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 or Google Play, or you can use the RSS icon at the right to copy a feed URL for your podcatcher. 

22

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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25

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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Category: Health, Fiscal
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11

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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Category: Fiscal
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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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Category: Summit
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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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Category: Technology
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23

In 1992, a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Quill v. North Dakota, said a state cannot require businesses to collect sales tax unless that business had a physical presence in that state. Since that decision, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has been working to find a fairness solution and has been trying to convince Congress to take action as the Quill case suggested. Now, 25 years later, a court case in South Dakota may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court and could challenge the Quill ruling.

In this episode, we talk with South Dakota Senator Deb Peters (R), who also is president-elect for NCSL, and find out how states are positioning themselves on this issue, and to learn more about the court case that is designed to go quickly to the U.S. Supreme Court. We also get the inside scoop from NCSL analyst Max Behlke, who will fill us in on the details of the issue and give us an inside look at the effort to get Congress to act.

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Category: Fiscal
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09

Advice on leadership is abundant in books, online and electronic resources. But the leaders in the 99 chambers of America's state legislatures operate in a unique environment. In today’s podcast, Tim Storey, director of state services for the National Conference of State Legislatures, shares his top 10 things that great legislative leaders do. 

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Category: Leadership
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23

Marijuana the word, when spoken, often elicits smiles, smirks, guffaws and goofy comments. But to policymakers responsible for writing rules and regulations, this serious subject matter is full of weeds and thickets. We’re going to do our best to take our tools and jump into the marijuana patch and look at the challenges and opportunities that it provides to our American states.

Our guest today has been tracking the issue for several years now, and is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the political, legal and economic aspects of this issue. Karmen Hanson is a program director in the Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Category: Health
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09

The security of America's voting systems is under the microscope. Revelations about foreign hacking into state registration systems and allegations of voter fraud are a focal point of public policy discussions. In this edition of "Our American States," we examine those issues, equipment costs and concerns, military voting, mail-in ballots and other related issues.

Giving us his national perspective on these issues is elections expert Doug Chapin, director of the Program for Excellence in Election Administration at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and director of the university's Election Academy.

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Category: Elections
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