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NCSL in the News for September 2011

NCSL in the News: 2011

NCSL in the News Archives

NCSL in the News: September 2011

September 30

State lawmakers push to allow guns on college campuses
In Texas alone, six bills introduced this year would make it legal to bear arms on campus, says Brenda Bautsch, an education-policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  "We're seeing more bills," she says. "And there are far more bills to allow guns than to prohibit them."  USA Today

Amazon deal with California may set precedent for online tax collection
With Amazon and big brick-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart and Target forming an unusual coalition in favor of a federal law, their hope is that their side has the clout to win passage. If the California deal adds urgency to the efforts, all the better. “We’re going to face hundreds of millions, billions of dollars in [aid] reductions,” says Neal Osten, director of NCSL's Washington office. “This is something Congress can do for the states.”  Stateline

Public pensions get a lift from stocks: Census
"There's been a substantial improvement in assets, and that's a good sign, but it doesn't mean pensions are out of the woods," said Ron Snell, who tracks the issue as a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

Should the Feds do two-year budgets?
States have actually been trending away from biennial budgets. Seventy years ago, 44 states had two-year budgets, but today, that figure is down to 19, according to a report earlier this year by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Governing (blog)

Bills for guns on campus outweigh those against in 2011
However, across the country more lawmakers have introduced bills to allow guns on campus than to limit them. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this year 14 states introduced laws to allow weapons on campus. Two states introduced bills to ban guns on campus.  KOLD-TV

UW–Madison economist to receive national honor
The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Tax Association give the award each year in memory of Steve Gold, an active member of all three organizations whose career and life tragically were shortened by illness.  University of Wisconsin-Madison News

September 29

Louisiana faces large drop in Medicaid funding
The estimate on how much Louisiana stands to lose came from Federal Funds Information for States, a joint subscription service of the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Alexandria Town Talk (AP)

Rhode Island offers in-state tuition to illegal immigrants
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which monitors states’ legislative activity, 12 other states have similar laws. They include Texas, whose Republican governor, Rick Perry, has been dogged by the issue as he faces off against rival presidential candidates who oppose it.  The Keene Sentinel (McClatchy)

Augusta lawmakers travel light under GOP leadership
Another $2,100 was approved for Cushing's trip to the ALEC conference and a separate event hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan organization that provides training and policy seminars to lawmakers.  Lewiston Sun Journal

Kentucky lawmakers hear from expert on voter IDs
Bowser said one reason that might explain why voter ID laws have multiplied throughout the country could be found in surveys that show about 80 percent of Americans think voter fraud is prevalent.  "The fear of fraud is enough to justify these laws in some states," Bowser said.  However, she said evidence of people impersonating voters is scant.  "There are strong feelings on both sides, but not a lot of evidence either way," Bowser said.  Houston Chronicle (AP)

CDC to develop guidelines for managing student athletes' concussions
About a dozen states, including New Jersey, have rules related to concussions and brain injuries among student athletes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states are considering similar measures.  Huffington Post (AP)

Primary elections: Initiative advances top two candidates
According to a National Conference of State Legislatures briefing paper on primary elections, four other states had top-two primary systems as of 2010: California, Louisiana and Washington. California voters approved that state’s top-two system in 2010.  TriValley Central (AP)

September 28

NJ lawmakers: CDC will study, create protocols for student athlete concussions
About a dozen states, including New Jersey, have rules related to concussions and brain injuries among student athletes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states are considering similar measures.  Washington Post (AP)

Expert on elections addresses Ky. lawmakers about requiring photo IDs at polls
An expert in election issues has told Kentucky lawmakers that fear of vote fraud has led more states to require photo identification at the polls.  Jennie Bowser, who is a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures, addressed the Interim Joint Task Force on Elections on Tuesday in Frankfort.  The Republic (AP)

Initiative would switch Arizona primary to 'top 2'
According to a National Conference of State Legislatures briefing paper on primary elections, four other states had top-two primary systems as of 2010: California, Louisiana, Nebraska and Washington.  Associated Press

U.S. state, local government revenue tops prerecession peak
States are projecting budget deficits of $32 billion next fiscal year, according to the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures, and those shortfalls may rise should the economy falter.  Bloomberg in the San Francisco Chronicle

Louisiana faces half-billion dollar hit in Medicaid money
The estimate on how much Louisiana stands to lose came from Federal Funds Information for States, a joint subscription service of the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Times-Picayune

Perry's immigration stance divides Republicans
Twelve states now grant in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

New York’s DiNapoli wants commission to protect DB plans
But he noted, “According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 39 states have made significant revisions to their pension plans in the past 18 months — including my home state of New York.”  Pensions & Investments

Rhode Island offers lower tuition to immigrants
Rhode Island joins 12 states nationwide that have introduced laws allowing undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition fees under certain conditions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

Raise legislators’ pay, lower reimbursements
Arkansas legislative salaries tend to lag behind most other state legislatures, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are exceptions.  Opinion in the Russellville Courier

‘Racquet Up’ needs tutors, coaches to aid kids
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 30.6 percent of children in Michigan were overweight or obese in 2007, indicative of a national trend toward childhood obesity in recent years.  The Varsity News

Childhood obesity in Texas on the rise
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32.2 percent of children in Texas were considered overweight or obese in 2007.  Nineteen other states had higher percentages; the highest was Mississippi with 44.4 percent.  The Daily Campus

Turning university research into results
The U.S. unemployment rate has climbed from 4.9 to 9.1 percent over the last three years, while the 14 million unemployed persons as of August is a number that is anticipated to increase by the end of September, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Ram

September 27

States cut but still no budget gluts
For the first time in 10 years, states cut taxes more than they increased them, according to a preliminary report released last week by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Nevada News Bureau

Courthouses rife with education policy battles
Some policymakers initially had shown an interest in shifting teachers and other public employees from defined-benefit systems—the norm in the public sector—to defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, in which workers’ returns are more closely tied to the market. But ultimately, state officials focused on simply requiring teachers and other employees to contribute more to the existing plans, said Ron Snell, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a Denver-based research and policy organization. Education Week

Rhode Island gives in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which monitors states' legislative activity, 12 other  states have similar laws. Los Angeles Times

R.I. education board OK’s in-state tuition for undocumented students
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 12 states have laws allowing children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state rates if they meet certain requirements. Several states have barred such benefits for illegal immigrants. Boston Globe and Houston Chronicle

RI board approves tuition for illegal immigrants
Public workers may face cost of deficit cuts imposed by Congress Slowing consumer spending cascaded through the economy in the past four years, leading to the worst tax declines in a half century and state budget gaps totaling $510.5 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. Bloomberg News

Study: In-state tuition for RI non-citizens would raise revenue
Thirteen states have passed laws allowing undocumented students to receive in-state tuition since 2001, including Texas and Connecticut, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; one – Wisconsin – revoked it this year. But Rhode Island would be the first to implement the change through policy rather than legislation. Blog in WPRI

Haley to speak with Coronado students this afternoon
Haley is participating in the America’s Legislators Back to School Program, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Blog in the Kansas City Kansan

Prison-based gerrymandering in Tennessee Counties
At the National Conference of State Legislatures in August, I met Tom Fleming, Director of the Office of Local Government within the Tennessee Comptroller’s office. Prisoners of the Census

Gov. Snyder’s 'exchange' an Obamacare trojan horse?
The tactic has been seen before. For example, a powerpoint created by the liberal-leaning Colorado Health Foundation in a presentation at the National Conference of State Legislatures used Heritage, Massachusetts and Utah exchanges to sell legislators on creating what inevitably will be Obamacare exchanges. CapCon

New Canaan’s desire to serve healthier foods comes for a reason
The National Conference of State Legislatures found in 2007 that nearly 26 percent of Connecticut children ages 10 to 17 qualified as overweight or obese. The Daily New Canaan

Sept. 26

Positive response to Obama's NCLB waiver plan
Lee Posey, senior committee director for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) standing committee on education, tells Governing that her organization views the new flexibility as a positive step. The ultimate hope, though, would be for complete reauthorization of the law, allowing states to be relieved from the law's more unrealistic requirements without going through the waiver process, she says. Governing Blog

Voter ID laws target rarely occurring voter fraud
Link and data from NCSL provided in the article. Associated Press in Newsday

More states make right to hunt bulletproof
Douglas Shinkel, a policy specialist who tracks the issue for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that flagging interest in hunting is a cause of concern. A 2007 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found that the number of hunters 16 and older fell by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006 — from 14 million to about 12.5 million. “In general, hunting and fishing has been going down,” he said. AP in the Jackson Sun

Federal health reform law stalled in Albany
So far, 15 states have created them, although those in Massachusetts and Utah pre-date the federal law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Democrat and Chronicle

Ethics Commission declines to rule on homeless voter issue
The interim committee on elections, which Thayer co-chairs, will hear testimony in Frankfort next Tuesday from the National Conference of State Legislatures about other states considering this issue. Thayer said this is a national issue. Blog in the Cincinnati Enquirer

Stamford parents need to check school lunch menus
The National Conference of State Legislatures found that, in 2007, 25.7 percent of children aged 10-17 years in Connecticut qualified as overweight or obese. The Daily Stamford

Parents fear health law could derail autism coverage
Richard Cauchi, program director of the health program of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said HHS has not yet said how it will determine the cost to states of keeping certain mandates. States may be required to pay the insurer or the enrollee. Kaiser Health News, KHN in the Gant Daily and All Headline News

Would President Perry's America look like Texas?
Turns out Texas was the state that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post

September 23

Ohio joins states letting voters weigh in on Obama’s health law
Ohio voters on Nov. 8 will decide an amendment to their constitution aimed at undercutting the federal Affordable Care Act, joining four states that considered similar measures last year and four slated to vote next year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bloomberg Businessweek

State advocates to Obama: Hands off muni bonds
And that would come at the same time state and local governments will likely be suffering from federal spending cuts as a result of Washington’s deficit reductions efforts. “It’s another whammy,” says Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Governing (blog)

BofA case may be followed by more mortgage suits by counties
U.S. states have already dealt with four straight years of budget imbalances and closed gaps totaling about $511 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  Bloomberg Businessweek

Arizona set record for immigration bills
The number of immigration bills introduced in state capitals reached a record 1,592 this year, but the number actually signed into law fell by one-fourth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Arizona Daily Star

Fairfield moves toward healthier school lunches
The National Conference of State Legislatures found that in 2007 that 25.7 percent of children ages 10 to 17 in Connecticut qualified as overweight or obese.  The Daily Fairfield

Republican plan would parcel out Pennsylvania’s electoral votes
Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and South Carolina have bills pending that would change the winner-take-all system to one by congressional districts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Similar measures failed in 30 states -- including Pennsylvania -- since 2001.  Bloomberg Businessweek

Will a voter ID bill pass?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states require voters to provide some form of identification and seven of those states even have specific photo voter ID cards - something Oyola said would help their busy office during election season.  WSHM-TV

How state lawmakers pump up pensions in ways you can't
Although most states' legislative sessions last just part of the year, legislative duties can be time-consuming.  "It's a full-time job even if the Legislature is convening six months or four months in a year," says Ron Snell, a pension analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

Rick Santorum says Rick Perry provided in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants
Nationally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states passed such proposals into law in the wake of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Signed by President Clinton, the act sought to prevent states from giving an in-state tuition benefit to illegal immigrants that is not available to legal residents.  PolitiFact

September 22

State lawmakers lobby deficit super committee
Unlike the federal government, nearly all states are required to have balanced budgets, and states collectively faced a $91 billion budget gap as they enacted their FY 2012 budgets earlier this year, according to a new NCSL report released this week.  Governing (blog)

Republican debate reignites controversy over HPV vaccine
Other more widely passed laws include those that mandate creating public-awareness campaigns about the causes and prevention of cervical cancer and those that require insurance companies to pay for the vaccine, said Karmen Hanson, a policy analyst for health for the NCSL.  Education Week

California’s ‘landmark’ law on aid for immigrant students will not be alone
The reality, however, is that according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 13 states, including California, that already subsidise unauthorised immigrant students by allowing them to pay lower in-state college tuition, instead of the higher tuition paid by out-of-state students.  Opinion in the Financial Times

Mason: Appropriations increase request is modest
Brenda Bautsch, an education policy specialist from the National Conference of State Legislatures, said there were appropriation cuts across the country in higher education.  "Sure, institutions are hoping they can get a modest increase or at the very least, avoid another cut," she said. "I think stable funding would be the goal for most institutions this year."  The Daily Iowan

State government and political news: Democrats becoming wary of daily protests at Capitol
The National Conference of State Legislatures says Wisconsin is one of 11 states that allow recalls for any reason. Eight other states require specific reasons, like misconduct or a lack of fitness to serve.  Pierce County Herald

Basnight's specter still looms on Jones Street
An August 2011 Civitas poll shows that 67 percent of the state's unaffiliated voters favor limiting legislators to no more than two terms in a position of leadership.  According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states have some sort of legislative term limit law on the books.  Opinion in the Lincoln Tribune

People should be accepting and supportive
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “45 states have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location,” and “28 states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.” Maryland is included in this, and many restaurants have policies in place regarding how to address an issue with customers if it arises.  Opinion in the Cumberland Times-News

September 21

Some good, some bad for states in Obama's deficit plan
Michael Bird, Federal Affairs Counsel for NCSL, tells Governing that the president's proposition amounted to a "mixed bag." Bird says that most of these solutions had been on the table during the debt ceiling negotiations over the summer. One of NCSL's top goals is preventing cost shifts and unfunded mandates, he says, which this preliminary plan seems to avoid.  Governing (blog)

Recall cost to government: $2.1 million; amount spent: a record $44 million
Nineteen states, including Wisconsin, allow voters to recall state officials through an election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, eight require specific grounds for a recall, ranging from an official's lack of fitness and neglect of duties to misconduct in office.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

State-level immigration bills hit record number in 2011, report says
The number of immigration bills proposed in state capitals reached a record 1,592 this year, but the number actually signed into law fell by one–fourth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Cronkite News

Eat this: Unpacking school lunch
Connecticut, for all its affluence, is far from immune to this epidemic. A 2007 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that 25.7 percent of Connecticut children aged 10 – 17 years qualified as overweight or obese.  Opinion in the Daily Stamford

Massachusetts rewarded as Democrats slash costs: Muni credit
States cut costs by slashing workers and trimming benefits as they faced budget gaps totaling $511 billion in the past four years, data from the National Conference of State Legislatures show.  Bloomberg BusinessWeek

New GEMS bill-drafting system wins award
Idaho's Legislative Services Office has won an award from the National Conference of State Legislatures for its new Government Electronic Management System, or GEMS, that handles bill-drafting, processing of bills and votes, journals, calendars and more during the legislative session.  The Spokesman-Review (blog)

Wisconsin's selling of school choice, Walmart family heirs and others changing education
Across the nation, proponents of school choice are sensing opportunity. The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan policy group, reports that so far this year bills to create voucher programs have been introduced in at least 30 states, and tax credits to those paying private school tuition or giving to private school scholarship funds have been proposed in at least 28 states.  Huffington Post

State lawmakers have $1.5 million in campaign accounts
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 states place restrictions on giving and receiving campaign contributions during the legislative session.  GoLocalProv

September 20

Ariz. groups urge state to create health exchange
While 15 states have approved legislation creating exchanges, Arizona is among 35 others that have not acted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Forbes (AP)

Florida Senate beginning child protection review
Similar "Caylee's Law" legislation has been filed in at least 11 other states - Alabama, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee - accord to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Miami Herald (AP)

Illinois leads A+ debt poised to rally on widening yield gap: Muni credit
State budget deficits are expected to drop to $32 billion next fiscal year, about a third of the level for the current period, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  Bloomberg

Tuesday churn: Mayor’s endorsement
A new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures finds that state lawmakers across the nation have faced budget gaps totaling $510.5 billion over the last four years. The report notes that the revenue situation is stabilizing nationwide but that growth will continue to be slow in 2012-13.  Education News Colorado

Understanding health care reform
If Missouri doesn't establish its own health insurance exchange, the federal government will step in and do it. Seven states -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia -- have already set up these exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Southeast Missourian

PERS plan becoming political hot potato
This is not just a Mississippi issue. Twenty-six state legislatures have made changes to their retirement systems in the past year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  DeSoto Times Tribune

Salts and spices belong in the kitchen
The chemicals that allow the user to dive into an altered reality are lab-produced stimulants called "synthetic cathinones," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Opinion in the PUC Chronicle

Rep. Barbieri tapped for national post
Recognizing a career body of work in the social services field, the National Conference of State Legislatures has appointed Rep. Michael A. Barbieri as vice chair of the group’s Human Services and Welfare Committee.  Newark Post

September 19

States brace as supercommittee targets $500 billion in aid
For now, states are reporting rising income-tax receipts, and the trend may continue if concerns that growth will stall prove unwarranted. Helped by the economy, state budget gaps are expected to drop to $32 billion in the next fiscal year, about a third of the level for the current one, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bloomberg

Tiny RI takes on enormous public pension problem
Lawmakers in 15 states — including Arizona, Nebraska, Maryland and New Jersey — voted this year to increase the amount public workers contribute toward their retirement, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Atlanta Journal Constitution (AP)

Pa. electoral reshuffling plan not a done deal
Pennsylvania appears to be the only state considering such a move this year, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  "There has not been a widespread push nationally to go to the district system in recent memory," said Tim Storey, an NCSL senior fellow.  Houston Chronicle (AP)

Connecticut General Assembly uses social media for public comment
Legislatures have been grappling with these questions since Hawaii began accepting e-mail submissions for public comment in 2002, says Pam Greenberg, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures who tracks technology issues.  "We're seeing more legislatures that are using the tools the citizens are using," she says. "It's just a natural place where people are interacting with each other, so it's a great place for legislators to get feedback and communicate with their constituents."  Governing

Three ways to save money on medical costs
These days, comparing medical costs is easier than ever. Thirty states are now asking hospitals to list some prices for medical services, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox Business

Retiree funding changes up in air
About half of state legislatures have made changes to their retirement systems in the past year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Jackson Clarion Ledger

U.S. state finances still under pressure
The National Conference of State Legislatures said on Monday that states closed collective budget gaps of $91bn for the fiscal year 2012, which began for most states on July 1, as rising tax revenues failed to compensate for the end of federal aid from the 2009 stimulus package and the rising cost of public programmes.  Financial Times

The selling of school choice
The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan policy group, reports that so far this year bills to create voucher programs have been introduced in at least 30 states, and tax credits to those paying private school tuition or giving to private school scholarship funds have been proposed in at least 28 states.  Wisconsin Watch.org

Database eyed to curb drug abuse
Pennsylvania is among the last five states without a Pharmaceutical Accountability Monitoring System, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Federal data breach notification law could simplify process
With the exception of Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Dakota, every state as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands has enacted legislation requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  Business Insurance

Stop politicizing vaccine science
In 2006, the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices suggested routine vaccination for girls between 11 and 12. Since then, at least 20 states have enacted legislation to require, finance or educate the public about the HPV vaccine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Opinion in the Nashua Telegraph

U.S. Supreme Court's Whiting decision spurs state immigration legislation and related litigation
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states and Puerto Rico enacted 23 employment-related immigration bills in the first six months of 2011, and a record number of immigration-related bills were introduced into state legislatures during the same period.  Lexology

September 16

Maine governor wants to get tougher on bath salts
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 30 states have banned substituted cathinones, the chemical name of bath salts. While some of the laws have been very effective controlling the drug, others have not, said Alison Lawrence of NCSL's Criminal Justice Program. The success depends on whether the legislation is written in a way to prevent loopholes, she said.  Houston Chronicle (AP)

Lawmakers leverage social media, taking testimony in tweets
Several states have experimented with similar strategies. Lawmakers in Utah held an online legislative forum in 2007, and the Indiana legislature had a similar event in 2009, said Pam Greenberg, a senior fellow who tracks technology issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Hartford Courant

Republicans rewriting state election laws in ways that could hurt Democrats
This year, more than 30 states debated changes to their voting laws. A dozen passed more restrictive rules requiring voters to present state-issued photo IDs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although Democratic governors in four states vetoed them.  Washington Post

National group provides “how to” guide to reform public pension plans
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 25 states made significant revisions to at least one pension plan in the first six months of 2011. Thirty-nine states have made significant revisions to their pension plans in the past 18 months.  Nevada News Bureau

Maine Voices: Why vote 'no' on Question 1? Because 'trust but verify' is a wise rule
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states now ask voters to show photo identification at the polls or have passed laws to do so. Others states are considering it.  Opinion in the Portland Press Herald

Golf clubs not required
In 2010, the Institute for Highway Safety recommended that golf carts be banned from city usage. A spokesperson for the National Conference of State Legislatures cites the lack of safety features required in cars and the danger carts face from larger vehicles.  Opinion in the Covington News

State should catch up to Council Bluffs
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 30 states have body piercing regulations, most of which prohibit the piercing of a minor without parental consent.  Editorial in Southwest Iowa News

September 15

In health push, Michigan to track childhood obesity
Meagan Dorsch, a spokeswoman at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said efforts to gather information on obesity at the state level were "not without precedent." But she said she was not sure if any other state had made it a required part of a doctor's visit and then placed the information on the state's immunization database.  Reuters

Fla. teachers union files suit over merit pay law
Other states are working to create effective evaluation systems first and encouraging districts to implement pilot performance pay models, rather than including it as a requirement, said Michelle Exstrom, education program principal at NCSL.  “Florida always has been ahead of the curve when it comes to the merit pay issue,” Exstrom said. “They’ve just struggled to do it in a way that’s most effective for their teachers and their students.  Miami Herald and Tallahassee Democrat (AP)

N.C. voters to define marriage in state constitution
North Carolina has a statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman, but it is not among states with constitutional language defining marriage, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Lumina News

KS pension gap may more than double
More than 40 states nationally since last year have passed or are considering passing legislation that requires increased taxpayer or worker contributions to their traditional pension plans, said Ron Snell, a vice president with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  "I believe that is unprecedented," Snell said.  Kansas City Monitor

What's the HPV controversy really about?
“The debate in states has centered – in part – around school vaccine requirements, which are determined by individual states,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Some states grant regulatory bodies, like the Board of Health, the power to require vaccines, but the legislature must still provide funding.”  Alaska Dispatch

Fairfax schools to see $23 million from lottery this year
The entire state of Virginia saw lottery sales of $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2011. The state is one of 42 that has lottery ticket sales and saw $53 billion in 2006 (last year statistics available), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Patch.com

Michigan's financial history
Of course, many other states face a similar saving predicament following such a devastating recession. Five states hold the dollars that make up 75 percent of all the Rainy Day Funds in the U.S., according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Michigan Policy Network (blog)

September 14

Redistricting’s impact on state legislatures in 2012
Still, Tim Storey, a redistricting expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures, urges caution when extrapolating potential gains from new lines.  "A good map can give a party's candidates a head start, but elections are notoriously unpredictable. National and top-of-the-ticket forces will play a big part," Storey says. "Plus, it still matters whether you run good candidates and whether they run smart or dumb campaigns."  Governing

Obama plan on tax-exemption limit faces uphill battle
"From a public policy perspective I feel very, very confident. From the politics of the situation, I don't know what will happen," said Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

Localities turn to K Street for protection, fear federal budget tightening
“State governments are a little different than the federal government in that they actually have to balance their budgets. So the ever-changing amount that the feds provide really makes things difficult,” said Jeff Hurley, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Washington Times

Lack of training can be deadly in cosmetic surgery
Sixteen states now allow dentists trained in oral surgery to perform cosmetic surgery on the face, and the New York state legislature is considering a similar bill. New York legislators have been tweaking the laws governing dentists and cosmetic surgery since 2001, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

La Raza calls off boycott of Arizona
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that in the first half of 2011 alone, state lawmakers introduced 1,592 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants, a 16 percent increase from the same period last year.  Orange County Register cited in The Nonprofit Quarterly

Mexico mandates HPV vaccine; U.S. states consider it
Mexico isn't the only government to forge ahead with the HPV mandate, though. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, measures to mandate vaccinations were filed in 23 states during 2006 and 2007.  Texas Tribune

Obama tax plan would hit municipal bonds
“In a world in which there are likely reductions to domestic discretionary and perhaps even mandatory and entitlement spending, it is critical that this tool be preserved in order for us to protect our investments,” said Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Consumer Affairs

On vaccines, politics trumps common sense
In 2006, the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices suggested routine vaccination for girls between 11 and 12. Since then, at least 20 states have enacted legislation to require, finance or educate the public about the HPV vaccine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Editorial in the Concord Monitor

Are our laws prepackaged or homegrown? Does it matter?
The difference, Democrats say, is that those organizations are funded largely by nonprofit foundations not corporate giants, such as oil and tobacco companies. In the case of NCSL, entire state legislatures — Democrats and Republicans included — pay dues for their states, so they are truly nonpartisan.  Bangor Daily News

Students get back to school armed with supplies
In addition, Chivukula sponsors the Back to School program, initiated by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which teaches civil engagement to students in middle and high school.  North Brunswick Sentinel

September 13

Obama proposes limits on tax-breaks for municipal bond investors
States, cities and counties have yet to fully recover from the strains of the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009. States faced budget deficits of about $89 billion this fiscal year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  BusinessWeek

Why North Carolina vote to ban gay marriage might help Obama
If the measure succeeds and the referendum is approved next year, North Carolina will become the 31st state to prohibits same-sex marriage in its constitution, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Civil unions or gay marriages are legal in nine states and the District of Columbia.  Christian Science Monitor

Three ways to save money on medical costs
These days, comparing medical costs is easier than ever. Thirty states are now asking hospitals to list some prices for medical services, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox Business

Arizona turns to $25 prison visitor fees to help address repair, maintenance at state lockups
Hamm said her group could not find any law similar to Arizona’s in other states. The National Conference of State Legislatures and the Association of State Correctional Administrators do not track that data, the groups said.  Washington Post (AP)

The wisdom of voter ID laws
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that bills to require voter identification were introduced into 20 state legislatures this year. Kansas, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island enacted laws, and Governors vetoed bills in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.  Opinion in The New American

Former St. Joseph mayor leads effort to defeat proposed same-sex marriage ban
More than half of U.S. states have passed constitutional language defining marriage as between one man and one woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  St. Cloud Times

Perry defends HPV shots, illegal-immigrants' in-state tuition
Whether or not to require or encourage the vaccine that protects against HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is something most states have struggled with, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Education Week (Blog)

Minnesota tobacco bond may defy underperformers: Muni credit
Legislators authorized the sale in a deal to end a 20-day government shutdown, the longest in a U.S. state since at least 2002, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  San Francisco Chronicle (Bloomberg)

2 candidates—2 Republican parties
Texas was the state that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97 percent of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Opinion in The Daily Beast

Dream Act rally held on steps of CA Capitol
Twelve other states also grant in-state tuition eligibility to illegal immigrants based on attendance and graduation from a state high school, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  KMJ Now

Fla. passes up over $100 million in federal grants
Lawmakers in several other states have also have been reluctant to accept money associated with the federal health overhaul, not wanting to be perceived as supporting the measure.  Still, regardless of political stance, every state has accepted some funding attached to the federal health overhaul, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Foster's Daily Democrat (AP)

September 12

G.O.P. senators in Albany block federal aid to fulfill part of health law
Since the act’s passage, only 13 states have approved legislation to set up exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two additional states, Massachusetts and Utah, set up their own exchanges before the federal law was passed.  New York Times

Colorado voters may raise taxes by $3 billion to aid schools
Colorado is the only state with an initiative on the November ballot that would raise income taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A 1992 amendment to the state constitution bars the Legislature and local lawmakers from increasing taxes without voter approval.  Bloomberg

Senate leader wants right to work for teachers
If a right-to-teach law makes it onto the books, Michigan would become only the second state in the country that applies right to work rules to teachers but not to other unionized workers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Houston Chronicle

10 things pension plans won't tell you
One possible solution to funding pension plans is to have employees pay more, like New Jersey did. Indeed, 15 states raised employee contributions to public pension funds in the first six months of 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  SmartMoney

Should Oklahoma go to all-mail elections?
A National Conference of State Legislatures' report last year found that more states are expanding VBM options or contemplating a switch - particularly in local elections - to eliminate polling-place costs.  Editorial in Tulsa World

Iowa may push again for body piercing oversight
More than 30 states have body piercing regulations, most of which prohibit the piercing of a minor without parental consent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Chicago Tribune

Utica man accused of cyber-bullying Clinton cop
Nationally, a rise in cyber-bullying involving youths has been receiving attention, but experts say adult bullying or harassment is also increasing. Every state has passed a law regarding cyber-stalking, harassment and/or bullying, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Royal Oak Daily Tribune

Bad time for Senate staff raises
It is also a fact that among the legislatures of the 50 states, Ohio's has been among the least costly; according to a 2008 ranking by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Ohio's per capita spending on its legislative branch ($4.16 per Ohioan) ranked 49th.  Editorial in the Plain Dealer

HIMSS holds Sixth Annual National Health IT Week
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) said it has worked closely with HIMSS and other stakeholder organizations to promote understanding among state policymakers of the contributions of health IT to healthcare reform.  Healthcare IT News

September 9

Tennessee's voter-ID law draws congressional scrutiny
Republican-controlled legislatures in five other states - Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas - and Rhode Island's Democratic legislature have enacted similar legislation this year, bringing the total number of states with photo ID laws to 14, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. WBIR NBC Knoxville

Voter ID laws suppress turnout by blacks, elderly, panel told
Over the last decade, 30 states have adopted some kind of voter ID law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, 14 require or request government- issued photo IDS. Jackson Clarion Ledger

Fla. passes up over $100 million in federal grants
Still, regardless of political stance, every state has accepted some funding attached to the federal health overhaul, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New England Cable News

Jobs, not marriage, lawmaker’s focus
North Carolina is among states with statutes defining marriage as between one man and one woman, but it is not among states with constitutional language defining marriage, reported the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website. Lumina News (Wrightsville Beach, NC)

Exchange anxiety
As of mid-July, however, states that had enacted laws to establish their own HIEs were outnumbered by those whose legislatures or governors had specifically blocked efforts to do likewise, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Hospitalist Online

September 8

Kansas pension gap will more than double
More than 40 states nationally since last year have passed or are considering passing legislation that requires increased taxpayer or worker contributions to their traditional pension plans, said Ron Snell with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. KansasReporter

Hispanic numbers continue to grow
A new National Conference of State Legislatures report outlines the reality of Hispanic population growth both in the U.S. and in Mississippi - a reality that has consequences for taxpayers. Jackson Clarion Ledger

Lawmakers open to shaking up redistricting system
According to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states have redistricting commissions. The other states rely solely on lawmakers. Twin Falls Times-News

A lonely Colo. legislator crusades to raise taxes
Of the 29 ballot measures now slated to appear on state ballots in November, Proposition 103 is the only true tax increase, according to Jennie Bowser, elections analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Times

Lake Bluff’s ‘Project Citizen’ team is honored
Project Citizen is an interactive, student-centered civic education program for middle and high school students, youth organizations, college-level courses, and adult civic groups, developed and presented by the Center for Civic Education in conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislatures. GazeboNews

September 7

Iowa lacks oversight of body piercing
More than 30 states have body piercing regulations, most of which prohibit the piercing of a minor without parental consent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Iowa Gazette

Most incumbents in 30 years may lose
“It’s every incumbent’s worst nightmare, because there’s no tougher challenger than someone who’s also an incumbent,” Tim Storey, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, said in a telephone interview. Bloomberg

Indiana liability cap in stage collapse questioned
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states have caps on state liability, and Indiana’s $5 million per occurrence limit is the highest among them. The state also caps the amount an individual can collect from the state at $700,000. Insurance Journal

September 6

Legal battles loom in fight over Voter ID laws
Altogether this year, 20 states which did not have voter ID laws and 14 states that already had non-photo ID laws have considered legislation requiring citizens have a photo ID to vote, according to the latest figures from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  TPM

States seeking to maintain control over Medicaid fees
State lawmakers are seeking to maintain their ability to reduce Medicaid fees for physicians and others and would like more protection from additional Medicaid spending burdens, according to health care policy positions adopted recently by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  American Medical News

Growth of state's Hispanic population is economic reality
A new National Conference of State Legislatures report outlines the clear reality of Hispanic population growth both in the U.S. and in Mississippi – a reality that has economic and educational consequences for Mississippi taxpayers.  DeSoto Times Tribune

Power flows with the money in California's Legislature
Nationwide, there is no standard formula for staffing and funding legislative offices. Only 10 states expect lawmakers to work full time or nearly full time, according to NCSL.  In a 2009 survey of 90 legislative chambers, 29 said their lawmakers had no personal staff, the NCSL reported.  "It's an inexact science," Brenda Erickson of NCSL said about office budgets.  The Sacramento Bee

Our immigration quandary
In the first six months of 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, every state considered immigration issues during their legislative sessions, proposed 1,592 bills or resolutions and adopted 246 of them, all designed to fill the leadership vacuum in Washington.  Opinion in the Austin American-Statesman

Indiana liability cap in stage collapse questioned
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states have caps on state liability, and Indiana's $5 million per occurrence limit is the highest among them. The state also caps the amount an individual can collect from the state at $700,000.  AP in the Chicago Tribune

Online sales tax avoidance hurts all of us
Welch is one of a group sponsoring a Main Street Fairness Act that seeks to put local retailers on an equal footing with the remote national sellers.  The measure has strong support from the National Governors Association, the National League of Cities, the National Conference of State Legislatures and other influential state and local groups.  Opinion in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Safety is sweet
Delaware, along with California and New Mexico, has the strictest bicycle helmet law in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The News Journal

Minnesota state fairgoers weigh in on proposed marriage amendment
Voters in 30 states where a traditional marriage definition has been proposed for the state constitution have approved it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Pioneer Press

Nikki Haley, Voter ID and more national news for S.C.
“Voter ID has been the hottest topic of legislation in the field of elections this year,” according to the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  And South Carolina has been no exception.  Free Times

Bills would tighten Pennsylvania's immigration enforcement
During the first half of 2011, 1,592 bills dealing with immigration were introduced in the 50 states -- up 16 percent over the first half of 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  Tribune Review

Accommodating breast-feeding
State laws regarding breast-feeding, virtually unheard of 20 years ago, have proliferated in recent years, with some 24 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now having laws related to the expression of breast milk in the workplace (Source: National Conference of State Legislatures).  Human Resource Executive Online

Arizona loses conservative edge in nation
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, state legislatures introduced 1,592 bills related to immigration as of June 30. The most popular bills included things Arizona already does, such as requiring employers to use the federal E-Verify program to confirm legal status of employees, demanding photo ID to vote, limiting health benefits for illegal immigrants and enforcing federal immigration laws.  AZ Central

Ind. lawmaker: $5M not enough for stage collapse victims
At least 33 states limit the amount a person can receive in damage claims against the state, according to a 2010 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of those states have caps as low as $1 million.  USA Today

Sen. Larry Martin says nation needs federal E-Verify
South Carolina and 17 other states require employers to use E-Verify, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  WLTX

Senate confirmation hearing for Richard Cordray set for Tuesday
At the National Conference of State Legislatures held in San Antonio last month, a lawyer representing the financial services industry admitted banks are on edge.  NewsNet5

September 2

Big health premium hikes can get ‘Scarlet U’ starting today
Sixteen states have a prior approval process for nearly all rate hikes, where a regulator has to sign off on the premium increase before it goes into effect, 10 states have prior approval for some rate increases and the rest don’t have much review processes in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post

DeLaney wants liability cap lifted so State Fair victims get more
At least 33 states limit the amount a person can receive in damage claims against the state, according to a 2010 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of those states have caps as low as $1 million. Indianapolis Star

Four-day school week forced on students due to federal and state budget cuts
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states already have school districts with public schools offering four-day school weeks. HULIQ

ID routinely needed; why not for voting?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as many as 30 other states are considering similar legislation. Lebanon Daily News

Fox's bolling forwards myth that Texas economy demonstrates success of conservative policies
Turns out Texas was the state that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Media Matters for America

Ballot Law Update: Residency requirements toppled in Nebraska
Since the beginning of the year, 246 laws have been proposed in 40 states affecting the initiative and referendum process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ballot News

September 1

Chandler elected to National Women's Legislative Board
State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester) has been elected to the Executive Board of the Women's Legislative Network of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Daily Holden

Repealing the Voting Rights Act
This year, the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures reports that “at the beginning of 2011, 27 states had non-photo voter ID laws. Fourteen of these 27 considered legislation this year to require photo ID at the polls. So far, four states--Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas--have enacted strict photo ID requirements.” The NCSL also points out that new laws in South Carolina and Texas cannot take effect until they receive “pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.” Technorati

Expanded ban on “K2” now on the books
At least 38 states through have targeted synthetic cannabinoids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 30 states have sought to restrict other synthetic substances, including Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee, all which border Missouri. Maryville Daily Forum

Esther Cepeda: Immigration mess likely to fester until after 2012 election
In the first six months of 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, every state considered immigration issues during their legislative sessions, proposed 1,592 bills or resolutions and adopted 246 of them, all designed to fill the leadership vacuum in Washington. Contra Costa Times

Governor Perry leaves bad taste in voters' mouths
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas falls into a 15.1-20 percent child obesity rate when compared to the United States as a whole. California, a state ridiculed by Perry, falls into a 10.1-15 percent ratio in the same comparison. Texas Wesleyan University Rambler

The nasty, ineffective world of politics
Youth Advisory Councils, now active in 12 states, are an outgrowth of NCSL’s Back to School program, which each year brings together 320,000 students and 1,200 legislators in classrooms. Governing

The states vs. Planned Parenthood
A larger number require some type of counseling beforehand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. World Magazine

 

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