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1. Our American States

26

Our American States

podcastPlurality voting is the most common system in the U.S. A voter picks one candidate in each race and the candidate that receives the most votes wins.

Then Maine enacted a new system called ranked choice voting for the November 2016 election. Now Alaska has joined Maine, and will use ranked choice voting for the first time this year as well as a new open primary system in which the top four candidates advance to the general election.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D) of Alaska is the first guest on the podcast and he discusses how Alaska came to adopt the system, and the challenges and costs it posed to the state’s election administrators. This discussion took place the day before Alaska’s open primary on June 12.

The second guest is Ben Williams, a principal in NCSL’s elections and redistricting program and author, along with an advisory panel, of a new report on ranked choice voting that will be published in July. He discusses the national landscape for the new approach to voting and some of the information they discovered in surveying election administrators around the country.

Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, AlaskaBen Williams, NCSL

 

 

 

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19

Our American States

podcastOur focus on this podcast is the prescription drug market and the role of pharmacy benefit managers or PBMs. PBMs play a major role in the drug supply chain. They are third-party administrators of prescription drug benefits for health plans, large employers and other payers, including state Medicaid programs. They process claims, review drug utilization, develop pharmacy networks, and create lists of covered drugs called formularies. They also negotiate rebates from manufacturers for placement on those formularies.

To reduce the costs for prescription drugs in their states, some legislators are considering strategies related to pharmacy benefit management. Legislatures have pursued a number of strategies, including reverse auctions.

We invited two legislators on who have worked on legislation related to PBMs to discuss the experience in their states. Our guests are Rep. Susan Lontine, a Democrat from Colorado, and Sen. Fred Mills, a Republican of Louisiana. Both states have passed legislation authorizing a reverse auction for their PBM contracts and they discuss why they pursued that avenue and other efforts to control prescription drug costs.

Rep. Susan Lontine, ColoradoSen. Fred Mills, Louisiana

 

 

 

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29

Our American States

podcastFlorida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) has a very demanding job, as do legislative leaders across the country.

So, when NCSL learned he was hosting a podcast in addition to leading a chamber in one of the nation’s largest states, he seemed like a perfect guest for this podcast.

Sprowls’ podcast, “Read, White and Blue,” wrapped up its first eight-episode season on April 12 and featured authors ranging from Todd Rose, author of “End of Average, to “Devil in the Grove” author Gilbert King.

Sprowls talked about why he decided to start the podcast, the opportunity to talk about issues in depth and his favorite book from childhood. He also shares the biggest challenge to leaders in Florida.

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R)

 

 

 

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15

Our American States

podcastPeople having a mental health crisis in this country are more likely to encounter law enforcement than to receive treatment. And because of a lack of other resources, police sometimes spend a fifth of their time dealing with people with a mental illness. Studies indicate that more than 80% of people in jails with mental illness do not receive adequate treatment.

States are following a number of paths to deal with the problem and the guests on this podcast discuss the work they’ve done.

Jac Charlier is a former law enforcement officer in Illinois who is a pioneer in the area of deflection, a set of preventive measures aimed at reducing reliance on law enforcement as we respond to the mental health crisis in this country. He discussed how deflection programs work and offered some advice for legislators.

Also, guests on the program are Rep. Leslie Herod, a Democrat from Colorado, and Rep. Dwight Tosh, a Republican from Arkansas. Both have worked on legislation in their states to better address the issue.

If you’d like to learn more about this issue, don’t miss “5 Big Ideas: Collaborative Approaches to the Mental Health Crisis” at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in Denver Aug. 1-3. The session will be Aug. 2 and will feature lawmakers discussing what worked in their states.

This project is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC support is part of a financial assistance award totaling $200,000 with 50% 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.

Jac CharlierRep Leslie Herod, ColoradoRep Dwight Tosh, Arkansas

 

 

 

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01

Our American States

podcastThis is a special episode of “Our American States” to observe Legislative Staff Week 2022. This annual event recognizes the enormous contributions that thousands of legislative staffers make every day in statehouses across the nation.

Our guest is Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist who has worked for the past 20 years with some of the most iconic brands in the world as a consultant, speaker, writer, podcast host and professional dot-connector. Her first book, “Bring Your Human to Work,” was a bestseller. Her second book, “Rituals Roadmap: The Human Way to Transform Everyday Routines Into Workplace Magic,” is the authoritative guide to workplace rituals and how they can transform any organization.

Keswin talks about how she came to understand the role of rituals in the workplace, her definition of a ritual and how to recognize the rituals that already exist in your workplace. She also talks about the power of gratitude and saying thank you.

 

 

 

 

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24

Our American States

podcast

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or IIJA, signed by President Biden in November 2021 provided $1.2 trillion for roads, bridges, highways, broadband, water projects and more. The $55 billion included for water projects is the largest single investment in water infrastructure in the nation’s history.

The first guest on the podcast is Kristen Hildreth, the legislative director for natural resources and infrastructure at NCSL. She breaks down what’s in the bill, how states will access the money and some of the challenges, including matching funds in some areas.

The second guest is Alan Roberson, the executive director of the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators. Roberson talks about new money provided under the bill to address lead service lines and emerging contaminants. He explains the complexity of lead service line programs and some significant challenges states and water system operators may encounter dealing with PFAS contaminants.

This is one of several podcasts this year focusing on the IIJA. Other shows will focus on energy; roads bridges and transit; and the expansion of broadband.

Kristen Hildreth, NCSL

 

 

 

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03

Our American States

podcast

The 2020 redistricting cycle presented a significant challenge to the states. Data from the census was delayed by the pandemic and states had less time than usual to draw their maps for legislative and congressional districts. As well, the court challenges that inevitably follow the maps also were delayed and some are still in process even as primaries start.

To get a left-right perspective on the process and how it’s likely to affect the 2022 elections, we spoke with Kelly Ward Burton, executive director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, and Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust.

Burton and Kincaid shared the views of their parties on how the process has gone so far, the role of the courts this cycle and how they expect the 2022 midterm elections to play out.

Kelly Ward Burton, NDRCAdam Kincaid, NRRT

 

 

 

 

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27

Our American States

podcastThe economy in the U.S. went on a wild ride during the pandemic. Many of the challenges in the workforce became headline news, from dropping labor force participation to the Great Resignation.

The guests on this podcast offer two key perspectives on how legislators and states generally can promote workforce development.

Sen. Becky Massey (R) is a state legislator from Tennessee who has worked extensively on workforce issues and just recently took on the role of co-chair of NCSL’s Labor and Economic Development Committee. She talks about what her state has done in this area and offers suggestions for legislators in other states who wat to tackle the issue.

Eric Seleznow is with the Center for Apprenticeship & Work-Based Learning at Jobs for the Future.  He previously served as deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. He’s also had other roles in state and federal government focused on workforce development. He discussed how apprenticeships and other efforts can help states bolster their workforce.

Sen. Becky Massey, TennesseeEric Seleznow, JFF

 

 

 

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07

Our American States

podcastData privacy is a topic that has captured the attention of many state legislators across the country. In 2021, data privacy legislation was introduced in 38 states and the most common type of legislation was comprehensive privacy legislation along the lines of legislation in California.

But enacting legislation has been far more difficult.

Episode guests Rep. Josh West, the Republican majority leader in the Oklahoma House, and Collin Walke, a Democratic member, teamed up to work on comprehensive legislation Their bill passed the House last year but not yet been heard in the Oklahoma Senate. They discussed how they first became interested in the topic of data privacy and how they ended up working together.

They also explained why they started a podcast, “Inside the Capitol.” The show has been a way to educate colleagues and constituents about data privacy, but episodes examined other policy topics, budgets, civility and more. And, they say, it’s a way to signal civility and bipartisanship.

Rep. Josh West, Oklahoma Rep. Collin Walke, Oklahoma

 

 

 

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27

Our American States

podcastThe $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or IIJA, was signed by President Biden in November 2021. The lion’s share of that money will go to states, through a variety of programs, for roads, bridges, highways, broadband, water projects and more.

To help us understand this tsunami of spending, we spoke with Molly Ramsdell, director of NCSL’s state-federal relations division, and Marcia Howard, the executive director of Federal Funds Information for States.

Ramsdell and Howard discussed how the money is being distributed and the flexibility states have in deciding how to spend it. The bulk of the money will go to transportation projects, but some will be distributed by formula and other money will be given out through to competitive grants. They also discussed the money for broadband and explained that since Congress is still operating under a continuing resolution to fund the government, some of the money in the act will not be available for some time.

Marcia Howard, FFISMolly Ramsdell, NCSL

 

 

 

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