100 episodes

The Our American States podcast is where you hear compelling conversations that tell the story of America’s state legislatures, the people in them, the politics that compel them, and the important work of democracy.

Our American States NCSL

    • Government
    • 4.7 • 35 Ratings

The Our American States podcast is where you hear compelling conversations that tell the story of America’s state legislatures, the people in them, the politics that compel them, and the important work of democracy.

    COVID-19 and Employment for People With Disabilities | OAS Episode 130

    COVID-19 and Employment for People With Disabilities | OAS Episode 130

    As people slowly head back to the workplace as the pandemic begins to fade, there is concern about whether people with disabilities will face steeper hurdles to employment. In the recovery following the Great Recession, for example, employment growth for people with disabilities lagged years behind those without disabilities. Illinois Senator Dan McConchie, the Senate minority leader, is one of the guests on the podcast. McConchie, who lost the use of his legs following a traffic accident more than a decade ago, has been a strong advocate for enforcement of the accessibility requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He talks about the pros and cons of the trend toward teleworking for people with disabilities and the role state lawmakers can play in ensuring those with disabilities are treated fairly and included in the economic recovery. He also reflected on the 30th anniversary of the ADA and where states can go from here to make it better. The second guest is Saige Draeger, a policy expert at NCSL, who discusses the roles of state legislators in this area, a new NCSL report that dives into the topic and other resources NCSL can provide to lawmakers.       Resources COVID-19 and Employment for People With Disabilitiesn NCSL OAS Episode 130 Transcription Reports and Policy Briefs, U.S. Department of Labor State Exchange on Employment & Disability, U.S. Department of Labor

    The “Why” Of Working in the Legislature | OAS Episode 129

    The “Why” Of Working in the Legislature | OAS Episode 129

    This is a special episode of “Our American States” to observe Legislative Staff Week 2021. This annual event recognizes the enormous contributions that thousands of legislative staffers make every day in statehouses across the nation. Our guests are Sabrina Lewellen, deputy director and assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate, and Eric Nauman, lead fiscal analyst for the Minnesota Senate. Our focus on this podcast on the “why” of legislative service. As legislatures have grown more partisan and often become more challenging environments in which to work, we asked our two guests, both longtime staffers, to talk about what motivates them, how they deal with the stress and what advice they would offer their colleagues.         Resources Legislative Staff Services Homepage

    Children, Mental Health and Schools | OAS Episode 128

    Children, Mental Health and Schools | OAS Episode 128

    Sending kids back to the classroom is a goal across the country for many reasons. Along with concerns about falling behind academically and parents’ need to have children in school, experts also are concerned about mental and behavioral health needs. Studies indicate children in need of such services are much more likely to receive them at school. Our guests include Craig Wethington with the Minnesota Department of Education. He discusses how his state has used collaborative improvement and innovation networks, or CoIINs, to improve the quality of school mental health services. He also talks about a community survey of students that indicates many kids were struggling with mental health issues even before the pandemic and how the legislature in his state worked to improve mental health programs. Another guest on the show is Rebecca Astorga with the Arizona Department of Education. She discusses programs and resources states can employ to bolster their mental health services and the role that Project AWARE, a federal grant program, has played in expanding the capacity of the state to address mental health issues among young people. We also talk with Noah Cruz, an NCSL policy researcher, who offers some background on the topic.         Resources Arizona Social Emotional Learning  Children’s Behavioral Health, NCSL Enhancing School Capacity to Support Children’s Mental Health, NCSL Improving the School-Linked Mental Health Program, Report to the Minnesota Legislature Mitch Warnock Act/ARS15-120 OAS Episode 128 Transcription Resilient Arizona Crisis Counseling Program

    Evictions and the Pandemic | OAS Episode 127

    Evictions and the Pandemic | OAS Episode 127

    Millions of people are evicted from their homes every year in America and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse. While poverty in America has been studied extensively, much less is known about evictions. In the last 20 years, the Eviction Lab at Princeton University has gathered records on more than 80 million evictions. Matt Desmond, who created the Eviction Lab and authored the Pulitzer Prize winning book “Evicted,” was interviewed on an earlier episode of “Our American States.” To discuss how the eviction crisis has grown during the pandemic, we invited Emily Benfer on the podcast. Benfer, a visiting professor of law at Wake Forest University and an expert on housing and health law, is the co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard with the Eviction Lab and principal investigator in a study of nationwide COVID-19 eviction moratoriums and housing policies. She also chairs the American Bar Association's COVID-19 Task Force Committee on Eviction. Benfer explains how the pandemic has exacerbated the eviction problem, who is being evicted and how the recently extended federal eviction moratorium factors into the situation. She also explains the role state policymakers can play in implementing state eviction moratoriums and how some legal procedures can help people facing eviction. Resources The American Eviction Crisis, Explained, The Appeal Approaches to Eviction Protection Eviction, Health Inequity, and the Spread of COVID-19: Housing Policy as a Primary Pandemic Mitigation Strategy, Journal of Urban Health  OAS Episode 127 Transcription

    Understanding the Quad Caucus | OAS Episode 126

    Understanding the Quad Caucus | OAS Episode 126

    The Quad Caucus is a coalition of the four national caucuses of color representing Asian-Pacific American, Black, Native American and Hispanic  legislators. Combined, the four groups represent more than 1,400 state lawmakers. The group came together in 2012 with the support of NCSL and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and is focused on promoting equitable outcomes in all communities focusing on people of color in the areas of health, education, economic security and justice. On this podcast we talk with Washington Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D) and Kansas Rep. Barbara Ballard (D). Both are veteran legislators and longtime members of the Quad Caucus. Santos and Ballard discussed the work of the caucus and the effort to create more diverse legislatures.       Resources National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators  National Black Caucus of State Legislators National Caucus of Native American State Legislators National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators OAS Episode 126 Transcript

    Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures | Episode 5

    Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures | Episode 5

    Overview NCSL’s Our American States podcast presents a special six-part series, “Building Democracy: The Story of Legislatures.” This new mini-series covers the history, characters and stories of state legislatures in America, from the beginnings in Jamestown, to the present day and into the future. Each episode in the series will contain interviews with experts from inside and outside the legislative world to provide a comprehensive view of historical events and their legacy in today’s legislatures. Extras will include extended guest interview clips, articles in NCSL’s State Legislatures magazine, blogs and resources for those who want to dive deeper into topics covered in the podcast. Episode 5 The fifth installment of NCSL’s six-episode podcast series takes place in the not-too-distant past. The work of legislating changed dramatically between the 1960s and the 1990s, resulting in more responsive and representative legislatures. By the early 1900s, legislatures had become increasingly dependent upon the executive branch, decreasing their coequal status in state government. Beginning in the late ’50s and early ’60s, demands on legislatures grew and lawmakers and their constituencies became more diverse. In response to 20th-century challenges, lawmakers began to spend more time on the job, with sessions getting longer and more frequent, often including interim work. These changes, along with exponential increases in the number of legislative staff, brought the work of legislators and the mission of legislative institutions into a new age. Delve into the characters, stories and organizations that believed in representative democracy and the legislative institution enough to come together and study, innovate and create stronger legislatures. Guests Representative Senfronia Thompson, Texas | Bio Former Senator Fred Risser, Wisconsin | Bio E. Dotson Wilson, former chief clerk, California State Assembly | Bio Speaker Bryan Cutler, Pennsylvania | Bio Bill Pound, former executive director, NCSL | Bio Additional Resources Building Democracy: Episode 5 | Transcript (coming soon) Building Democracy: Episode 5 | Show Notes (coming soon) Building Democracy: Episode 5 | Resources and Reading List Women in Legislatures Legislator Demographics

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4.7 out of 5
35 Ratings

35 Ratings

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