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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Podcasts:

 Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures | Episode 5 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Overview NCSL’s Our American States podcast presents a special six-part series, “Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures.” This new mini-series covers the history, characters and stories of state legislatures in America, from the beginnings in Jamestown, to the present day and into the future. Each episode in the series will contain interviews with experts from inside and outside the legislative world to provide a comprehensive view of historical events and their legacy in today’s legislatures. Extras will include extended guest interview clips, articles in NCSL’s State Legislatures magazine, blogs and resources for those who want to dive deeper into topics covered in the podcast. Episode 5 The fifth installment of NCSL’s six-episode podcast series takes place in the not-too-distant past. The work of legislating changed dramatically between the 1960s and the 1990s, resulting in more responsive and representative legislatures. By the early 1900s, legislatures had become increasingly dependent upon the executive branch, decreasing their coequal status in state government. Beginning in the late ’50s and early ’60s, demands on legislatures grew and lawmakers and their constituencies became more diverse. In response to 20th-century challenges, lawmakers began to spend more time on the job, with sessions getting longer and more frequent, often including interim work. These changes, along with exponential increases in the number of legislative staff, brought the work of legislators and the mission of legislative institutions into a new age. Delve into the characters, stories and organizations that believed in representative democracy and the legislative institution enough to come together and study, innovate and create stronger legislatures. Guests Representative Senfronia Thompson, Texas | Bio Former Senator Fred Risser, Wisconsin | Bio E. Dotson Wilson, former chief clerk, California State Assembly | Bio Speaker Bryan Cutler, Pennsylvania | Bio Bill Pound, former executive director, NCSL | Bio Additional Resources Building Democracy: Episode 5 | Transcript (coming soon) Building Democracy: Episode 5 | Show Notes (coming soon) Building Democracy: Episode 5 | Resources and Reading List Women in Legislatures Legislator Demographics

 Trends in State Immigration Law | OAS Episode 125 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

A new report from NCSL, “Immigrant Policy Project: Report on State Immigration Laws, 2020,” summarizes state laws and resolutions enacted between January and December 2020 and trends in immigration legislation throughout the year. The report’s author, Ann Morse, is federal affairs counsel for NCSL’s Immigrant Policy Project and a longtime observer of state legislation related to immigrants. Morse is the guest on this podcast. Morse discusses the findings in the report, including a trend to address occupational licensing laws to reduce barriers to employment for foreign trained professionals who are in the country legally. She also talks about legislation related to education, law enforcement, driver’s licenses and more. It’s been 35 years since the federal government has enacted comprehensive immigration legislation and Morse explains how that has motivated states to take action on their own and the possibility of action at the federal level under the new administration. Resources "Immigrant Policy Project: Report on State Immigration Laws, 2020"  NCSL Immigration Homepage OAS Episode 125 Transcription

 Census Delays and Redistricting | OAS Episode 124 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The U.S. census is an enormous once-a-decade undertaking aimed at counting everyone in the country. Despite its scope and importance, the census rarely makes headlines. This past year, however, upset virtually everything in society and the census was no exception. The data state legislatures rely on for redistricting congressional and state legislative seats will not be available until Sept. 30, six months later than usual. James Whitehorne, chief of the Redistricting and Voting Rights Data Office at U.S. Census Bureau, is the first guest on the podcast. Whitehorne discusses how the pandemic affected the bureau’s ability to collect data, other challenges the bureau faced, the success of using online forms and offers some historical perspective on the 2020 count. The second guest is Wendy Underhill, who oversees the Elections and Redistricting Program at NCSL.  Underhill discusses steps states are taking to deal with the delayed data delivery and how it might affect election filing dates, and also reminds listeners that he census forms the basis of how the federal government distributes about $1.5 trillion annually to states.       Resources NCSL Redistricting Homepage NCSL Redistricting Seminars OAS Episode 124 Transcription Redistricting Law 2020 U.S. Census Bureau

 COVID-19 and the Criminal Justice System | OAS Episode 123 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Like many areas of society, the criminal justice system has struggled over the last year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan think tank that works to advance understanding of the criminal justice system and help inform the development of public policy, decided to take a deep dive into the system to see how it was coping. The council formed a task force in mid-2020 to examine how the criminal justice system has responded to the pandemic, offer guidance in the short term on how to deal with those challenges and a longer term assessment to help criminal justice leaders develop policies for the future. The guests on this podcast discuss what they discovered, the type of guidance the council offered leaders in the criminal justice system and what needs to change to prepare for the next catastrophe. Our guests are  Abby Walsh, the council’s vice president for strategy and operations,  and Thomas Abt, director of the task force and an expert on criminal justice policy. He is also the author of “Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence—and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets.”       Resources Council on Criminal Justice National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice OAS Episode 123 Transcription Reports From the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice

 Isolation and Loneliness Amid the Pandemic | OAS Episode 122 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Social isolation and loneliness are topics most of us have first-hand experience with after a year of a pandemic has left us unable to spend time with family and friends. The ill effects of such  isolation are not just on our mental health but also can affect our physical health just as much as cigarette smoking or obesity. Our guests are Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University in Utah,  and Lori Gerhard, director of the Office of Interagency Innovation at the U.S. Administration for Community Living. Holt-Lunstad, who has studied the topic for decades, discusses groups in society most at risk for social isolation and how public policy can help address the problem. Gerhard addresses particularly how social isolation affects older Americans and how policies at the federal and state level can help them with these challenges.       Resources OAS Episode 122 Transcription "Sustaining Behavioral Health Services Through the Pandemic" “The Double Pandemic of Social Isolation and COVID-19: Cross-Sector Policy Must Address Both,” by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad U.S. Administration for Community Living

 Ending HIV/AIDS in the U.S. | OAS Episode 121 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

HIV/AIDS has killed about 700,000 people in the U.S. since it first emerged more than 40 years ago. But deaths have dropped dramatically since the mid-‘90s as new treatments have beome available. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2019 launched the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative that aims to eliminate the disease in this country. On this podcast, we talk with Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He discusses the range of treatments available to fight HIV/AIDS, strategies to prevent spread of the disease and the role state policymakers can play in helping eradicate the disease. Our other guest if Charlie Severance-Medaris, a policy expert at NCSL. Charlie explains the steps states are taking to help people to get access to critical medications, changes in laws that have criminalized some behaviors for people with HIV/AIDS, and other efforts at the state level to end the epidemic.       Resources Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, CDC Ending the HIV Epidemic: Jurisdictional Plans, NASTAD HIV and STD Criminalization Laws, CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention NCSL’s Injury Prevention Database NCSL’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment Database OAS Episode 121 Transcription Preventing Infectious Diseases Caused by Injecting Drugs Syringe Service Programs, CDC

 Let’s Make a Deal: The Art of Legislative Negotiation | OAS Episode 120 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The ability to negotiate skillfully is critical to a well-functioning legislature. On this episode, our guest makes the point that negotiation skills are not only crucial to the legislature, they are similarly important in just about everything you do in life. Our guest, Monica Giannone, is a consultant and trainer specializing in negotiation and conflict resolution. She also runs the Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project and is an adjunct lecturer in negotiation at Babson College. Resources Harvard Kennedy School Negotiation Project OAS Episode 120 Transcripton

 States and COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution | OAS Episode 119 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Every state in the country is involved in distributing and administering the two COVID-19 vaccines now approved for use by the US. Food and Drug Administration. Each state is working with a plan that it created in consultation with the federal government. On this podcast we discuss how those plans were created, how they’ve had to change as the pandemic has progressed and what lies ahead. Our guests are Hemi Tewarson, an expert in state plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines. She is a visiting senior policy fellow at the Margolis Center for Health policy at Duke University. As a health policy expert, she has studied the state vaccine plans and discusses how those are working, changes in federal guidance and when everyone will have access to the vaccine. Our other guest is Tahra Johnson, a policy expert at NCSL. Tahra discusses state legislative action related to vaccine plans and how legislators can get involved in the planning process.       Resources COVID-19 Vaccination Program- Interim Playbook, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention State Action on Coronavirus (COVID-19), NCSL COVID-19 Legislation Database "First COVID-19 Vaccine Administered in the U.S.," State Legislatures magazine Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, National Academy of Medicine OAS Episode 119 Transcription State Health Action on Coronavirus (COVID-19) "State Legislatures Inject Momentum Into COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts," State Legislatures magazine

 The Fiscal Challenge of Emerging Gene Therapies | OAS Episode 118 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

A new category of gene therapies is offering life-changing treatments to people with some forms of cancer and other rare disorders. These revolutionary treatments, however, come with a large price tag, sometimes exceeding millions of dollars for a single patient. Often, these costs fall on state Medicaid systems. On this podcast we discuss how states are dealing with this challenge. One of our guests is Anne Winter, a Medicaid strategist with the national research and consulting firm Health Management Associates. Winter, who has particular expertise in pharmacy benefit management, discusses some of the strategies state are employing. Our other guest is Colleen Becker, a policy expert at NCSL, who lays out the scope of the challenge facing states.       Additional Resources NCSL Health Program OAS Episode 118 Transcription

 State of State Legislatures 2021 | OAS Episode 117 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

After a year like no other, legislators face some unprecedented challenges when they return to work in the 2021 sessions. COVID-19 and its effects on every aspect of society—the economy, the health care, education, criminal justice and more—will be front and center for every legislature in the nation. Tim Storey, executive director of NCSL, is the guest on the podcast and offers his perspective on what it all means. We discussed how legislatures will meet, what their priority lists look like, how budgets are shaping up and what a new administration in Washington, D.C., means for states. Additional Resources 2021 Session Prep: Resources for Legislative Staff OAS Episode 117 Transcription Back to the Future: The Past Year Will Guide Planning for 2021 Sessions State of State Legislatures 2020, Podcast

 Time to Redistrict | OAS Episode 116 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Possibly the most underreported story during the November 2020 election was the effect it would have on redistricting, the once-a-decade effort to draw congressional and state legislative districts. On the podcast, Ben Williams, an NCSL policy expert on redistricting, explains how the election sets up  legislatures to start the redistricting process, and discusses when the U.S. Census Bureau will supply states with the data they need to do both reapportionment and redistricting.  He also fills us in on upcoming three-day redistricting seminar offered by NCSL that will take legislators and legislative staff through the various challenges involved in the process. Resources NCSL Online Redistricting Seminar | Jan. 6-8, 2021 OAS Episode 116 Transcription Redistricting Homepage

 Some Sage Advice for New Legislators | OAS Episode 115 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

As the 2021 legislative sessions begin, about 15% of the lawmakers will be first timers. As with any new job, a little advice from more seasoned colleagues can be helpful. On this podcast, I’m joined by Alabama Representative Debbie Wood and former Maine Representative Matt Moonen. They bring different perspectives. Wood, a Republican, was elected in 2018, and is completing her first term. Moonen, a Democrat, was first elected in 2012 and retired this year because of term limits. He served as House majority leader. They talked about what surprised them the most when they first arrived in the legislature; how they handle relationships with colleagues, lobbyists and constituents; and their best piece of advice for new legislators.       Resources NCSL New Members Webpage OAS Episode 115 Transcription What I Wish I Knew Parts 1 and 2, NCSL podcasts

 CDC and States Working to Reduce Maternal Mortality | OAS Episode 114 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

An estimated 700 women will die  from pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. this year, and most of those deaths are preventable. In addition, Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die of pregnancy related issues than White women. On this podcast, the focus is on maternal mortality. I talk with Dr. Wanda Barfield, the director of the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She  discusses efforts by the CDC to reduce the number of deaths, including sharing strategies with state legislators as they try to craft solutions that work best in their states. My second guest is Khanh Nguyen, a policy expert at NCSL who tracks legislation related to maternal mortality. She shares examples of specific legislation and approaches employed by states, including a focus on helping Black and Indigenous women.         Additional Resources Healthy Women, Healthy Pregnancies, Healthy Futures: Action Plan to Improve Maternal Health in America, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hear Her campaign, CDC OAS Episode 114 Transcription Reproductive Health, CDC Saving Moms: Strategies to Reduce Maternal Mortality in the U.S., NCSL webinar The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve Maternal Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures | Episode 4 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Overview NCSL’s Our American States podcast presents a special six-part series, “Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures.” This new mini-series covers the history, characters and stories of state legislatures in America, from the beginnings in Jamestown, to the present day and into the future. Each episode in the series will contain interviews with experts from inside and outside the legislative world to provide a comprehensive view of historical events and their legacy in today’s legislatures. Extras will include extended guest interview clips, articles in NCSL’s State Legislatures magazine, blogs and resources for those who want to dive deeper into topics covered in the podcast. Episode 4 In this installment of NCSL’s six-episode podcast series, “Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures,” we travel west to see how women fought and won their right to vote, as well as how they shaped state legislatures and life on the frontier well before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The story of the 19th Amendment and its dramatic ninth-hour ratification on the floor of the Tennessee House is well known and often told. Yet, momentous events in the history of women in the American West are overlooked. While their sisters fought in the salons, houses of worship and halls of government in the urban “civilized” East, women strode ahead helping to form governments in the rough and yet malleable West. Women in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado (to name only a few) fought against stereotypes and social expectations to win the recognition of their rights as American citizens. Each state’s suffrage movement had unique motivations and avenues to success. One common thread to their strategies? State legislatures. Guests Senator Affie Ellis, Wyoming│ Bio Representative Meg Froelich, Colorado │ Bio Rebekah Clark, historical research associate, Better Days 2020│ Bio

 2020 Election: Big State Legislative Takeaways | OAS Episode 113 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The presidential election, understandably, has drawn much of the attention of the media and the public following Election Day. But there also were more than 6,000 state legislators on the ballot and more than 120 statewide ballot measures. Some would argue those elections will have more effect on the life of the average American than those at the top of the ticket. One of those people is Tim Storey, executive director of NCSL and a close observer of state legislative contests for decades. Even after the election, policymakers in Washington, D.C., are likely to remain gridlocked and the real action will be in state legislatures, Storey says. He breaks down the results of the election and how it will affect redistricting, action on the pandemic and the economy, and more. Our second guest in Amanda Zoch, an NCSL expert on statewide ballot measures, who takes us through what passed, what it says about the policy concerns of Americans and a few of the more unusual measures that voters said yes to on Election Day.         Resources 2020 State Elections: What the Voters Said, Webinar OAS Episode 13 Transcription State Elections 2020, NCSL Statewide Ballot Measures Database, NCSL

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