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The Biggest Issues for States to Watch For

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The Biggest Issues for States to Watch For

Brooklynn Vaughn, Editor

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The first issue to watch for is Federal Tax Revision. Few developments in Washington will have direct an effect on a state budgeting as the Republican efforts to revise the federal tax code. One of the main GOP goals is to simplify tax returns for most Americans. This would be done in part by increasing the amount of the standard deduction while eliminating certain itemized deductions. The idea is to give taxpayers an incentive. In the 43 states with their own income, tax the idea has more sobering implications. Dozen states automatically use the same standard deduction as the federal government. 31 states and the District of Columbia use the federal list of itemized deductions. States that stay linked to federal itemized deductions could see revenues increase. This all means that lawmakers in each state will have to determine how their revenue will react to tax reform and whether or not to stay linked to federal tax definitions. Republican leaders in Congress have also proposed ending the federal deduction for state and local income taxes and capping the deductibility of local property taxes.

The second issues is Health Insurance. The Republican crusade to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fell short in Washington in 2017, but big changes could still be in store for the nation’s health-care system this year. Especially for Medicaid. Many people who gained coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, she said, “are individuals who are physically capable of being actively engaged in their communities, whether it be through working, volunteering, going to school or obtaining job training.” As of December, 18 states were waiting for CMS to decide whether to approve substantive waivers to reshape their Medicaid programs, many of them by making it harder for people to qualify for or maintain their benefits. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has taken steps that could undermine the success of another key piece of the ACA: state insurance exchanges.

The third one is Sexual Harassment. First on social media and then in more formal venues, women responded to last fall’s #MeToo campaign with an outpouring of stories that showed lawmakers have too long ignored bad behavior in their workplaces. Women accused legislators of inappropriate conduct in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington. Half a dozen states were still reeling from recent sexual harassment scandals before the social media campaign began. The most common step so far has been to require lawmakers and others who work at the capitol to take sexual harassment training, the success of those efforts depends both on the quality of the training and on the willingness of lawmakers to participate. An equally difficult question that many legislatures are reexamining is who handles sexual harassment complaints in the first place. To be credible, the procedure has to protect both the accusers and the accused in today’s politically charged atmosphere. The stakes are high, lawmakers cannot enact effective policies. Public  confidence in the integrity of state legislatures will decline even more  than it already has.

About the Writer
Brooklynn Vaughn, Editor

I am a senior at Reeds Spring High School. I do everything with my family and my son.

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