NCSL in the News | February 2018

2/1/2018

Feb. 28

Retirement Experts to New Government Employees: Think for Yourself
Governing
Since the Great Recession, every state except Idaho has made changes to the pension benefits they offer public employees, according to Luke Martel, director of the employment, labor and retirement program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New Jersey Bill Proposes to Give State's Prisoners Right To Vote
Wall Street Journal
Vermont and Maine are the only states where criminal convictions don’t affect voting rights, according to a November report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

SID SALTER: Intriguing confluence of federal, state tax cuts meet court review in Wayfair case
Meridian Star
But to make matters even more interesting, the long term impact of those federal and state tax cuts may well be significantly impacted by the outcome of a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court review of a 26-year-old ruling that the National Conference of State Legislatures predicts could have an over $26 billion impact nationally on state and local tax revenues.

Bipartisan bill would boost Kentucky's gas tax by 10 cents
The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Most states rely on gas taxes to pay for roads and bridges, and many have struggled to keep up with repairs as demand for gasoline has decreased with the rise of electric cars and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Since 2013, 26 states plus the District of Columbia have raised gas taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, seven states did so, including Kentucky neighbors Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee.

At the Capitol, Minnesota lawmakers grapple with addressing sexual harassment — at the Capitol
MinnPost
At Monday’s hearing at the Capitol, Jonathan Griffin, with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said 11 states have proposed changes to their policies since allegations began surfacing.

Breast-feeding mom kicked out of ND restaurant works with senator to change law
Bismarck Tribune
North Dakota is one of 49 states allowing moms to breast-feed in any public or private place, but it’s the only state that qualifies that right by requiring modesty, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Critics target partisan gerrymandering with state reforms
The Columbian
Since the start of this year, more than 60 bills dealing with redistricting criteria and methods have been introduced in at least 18 state legislatures, already equaling the total number of states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Mass. lawmakers seek ban on nondisclosure agreements
The Daily News of Newburyport
More than a dozen states restrict the use of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements involving so-called "public hazards" or individuals who are considered dangerous, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Vigo County takes a positive step in voter participation
Terre Haute Tribune Star
Sixteen states, including Illinois, and the District of Columbia have enacted same-day registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lansing provides sluggish response to Michigan's rising drug prices
Bridge Michigan
According to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states had a total of 256 bills in 2018 related to prescription drug cost and payment.

The world of self-driving cars is set to change in April
Quartz
Since 2012, 21 states have passed legislation governing self-driving vehicles, and 33 states introduced legislation to be considered in 2017 alone, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 27

NJ Senate Supports Property Tax as Annual Charitable Write-Off
Bloomberg
California, Nebraska, Virginia and Washington state also are considering such legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a Washington, D.C., based lobbying group.

Hopefuls await license decision for growing marijuana in Arkansas
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas is among 29 states that have legalized comprehensive medical-cannabis programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New tax law raises questions for state 'piggyback'
St. Augustine Record
The decoupling is a routine occurrence for Florida and other states, according to a Jan. 29 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures on the new federal tax law.
 
Critics target partisan drawing of districts with state reforms
Iron Mountain Daily News
Since the start of this year, more than 60 bills dealing with redistricting criteria and methods have been introduced in at least 18 state legislatures, already equaling the total number of states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 26

Save the Date: Supreme Court to Hear Online Tax Case April 17
Bloomberg BNA
The court announced Feb. 23 that it would hear oral arguments in the South Dakota v. Wayfair case April 17 at 10 a.m. Urging the high court to consider the case last November, thirty-five states and the District of Columbia filed a brief asking the high court to take the case. Also filing briefs were… including the National Council of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association. 

Court releases April argument calendar
SCOTUSblog
On April 17, the justices will hear oral argument in South Dakota v. Wayfair, in which they will decide whether to overrule an earlier decision holding that the Constitution bars a state from requiring catalog retailers to collect sales taxes on sales made to state residents unless the retailer is “physically present” in the state.

At least 18 states are looking into changes in the way they draw congressional and legislative districts
Los Angeles Times
Since the start of this year, more than 60 bills dealing with redistricting criteria and methods have been introduced in at least 18 state legislatures, already equaling the total number of states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Why Your Pharmacist Can't Tell You That $20 Prescription Could Cost Only $8
New York Times
Federal and state officials say they share the pharmacists’ concerns, and they have started taking action. At least five states have adopted laws to make sure pharmacists can inform patients about less costly ways to obtain their medicines, and at least a dozen others are considering legislation to prohibit gag clauses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Clark County Considers Beer, Wine at Salons, Barbershops
U.S. News & World Report
At least seven states have approved alcohol service at salons, barbershops and spas, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Why Statehouse interns are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment
USA Today
Some states, such as New York and Washington, limit interactions between state lawmakers and interns, according to a recent review of legislative intern policies by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State changes aim to end gerrymandering
The Boston Globe
Since the start of this year, more than 60 bills dealing with redistricting criteria and methods have been introduced in at least 18 state legislatures, already equaling the total number of states that considered bills last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Democrats say blue wave will flood Congress after midterm elections
Washington Times
“What we’re seeing is the Democratic base really being invigorated by not being represented,” said John Mahoney, policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bill seeks to restrict drone flights near Vermont correctional facilities
Burlington Free Press
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six states — Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin — prohibit drone operation near or over prisons. 

As gun debate roils on, teachers in this Texas school are already armed
Peoria Journal Star
In about two dozen states, schools can allow staff to carry guns on campus, although some require concealed-carry licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nevada one of top states for women in state legislatures
Nevada Appeal
The National Conference of State Legislatures just released its annual study showing Nevada to be one of the top states where women have been elected to their state legislatures.

Impeachment talk a sign of GOP's long-term worry about court
Carlisle Sentinel
The GOP controls an all-time high of 32 state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 33 of 50 governor’s offices.

Legislature passes gun control bill
The Register-Guard
The passage of the bill by the state Senate on a 16-13 vote appears to mark the first time a state legislature has passed a gun-control measure since the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla., said Anne Teigen, a criminal justice expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.

New tax law creates questions for Florida 'piggyback'
Daily Commercial
“This would raise revenue for the states in the short run as businesses bring back monies held overseas, but tax experts seem divided on whether this will be a small amount or a windfall,” the NCSL report said.

Feb. 23

Gun control bill OK'd by Oregon; 1st since Florida shooting
The passage of the bill by the state Senate on a 16-13 vote appears to mark the first time a state legislature has passed a gun-control measure since the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, said Anne S. Teigen, a criminal justice expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.
 
As gun debate roils on, teachers in this Texas school are already armed
In about two dozen states, including California, schools can allow staff to carry guns on campus, although some require concealed-carry licenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Election officials face voting machine challenges ahead of 2018 midterms
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, proposed in his 2018 budget request $134 million to pay for voting upgrades, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
Retirement Experts to New Government Employees: Think for Yourself
Since the Great Recession, every state except Idaho has made changes to the pension benefits they offer public employees, according to Luke Martel, director of the employment, labor and retirement program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Sportsman's Alliance director: The reporter didn't get it right – this bill is nonpartisan
In support of its ruling, the court cited a National Conference of State Legislatures report that said “geographic distribution requirements … are important because they force initiative proponents to demonstrate that their proposal has support statewide.”
 
Science Informing California Policy: Legislative Recipients of Inaugural "CCST Leadership Awards" Announced
Emerging Science Champion Award - California State Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin… Nationally, she has taken leadership as Chair of the Cybersecurity Task Force for the National Conference of State Legislators. 
 
Weaver honored with 'Power of One' award
The Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama awarded its highest honor, the NPAA Power of One award, to state Rep. April Weaver, R-Brierfield... She is the vice chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Health and Human Services Committee and is an Executive Committee member of the Energy Council.
 
Borrelli bill for Industrial Hemp Program passes Arizona Senate
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states allow for the cultivation of hemp for commercial, research or pilot programs. Last year alone 15 states enacted legislation to establish such programs.
 
Fact-checking a misleading post on ID requirements for buying guns, voting
It’s certainly true that a number of states have requirements for voters to hand over a government-issued photo ID in one of just a few categories, such as driver’s licenses. The strictest of these include Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Is it time for industrial hemp?
Joining Farm Bureau in support is the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Farmers Union, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and many other organizations across the country.
 

Feb. 22

Parkland Students Protest in Tallahassee, Raising Political Pressure for Tougher Gun Laws 
Wall Street Journal
States also are looking at the issue anew. In North Carolina, a new legislative committee is studying whether to arm teachers in the aftermath of the Florida shooting. At least 10 other states, including Florida, are weighing similar measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Democrats flip deep red Kentucky House seat but Republicans still control that chamber
ABC News
However even after last night’s loss, Republicans still hold a wide 62 to 37 seat majority in the 100 seat Kentucky House, according to National Conference of State Legislatures.

As Immigrants Prepare to Lose Legal Status, Some States Seek to Protect Their Benefits
Governing
Because of the change in national rhetoric, it’s going to be a really interesting year at the state level, in terms of how states are going to portray themselves as welcoming or not welcoming to certain immigrant populations,” said Ann Morse, who oversees an immigration project at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There is a real public debate going on that is just getting started.”

Bill to Lower Penalties for Pot Possession Clears Committee 
U.S. News & World Report
If approved, Alabama would join 22 states and the District of Columbia in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Why Statehouse Interns Are Especially Vulnerable To Sexual Harassment
HuffPost
Some states, such as New York and Washington, limit interactions between state lawmakers and interns, according to a recent review of legislative intern policies by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Legislators start session with sexual harassment training, and promise to work on problems 
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Peppin said the House subcommittee will hear from the public and outside groups, such as members of the National Conference of State Legislatures. She said a nonprofit or other group could still create a task force.

New campaign highlights states' school improvement efforts 
Education Dive
Four national education organizations want to make sure states are recognized for the innovative work they are doing to improve schools and outcomes for students. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Education Commission of the States, the National Association of State Boards of Education, and the National Conference of State Legislatures have joined together to support the States Leading Campaign, which will highlight elements of states’ plans to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

County considers beer, wine sales at hair salons
Las Vegas Sun
At least seven states have approved alcohol service at salons, barbershops and spas, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, and Nevada is not one of them. Commissioner Lawrence Weekly said during a Tuesday meeting that the Clark County proposal was pushed by industry, with business owners saying that many customers asked if they offered drinks like the businesses in some of their hometowns.

Idaho Senate panel advances measure to ban hand-held cell phones while driving
The Spokesman-Review
Fifteen states, including Washington, ban all use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Thirty-eight ban all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers; and 47 states ban texting for all drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Time Has Come for Industrial Hemp
Farm Bureau News
Joining Farm Bureau in support is the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Farmers Union, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and many other organizations across the country. 

Can Registries Cover Too Many Crimes? Kansas Legislation Suggests A Rollback
KCUR
According to a count last year by the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 10 states include violent crimes on their registries.

Feb. 21

UPS Medical Pot User Hopes to Expand Judge's Mind 
Bloomberg BNA
In all, 29 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have laws broadly legalizing marijuana use when authorized by a doctor for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, only nine of those states—including Arizona—prohibit employers from discriminating against medical-marijuana-using employees. California is looking to become the tenth state to do so.

Celia Israel: Texas unprepared for advances in transportation tech
Austin American-Statesman
With more Americans driving cars that aren’t so reliant on gas, 10 states have imposed an additional registration fee on electric or hybrid vehicles, ranging from $50 to $200 annually, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures as of April 2017. 

Latest Push for Special Elections To Fill Maryland Legislative Vacancies Gets a Boost
Bethesda Magazine
Overall, about one-third of the current 188-member General Assembly acquired their seats via appointment rather than election. Nationally, about half of states have systems similar to Maryland, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures—with legislative vacancies filled by a combination of the governor, local governing bodies, or political party committees.

Assembly Republicans rush bill to allow business associations to self-insure
Wisconsin State Journal
Small businesses pay 8 percent to 18 percent more than large companies for the same coverage, Zimmerman said, citing a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

What can mental health professionals divulge in North Dakota?
KFYR – TV
Only 4 states- Maine, North Carolina, Nevada and North Dakota- do not have a duty to warn according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Tanning Beds Could Soon Be Off-Limits To Some Tennessee Teens
WPLN
Initially, Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, wanted to ban anyone under 18 from the harmful UV rays of a tanning bed. Sixteen states already have this rule, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures 

The Teacher: Childhood trauma informed Stewart's legislative success
KRWG
She ignored that T-shirt message when asked three years ago to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures’ International Education Study Group, a small group of state lawmakers tasked with looking to other countries for ways to improve educational outcomes in the United States.

Minnesota Renews Its Push for Tax Drug Manufacturers on Opioid Prescriptions
Addiction Now
Although none of these bills have passed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states hope that they will help mitigate the fallout from the opioid crisis.

Feb. 20

Election Security a High Priority — Until It Comes to Paying for New Voting Machines 
ProPublica
Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures says “Some voting equipment today works with old operating systems — Windows XP or Windows 2000 — and data storage devices we wouldn’t even know what to do with today.”

4 districts appeal school-choice exemption denials 
Arkansas Online
Every state except for Maryland has some degree of open enrollment/cross-district boundary school choice laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Arkansas, the law has changed several times, including in 2015 and 2017, allowing increased participation.

Despite few fatals, laws move toward further protection 
Plattsburgh Press Republican
And, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states introduced some kind of school-bus seat-belt law in 2017.

Lawmaker: Lack of regulation for Arizona tattoo industry is 'shocking'
AZ Central
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly every state has a regulation on the age limit of those getting tattoos, including Arizona. But for Dr. Eric Meyer, former Arizona House representative from Paradise Valley, age restrictions don’t go far enough.

Cancer Prevention Important to Dentists, Yet Many Avoid HPV Talk 
Dentist’s Money Digest
One important topic in the HPV discussion is prevention. There is a vaccine against HPV, but the vaccine is only required in two states (Rhode Island and Virginia) and Washington, DC, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

More Alabama Women Putting their Names on the Ballot 
WBHM
Women make up just 15 percent of Alabama lawmakers. Nationally, that’s a far smaller proportion than many states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bill Would Require 'In God We Trust' in Every Oklahoma Classroom
KOSU
Nearly a dozen states allow or require the national motto to be displayed in schools and public buildings, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures and Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Feb. 19

NBA, MLB in Lobbying Lockstep for a Piece of Sports Betting
Big Law Business
Nevada, where sports gambling is legal, is often viewed as the role model in gambling regulation. But states mulling an integrity fee model are navigating uncharted waters, Ethan Wilson, policy director for commerce and financial services with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told Bloomberg Tax.
He added that by including an integrity fee for the leagues, states are missing out on revenue for themselves. “I think what would be a concern for states moving forward is to look at and really understand what this integrity fee would do and how it could be potentially detrimental to revenues that could be raised and otherwise spent on law enforcement, mental health, and smart gambling awareness,” Wilson said.

States consider protecting benefits for DACA, TPS immigrants facing loss of status
Chicago Tribune
"Because of the change in national rhetoric, it's going to be a really interesting year at the state level, in terms of how states are going to portray themselves as welcoming or not welcoming to certain immigrant populations," said Ann Morse, who oversees an immigration project at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "There is a real public debate going on that is just getting started."

Conservatives rally behind pay raise for Nebraska lawmakers
San Francisco Chronicle
The nation's highest pay is in California, where lawmakers get $104,118 annually and a $183 daily per diem when they're in session. New Mexico has the lowest pay, offering lawmakers nothing but a $164 per diem, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

We need federal limits on prescribing opioids
The Hill
A National Conference of State Legislatures report in July found that at least 23 states have passed laws to restrict prescribing.

Number Of Doctors Concerning For Senior Population
Jamestown Post Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the rural population of those aged 55 to 75 in the nation is expected to grow 30 percent by 2020.

Beacon Hill interns not covered by harassment policy
Eagle Tribune
Legislatures in Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming define interns as employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Seat belts on the bus: Debate goes round and round
Plattsburgh Press Republican
The National Conference of State Legislatures says the same. “Although safety belts provide excellent protection in passenger vehicles, the effectiveness of safety belts on school buses is unknown because the effectiveness depends upon the type of restraint, how it is used and the type of crash,” its website says.

Candidate filing time at hand in Arkansas for 173 seats
Arkansas Online
Arkansas has the highest party filing fees for the state Legislature in the U.S., according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and several Democratic leaders have had contentious exchanges over the issue on social media.

College Democrats, Republicans host first debate of the semester
The Brown and White
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, affirmative action policies are typically focused in the areas of education and employment, and engage “in efforts to improve opportunities for historically excluded groups in American society.”

Lawmaker: Lack of regulation on Arizona tattoo industry is 'shocking'
AZ Family
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly every state has a regulation on the age limit of those getting tattoos, including Arizona.

Feb. 16

Beacon Hill interns not covered by sexual harassment policy
Gloucester Daily Times
Legislatures in Colorado, Oregon and Wyoming define interns as employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In the state of Washington, the legislature's policy specifically seeks to limit interactions between adults and interns and legislative pages.

School bus incident has a lesson: Don't text and drive 
New Jersey Herald 
New Jersey bans drivers from using handheld cell phones and texting and is one of only 28 states that prohibit any cellphone use by school bus drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Bill to make health care a constitutional right moves forward
KGW 8
Making health care a constitutional right would be a first among all states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 15

Oregon Senate Committee Gets Health Care Rights Bill 
U.S. News & World Report
Making health care a constitutional right would be a first among all states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The move comes as the Trump administration has tried to dismantle former President Barack Obama's health care law and endorsed Republican bills to repeal expansion of Medicaid. 

Minnesota Renews Push for Tax on Prescription Opioids 
U.S. News & World Report
Minnesota is one of at least 13 states to have considered an opioid tax in recent years to help pay for the fallout from the United States' opioid epidemic, although none have passed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

School bus incident has a lesson: Don't text and drive 
New Jersey Herald
New Jersey bans drivers from using handheld cell phones and texting and is one of only 28 states that prohibit any cellphone use by school bus drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 14

Oregon state lawmakers vote to make health care a right
ABC News
Amending the constitution to establish health care as a right would be unprecedented in the United States, according to Richard Cauchi of the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Gov. Hogan signs bill terminating parental rights for rapists 
Washington Post
Maryland is the 25th state to use the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, Jordan said, joining Florida, Georgia and Illinois, among others, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Louisiana, Missouri and Nebraska are among the states that require a criminal conviction.

Sports-Betting Tax Rates Up in Air as States Await Green Light 
Bloomberg BNA
While multiple states have passed legislation to legalize sports-betting, most states will look for the high court’s green light before moving forward, according to Ethan Wilson, policy director of commerce and financial services with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State K-12 Funding, Aid Formulas High on Legislators' Radar 
Education Week
But the relative rebound of property tax has given states breathing room to consider more fundamental changes to their school funding formulas, said Daniel Thatcher, a school funding analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nebraska Lawmakers Eye State as Test Site for Self-Driving Cars 
Insurance Journal
Twenty-one states have passed legislation related to automated vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nevada was the first to allow them in 2011.

Oregon state lawmakers vote to make health care a right 
WTOP
Amending the constitution to establish health care as a right would be unprecedented in the United States, according to Richard Cauchi of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 13

Legislature seeks ways to improve its harassment policies
East Oregonian
Although Oregon’s rules and procedures for addressing incidents of sexual harassment are held up as a model for other states — the National Conference of State Legislatures showcased the policies of Oregon and several other state legislatures in a Feb. 9 webinar on preventing sexual harassment — Gelser says there’s a lot of room for improvement.

House leaders press Senate to take up paid leave bill
vtdigger.org
According to Jackson Brainerd, a policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Vermont’s 80 percent wage replacement level is higher than the average of 50 percent to 60 percent offered by the other states. “If the wage replacement is low, lower income workers won’t take the leave because the wage is not enough for them to live on,” Brainerd said.

NC top life sciences state in job growth and wages, report says
Triangle Business Journal
According to the International Technology & Innovation Foundation report, called "Growing the Future: State Efforts to Advance Life Sciences," U.S. companies employed 1.2 million people in life sciences in 2016. And more and more, states are working to build those attributes. According to the report, "The National Conference of State Legislatures lists 27 states that have passed legislation to provide some type of funding or assistance to the biotechnology industry."

Senators eye Nebraska as testing site for self-driving cars
Plainview Daily Herald
Twenty-one states have passed legislation related to automated vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nevada was the first to allow them in 2011.

Good Samaritan Law offers treatment, few takers
Canton Repository
Ohio passed its Good Samaritan Law in 2016 in response to an opioid-driven overdose crisis that killed 4,050 Ohioans that year. Similar laws exist in 39 other states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Into The Weeds Of The Cannabis Debate in Particularly Pot-Unfriendly Kansas
KCUR
Tallies by the National Conference of State Legislatures show at least 29 states now allow medical marijuana, nine permit recreational use and some others allow derivative products (more on that below).

Feb. 12

Trump proposes $200B for infrastructure to be cut from other federal programs to pave way for $1.5T in projects
USA TODAY
Groups such as the National Association of Counties, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a joint statement Thursday welcoming Trump’s focus on infrastructure.

Wife of 80-year-old state senator accompanies him to work each day. Some say she assists him with duties.
Washington Post
Perhaps because of an unusually large crop of new lawmakers elected in 2014, Maryland is actually one of the youngest state legislatures in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Growing number of state laws are passed or introduced focusing on campus free speech
Fox News
States that have already enacted campus free speech laws are Virginia, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Fast food workers set to protest in push for $15 minimum wage
Fox News
Eighteen states announced they would begin 2018 with higher wages, including Alaska, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota, all of whom raised their rates based on the cost of living. Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington increased their minimum wages due to previously approved legislation or ballot initiatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

How many options should your ballot have in South Dakota?
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
“Very slowly, over time, states have been moving toward easing ballot access rules,” said Wendy Underhill of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “It’s little by little, but it is moving that direction.”

Galvin, voter groups press for same-day registration
The Salem News
Only 14 states including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and the District of Columbia allow same-day voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Want to talk about the state's money? Budget plenty of time
WTOP
Despite Skype and other high-tech video communication tools, there’s no widespread movement on the state level to broaden their use for budget hearings, although some states are using conference call technology to allow people to testify remotely, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Senators eye Nebraska as testing site for self-driving cars
Seattlepi.com 
Twenty-one states have passed legislation related to automated vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nevada was the first to allow them in 2011.

Most SC gubernatorial candidates oppose bill to ban local decisions on plastic bags
Charleston Post Courier
At least eight states have enacted legislation preventing local governments from banning plastic bags: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Feb. 8

Pregnant Rape Victims in Maryland Can Now Ask a Court to End Their Attacker's Parental Rights
TIME
About 45 states and the District of Columbia limit parental rights of rapists, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. About 30 allow or require the complete termination of rights. The other states and the District of Columbia deny or restrict some aspect, such as custody or visitation.

Bill to end lottery scholarship funding requirement stalls 
Santa Fe New Mexican
Maestas said there are 12 couples across the country, including four in New Mexico, in which lobbyists are married to legislators. He said the National Conference of State Legislatures advised him and the rest of the lawmakers that they should not abstain from or avoid votes in which the spouse has a lobbying interest.  

Virginia likely to expand medical marijuana 
wtvr.com
Virginia is poised to join 29 other states that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three U.S. territories have a similar policy.

South Dakota lawmaker looks to rein in opioid painkiller prescriptions
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Sen. Arthur Rusch, R-Vermillion, brought the bill in an effort to curb opioid addiction in the state. He pointed to National Conference of State Legislature data which showed first-time patients were less likely to develop addictions when prescribed smaller amounts of the drugs.

Equal pay bill heads to Senate
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
According to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Alabama and Mississippi are the only states that do not have equal pay laws, though, some of those laws are viewed as weak and ineffective.

Move to cut size of state House hits speed bump
Meadville Tribune
When the 50 state senators are added, the Pennsylvania General Assembly, with 253 lawmakers, is the largest full-time legislature in the country. Only New Hampshire has more lawmakers, with 424. They are part-time and are paid $200, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Move to cut size of state House hits speed bump
New Castle News
They are part-time and are paid $200, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Delegate proposes breaks for nursing mothers to pump milk
Fredrick News Post
Maryland has laws that allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, according to National Conference of State Legislatures.

'#UsToo' shout Indiana legislators
Journal Review
It is being produced by the National Conference of State Legislators for use by all 50 states, so we know it will be of the highest quality.

Maryland ending parental rights of rapists who impregnate
Daily Herald 
About 45 states and the District of Columbia limit parental rights of rapists, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Lawsuit filed over Arkansas' revamped voter ID law
WTOP
Thirty-four states have laws requiring or requesting voters show some form of voter ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 7

A map to improving education
Sante Fe New Mexican 
The National Conference of State Legislatures, as an outgrowth of a dynamic forum with education experts and state policymakers about the poor showing of the United States on the Programme for International Student Assessment, launched a study on the world’s top education systems.

As the #MeToo movement hits statehouses, one NC lawmaker wants new protections
News & Observer 
The General Assembly’s human resources department has gathered information from other states and the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Southern Legislative Conference and the state's human resources office for resources and training materials.

Bus drivers: Cars passing buses a frequent issue
Elizabethtown News Enterprise
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states have allowed cameras to be placed on the outside of a bus to record illegal passing.

College students urge Cox to give DACA tuition bill a chance
Richmond.com
Twenty states currently offer in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Virginia is not one of them.

Oklahoma politician proposes chemical castration for sex offenders
WVNS – TV 
California became the first state to pass such a law in 1996, and since then at least six other states have passed laws allowing it in some form, including Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 6

Illegal Super Bowl Bets May Top $4 Billion, State Taxes Next?
BNA
While more states ready frameworks for if the high court reverses PASPA, most will still wait for the high court’s decision, said Ethan Wilson, policy director of commerce and financial service at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Women hit new high in state legislatures
The Hill
There are currently 1,866 female members of state legislatures across the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). That is 25.3 percent of the 7,383 seats in 99 state legislative chambers.

A map to improving education 
Santa Fe New Mexican
The National Conference of State Legislatures, as an outgrowth of a dynamic forum with education experts and state policymakers about the poor showing of the United States on the Programme for International Student Assessment, launched a study on the world’s top education systems.  

Baker seeks bigger break for low-income families
The Salem News
In Connecticut, it’s 30 percent, and Vermont’s is 32 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Medical cannabis dispensaries are opening in Texas, but newly legal oils still aren't easy to procure
Stephenville Empire – Tribune
Twenty-nine states now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Time to act
New Mexico Political Report
The National Conference of State Legislatures, as an outgrowth of a dynamic forum with education experts and state policymakers about the poor showing of the United States on the Programme for International Student Assessment, launched a study on the world’s top education systems.

Oklahoma considers chemical castration for sex offenders
WTHR
California became the first state to pass such a law in 1996, and since then at least six other states have passed laws allowing it in some form, including Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 5

Oklahoma considers chemical castration for sex offenders
New York Post
California became the first state to pass such a law in 1996, and since then at least six other states have passed laws allowing it in some form, including Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

'Promote vote' petition would OK no-reason absentee
The Detroit News
Twenty-seven states do not require a reason for absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 37 states allow some form of early in-person voting.

House member revives equal pay proposal
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
According to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Alabama and Mississippi are the only states that do not have equal pay laws, though, some of those laws are viewed as weak and ineffective.

Denver's push for injection site for heroin users, once positioned to pass, may not get out of GOP-led committee
The Denver Post
At least seven other states have introduced legislation to permit safe injection sites, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization based in Denver.

Women underrepresented in local elective offices
The Oakland Press
Women remain underrepresented in elected office, even as they post educational and professional gains. They represent 24.9 percent of those serving in state legislatures nationwide, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Bill to reduce marijuana penalties faces uncertain future
Sioux City Journal
Separately, 29 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico allow public medical marijuana and cannabis programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Arkansas House: State's fiscal legislative session starts February 12
Magnolia Reporter 
Annual sessions for state legislatures are now the norm in the United States with 46 states meeting annually, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Feb. 2

Arizona legislature expels lawmaker on 'hostile work environment' claims
Reuters
Some 27 state legislatures in 2016 had formal policies for legislative employees on sexual harassment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

San Francisco To Dismiss Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions
NPR
Nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana —and 29 states and D.C. have laws allowing "comprehensive" legal medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Virginia appears poised to approve cannabis oil as a medical treatment
Washington Post
Sixteen other states, in addition to Virginia, allow limited use of marijuana products for a narrow range of diseases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

States are fighting back against the Trump administration to restore net neutrality
Wisconsin Gazette
“Net neutrality is going to be a big issue for states in 2018. We expect more and more bills to be filed,” said Danielle Dean, a policy director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “The issue will be contentious, and there will be heated conversations about what role states should take.”

South Carolina bill would require schools to display 'In God We Trust' posters
Fox News
At least 11 states allow or require the national motto to be displayed in schools and public buildings, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures and Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Virginia moves toward approving cannabis oil as a medical treatment
Roanoke Times
Sixteen other states, in addition to Virginia, allow limited use of marijuana products for a narrow range of diseases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Rick Saccone, Critic of Government Spending, Spends Freely From His Expense Account, Records Show
The Intercept
The per diem rates can vary based on time of year, but the full per diem rate in 2016 was $175, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

All of Your Mysterious Hotel Fees, Explained
Lifehacker Australia
The National Conference of State Legislatures has a state by state list of lodging tax rates here.

Committee kills Spotsylvania lawmaker's bill phasing out state income tax on military retirees
Fredericksburg.com
Of the 41 states with an income tax, 14—Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—do not tax military pensions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 1

Bill allowing cannabis oil for medical patients gains traction in Virginia
Washington Post
The District of Columbia and 28 states, including Maryland, have legalized most or all types of marijuana products for medical purposes. Nine states and the District have also legalized the drug for recreational use. Seventeen states, including Virginia, allow limited use of marijuana products for a narrow range of diseases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

San Francisco To Dismiss Thousands Of Marijuana Convictions
NPR
Nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana —and 29 states and D.C. have laws allowing "comprehensive" legal medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least nine states also have laws "addressing expungement" of some types of marijuana convictions, the group says.

First State Ban On Bump Stocks Takes Effect After Las Vegas Massacre
HuffPost
Meanwhile, at least 15 states and a number of local jurisdictions have taken taken up proposals to ban the devices following the Las Vegas shooting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A dangerous package: Experts, lawmakers attempt to close loophole allowing postal delivery of synthetic drugs
Richmond Register
And, given the support from groups like the National Council of State Legislators, Fraternal Order of Police and the American Medical Association, Wolff is “optimistic that Congress will act soon.”

Schreiber Beck running for 2nd term in ND House
Wahpeton Daily News
The Daily News has more information on the two National Conference of State Legislatures committees to which he was recently appointed.

Galvin, voter groups press for same-day registration
The Daily News of Newburyport
Only 14 states, including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow same-day voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Are Collaborating on a Health Care Plan
Study Breaks
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, yearly health care premium costs reached an average of $18,764 in 2017.

Maryland Senate votes to end parental rights of rapists
WJLA
About 45 states and the District of Columbia limit parental rights of rapists, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

House passes bill to ban smoking in cars with minors
AL.COM
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states and  Puerto Rico have restrictions on smoking in vehicles with minors.

Alabama may ban smoking in vehicles with minors: report
NOLA.COM
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that eight states and Puerto Rico have restrictions similar to the one proposed by Hollis, although states vary on the ages at which the bans apply. In Louisiana, it applies to minors 13 and under.