US DOT Announces $160M for Transportation Technology Projects

The US Department of Transportation announced that it is accepting applications for two programs that will make approximately $160 million available annually for the next five years for projects that use technology to improve transportation infrastructure and make communities safer. SMART Grant Program The Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will offer up to $100 million in grants annually over the next five years and fund…

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Teachers Are Leaving, Yet Student-Teacher Ratios Are Improving… What’s Going on?

Public schools across the country have successfully lowered student-teacher ratios despite school staff shortages by continuing to hire staff while student enrollment rates are down. Teachers are leaving the profession at a concerning rate around the country, and hiring new education staff remains a major challenge. Combined with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, local education agencies (LEAs) are facing a perfect storm scenario around the country. However, new research shows that "on a per-student…

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Homeland Security Finalizes Controversial Immigration Rule

On September 8th, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized a rule re-defining a "public charge," a controversial concept with substantial implications for state and local government services. At its most basic level, a public charge is a lawful non-citizen who must rely on government services for subsistence, and as a result, can be denied citizenship or legal residency (a green card). The new rule codifies what DHS describes as the "historical understanding of…

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Fed Raises Interest Rates Another 75 Basis Points, Predicts Future Hikes to Tame Inflation

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by three-quarters of a point for the third time this year, matching rate hikes in June and July, in its most aggressive drive in three decades to tamp inflationary pressures. The Fed set the new benchmark interest rate to a target range between 3 to 3- 1/4 percent, the highest rate since late 2007. On average, Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents expect rates…

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FEMA Establishes Revolving Loan Fund for Local Resilience Projects

Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it would release a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund program before the end of the year. The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act became law on Jan. 1, 2021, and authorizes FEMA to provide capitalization grants to states, eligible federally recognized tribes, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to establish revolving loan funds that provide hazard…

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US Senate Mulls Onerous, Costly Financial Reporting Standards for Counties

The Financial Data Transparency Act of 2022 (S. 4295), sponsored by Senator Warner (D-VA) and Senator Crapo (R-ID), would mandate governments and nonprofits to report financial information using uniform reporting categories, or "data standards," which would likely require costly updates or extensive workarounds for county finance systems. Companion legislation (H.R. 2989), introduced by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) passed the US House of Representatives on July 14, 2022, as an amendment to…

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FCC Invites States, Local Governments to Verify Revamped Broadband Maps

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week announced data specifications for state and local governments to file “bulk challenges” to broadband availability data the FCC is collecting under the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process. Counties have an opportunity to ensure the new maps are as accurate as possible, which will result in historic investments in our nation’s broadband infrastructure and enhance connectivity for all residents. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the FCC’s new data…

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$1B in Federal Cybersecurity Grants Soon Available for Counties and Schools

The federal government will issue State and Local Cybersecurity Grants totaling $1 billion over four years for states to distribute to local governments and school systems. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin issuing the first-ever cybersecurity grant program designed for state, local and territorial governments and will distribute $1 billion directly to states over the next four years. The cybersecurity grant funding is available through the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program and was established…

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Does Artificial Intelligence Have a Place in Hiring?

Experts express caution over the growing use of automated technology and artificial intelligence for job and candidate screening and hiring processes. MACo tackled the issue at the 2022 Summer Conference. Experts at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFFCCP) are warning about the potential for automated technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), used in the workplace for hiring and human resource functions to accelerate discrimination.…

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Correlation or Causation? Connecting Gun Laws and Suicides

In observation of Suicide Prevention Month, a recent Governing article identifies a strong correlation between state gun laws and elevated gun suicide rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its first-ever report on firearm deaths in May of this year. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the conditions underlying gun violence, including "changes and disruptions to services and education, mental stress, social isolation, and economic stressors, including job loss,…

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