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NCSL in the News: February 2011

NCSL in the News: 2011

NCSL in the News Archives

NCSL in the News: February 2011

Feb. 28

Rallying for states’ rights, G.O.P. legislators tell Washington to go away
“There is a lot more activity on a broader front,” said Karl Kurtz, a staff analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Fueled by the election results, more Republicans are pursuing their agenda.”  The New York Times

Several U.S. states consider union limits
Limits on public worker collective bargaining have been introduced in several other states as of last week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These include Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Washington.  Reuters

Municipal bonds: A balancing act
Since 2008, states have managed to close budget gaps of more than $400bn, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research group, by steep cuts in spending or rises in taxes and fees.  Financial Times

Snyder's pension tax isn't sure bet
Michigan is one of 10 states with an income tax that provides a full exemption to public pension income, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. A review of 2010 tax rates by the NCSL found Michigan's exemptions on private pension income to be among the most generous nationwide.  Lansing State Journal

State budget proposals would reduce benefits for future retirees
Legislators in 20 states are proposing cuts in public employees' benefits, including retiree health care, as a way to reduce state deficits, according to statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chronicle of Higher Education

Don't like tobacco taxes? Grow your own
In the short term, a tobacco tax hike can cause state revenue problems. The National Conference of State Legislatures says that such tax increases can result in stockpiling of cigarettes prior to the implementation of the tax, producing a temporary drop in sales immediately following the tax increase.  MSN Money

Riding high -- on hot air
Christie wants to force public employees to pay more for pensions, to increase the retirement age and to limit cost-of-living increases.  Bold stuff, overdue in New Jersey. But governors already did that in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Star-Ledger

Legislature needs to back private sector growth
The National Conference of State Legislatures analyzed the economic impact of combined reporting, finding it harms state economies, particularly those that already have high business taxes.  Delmarva Now

Doctors urge indoor tanning ban for minors
Eleven states already have tanning restrictions for kids, but none goes as high as 18 years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

GOP poised to turn Wisconsin 'into a Republican state'
Only nine states require a photo ID to vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In its current form, the bill would allow driver's licenses, state IDs, military IDs, passports, naturalization papers and Native American tribal IDs.  Green Bay Press Gazette

Concealed carry: Does it really deter crime?
State Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, is a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures. He said legislators from other states haven't seen any noticeable effects from their laws allowing residents to carry weapons.  Belleville News Democrat

Maryland delegates have lengthy debate on same-sex marriage
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, voters have rejected same-sex marriage in 30 states. In Washington state, voters approved domestic partnership rights.  GlenBurnie Patch

Opinion: Time to end employers' credit check abuse
Yet, despite the abundance of information that credit checks do more harm than good, only four states have placed restrictions on the practice, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AOL News

Tuition break for illegal aliens constitutes an 'egregious benefit'
In 2008, the National Conference of State Legislatures issued a report which indicated that at least four of the states that have passed laws providing in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants have since considered repealing the laws.  The Aegis

States acting to reform and improve state and local pension systems
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no fewer than 17 states have major legislative proposals before their legislatures to address funding and benefits concerns, and to ensure the long-term viability of their public employee pension system.  Nation's Cities Weekly

Elder care cuts may prove costly
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in a median year adult day health care services cost $15,600 while a semi-private room in a nursing room costs $67,525.  AP in Monterey County Herald

Lawmakers spend much less on travel
Meanwhile, in March, former state Rep. Douglas Gablinske, D-Bristol, attended the National Conference of State Legislatures national education seminar in New York.  Providence Journal

Feb. 25

State woes not seen slowing U.S. recovery
The end of federal aid, averaging $64 billion over the past two years, is a particular blow. In fiscal 2011, federal aid is the single biggest means by which states are closing a combined deficit of $111 billion, based on the latest estimate of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Market Watch

Lawmakers revisit issue of how far away to keep protesters at funerals
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states have enacted distance requirements of at least 500 feet for funeral protesters. Of those, five have a 1,000-foot requirement. Montana's is 1,500 feet.  Lincoln Journal Star

South Carolina panel approves bill expanding gun rights
Nationwide, only three states allow residents to carry a concealed weapon without a permit: Alaska, Arizona and Vermont. Two states — Illinois and Wisconsin — forbid concealed carry, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Rifle Association.  AP in The State

Senate Republicans take up voter ID requirement
Photo identification is only required currently in nine other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states require the ID only, not necessarily one with a photo.  AP in Oshkosh Northwestern

Delaware government: Medicaid care heads home
Fourteen states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, already have expanded or introduced the use of managed care organizations to handle Medicaid patients.  The News Journal

Breast-feeding bill moves ahead
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private place.  Lincoln Journal Star

Washington lawmakers hope to recover millions in Medicaid fraud
Washington's success in cracking down on Medicaid fraud ranks among the worst in the U.S. according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  KUOW

Legislation filed while General Assembly on recess
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 30 states have some form of restriction on former legislators. At least 16 states have a one-year restriction for legislators, while at least six states have a two-year waiting period.  WGMD

K2 ban passes in Minnesota House, no movement in Senate
With the increase in the products' popularity over the summer came questions about their safety. Eighteen states have outlawed the products, and 21 other states (including our own) have introduced bills to ban them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Minnesota Daily

Proposal would allow for recall of governor
The bill would create a statutory recall method. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 18 states permit recall of state officials.  Florida Courier

Unions fight to survive belt-tightening era and flex of GOP muscle
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states and Puerto Rico have introduced legislation governing labor unions and collective bargaining.  Tri State Defender

Senator Moore honors America's Gold Star Wives
Sen. Richard T. Moore, President of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Hawaii State Representative K. Mark Takai met recently with representatives of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. to discuss health concerns of veterans and their families.  Northbridge Times 

Feb. 24

Point, click, tax
But another result was $8.6 billion of lost tax revenue in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Arkansas and Missouri, projected Internet sales taxes in 2012 would be enough to cover their entire 2010 budget deficits, the NCSL says.  The Wall Street Journal

Hawaii governor signs civil union bill into law
Five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii joins New Jersey in allowing civil unions.  CNN

Come back, runaway lawmakers
Other examples of walkouts researched by the National Conference of State Legislatures included one by Texas House Democrats in 2003, who successfully derailed a Republican-sponsored redistricting bill by fleeing to Oklahoma and denying a quorum in the House.  Boston Globe

Performance audit committee: Child welfare audit a priority
Twenty states responded to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures asking if they had a deadline for completion of administrative rules and regulations following enactment of a bill.  Only two states had formal policies in place, although the majority said deadlines occasionally will be embedded in legislation.  Lincoln Journal Star

Could it happen here?
So a simple majority is a quorum. Simple enough, right?  Not always. This entertaining roundup of walkouts from the National Conference of State Legislatures' blog harkens back to the days of Willie Brown.  The Record Searchlight

KIDS Consortium hosting educator workshop
Matt Robinson, education consultant at KIDS, coordinates Project Citizen in Maine with the National Center for Civic Education. Project Citizen is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and co-sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Lewiston Sun Journal

Labor unions are fighting for survival
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states and Puerto Rico have introduced legislation governing labor unions and collective bargaining.  Black Voice News

Nine states chosen to Be laboratories testing inventive ways to streamline services for low-income working families
The applications were reviewed by an advisory committee of experts in policy and state operations, including participants from the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Academy for State Health Policy, and other organizations. After this review, project teams conducted intensive site visits to highly rated states.  AScribe Newswire

Feb. 23

NRA, doctors spar over gun issue
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 states allow individual colleges and universities to enact policies related to carrying guns on campus, while 24 states, including Florida, ban carrying a concealed weapon on campus.  St. Augustine Record

States make deep cuts to balance budgets
"Revenues are, in fact, starting to pick up. By the middle of 2010, we started to see a reversal from what had happened to state revenues for the previous 18 to 24 months. And that is that state revenues began to grow relative to their performance in the prior month or the prior year, and so the latter half of 2010 saw states gaining traction as far as revenue growth, but it has not been robust."  NPR

Will Wisconsin start a walkout trend?
"There are only a handful of states that have any type of supermajority quorum requirement," says Erickson. "And those are the states where they can impact legislative business with potentially only a few legislators leaving."  Salon

Under Walker plan, public workers would fare better than others
HCTrends said it reviewed data from the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds and the National Conference of State Legislatures. HCTrends used the the NCSL data to compare Wisconsin state employee benefits with those in eight other nearby states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.  The Lakeland Times

2 states, 2 different budget approaches
Illinois’ money woes are the worst in the nation, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Illinois is at least $13 billion in debt and can’t pay its bills in a timely manner. Add in the worst unfunded pension liability in the country and you get a truly bleak picture.  Rockford Register Star

Florida gov gets earful over proposed cut to drug monitoring system
According to figures from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 39 states have initiated such programs, and many states are working to setup these databases to communicate with other states to prevent cross-border smuggling of drugs like OxyCotin and Xanax.  CivSource

Kentucky lawmakers call for constitutional convention
Ron Snell, a spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, acknowledged Tuesday that numerous states have called for constitutional conventions on a variety of issues.  However, Snell said some of the calls have expired and some have been withdrawn, leaving no accurate count of pending calls.  AP in Bloomberg

Bill to turn Arizona school officials into immigration agents
In 2010, according to the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures, the states enacted a record number of laws and resolutions addressing immigration issues. As of November 22, 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions, for a total of 346. PressTV

Senator pushing prescription abuse monitoring two years after daughter's overdose
The National Conference of State Legislatures is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to give lawmakers information on PMPs and serving as a clearinghouse for policy issues surrounding their implementation.  Lincoln Journal Star

Citizens United may prohibit union busting by states
The National Conference of State Legislatures supports the conclusion that Citizens United has implications for existing state law pertaining to both corporate and union free speech. The consequences to future law bears examination as well.  The Huffington Post

Autism bill sent to McDonnell
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 23 states have laws related to insurance coverage for autism.  The Franklin News-Post

South Dakota Senate panel kills bill on juvenile 'sexting'
At least 12 states are considering legislation aimed at stopping "sexting," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in PlainsDaily

Feb. 22

Alabama, other states review legislative security
Kae Warnock, policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said each vio­lent incident like the Arizona shootings prompts state legisla­tures to review safety measures."Everyone stops and takes a look to see where they are and tweak it," she said. Montgomery Advertiser

Redistricting: Competition wouldn't hurt
On its website, the National Conference of State Legislatures has reams of material on redistricting — handbooks that detail the legal framework, presentations and handouts for those drawing the new lines and for candidates running between them, reports and presentations, plus tips and advice from peers and experts. Star Ledger Blog

Kansas House votes to repeal tuition break for children of illegal immigrantsK
The debate over in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants is unfolding across the nation. Since 2001, 11 states, including Kansas, have allowed in-state tuition for immigrant students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kansas City Star

Labor loses traditional seat with University of Minnesota regents
He said she brings a nationwide perspective on higher education to the board from her experiences on the National Conference of State Legislatures and other organizations. Pioneer Press

Blog attack on GOP reps begets tit for tat
At least six states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, tie eligibility for public assistance to drug testing for convicted felons or parolees, according to the National Conference for State Legislatures. Nashua Telegraph

Md. faces $16b funding gap for retiree health care benefits
Maryland pays more into employee health plans than 28 other states, including Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Examiner

Fresh start private processing over $1.2 million in insurance claims in January
According to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 49 states and the District of Columbia have laws that mandate mental health coverage in group plans. Stock House

Labor plans to rally against attack on collective bargaining
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures' website, legislation is pending in at least 20 states to strip collective bargaining power from government workers, or adopt right-to-work status, restrict political activity by unions, or make it a crime to require workers to join or remain in unions. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Labor unions are fighting for survival
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states and Puerto Rico have introduced legislation governing labor unions and collective bargaining. St. Louis American

Undocumented immigrants laud county college's new admissions policy
Eleven states, including California, Texas and New York, have laws similar to the Dream Act that allow in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants. A similar bill failed to pass last year in New Jersey. Elsewhere, Arizona, Colorado and Georgia have banned undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition, and South Carolina bars them from enrolling in public colleges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Asbury Park Press

Feb. 21

A brief history of runaway legislators
Wisconsin’s fugitive senators have captured the national political imagination – but they’re not the first state lawmakers to break quorum by bolting. There have been quite a few “walkouts” and “runaways” in recent years, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports, and some colorful ones, indeed. “The move was largely symbolic … Democrats knew all along that they had the governor on their side,” writes NCSL’s Karl Kurtz. Milwaukee News Buzz

Wisconsin legislators aren't the first to walk out, leave town
"We have a very diverse society," said Karl Kurtz, director of the Trust for Representative Democracy at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Legislatures are where public policies are fought out. By nature, it is a messy process."
CNN

State's union fight has national audience
Consider a bill summary compiled late last week by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which listed 44 states, including Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico that have introduced some kind of legislation related to labor unions and collective bargaining. "I would not wish to speculate on (why), but given the economy, it's probably related to that and changes in the legislatures," said Jeanne Mejeur, program director at NCSL's Legislative Information Services. FDL Reporter

A driving question for Colo. marijuana users
While it's already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, states have taken different approaches to the issue. Twelve states, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island, have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance, said Anne Teigen, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has the same policy but exempts marijuana. AP in the Houston Chronicle

Border war on drugs halting illegal immigration reform
According to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, states passed 346 immigration-related laws and resolutions last year — a record number. Six states introduced bills similar to Arizona’s, but none of them were enacted. So far this year, 11 states have introduced Arizona-style bills. Daily News Pulse

Across the U.S., GOP lawmakers build states of denial
As noted by Tim Storey, senior fellow of the National Conference of State Legislatures, since the midterm elections, "There are now more Republican state legislators (3,941) than at any point since they held 4,001 seats after the 1928 election... Twenty-two state legislative chambers changed majority control in the 2010 election cycle -- all in the direction of the GOP."
Huffington Post

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
Ohio is facing a budget deficit of $8 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN Blog

House panel shelves proposal to require voter ID
Eight states require voters to show photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 19 states accept non-photo identification to meet their voter identification requirements. AP in the Native Times

Too high to drive? Colo. considers pot DUI law
While it's already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, states have taken different approaches to the issue. Twelve states, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island, have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance, said Anne Teigen, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has the same policy but exempts marijuana. KUSA-TV, Denver

Health care law proceeds even in states fighting it
Call for Medicaid flexibility concerns advocates States are facing estimated budget gaps of at least $145 billion in 2012 and 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Colorado's education cuts mirror situation across U.S.
"While state revenues are starting to pick up, the growth is unlikely to be sufficient to replace expiring American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds or cover projected increases in program areas such as Medicaid and K-12 education," according to a December analysis of states' budget troubles released by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Denver Post

Dayton not alone in raising taxes to fix state budget gap
"We're talking about the fourth or fifth year that states are having to deal with these significant budget gaps, so it's common for every state to look at every option," said Todd Haggerty, National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota Public Radio

Shrinking the legislature
In fact, Maine ranks 45th in the country in terms of the number of people in each House district, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Opinion in the Bangor Daily News

Breastfeeding mom plans nurse-in at Fairfield mall
“In Ohio, the law says a mother is entitled to breast feed her baby ‘in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother otherwise is permitted,’ says Jennifer Wheeler, policy associate for the National Conference of State Legislatures Health Program. Wheeler says 28 states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws and Ohio is not one
of those states. Dayton Daily News

Pension changes worry Oklahoma workers
Oklahoma is not alone in its attempts to reform the way benefits are paid to retired workers. In 2010, about 21 states undertook major changes to their pension systems as they grappled with an aging public workforce and dwindling revenues from the national recession, said Ron Snell, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "As near as I can tell, about half the states are looking at major pension restructuring," Snell told Oklahoma lawmakers during a briefing last week. "Overall, the national trend clearly has been to substantially increase the age and years of service." KOCO-TV

Transportation chief says rail deal won't hurt Florida
Speaking with LaHood after a meeting at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C., Cannon told the transportation secretary that he agreed with Scott's decision to reject the rail money, spokeswoman Katie Betta said Friday. But Cannon also told LaHood he hoped the state would be looked upon favorably for grants involving other federal transportation projects. Herald Tribune

Florida speaker mends fed fences
Speaking with LaHood after a meeting at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, Cannon, a Republican, told the transportation secretary he agreed with Scott’s decision to reject the rail money, said spokeswoman Katie Betta. News Press

Debate over workers' rights heats up in Ohio
The state is facing a budget deficit of $8 billion and an unemployment rate of 9.6%, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN

Report: States don't need bankruptcy option
"Facts You Should Know" was issued by The Council of State Governments, National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, The U.S. Conference of Mayors, International City/County Management Association, National Association of State Budget Officers, National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers, Government Finance Officers Association and the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. Download the entire document. American City and County

Tea Party crazy sweeps America
As noted by Tim Storey, senior fellow of the National Conference of State Legislatures, since the midterm elections, "There are now more Republican state legislators (3,941) than at any point since they held 4,001 seats after the 1928 election... Twenty-two state legislative chambers changed majority control in the 2010 election cycle -- all in the direction of the GOP." Consortium News

Despite public perception, government workers aren't living large
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), states provide health care to about 7 million public employees and their dependents. Daily Finance

Feb. 18

Education funding crisis expected to grow beyond Wisconsin
The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled a list of the "serious budget challenges" awaiting state lawmakers this year, largely because states will see $37.9 billion less in federal stimulus, or American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funds later this year.  CNN

States shift to deep cuts for workers to balance budgets
"States are using every tool in their arsenal," said Todd Haggerty, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "All the easy decisions have long been taken, and now the increasingly difficult decisions remain."  AOL News

Health care law proceeds even in states fighting it
Wren serves as co-chairman of the federal health reform implementation committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures and said the organization has encouraged states to take the money, implement what they have to by law and take advantage of things they want — such as health exchanges without individual mandates.  USA Today

Hawaii lawmaker: Obama birth certificate bill tabled
Fourteen states allow birth certificates of elected officials or candidates to be made public in some circumstances, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Bloomberg

Wisconsin: The great American insurrection
The National Conference of State Legislatures has warned that many states are unprepared for the end of the flow of stimulus money.  The situation in Illinois is especially “dire,” but trouble looms in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas, and of course California.  Frum Forum

Commentary from state Sen. Moore: States should not file for bankruptcy
The nation's governors and legislators do not support proposals to provide states with bankruptcy protection officers of the National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures, recently told Congressional leaders.  Northbridge Times

Proposal in Florida would allow for Governor recall
Recalling a lawmaker would require 20 percent of votes cast in the last election in that district under the proposal. The bill would create a statutory recall method. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 18 states permit recall of state officials.  WCTV

How to stop cyberbullying
Many states have laws protecting you from cybercrimes. Check out the National Conference of State Legislatures site to find out what qualifies as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and cyberharassment, and whether your state has laws that specifically address these offenses.  ABC News 4

Record number of immigration-related laws enacted last year
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), state legislatures enacted a record number of laws and resolutions related to immigration issues in 2010. A total of 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 new laws and adopted 138 resolutions, reports NCSL.  International Law Office

State Democrats absent for vote as Wisconsin budget protests swell
Thirty-five U.S. states and Puerto Rico reported projected budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2012 totaling $82.1 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  CNN

House panel shelves proposal to require voter ID
Eight states require voters to show photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 19 states accept non-photo identification to meet their voter identification requirements.  Real Clear Politics

Feb. 17

Amazon's exit spurs tax fight in Texas
The uncollected taxes of goods sold online and through catalogs amounted to $8.6 billion in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

Hawaii Legislature passes civil unions bill; governor will sign it
Five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii will join New Jersey in allowing civil unions.  CNN

Federal government says Arizona has leeway on Medicaid cut
That's because Arizona's entire program is authorized as a Medicaid demonstration project under a waiver that is coming up for a routine renewal, creating circumstances that allow changes to be made this fall, said Joy Wilson, NCSL's health policy director.  "This is a very specialized situation because of the way Arizona's Medicaid program is structured," she said. "But I am sure there will be a lot of lawyers taking a lot of looks at this to see if there are other ways to read this that would broaden the scope."  AP in Bloomberg

Malloy puts all his cards on the table
"Taxes were less palatable across the country last year compared to 2009," Haggerty said in a phone interview. "What we hear from the states this year is anything and everything is on the table. It's another year of difficult decisions. With the federal stimulus gone, there's a cliff effect here."  Greenwich Citizen

Illinois seeks to borrow $8.75 billion
All states apart from Vermont have to balance budgets annually and they have been forced to deal with collective deficits of $388bn since 2008, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Financial Times

States revise rules on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants as national ID approaches
Melissa Savage of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said it's possible that some states could begin offering a two-tiered licensing system so illegal immigrants can still have driving privileges.  "If you go back to the core reason for driver's licenses and making sure people have a record, if that's a priority, that's the one reason," she said.  Fox News

Kriseman files legislation for recall
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states now permit the recall of state officials.  Tampa Bay Newspapers

Educators oppose letting teachers carry firearms
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 42 states and the District of Columbia have banned guns in schools but could not say whether any states allow them.  AP in North Platte Telegraph

Immigration enforcement bill brings lawsuit threat
According to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, states passed 346 immigration-related laws and resolutions last year — a record number. Six states introduced bills similar to Arizona's, but none of them were enacted.  AP in Kingsport Times News

Is Washington's budget shortfall really that big?
Ron Snell is with the National Conference of State Legislatures. He says no state has figured out how to build the budget up from zero every time.  He says even states that try a rolling review, like Idaho, usually abandon it.  KUOW

Payment audits for North Dakota agencies rejected in House
Lawmakers in other states, including Colorado and Texas, have authorized recovery audits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers.  CNBC

Some worry convention business could suffer if immigration bill passes
Besides Indiana, similar measures have been proposed this year in 11 other states, including Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Indianapolis Star

State lawmakers back photo ID requirement
The House version also would allow an early voting period before elections — something not contained in the Senate version but which the National Conference of State Legislatures says already occurs in 32 other states and the District of Columbia.  AP in the Columbia Daily Tribune

North Dakota Senate passes bill on autism center program
At least 23 states specifically require insurers to provide coverage for the treatment of autism, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  InForum

South Dakota lawmakers reject bill targeting Islamic law
At least a dozen other states have introduced measures this year against Islamic law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Oklahoma, a successful referendum last November to prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.  AP in Plains Daily

Wyoming women asked to run for political offices
Following breakfast, attendees received tips on how to advocate for change and create an effective message in workshops offered by The White House Project, National Conference of State Legislatures and Equality State Policy Center.  Little Chicago Review

Budget: A longer-term perspective
Twenty states work on some sort of two-year budget cycle. That's about half the number of states that had two-year budgets in the 1940s. A report from the National Conference of State Legislatures says that decline has been due in part to a surge in power of state Legislatures.  Interlochen Public Radio

The anti-business agenda in Annapolis
The National Conference of State Legislatures analyzed the economic impact of combined reporting on states last year. It found that combined reporting harms state economies, particularly those that already have high business taxes.  The Baltimore Sun

Democracy on display
Here, a portfolio will be selected to go to the National Conference of State Legislatures -- Legislative Summit which sponsors the Project Citizen National Showcase to be held in San Antonio, Texas Aug. 8-11.  Black Hills Pioneer

Feb. 16

Saving lives or costing jobs? Tobacco tax hike back up for debate
Cigarette taxes across the U.S. range from a low of 17 cents per pack in Missouri to $4.35 per pack in New York state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Virginia has a lower tax – 30 cents per pack – of the states that border West Virginia.  The State Journal

Photo ID for voting advances
The House version also would allow an early voting period before elections — something not contained in the Senate version but which the National Conference of State Legislatures says already occurs in 32 other states and the District of Columbia.  AP in Jefferson City News Tribune

Second carbon monoxide leak detected in a week at Dickey Hill school
While 24 states, including Maryland, have laws requiring carbon monoxide detectors in certain residential buildings, no state requires them in schools, according to a summary compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Texas mandates such detectors in day care centers.  The Baltimore Sun

Debate over requiring voter ID heats up
Eight states require voters to show photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 19 states accept non-photo identification to meet their voter identification requirements.  AP in KASA 

Feb. 15

Arizona may require hospitals to check citizenship
Arizona is the first Legislature to take up such a measure amid a national push in conservative states to crack down on illegal immigration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Seatlle Post Intelligencer

Should residents be forced to register to vote?
If any of the bills are approved, Hawaii would be the first state in the country to employ mandatory voter registration tactics, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Honolulu Civil Beat

Conyers rejects moves to allow states to declare bankruptcy
Even if Congress could enact a state bankruptcy chapter, it is also highly unlikely that any state would ever take advantage of it. The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have announced that states do not want bankruptcy relief and would not use it.  The Michigan Messenger

New report highlights need for communications tax reform
More than eleven years ago, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) called upon states to reform, modernize, and simplify the taxation of the telecommunications industry.  Centre Daily Times

House Republicans roll out "guiding principles"
The guidelines came about as a result of a day-long meeting last month with facilitators from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and a call for more accountability throughout state government.  KTUU

More states consider adopting Arizona immigration law
The number of state laws relating to immigration peaked in 2007, declined in 2008 and rose again in 2009, data from the National Conference of State Legislatures show. In 2010, more than 1,400 bills were proposed and 208 laws were enacted by 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia.  Daily News Pulse

Milwaukee Ald. Milele Coggs says bill would give Wisconsin the most restrictive voter ID law in the nation
Asked about her claim, Coggs pointed to data assembled by the National Conference of State Legislatures on the eight states that currently ask voters for photo ID: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota.  Another 18 states require an ID, but not necessarily a photo. Oklahoma will make 19 as of July 2011.  PolitiFact

Feb. 14

Immigration poised to be a heated issue in Oklahoma Legislature
Ann Morse, program director for the immigration policy project at the National Conference of State Legislatures said many states this year are moving ahead with Arizona-style laws and law enforcement and worksite-enforcement bills.  “Immigration remains a live issue in places where laws have passed already,” Morse said.  NewsOK

Bankruptcy for states and cities a bad idea
"The nation's governors and legislators do not support proposals to provide states with bankruptcy protection," begins a letter from the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures to the leaders of both the House and the Senate.  San Francisco Chronicle

Closed-door ethics query off the record - by mistake
Many of them have closed-door sessions during the initial phase of an ethics hearing, said Peggy Kerns, director of the group's ethics center.  "The movement across the country is for these types of actions to be more transparent," Kerns said. "These ethics committees are always balancing the right of the accused with the right of the public to know."  Minneapolis Star Tribune

Banaian's budgeting proposal advances in House
Leaders in other states recently have turned to zero-based budgeting to address their budgeting woes. Legislators in 15 states made zero-based budget proposals in 2009, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  St. Cloud Times

Poll: Most Utahns oppose designation of state gun
House Bill 219 now awaits Gov. Gary Herbert's signature after the House on Friday concurred with a Senate amendment to it. If the bill is signed, Utah would be the first state in the nation to have a state firearm, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Washington Examiner

Maryland stadium authority keeps rent payment to prepare for NFL lockout
Maryland faces a $2.4 billion budget gap for FY2011, which began on July 1, 2010, and faces a gap of $1.8 billion in 2012, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Forbes

Repeal, restrict and repress
As Reuters pointed out this week, in the midterms, “Republicans gained nearly 700 state legislative seats and now have their largest numbers since the Great Depression, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.”  The New York Times

Rockville women fight ‘nipplephobia'
Like Maryland and 43 other states, the District of Columbia allows women to breast-feed in any public or private location, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Gazette

Vermont mulls ban on aliases online for sex offenders
New York and Illinois bar convicted sex offenders from using social networking sites at all as a condition of their probation. The National Conference of State Legislatures was unaware of similar laws or pending legislating in other states.  AP in Seattle Post Intelligencer

Oklahoma agency lobbying activities often on taxpayer dime
Twelve states have placed various bans on spending public money on lobbying, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oklahoma is not among them.  NewsOK

Who's packing? It may be your local state lawmaker
Seven states allow citizens with concealed weapons permits to bring firearms into state houses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two other states allow anyone to enter the state house with a firearm, no permit required, the NCSL said.  Eagle Tribune

Irrational proposals
A report released in November from the National Conference of State Legislatures predicts that states are looking at an overall deficit of about $111 billion for fiscal 2011.  Modern Healthcare

Feb. 11

Iowa's politics-free redistricting faces test
According to NCSL, 37 states rely on their legislatures for drawing maps while 13 use some sort of separate commission. Of those, Iowa's is the most detached from politics, said Morgan Cullen, an NCSL policy analyst.  AP in the Boston Globe

'One person, one vote' still an unsettled question for states
In the last cycle, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states ended up with legislative districts that had population deviations over 9 percent.  Stateline

Utah Legislature set to approve state gun
Utah would be the first state in the nation to have a state firearm, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Daily Herald

GOP caucus closes doors to meeting with gaming lobbyists
“But many caucus leaders prefer closed doors because it allows them to plan a coherent strategy,” Erickson explained. “Closed caucuses allow for free and open questions, and many of those discussions do eventually come out on the chamber floor.”  WRAL

Will Amazon run out of places to operate its business?
The National Conference of State Legislatures recently did a study which showed the deficit burdens of most of its members could be lessened, significantly in some cases, if all e-commerce sales made within their borders were taxed.  24/7 Wall St.

State Senator urges expansion of BPA ban in children's products
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 59 measures were proposed in 18 states in 2010 to address concerns about BPA, and since 2009, seven states have enacted restrictions on the chemical.  Southern Maryland Online

Kirk Adams wants Arizona to study Utah's public pension plan
Ron Snell, director of state services for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said many states are struggling with the cost of traditional pensions. Virginia, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Nevada also are looking at shifting to defined-contribution plans.  The Arizona Republic

Arizona considers easing nation's toughest DUI law for first time offenders
Different versions of the ignition-interlock law exists in 48 states and 12 require the device for first-time offenders, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox News

UK lawmakers vote to deny British prisoners the right to vote, defying European court ruling
In 38 states, felons' voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of their sentence, which in some states includes probation and parole, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Associated Press

New abortion restrictions possible in U.S.
Republicans gained nearly 700 state legislative seats and now have their largest numbers since the Great Depression, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

Firefighter association protests pension attacks
IAFF cites a fact sheet and issue brief released Feb. 1 by 10 national, state and local government organizations that concludes that, with more than $2.7 trillion in assets, the overwhelming majority of pension funds are solvent and able to pay the benefits they promised public employees.  American City & County

Feb. 10

DWI law could spread nationwide
Forty-eight states have some type of ignition interlock law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Daily Times

Critics seek repeal of tuition law
Kansas is among 11 states that have approved an immigrant tuition law since 2001, though one, Oklahoma, has since narrowed its statute, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hayes Daily News

States, public unions wrestle over pensions
Ron Snell, who keeps track of pension legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said lawmakers are motivated by a double squeeze on pension systems -- the investment market collapse of 2008 and a glut of retirements as Baby Boomers move into their 60's. FOX News

More pension reform coming?
Illinois is one of at least 20 states looking to trim pension costs by raising the retirement age, increasing employee contributions, or paring down cost-of-living increases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Northwest Herald

Commentary: Health care law that needs to be addressed
Localities conference last week in Washington discussed were those in Massachusetts — which was the model for the federal law — and Utah, which has taken an approach that the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Joy Johnson Wilson insisted has much more in common with Massachusetts’ program than most reports suggest. “This is why everyone should care about Medicaid,” Ms. Wilson added. “If you have kids in K-12, higher ed, you’re gonna feel it. Criminal justice, roads and bridges. That’s what people don’t get: States are not going to be able to finance the expansion (of Medicaid) with state funding.” McClatchy (DC)

Iowa not alone in education funding woes
Brenda Bautsch, an education policy specialist from the National Conference of State Legislatures, said higher education is one of the easiest cuts to make. “If anything, schools are going to be struggling even more with the stimulus funds running out,” she said. Daily Iowan

Obama proposal would temporarily forgive federal interest payments
“No one knew or prepared for this type of recession,” said Diana Noel, committee director for labor and economic development at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Watchdog

DOT: Roadside memorials must go
Many states are placing limits on roadside memorials, struggling to balance road safety with people's desire to express their grief, said Anne Teigen, a policy specilialst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several  states have adopted state-issued memorial markers or instituted criteria for private memorials. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Nasdaq hack points to shortfall in data breach reporting
Even more confusing, according to the National Conference of State Legislation (NCSL), a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staff of the US states, is that 45 states have enacted data breach notification laws. However, security breach-related legislation was enacted only in five states and introduced in at least 18 states in 2010, so that leaves 27 states still to consider security breach legislation. Internet Evolution

Arizona bills would ease DUI penalty for first-time offenders
Forty-eight states have some sort of ignition-interlock law and 12 require the device for first-time offenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona Central

Feb. 9

Bill would tighten Arizona public retirement systems
However, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities and other government groups on Tuesday said most public pension programs are not in crisis and that those that are underfunded are taking steps to strengthen themselves.  AP in Bloomberg

Women filling 41 percent of Colorado's legislative seats, highest rate in U.S.
Colorado had the highest percentage of female lawmakers in 2009 as well. New Hampshire took the lead in 2010 but didn't even crack the Top 5 this year, as a number of Democratic women lost to Republican men, said Katie Fischer Ziegler, a policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Denver Post

Nearly a year into health law, states are all over the map
"It's a challenge," said Joy Wilson, the director of health policy at the National Conference of State Legislatures, speaking about the fiscal outlook. As for the political climate, she said, "It's too early to predict."  Miami Herald

Groups: Pensions doing fine
Most retirement systems have substantial assets — an estimated $2.7 trillion — set aside in pension trusts for current and future retirees. And contrary to some perceptions, pension payments account for a relatively small portion — roughly 3% — of state and local budgets, they said.  The Bond Buyer

Autism coverage could become reality
The legislation provides lower benefits compared to proposals in past years, but advocates for autism coverage were pleased with the legislature's action.  The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 23 states have laws related to insurance coverage for autism.  The Franklin News Post

Critics seek repeal of Kansas immigrant tuition law
Kansas is among 11 states that have approved an immigrant tuition law since 2001, though one, Oklahoma, has since narrowed its statute, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Education Week

Senators urge passage of modified line-item veto
Governors in all but seven states can veto individual provisions of appropriations bills, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but federal lawmakers have been more reluctant to share spending power with the executive branch.  9News

Republicans seek ban on public pension fund bailouts 
"State and local government retirement systems do not require, nor are they seeking, federal financial assistance," said the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures in a joint statement on Tuesday.  NewsMax

Feb. 8

House GOP bill would let residents opt out of health law
So far this year, about 29 states have seen some form of proposal –– from constitutional amendments to changes in state statute and advisory resolutions –– that deal with aspects of the federal health-care bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Providence Journal

State officials say thanks, but no thanks, to bankruptcy
A bipartisan, national group of state elected leaders, including Kansas Senate President Steve Morris, on Monday asked Congress to back off any proposal that would allow states to file for bankruptcy. The De Soto Explorer

Colorado considers more physical activity in schools
Colorado is the only state in the country that does not require some form of physical education at any grade level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The state would keep that distinction even if the measure passes because it only addresses the requirement of physical activity, not P.E.  AP in WJTV

Betting lottery?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lotteries had net ticket sales of $53 billion in 2006, of which $17 billion, or a little less than a third, ended up with the states.  Honolulu Star-Advertiser

South Carolina senators to debate illegal immigration bill
It would expand the state's 2008 law that required businesses to check their employees' legal status.  The National Conference of State Legislatures says South Carolina is among 11 states considering a law like the one in Arizona.  AP in The State

Local legislator tapped by governor to partake in Capitol safety taskforce
According to a 2008 document compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Minnesota is one of 27 states that does not have metal detectors at the public entrances to its Capitol building.  Southwest Review News

Governors tell Gringrich: "Bankruptcy is not for us"
The National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures have written to Congress, essentially asking everyone to drop the issue and let them get on with the hard work of balancing their budgets.  CBS Money Watch

Stop cyberbullying now!
Many states have laws protecting you from cybercrimes. Check out the National Conference of State Legislatures site to find out what qualifies as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and cyberharassment, and whether your state has laws that specifically address these offenses.  KIVI-TV

Feb. 7

South Carolina bill would nullify Islamic law in state courts
The bill makes no reference to a specific religion or country, though its sponsors acknowledge they worry about the ultraconservative tenets of Sharia law, or Islamic religious law. At least 13 states have introduced similar measures this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Washington Post

Washington notarios bill combats immigration fraud
Fifteen other states already have anti-notarios laws on the books, and six states are currently working on similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Seattle Post Intelligencer

Revenue on rise for state and local governments
Most aid for education and health care expires June 30, when the budget year ends in 46 states.  "Although revenue is improving, it's not enough to offset the loss of federal dollars," says budget analyst Arturo Perez of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

Senators seek to limit legislative sessions
Four state legislatures meet only every other year, including Texas, North Dakota, Montana and Nevada, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Texas bicameral legislature meets in odd-numbered years for as many as 140 days.  Lincoln Journal Star

Police cuts deepen Camden’s blues
All states apart from Vermont have to balance budgets annually and they have been forced to deal with collective deficits of $388.1bn since 2008, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Financial Times

After years of growth, Oregon's budget is set to fall
"Fiscally, 2012 is being described as the ARRA cliff effect because of the amount of money that states will not receive," said Meagan Dorsch, spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Statesman Journal

Oklahoma lawmakers to study pension changes in 2011
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight other states list pension and retirement issues as a top priority this year including Alaska, where annual pension costs are projected to approach those of public education and Medicaid by 2015, and New Jersey, where state payments as an employer and on behalf of local school districts are at zero.  AP in the Washington Examiner

'Difficult' year: Nevada budget situation not unique
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, almost 30 states face deficits running more than 5 percent above their general fund revenue.  Las Vegas Review-Journal

States still struggling to collect sales tax revenue from online sales
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates Nebraska will lose $118 million this year in uncollected tax revenue from Internet sales.  Lincoln Journal Star

West Virginia lawmakers again weigh autism coverage
At least 23 states, including neighboring Kentucky and Pennsylvania, already require insurers to cover applied behavioral analysis, or ABA therapy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Marietta Times

Alderman wants city to weigh in on voter ID
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in the past 10 years, more than 700 bills have been introduced in 46 states mandating changes to voting rules. Only 12 states have passed major legislation. In July, Oklahoma will become the ninth state to request or require photo identification.  Appleton Post Crescent

Teens present priorities for adolescent health
Oregon’s current state tax is $1.18 per pack of cigarettes, 27th in the nation; California, 87 cents, 32nd; Washington, $3.02, third. Highest is New York state at $4.35, New York City imposes an additional tax. Figures are from National Conference of State Legislatures.  Statesman Journal

Lawmakers promote controversial limits on Islamic law
Twenty-eight members of the House and five senators have signed on as co-sponsors of HJR1004. Similar bills are being considered in at least 13 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Rapid City Journal

Lawmakers target ‘birthright citizenship’
The National Conference of State Legislatures said Arizona is the sixth state this year to introduce legislation relating to birth records or birth certificates and the foreign born.  Denver Daily News

Let states file for bankruptcy?
Unlike the federal government, every state except Vermont has a legal requirement to balance its budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So when tax collections fall or spending spikes, states must find the money elsewhere. That’s why so many have cut basic services.  AP in Worcester Telegram

How small, mostly conservative towns have found the trick to defeating corporations
The Great Recession, hit not only businesses and individuals, but governments as well. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that 31 states are facing a combined shortfall for fiscal year 2011 of nearly $60 billion.  AlterNet

Feb. 4

Not much savings from stimulus money
States also expect to receive continued quarterly Medicaid enhancement payments into the summer, the remainder of an $87 billion recovery program intended to help them through their own financial problems. "Every state in the union has plugged that money into their budgets for the coming year," said Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for the NCSL.  AP in NPR

North Carolina lawmakers approve outlawing fake marijuana
North Carolina is among more than 20 states in which lawmakers are considering laws creating or changing regulations on synthetic marijuana, the NCSL said. About a dozen states already have laws banning the products, the group said.  AP in The State

Eagle River senator adds to Juneau's female ranks
In the 2010 election, Alaska voters elected more women to office, said Katie Ziegler of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Women's Legislative Network.  "That's a state that certainly bucked the trend," she said of Alaska's increase.  AP in NECN

Allowing states to file for bankruptcy would further damage funds
Unlike the federal government, every state except Vermont has a legal requirement to balance its budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So when tax collections fall or spending spikes, states must find the money elsewhere.  Muncie Star Press

Chopping blocks and tax collectors: States face budget woes
In spite of modest revenue increases, the states will have to close budget gaps totaling $82.1 billion in 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AOPA Online

Setting record straight on New Jersey legislative redistricting
That's not entirely accurate, according to the experts I consulted at NCSL. The state Constitution specifies a much broader 20% margin on either side. But this has been overridden by a federal standard allowing for no more than a maximum 10% "range" between the smallest and largest district.  New Jersey News Room

Feb. 3

Virginia House passes bill mandating insurance for autism
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that 35 states and the District of Columbia now have laws related to autism and insurance. As of November 2010, at least 23 states specifically require insurance companies to provide coverage for treatment for autism.  The Washington Post

New Georgia bill targets illegal immigrants
Nine other states -- Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming -- are considering similar Arizona-style legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Immigration Policy Project.  Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Senate votes down GOP effort to repeal health care law
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers have introduced more than 250 bills relating to states' role in the overhaul so far. About 50 propose challenges to the law or say states should refrain from carrying out particular provisions.  AP in Fox News

Christie says ‘sue me’ as pensioners challenge cuts
More than 20 states considered changes to pension plans last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  “Too many proposals to count” have been introduced so far in 2011, said Snell, the NCSL's pension expert. Lawmakers in at least a dozen states, including California, New York and Ohio, have “serious” proposals, he said.  Bloomberg

Milwaukee lawmaker proposes downsizing the state Legislature
Wisconsin’s legislative districts are already relatively large, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are about 162,500 constituents in each state senate district in Wisconsin, 14th highest in the country, and about 54,200 people in each Assembly district, 18th highest in the country.  Milwaukee News Buzz

Republican Governors seize court ruling to undo health law
States are unlikely to unilaterally drop coverage required by the law because that would jeopardize funds they get from the federal government, Wilson said.  “Most states are going to hedge their bets,” she said in a telephone interview. “If you don’t abide by it, you’d lose your Medicaid money.”  Bloomberg

Public plan groups fight back
The fact sheet — issued by 10 organizations, including the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, National Council on Teacher Retirement and National Conference of State Legislatures — also notes that public pension investment returns have exceeded their assumptions over a 25-year period.  Pensions & Investments

Got a photo ID?
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 27 states require some form of voter ID. But most states allow a variety of forms – including hunting and fishing licenses, student IDs and Medicare or social security cards.  Piecrce County Herald

Ten states now developing eligibility-proof demands
NCSL said New Hampshire last year adopted HB1245, but it requires only a statement under penalty of perjury that a candidate meets the qualification requirements of the U.S. Constitution, which is something similar to what the political parties already state regarding their candidates.  The Post Chronicle

Feb. 2

Governors find education opportunities in budget woes
During less severe downturns, the attitude was “this is short-lived, and the good times are right around the corner,” Ms. Bell said. “The mood of the country now is [focused on] dealing with deficits, dealing with spending. People want efficiency now.”  Education Week

National state and local government organizations get the facts out on public pension plans
The fact sheet underscores that state and local governments have already pre-funded the majority of their pension costs and have over $2.7 trillion in assets held in trust for current and future retirees.  The Sacramento Bee

First GM, now states? Pros and cons of bankruptcy
Unlike the federal government, every state except Vermont has a legal requirement to balance its budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Business Week

Governors making pension cuts may be thwarted by employee suits
Pressured to cut spending and not raise taxes, public officials are focusing on pensions, said Ron Snell, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures. State plans cover 24 million active and retired workers, according to the Denver-based organization, about 8 percent of the U.S. population of 309 million in 2010.  Bloomberg

Vote delayed on South Carolina immigration E-verify bill
That proposal, which Republicans in both chambers call a priority, is before a Senate committee. South Carolina is among 11 states considering a law similar to Arizona's, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Anderson Independent Mail

It's a matter of urgency that we fund higher ed
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in Arizona 76 percent of the voucher funds expended went to children already in private schools.  Las Vegas Review-Journal

New law requires federal government to pay stormwater fees
The legislation was supported by the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, Council of State Governments, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association.  Chesapeake Bay Journal

Daily debriefing
Monday’s forum, sponsored by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures, is among several initiatives that have gained attention since President Barack Obama announced the goal to boost the United States percentage of college graduates by 2020 in Feb. 2009.  The Dartmouth

Blacks lost clout in 2010 election
However, the two minorities are not equal politically. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, blacks account for 8.1 percent of state legislators. By contrast, Hispanics account for only 2.9 percent of legislators.  Southern Political Report

Gibbs misses chance to explain eligibility
According to officials with the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states already have some sort of eligibility-proof requirement plan.  WorldNetDaily

Feb. 1

College completion campaign opens with forum in Maryland
Julie Davis Bell, the national conference's education-group director, said that changes in state policy were essential to achieving the college-completion goals.  "Legislators are absolutely front and center in this discussion," she said. "They are the most important policy makers of all. They alone set the crucial funding and policy decisions that will allow us to improve our educational outcomes."  The Chronicle of Higher Education

For state lawmakers, population growth has its downsides
Since 2000, three states have cut the size of their legislatures, most notably Rhode Island, which got rid of 25 of its 100 House seats and 13 of its 50 Senate seats. Since 1912, 13 legislatures have shrunk, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Stateline

Cut down on salt, government says - and calories
At least 18 states and the District of Columbia have set portion limits for sodium in school meals and snacks beyond federal standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in NPR

Kansas sec of state: fraud bigger issue than thought
He's said he wants to give Kansas the toughest laws against election fraud in the nation. Eight states require a photo ID at the polls, and Oklahoma will begin doing so come July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Hutchinson News

Senator to be deployed
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 members of state legislatures have been deployed to another country during the past two years.  MyFox Boston

US governors push tax cuts for jobs
Oregon lifted its top and minimum rates and Connecticut enacted a surcharge on some companies, the Denver-based bipartisan research organization said in a report. The increases, including the elimination of exemptions, across all states in 2009 raised business taxes by $2 billion, the report said.  The Peninsula

Arizona businesses eye tax hike for jobless benefits
Arizona owes the federal government $268.1 million for unemployment trust fund loans, part of $42.3 billion owed by a total of 30 states as of Jan. 21, while an additional five states have repaid their loans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Arizona Capitol Times

California needs a break: Will a tax extension give them a second wind?
California is one of 35 states projecting budget gaps in the 2012 fiscal year that total at least $82.1 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an organization made up of state legislators.  Aomid News

Cuts to elder care could cost state
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in a median year adult day health care services cost $15,600 while a semi-private room in a nursing room costs $67,525.  AP in the Daily Democrat

 

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