NCSL in the News | April 2019

4/1/2019

April 30

Blue states push to remove Trump from 2020 ballot if he doesn't release tax returns
Fox News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, bills have been introduced in 17 states that would keep President Trump off their election ballots in 2020 unless he releases his tax returns to the public. The measures have passed the Senate in four states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois and Washington state.

An early adopter, Arkansas rethinks lawmaker term limits
Washington Post
Term limits for legislators and other officials gained popularity in the 1990s. Fifteen states have adopted term limits for their lawmakers, though only six of those are lifetime caps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
Why, Despite Trying, No State Has Passed a Soda Tax Since 1992
Governing
Similar debates are happening in a number of legislatures this year. Statewide taxes on sugary drinks have been proposed in California, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Vermont bill requires testing for PFAs in drinking water
San Francisco Chronicle
NCSL Information Cited.

Texas House passes bill that reduces penalties for Texans caught with small amounts of marijuana
Texas Tribune
Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Thirteen other states have made possessing small amounts a civil offense rather than a criminal infraction, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Texas, possession of any amount of marijuana is illegal, but some district attorneys in larger Texas counties, including Dallas and Harris, have already pledged not to prosecute first-time, low-level offenders.

GOP Leaders in Immigrant-Heavy States OK with Census Citizenship Question
Arizona Public Media
About half the states have created "complete count" commissions to coordinate grassroots efforts designed to convince people to complete their census forms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Democrat-controlled statehouses endorsing clean energy
Times Herald-Record
Maine is among 11 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that either flipped the governor’s seat from Republican to Democrat or saw Democrats win newfound control over the Legislature in the 2018 elections.

April 29

An early adopter, Arkansas rethinks lawmaker term limits
The Washington Post
Fifteen states have adopted term limits for their lawmakers, though only six of those are lifetime caps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
More states aim to knock air out of festive balloon launches
Washington Post
Nationwide, there’s a growing awareness of the problem, and it has energized legislation in state governments. Bills to limit the intentional release of large numbers of balloons are being aired in legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Maine, said Jennifer Schultz of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Democrat-controlled statehouses endorsing clean energy
Washington Post
Maine is among 11 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that either flipped the governor’s seat from Republican to Democrat or saw Democrats win newfound control over the Legislature in the 2018 elections. All have passed or are weighing legislation that would expand renewables in their states, The Associated Press found.

On Voting Rights for Incarcerated People, Bernie Sanders Opens Space for Debate
The New York Times
Roughly 130 other bills on felon voting rights are winding their way through 30 state legislatures, staff members of the National Conference of State Legislatures said. At least four states have introduced bills this year that would allow incarcerated people to vote.

States weigh bills to require presidential candidates to release taxes
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Legislators in 18 states, including Minnesota, have introduced bills that would require presidential candidates and running mates to make their taxes public, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers Shoot Down Airbnb Tax But Agree To Tax Big Real Estate Investments

Honolulu Civil Beat
Hawaii will join 22 other states and the District of Columbia in removing criminal penalties for small amounts of weed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Legislative session yields fewer filings, fewer laws for state
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
During at least the four regular sessions before this year’s, Arkansas had one of the highest percentages of enacted bills compared with other states, based on information from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Slavery creeps into society, speaker says

Warren Tribune Chronicle
This is in reference to 12 states who, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2018, do not allow convicted felons to vote even after they have been released from prison unless a judge restores this right.
 
Bee crisis: Pollinators endure countless threats in Florida
The Gainesville Sun
In October, the National Conference of State Legislators brought attention to the issue in a report that also called on more state and federal protections for pollinators.
 
N.J. legislators join with other states seeking to knock air out of festive balloon launches
NJ.COM
Bills to limit the intentional release of large numbers of balloons are being aired in legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Maine, said Jennifer Schultz of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

April 26

Measles Cases Soar to New Record in U.S.
U.S. News & World Report
Currently, 17 states allow parents to exempt their school-age children from vaccinations for personal, moral or other beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Michigan Legislature Limits Asset Forfeiture in Drug Cases

U.S. News & World Report
At least 11 states require a criminal conviction to engage in some or all forfeiture proceedings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states fully prohibit civil forfeiture.
 
Long-Shot Effort Renewed to Raise Louisiana Minimum Wage
U.S. News & World Report
Twenty-nine states have set a minimum wage higher than the federally mandated rate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures .
 
Trump changes in immigration policy slowed, but states are cranking out their own new laws
USA Today
In 2018, nine states passed laws making it easier for immigrants to get certified and licensed to work in specific fields, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Thinking of Going Off the Grid After Winning the Lottery? Not So Fast
The New York Times
Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, North Dakota and Ohio allow lottery winners to conceal their identities if the winnings exceed a certain dollar amount, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States Want Trump to Release His Tax Returns. What About Governors?
Governing
A total of 18 states this year, including Trump’s home state of New York, have considered bills that would require such a disclosure in order to appear on the ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The push comes as the administration fights a Democrat-controlled House committee’s subpoena for Trump’s tax and financial records.

Maine could tweak laws describing governor, justices as 'he'
San Francisco Chronicle
NCSL Information Cited.
 
Oregon House approves ban on plastic checkout bags
San Francisco Chronicle
NCSL Information Cited.
 
Lawmakers expand shield for those seeking medical help from prosecution
Tampa Bay Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, drug overdose rates have increasingly escalated over the years as a result of an increase in opioid and opiate use.
 
Bernie Sanders set off a firestorm over prisoners voting, but his facts are straight
PolitiFact
Dylan Lynch, a policy associate from the National Conference on State Legislatures, noted that four other states introduced legislation this year that would allow people to vote while incarcerated for a felony.
 
Legislature expands Good Samaritan law in effort to curb overdose deaths
Citrus City Chronicle
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, drug overdose rates have increasingly escalated over the years as a result of an increase in opioid and opiate use.
 
Bill would put reading initiative ‘on steroids’
The Gadsen Times
Collins’ bill shifts the focus to a specific and very important period of schooling — kindergarten through third grade, with the latter as a benchmark because, as the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website observed, that is when students are expected to be “reading to learn” instead of “learning to read.”
 
Legislature passes bipartisan 'Iowa Hemp Act,' sends to governor
KHQA
Iowa is one of just nine states that doesn't already have a law on the books related to the cultivation of hemp for commercial, research or pilot programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

April 25

State lawmakers move to require tax returns from presidential candidates -- including Trump
CNN
Lawmakers in 18 states across the country, including New York, Illinois and Washington, have introduced bills that would require all presidential candidates and their running mates to release their individual tax returns in order to qualify for the presidential primary ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Fireflies, National Teacher of the Year, scary doll: News from around our 50 states
USA Today
While federal law allows states to opt into standard time permanently – as Hawaii and Arizona have done – the reverse is prohibited and requires congressional action. More than 30 states are considering legislation related to the practice of changing clocks twice a year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Ex-Super Bowl player believes "sensible" cannabis policy coming to NFL by 2021
CBS News
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the total number of state approved medical marijuana/cannabis programs at 34. Ten states and D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Suicide prevention task force holds first hearing at the Capitol
WMTV
The Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention took its first step to address the issue at an informational hearing at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. The task force was created by Speaker Robin Vos in March. Several groups testified and gave recommendations to lawmakers, including members of the Dept. of Health Services, the National Conference of State Legislators, Center for Suicide Awareness, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and more.

Michigan Senate votes to try 17-year-olds as juveniles
Detroit Free Press
In 45 states, the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction is 17, while Missouri's law increasing the age to 17 will take effect in 2021. Michigan, Texas, Georgia and Wisconsin draw the line at age 16, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Should the state cement e-scooter regulations into law? Dallas senator wants to try
The Dallas Morning News
Among other states, Delaware bars the use of motorized scooters on public streets while New Jersey limits their use to people with mobility-related disabilities, the National Conference on State Legislatures says. 
 
Maine bill would move to automatic voter registration
SF GATE
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 17 states have automatic voter registration systems.

Florida House passes bill that restricts ‘sanctuary cities’
The Philadelphia Inquirer
At least 25 states considered legislation dealing with sanctuary policies last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Freshmen state legislators want to overturn law that has held back unions for 60 years
The Raleigh News & Observer
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2015 the average age of all state legislators was 56.

April 24

Nevada Boosts Clean Energy Standards
U.S. News & World Report
Nevada joins seven other states, plus Washington D.C., to set requirements of 50 percent or greater, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Legislature OKs step toward year-round daylight saving
San Francisco Chronicle
More than 30 states are considering legislation related to the practice of changing clocks twice a year, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
A Wisconsin DUI case in which police drew blood from an unconscious man is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"It is not reasonable, practical, or workable to require law enforcement to seek a warrant for a blood test" in such instances, the National Conference of State Legislatures wrote. It said getting warrants could delay medical treatment and risk losing evidence
 
Under New Clean Energy Standards, Nevada Will Require 50% by 2030
Governing
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Nevada now has one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the country, matching New York and New Jersey's policies. 
 
Robots Against Drunk Driving: Can Technology Prevent Automobile Deaths?
Forbes
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia now require convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlock devices, which are effectively in-vehicle breathalyzer tests that will prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds a predetermined threshold.
 
Where Incarcerated People Can Vote In The US Is Extremely Limited
Bustle
Florida drew headlines in November when residents there voted grant ex-felons their right to vote — a move that has generally been in line with where the country is going, according to the National Conference for State Legislatures. 
 
Maine could end religious, philosophical vaccine opt-outs

Raleigh News & Observer
Schools and many health care facilities typically require vaccinations, but Maine is among 17 states that allows some non-medical exemptions for "personal, moral or other beliefs," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Bernie Sanders wants to let felons to vote in prison - here's how it works in Vermont
Burlington Free Press
Vermont and Maine are the only states where people convicted of felonies never lose their right to vote — even while living behind bars — according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

April 23

Measles Cases Hit 626 as US Nears Record Mark
U.S. News & World Report
State lawmakers have been split on efforts aimed at preventing such outbreaks. While some lawmakers have looked to tighten their states' vaccine exemption laws, including legislators in Washington and Maine, others in states such as West Virginia and Mississippi have introduced bills that would expand vaccine exemptions. Currently, 17 states allow parents to exempt their school-age children from vaccinations for personal, moral or other beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Kalan Haywood, 19, Becomes Wisconsin’s Youngest Lawmaker
CBS Minnesota
Haywood, a Democrat, is one of three lawmakers nationwide who were 19 when they were elected in November, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Del. Caleb Hanna, a West Virginia Republican, and Rep. Cassandra Levesque, a New Hampshire Democrat, are the other two.
 
'Glut' of recyclables creating challenges across state
New Castle News
Additional products are expected to be added their list of banned imports by the end of 2019, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tattoo artists and body piercers in Ohio may soon require a state license
WHIO TV 7
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported this year that states are struggling to keep pace with new art forms to make sure the procedures are done in a safe manner.

April 18

Robert Mueller Showed How US Elections Broke in 2016. Here's How to Fix Them
TIME
Traditional post-election audits typically look at a fixed percentage of voting districts or voting machines and compare the paper record of votes to what the results put out by the voting system on Election Night. Washington D.C. and 31 states require this kind of audit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Washington state Senate passes stricter vaccination bill, targeting measles-mumps-rubella shot
Seattle Times
While almost every state allows exemptions from vaccinations for religious reasons, most states do not allow children to opt out for other reasons. Washington is one of just 17 states that allow exemptions from required immunizations for “personal, moral or other beliefs,” according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. All states grant exemptions for medical reasons.

Muskrat loophole, sloth skeleton, Georgia O’Keefe: News from around our 50 states
USA Today
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 38 states considered legislation last year after the federal government eased restrictions in the Farm Bill on commercial production.
 
Tennessee House advances hand-held phone ban while driving
San Francisco Chronicle
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia now prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Alabama bill would let people ship wine directly to homes
Apalachicola Times
The only other states that don’t allow any direct shipment of alcohol to buyers are Oklahoma and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Report: Overall pre-K spending grows, but few states make gains in quality, enrollment
Education Dive
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least nine states have seen bills during this legislative season that aim to attract educators into the field.
 
Hearings: In One Michigan County, Native American Rights are Often Claimed But Rarely Apply
The Chronicle of Social Change
Michigan is one of six states that have enacted their own version of the federal ICWA provisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures – the others are Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.

April 17

Tarrant County, Texas, Floats Idea of Open Voting Locations
Government Technology
Possible drawbacks include confusion, people heading to their once-traditional voting sites that could be closed and a change in the overall voting experience, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Did states with campus-carry laws see enrollment drop?
PolitiFact
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states explicitly ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, while in 23 others, the decision is left up to each college or university. For instance, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., allows campus carry despite the absence of a state law. Tennessee, meanwhile, allows the right for faculty members but not students or the public.

Alabama bill would let people ship wine directly to homes
Apalachicola Times
The only other states that don’t allow any direct shipment of alcohol to buyers are Oklahoma and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lawmakers move to override Baker veto on welfare cap
The Daily News of Newburyport
Massachusetts is one of 16 states — including Arkansas and Mississippi — that cap welfare benefits for families which have additional children while on public assistance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
How One Mother's Battle Is Changing Police Training On Disabilities
WJCT News
At least 27 states and the District of Columbia require officers to be taught how to respond to someone with mental health or substance abuse issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

April 15

How One Mother's Battle Is Changing Police Training On Disabilities
NPR
Some police training addresses intellectual and developmental disabilities within what is known as crisis intervention training, which largely focuses on mental illness and substance abuse. At least 27 states and the District of Columbia require officers to be taught how to respond to someone with mental health or substance abuse issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

As Measles Spreads, Schools Turn Away Unvaccinated Students
The Wall Street Journal
NCSL Information Cited.
 
Why and how 11 Trump states raised the minimum wage, explained
PA Post
Across the country, 24 states have an initiative process that allows voters to place questions on the ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nepotism investigations spur questions for California state workers: where is it happening?
Sacramento Bee
The extent of nepotism in California state government is not well understood, since it typically surfaces only when complaints have been lodged. States have a range of nepotism rules, with some spelling out exactly how closely employees may be related by blood and others leaving the specifics out of state law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nepotism is not illegal in private employment.

Advocates want tax on sugary drinks
The Eagle-Tribune
Four states — Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and more recently Arkansas — have similar taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
In a first, North Dakota lawmakers override Burgum veto
Williston Daily Herald
North Dakota is one of four states to hold a regular legislative session every other year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
How One Mother’s Battle Is Changing Police Training On Disabilities
WILL News
At least 27 states and the District of Columbia require officers to be taught how to respond to someone with mental health or substance abuse issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

April 12

Report: Voter Rolls Are Growing Owing To Automatic Voter Registration
NPR
Today, 11 states and the District of Columbia have AVR and another six are in the process of implementing it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Illinois state lawmakers advance bill pushing Trump to release his tax returns
The Hill
The Illinois statehouse is one of 18 nationwide that is considering similar legislation, the radio station reported, citing data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Illinois bill would require President Trump release tax returns to gain 2020 ballot access
USA TODAY
Besides Illinois, 17 other states by 2017 had introduced bills aiming to require presidential candidates release tax returns, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Here's How 7 States Are Faring in the Battle Over School Funding
Education Week
At the beginning of this year, the National Conference of State Legislatures predicted there was a chance that more than half of states could finally overhaul the antiquated—and, advocates say, often inequitable—formulas that have been dictating their K-12 funding for years.
 
Have a hybrid or electric car? You’d pay more in annual fees under NC proposal
The Fayetteville Observer
North Carolina would become the 9th state to charge hybrid owners a fee in lieu of gas taxes, and like the fee on electric vehicles, it would be the highest, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Arizona becomes 1st to match out-of-state work licenses
KVOA News 4
The share of workers requiring a license to do their job has exploded from about one in 20 to one in four over the past 60 years, according to a study of the issue by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association and the Council of State Governments. The groups are in the midst of a three-year project to make it easier for people to take their skills across state lines.

April 11

Maine Lawmakers Advance Legislation That Could End Some Vaccination Exemptions 
HuffPost
Maine law currently permits parents and guardians to opt children out of school vaccination requirements based on medical needs, as well as religious and philosophical beliefs. Just 16 other states allow both religious and philosophical immunization exemptions in schools, while three states offer no non-medical exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Liberal Hollywood and Conservative Politics Clash in America's New Filmmaking Hub 
Governing
Georgia’s continuing commitment to generous film tax credits stands in contrast to much of the rest of the country. A report from the National Conference of State Legislatures last year described a broad trend of “states re-evaluating or paring back film incentive programs.” Whereas 44 states offered incentives in 2009, that number was down to 31 in 2018, and “several of these states were imposing stiffer requirements for qualifying expenses and imposing new project and annual program caps.” Louisiana, a film incentives pioneer, enacted a $150 million cap on the amount of credits it distributes annually.

Measles Outbreak Causes NYC Health Emergency: 'One of the Most Contagious Viruses Known to Man
CBN News
Though the vaccination is required to attend US schools, the National Conference of State Legislatures says 17 states allow some type of non-medical exemption for "personal, moral or other beliefs."

Literacy bill would hold back third-graders without sufficient reading skills 
Tuscaloosa News
Sixteen states have third grade hold-back laws, including every state surrounding Alabama. Eight others allow retention but don’t require it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Burgum vetoes 'fundamentally flawed' bill stemming from court fight with Legislature 
Jamestown Sun
North Dakota is one of four states to hold a regular legislative session every other year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lawmakers have been reluctant to meet more regularly.

Bills to prohibit cities from banning plastic bags advance
Times Daily
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the only states that have a state-wide ban on the use of single-use plastic bags are California, Hawaii and New York.


Hybrid owners would pay new annual fee under NC bill, and electric car owners would pay more
Raleigh News & Observer
North Carolina would become the 9th state to charge hybrid owners a fee in lieu of gas taxes, and like the fee on electric vehicles, it would be the highest, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures

April 1

Medical marijuana oil bill clears Georgia Senate
Washington Post
Thirty-three states already have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia is one of 13 other states that allow patients to possess a lower potency form of the drug.

New York State to ban plastic bags—here's why
National Geographic
The National Conference of State Legislatures has listed bag legislation here.
 
In Profane Rant, Cuomo Aide Calls 3 Female Lawmakers ‘Idiots’
The New York Times
At least 29 other states prohibit lobbyists or their clients from making campaign contributions during the legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Room for debate on vaccination exemptions, not benefits
Sunbury Daily Item
All 50 states require vaccines for students attending school, allowing for exemptions for medical reasons. A total of 47 states, including Pennsylvania, allow exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against immunizations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania and 16 other states, also allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral and other beliefs.

‘I still to this day watch behind me’ — Utah has tightened its laws on secretly planting vehicle tracking devices. But there’s a loophole for private detectives.
Salt Lake Tribune
A number of states have stepped in to fill this void — a 2016 review by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that seven states generally forbid attaching a tracker to someone’s car without permission and another seven prohibit any use of these devices to monitor someone without consent.
 
Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to toughen school vaccination rules
Meadville Tribune
Only three states — California, Mississippi and West Virginia — don’t allow parents to cite religious objections to get out of immunizing their children, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Governor's push for handheld cellphone ban appears doomed
The Roanoke Times
Sixteen states, including Maryland and West Virginia, bar all motorists from using hand-held cellphones while driving, as has Washington, D.C., according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.