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March 31, 2010

Forging Ahead: Finding What Works for States

Spring meeting to focus on solutions to some of the most pressing challenges

WASHINGTON— From collecting sales taxes online to turning around troubled schools to boosting employment, states face myriad challenges, and solutions often seem remote. To further complicate the situation, states are dealing with the worst revenue shortfall in a generation.

Now, state legislators from across the country are gathering in Washington to help find what works. At the National Conference of State Legislatures' Spring Forum from April 8-10, an array of policy experts, White House officials and state lawmakers will meet to discuss proven strategies for addressing a host of issues affecting states. 

States are forging ahead with redistricting, four-day work weeks, education reform initiatives, credit card reform and high-speed rail proposals. This meeting is an opportunity to state legislators and staff to meet with colleagues who are leading reform efforts in their respective states. 

Also, state legislators and legislative staff will hear from industry experts who can share insight into promoting job growth and economic development. And as states ready themselves for implementation of sweeping health care overhaul, representatives from the Health and Human Services agency will discuss the implications for states.

Here is a list of other noteworthy sessions:

Thursday, April 8

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Main Street Fairness Streamlined Sales Tax 2010  

Twenty-two states have complied with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement and more than 1,100 out-of-state sellers are collecting sales taxes for these states. The Sales Tax Fairness and Simplification Act has been introduced in Congress with bipartisan support. Hear an update on state efforts for 2010.

1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Campaign Finance Reform      

Discuss the impact of the Citizen’s United ruling on states and potential action on the Campaign Finance renewal policy.

1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Home Grown Solutions: Job Growth and Economic Development

The recession has shown that there are no one-size-fits-all approach to creating jobs and spurring economic development. In fact, it is quite difficult to be successful in one element without involving the other. Explore strategies aimed at creating jobs with limited resources.

1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Financial Regulatory Reform Update

One of the priorities of the 111th Congress was reform of the financial regulatory system. The House has passed its version of regulatory reform and the Senate is about to begin consideration. What will regulatory reform look like if it passes and how will it impact state regulatory authority?

1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. School Turnaround Strategies

The administration recently announced its plan for turning around struggling schools. The plan offers four levels of intervention, from replacing at least half of a school's staff to closing and dispersing students to other public schools and charter schools. Hear a panel address what works, where school turnarounds have been successful, and what role state legislators can play in this effort.

1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. Committee Hearing on High-Speed Passenger Rail

Share your views on the topic of high-speed passenger rail. (Sign-in required to speak at the hearing.)

2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Health IT: From the Perspective of Broadband Providers

Health IT is the new elixir for what ails the country, or at least the future of health care delivery. The administration and Congress in the stimulus legislation provided a large financial boost to health IT and its implementation. But are states ready to reap the benefits? This session will provide the opportunity to hear from broadband providers on health IT issues and concerns.

Friday, April 9

 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions  

Cap and Trade. Carbon Tax. Command and Control Regulations. What really is the best policy tool for controlling greenhouse gas emissions? Explore the pros and cons of each policy option and examine which choice may have the best chance at achieving a true paradigm shift in energy production and consumption.

10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Where to From Here?                         

Panelists from three perspectives share their thoughts about what the nation and states should be doing to move forward in meeting health challenges and to reform "health" business.

1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Big Savings From a Four-Day Work-Week?

Working for a state hardly conjures up images of regular three-day weekends. But that's the case in Utah, where the majority of state employees now work four 10-hour days and most state offices are closed on Fridays. The "Working 4 Utah" plan was designed to save money, reduce energy costs and increase public access to state services. Learn how the plan has worked out in this informative session.

1:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. State Efforts to "Race to the Top"  

In competition for federal education money, 40 states and the District of Columbia charted out education reforms and passed supporting legislation during the first few weeks of the 2010 legislative session. Review reforms proposed in the applications and hear from states about their efforts to secure federal Race to the Top funding.

2:45 p.m. - 4 p.m. Health and Food Systems - Creating Communities Where Kids Can Thrive

Access to affordable, healthy food is key to creating communities where children can thrive. Our most vulnerable children especially need thriving communities to support their healthy growth and development. Explore multiple avenues for developing healthy food systems and safe opportunities for physical activity and play in communities and the policy options that support them. 

3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. The Generational Divide Hits the Legislature  

Whether you’re talking about legislators or staff, there are generational differences in the Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial groups. Experienced legislative leaders and staff directors see some positives and negatives with the new arrivals and want to take action to get the different generations to work together. Also, in term-limited and high-turnover states, the need to address these issues is even more acute.

The Spring Forum will be held at the Marriott Wardman Park in the Woodley Park area of Washington, D.C. Members of the media are invited to attend. A complete listing of the meeting agenda is posted online.

Members of the media can register onsite and there is no registration fee for reporters. Media is asked to check in at the NCSL registration desk to obtain a press badge. Please drop by the Press Room in the hotel.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.