NCSL in the News | December 2014

12/1/2014

Dec. 18

After Canada Parliament Shooting, Renewed Focus Put On Statehouse Security
Huffington Post/Stateline
“After Ottawa, everyone does an immediate assessment of what it means to them,” Terrance Gainer, former sergeant-at-arms for the U.S. Senate and an adviser at Securitas USA. Gainer spoke at a panel on capitol security held at the winter forum of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Washington. “Openness and security, that’s the balance."

Lawmakers seeking powdered alcohol ban before product release
Fox News/Associated Press
Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont already have banned powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota, Ohio, and New York also are considering bans, the organization said.

Gun advocates lobby for carrying on campus
Herald Bulletin
Only Utah specifically singles out colleges and universities as public entities that do not have the authority to ban licensed handguns, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Powdered alcohol bans afoot
Fort Frances Times/Associated Press
Palcohol’s creator, Mark Phillips, said he thought of the idea because it would be easier to carry powder for a drink during a long hike or other outdoor activities. Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Vermont already have banned powdered alcohol, according to the U.S. National Conference of State Legislatures.  Minnesota, Ohio, and New York also are considering bans, the organization said. In a video posted on the company’s website, Phillips dismisses the concerns about under-age drinking, noting the product would be sold only at liquor stores to people 21 and older.

Does the Pennsylvania Legislature have a conflict of interest problem?
Pittsburg Post Gazette
Even before factoring in outside income, lawmakers here make more than the state’s median household income of $52,007. For the final year of the 2013-2014 term, they drew a base salary of about $84,000, second only to the $90,500 in base pay that California lawmakers receive, according to 2014 data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania lawmakers also get up to $159 for each day they spend in Harrisburg, and legislative leaders get still more pay because of extra responsibilities.

Dec. 17

The Fight Over Marijuana Is More Risky In States Than D.C.
The Huffington Post/Associated Press
It's easy for Congress to meddle with the District of Columbia's decision to legalize recreational use of marijuana, but taking on the states is a different matter. Twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Michigan Close to Banning Student-Athlete Unions
ABC News/Associated Press
In June, Ohio enacted a budget that said college athletes are not public employees. It is the only other state to enact legislation related to the employment status of college athletes, said Dustin Weeden, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Indiana senator plans medical marijuana proposal
Herald Online
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 23 states have laws allowing medical marijuana.
 
Doctor has a warning for parents after study shows e-cigarette use is on the rise among teens
WBRC
The new report also points out that because e-cigarettes are relatively new, there's still isn't enough information to determine their long term effects on health. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 41 states prohibit e-cigarette sales to minors, including Alabama.
 
Powdered alcohol? Not so fast, say concerned U.S. lawmakers
CTVANews
Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont already have banned powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota, Ohio, and New York also are considering bans, the organization said.

Dec. 16

E-cigarettes usually aren’t taxed like regular tobacco products. Utah’s governor wants to change that.
Washington Post
While cigarettes are taxed in every state — from a high of $4.35 in New York to $.17 in Missouri — Utah would be among the first to tax e-cigarettes. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only Minnesota and North Carolina currently tax e-cigarettes, but Carpenter said he “wouldn’t surprise me if other states were to look at something similar.”
 
Powdered alcohol? Not so fast, lawmakers say
The State/Associated Press
Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont already have banned powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota, Ohio, and New York also are considering bans, the organization said.
 
Proposed law strengthens social media privacy in the work place
First Coast News/Gannett News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, most states in the U.S. have introduced similar legislation and nearly 20 have passed laws for social media privacy in the work place. 
 
Louisiana’s film industry tax incentives pros and cons
Louisiana Gambit
The scrutiny directed at the North Carolina policy, passed as a 15 percent rebate in 2005 and raised to 25 percent in 2010 in order to compete with incentive programs in Louisiana and Georgia, follows the reduction or elimination of similar initiatives in Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin, among other states. In contrast, California recently passed a measure to increase funding for its motion picture tax credits from $100 million to $330 million over the next five years in an effort to stanch the loss of film and television production. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 39 states and Puerto Rico currently offer such incentives.

Dec. 15

Would A 'Top-2' Primary Election Help Reduce Gridlock?
Bloomberg News
"There's not much relationship between the rules of the primary and the outcomes that the primaries are actually thought to produce," John Sides, a political scientist at George Washington University, said Thursday at a panel on primaries that was sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Cromnibus squeaks by House but not without drama — Drone rule could slip into next year
Politico
Uh-oh — the FAA has promised to release its commercial drone rules by the end of the year but as the clock winds down on 2014, that is looking less and less likely. A top lawyer at the FAA said Thursday that the agency's goal of issuing a proposed rule on small commercial drone use this year is "slipping away." "We still have faint hope that we can get that out this year," Mark Bury, the FAA's assistant chief counsel, said at a National Conference of State Legislatures drone panel.
 
Can a state fill a budget gap with a price on carbon? Wash. may soon know
Energy and Environment
"We've got to raise $5 billion for [education] funding" because of a court order and a separate ballot measure, said Democratic state Rep. Jeff Morris after appearing on a National Conference of State Legislatures panel in Washington, D.C., this week. "So there's a lot of talk that whatever comes from cap and trade or a carbon tax can be used to fill that need."
 
Del. Joe Morrissey hasn’t decided whether or not he will resign from General Assembly
Washington Post
It takes a two-thirds vote to expel a member from a chamber of the Virginia legislature, according to the state constitution. Beyond that, the process is murky. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, one member of the state Senate has been expelled in Virginia’s history. A Republican delegate in 1996 pleaded guilty to indecent exposure. He stayed in the legislature but retired the next year. State Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2001; he apologized on the floor of the chamber. Neither, however, was given active jail time — much less jail time that would coincide with the General Assembly’s two-month annual session.
 
Fees on trucking proposed to meet Tennessee's road needs
Tennessee Times Free Press
"America's transportation infrastructure is at a crossroads," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a research institution and advocate for states at the federal level. "All states face a shortfall between existing transportation revenues and projected needs, with the cumulative nationwide shortfall estimated at $1 trillion through 2015.
 
Montana dress code has female legislators sporting new look: clenched jaws
The Boston Globe/NY Times
About a third of the state legislatures in the country had written rules for how lawmakers, staff members, and visitors were supposed to dress when they were on the state house floor, according to a 2006 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the most recent nationwide look at the issue. Others had unwritten codes for what not to wear.
 
Losing a grip on the American dream
The Sacramento Bee
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that as of August, 23 states and the District of Columbia had enacted minimum wages above the $7.25 federal level, which has been in place since July 2009. The conference also says minimum wages will increase on Jan. 1 in nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Washington – due to indexed increases in their state laws. As of July 1, California raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour; it will climb to $10 in 2016, and in the November election, four red states – Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – approved minimum-wage hikes as well.
 
Minnesota legislators look to weigh in on nation's drone debate
Star Tribune
Some states have been moving rapidly to put some boundaries around the use of drones. All of Minnesota’s neighboring states — with the exception of South Dakota — have imposed some restrictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Across the country, 20 states have passed laws regarding the use of such unmanned aerial vehicles. Last year, Illinois moved to prohibit law enforcement from using drones without first obtaining a warrant.
 
Governor Herbert wants to tax e-cigarette sales in Utah, bring in $10M
Salt Lake Tribune
Only two states — Minnesota and North Carolina — have an e-cigarette tax in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota taxes the liquids at 95 percent of the wholesale price of the liquids. North Carolina imposes a tax of a nickel per milliliter.
 
Shrader: GOP tidal wave swamps state capitols
The Clarion Ledger
Most significantly, Democrats exploded like a 1970s Ford Pinto in gubernatorial races that they should have won in states like Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts and got thumped in state legislative contests by historic margins. According to Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), an analysis of the almost 6,000 state legislative races on the November ballot found that "Republicans ran the table, taking the majority in 11 legislative chambers previously held by Democrats."
 
Senators engage in give and take
NWA Online
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., spoke at the 17th annual Industry Day at the National Guard Association of the United States on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he attended the National Conference of State Legislatures' conference to discuss marketplace fairness.
 
Missouri bill would ban aid for immigrant students
KMBC
Many states apparently don't have laws specifically addressing whether students living in the country illegally can qualify for college scholarships or other aid. Five states have laws allowing the scholarships while 18 have laws offering in-state tuition rates to such students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Indiana lawmakers mostly older, white, college-educated
Indianapolis Business Journal
The average age of all state-level lawmakers is also 57, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Even the NCSL, a member-driven organization, has trouble obtaining demographic information about legislators, policy analyst Morgan Cullen said. (The average age cited by NCSL is based on a sample of 3,700 of the country’s 7,383 state-level lawmakers.)
 
1,000 protest new gun law at Washington state Capitol
Peninsula Daily/Associated Press
Washington has joined six other states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island, plus Washington, D.C. — in requiring universal background checks for all sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
When less is more: Even as wages rise, earning power drops
WV Gazette
As of Jan. 1, 29 states and Washington, D.C. will have minimum wages above the national rate of $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Dec. 12

Regulators ask state lawmakers for leeway to comply with EPA's Clean Power Plan
Environment and Energy Publishing
That's a mistake, according to Bill Becker, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. "The more of these state laws that are passed by some state legislatures, they're setting them up for failure," Becker said after speaking on a Washington, D.C., panel sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State Leaders Confront Full Plate of K-12 Issues
Education Week
In broad terms, the political momentum going into next year's sessions has a clear direction: The GOP will control 30 legislatures, up from 27 before the midterm elections, compared with just 11 for Democrats, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL. (Eight legislatures are split.)

Why Alibaba Offers Hope for Online Sales Taxes
Governing
The "big 7" state and local associations -- the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislators, the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the International City/County Management Association -- and major retail groups are working together to hone their message. They've released a video clip produced by the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which recounts Alibaba's financial history here in the U.S. and its marketing power. The narrator leaves no doubt about what Fairness advocates see as the danger: "Thanks to the online sales tax loophole this Chinese company will decimate our local retailers." The ad is being broadcast on Sunday morning political talk shows and on cable TV news shows, as well as being shown online.

Minnesota legislators look to weigh in on nation's drone debate
Star Tribune
Some states have been moving rapidly to put some boundaries around the use of drones. All of Minnesota’s neighboring states — with the exception of South Dakota — have imposed some restrictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Across the country, 20 states have passed laws regarding the use of such unmanned aerial vehicles. Last year, Illinois moved to prohibit law enforcement from using drones without first obtaining a warrant.

GOP takeover of Minnesota House part of national wave
Minnesota Post
It’s not surprising that legislative victories were overshadowed by GOP gains in Congress this cycle. But the scale of the victory in terms of state legislative seats might be more impressive: Republicans now control 4,100 out of 7,383 seats across the nation, or 56 percent. That's their highest level since 1920, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NSCL), when a Jazz Age economic boom led to historic numbers of Republicans elected to legislatures.

Voter ID proposal approved in Hobbs
Albuqerque Journal 
In recent years, 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lowering the Cost of Crime and Punishment: An Economist's Vision
The Atlantic
At a time when states are still struggling to balance their budgets post-recession and increase funding on education and health care, the U.S. will spend $40 billion on incarceration this year alone, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Dec. 11

North Dakota Gets Front Row Seat On Rail Stresses
Roll Call
State lawmakers visiting Washington for the National Conference of State Legislatures Forum got a briefing Tuesday from a federal rail safety regulator and a representative of the oil industry on the issue of moving crude oil by rail.

Highway funds so low in states that even Republicans seek gas taxes
Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg News
More than 30 states have passed transportation-related fiscal initiatives during the past three years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Yet even some of those still need more. 

Here's how Washington just made it harder for Tom Wolf to close the budget deficit: John L. Micek
National Journal
In 2012-13, states lost an estimated $23.3 billion in tax revenue from online retailers, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures. That's because some online retailers are required to collect state sales tax and some are not.

Regulators ask state lawmakers for leeway to comply with EPA's Clean Power Plan
Environment and Energy
Twenty-seven states have told EPA they don't believe it has legal authority to regulate "beyond the fence line," or require emissions reductions outside power plants, said Paul Bailey, senior vice president of federal affairs and policy for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ClimateWire, Dec. 2). Six of those states have passed legislation limiting state regulators to changes that can be made at coal-fired plants, Bailey said. That's a mistake, according to Bill Becker, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. "The more of these state laws that are passed by some state legislatures, they're setting them up for failure," Becker said after speaking on a Washington, D.C., panel sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Tri-state taxes on most online purchases go uncollected
Sioux City
With the explosive growth in online shopping in recent years, all the missed use payments have been mounting. In 2012, an estimated $181 million in taxes went uncollected in Iowa, $118 million in Nebraska and $61 million in South Dakota, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Delegate signs on as co-patron on hemp production bill
Richmond Times Dispatch
To date, 19 states have put laws on the books authorizing hemp production, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Fla. lawmaker wants guns allowed on campus
Pensacola News Journal
Across the USA, 20 states — California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming — have bans on concealed weapons on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Utah is the only state that prohibits public universities from banning concealed weapons.

Editorial, 12/11: The red tide still rising
Journal Star
The magazine published by the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that Republicans this year matched their previous high point for controlling legislatures, set after the 1920 election when Warren Harding was elected president.

Dec. 10

In the states, the GOP is in its best position since the Great Depression
Washington Post
Republicans control more than 4,100 out of 7,383 seats -- about 56 percent. That's their highest since 1920, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They also control 69 out of the 99 state legislative chambers (including Nebraska, which is technically nonpartisan and has only one chamber, but which is for all intents and purposes under GOP control) -- the highest since at least 1900, which is the oldest data NCSL has.

Highway Funds Fall Low Enough That Republicans Seek Taxes
Bloomberg News
More than 30 states have passed transportation-related fiscal initiatives during the past three years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Yet even some of those still need more.

Politicians Can't Ignore Their Opponents' Perspective
National Journal
But on the other hand, two numbers stand out. Think 86 and 1928. Come January, Democrats will be tied for their lowest number of Senate seats in 86 years, since 1928. In the House, Democrats will be at their lowest level in, yup, 86 years, since 1928. And in a good measure of politics in a more grassroots metric, according to numbers provided by the irreplaceable National Conference of State Legislature's elections guru, Tim Storey, there will be fewer Democratic state legislators in—wait for it—86 years, since 1928. The combination of historic losses for Democrats in President Obama's first midterm election in 2010, and his second midterm, this year, with minimal mitigation in the intervening 2012 election, was little short of catastrophic for the Democratic Party.

Eyeing a Raise, Albany Lawmakers Are Negotiating Reforms With Cuomo
NY Times
New York is one of a small number of states whose legislatures resemble a full-time body, with large staffs and longer sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only California and Pennsylvania pay their legislators a higher base salary.

Ohio deaths renew calls for lookalike guns action
Philadelphia Tribune
National Conference of State Legislatures records show that at least 12 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have laws restricting sales or uses of imitation firearms. New York City and many other municipalities have their own ordinances on lookalike guns. Minnesota passed a state law in 1988 after a series of toy gun cases including a fatal police shooting, but an AP check with state court officials found no record of any prosecutions under the statute.

Man doesn't plead guilty in Utah revenge porn case
Desert News
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 13 states including Utah have passed laws to punish revenge porn in the past two years.

Man won't plead guilty in Utah revenge porn case
Standard Examiner
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 13 states including Utah have passed laws to punish revenge porn in the past two years.

Missouri GOP aims to continue fight against federal health law
St. Louis Post Dispatch
And Missouri is hardly the only state where lawmakers are seeking to block the Affordable Care Act. The National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL, estimates that 21 state legislatures have enacted laws that seek to challenge or opt-out of certain provisions of the health law.

Senate OKs bill extending film subsidies for 7 years
The Detroit News
At least seven states, including neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana, have ended their incentive programs or stopped funding for them in the past few years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 9

Drones, Planes, Oil By Trains, Spending Bill Remains
Roll Call
With many legislatures beginning their sessions in January, state lawmakers will be in Washington to swap ideas and lobby members of Congress as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) holds its 2014 Forum this week. A pressing issue facing state governments is the safety of rail shipment of crude oil and the congestion caused by North Dakota’s oil boom.

Trucking rest rules take spotlight in approps debate – TIGER funding to drop? in 2015 – Oberstar highway bill on tap today
Politico
The National Conference of State Legislatures annual forum includes a Thursday session with DOT Chief Anthony Foxx on the future of federal transportation funding. The forum will also have a Thursday session on state and industry perspectives on drone integration.

Politicians Can't Ignore Their Opponents' Perspective
National Journal
But on the other hand, two numbers stand out. Think 86 and 1928. Come January, Democrats will be tied for their lowest number of Senate seats in 86 years, since 1928. In the House, Democrats will be at their lowest level in, yup, 86 years, since 1928. And in a good measure of politics in a more grassroots metric, according to numbers provided by the irreplaceable National Conference of State Legislature's elections guru, Tim Storey, there will be fewer Democratic state legislators in—wait for it—86 years, since 1928. The combination of historic losses for Democrats in President Obama's first midterm election in 2010, and his second midterm, this year, with minimal mitigation in the intervening 2012 election, was little short of catastrophic for the Democratic Party.

Is the Era of the 'Strong Chief' in Education Fading Away?
Education Weekly
On the other hand, among the 30 states where an incumbent governor was eligible to run for re-election in 2014, governors in 24 states did run again and win, according to information from the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Eyeing a Raise, Albany Lawmakers Are Negotiating Reforms With Cuomo
New York Times
New York is one of a small number of states whose legislatures resemble a full-time body, with large staffs and longer sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only California and Pennsylvania pay their legislators a higher base salary.

Missouri GOP aims to continue fight against federal health law
St. Louis Post Dispatch
And Missouri is hardly the only state where lawmakers are seeking to block the Affordable Care Act. The National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL, estimates that 21 state legislatures have enacted laws that seek to challenge or opt-out of certain provisions of the health law.

Gillibrand visits Food Bank to pack some hunger relief
Star Gazette
The National Conference of State Legislatures said a controversial part of the act was reducing benefits for SNAP, formerly called food stamps, by $2.2 million and using those funds for child nutrition programs.

Rep. Kevin Brooks Takes Part In America’s Back To School Day
The Chattanoogan
As many as 2,000 state legislators from states across the country participated in America's Legislators Back to School Day. Success of a pilot project in six states several years ago reached more than 4,000 students encouraged the National Conference of State Legislatures to begin the program in all 50 states annually.  “America's Legislators Back to School Day provides a unique opportunity for legislators and students to exchange ideas and explore legislative concepts face to face,” says NCSL Executive Director William Pound.  

As state lawmakers seek pay raise, perks continue to pad their salaries
Newsday
By comparison, the median income for a New York household of four is $51,554, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That puts New Yorkers' median household income at 37th among states, while a New York legislator's part-time salary is the third-highest among states, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Toy-gun control? Ohio deaths renew calls for lookalike guns action
WCPO Cincinnati
National Conference of State Legislatures records show that at least 12 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have laws restricting sales or uses of imitation firearms. New York City and many other municipalities have their own ordinances on lookalike guns. Minnesota passed a state law in 1988 after a series of toy gun cases including a fatal police shooting, but an AP check with state court officials found no record of any prosecutions under the statute.

Dec. 8

Ohio Deaths Renew Calls for Lookalike Guns Action
ABC News/Associated Press
National Conference of State Legislatures records show that at least 12 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have laws restricting sales or uses of imitation firearms. New York City and many other municipalities have their own ordinances on lookalike guns. Minnesota passed a state law in 1988 after a series of toy gun cases including a fatal police shooting, but an AP check with state court officials found no record of any prosecutions under the statute.
 
Ted Cruz’s Stand on Online Tax Is Unwelcome on Main St.
NY Times
It is easy enough for someone from the federal government, which does not rely on sales taxes, to oppose the levies, whatever means of commerce they come from. But sales taxes are the biggest source of revenue for the state government in Texas and an important source for local governments. Texas would have collected an additional $1.78 billion in 2012 had all online and catalog sales been taxed, according to the National Conference of Legislatures. Nationwide, the states missed $23.3 billion, by the organization’s estimate.
 
Lewiston law firm to argue case for online retailers before U.S. Supreme Court
Press Herald
The Direct Marketing Association’s battle over jurisdiction in the case has drawn support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and three other organizations that have filed amicus briefs. On the other side of the battle, the state of Colorado has received the support of the National Governors Association and the National Council of State Legislatures.
 
Fast-food workers’ strike adds momentum to movement
San Francisco Gate
A total of 38 states have either recently raised the wage or are considering doing so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Time for a raise?
Rochester Business Journal
The second part of the argument, however, is highly debatable. An analysis from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that only two states nationwide—California and Pennsylvania—pay their lawmakers more than New York does. Many pay much less, including New Hampshire, where lawmakers receive $200 for a two-year term.
 
Implementing medicinal marijuana on Guam
KUAM
"As I committed, I am not going to stop here, I want to make sure we do this for all the right reasons to take care of those who are suffering from debilitating health issues," stated Senator Tina Muna Barnes, the co-author behind the legislative submitted referendum on medicinal marijuana recently approved by voters in the general election. And while she's worked on the issue for more than a year, she's not stopping to ensure its implemented properly locally. "I will be leaving December 8th and I will be headed to the National Conference of State Legislators in Washington D.C. and one of the main topics of discussion is about medical marijuana so I'm happy to tell the people that I will continue this effort moving forward to facilitate the communication going forward as it relates to medical cannabis and what it will do for our island but more importantly to look at all the concerns that the people have out there and to make sure we don't make the same mistakes that other states have," she said.
 
Local communities explore street drinking as economic development
Journal News
Of course, those places offer something Ohio doesn’t and can’t give its people: warm weather that stays past September. But Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — hardly states with Bahamas-like weather — have state laws that allow local governments to create common consumption or entertainment districts, said Heather Morton, program principal of fiscal affairs with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alabama, Colorado and Texas also have such laws, she said.
 
Call for action on realistic guns

Albuquerque Journal/Associated Press
National Conference of State Legislatures records show that at least 12 states, along with Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, have laws restricting sales or uses of imitation firearms.
 
'Secret room' spending shows need for recall elections
New Zealand Herald
Recall elections were common in the United States, where the National Council of State Legislatures said about three-quarters of recall elections were at the city council or school board level. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California in 2003 thanks to a recall election. 

Dec. 5

Film incentive extension passes; bill returns to Senate
The Detroit News
At least seven states, including neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana, have ended their incentive programs or stopped funding for them in the past few years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
If Mary Landrieu loses, no women will hold statewide elected office in Louisiana
The Times Picayune
Still, women are achieving prominence in other very conservative states. There are five female governors in America and three are Republicans. Of the 73 women in elected state government executive positions in 2013, 37 were Democrats and 36 were Republicans, according to the Center for Women and Politics at Rutgers.
 
Internet sales tax attractive to Gov.-elect Wolf
The Herald
The Department of Revenue estimated that the state missed out on $256 million in online sales taxes in 2012. But, the National Conference of State Legislatures, citing a University of Tennessee study, found that Pennsylvania could be missing out on almost $600 million in sales taxes from transactions involving retailers outside the state.
 
Fast-food workers’ strike adds momentum to movement
San Francisco Chronicle
A total of 38 states have either recently raised the wage or are considering doing so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Nash column: All signs are positive on the economy
Portage Daily
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country lost 8 million jobs between 2008 and 2009. It’s gained 10 million since — 2 million more than were lost during the Bush Administration. In manufacturing alone, we’ve gained almost a million jobs. And on Nov. 21, the National Conference of State Legislatures published a report stating, “Compared to a year ago, unemployment is down in 42 states.”
 
Gun Laws By State: How 2nd Amendment Impacts Lawmakers Outside Washington
Newsmax.com
Last month, Washington state voters passed Initiative 594, which requires background checks on all sales and transfers, including private transactions, with few exceptions. With the law, Washington became the seventh state — after California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island — to require universal background checks for sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.     
 
How pay reflects power on Beacon Hill
Mass Common Wealth
Greg Sullivan, the research director at the Pioneer Institute, said in an analysis released Thursday that Massachusetts does not have a full-time legislature. He said the National Conference of State Legislatures describes Massachusetts as one of five “full-time lite” legislatures. In that group, the current pay for the Bay State’s presiding legislative officers trails only Illinois.

Dec. 4

Retailers Join Local And State Governments To Press Congress For Marketplace Fairness
Yahoo News
President-elect of The National Conference of State Legislatures, State Senator Curt Bramble from Provo, UT explained that local governments cannot wait any longer and the time to pass this legislation is now.  "Some in Congress have said that the legislation needs further review, however, MFA and similar efairness legislation has been introduced since 2002 and has received over 12 years of review, debate, and committee hearings. The time for review is over; it is time to act.  The House of Representatives needs to move efairness legislation in this Congress."
 
After Republican wins, right to work bills on the agenda
Washington Post
Twenty-four states have right to work legislation on the books. The debate tends to pop up in waves, said Jeanne Mejeur, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republicans began pushing the first versions in the 1940s and 1950s, when 17 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, passed bills. Michigan and Indiana were the two most recent states to pass right to work laws, in 2012. Right to work “has been an area of renewed interest in the last few years,” Mejeur said.
 
Pre-K funding gets Republican backing in North Dakota
Washington Post
Thirty states expanded pre-K funding between the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. And 13 of 19 states expanded pre-K appropriations by nearly $275 million between the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, according to a recently published National Conference of State Legislatures survey.
 
Mayor Stanton pushes for online sales tax legislation
AZ Central
Groups supporting the legislation include the National Council of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Retail Federation.
 
Bill seeks carbon monoxide detectors in all Maine homes
Portland Press Herald
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have carbon monoxide detector requirements, which apply to everything from buildings with fossil fuel-burning equipment to all hotels, schools and single-family homes.
 
Louisville fire officials pursuing drone
WDRB-Louisville
Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee are among the states that have passed drone-related laws, according to National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Spurned LA Lover Is the First Convicted Under California's Revenge Porn Laws
Vice News
Only New Jersey previously had laws protecting people from the distribution of their explicit photos, but they were passed as part of broader cyber bullying legislation, rather than to specifically address revenge porn. Since 2013, 13 states have enacted similar revenge porn laws, according to the National Conference for State Legislatures.
 
Welfare drug testing pilot program approved by Michigan House
MichiganLive.com
At least 11 states have adopted welfare drug testing laws since 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some apply to all applicants but others include specific language, like the Michigan proposal, requiring testing only in the case of reasonable suspicion.
 
Marketplace Counselors Overcoming Obstacles
Lincoln County Leader
Furthermore, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, even the states that do regulate health insurance rates in this fashion don’t require their departments of insurance to “specify dollar amounts or percentage changes” in those rates.

Dec. 3

Utah political leaders push Congress to pass Internet sales tax bill
Desert News
Organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislatures, National League of Cities and National Governors Association believe it's beyond enough. Bramble is the National Conference of State Legislatures president-elect, while Becker was elected president of the National League of Cities last month. Gov. Gary Herbert will become National Governors Association chairman next year. Becker, Bramble and other leaders are scheduled to rally Wednesday on Capitol Hill for congressional action on the issue.
 
Bloomberg gun-control group targets more than 12 states
USA Today
On Thursday, meanwhile, a voter initiative that expanded background checks in Washington state will take effect — joining six other states and the District of Columbia that require background checks on all firearm sales, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Advocates push for Virginia minimum wage increase
Washington Post
On Election Day this year, a majority of voters in all four states that had binding ballot measures — Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska — supported increases. Minimum wages will go up in nine states starting next year because they are indexed to inflation, and 10 other states enacted minimum wage increases in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Delegate Don Perdue to serve as overall vice chair of standing committees
WV State Journal
The National Conference of State Legislatures has chosen Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, to serve as overall vice chair of standing committees, which oversees and coordinates the policymaking of the entire organization. “The NCSL standing committees constitute the focal point for the organization's invaluable assistance to legislatures on state issues and its formidable and successful representation of state interests in Washington D.C.,” said NCSL President Debbie Smith.
 
We Need to Talk About Sex
The Highlander
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that only 19 states actually call for medically accurate sex education — not to mention the definition of “medically accurate” varies from state to state.
 
'Revenge porn' sends Calif. man to jail
Redding Record
In most states, there is still little recourse. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states have revenge porn laws. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., has pushed for a federal law.

Dec. 2

Message to Lawmakers: Say What You Really Think
Governing
Want to convince constituents about the wisdom of your position on a controversial issue? Let them know about it. Deb Peters takes a similar approach. As the chair of the South Dakota Senate Appropriations Committee, she’s had to impose some unpopular spending cuts. She explains her reasoning through all possible channels, holding weekly news conferences during sessions, serving on local boards and responding to notes left on her website. “As long as you consistently communicate and you’re open, people understand why you’re making the decision you’re making,” she says. That’s what Curt Bramble found. The Utah senator helped sponsor an immigration bill a few years back that allowed undocumented workers to earn permits over time. “It was highly controversial, as you can imagine, in a highly Republican district,” he recalls. In fact, about two-thirds of his constituents favored a so-called enforcement-only approach that would have been purely punitive. His own party, at both the state and county levels, passed resolutions calling for his bill’s repeal.
 
How the Deep South turned red, animated
Washington Post
Using data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, we created this animation to illustrate how control of the state house, governorships and seats in the U.S. Senate has evolved in the states of the Deep South since 1978. (The number of seats in the House of Representatives has similarly become more red, of course.)
 
EPA to hear common concerns from states on power plant emissions proposal
Environment and Energy Publishing
"As a result, those states would have more in the range of six months to develop an implementation plan," said early comments from the National Conference of State Legislatures. It only asked EPA for one specific thing: to make it simpler for states to apply for deadline extensions.
 
New Jersey Senate votes to expand early voting
The Record
Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C. allow early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Be wary of moving elections
Witchita Eagle
Another caution came from Wendy Underhill, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures – that voters drawn by the big fall races who don’t know much about the small local races may nevertheless vote in them, “which means their uninformed votes dilute the votes of people who are more informed.”
 
State’s new gun background check law to take effect; impact remains a question mark
The Associated Press/Peninsula Daily News
When the new law takes effect Thursday, Washington will join six other states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island, plus Washington, D.C., — that currently require universal background checks for all sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Explainer: Drop in Casino Tax Revenue Reflects Industry’s Decline in New Jersey
NJ Spotlight
So what is New Jersey’s overall casino-tax rate, and how does it compare to other states? New Jersey’s 9.25 percent effective-tax-rate on casino earnings last year was the second lowest in the country after Nevada’s maximum of 7.75 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tactical reevaluation: Black, Hispanic communities lean more Republican in midterms
The Columbia Chronicle
Republicans swept the midterm elections across the country in state politics. Three states, including Illinois, saw a Republican take the place of a Democratic governor. This is not surprising in historical context—every sitting U.S. president has seen a shift in the dominating party during midterm elections, according to Morgan Cullen, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s only two times in American history when that’s not the case,” Cullen said. “Part of it was low voter turnout. I think those are the two main reasons you saw a Republican night a couple of weeks ago.” Cullen said it remains to be seen if the midterm election will contribute to bipartisan legislative moves. However, more state legislatures are divided now than before the midterm elections, he said—18 states have divided legislatures and seven have split chambers. Before the election, there were only three, Cullen said. “Is it a step toward bipartisanship?” Cullen said. “It’s going to have to be.”
 
Government seeks to punish hackers’ victims
The Tampa Tribune
In our analysis of data assembled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 360 Advanced, a CPA and security firm, concluded that with ever-increasing numbers of data breaches, lawmakers are determined to hold accountable firms managing personal information.
 
Lawmakers are hot for a pay raise, but have they earned one?
Albany Times Union
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks salaries, groups legislatures into various categories. New York is "green," meaning it's large, well-staffed and relatively costly. Its counterparts are Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, California, Pennsylvania and Michigan. For lawmakers in these and other states, the job is really a full-time one, regardless of how many days they are in session, said Morgan Cullen, an NCSL policy analyst.
 
Idaho Legislature’s number of permanent staffers far below national average

The Spokesman Review
A 2009 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that the mean for permanent state legislative staffers, nationwide, was 551. Idaho’s total: 81. Highest was Pennsylvania with 2,918; New York was second with 2,676; and Texas third with 2,090. The three lowest states: South Dakota, 55; Wyoming, 39; and North Dakota, 32.

Dec. 1

Experts: No easy options if court strikes down ACA
USA Today
The political obstacles are even bigger. In six states, even if a governor wanted to establish an exchange for his or her state, the state Legislature has specifically taken that authority away, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia became the seventh state earlier this year.
 
Inslee pushes incentives for electric cars
The Seattle Times/Associated Press
At least 37 states and the District of Columbia have incentives, such as allowing HOV access, offering parking and financial incentives or utility-rate breaks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Mich. film subsidies star in legislative drama
The Detroit News
By contrast, at least seven states — including neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana — have ended their incentive programs or stopped funding for them in the past few years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New gun background check law to take effect
News Tribune
When the new law takes effect Thursday, Washington will join six other states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island — plus Washington, D.C., that currently require universal background checks for all sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
County’s state officials say they’ll give raises to charitable organizations
Lancaster Online
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Pennsylvania state legislators have the second-highest average salary in the nation.
 
Alabama Republicans electing more candidates but not more women
AL.com
Most southern states have at least twice as many Republican women in their Legislatures as Alabama, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A few have similar numbers.
 
GOP Leaders Divided on Immigration Crackdown in Texas
The Texas Tribune
Uncle Sam requires federal contractors to use E-Verify on their employees, and at least 20 states impose it on various sectors of the economy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, a Bloomberg Government study of several states with policies impacting the private sector provided evidence that E-Verify has been effective in deterring the hiring of undocumented workers.
 
N.Y. legislators plan talks on pay raise
The Journal - Gannett
California pays its state lawmakers $90,526 a year while Pennsylvania pays $84,012. New York ranks third, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. New York is also the third most populous state. New York, unlike some states, meets as a legislature for six months each year. The Texas legislature, for example, meets only every other year. New York lawmakers say they have constituent work in their district that makes it a full-time job.
 
Columbia considering partial ban on plastic bags
Daily Journal
Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first statewide ban on plastic bags. However, opponents are collecting signatures in an effort to force a referendum vote on the ban on the November 2016 ballot. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, bans also are pending in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico. Additionally, every county in Hawaii and a number of cities in other states have bans in place.
 
Norelli caps 18 years in the N.H. House
Sea Coast Online
She also cited the level of responsibility and the time commitment not only of being a representative and speaker but of being an officer in the National Conference of State Legislatures. She is finishing up a term as immediate past president, preceded by a term as president. 
 
Establishing a Parent Trigger by Lawsuit
The Heartland Inst.
In 2010, a small nonprofit organization promoted, and succeeded in helping pass, the first "parent trigger" law in California. The law created a petition process through which parents whose children attend a substandard school could change the school’s management. Since then, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL), parent trigger laws have been filed in 25 states. Seven of these states have passed some version of a parent trigger.