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Communities mull challenges, benefits to municipal broadband

April 20, 2017

Broadband connectivity is foundational for regional competitiveness in the global economy, prompting more states and communities to develop innovative solutions to expand high-quality broadband access for their businesses, residents, education systems and public sector. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam provided one of the most recent examples of the trend by signing legislation making it easier for municipalities and cooperative boards to deliver broadband connectivity in underrepresented communities throughout the Volunteer State. Considerable socioeconomic and political challenges remain for communities interested in providing broadband service at the municipal level.

Personal income grows, state ranks largely unchanged

April 20, 2017

According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis state personal income data, national per capita income grew 4.0 percent from 2015 to 2016, and growth since 2012 is at 12.0 percent. States are experiencing this growth disparately, however, with five-year growth rates ranging from -0.6 percent (North Dakota) to 17.6 percent (California). Over this period, few states experienced significant changes in their performance relative to their peers — just four states moved more than five rankings — but shifts between income quintiles and variable growth rates suggest that more movement will be witnessed over the next few years.

Science march takes center stage on Earth Day

April 20, 2017

This weekend’s March for Science in Washington, D.C., and another 517 satellite locations across the globe, will be marked with teach-ins and rallies, and will be live-streamed as a virtual march as well. The march is intended to serve as “a call for politicians to implement science based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and our daily lives.”

This weekend also marks Earth Day, and the U.S. Census Bureau provided some facts pertaining to energy and the environment:

Legislative & Federal News for April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017

U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) sent a letter requesting a 4 percent increase in appropriations for the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The White House announced an executive order to review the H-1B visa program, and the accompanying language suggests the administration’s interest in reforms to emphasize applicant skills and wages.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney lifted the federal hiring freeze last week and asked agencies to plan for workforce reductions.

Maryland legislation encourages manufacturing jobs, training

April 20, 2017

New legislation in Maryland that takes effect in June provides $1 million in workforce development scholarships and builds on current apprenticeship programs, while also providing tax incentives for new and existing manufacturers to create jobs in areas of the state that need them most. Gov. Larry Hogan signed the More Jobs for Marylanders Act into law last week, a key piece of his jobs initiative. The new legislation establishes scholarships for eligible students enrolled in job training programs at community colleges, and contains measures to encourage high schools to offer additional vocational training, as well as requiring state agencies to analyze their registered apprenticeship programs.

U.S. companies investing in foreign R&D

April 20, 2017

U.S. companies spent 18 percent of their research and development dollars outside of the United States in 2013, according to data recently released by the NSF. The $73 billion in foreign R&D is concentrated in the information industry, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and automobiles and parts. Those four industries accounted for 52 percent of all foreign R&D performance by U.S.

Federal support needed for energy innovation

April 20, 2017

Innovation in the energy sector requires strong leadership from the federal government to help mitigate potential risks, according to a recent report by the American Energy Innovation Council (AEIC), a project of the Bipartisan Policy Center. The AEIC is a group of ten private sector leaders that includes Bill Gates, the heads of industry giants like Dominion Energy and Southern Company, and retired leaders of corporations such as Lockheed Martin and DuPont.