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:

 Living to 100: The Policy Implications |OAS Episode 81 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

For the first time, around 2040, there will be more older adults than children. By 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau says, nearly 1 in 4 Americans will be 65 years and older. And in that same year, the number of people 85 years and older will triple and the country will add a half million centenarians. We decided to explore what “Living to 100” means for state policymakers across the country. Later in the program, we’ll talk with Karen Brown, who is an original and current member—and a former chair—of the Colorado Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging. The group was formed by the Colorado General Assembly since the state has one of the fastest growing senior populations. Our guests are: James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging. Karen Brown, a member and former chair of Colorado’s Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging and CEO of iAging. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 81

 Teens in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions | OAS Episode 80 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services latest “Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System” says more than 430,000 people were in foster care in the last fiscal year. About a quarter of those in the system were teenagers. There is growing awareness that older teens in the foster care system need trained foster parents to help them transition to adulthood. Consequently, 28 states and the District of Columbia have extended foster care beyond the age of 18. On this episode of “Our American States,” we talk with two state legislators who have first-hand knowledge of foster care and are actively involved in shedding light on this topic. Alaska Representative Ivy Spohnholz (D), who is a foster and adoptive parent Indiana Senator Erin Houchin (R), who is a former case worker Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 80

 How Kids Learn | OAS Episode 79 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Researchers and scientists continue to make advancements in determining how young people learn and how their brains develop. State legislatures devote significant time to education policy and approve considerable state resources to improve the education systems in their states. Our guest is Dr. Linda Darling Hammond, who is the president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. She explains what we are learning about brain development and how it affects how young people are taught today. She says the ideas from the research can work in any school, regardless of its socio-economic status. And, she says many of the principles can be applied in school systems without additional state funds.

 States Build Paths to Employment for Vets With Disabilities | OAS Episode 78 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Of the 18 million military veterans living in America today, about one-fourth of them with a service-connected disability. For post 9/11 veterans, that percentage increases to 41 percent. With Veterans Day 2019 approaching, our attention turned to what state services are available to these brave men and women who served our country. The National Conference of State Legislatures recently released a report, “A Path to Employment for Veterans with Disabilities.” It examines an extensive array of employment services and benefits designed to improve the lives of military veterans with disabilities. State legislatures are taking actions to assist veterans with disabilities, who often face obstacles when they compete and apply for jobs. Our guests outline several state actions, including employment preferences, career development, job placement, apprentice programs, on-the-job training, occupational licensing and tax incentives for employers. Our guests today are Jim Reed and Jennifer Schultz, the authors of this report. They both staff the Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force at NCSL. Transcription of Episode 78

 Power Play: States Address U.S. Electric Grid | OAS Episode 77 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Much of the nation’s network of electricity generation, transmission and distribution resources is aging and major upgrades are needed to for new technologies, changing market dynamics and shifting consumer preferences. This analysis comes from a new NCSL report, “Modernizing the Electric Grid: State Role and Policy Options.” States are finding a challenge in keeping up with the way technology impacts our power grids, particularly those that still rely on larger power plants. “The challenge facing state policymakers is how to craft policies that promote cost-effective investment in the electric system while allowing innovative technologies and new energy management approaches to flourish and compete in a rapidly shifting environment,” says the report. Our guest is Glen Andersen, who is the energy program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures, and one of the authors of the report. He talks about how new technologies affect public policy, how consumers are creating their own power, how smarter household appliances, electrical gadgets and electric vehicles affect the grid. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 77

 U.S. Supreme Court: What to Watch This Term | OAS Episode 76 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

The U.S. Supreme Court opened its current term on the first Monday of October. The court is considering several cases of direct interest to state legislatures. For starters, the court will decide whether the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is judicially reviewable and lawful. Other potentially charged cases are reviews of state laws on insanity defense, sexual orientation, gun laws, abortion, and the separation of church and state. It could even decide the legal copyright of state law annotations.  Our guest is Lisa Soronen, the executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, who watches and analyzes U.S. Supreme Court decisions. She explains these cases and more, and offers insight on how justices are likely to view them. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 76

 Redistricting: Partisanship, Politics, Power | OAS Episode 75 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Once every 10 years, America’s political landscape changes. While most people are aware the U.S. census takes place in years that end in zero, a smaller percentage know the data collected helps determine how the nation’s political power is divided. In most states, legislatures are charged with redrawing congressional and state legislative maps following the release of the census data. This means political control of the legislature and the governor’s office will be critical when maps are redrawn in 2021. We invited two guests to explain this process and what legislatures are doing in preparation for the historic event. Wendy Underhill is the director of the Elections and Redistricting Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL is producing a series of meetings on redistricting, with the next one taking place Oct. 24-27 in Columbus, Ohio. Future redistricting meetings will be held in Las Vegas, Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C. For the staff perspective, we talk with Michelle L. Davis, a senior policy analyst on redistricting and election law at the Maryland Department of Legislative Services. She is the editor of the website Redistrictingonline and its Facebook page. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 75

 Homeless Youth: Risk Factors of the Vulnerable | OAS Episode 74 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

A 2017 study by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago discovered that around 4.2 million people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience homelessness at least once during the year. Of those, 700,000 are 17 or younger. And, the study found, youth homelessness occurs at the same rate in rural and urban areas. In this episode, we learn why these young people experience homelessness, how public policy defines youth homelessness, why it’s difficult for these youth to access needed services and what state and federal initiatives are available to address this issue. Our guest is Patricia Julianelle, director of program advancement and legal affairs at SchoolHouse Connection, a national nonprofit organization working to overcome homelessness through education. “We are forcing our teenagers into the hands of dangerous people when we don’t provide a legal structure for reputable service providers to be able to take care of them and keep them safe,” she says. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 74

 How States Are Reacting to Drugged Driving | OAS Episode 73 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Determining if a driver has too much alcohol in his or her system is now easily measured. But with more states approving the sale and use of recreational marijuana, knowing whether a driver is impaired with that drug—or other substances—is much more difficult to prove scientifically. In this episode, we explore actions states are taking to address this complex issue. Our guests are:  Robert Ritter, director of the Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Colo.), who successfully guided legislation through his state legislature on this issue soon after Colorado became the first to approve recreational marijuana. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 73

 "Almanac" Offers Inside Track on American Politics | OAS Episode 72 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Columnist George Will says it’s “the bible of American politics.” Started in 1972, the “Almanac of American Politics,” has been a valuable resource tool for people needing to have comprehensive knowledge of Congress, congressional districts and state governors. Published every two years, the 2020 version has just been released. Our guest is Louis Jacobson, who is a senior correspondent for PolitFact and has written for publications such as Governing magazine, Roll Call, CongressNow and the National Journal. He is a senior author for the “2020 Almanac of American Politics.” He wrote the state overview chapters of the publication. Jacobson offers listeners of “Our American States” a discount code to order the publication. Visit the site to purchase the book and use the code LOUISANDFRIENDS Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 72

 End of an ERA at NCSL: Bill Pound Retires | OAS Episode 71 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

For the last 32 years, the National Conference of State Legislatures was led by Executive Director William  Pound. He worked for NCSL for 44 years, starting soon after the organization was started in Denver. He retired in mid-July and is being honored at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Nashville this week. We asked him to share his thoughts on legislatures, legislators, state legislative staff and other areas of interest. He provides us with a history lesson of the organization and reflects on his tenure as the leader of one of the country’s best known and respected public interest groups. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 71

 States Embrace Flexibility in Medicaid Strategies | OAS Episode 70 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Medicaid is a state-federal health insurance program designed to provide relief for the less fortunate, including low-income people, the elderly and people with disabilities. The program is a significant part of state budgets. State expenditures on Medicaid exceeded $600 billion in 2018, with about 1 in 5 Americans receiving coverage. The federal government accounts for about 60 percent of this financing with the rest coming from state budgets. All 50 states participate in the Medicaid program. But, as we learn in this episode, states have flexibility in how to determine spending, eligibility and covered services. We learn how some states are looking to reduce their Medicaid spending and how others are moving to expand their services. We’ll also explore the relationship with the program and the Affordable Care Act, as well how mental health, behavioral health and living conditions are influencing policymakers’ decisions on how to appropriate funding. To walk us through the various issues is Emily Blanford, a program principal in NCSL’s health program, specializing in Medicaid policy.  Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 70

 Supreme Court and the States: 2019 Wrapup | OAS Episode 69 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

In every term, the U.S. Supreme Court makes decisions that affect state and local governments. In 2019, the court addressed several such issues, including a blockbuster decision on political gerrymandering and an issue of critical importance to the census. In addition to these two rulings, our guests offer perspective on whether certain monuments may be on public land, a challenge on duel sovereignty, taking blood from someone who is passed out from drinking, and regulations on wine selling and distribution. Our guests are: Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, who tracks decisions made by the Supreme Court. She discusses the major issues addressed by the court this term. Susan Frederick, NCSL senior federal affairs counsel, who offers some extra perspective on the U.S. census citizenship question decided by the court. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 69

 Criminal Justice Reform: A Bipartisan Issue | OAS Episode 68 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

While the country mostly hears how the political parties don’t work together, criminal justice reform is an untold story of how bipartisanship works. States are working together to reduce recidivism, provide released inmates a course for a productive future, and address the backgrounds and experiences of offenders to change behaviors. To illustrate that point, our podcast focuses on laws approved in two states, Mississippi and Colorado. Our guests are: Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R), who got bipartisan support for legislation to make major reforms on how the state works with former inmates. The former deputy sheriff says his thinking about nonviolent offenders has changed over time. Colorado Representative Leslie Herod (D), who has gained bipartisan support for measures addressing education opportunities for offenders, expanding the definition of crime victims, and removing “the box” to help former inmates seeking jobs or education. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 68

 The Latest in Online and Digital Privacy Laws | OAS Episode 67 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: Unknown

Last year, the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 was signed into law, and the landmark bill has become a model for other states when it comes to online privacy. This year, the California State Legislature is looking to modify the bill to address concerns expressed by businesses and advocates. In Utah, the Electronic Information or Data Privacy Act was signed into law this year. The bill gives electronic documents the same legal protection as printed documents. If law enforcement wants copies of digital files, they now must apply for a search warrant, as they would for other types of documents. To explain these bills, we have two guests: Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Calif.), who is sponsoring legislation to adjust the California Consumer Privacy Act. She explains why changes are needed and offers her perspective on privacy laws and the components state legislatures across the country need to consider when addressing such laws. Representative Craig Hall (R-Utah), who successfully guided the Electronic Information or Data Privacy Act through the legislature and got it signed into law by the governor. He discusses how he worked with organizations on the left and right, as well as law enforcement, to address the digital privacy legislation. Additional Resources Transcription of Episode 67

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