Our American States | An NCSL Podcast

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The “Our American States” podcast—produced by the National Conference of State Legislatures—is where you can 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.

You can listen to the podcast on this page, you can subscribe through iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Stitcher, or you can use the RSS icon at the right to copy a feed URL for your podcatcher. 

19

While there is intense focus on the presidential contest and the fate of the U.S. Senate as Election Day approaches, critical contests are also underway for the control of state legislative chambers.

We’re pleased to have Tim Storey, the executive director of NCSL, as one of the guests on this podcast.  Storey has been observing these elections for decades and  shares his thoughts on the prospects for a blue wave, how many legislative chambers are likely to change control and if we’re likely to see a change in overall state control.

Also joining us is Mandy Zoch, an NCSL expert on statewide ballot measures. Zoch explains why there are fewer citizen initiatives on ballots around the nation this year and some of the more interesting measures voters will decide.

Tim Storey, NCSLAmanda Zoch, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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Category: Elections
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12

Lisa SoronenOn this podcast we get an update on the U.S. Supreme Court from Lisa Soronen, the executive director of the State and Local Legal Center in Washington, D.C. The court started its new term on Oct. 5. 

We discussed the legacy for state legislatures of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her and the position of Chief Justice John Roberts on the shifting court.

Soronen also went over significant cases affecting the states from last term, cases to watch out for this term and, of course, the upcoming arguments over the Affordable Care Act.

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05

Today’s podcast is focused on foster care and specifically on the challenges faced by young people as they transition out of the foster care system.

Our guests are Levi Smith Jr., a 23-year-old senior at Georgia State University studying social work.  Levi spent 10 years in foster care and discusses the challenges faced by older youth as they transition out of that system. Our second guest is Georgia Rep. Katie Dempsey (R), who has been involved with various pieces of legislation affecting youth in foster care during her 13 years in the legislature.

In the second segment of the show, I talk with Lynn Johnson, who is the assistant secretary overseeing the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Johnson  discusses the federal government’s role in aiding states as they work with young people transitioning out of foster care.

Levi Smith JrGeorgia Representative Katie DempseyHHS Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson

 

 

 

 

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Category: Human Services
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21

Ted ClaypooleConsumer concern about data privacy has been mounting for the last few years in light of numerous data breaches. Many people also are aware of recent major governmental actions to protect privacy. One of the most far-reaching was Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, passed in May 2018. The California Consumer Privacy Act, passed in 2018, went into effect this year and was by far the most comprehensive law enacted in any state. 

This podcast focuses on data privacy and features a discussion with Ted Claypoole, an attorney with Womble Bond Dickinson in Atlanta and one of the nation’s top legal experts on data privacy. Claypoole has more than 30 years of experience representing clients in in the public and private sector on issues related to software, data management and security. He is also one of the contributors to the HeyDataData technology blog.

I talked with Claypoole about the ramifications of those laws, the prospect for more comprehensive data privacy laws in the states, the likelihood that Congress will look at a comprehensive data privacy law, and privacy issues related to artificial intelligence.

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Category: Technology
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14

Today’s podcast focuses on childhood vaccinations and a troubling drop in the rate of routine immunizations for children in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our first guest is Dr. Melinda Wharton, the director of the Immunization Services Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Wharton, one of the nation’s preeminent experts on vaccine policy, discusses the reasons behind the drop, the steps the CDC is taking to help states bolster the immunization rate, the importance of keeping children on a vaccine schedule and what state lawmakers can do to help. She also reminds us that adults need vaccines as well as we enter flu season.

My other guest is Erik Skinner, an NCSL policy associate who tracks legislation related to vaccines. He offers a perspective on how state legislatures acted on vaccine policy.

Dr. Melinda Wharton, CDCErik Skinner, NCSL

 

 

 

 

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Category: Health
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08

Overview

Podcast logoNCSL’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 3

In this installment, we explore how the states and their legislatures expanded west, split apart, and came together again.

The era of American history between 1803-1877 was one of massive territorial growth, conflict, and social and economic change. The U.S. evolved from a small grouping of former colonies and newly formed states on the East Coast to exponentially expanding territories across the South, Midwest and the wilderness of the West. Legislatures were the main venue for shaping these territories into states of diverse populations and environments. After the Civil War, state legislatures became the main setting for enforcing reconstruction policies and resistance to them. The struggle to integrate a huge population of formerly enslaved people into the citizenry led to incredible victories for the expansion of civil rights, only to see them shrink again, continuing the push and pull we continue to experience as a nation today.

Guests

  • Bob Davidson, former director, Mississippi Senate Legislative Services Office
  • Mark Hirsch, historian, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian │BioBlog
  • Burdett Loomis, professor emeritus, University of Kansas │Bio
  • Kercheik Sims-Alvarado, assistant professor of Africana Studies, Morehouse College │BioBook

Special Guest Voice

  • Representative Billy Mitchell, Georgia │Bio

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07

Today’s podcast looks at how K-12 schools can reopen safely amid an ongoing pandemic and what that might look like for the foreseeable future.

Our first guest is Dr. Carissa Moffat Miller, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CSCCSO).  Dr. Miller’s organization works with state education leaders around the nation and offers a national perspective on how schools are reopening.

Our second guest is Dr. Kristi Wilson, president of the American Association of School Administrators, which is the organization of school superintendents around the nation. She is also the superintendent of the Buckeye Elementary School District just west of Phoenix, and offers some perspective from the district superintendent level.

Carissa Moffat MillerKristi Wilson

 

 

 

 

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Category: COVID-19
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17

The focus of today’s podcast is transportation safety and the type of legislation states have enacted to address concerns in that area.

Our guests are two NCSL staffers, Doug Shinkle, who directs the Transportation Program, and Samantha Bloch, an NCSL transportation and traffic safety policy expert.

We discussed a range of topics—school bus safety, hand-held devices, alcohol and drug impaired driving. I also asked them to share their thoughts on how the COVID-19 pandemic might change some aspects of transportation and how states may respond.

Douglas ShinkleSamantha Bloch

 

 

 

 

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Category: Transportation
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10

Dr. Kyle BernsteinToday’s podcast focuses on contact tracing, a longtime tool used by public health officials. During this pandemic, contact tracers identify people infected with the coronavirus and then contact others they’ve interacted with recently. Contact tracers then help people get testing and offer support for self-isolating.

While every state receives some funding from the federal government to support contact tracing, states have the flexibility to manage their contact tracing plans differently. At least 17 states and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation related to contact tracing, with at least and 11 states and D.C. having enacted these measures so far.

Our guest is Dr. Kyle Bernstein, chief of the Epidemiology and Statistics Branch in the Division of STD Prevention at the CDC and an expert in contact tracing.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $120,000 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS, or the U.S. government.

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Category: COVID-19
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03

This podcast focuses on how states can ensure that their public health systems are connecting people with physical and behavioral health services in an integrated system, an issue made even more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our guests include:

  • Karmen Hanson, a health policy expert from NCSL.
  • New Jersey Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D), a longtime legislator, physician and a county director of health.
  • Dr. Anne Zink, chief medical officer for the state of Alaska.

Karmen HansonNew Jersey Assemblyman Herb ConawayDr. Anne Zink

Resources

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $250,000 with 100% funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

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Category: COVID-19
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