January 2018
DMGS Capitol Commentary- January 2018
2018 Gubernatorial Preview: West Coast
In less than a year, voters in 36 states will decide on their respective Governors during the 2018 midterm elections. Many of these contests have already become competitive with a host of Republican and Democratic nominees announcing their candidacy.

This month, we’re looking at races and key players in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.

Throughout 2018, DMGS will be sharing updates on gubernatorial races across the U.S. with expert commentary and insight from our team.

Capitol Commentary: Around the Country
California
Three California issues to watch in 2018

Rising rents and home prices forced California’s housing crisis to the front of Gov. Jerry Brown’s and lawmakers’ agenda in 2017. Legislators passed the most comprehensive package of housing bills in recent memory designed to increase spending on low-income development and encourage more construction in general. But the bills, according to independent analyses, won’t do much to make housing cheaper in the state.

Expect more focus on housing issues at the Capitol and on the statewide ballot in 2018. The LA Times explores three issues, including:
1. Battles over Rent Control;

2. The Future of Prop 13;

3. Budget drama in 2018

Kentucky
State to place first statue of a woman in Capitol in 2018
A Lexington sculptor with family ties to Glasgow and Bowling Green is creating the first sculpture of a woman that will be placed in the Kentucky Capitol.

Amanda Matthews, president of the board and founder of the Artemis Initiative – a nonprofit organization devoted to creating public art to elevate the status of women, children and minorities – is creating a bronze sculpture of the late Nettie Depp, the first woman who ran for public office in Barren County. She was elected as county schools superintendent in 1913, seven years before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed women the right to vote.
 
The bronze portrait is tentatively scheduled to take its historical place inside the west entrance of the Capitol sometime in August, Matthews said.

Michigan
Anti-Opioid measures signed in MI State Capitol

District Judge Linda Davis says the families she sees in her courtroom, are sometimes devastated by opioid addiction and overdoses. She says she is reminded of the heart-wrenching toll that HIV/Aids claimed on families she observed during a trip to South Africa.

She made the comments as LT. Governor Brian Calley signed the state’s latest package of bills to combat abuse of the drug on Wednesday.

The primary measures improve and require use of a new computer tracking system called MAPS that provides an easily accessed registry of everyone who is being prescribed painkillers. Sponsor Tonya Schuitmaker says her fight against opioids began after Linda King lost her child to the drug, and began working with others for solutions.

Two of the bills sponsored by Rep. Beth Griffin of Mattawan will add anti-opioid lessons to school curriculums.

New Mexico
State senator wants study of soda tax

Debate over a soda tax in New Mexico is about to bubble up again as Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, plans to ask his colleagues in the Legislature next month to support studying a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

New Mexico’s gross receipts tax system includes an exemption on the sale of food, including colas, root beer and other sugary drinks.

“We get absolutely zero from the sale of soft drinks,” Ortiz y Pino said Wednesday, “and yet they are incredibly damaging in terms of health care costs that we then have to pick up."

In May, Santa Fe voters rejected a proposal to impose a tax of 2 cents per ounce on the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages, with the revenue earmarked for early childhood programs.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez highlighted the results as a sign that voters aren’t ready for higher taxes, even in liberal Santa Fe.

New York
Andrew Cuomo is waging an all-out assault on the GOP tax law

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is fighting back against the GOP's tax law, signed by President Donald Trump last week after months of legislative wrangling on Capitol Hill. 

Cuomo is specifically targeting a change to the so-called SALT deduction, which currently allows high-income taxpayers in states like New York and California who itemize their deductions to benefit from an unlimited deduction on state and local taxes. Under the new Republican law, that SALT deduction is now capped at $10,000. 

“We’re going to propose a restructuring of our tax code," Cuomo said in an interview with CNN on Thursday. "I‘m not even sure what [Republicans] did is legally constitutional and that’s something we’re looking at now."

In a subsequent tweet, Cuomo called the tax law "partisan" and said he believes that the cap on SALT is punishment for tax payers in overwhelmingly Democratic states. 

Vermont
What the Tax Bill will Mean for Vermont Home Owners

The bill includes many changes that will affect Vermont's housing sector, according to Sarah Carpenter, executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, a non-profit created in 1974 to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income Vermonters.

Carpenter says the final bill does preserve a number of things that support affordable housing.

"But we don't know all of the depth of it and we have some overall concerns around how this might affect appropriations for housing and lots of things that could affect our clients and homeowners. But the housing provisions are adequate," Carpenter said.

DMGS Updates
In mid December, DMGS Managing Director Eric Martins spent time with OR Governor Kate Brown at the Council of State Governments National Conference in Las Vegas.
DMGS Director Ted Christian with former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski promoting the new book "Let Trump Be Trump" at a signing in Quakertown, PA. Lewandowski's book tells his stories from the campaign trail with now President, Donald Trump.
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