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NCSL in the News February 2014

NCSL in the News | February 2014

2/1/2014

Feb. 28

Idaho lawmakers poised to vote on guns on campus
If it passes, Idaho would join six other states with provisions - either from lawmakers or dictated by court decisions - that allow concealed carry on campus: Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Legislative Research Commission ethics bill is split three ways
With four representatives of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Frankfort conducting 67 interviews with lawmakers and staff this week as part of a $42,410 contract with the LRC to review the legislative agency, Yonts said HB 88 is timely legislation. The State Journal

Welfare drug testing bill moves forwards in State Legislature
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have proposed some type of welfare drug testing legislation. So far, nine states have actually passed legislation. WVTM

New Mexico Debates New Lobbyist Rules 
As with members of Congress, there’s one main reason why so many state legislators want to become lobbyists: They’re good at it. “Lobbying is a natural profession for a former lawmaker because they know the system and they know the people,” says Peggy Kearns, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures Center for Ethics in Government. Governing Magazine

Hollywood bids to lure filmmakers back to Tinseltown
In recent years Hollywood filmmakers have been leaving the actual Hollywood in droves, as more than 40 states dangle lucrative incentives to lure them. And Erica Michel, research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said, “In the last few years, (attracting film productions) has been part of a broader conversation states are having about economic development incentives in general.” Al Jazeera America

New Mexico lawmakers average $16K in compensation
New Mexico is the only state that doesn’t provide a yearly salary to its legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But because of the daily expense payments, New Mexico isn’t at the bottom of the compensation list nationally. Lawmakers in New Hampshire receive a yearly salary of $100, but no per diem when they meet. Connecticut legislators were paid a salary of $28,000 in 2013, but no per diem, according to the NCSL. Legislator salaries in other states ranged up to about $90,500 a year in California. Many states, including California, offer a salary as well as covering expenses for lawmakers. Albuquerque Journal/Associated Press

Tanning bed ban for kids passes Colorado House by narrow margin
At least 33 states and Washington, D.C., have some limits on childhood tanning bed use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. ABC 7

Feb. 27

Communities put brakes on red-light cameras as studies differ on results
Seven states prohibit use of red-light cameras to issue citations to drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and several more, including Ohio and Florida, are considering prohibitions, according to the Journal. Fox News

Ariz. governor vetoes bill that would have denied service to gays
The push in Arizona comes as an increasing number of conservative states grapple with ways to counter the growing legality of gay marriage. Arizona’s voters approved a ban on gay marriage as a state constitutional amendment in 2008. It is one of 29 states with such constitutional prohibitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Boston Globe/Associated Press

Legislator wants e-cigarettes banned for minors
A Louisiana lawmaker wants electronic cigarettes banned to minors in the upcoming legislative session. At least 27 states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors according to the national conference of state legislatures. WWL-TV

Concealed carry has not caused much of a problem on Utah campuses
Across the country, 21 states ban concealed carry on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 23 allow campuses themselves to have the final say. Idaho Reporter

Feb. 26

Child tanning bed ban clears hurdle in Colorado
At least 33 states and Washington, D.C., have some limits on childhood tanning bed use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But only five states — California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Vermont — prohibit all commercial tanning bed use by minors. AP/The Sacramento Bee

Culver's CEO backs minimum wage hike, higher for adults than teens
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 30 states are set to consider legislation or ballot measures to raise the minimum wage in the coming months. Madison.com

Why the controversial US 36 contract could be the wave of the future 
By the end of this week, Colorado transportation officials are expected to sign a controversial and historic contract giving a private company control of the Boulder Turnpike. Thirty-three states currently allow such contracts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “I would say in the last 10 years it’s become more of a trend because of lack of dollars,” NCSL transportation researcher Jim Reed says. Reed was recently called to the Capitol for a hearing on the U.S. 36 contract. He told lawmakers that even some states with relatively strong economies, like Virginia, Texas and Florida have started relying on P3s. “The millennial generation is driving less," Reed says. "Driving declined during the economic recession and we’re getting fuel-efficient cars. It was a downturn and now it’s a steady, slow decline in driving. And, of course, the fuel tax is tied to how much gasoline is purchased.” Colorado Public Radio

Bill aimed at workers advances to final vote
Work share programs were in place in 26 states and the District of Columbia as of November, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Roanoke Times

Cook County bans e-cigarettes for minors
More than 25 states have passed legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Des Plaines Valley News

Convicted felons -- when and where they can run for office (blog)
Here I present highlights from the National Conference of State Legislatures collection of “Examples of Constitutional Provisions Re: Disqualifications for Legislative or Public Office (followed by list). Chicago Tribune

Utah legislative panel approves limits on drones
The push-pull on drones is playing out in many states hoping to land the emerging industry while satisfying citizens' concerns that it opens the door to Big Brother surveillance. In 2013, at least nine states passed laws restricting the use of drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Miami Herald/Associated Press

A chart that should scare Democrats (Chart provided by NCSL)
It turns out that the six-year itch is even more devastating at the state legislative level, which, as we documented in a post late last week is a critical piece of the political and policy equation for both parties nationally.  Check out this chart, courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislators, to grasp just how daunting the history of second term, midterm elections are for the president's party at the state legislative level. Washington Post

History not on Democrats’ side in this mid-term elections
In fact, Tim Storey, a political expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures says this: “Since 1902, the party in the White House lost seats in legislatures in 26 of the 28 mid-term elections. The only exceptions being in 1934 when Democrats gained 1108 seats and in 2002 when Republicans netted 177 seats in the post 9/11 election.” Kansas City Star/Associated Press

Delta Joins Apple in Opposing Arizona Anti-Gay Law Plan
Thirty-three states ban same-sex marriage, including 29 that have prohibitions in their constitutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Now, businesses and executives are taking more active roles in undoing them. Bloomberg

Lawmakers to consider raising La. minimum wage
Twenty-one states have minimum wages above the federal level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Houston Chronicle/Associated Press

Bill aimed at workers advances to final vote
Work share programs were in place in 26 states and the District of Columbia as of November, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Roanoke Times

Feb. 25

A (very) brief history of the state gas tax on its 95th birthday
In 2012, the National Conference of State Legislatures highlighted three innovative ideas in the report: tie the gas tax to inflation or some other variable that changes with fluctuating expenses as 12 states had done, come up with ways to tax alternative vehicles or fuels, or tax miles traveled. The Washington Post/GovBeat

Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Voter ID Arguments
Thirty-four states, including Wisconsin, have passed some form of a photo ID law, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. WBAY

Red-Light Cameras Click Less as U.S. Towns Get Orwell Off Roads
Lawmakers in five states, including Ohio and Florida, are considering banning or limiting their use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg News

Delta Apologizes for Telling Breastfeeding Mom to Cover Up
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NBC News

What Is a Majority Vote in the State Senate? The Answer Goes Beyond Simple Math
The uncertainty over the Senate’s magic number intrigued Democrats enough that they had lawyers dig through case law, the State Constitution, internal Senate rules, the arcana of the National Conference of State Legislatures and even Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure — a go-to text for gavel wielders everywhere — in search of something definitive. New York Times

Utah lawmakers to consider limits on drones
The push-pull on drones is playing out in many states hoping to land the burgeoning industry while satisfying citizens' concerns that it opens the door to Big Brother surveillance. In 2013, at least nine states passed laws restricting the use of drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sacramento Bee/Associated Press

Apollo CEO Black Doubles 2013 Payout as Top Ten Get $1.7 Billion
Income disparity has sparked calls for increasing the minimum wage, a key issue heading into U.S. elections in November. Legislation has been introduced in at least 28 states to boost the minimum hourly pay, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Democratic governors last week endorsed President Barack Obama’s efforts to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. Bloomberg News

Feb. 24

Arizona bill letting businesses deny service for religious reasons sparks heated debate
Arizona's voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage as a state constitutional amendment in 2008. It's one of 29 states with such prohibitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fox News

Georgia bill: Ban driver’s licenses for immigrants without legal status
At the heart of the latest debate in Georgia is the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program... Many states have enacted laws in reaction to that program, which started in 2012. That same year, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, issued an executive order banning state driver’s licenses for deferred action recipients. Nebraska has the same policy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eleven other states do issue licenses to immigrants without legal status: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Atlanta Journal Constitution

SD bill would ban sale of e-cigarettes to minors
At least 27 states have passed legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that aids state lawmakers. Sioux City Journal

Effort to build gay marriage support heads South
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have state laws or court decisions that allow same-sex couples to marry, according to a recent update by the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Fresno Bee

Schools, Legislatures Move to Allow Guns on Campuses
In 2013, seven states passed new legislation related to permit holders carrying weapons on elementary and secondary school campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Also, at least 33 states introduced more than 80 bills that addressed the issue of teachers and administrators in K-12 becoming armed, the NCSL said. Newsmax

Voter suppression or efficiency measure? 
State Rep. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea, wrote in the Ohio House Majority Caucus Blog that the new rules relieve undue strain put on local boards of elections... He said that according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Ohio will remain one of the top 10 states in the nation for the number of days for early voting under S.B. 238. Athens News

Climate Changes Discussed at Summit
Dorevitch, an associate professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, appeared at the Midwest Environmental Health Policy Summit, put on by the National Conference of State Legislatures. WBGZ Radio/Alton Daily News

Chris Cillizza - Obama is right: Democrats’ ‘meh’ attitude toward midterms is a major problem
Tim Storey, who focuses on state legislative races for the National Conference of State Legislatures wrote in the aftermath of the 2010 midterms that “Republicans have added over 675 seats to their ranks in this election, dramatically surpassing 1994 gains. . . . The success by Republicans at the state level could give the GOP a dramatic advantage in the redistricting cycle that will start in just a few short months.” Boy, was Storey right. Republican gains in 2010 led to a redistricting process nationwide in 2011 that entrenched the Republican House majority, making it very difficult — though not impossible — for Democrats to recapture the chamber any time soon. Washington Post

Rural lawmakers struggle to make themselves heard
Rural interests had outsized influence in state capitols back when districts were often based on geography rather than population, said Tim Storey, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures. That changed when a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1960s said legislative districts must have roughly equal populations to ensure the principle of one person, one vote. Milwaukee Journal/Associated Press

Virginia and other states wrestle with whether to expand Medicaid under Affordable Care Act
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have opted to establish insurance exchanges, while 36 states rely on the federal exchange, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post

Eric Holder: Consumers must be notified about data breaches
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, forty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have enacted legislation requiring private or government entities to notify individuals of security breaches of information involving personally identifiable information, but the laws vary widely from state to state. CBS NEWS

State legislators’ financial disclosures fall short
At least 29 states make personal financial-affairs statements of lawmakers available that way, according to a 2013 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. (In Washington, copies of the forms are available if requested by email or at the Olympia offices of the PDC.) Seattle Times

Vermont considers 10-cent bag fee for retailers
Vermont is one of eight states considering a statewide fee or tax per bag, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Boston.com/Associated Press

Albany's ethical compass still askew
According to a running list kept by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the New York Legislature has had 287 legislative actions regarding ethics bills from 2010 through the present. That's third in the country behind New Jersey (400) and Illinois (361), two states not known as bastions of ethical conduct. Democrat and Chronicle

Parenting to be focus as Michigan judge begins same-sex marriage trial Tuesday
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 17 states allow same-sex marriage, and 33 states prohibit it, including 29 that have prohibitions in their state constitutions. But those bans have been challenged over the years. Detroit Free Press

Neb. senator targets 'hold' charges on debit cards
Legislatures in 13 other states have introduced bills to regulate the credit holds since 2003, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Sioux City Journal

Feb. 21

‘House of Cards’ and the massive business of tax incentives for your favorite shows and movies
Production incentives are available in almost every state in the U.S., and some places can offer up to a 35 percent tax credit on certain expenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Post

Obama Minimum-Wage Increase Backed by Democratic Governors
Legislation has been introduced in at least 28 states to boost the minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Democrats see it as a way to differentiate themselves from Republicans, whose policies they say are focused on assisting the wealthy. Bloomberg Businessweek

In Virginia House of Delegates, a push for inclusive prayers
Every day they’re in session, as they have for hundreds of years, the members of Virginia’s House of Delegates stand together and pray. Nearly every legislature in the country begins sessions with a prayer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as does Congress. Washington Post

High tech in vehicles puts drivers' privacy up for grabs
Fourteen states have laws restricting who can access black-box data and how it can be shared, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California, for instance, says owners of the vehicle can retrieve black box information, but so can law enforcement authorities depending on court jurisdiction. Michigan has no such prohibitions. And no states prohibit police from accessing information after a crash. The Detroit News

Voting Rights for Felons on the Table
This year, a handful of states are considering proposals to facilitate voting for felons, according to Wendy Underhill at the National Conference of State Legislatures, continuing a trend that began in the 1990s. That’s when states started to rethink disenfranchisement laws, spurring fierce debates about elections, criminal justice and racial politics. Stateline

Feb. 20

In Dunn mistrial wake, misgivings about law
Florida law says the use of deadly force is justifiable if someone reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. Its law also says people have no "duty" to retreat from a would-be attacker, as do laws in 21 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN

Gay rights groups oppose religious protection bill
Arizona's voters approved a ban on gay marriage as a state constitutional amendment in 2008. It is one of 29 states with such constitutional prohibitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press

Bill would ban e-cigarette sales to minors in Louisiana
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 27 states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. AP/Washington Times

Oregon may revisit minimum wage with eye to poverty line
Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., have higher minimums than the federal rate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Register-Guard

SIU No Guns Allowed signage part of concealed carry law
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, two states -- Kansas and Arkansas -- passed legislation in 2013 that allows concealed carry on college campuses. The Southern Illinoisan

Impasse on immigration reform frustrates employers
“The immigration issue is not going away,” said Virginia state Sen. John Watkins, co-chair of the NCSL Task Force on Immigration and the States.  “The federal government needs to address immigration reform and consider the fiscal impacts on states. Without a national solution, state lawmakers will continue debating policy and forming local responses to address needs within their states.” Benefits Pro

Lawmakers advance online voter registration bill
Currently, 14 states offer online registration and another five states offer limited online registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, five more states have passed laws to create online registration systems, but have yet to implement them. Houston Chronicle/Associated Press

Our view: 911 tapes
It is the right and responsibility of people to decide for themselves whether they want to face that reality head-on or turn and look away. That’s where the responsibility should rest, and why 39 states have no restrictions on 911 call recordings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only six states hold 911 recordings confidential. Illinois should avoid being added to the list. Journal Courier

Youth crime not an issue for politics
The failure of the current approach is clear. According to a 2011 National Conference of State Legislatures report, “youth adjudicated as adults are more likely to be re-arrested, to re-offend, to re-offend more quickly, and to re-offend with more serious crimes” than those who are treated as juveniles.  Buffalo News

Ky. felons seeking voting rights get help from Rand Paul
Kentucky is one of four states that requires the governor’s signature to restore voting rights, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cincinnati News

Labor commissioner says wage escalator should be re-examined
The federal minimum wage, which was set by Congress in 2009, is $7.25 per hour. President Barack Obama and Democrats want to increase it to $10.10. Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., have higher minimums than the federal rate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Statesman Journal

Feb. 19

States defend turf from feds on data breach rules
With no federal law on data breaches, most states created their own rules to ensure companies alert residents when hackers seize their personal information... The National Conference of State Legislatures supports a federal breach notification law as long as states can enforce it and nothing pre-empts their ability to adopt stronger rules. Politico

Bill would let RI voters cast ballots early
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia already allow some early voting. In New England, Maine and Vermont already allow early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Boston.com

The Harsh Dilemma Of Trying To Prepare Kids For The Worst At School
Thirty-two states have laws that mandate some kind of emergency drill beyond fire, earthquake or tornado, but leave the definition up to local entities, a rep from the National Conference of State Legislatures said to HuffPost. Huffington Post

EXography: States use gimmicks, late payments and other accounting tricks to meet balanced budget requirements
Requirements for a balanced budget vary. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 49 states have some balanced budget requirement, though in several states the mandate is weak or unclear. Vermont is the exception. Washington Examiner

Feb. 18

Supporters pressing early voting initiative in Mo.
Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia allow no-excuse early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of Missouri's neighbors, Kentucky is the only other state without such a law. Bellingham Herald/Associated Press

Brunswick sheriff lobbies for drone use
According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), North Carolina was one of 13 states to enact 16 new laws related to regulation of the unmanned aircraft systems, also referred to as UASs, in 2013. Forty-three considered 130 different bills, NCSL reported. Star News Online

Schnurman: Raising minimum wage is 'the right policy'
At least 20 states are considering action this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At the same time, President Barack Obama and Democrats are calling to increase the federal rate to $10.10 by 2016. Dallas Morning News

Carson will consider raising minimum wage for its part-time workers
The federal minimum wage rate is $7.25 but California has set it at $8 an hour, and that will rise to $9 in July. Twenty other states and the District of Columbia have minimum wage standards above the federal level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Daily Breeze

Navajo Nation president blocks tax on junk food
The Navajo Nation president has vetoed a proposal to impose an additional tax on chips, cookies and sweetened beverages on the country's largest reservation, but the legislation could be resurrected later. School districts across the country have banned junk food from vending machines. Cities and states have used taxes and other financial incentives to encourage healthy choices, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but not all the efforts have been met with overwhelming support. Post and Courier/Associated Press

Feb. 17

Bill could legalize sale of popular 'high-risk' raw milk
Maryland is one of 20 states where the sale of all raw milk to humans is prohibited, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The remaining 30 states allow consumers to purchase raw milk, though how the milk is sold varies by state. WTOP

Analysis: Voters being asked to enshrine hunting, fishing rights in Mississippi Constitution
Mississippi voters will decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to hunt and fish. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions. Sun Herald/Associated Press

Vt. Rep. Wants Ethics Rules For Lawmakers
Vermont is one of three states that does not require public officials to disclose financial information, and it is one of eight that does not have an ethics commission, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Vermont Valley News

Kelly: 'The Unicameral' — Nebraska-born, though not spread
Brenda Erickson, senior research analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C., said the introduction of bills calling for unicameral legislatures “is fairly common.” Omaha World Herald

Bill targets tax loophole for recreational vehicles
California, Massachusetts and Iowa have passed legislation in the past few years to prevent their residents from taking advantage of Montana's vehicle registration laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Omaha World Herald

Washington looks at 'Pay It Forward' program for college costs
Student loan debt, which recently crossed the $1 trillion threshold, is now the second-largest category of household debt in the U.S. behind home mortgages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research and information center. Oregon Live/Associated Press

Top 10 cities with the highest tax rates
A 2012 study by the National Conference of State Legislators found that Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming, all of which have cities with low tax burdens, relied on taxing oil and gas activity for much of their revenue. WLBZ/USA Today

Common Core data collection hailed by some, feared by others
A thorough data collection system is the best way to track student success, Microsoft founder Bill Gates told the National Conference of State Legislatures in July 2009. Gates' foundation helped fund creation of Common Core, its test and textbooks. The Daily Standard

Bill aims to eliminate up-front college costs
Student loan debt, which recently crossed the $1 trillion threshold, is now the second-largest category of household debt in the U.S. behind home mortgages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research and information center. KOMO News/Associated Press

Feb. 14

Colorado director gets boost for Evel Knievel film
Todd Haggerty of the National Conference of State Legislatures said that it can be tricky to put a dollar figure on what incentives produce for a state, and that spending in hopes of recouping taxes at some later date can be a particularly tough sell during a recession. But Haggerty said that for every state that tweaks or rolls back an incentive program, another state inaugurates or expands one. Haggerty, a fiscal policy researcher, told AP that movie incentives draw attention because of Hollywood's celebrity cachet, but that the questions surrounding them are part of a broader debate on how states lure business in hopes of creating jobs and building industry. AP/The Bellingham Herald

E-cigarettes take off in Minnesota — and so does fight over regulating them
About 27 states, including Minnesota, ban e-cigarettes for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states – North Dakota, Utah and New Jersey — ban smoking e-cigarettes indoors. MinnPost.com

Early childhood bill makes its way through Kentucky House
The National Conference of State Legislatures released a study recently that showed for every $1 spent on early childhood development, state governments receive an $8 return, said Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville. The State Journal

House OKs limit on legislators becoming lobbyists
At least 31 states have established a moratorium for a certain period of time — a "cooling-off period" — before a former legislator can lobby, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Seattle Post Intelligencer

Wendy Davis backs open cary law and limited late-term abortion ban, despite historic filibuster
The comments, like other recent positions she’s taken, have perturbed some on the left. Open carry is specifically allowed in 17 states, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Many others leave it up to cities and counties to impose restrictions. Fox News

Website allows voters to leave comments on Arizona bills
Arizonans no longer have to trek to the Capitol to weigh in on the work their state Legislature is doing. Nor do they have to make a phone call or write an e-mail to deliver a message that may never reach their lawmaker. Other states are connecting voters with lawmakers in different ways, according to Pam Greenberg of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Republic

Bill would OK sale of raw milk
Maryland is one of 20 states where the sale of all raw milk to humans is prohibited, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The remaining 30 states allow consumers to purchase raw milk, though how the milk is sold varies by state. Cecil Whig News

Wages in Kentucky (Guest Article by Rep. Wilson Stone)
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 23 states considered raising it 2013, and Kentucky is one of 20 doing the same this year, with more expected in the months ahead.  Franklin Favorite

Is drone war losing its fire in shadow of NSA scandals?
So far in 2014, 34 states have 131 pending unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aerial vehicle or drone bills and resolutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of those bills have carried over from 2013. Hawaii, Kentucky and Indiana are among the first states to introduce new measures. WatchDog News

Feb. 13

After shooting spree, gun law concerns in La. town
Jon Griffin, a policy specialist with the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, said that's an issue in several states. "In the wake of recent mass shootings across the country, legislators have examined ways to alter their firearms laws in ways that best serve their communities. One way they have done so is by requiring state agencies to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System when an individual is found mentally ill," Griffin said via email. Sacramento Bee/ Associated Press

Navajo Nation president blocks tax on junk food
School districts across the country have banned junk food from vending machines. Cities and states have used taxes and other financial incentives to encourage healthy choices, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but not all the efforts have been met with overwhelming support. Tampa Tribune/Associated Press

Utah may take lead in protection of fathers’ rights in adoption cases
Utah may make it easier for unwed fathers to protect their rights no matter where they live by joining with other states to share confidential paternity filings. Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake, said lawmakers in Arizona and Nevada are currently proposing similar measures and she has also discussed the idea with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Salt Lake Tribune

Bill to delay new education standards heading to Senate committee Wednesday
Common Core standards were drafted through the National Governors Association and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, by late 2011, 45 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the standards for math, reading and writing. The Gazette

Is drone war losing its fire in shadow of NSA scandals?
So far in 2014, 34 states have 131 pending unmanned aircraft system, unmanned aerial vehicle or drone bills and resolutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. watchdog.org

Feb. 12

Virginia House Of Delegates Votes To Outlaw 'Revenge Porn'
In 2013, California joined New Jersey in criminalizing the practice. At least four other states in 2013 saw similar bills introduced but not passed, according to tracking by The National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, at least 14 states have introduced legislation, including Virginia, according to the NCSL. Huffington Post

Legal for boss to ask for your social media password
Our research found in the past 2 years, a dozen states have passed password protection laws to stop employers from asking for passwords to personal accounts in order to get or keep a job. Legislation has been introduced in at least 25 other states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. WGME

Medical marijuana: OK, it's legal. Now, how do we live with it?
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical marijuana laws since California first allowed pot use as therapy in 1996, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alaska Dispatch

[Wash.] Senate OKs bill banning tanning beds for teens 
California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Oregon ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18, and at least 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/mynorthwest.com

ACLU sues Mo. for not recognizing gay marriages
View this page by the National Conference of State Legislatures for more information on gay marriage laws by state. KMBC.com

Utah Congressman Crafts Compromise For Shaping Online Sales Tax Measure
Proponents have worked to counter the argument that the bill clears the way for a new tax, saying it merely improves compliance with sales taxes that consumers are already supposed to pay, said Max Behlke, manager of state-federal relations for the National Council of State Legislatures. “We've proven it's not a new tax,” Behlke told Bloomberg BNA. Bloomberg BNA

A Small Nebraska Town Again Votes on Illegal Immigrants
Efforts on the state level have become more geared toward integrating rather than cracking down on illegal immigrants, according to a recent review by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Wall Street Journal

Maine Senate passes early voting measure, but support still not enough to send to voters 
Maine is one of 27 states that already allow no-excuse absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference also lists Maine as one of 32 states that already allow early, in-person voting, but all early voting in Maine is now done by absentee ballot. kjonline.com

Jury deliberates driver’s license fraud case
Several states have recently moved to adopt laws that allow undocumented immigrants to seek a driver’s license or similar permit. Altogether, 11 states and Washington, D.C., let immigrants apply for a license or legal permit to drive, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Albuquerque Journal

Murder or Miscarriage? Grieving Mom Crusades for Unborn Son
Thirty-eight states have laws regarding fetuses killed by violent acts against pregnant women, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NBC News

Campaign fundraising: Greg Stumbo files bill to boost donation limits against self-funded candidates
Kentucky is at the low end of the spectrum nationally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only four states have lower contribution limits, while a dozen states allow unlimited contributions. Louisville Courier-Journal

Feb. 11

Spending battle shaping up over state's surplus
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported last year that nationally, states remained cautious, holding down new spending even as their financial status improved. "State legislators have once again made the tough decisions that are required to balance their budgets in a slowly recovering economy," said William Pound, NCSL's executive director. "The new budgets enacted for the new fiscal year reflect the cautious path that states are taking as they make their way through this economic transition." Darien News

A Renewed Push for Earned Income Tax Credit in States
In the opening days of 2014 legislative sessions, bills that would expand or create the Earned Income Tax Credit have been introduced in nine states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Stateline

Vote from space? Only in Texas
Texas is the only state in the country that has a law allowing voting from space, said Michael Hernandez, an elections policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. My San Antonio

House official wants Mass. to take minimum-wage lead
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California has a $10-per-hour minimum wage set to take effect in 2016. Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C., have a higher minimum wage than the $8-per-hour Massachusetts wage. Gloucester Times

[Mass.] House chair wants highest minimum wage in the U.S.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California has a $10 per-hour minimum wage set to take effect in 2016. Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have a higher minimum wage than the $8 per-hour Massachusetts wage. Nashoba Publishing

Bills require carbon monoxide monitors in schools
Only Connecticut and Maryland require carbon monoxide monitors in schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/mysanantonio.com

Oregon Legislature to consider making e-cigarette sales to minors illegal, banning indoor use
At least 27 other states have passed legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a Colorado-based bipartisan group that aids state lawmakers. The Republic/Associated Press

Bill strengthening drugged-driving laws moves forward despite concerns
Six other states have laws that consider any amount of drugs in a driver's blood a criminal offense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Las Cruces Sun-News

Feb. 10

Spending battle shaping up over state's surplus
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported last year that nationally, states remained cautious, holding down new spending even as their financial status improved. "State legislators have once again made the tough decisions that are required to balance their budgets in a slowly recovering economy," said William Pound, NCSL's executive director. "The new budgets enacted for the new fiscal year reflect the cautious path that states are taking as they make their way through this economic transition." Darien News

Vote from space? Only in Texas
Texas is the only state in the country that has a law allowing voting from space, said Michael Hernandez, an elections policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. San Antonio Express-News

Emilio Vicente Runs For All Undocumented Students In Race For UNC Student Body President
Seventeen states have also passed legislation extending in-state tuition rates at public universities to undocumented immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Huffington Post

Twenty states allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Courier-Journal

Bills require carbon monoxide monitors in schools
Only Connecticut and Maryland require carbon monoxide monitors in schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/mysanantonio.com

[Mass.] House chair wants highest minimum wage in the U.S.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California has a $10 per-hour minimum wage set to take effect in 2016. Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Washington D.C. have a higher minimum wage than the $8 per-hour Massachusetts wage. Nashoba Publishing

An Easy Way for Heirs to Inherit Your Home
In 37 states and the District of Columbia, either the state or municipalities—and sometimes both—levy these taxes, which range up to New York City's 2.65% of the property's market value, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal

Welfare drug screening bill divides lawmakers
At least nine states have passed legislation requiring drug testing or screening of TANF recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But the measures haven't always passed court muster. Houston Chronicle/Associated Press

Bill would allow online voter registration
Georgia would join the ranks of states that allow online voter registration under legislation introduced in the Georgia House. As of August, 13 other states have similar systems for voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Iowa legislators push for underage tanning-bed ban
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have some type of age restriction on tanning-bed use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Journal Des Moines Bureau

States Move on Immigration Laws as Efforts Stall in Washington
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 45 states and the District of Columbia passed 437 measures — 184 laws and 253 resolutions — related to immigration in 2013, an increase of 64 percent from 267 laws and resolutions enacted in 2012. States acting on immigration "have done so in part as a response to federal inaction and a sense of sheer frustration, but they also have moved forward in reaction to changing dynamics in their individual state," said Ann Morse, program director for the Immigration Policy Project at the NCSL. Newsmax

Democrats expected to lose ground in Oklahoma Senate
Republicans control the Senate in 28 of the 49 states that have bicameral legislatures, according to 2014 figures from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Here are the current party breakdowns for Oklahoma and surrounding states.  Tulsa World

Will changing drunk driving laws punish innocent drivers?
Under current laws in South Carolina, the installation of an ignition interlock device is required for drunk drivers for two years after their second conviction, or three years for their third offense, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. Digital Journal

Distracted motorists: Amarillo officials mull effectiveness of ordinance
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, 12 states and the District of Columbia ban hand-held use for all drivers. Amarillo Globe News

Feb. 7

Montana will vote on same-day voter registration
Ten states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-day voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Voters in Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin have been able to register on Election Day since the mid-1970s, while a handful of blue states — California, Colorado and Connecticut — have begun allowing the practice in just the past two years. Washington Post

State prodded on ID security
The issue highlights how a patchwork of security measures remains in place across all states, despite the efforts by Congress to tighten up procedures. After Real ID became law, several states passed laws limiting or barring its implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But two of them – Georgia and Utah – now follow Real ID, and seven are receiving extensions to meet the law. Boston Globe

Utah lawmakers to consider drone restrictions
Utah is joining other states that have waded into the debate over unmanned aerial systems by courting the fast-growing industry while at the same time pushing for more privacy protections to limit local police use of drones. In 2013, at least nine states passed laws restricting the use of drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. KING 5 News/Associated Press

E-cigarettes aren't banned for minors. Should they be?
E-cigarettes are not covered by federal rules or state and county indoor smoking bans, leaving it up to businesses to decide whether to allow their use. At the moment in Ohio and Kentucky, nothing prevents minors from using the devices, which contain nicotine. At least 27 states have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NKY Gannett

Petitions for Michigan part-time Legislature approved, backers to begin drive toward ballot
Michigan lawmakers currently earn a base salary of $71,685 per year, and the state is one of four with a full-time Legislature. Another six states are near full-time, requiring lawmakers to work at least 80 percent of a full-time job, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. mlive.com

Denver Public Works Department accountant fired for allegedly viewing child pornography at work
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists 10 states as requiring computer technicians or information technology workers to report child pornography if they encounter it in their work, but Colorado is not one of the states listed as having such a reporting requirement. ABC 7 News/Denver Post

Senate, House panels differ on proposals to restrict firearms in New Mexico Capitol
New Mexico and 10 other states allow citizens to bring firearms into their capitols, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Daily Journal/Associated Press

'Don't Tread on Me' Summerville police car plate raises questions
Under state ethics law, the "use of government personnel or facilities for campaign purposes" is a misdemeanor punishable by as much as a $5,000 fine and a year in jail, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. The Post and Courier

Feb. 6

Petitions for Michigan part-time Legislature approved, backers to begin drive toward ballot
Michigan lawmakers currently earn a base salary of $71,685 per year, and the state is one of four with a full-time Legislature. Another six states are near full-time, requiring lawmakers to work at least 80 percent of a full-time job, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. mlive.com

New Mexico lawmakers push federal-style lobbying rules
Thirty-one other states require at least some time between when a legislator leaves office and when they can return as a lobbyist, according to a database maintained by the National Conference of State Legislators. Legislators in eight states — Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana and New York — must wait two years, the longest cooling off period on the books. Washington Post

House, Senate panels split on Capitol gun limits
A proposal to restrict firearms in part of the New Mexico Capitol cleared a House committee Wednesday, but a similar proposal failed in a Senate panel. New Mexico and 10 other states allow citizens to bring firearms into their capitols, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Tribune/Associated Press

Pennsylvania lacks budget surplus, misses trend
Comparing states' finances can be like comparing apples and oranges, said Arturo Perez, a budget expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures. A number of variables affect each state's finances, including taxes and industries. Trib Live

APNewsBreak: Wendy Davis supports Texas open carry gun law, at odds with Democratic Party
Open carry is specifically allowed in 17 states, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Many others leave it up to cities and counties to impose restrictions. Star Tribune

Feb. 5

Guns, medical marijuana collide in Illinois rules
Lindsey said he believes it's the first time a state agency anywhere in the country "has pointed to a state law and decided that patients may not be able to possess a firearm." And Karmen Hanson, medical marijuana policy expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said she's not aware of any state laws that address firearms ownership among medical marijuana patients or their caregivers. AP/News & Observer

Minnesota to host National Conference of State Legislatures summit in August
Minneapolis will host the 2014 National Conference of State Legislatures annual summit in August. MinnPost.com

Senate panel rejects gun restrictions in Capitol
New Mexico and 10 other states allow citizens to bring firearms into their capitols, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Sacramento Bee

K-12 Policy Stakes High in 2014 Elections
As of last week, the GOP controlled 26 legislatures and 30 governorships nationwide. In total, Republicans control both the executive and legislative branches of government in 23 states, while 15 states are in the hands of Democrats, and 11 are split, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Nebraska has a unicameral, nonpartisan legislature.) Education Week

States gaining speed on minimum wage faster than Obama
Already, 22 bills have been introduced in 14 states and the District of Columbia on minimum wage increases and related issues in the first weeks of the 2014 legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Advertiser/USA Today

Up in smoke: The Obama administration's pot politics problem
The state-led push to legalize pot is a problem for the Obama administration. Marijuana is not only legal in Colorado and Washington, but cannabis has become a cottage industry complete with 420 sampler tours and shops where customers can buy pot brownies or candy in those two states. And New York and Florida could soon join the 20 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN

Debate intensifies over the minimum wage
Advocates want raise; businesses fear consequences
Already, 22 bills have been introduced in 14 states and the District of Columbia on minimum wage increases and related issues in the first weeks of the 2014 legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. News Star

Extending reach of in-state tuition
Sixteen states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, have taken steps to allow children brought to the United States illegally by their parents to pay the lower tuition rates afforded to in-state residents. Virginia Pilot

Wis. panel backs constitutional convention request
No official count of state calls for a convention exists because Congress hasn't established a process for such calls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kapenga's letter, however, said about 20 states have passed a convention resolution. San Francisco Gate/Associated press

Feb. 4

Residents fed up with potholes say 'yes' to tax increase
"You're really looking at, well, what could be the combined rate when you look at state and local taxes and what does that do to competition?" said Todd Haggerty, a fiscal policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "If you have multiple different tax systems within a state, and if you're really trying to have a coordinated economic development plan, you have to look at all different layers of what can happen." The flexibility also can create unhealthy competition between cities, Haggerty said, offering the example of one city cutting tax rates to lure retail away from its neighbors. USA Today

Arguments heard in trial for driver’s license fraud
Eleven states plus Washington, D.C., now have laws that allow immigrants the chance to obtain a license or legal permit to drive, with the majority of those laws enacted last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Albuquerque Journal

'Merry Christmas' bill passes Indiana Senate
A Texas law passed last summer sparked the Indiana legislation. Eight other states, including Indiana, have similar bills pending, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. A New York bill to make the Lunar New Year a holiday for schools with significant Asian populations failed in 2011. Indy ABC/Associated Press

PACs spend big as TN legislators consider new school voucher system
Used in 13 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, vouchers have proven highly contentious. Critics say evidence is lacking that voucher students outperform their peers. The Tennessean

Opinion: How America went to pot
By 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted medical marijuana statutes while the still extant 1970 federal law maintains that marijuana has no known medical use. NJ.com

Pennyslvania Gov. Corbett's $29.4B budget plan bets on keno
Pennsylvania would join 15 states and the District of Columbia with keno, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most neighboring states allow the electronic numbers game that Revenue officials compare in concept to Pennsylvania's old Super 7 lottery game. Trib Pittsburgh Live

Maine considers expanding accountability for repeat OUI offenders
Laws also differ from state to state on how far back prior OUI convictions play into license suspensions. The period ranges from as little as five years in 13 states to no limit in four states – Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado and New Mexico – according to a 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Morning Sentinel

Bill seeks to ban plastic bag dispersal statewide
As of now, Hawaii is the only state to ban all plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Brown Daily Herald

Feb. 3

Dream Act advances through Washington’s Republican Senate
Washington will be the fourth state, along with California, Texas and New Mexico, to extend student aid to undocumented students. Arizona, Georgia and Indiana prohibit undocumented students from receiving in-state rates, while Alabama and South Carolina prohibit undocumented students from enrolling in post-secondary institutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Washington Post

Immigration Roundup: One Small Step for Boehner, One Giant Leap for Congress?
The National Conference of State Legislatures issued a report Jan. 21 showing that, although states passed more immigration laws and resolutions in 2013 than in 2012, the focus has shifted from immigration enforcement to providing immigrants with state benefits. Bloomberg BNA 

Overcrowding in Nebraska's prisons prompts push for expansion of community-release programs
Some states have reduced their prison populations with an overhaul of their drug-sentencing laws, said Alison Lawrence, a senior policy adviser for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lawrence said Colorado succeeded with a community-based treatment programs that diverted some drug offenders away from prisons, while giving more parole opportunities to drug offenders to work to change their behavior. AP/Greenfield Daily Reporter

At the Roundhouse: Back to school
I was reminded of interesting background in reviewing the LFC analysis: “The National Conference of State Legislatures ranked New Mexico among the highest in the nation for increased early childhood funding in FY13. In FY14, the Legislature substantially increased targeted funding to programs such as home visiting, Prekindergarten and childcare assistance.” Albuquerque Journal

Eye on Olympia: Hargrove, Tharinger take opposite sides on minimum wage measure
Since 2001, the state minimum wage has been adjusted annually to account for inflation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Peninsula Daily News

Weekly conversation: Raising the debate over minimum wage
Q. How many states have a minimum wage higher than the federal one? A. Twenty-one states, plus the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Green Bay Press Gazette

First medical marijuana dispensaries licensed in Massachusetts
Eighteen states have either decriminalized or allowed medical marijuana in some fashion. While the state laws have allowed dispensaries to open, they remain illegal under federal law. Fourteen states allow dispensaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN

Analysis: Mississippi legislator says certificate-of-need law outdated
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a 1974 federal law required all states to have some sort of process requiring prior approval by a health planning agency for all major medical projects, such as hospital construction or addition of expensive equipment. The federal law was repealed in 1987, but NCSL said as of November, 36 states -- including Mississippi and all of its surrounding states -- still had some sort of CON process.  The Sun Herald/Associated Press

No joke: Sen. Trip Pittman pushes drug testing for Alabama legislators
Pittman's idea for drug testing is not new. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Kansas Legislature passed a law in 2013 for testing of its members and other key state officials, but implementation of the law has not been finalized. Daily Journal

Branstad will consider drone restrictions
Currently, Iowa does not have laws concerning drone use. In 2013, 13 states enacted drone-related legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Globe Gazette

More states grant in-state tuition to immigrants
Fifteen states now have such a statute, said Ann Morse of the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, university boards in Hawaii, Michigan and Rhode Island have granted these students in-state tuition. To qualify, high school graduates typically must meet requirements such as living in a state for a set number of years. KRGV/Associated Press

Bill would guarantee vacation time for workers
Currently, no states require employers to provide paid vacation leave to their workers, according to Jeanne Mejeur of the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research and information center. Miami Herald

Lawmaker backs allowing production of hemp
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states - California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia - currently have laws promoting the growth and marketing of industrial hemp. Washington Times

15 States Have Passed Immigrant Tuition Laws
(NCSL information cited)
Fifteen states have statutes allowing students who are in the United States without legal permission and were brought to this country as children by their parents to be eligible for in-state tuition. To qualify, they have to have graduated from a high school in the state and meet other requirements, such as having been a state resident for two years or three years. ABC News/Associated Press

Local legislators emphasize mentoring to bridge gender gap
While nationally the number of female state legislators has stagnated, nearly half of the legislators representing McHenry County in Springfield are women. The situation isn’t typical nationwide, where women make up less than a quarter of state legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Illinois, the number is 31 percent. Northwest Herald

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