Around the South for May 16th: AL, TX, & NC

Alabama: Abortion bill causes uproar.  As neighboring states such as Georgia have passed more restrictive anti-abortion legislation this year, Alabama has gone one step further.  This week the state’s legislature passed a bill that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with almost no exceptions, a felony.  The bill now sits on the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey, as Democrats, including those already in the 2020 presidential primary, have slammed the legislation.  Texas: Jones to get rematch against Rep. Hurd.  Gina Ortiz Jones, the Democrat who narrowly lost to U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, last year is running again.  Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, lost to Hurd last year by fewer than 1,000 votes, and is ramping up her 2020 campaign early to get an edge on the rematch.  North Carolina: Bishop wins GOP primary.  In the redo race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, State Sen. Dan Bishop, author of the infamous “bathroom bill” in the state last year, won a low-turnout Republican primary to face Democrat Dan McCready in September.  The race is being redone because Republican Mark Harris, the original winner, was forced to resign after it was found he paid a political operative to commit voter...

Around the South for May 9th: AL, SC, & VA

Alabama: Equal pay bill advances.  A bill to prohibit Alabama employers from paying workers differently based on gender or race passed out of committee this week, moving it a step closer to becoming law.  While there are already federal laws on the books banning pay discrimination, Alabama and Mississippi are the only states without such a law on the books.  South Carolina: NFL owner threatens legislature.  Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is urging South Carolina lawmakers to pass a bill approving more than $115 million in incentives to get the team to move its team headquarters across the border from North to South Carolina.  Some South Carolina lawmakers have questioned the positive impact of the move, while others point to the millions in investment that it would bring as reason to move forward.  Tepper has said he’s happy to remain in Charlotte if legislators can’t come up with the incentives he’s asking for.  Virginia: State Sen. eyes higher office.  State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is a rising star in the Democratic party – and she’s already beginning to look at moving up the ladder.  She recently launched a new PAC that seeks to help Dems take control of both the state House and Senate, and could also be used as a launching pad for a gubernatorial race in 2021.  The two presumed Democratic frontrunners for the nomination, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring, are mired in high profile scandals that may damage, if not kill, any potential campaigns in the...

Around the South for May 2nd: FL, TN, & NC

Florida: State House passes campus carry bill.  On Wednesday Florida’s House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill which will allow teachers to carry guns in high school classrooms.  Democrats bitterly opposed the measure, which will allow teachers to arm themselves if they complete the 144 hour voluntary Guardian program.  The legislation now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.  Tennessee: Senate passes bill eliminating time changes.  The Tennessee state Senate has passed a bill that would keep daylight savings time year-round, a proposal that has gained steam around the country in recent years.  The bill would scrap the biannual time shift,  but only if Congress first passes a federal law allowing states to observe daylight saving year-round – which may be a big ask.  North Carolina: Congressional race goes to GOP runoff.  The race to replace former U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who passed away in February, will go to a runoff in the Republican primary.  A pair of doctors – state Rep. Greg Murphy and Joan Perry, emerged from a crowded primary field and will meet again on July 9.  The winner of that primary will be a heavy favorite in the right-leaning district ahead of a September general election against Democratic primary winner Allen Thomas, Libertarian winner Tim Harris and Constitution Party candidate Greg...

Around the South for April 25th: GA, TN, & TX

Georgia: Trump talks opioid epidemic.  President Donald Trump was in Atlanta Wednesday to speak at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit about the ongoing opioid crisis.  His administration has dedicated billions to fighting the epidemic, which claimed more than 42,000 American lives in 2017 alone.  Tennessee: School voucher bill passes House.  The controversial school voucher bill pushed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee passed the state House this week by the narrowest of margins – 50-48.  The bill would provide public money for parents who unenroll a student from their public school district and allow them to spend the funds on private school or other education-related expenses.  Democrats uniformly opposed the bill along with some Republicans, saying the legislation will gut funding for public schools.  Texas: Dems target one of their own.  The Justice Democrats, a left wing PAC that helped U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseat longtime Representative Joseph Crowley, are now targeting other Democrats across the country deemed to be not liberal enough.  First on their list: Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in Washington.  The group has already started running ads against Cuellar, but thus far has not found a candidate to primary...
Technology and Government: Tackling A More Efficient Medicaid for the States In the Trump Era

Technology and Government: Tackling A More Efficient Medicaid for the States In the Trump Era

    (Editor’s note: SPR is devoting a new segment to the ever increasingly important role of technology in helping make southern states more cost efficient and effective in delivering services. And the politics of those efforts. This week’s focus is modernizing Medicaid services in the South). With some states seeking Medicaid waivers and others searching for other ways to make programs more efficient and effective, the “rubber has hit the road” with state leaders zeroing in on technology as the primary way of achieving such goals. Numerous leaders of state departments and agencies are racing to meet new requirements set by CMS for Medicaid. The new rules seek to eliminate the old fashioned concept of taking the various services and lumping them into one large contract (known as MMIS for short). Instead the new direction is to create separate modular service contracts that encourage speedier response, efficiency, and an end to the domination by less than a handful of “megacompanies” who became notorious for endless change orders, up-sales, and bureaucratic inefficiency. Southern states are looking to their own, such as Virginia, who followed CMS requirements and have gone completely separately modular, including making the all-important “data warehouse” (the central nervous system of Medicaid technology) completely separate, which CMS considers essential to new systems.  Their moves are now a centerpiece in efforts by leading southern states as they race to transform Medicaid to a more efficient service as directed by the feds. And the political heat is on. The Trump administration expects results as we enter the 2020 election cycle. One insider tells SPR “Trump’s philosophy comes from his...