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1. Our American States

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In this edition of "Our American States," we revisit the issue of cybsersecurity. When we first aired a podcast on the subject in February, the National Conference of State Legislatures Cybersecurity Task Force had just issued a "Cybersecurity Conversation Guide: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and Higher Education." Since then, we have learned that more states were targeted by Russian influences during the 2016 elections.

So we decided to sit down with task force co-chair Jacqui Irwin, a memberof the California Assembly. She discusses what the task force is doing now, why we should be worried about more than elections when it comes to cybersecurity, why it's important for citizens to protect their online privacy, and why states need IT experts in their employ.

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Women, who make up a little more than 50 percent of the U.S. population, only hold about a quarter of the nation’s 7,383 state legislative seats. While it’s a dramatic increase from the 1970s, the percentage has been stagnant for several years.

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How does this country treat juveniles who commit offenses? Each state approaches the issue differently. The way we look at juveniles who commit crimes from misdemeanors to felonies shifts based on legal rulings and research. Our guests on this edition of "Our American States" take a look at the key issues, research and legislation affecting juvenile justice.

We'll first hear from Marsha Levick, the deputy director and chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. She's been involved in U.S. Supreme Court cases, and her group works on legal issues involving juveniles. She led a famous effort that removed state judges who were sentencing juveniles without representation and receiving kickbacks from for-profit juvenile facilities.

Then we'll talk with Kentucky state Senator Whitney Westerfield (R), who chairs the NCSL Juvenile Justice Principles Work Group, made up of 15 state legislative leaders in juvenile justice from across the country. The senator shares how the above quote, by Frederick Douglass, has helped shape his views on juvenile justice and led to comprehensive reform in his state. The bill has been promoted as a model by the Right on Crime national campaign.

Both give their perspective on the importance on collecting data and using it in a positive way.

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13

Americans learned a lot about the birth of our nation when Lin-Manuel Miranda launched the hit Broadway show, “Hamilton.” In the song, “Non-Stop,” part of the lyrics goes:

“Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled 'The Federalist Papers.' ”

From those papers, came a concept of government called federalism, where states share power with the federal government. As our guests today will explain, the system works—but it also creates great tension between those entities.

Robin Vos, a Republican and the speaker of the House of Representatives in Wisconsin, and Dan Blue, a Democratic Senator from North Carolina, share their viewpoints on the state of federalism today, nearly 230 years after "The Federalist Papers" were published.

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Working in the legislative arena is not always easy. There are long hours, long stretches of sitting at a desk, a need to multitask and often a lack of sleep. Stacy Householder of the National Conference of State Legislatures shares six brain rules designed to help legislators and legislative staff be more effective. Her recommendations are based on research and its relevance for those working in legislative chambers.

“Scientists have learned more about the brain in the last 20 years than they have from the previous five centuries,” she says. Her advice includes “lap the Cap,” getting sleep and focusing on the task at hand. 

Find out if you are a lark or night owl and how that might affect your work. All this and more in this edition of “Our American States.”

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08

With 5,000-6,000 legislators, legislative staff and those interested in public policy expected to descend on Boston for the 2017 Legislative Summit, our guest today recommends being prepared to being engaged.

Catherine Johns, a communications expert with experience as a Chicago talk show radio host, gives honest advice about how to start conversations, how to follow up with those business cards you'll get and even how to do a proper handshake. You'll learn how to listen in conversations, create a better approach to Elevator Speeches and how to gracefully get out of those conversations that have gone too long.

“A good part of good conversation is really being present with the person I'm engaged with,” she says. See if her advice helps you prepare for the Summit on this edition of  “Our American States.”

Catherine Johns will lead a workshop, “Making Your Case: Effective Communication,” at the 2017 NCSL Legislative Summit in Boston on Sunday, Aug. 6, 8-11 a.m.

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While Congress considers major changes to the nation’s health care laws, states are doing their best to prepare. But, they are not waiting to make their health systems more effective and efficient. Martha King, who directs the health care program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, discusses innovations that are still being made at the state level. 

In this edition of “Our American States,” King explains the impact that health care has on state budgets, including a recent item in a State Legislatures magazine article that said 5percent of patients can account for 50 percent of a state’s health care costs. She’ll discuss state initiatives, such as efforts to allow consumers to do online price comparisons and New Jersey’s “hot-spotting” program that is proving to reduce costs. We’ll discuss preventive care programs and Medicaid costs in this revealing talk.

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Standard and Poors U.S. Chief Economist Beth Ann Bovino answers questions about the state of the U.S. economy in this edition of “Our American States.” We ask about the U.S. economic recovery, business confidence, consumer confidence, the stock market and how the economy has reacted in the first 100 days of the new administration. In addition, she lets us know about “spirit animals” in the economy and gives a preview of her presentation at the 2017 Legislative Summit.

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27

In this episode, we take a look at national and state politics from the viewpoint of someone who has been in the trenches providing polling data and message development for the last 25 years.

Renowned national pollster Frank Luntz shares results from a national poll he recently conducted regarding the public’s faith in government at both the federal and state level. While he says the public has more faith in governors and state legislators than their federal counterparts, they are not happy about the acrimonious nature of government today.

In addition, he provides advice for candidates running for office and provides insight on what the public expects from elected officials.

Luntz is a featured speaker at NCSL’s Legislative Summit this August in Boston.

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13

"They only have to get it right once."

On this episode of “Our American States,” we dive into the complex world of cybersecurity. For most Americans it’s not something we give a lot of thought to until a news story breaks regarding a breach of a major company’s data center. What many of us don’t realize is that nearly all of us have data stored on a state data system. If you’ve filed a tax return, applied for a driver’s license, started a business, or qualified for social services, your state has important information about you that you would not want in the hands of criminals or hackers.

To walk us through this complex issue, we have Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, and South Carolina state Senator Thomas Alexander. They explain that state systems are the targets of attacks millions of times a month. And, and Robinson points out in the quote above, all it takes is for one of those attacks to be successful in order to cause a breach of data.

The experts walk us through the steps policymakers need to consider to protect their data and how an NCSL Task Force on Cyber Security is helping state legislatures address the issue.

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