NCSL in the News | December 2018

12/1/2018

Dec. 28

15 top Register investigations of 2018: Holding the powerful accountable, pointing to solutions
Des Moines Register
Clayworth’s three-part investigation also reported that legislators had made piecemeal policy fixes intended to combat sexual harassment, but some aspects fell short of standards set by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Two bills would update state’s election laws
The Edmond Sun
A growing number of states, though, have eliminated the option from their ballots, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 27

Thailand approves medical marijuana
CNN International
In the Unites States, medical marijuana is legal in 30 states, though the laws governing what's permitted vary from state to state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Future of Texas film incentive program will likely be debated again
KXAN.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2009, there were 44 states with some form if film and television production incentives. As of 2018, only 31 states, including Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. offer some form of film incentive programs.  

Meet the seven new women — five Democrats and two Republicans — who will join the Utah Legislature in January
Salt Lake Tribune
At no time in the state’s history have more women held legislative seats. Of Utah’s 104 lawmakers, 25 will be women. That’s 24 percent. And yet Utah is still below the national average, which is 28.3 percent nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Not so fast on transition from legislator to lobbyist
Seattle Times
Most states already mandate a one- or two-year break between when someone serves as a state legislator and when they can begin lobbying their former colleagues. In 26 states, legislators can’t work as lobbyists for a year after they leave state service, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Groups help children enjoy play time, hugs and a shared meal with incarcerated parents
The Nevada Independent
Across the U.S., an estimated 2.7 million children have parents who are behind bars, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Research has shown that inmates who maintain close contact with family members while incarcerated have a reduced risk of returning to prison after their release, because family ties serve as both a support system and a suppressant of bad behavior.

Disconnected: Internet access remains elusive in much of rural America and the nation's inner cities
Daily Mail
At least 28 states, including Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee and Utah have passed laws seeking to expand broadband internet to their more far-flung regions that currently lack access, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 20

Nevada makes history with first female-majority legislature
BBC News
But while the number of women in state legislatures has more than quintupled since the 1970s, women account for only around 28% of state lawmakers nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nevada Becomes First State With Women-Majority Legislature
New York Magazine
Though no other state had a dramatic breakthrough like Nevada’s, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports broad-based increases in the number of women elected as lawmakers this year.

North Dakota lawmakers to mull Sunday shopping ban repeal
Miami Daily Herald
The National Conference of State Legislatures says North Dakota is the only state that prohibits shopping on Sunday morning.

Airbnb making new push for smoke, carbon monoxide alarms
Chicago Daily Herald
Almost all U.S. hotel rooms have had smoke detectors since 1990. But only 14 states require hotels to install carbon monoxide detectors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Gov. John Bel Edwards: Ethics Board should reconsider allowing campaign funds for child care
The Advocate
Only Oklahoma and Wyoming have smaller shares of female lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2018 figures.

Wolf calls for ‘serious’ look at legalizing recreational pot
The State
Now, 10 states and the District of Columbia have approved recreational marijuana, including Michigan and Vermont this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

2 bills would update state's election laws
Muskeogee Daily Phoenix
A growing number of states, though, have eliminated the option from their ballots, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Missouri Governor Wants Law for Online Sales Tax Collections
KBIA
At least 29 other states have already implemented laws to collect sales taxes from remote retailers or will be doing so in January or February, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 19

Nevada makes U.S. history with first-ever female-majority state Legislature
Reno Gazette Journal
Nevada was already poised to have the nation’s largest number of female state legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nevada becomes first state with majority female Legislature 
The Nevada Independent
Nationwide, women hold about 25 percent of state legislative seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ most recent data.

Governor wants law for online sales tax collections
Jefferson City News Tribune
At least 29 other states have already implemented laws to collect sales taxes from remote retailers or will be doing so in January or February, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Proposed new law targets people holding cell phones while driving
Florida Phoenix
47 states currently impose bans of some sort on motorists for texting while driving, but according to the National Conference of State Legislators, only three states consider it a secondary offense.

Missouri governor wants law for online sales tax collections
The News Tribune
At least 29 other states have already implemented laws to collect sales taxes from remote retailers or will be doing so in January or February, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 18

Boston's Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Takes Effect
The Weather Channel
California voters approved a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags in 2016. Hawaii's most populous counties have banned non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout, creating a de facto statewide ban, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

States Race to Catch Up With Electric Scooters
The Wall Street Journal
That is changing. At least 15 state legislatures are likely to take up scooter bills in coming legislative sessions, said Douglas Shinkle, transportation program director at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.

Gov. Abbott says Texas will prioritize Obamacare replacement as health care lawsuit continues
Dallas News
In 2011, then-Gov. Rick Perry signed a law that would allow Texas to enter into compacts with other states to ask for more control over their health care rules and laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Historic number of women set to serve in New Mexico Legislature in 2019
La Cruces Sun News
New Mexico's proportion of women in the Legislature is higher than the national average, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 17

When staying healthy depends on whether you can get a ride
PBS NewsHour
Across the country, but especially in rural regions, having a reliable vehicle can make or break your health; according to a 2015 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, an estimated 3.6 million Americans forgo medical care because they lack transportation.

Here's how the pay raise for state legislators, officials would work
Newsday
Also not mentioned by the New York compensation committee was the fact that California legislators took cuts in salary and staff during the recession so that their current compensation is nearly 18 percent less than before it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

School districts struggle with rules for administering medical marijuana
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Typically in states that allow medical marijuana, a designated caregiver or school employee may administer the prescribed dosage, said Karmen Hanson, behavioral health program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Women climb to historic levels in Legislature
Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico’s proportion of women in the Legislature is higher than the national average, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Congress has legalized hemp. Here's what the future might hold in U.S., Pennsylvania
Allentown Morning Call
Since then, almost 40 states have created hemp cultivation and production programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Advocates fume as new fee on clean fuel vehicles in Utah kicks in Jan. 1
Desert News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states are assessing fees on hybrid and/or electric vehicles with levels ranging from $50-$200. 

Dec. 14

He Didn’t Get to Vote in His Race. It Tied, Then He Lost by a Roll of the Dice.
The New York Times
In 27 states, tied votes in elections are decided by similarly random methods, according to a roundup published in January by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group. 

2 men face trafficking felony for moving alleged hemp plants
Miami Herald
Idaho is one of only a few remaining states where industrial hemp is illegal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 41 states have passed legislation legalizing the plant, according to the conference. All states bordering Idaho have legalized hemp.

Snyder signs bills to ease shift to 5G wireless technology
Grand Haven Tribune
Michigan is the 21st state to enact laws that streamline regulations to facilitate the deployment of fifth-generation, or 5G , small cells, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ohio lawmakers vote to give themselves a pay raise
Springfield News Sun
Currently, Ohio lawmakers are the sixth highest paid state legislators in the country, according to a 2016 survey conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Democratic leaders announce legislative priorities for 2019
The Weirton Daily Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states use a non-partisan redistricting commission when drawing lines. 

Dec. 13

Federal farm bill legalizes hemp, assists dairy farmers, protects maple industry
vtdigger.org
The farm bill is expected to cost $867 billion as it sets agriculture subsidies for the next five years, with the majority being spent on programs that guarantee insurance for farmers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the program that feeds about 42 million Americans each year, with an average cost of $1.86 per meal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Number of women in North Dakota Legislature follows national upward trend
Grand Forks Herald
When the 2019 session starts, 28 percent of the country’s 7,383 state legislators will be women, up from 25 percent in 2017, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Two men face trafficking felony for transporting alleged hemp plant
Idaho State Journal
Idaho is one of only a few remaining states where industrial hemp is illegal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

U.S. Farm Bill includes industrial hemp legalization pushed by Oregon lawmakers
The Register Guard
At least 38 states have since enacted or considered industrial hemp legislation, including Oregon, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Snyder signs bills to ease shift to 5G wireless technology
The State
Michigan is the 21st state to enact laws that streamline regulations to facilitate the deployment of fifth-generation, or 5G , small cells, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Governor Rickets open to Stand Your Ground bill in Nebraska
KMTV 3
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 25 states have laws that do not require you to retreat.

Councilors Move To Change City Business Tax
WAMC
According to the resolution considered by Burlington officials, a National Conference for State Legislatures task force reported in 2016 that type of tax constrains investment and expansion of business.

Dec. 12

House Democrats prepare to push for $15 federal minimum wage, setting up clash with big business
CNBC
(NCSL Info. Cited)

Assemblyman McDonald selected to opioid policy fellows program
Troy Record
New York State Assemblyman John McDonald III has been selected as a 2019 Opioid Policy Fellow for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 
Two men face trafficking felony for transporting alleged hemp plants through Ada
Idaho Press Tribune
Idaho is one of only a few remaining states where industrial hemp is illegal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 41 states have passed legislation legalizing the plant, according to the conference. 
 
More jobs in southern Illinois despite high unemployment
WSIL TV
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 155,000 jobs were created in November. 
 
West Virginia U.S. Attorney to Hold Invitation Only Marijuana Symposium
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico allow marijuana for medical use. 

Dec. 11

Why Can't Trump Find a Chief of Staff? Ask His Family
New York Times
How all those election costs are handled varies between states. (This report by the National Conference of State Legislatures offers a really good primer on the different laws.)

Medical Pot Sales Near $100 Million in Maryland
U.S. News & World Report
As of November, 33 states and the District of Columbia have approved public medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Expansion of early voting in Oklahoma meets some resistance
Enid News & Eagle
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the average early-voting period for the states that allow it is 19 days.
 
Top Kentucky court strikes down law on medical review panels
American Medical Association
More than a dozen states now have laws that require some form of a medical review panel that must give an OK before a medical liability lawsuit is filed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 10

After year of headaches, brain injury, Omaha woman warns others of carbon monoxide dangers
Omaha World-Herald
A similar Iowa law took effect this summer. The two states are among 38 that require the detectors in private dwellings, either by law or through regulations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sixteen states require them in hotels and motels.

Lame-Duck Power Grabs Escalate Unsettling Trend
The Pew Charitable Trusts 
State lawmakers from across the country, gathered at an annual meeting in Washington, D.C., of the National Conference of State Legislatures, are watching carefully. “On the surface it sounds like politics, not policy,” said Oregon state Sen. Bill Hansell, a Republican. “If they are changing the rules because a person is in a different party, that would be a situation where I would question the validity of it.” Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat, said the moves undermine public confidence in government. “It’s just crazy,” she said. “This is a valid legislative conversation that should be had during a regular session — not a lame-duck one." 

Why states are scrambling to legalize sports betting
The Bond Buyer
The National Conference of State Legislators hosted a panel of gambling policy experts on Thursday to discuss the opportunities and pitfalls states face if they decide to legalize sports betting as a new source of tax revenue from what is estimated to be a roughly $150 billion industry.

Senator Jim Davis selected to be Opioid Policy Fellow
The Mountaineer
The office of NC State Senator Jim Davis (R-Macon) announced on Tuesday that Davis has been selected to be a National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Opioid Policy Fellow for 2019.

More State Issues The Blue Wave May Shape In 2019
Law 360
NCSL Information Cited.
 
States Must Couple Nexus And Marketplace Laws, Panel Says
Law 360
NCSL Information Cited. 
 
States Have Far To Go On Federal Tax Conformity
Law 360
NCSL Information Cited.

CONGRESS RACES TO PASS A SELF-DRIVING CAR LAW BY YEAR'S END
WIRED
At least 36 states have either enacted legislation or executive orders governing self-driving vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 7

New York State Lawmakers Set to Receive First Pay Raise in Two Decades
Wall Street Journal
The salary rates would be the highest in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and research compiled by the committee.

State panel to decide whether to raise salaries of Albany officials
Newsday
New York lawmakers’ base pay is now the third-highest in the nation, behind California’s $107,241 with a $192 per diem and Pennsylvania’s $87,180 base pay with a $183 per diem, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

CONGRESS RACES TO PASS A SELF-DRIVING CAR LAW BY YEAR'S END
WIRED
At least 36 states have either enacted legislation or executive orders governing self-driving vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Burgum budget would build new State Hospital
Jamestown Sun
Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown, missed the governor’s budget address to represent North Dakota at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C.

Mississippi parents who get child support through DHS will soon see a fee increase
SunHerald
The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 began allowing states to collect an annual $25 fee in 2007, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rosen attends special training
Fairmont Sentinel
The conference took place Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. It co-hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and Harvard University’s Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

New York City Police Department unveils new drone system
News 8000
State lawmakers around the country are weighing benefits of the technology, the economic impact and privacy concerns, among other issues, as they debate how and if the unmanned aircraft systems will be regulated, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Why states might start taxing opioids
Axios
Here's a list of state opioid tax legislation that was introduced in 2018, as compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 6

Calif. Bill Would Pry Tax Returns From Presidential Hopefuls
Law 360
NCSL Information Cited.

Claims over a 'small cell technology' economic boom partly on track
PolitiFact
Berkeley Teate, public affairs specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures, gave us the group's latest information on how small cell technology works.

Sen. Rosen completes negotiations seminar at Harvard U.
Mankato Free Press
The three-day conference, which concluded Saturday, was co-hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and featured both Republican and Democratic lawmakers from across the country.

Burgum budget would build new State Hospital
Jamestown Sun
Sen. John Grabinger, D-Jamestown, missed the governor’s budget address to represent North Dakota at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C.

Mississippi parents who get child support through DHS will soon see a fee increase
Sun Herald
The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 began allowing states to collect an annual $25 fee in 2007, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

19-Year-Old Election Winner Cassandra Levesque Is Ready to Shake Up New Hampshire's State Legislature, the Oldest in the Country
Teen Vogue
As of 2015, New Hampshire is the oldest state legislature in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 5

El Paso County voters will cast paper ballots by 2019 election

El Paso Times
Wendy Underhill, director of elections at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said it's a national trend for states and counties to move toward voting systems with a paper ballot component.

Tougher seat belt laws could save more Arizona lives
Tuscon Sentinel
Arizona is one of a handful of states with both secondary enforcement and back-seat exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

‘Ballot Harvesting’ Helped Flip Seven US House Races in California After Election Day
The Epoch Times
At least 16 states expressly regulate ballot harvesting, or ballot collection, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some states limit who can turn in another person’s ballot, while others ban the practice entirely.

Queens Democrats call for ‘sweeping overhaul’ to Board of Elections following Election Day problems
Times Ledger
New York is one of 13 states that doesn’t permit early voting and no-excuse absentee voting, while states with a history of suppressing the vote like Georgia has both, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State, local NAACP leaders call proposed ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun bill a public safety threat
Dayton Daily News
At least 25 states have removed a duty to retreat an attacker before using deadly force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Gov.-elect Noem looks to appoint legislator after senator decides not to serve in House
The Dickinson Press
Prior to her time in the Senate, Peters already served in the state House from 2005 to 2011. She has also previously served as the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Tennessee GOP Backs Resolution For Closed Primary Elections
WKMS
The National Conference of State Legislatures says Tennessee is among six states with partially open primaries.

Dec. 4

Tougher seat belt laws could save more Arizona lives
TucsonSentinel.com

Arizona is one of a handful of states with both secondary enforcement and back-seat exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “You do have states that are enforcing primary seat belt legislation for front- and rear-seat passengers,” said Ann Kitch, a transportation research analyst at NCSL.

Superintendent of the Year: Mary Sieu, ABC Unified School District
Education Dive
“People are fighting for positions,” Principal Sergio Garcia said when he spoke this summer at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ summit during a session on closing the opportunity gap.

Alabama may soon have hands-free law that bans holding phone while driving
AL.com
Georgia is the 16th state in the country to enact a hands-free driving law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Maine lawmaker wants to limit childhood vaccination exemptions
WGME
While most grant religious exemptions, Maine is among just 18 states that allow philosophical exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral or other beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dec. 3

Can You Run for Congress and President? Depends Where
Roll Call
State law prohibiting most dual candidacies doesn’t apply to presidential primaries. Plus, the law technically only prohibits filing for two offices, not actually running for them, and candidates for president and vice president do not have to file nominating papers, according to a 2014 document from the National Conference of State Legislatures. “As is often the case in California, there’s no simple answer,” the document reads. 

Fact-check: Lightfoot taxes facts with claim Chicagoans among most taxed in U.S.
Chicago Sun-Times
Report: Tax credits for working families, National Conference of State Legislatures, April 17, 2018

Voting changes eyed in Mass.
Salem News
Last year, lawmakers in at least 14 states introduced bills on ranked choice voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

State Lawmakers Face Familiar Challenges In 2019
Law360
NCSL Information Cited.

The U.S. isn’t as happy and “great” as it seems
WGN Radio
Rick Pearson speaks with Democratic State Senator Toi Hutchinson on heading the National Conference of State Legislatures and her recent recognition of being named a top 10 public official in the nation.