This weekly round-up shares the latest news about what the network is doing to promote state-based solutions that will improve the lives of families, workers, and local communities. If you are an SPN state think tank and have an update you’d like us to include in next week’s round-up, please email us at (all submissions are subject to SPN approval).

Education: Expanding options for families

Healthcare: Improving access to and affordability of care

  • New York: A new report from the Empire Center explores recent trends in New York’s Medicaid drug spending, the forces behind them, and how they fit into the national context.

Worker Freedom: Giving workers a voice and a choice

Occupational Licensing Reform: Increasing jobs and opportunity

Criminal Justice Reform: Rehabilitating and restoring offenders’ lives

  • Maryland: The state currently has 348 licensing and certification restrictions for people with criminal records. A new occupational licensing reform bill wants to make it easier to find work by allowing those with non-violent, non-sexual criminal records to be licensed.
  • Michigan: Jobs are the ultimate criminal justice reform. The Mackinac Center suggests three policy reforms to make it easier for people to find and keep jobs.
  • Tennessee: Thanks to the Fresh Start Act, occupational and professional licensing boards in Tennessee can no longer deny occupational license due to someone’s criminal record, unless the criminal offense is a violent felony or relates directly to an offender’s ability to perform the job. The Beacon Center of Tennessee partnered with the ACLU and other organizations to advocate for the bill.
  • Texas: An overreliance on fines and feeds have created modern day debtors’ prisons in some states. The Texas Public Policy Foundation explains how their state is moving to end this practice.

Government Transparency: Keeping government accountable

Taxes & Budgets: Encouraging fiscal responsibility and sustainability

Welfare Reform: Decreasing government dependence

Pension Reform: Achieving retirement security