TABLE of CONTENTS August 2012

Cover Story

Medical Marijuana: Do States Know How to Regulate It?

BY Dylan Scott

Colorado’s decade-long debate over how to manage medical marijuana has produced a tightly controlled approach that more states are starting to emulate.

FEATURES

Counties: An Outdated Concept or the Future?

Hit harder by the economic downturn than either cities or states, counties are feeling pressure from all sides, leading many to reexamine county functions altogether. BY Alan Greenblatt

Hybrid Pension Plans Attracting More States, Cities

Unable to continue making payments on traditional retirement benefits, officials are trading in the old model and looking for a more efficient option. BY Carol Anderson

4 Health and Human Services Officials Worth Watching

Administering services to vulnerable populations is hard work. But tough public-sector jobs have a way of attracting top talent. BY Jonathan Walters

Bus Rapid Transit Gaining Traction Despite Concerns

Localities from San Francisco to Jacksonville, Fla., are embracing bus rapid transit -- even if not everyone in the transportation community is sold on the idea. BY Ryan Holeywell

Saltville, Virginia: A Company Town Without a Company

In 1971, the Olin chemical company pulled out of Saltville, leaving the tiny town to fend for itself. BY Tod Newcombe

POLITICS + POLICY

State News

New State Laws Grant Immunity for 911 Overdose Calls

In an attempt to curb the rising number of overdose-related deaths, several states passed legislation this year that gives legal immunity to people who call 911 to report a drug overdose. BY Leigh Ann Renzulli
Local News

New Life For D.C.'s Tunnels?

A nonprofit hopes to turn an abandoned, underground streetcar station into a new type of development in Washington, D.C. BY Ryan Holeywell
View

Survey Shows "Agenda 21" Crowd is Slim

American Planning Association poll finds only 6 percent of respondents oppose UN policy. BY Ryan Holeywell
Dispatch

Social Media and Public Finance: The Odd Couple

Public finance departments are significantly less likely than government in general to use social media or see its value in engaging with constituents. It might be time for this to change. BY Paul W. Taylor
Potomac Chronicle

Whooping Cough’s Comeback Raises Questions

How states’ decisions to not require vaccinations and general budget cuts to public health have impacted the nation’s ability to prevent, track and treat disease outbreaks. BY Donald F. Kettl
FedWatch

Can 'Connected Vehicles' Prevent Car Crashes?

USDOT is studying technology that allows cars to communicate with each other to warn drivers of potential collisions. BY Ryan Holeywell
Health & Human Services

How Food Stamps Reduced Louisiana's Uninsured Children’s Rate

Louisiana was the first state to embrace “express lane eligibility." BY David Levine
Energy & Environment

Colleges Beef Up Sustainability Degree Programs

Nearly 60 percent of all new academic programs or training opportunities in 2011 focused on green careers, which are in demand now more than ever. BY Elizabeth Daigneau
Economic Engines

Bikers, Walkers Need Cities to Protect Them

Without laws protecting pedestrians and bikers, the goal of having truly livable cities in America remains out of reach. BY Alex Marshall
View

As Newspapers Shrink, Public Officials Worry

Recent cutbacks in daily print schedules will leave communities less informed. BY Tod Newcombe

PROBLEM SOLVER

Education

High School Majors Help Some States Cut Dropout Rate

Requiring freshman to “specialize” in particular subjects helped Florida significantly increase its graduation rate and decrease its dropout rate. Georgia is hoping for similar results. BY Caroline Cournoyer
Smart Management

Gainsharing Falls Victim to Tight Times

The concept of sharing unspent dollars with other employees and agencies saves governments money but is often ignored when budgets are the smallest. BY Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene
Idea Center

New York to Require Pro Bono Work for New Lawyers

New York will become the first state to make pro bono work mandatory for admittance to the state bar. BY Brian Peteritas
Idea Center

North Dakota to Fund Child Care For Economic Development

The state will begin a pilot program aimed at providing more child care in it's booming western oil region. BY Brian Peteritas
Tech Talk

IT Lessons from Roseville’s “Footloose” Moment

A rapidly spreading rumor about the California city last year offers a cautionary tale for public officials who think social media has little to do with the business of governing. BY Steve Towns
Public Money

The Very Public Private-Sector Retirement Problem

The Great Recession was hard on private workers. Will states and localities have to rescue them? BY Penelope Lemov