also walks us through the political landscape that was created after the 2018 elections. Transcription of Episode 53

 Voters Decisions in 2018 May Affect Legislation in 2019 | OAS Episode 52 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Voters across the nation were busy in 2018, electing their government officials at the federal, state and local levels. In addition, they considered 155 ballot issues throughout the year. Seventy-one of those were referred to voters by state legislatures. In this episode of “Our American States,” we delve into some of the key decisions they made and how their actions may affect the 2019 sessions of state legislatures. Our guest is Wendy Underhill, a program director for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. She will guide us through decisions voters made on a wide variety of topics. She’ll explain “ballot harvesting” and “lock boxes,” and give us insight on health, transportation, criminal justice, voting rights, energy, ethics for public officials and revenue issues that were on the ballot. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 52

 The Art of Persuasion | OAS Episode 51 | File Type: audio/mp3 | Duration: Unknown

We are celebrating Legislative Staff Week with a special podcast on “The Art of Persuasion.”  Our expert will dive into the reasons why being able to persuade is important and how to use tactics to help others understand your point of view. Our guest is Curt Stedron, who is a legislative trainer with the National Conference of State Legislatures. He’ll outline the importance of storytelling, describe how to reframe issues and examine how word choice is critical in communication. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 51

 Brain Development and Childhood Adversity | OAS Episode 50 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

On this episode of “Our American States,” we explore two critical components of a child’s development. First, we’ll address adverse childhood experiences (often referred to as ACEs), which are stressful or traumatic events in childhood that have long-term impacts on health and well being. We talk to a national expert who will walk us through research on childhood trauma, and provide policymakers with ideas to address families facing stresses that cause ACEs. We also discuss the importance of positive brain development, discover why the first three years are so critical for the nurturing of children, go over key research and find out what the policy implications are regarding early brain development. Our guests are: Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris, founder and chief executive officer for the Center of Youth Wellness Dr. Ross Thompson, a distinguished professor in the department of psychology at the University of California Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 50

 Women Elected to State Legislatures in Historic Numbers | OAS Episode 49 | File Type: audio/mp3 | Duration: Unknown

Following the 2018 midterm elections, more women will serve in state legislatures than ever before. Starting with the 2019 sessions, it appears that about 28 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators will be women—a significant jump from a touch under 25 percent after the 2017 elections. In this episode, we dive into the historic numbers and discuss why they increased this year. Our guest, Katie Ziegler, is the program manager for NCSL’s Women’s Legislative Network, the professional development organization that includes every female state legislator in the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The Women's Legislative Network’s mission: to promote the participation, empowerment and leadership of women legislators. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 49

 Eviction Database Shows America’s Housing Crisis | OAS Episode 48 | File Type: audio/mp3 | Duration: Unknown

Matthew Desmond went to Milwaukee to live with families being evicted from their homes. The personal stories he obtained there set the course for his book “Evicted,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017. He then created a team at Princeton University to create a national database containing 80 million records on evictions since the year 2000. Data collected by this project shows that 2.3 million Americans in 2016 lived in a home that received an eviction notice. Desmond is the principal investigator at the Eviction Lab, where the database is available to policymakers and the public and researchers can find valuable information on what is going on in their communities and states. But he says more work needs to be done to fully understand the issue. Join us for an insightful conversation on the causes and effects of evictions and how policymakers can use the collected information to make informed decisions on this public policy issue. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 48

 Law Enforcement: Reform, Accountability and Communication | OAS Episode 47 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Sates work to improve community safety in several ways, including the reduction of serious crime, ensuring fair enforcement of the laws and increasing police effectiveness. On this episode of “Our American States,” we examine the issues of policing, policy, costs, communication between communities and law enforcement agencies, and the need for criminal justice reform, including alternatives to incarceration of people needing mental health treatment. Our program gets insightful perspectives from those who deeply involved in these issues. Our guests are: Barry Friedman, director of The Policing Project at the New York University School of Law, a nonprofit that works to ensure the community’s voice and sound decision-making techniques are part of the policing. He is the author of “Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission.” Ron Serpas is a former police superintendent of New Orleans and the executive director of Law Enforcement Leaders, an organization of more than 200 current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, federal and state prosecutors and attorneys general from all 50 states working for a reduction in both crime and incarceration. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 47

 State Capitol Symbols, Traditions and Styles | OAS Episode 46 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Every state capitol is unique—but with some interesting similarities. We’ll dive into traditions, symbols and decorative features you can find in these impressive structures across our country. Our two guests have extensive experience and will share their knowledge with us on this episode of “Our American States.” First, we talk with G. Paul Nardo, clerk of the House for the Virginia House of Delegates and the Keeper of the Rolls of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He’ll discuss traditions there, including the mace used in ceremonial procedures.          Then, we will hear from Karl Kurtz, former director of the Trust for Representative Democracy, and now principle with LegisMatters. Kurtz has seen every U.S. capitol, including those in the territories and commonwealths. We’ll get his perspective on domes, artwork and legislative traditions. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 46

 School Leadership: Study Looks at Stemming Principal Turnover Rates | OAS Episode 45 | File Type: audio/mp3 | Duration: Unknown

Our nation’s education system is constantly being evaluated and analyzed—including the area of school leadership and how it impacts teachers and the quality of learning students receive. The focus of this edition of “Our American States” is on principal supervisors. The Principal Supervisor Initiative, a recently released national study, specifies five components for consideration that urge school districts to help stem the tide of principal turnover by ensuring supervisors provide leadership, rather than just focusing on compliance, legalities and evaluations. Helping us to learn more about school leadership, principal supervisors and the study, is Dr. Mollie Rubin, a research assistant professor in the department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Vanderbilt University. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 45

 2018 State Legislative Elections: Will History Prevail? | OAS Episode 44 | File Type: audio/mp3 | Duration: Unknown

More than 80 percent of all state legislative seats are up for election on Nov. 6, and, after the primaries, 21 percent of those seats have already turned over. That’s 2 to 3 percent higher than analysts normally see in a full election cycle, which means this could be one of the highest turnover rates in history. And there’s more data that makes this an interesting election to watch. More women are running for office. The number of unopposed candidates has dropped dramatically. And Republicans, who control a solid majority of all state legislators and state legislative chambers, know that in a mid-term election the party of the president typically loses more than 400 seats. Democrats see an opportunity, but Republicans are working hard to hold off a blue wave. Going over the data and explaining why the 2018 state legislative elections are critically important is our guest Tim Storey, director of State Services for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Storey, who has been analyzing elections for more than two decades, shares his expertise on what to look for and notes where the battleground states are in this election cycle. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 44

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