Wastewater Infrastructure: Overview, Funding, and Legislative Developments

Wastewater Infrastructure: Overview, Funding, and Legislative Developments. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jonathan L. Ramseur. May 22, 2018

The collection and treatment of wastewaterwastewater remains among the most important public health interventions in human history and has contributed to a significant decrease in waterborne diseases during the past century. Nevertheless, waste discharges from municipal sewage treatment plants into rivers and streams, lakes, and estuaries and coastal waters remain a significant source of water quality problems throughout the country.  The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes performance levels to be attained by municipal sewage treatment plants in order to prevent the discharge of harmful wastes into surface waters. The act also provides financial assistance so that communities can construct treatment facilities and related equipment to comply with the law. Although approximately $104 billion in CWA assistance has been provided since 1972, funding needs for wastewater infrastructure remain high. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the nation’s wastewater treatment facilities will need $271 billion over the next 20 years to meet the CWA’s water quality objectives.

[PDF format, 19 pages].

Federal Requirements on Private Health Insurance Plans

Federal Requirements on Private Health Insurance Plans. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Annie L. Mach, Bernadette Fernandez. May 1, 2018

 A majority of Americans have health insurance from the private health insurance (PHI) market. Health plans sold in the PHI market must comply with requirements at both the state and federal levels; such requirements often are referred to as market reforms.  The first part of this report provides background information about health plans sold in the PHI market and briefly describes state and federal regulation of private plans. The second part summarizes selected federal requirements and indicates each requirement’s applicability to one or more of the following types of private health plans: individual, small group, large group, and self-insured. The selected market reforms are grouped under the following categories: obtaining coverage, keeping coverage, developing health insurance premiums, covered services, cost-sharing limits, consumer assistance and other patient protections, and plan requirements related to health care providers. Many of the federal requirements described in this report were established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended); however, some were established under federal laws enacted prior to the ACA.

 [PDF format, 26 pages].

Addressing Emerging Trends to Support the Future of Criminal Justice: Findings of the Criminal Justice Technology Forecasting Group

Addressing Emerging Trends to Support the Future of Criminal Justice: Findings of the Criminal Justice Technology Forecasting Group. RAND Corporation. John S. Hollywood et al. March 19, 2018

 The Criminal Justice Technology Forecasting Group deliberated on the effects that major societal trends could have on criminal justice in the near future and identified potential responses. This report captures the results of the group’s meetings. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 68 pages].

Tax and Development: New Frontiers of Research and Action

Tax and Development: New Frontiers of Research and Action. Center for Global Development. Maya Forstater. February 8, 2018.

 This paper looks at estimates of the potential gains from taxing across borders, alongside largely domestic measures such as property tax, personal income tax, VAT, and tobacco taxes. It finds that while action on cross-border taxation could yield additional tax take in the region of one percent of GDP, in many countries measures targeting the domestic tax base might deliver something in the region of nine percent. The main enabler is political commitment. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 51 pages].

Can Regular Migration Channels Reduce Irregular Migration? Lessons for Europe from the United States

Can Regular Migration Channels Reduce Irregular Migration? Lessons for Europe from the United States. Center for Global Development.  Michael Clemens and Kate Gough. February 14, 2018

 Lawful migration channels are often suggested as a tool to reduce unlawful migration, but often without much evidence that they work. There is evidence that lawful channels for migration between Mexico and the United States have suppressed unlawful migration, but only when combined with robust enforcement efforts. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 6 pages].

Roots of Prosperity: The Economics and Finance of Restoring Land

Roots of Prosperity: The Economics and Finance of Restoring Land.  World Resources Institute.  Helen Ding et al. December 2017

 This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the benefits and costs of restoring forests and landscapes in countries around the world, demonstrating how smart policies and innovative financing can help governments meet their restoration targets. The authors find that finance, both public and private, for restoration is inadequate for seven reasons, and offers solutions to these financial barriers.

The publication also outlines the main steps involved in carrying out economic analyses, bringing to light the full value of ecosystem services and social benefits as well as the costs of degradation. These insights can help governments to develop policy instruments and financing mechanisms that promote restoration on the ground. They can also help stakeholders incorporate environmental and social benefits into financing decisions. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 80 pages, 3.2 MB].

 

New Media

Beset by Online Surveillance and Content Filtering, Netizens Fight On. Reporters Without Borders. March 12, 2012.

The last reprot highlighted the fact that the Internet and social networks have been conclusively established as tools for protest, campaigning and circulating information, and as vehicles for freedom. In the months that followed, repressive regimes responded with tougher measures to what they regarded as unacceptable attempts to “destabilize” their authority. In 2011, netizens were at the heart of the political changes in the Arab world and elsewhere. They tried to resist the imposition of a news and information blackout but paid a high price.At the same time, supposedly democratic countries continued to set a bad example by yielding to the temptation to prioritize security over other concerns and by adopting disproportionate measures to protect copyright. Internet users in “free” countries have learned to react in order to protect what they have won. More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue, according to the report.

State of the New Media 2012. Project for Excellence in Journalism. March 19, 2012.

Mobile devices are adding to people’s consumption of news, strengthening the lure of traditional news brands and providing a boost to long-form journalism, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s ninth annual report on the health of American journalism. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

U.S. Elections: Opinion Polls

The Gender Gap: Three Decades Old, as Wide as Ever. Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. March 29, 2012.

According to the Pew Research Center’s most recent national survey, conducted March 7-11,  Barack Obama’s advantages among women voters over his GOP rivals are striking, with women favoring Obama over Mitt Romney by 20 points and over Rick Santorum by 26 points. When it comes to the political parties, 51% of women identify with the Democrats compared to 42% of men. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 

GOP Race Is Rallying Democrats: Campaign Continues to Hurt GOP More Than It Helps. Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. March 5, 2012.

The Republican nomination battle is rallying Democrats behind Barack Obama. Currently, 49% of Democrats say that as they learn more about the GOP candidates, their impression of Obama is getting better. Just 36% of Democrats expressed this view in December, before the Republican primaries began. [Note: contains copyrighted material].