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NCSL in the News: January 2011

NCSL in the News: 2010

NCSL in the News: January 2011

Jan. 31

California weighs vote To renew tax increase
California is one of 35 states projecting budget gaps in the 2012 fiscal year that total at least $82.1 billion, according to NCSL, an organization made up of state legislators.  The Wall Street Journal

Arizona-inspired immigration bills lose momentum in other states
"I won't be surprised to see more state task forces looking more fully at this issue," said Ann Morse, program director with the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The interest level is still there, but states are looking at the implications."  The Washington Post

Split vote forces power sharing in Oregon
According to Erickson, lawmakers have developed several models to deal with a tie.  Some, like the Oregon House, try to divide control as evenly as possible.  Others give one party the reins for the first half of the session, and then switch at the midpoint.  Then there are those who take a more casual approach.  "In Wyoming, way back in 1974, they actually did a coin toss to break the tie," says Erickson.  The Lincoln Tribune

Tuition breaks for illegal immigrants? Montgomery College faces lawsuit
Ten states have laws extending in-state tuition benefits to undocumented students – California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. An 11th, Oklahoma, allows its university system’s governing board to do so, according to NCSL.  Christian Science Monitor

States face deficits as stimulus dries up
"There's no end to it at this point. You're talking about the worst economic ­recession since the Great Depression," said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures based in Denver.  Toledo Blade

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

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

Taxing Amazon like mom and pop
The National Conference of State Legislatures promptly endorsed the measure, saying it would "create a level playing field for all sellers, regardless if they are a brick-and-mortar retailer on Main Street or an online seller in another state."  The Denver Post

Arizona State University students react to gun bill
If the law passes, Arizona would be the second state after Utah to allow faculty members to carry concealed guns on campus, while 24 states have bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Arizona Republic

Think growth always brings prosperity? Not so fast
The National Conference of State Legislatures last July estimated that the states’ aggregated budget gap for fiscal year 2010-11 was at least $83.9 billion.  Crosscut

Pension-tax plan pilloried
Hawaii, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is one of 10 states that exempt pension income from taxation.  Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Capitol Cash: Pay for state employee meals cut, but savings unclear
A comprehensive evaluation of how states reimburse employees for meal costs has not been performed by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a key group that advocates on behalf of lawmakers.  Des Moines Register

Corbett's two-year budget cycle proposal not a shoo-in
And despite the link supporters cite, two-year budgeting and part-time legislatures are separate issues. Michigan, for example, budgets biennially but has a full-time Legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Website brings citizens into legislative process
"One of the things I really like about Utah's website is the way they provide links to recordings," Greenberg says. "So, for example, if you're interested in a particular bill, you can read the bill and right there on the same page there's a link where you'll be able to listen to the floor debate that took place on that bill."  KUER

Trim won't do it, legislature needs buzz cut
The reality is Pennsylvania has the largest permanent legislative staff in the nation and the second-highest total legislative expenditures (second only to California), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Patriot News

Tuition to spike next year
In November, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that states will have $37.9 billion less stimulus dollars to work with this next year — creating large gaps in more than one state budget. The NCSL is calling this issue the "ARRA cliff."  Central Florida Future

Don't let unelected commissions set state pay
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have permanent pay commissions that have a say on pay. But only four of them have the absolute power to set it. The others set scales that take effect unless vetoed by lawmakers, or simply make recommendations that lawmakers—and sometimes the state’s voters—must approve.  Face the State

Study: Fast city growth may equal lower incomes
It's particularly ill-advised at a time when so many places' prosperity seems at risk, and so many governments are staring into a frightening budget abyss. The National Conference of State Legislatures last July estimated that the states' aggregated budget gap for fiscal year 2010-11 was at least $83.9 billion.  Citybizlist Real Estate

Punish the profiteers from illegal immigrants
Mississippi is one of 24 states with some form of Arizona-style immigration reform legislation currently pending before their state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Laurel Leader-Call

North Carolina GOP lawmakers determined to pass voter ID bill
Twenty-seven states have some voter identification requirement that's more stringent than what a 2002 federal election law requires, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in GoErie

Jan. 28

The first official state firearm? Utah aims at a pistol
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks state statutes and a spokeswoman says the group can find no record of an official state firearm anywhere. That means Utah is poised to become the first state in the nation to choose a handgun as an enduring official symbol.  NPR

Three states on the edge of the financial cliff
According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the financial crisis in Illinois may be the worst in the nation. Citing the budget situation as tenuous at best, the state's general fund balance has sunk to an all-time low of negative $4.9 billion.  San Francisco Chronicle

Long-term unemployed are now majority of all jobless Georgians
A report posted online this week by the National Conference of State Legislatures said 31 states have borrowed $42.2 billion since September 2006.   NCSL said Georgia has borrowed $588.5 million since December 2009.  Principal and interest will be owed back to Washington.  Watchdog

Proposed ‘Spice’ ban cruises through Utah House
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 21 states — including Utah — are looking to ban or modify their current codes to tackle spice.  Salt Lake Tribune

Proposed Arizona law targets "birthright" citizenship
The National Conference of State Legislatures said Arizona is the sixth state this year to introduce legislation relating to birth records or birth certificates and the foreign born.  Reuters

Guilford senator seeks to tighten sweepstakes ban, snuff out K-Spice
Lawmakers nationwide are trying to designate the product a controlled substance. The National Conference of State Legislatures counts 21 states that have introduced laws to address synthetic cannabinoids this year.  The Independent Weekly

Hair loss and IVF: Alex Mooney is half-right
Maryland is one of fourteen states that requires coverage in vitro fertilization, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although there are a bevy of limitations.  TBD

Jan. 27

New Mexico lawmakers look at proposal to deny jobless benefits if applicants fail drug tests
No state currently requires drug testing to receive public assistance, but at least 16 states have proposed legislation for that as many state lawmakers nationwide work to close budget gaps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Los Angeles Times

What sent states' fiscal picture into a tailspin?
Soon the extra federal aid provided during the recession will run out. Missouri, for instance, estimates it would need a 3% increase in revenue to cover the projected $200 million increase in Medicaid costs next year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

Court challenge predicted for Arizona-style bill aimed at illegal immigration
Nine other states are considering similar Arizona-style legislation, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Immigration Policy Project.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bill would give mothers the right to breast-feed in public
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breast-feed in any public or private location.  Lincoln Journal Star

Senate approves voter ID legislation
Twenty-eight states require voters to show some form of ID to vote, but only eight require photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. An Oklahoma law effective in July would require most voters to show a photo but also permits voter registration cards to be used instead of a photo ID.  Fort Worth Star Telegram

Arizona, Florida and Texas propose to arm college professors
Currently, only Utah allows concealed weapons on college campuses and they are banned in 24 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Daily Sundial

Smith bill is first step to collect online sales taxes
If Smith and the Legislature are successful in passing the bill, it could eventually mean big money for the Gem State.  The National Conference of State Legislatures issued a report earlier this year projecting that Idaho could bring in an additional $100 million by collecting online sales taxes.  Idaho Reporter

Bill to outlaw synthetic marijuana passes Senate committee
Officials in several other states are exploring ways to curb the availability of the drug, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Virginian-Pilot

Arizona Senators free to pack pistols in chamber
Five states allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring weapons into their capitols, according to Morgan Cullen, a Denver-based staff liaison at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two allow anyone to carry them, he said.  Business Week

No safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, studies have shown that the benefits of smoke-free laws around the country include significant declines in hospital admissions for heart attack; reduced coronary disease; reduced public exposure to tobacco smoke; encouragement to smokers to quit; and either no effect or a positive effect on total restaurant and bar revenues.  Saipan Tribune

After Giffords shooting, no slowdown for gun rights
Virginia is one of nine states that allow residents to bring guns into the Capitol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bellingham Herald

Ten states now developing eligibility-proof demands
According to officials with the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states already have some sort of eligibility-proof requirement plan.  World Net Daily

OpenGovernment.org: Beta for state legislative data 
The National Conference of State Legislatures has its own free interface to the state sites, a searchable directory linking to bill information and other specialized resources on the legislatures’ websites.  Information Today

Jan. 26

States’ lawmakers turn attention to the dangers of distracted pedestrians
“The big thing has been distracted driving, but now it’s moving into other ways technology can distract you, into everyday things,” said Anne Teigen, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislative developments.  The New York Times

Setting up health insurance exchanges, states face big decisions
For some states, uncertainty about federal benefits requirements will deter progress, says Morgan. “No insurer is going to sign a contract with a state unless they know what they’re required to offer,” she says.  Stateline

Evenly divided Oregon House elects co-speakers
Tied legislative chambers aren't as rare as you might think. In fact, they're so common that the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures has someone who keeps track of them. Brenda Erickson says there's been at least one tied state chamber following every general election since 1984.  NPR

Pros plan new shapes for redistricting map
"It's just this wicked convergence of data, geography, maps and law, and it's extraordinarily complicated," said Tim Storey, a senior fellow with the NCSL who has worked in the redistricting field for 20 years, and who led the seminar at the Gaylord. "But it has to be done. The Constitution requires it."  Fox News

Virginia senator seeks study on castrating sex offenders
Eight other states allow for some form of castration for sex offenders, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Louisiana and Texas allow for physical castration.  AP in the Washington Post

States passed record number of immigration laws in 2010
Arizona stole the national spotlight with the controversial SB1070, which made it a state crime to be in the country illegally, but, according to a recent report by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, immigration was on the agenda for every state that met in regular session in 2010.  Deseret News

State senators push state bill on school choice
Seven states including Pennsylvania have programs that provide tax credits for corporations paying for scholarships at private schools. Eleven states have legislation under way to establish tax-credit programs, said Josh Cunningham of the National Conference.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Washington Co. delegates to oppose same-sex marriage bill
Maryland is one of three states that recognizes same-sex marriage from other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Herald-Mail

Senate expected to debate Texas voter ID bill
Texas would become the ninth state to require photo identification for voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Houston Chronicle

Area natives, residents weigh in on latest healthcare debate
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 16 other state have proposed to amend state law while seven of these states have enacted laws saying health care insurance is not required. Virginia was the first to pass such a law, followed by Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Utah and Arizona.  Stuttgart Daily Leader

Redistricting 'newbies' may complicate process
Brace noted that only half the participants at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ redistricting seminar over the weekend at National Harbor, Md. had been through the process before.  The Hill

Empty Four Loko can found next to bodies of two California teens
The sale of Four Loko has been banned by at least 13 states through their alcohol control boards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Fox News

A New Year’s resolution the states can’t afford to break
In 2010, the states reported combined budget deficits of $83.9 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Daily Caller

A Texan’s view on state prison reform
Rep. Jerry Madden, a Republican from Plano, Tex. and the co-chair of a National Conference of State Legislatures task force on prisoners, helped craft prison reform legislation in Texas, a state viewed nationally as a model of criminal justice reform for successfully cutting costs by emphasizing rehabilitation.  Ocala

Jan. 25

House GOP leader says no federal bailout of states
Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico expect to run up budget gaps during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to a December report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-one expect spending to outpace tax collections and other revenue by more than 10 percent, the report said.  Associated Press

Cameras on school buses proposed as safety step
Several states have allowed cameras aboard buses, including Arkansas, North Carolina and Rhode Island, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Virginian-Pilot

Arizona lawmaker targets distracted teen drivers
Since 2007, 30 other states have banned texting while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AZ Central

Municipal bonds: Spotlight falls on US cities’ fundraising
All states apart from Vermont have to balance budgets annually and they have been forced to deal with collective deficits of $388.1bn since 2008, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research group.  Financial Times

Glass ceiling persists in New York government
For example, as of January 2011, women make up 22.6 percent of legislators in New York State. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, women are 23.4 percent of all state legislators nationwide.  Gotham Gazette

California lawmakers rack up gasoline tabs
Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures show that California is alone among states in offering its entire Legislature the privilege. Most other states, according to the NCSL, either reserve such a perk for leadership or - as is common in private industry - simply reimburse for mileage.  San Francisco Chronicle

Rehab pushed for some inmates
The key is to forget about career criminals who will never get out of prison and budget only for programs that work among offenders who can still be reformed, said Rep. Jerry Madden, a Plano, Texas, Republican. Madden co-chairs a National Conference of State Legislatures task force on prisons.  Pensacola News Journal

Jan. 24

Politicians balance budgets with money for classrooms
That presents an almost unavoidable target, said Arturo Perez, chief budget analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  “It becomes increasingly difficult to keep one-third of their spending off the table.  We’ve always used K-12 education as a measure of how difficult a situation is.”  Bloomberg

New bill would grant pregnant women free parking throughout the city
He decided to introduce the bill after watching his wife struggle through two tough pregnancies. It's similar to laws on the books in at least two states - Georgia and Oklahoma - according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  New York Daily News

State spending on higher education edges down, as deficits loom
While the nation's economy is slowly recovering, at least 35 states anticipate revenue shortfalls for the 2012 fiscal year (which begins for all but four states in July), according to a November report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Chronicle of Higher Education

Women add to legislative ranks in Alaska
Ziegler said changing times are likely to mean more women’s numbers will continue to grow, despite this year’s setback nationally.  “Studies have shown that there isn’t anymore a bias at the ballot box,” she said.  Juneau Empire

Health care overhaul debate shifts to states
“I for one have no interest in ceding any regulatory or statutory authority to the federal government in this area and allowing our state to default while we pursue the litigation side,” said Wren, co-chairman of a National Conference of State Legislatures task force on the health care remake.  AP in Bloomberg

How to attack a $3.7 billion shortfall
Unfortunately, North Carolina is among the worst off. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, our state has the third-highest projected deficit for the coming year.  Charlotte Observer

Health care in Connecticut: Sustaining SustiNet
Connecticut is one of just 33 states working to implement the new federal health law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. All 50 states will take some action on the health reform law in the coming year.  Fairfield Patch

Legislator wants guns legal on Arizona college campuses
Currently only Utah allows concealed weapons on college campuses, and 24 other states have bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  In Maricopa

Political contribution limits on the rise?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 states “limit contributions to political parties from most or all sources.” New York is one of those states and is already the largest limit in the nation. The next highest limit is in New Jersey, where contributions of $37,000 per year can be made to county party committees.  The Auburn Citizen

Sky’s the limit for RNs’ roles in healthcare reform
While healthcare reform debates are resuming at the federal level, the states have been busy addressing reforms. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states have established an entity to implement the new federal law.  Nurse.com

Texas's love/hate relationship with Washington's money
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.  CNN Money

Jan. 21

Several states rethinking film-tax credits
"This is the fourth or fifth time they've had to close budget gaps," Todd Haggerty of NCSL said of the rough economic times to hit states across the country in recent years. The organization tracks legislative trends at the state level.  "Many of the easy options are gone, like tapping the rainy-day fund," Haggerty added. "So they're looking under every rock and every stone."  Santa Fe NewMexican

Cigarette tax should be raised, group says
Thursday's call for raising the tax to $3.50 per pack came as the American Lung Association released its annual tobacco report card. Maine's tax of $2 per pack tied for 10th highest in the country in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Portland Press Herald

North Dakota lawmaker seeks restrictions on 911 recordings
Six states, including Wyoming, prohibit the release of 911 recordings, and four others, including South Dakota and Minnesota, restrict their release, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Bismark Tribune

After Giffords shooting, no slowdown for gun rights
Virginia is one of nine states that allow residents to bring guns into the Capitol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Stateline

Ohio Democrat will fight to stay in Congress
Tim Storey, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, cautioned that it’s too early to forecast which seats may be lost. Detailed Census figures that will be rolled out in coming months will be the most crucial factor in determining population shifts, he said.  AP in Springfield News-Sun

Arizona Legislature to consider bid for Medicaid cut
Wilson said a state would be subject to losing its entire federal Medicaid funding if it doesn't abide by the maintenance of effort requirement. States typically derive about two-thirds of their Medicaid programs' funding from the federal government, and Arizona's AHCCCS director has said the loss of federal funding would effectively kill the program.  AP in Bloomberg

House Republicans unveil $2.5 trillion in proposed budget cuts
A survey last spring by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that 30 states were preparing their budgets assuming that Congress would extend the higher FMAP payments for six months.  The Times-Picayune

States are bankrupt whether they can declare it or not
Yet despite tax revenues higher than just two years before, operating budget deficits are – optimistically — $26.7 billion for the current fiscal year and at least $82.1 billion next year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Watchdog

Other developments: Energy drinks
At least 13 states have stopped sales of alcoholic energy drinks through their alcohol control boards, either with bans or agreements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Augusta Chronicle

Arizona bills target synthetic drugs used to get high
Twenty other states also are considering legislation to ban spice. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 11 states took action in 2010.  AZ Central

No fracking way to balance a budget
These four states, like so many others, are facing huge budget shortfalls. (According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states face a collective shortfall of $72 billion for the next fiscal year.)  The Progressive

Longest serving Senate secretary retires
The scope of that knowledge is why the National Conference of State Legislatures used Lee to train secretaries or chief clerks of Senates in other states.  The organization's records showed Lee was the longest-serving Senate secretary or chief clerk in the country.  TMC News

Jan. 20

Locals prepare for the challenges of redistricting
After cities and counties are shifted into different districts, the affected local leaders will need to begin working with new state representatives. "They'll have to get to know the legislative members they'll be interacting with," says Tim Storey, senior fellow with Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  American City & County

Mental health in Arizona: A case study
About one-fifth of states have passed or proposed cuts in mental health budgets for the next fiscal year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Los Angeles Times

Remember the uninsured?
The federal government requires states to provide oral health services to children through Medicaid programs, but the shortage of dentists who will treat indigent patients remains a major barrier to care, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Post

Iowans favor state immigration fix
"We're seeing the cresting of a wave of state involvement," Morse said. "The federal government controls immigration, but state and local governments control services immigrants use after they arrive, which has pushed more of them to get involved."  Des Moines Register

School shootings: In Nebraska, a proposal to arm teachers
Forty-three states (plus the District of Columbia) explicitly prohibit people from bringing guns to K-12 schools, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  Christian Science Monitor

Immigration laws left up to states
"State legislatures will continue to step forward and create local solutions without comprehensive federal legislation," said William Pound, executive director of NCSL. "In the long term, immigration policy requires federal reform, and states look forward to working with the federal government to find effective solutions."  AP in Charleston Daily Mail

Let voters, not governor, choose U.S. senators
The scandalous attempts of a former Illinois governor to profit personally from filling a U.S. Senate seat in 2008 prompted a dozen states to reconsider their laws on gubernatorial appointments for U.S. Senate. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least two states switched from appointments to special elections in 2009.  Billings Gazette

The federal deficit and the states: Saving money one process at a time
Heading into Fiscal Year 2011, 41 states had to reconcile nearly $84 billion in budget gaps. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) says that fifteen states have reported new FY 2011 gaps totaling at least $26.7 billion, on top of the $84 billion already resolved.  CivSource

Luna still in favor of collecting online sales taxes
It isn’t clear just how much the state collects each year from that reporting method, but a recent study by the National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that Idaho could reap as much as $100 million in additional tax dollars if Idaho joins a multi-state compact in its attempt to develop a system that would help states collect online taxes accurately.  Idaho Reporter

Senate passes Job Creation & Taxpayer Protection Act
According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirty states have put in place statutory or constitutional tax or spending limits.  NewsLI

When closing the gender divide, an elected woman’s work is never done
The number of female legislators in New Mexico is at a record high—30 percent going into the 2010 elections. That's higher than the national average of 24 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Alibi.com

Jan. 19

Missouri could face $200 million more in Medicaid costs
The growing demand for Medicaid could increase the state’s contribution to the program by at least $200 million over the upcoming year, according to a report released this month by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which would require a 3 percent increase in state revenue to finance.  Columbia Daily Tribune

Bill would let Nebraska teachers carry guns in schools
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 42 states and the District of Columbia have banned guns in schools, but it could not say whether any states allow them.  AP in The Washington Post

Endangered Dems sound alarms about redistricting
Tim Storey, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, cautioned that it's too early to forecast which seats may be lost. Detailed Census figures that will be rolled out in coming months will be the most crucial factor in determining population shifts, he said.  Associated Press

Idea to hold Oklahoma legislative session every other year not likely to succeed
It's instructive to consider whether being an Oklahoma lawmaker really is a part-time job. The National Conference of State Legislatures divides legislative bodies into three groups: those whose members spend more than 80 percent of their time as lawmakers, those who spend 50 percent or less of their time being legislators and those who fall somewhere in between.  The Oklahoman

Governor's optimism soon will be tested
A survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures overwhelmingly found that dealing with budget shortfalls was the biggest issue facing state legislatures in the coming year.  Montgomery Advertiser

States passed record number of immigration laws in 2010
In 2010, as Congress again failed to consider comprehensive immigration reform, states considered or passed a record number of immigration-related bills and resolutions, according to a new report from the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  American City & County

Voter redistricting training to begin
With the census completed, mapmakers for the congressional redistricting process will train at a National Redistricting Seminar in Washington, officials said.  UPI

Senate Republicans push for biennial legislature
During the 19th century, when traveling was difficult, many states gravitated toward a biennial legislative system. As recently as 1940, only four states had legislatures that met every year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Iowa Independent

Hideaway owner sues over DEA’s fake pot ban
Eighteen states have some kind of synthetic marijuana ban on the books, and 14 other states have proposed legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota is among them.  Minnesota Daily

Secretary seeks new legal powers
Eight states require a photo ID at the polls, and Oklahoma joins them when its law takes effect on July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature approved a photo-ID bill in 2008, but Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed it.  AP in the Hutchinson News

When it comes to travel, senators often spend their own cash
But some members of the Senate felt their travel to national meetings such as the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were important enough that they continued going — and paying their own way.  The Salt Lake Tribune

Looking at my bills
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 states have considered voter ID proposals since 2001, with more than 700 bills being introduced. Eight states currently require photo ID, with 19 others requiring some form of enhanced identification.  Fremont Tribune

A gap in budget reporting
According to a state budget update published December 7 by the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina had the third-highest projected deficit in the country for the 2011-12 fiscal year, at 20 percent of the General Fund. Projected deficits in Nevada (32 percent) and New Jersey (26 percent) ranked higher.  Carolina Journal

Jan. 18

Journey to recovery starts slowly for states
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 17 states expect total collections to rise at least 5 percent this fiscal year, which for most ends in June.  Reuters

Shooting suspect had been known to use potent, and legal, hallucinogen
The push coincides with recent efforts by states around the country to outlaw a number of other legal drugs that often sit alongside salvia on the shelves that use chemical additives to mimic the effects of illegal drugs like marijuana.  “It’s an issue that the states are increasingly paying attention to,” said Alison Lawrence, policy specialist for NCSL.  The New York Times

Amid federal inaction, Maryland among states to take up immigration issue
All 46 states that held a regular legislative session last year addressed immigration in some form, enacting more than 200 laws and adopting 138 resolutions — a record number, according to NCSL. And there's no sign that interest will ebb this year, conference official Ann Morse said.  The Baltimore Sun

Texas Republican lawmakers put $9 billion state rainy-day fund off limits
The fund has risen sixfold since 2007 as other states drained reserves to balance total deficits likely to top $190 billion over the next two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bloomberg

After tragedy, Arizona lawmakers eye more gun rights
Only Utah has a law allowing concealed weapons on college campuses while 24 states have bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Associated Press

Budget challenge not unique to New Hampshire
But in case there was any doubt, the National Conference of State Legislatures released the results of a nationwide survey of legislative fiscal officers earlier this month that stated the obvious: It’s the budget.  Nashua Telegraph

Cold comfort, but California has lots of company
Last week I participated in a meeting of state fiscal leaders hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures. I was there to talk about California's travails, and my expectation was that California's problems would be front-and-center, as usual.  I was wrong. It turns out we have plenty of company. In fact, the above excerpt is not about California at all.  Alameda Times-Star

Health care reform’s important questions still to be decided
The other important point is the strain a rise in health care costs could place on state budgets, which were bolstered by the 2009 stimulus legislation, but are still nonetheless strapped. According to a November report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states reported $26.7 billion in FY2011.  Forbes

Threats prompt security reviews for Nevada politicians
Only seven states allow guns into their statehouses, said Morgan Cullen with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-seven states have metal detectors at the entrances of their capitol buildings, he said.  Reno Gazette-Journal

California not alone in tackling huge budget gaps
States also raised taxes, by $24 billion in the 2010 fiscal year and $4 billion so far this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Sacramento Bee

Athletes and concussions target of Colorado proposal
At least a dozen states have similar concussion laws, prompted by concerns over sports and head injuries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Grand Junction Sentinel

Maryland's secret education spending spree
The lack of transparency is particularly troubling because Maryland and states across the nation are facing at least an $82 billion shortfall next year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Baltimore Sun

States will soon have to start paying interest on their massive unemployment borrowing
The bill is coming due at a particularly bad time for state legislatures, which already face an $82 billion shortfall for 2012, said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  ProPublica

Minorities can't let a photo ID law deprive them of the right to vote
Currently, nine states have adopted photo identification laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Eighteen other states require some form of ID to vote but don't require a photo, according to the NCSL.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Massachusetts Sen. Michael Rush, a Navy lieutenant, to be deployed to Iraq
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 members of state legislatures have been deployed to another country during the past two years.  MassLive

Curiosity, skepticism await voter fraud bill
Eight states require a photo ID at the polls, and Oklahoma joins them when its law takes effect on July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But Kobach said the combination of steps he’s proposing should give Kansas a model law.  AP in The Topeka Capital-Journal

Budget fix: Private school tax break
Six other states have created tax credits for individuals or companies that give to school tuition organizations, and seven more states have bills this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Durango Herald

Morris president-elect of national group
Senate President Stephen Morris, R-Hugoton, has been named president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan group that serves the nation’s state legislators.  Morris will become president of NCSL this summer.  Lawrence Journal-World

No local government bailouts
The "mandate monitor," published by the National Conference of State Legislatures, catalogs mandates identified by the Congressional Budget Office as well as other laws that "create cost shifts to states." The list identifies almost 300 such federal laws.  The Washington Times

Does the health care bill violate 'rights of conscience'?
Beginning in at least the late 1990s, there have been cases of medical students being refused graduation, pharmacists, nurses and doctors being dismissed from jobs, and pressure or harassment from hospital administrations.  A history of conscience clauses for pharmacists can be seen at the National Conference of State Legislatures website.  Yahoo News

Jan. 14

Colorado hosts highest percentage of women lawmakers in the nation
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the percentage of women serving in state legislatures in the country is down from 24.5 percent in 2010 to 23.4 percent this year. The percentage of women serving in Colorado dwarfs those figures at 41 percent.  The Colorado Independent

Real pain from Illinois tax hike looms in 2012
It’s too soon to tell which, if any, states will follow Illinois’s lead, says Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Take a step back and look at the state we’re talking about,” Perez says. Illinois’s budget gap was the largest in the country by a wide margin–at 47% of the general fund budget.  SmartMoney

Kirwan maintains narrow lead in NY's 100th Assembly District after latest ballot count
The 100th District and the 6th Worcester District race in Massachusetts are the only undecided state legislative races in the entire country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Times Herald-Record

Cardin brings Feds and Marylanders together as partners to clean up stormwater pollution
His bill passed with significant bipartisan support in the Senate and House of Representatives in December, and President Obama signed Senator Cardins bill into law last week. The legislation garnered the backing of the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Water World

Dollars and sense plan to end eligibility dispute
Other state plans also might be in the works but unannounced yet. Officials with the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures said they were not tracking bills in development. Their monitoring will begin after the proposals formally are submitted, they said.  Student Operated Press

Jan. 13

Republicans unveil plan for voter ID, constitutional amendment
Oklahoma will become the ninth state to require photo ID of voters when its law takes effect later this year. An additional 18 states require voters to show some form of ID, but it does not have to include a photo, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Illinois tax increase: why lawmakers passed 66 percent income-tax hike
No other state has successfully raised income taxes to balance its 2011 budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington. Most states have turned to less politically risky measures to shore up state budgets, such as raising sales taxes for vending-machine purchases or delaying corporate-tax refunds for a year.  Christian Science Monitor

New York governor cuts his own pay 5%
For New York, the picture gets even more dire. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the budget gap is expected to widen to $14.6 billion in fiscal 2013 and $17.2 billion in fiscal 2014.  International Business Times

State budget outlook: the worst isn't over
Add it all up and, despite the nominally good revenue news, states face budget shortfalls of at least $82.1 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The final shortfall numbers are likely to be tens of billions of dollars higher.  Stateline

Bill seeks 911 caller consent
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in July that six states keep 911 recordings confidential. Four states, including Minnesota, place some restrictions on the release of 911 calls or call information.  InForum

Kobach targets mail-in ballots in planned bill
Eight states, including Missouri, require a photo ID at the polls, and Oklahoma joins them when its law takes effect July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Wichita Eagle

Virginia to consider banning illegals from colleges
While Virginia is considering keeping undocumented students out of public colleges, several states have expanded educational access over the last decade. Since 2001, 11 states have passed laws to allow undocumented students who meet specific requirements to pay in-state tuition at public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  MyFox Washington DC

Jan. 12

Illinois House passes big income-tax increase
Many Republican and Democratic governors across the U.S. have said they wouldn't support significant income-tax increases amid high unemployment and a weak, albeit recovering, economy, said Ron Snell, senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

GOP leaders hail gun OK in New Hampshire capitol
New Hampshire is now one of seven states that allow weapons in a capitol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Boston Globe

Debate rages over muni bond defaults
“States will be very much on their own,” says Arturo Perez, fiscal analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research group.  Mr Perez says states will have about $37.9bn less in aid in the 2012 fiscal year, which for most begins on July 1, than in the current fiscal year.  Financial Times

Arizona lawmakers have a challenging agenda
Arizona is not alone in its legislative struggles. The National Conference of State Legislatures on Jan. 3 wrote in a released report that most states this year will focus their attentions on budget, health care/Medicaid, education, taxes/revenue and pensions/retirements.  Yahoo News

Cigarette tax-hike plan smolders
Gloor's bill would push Nebraska up to 15th on the list, ahead of all neighboring states, according to a July 2010 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Omaha World-Herald

Virginia lawmakers scramble before donation ban hits
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Virginia is one of 28 states placing restrictions on giving and receiving campaign contributions during the legislative session. A majority of these states – including Virginia - place a prohibition on any contributions during session; the rest only ban contributions from lobbyists.  Loudoun Times

Restore fair retail competition
Nebraska is no exception. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that Nebraska will lose about $118 million next year in sales tax because of the exemption for Internet sales.  Lincoln Journal Star

Colorado To Introduce "Fetal Homicide" Again
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 38 states have fetal homicide laws — with 21 applying to a fetus at the earliest stages of pregnancy between conception to a specified number of weeks after the first trimester.  Care2.com

Jan. 11

States adjust to a more frugal Washington
That translates to a $100 billion cut in federal spending, although the $100 billion figure is already shifting to $60 billion since the federal fiscal year has already started. “We don’t know where the cuts will be,” says Michael Bird, senior federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Stateline

Deputy mayor: Snow emergency should have been declared in New York
The state's budget gap looms in the $14 billion range for fiscal 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  And New York is not alone. Neighboring New Jersey has similar problems, with projected budget gaps of $10.5 billion for the next fiscal year, according to the Conference.  CNN

Factbox: U.S. guns laws among the most permissive in world
Ten of the states which have concealed carry laws require that the citizen demonstrate a need to carry the weapon, but 38 states do not require an explanation for carrying the weapon. Arizona is one of three states, also including Vermont and Alaska, that do not require any kind of permit to carry a concealed weapon.  Reuters

Legislators hear presentation on Affordable Care Act
“Health care costs are something that are extremely important especially for all of you sitting around this table, who need to balance your budget and have a deficit free state budget. Health care costs are eating your General Fund revenues,” says Laura Tobler, Health Program Director for NCSL.  KFBB

Minnesota GOP bills include corporate tax cuts
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Minnesota collects just 4.5 percent of its revenues from corporate income taxes, tied for 24th in the country with Idaho and Utah. That's below the national average of 5.6 percent.  American Chronicle

Virginia legislature launches iPad experiment
If the legislators take to their iPads, Steidel can imagine replacing all the laptops with the new machines. Pam Greenberg, of the National Conference of State Legislatures, says she's unaware of any other state with a similar program.  The Bellingham Herald

More government spending on security a likely result of Tucson shooting
That means there will likely be a greater role for state and local law enforcement agencies, but state budgets are already constrained. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states reported new budget gaps totaling $26.7 billion in FY2011.  Forbes

Health care overhaul linked to Montana budget talks
Nonpartisan experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures told lawmakers Monday that the federal health care law impacts many areas of state government.  AP in CNBC

Budget gap justifies Governor Markell's benefit reduction
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states have reduced employee benefits or required an increase in employee contributions to pension plans.  The News Journal

Texas leads most other states in bills filed and passed
Brenda Erickson, a senior research analyst with the NCSL, notes that lawmakers in other states may face constraints that Texas lawmakers don't. Colorado, for example, allows each lawmaker to introduce a maximum of only five bills (which helps explain why an impressive 62 percent of bills and resolutions get passed there).  The Texas Tribune

Jan. 10

Wisconsin Republicans bring back photo ID
The bill proposed by Rep. Jeff Stone and Sen. Joe Leibham would go farther than in most states by requiring that the ID to be shown at the polls include a photo of the voter. That stricter requirement is only required currently in nine other states, according to NCSL.  AP in Chicago Tribune

Spending caps no budget cure-all, states find
“What’s interesting about these limits is that they’re not very effective,” said Mandy Rafool, program principal with National Conference of State Legislatures. “Colorado’s is, but there have been academic studies that have found that the limits aren’t very restrictive.”  State Journal-Register

Activists seek new tactics to break old pension deals
"It is uncertain in many states what the constitutional protections are because they haven't been tested or at least thoroughly tested in the courts," says Ron Snell, director of state services at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "But state legislators have assumed the protections to be quite strong."  The Sacramento Bee

Pennsylvania's $4 billion deficit not as high as other states'
The recession and loss of billions of federal stimulus dollars affected the states, said Perez, with the conference of legislatures.  "This recession and the fallout on state revenues is unprecedented since the Great Depression," he said. "It's compounded by the loss of federal stimulus dollars. States will be very much on their own."  Tribune Review

Budget is priority at Arizona Legislature
Arizona is not alone in its priorities this year. An annual policy forecast by the National Conference of State Legislatures lists the top issues for 2011. The budget ranks as the No. 1 priority nationwide.  The Arizona Republic

A 50th legislative district, anyone?
Forty-four states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Lincoln Journal-Star

The budget breakdown: How will state lawmakers slash the budget when much of it is untouchable?
A report by the National Conference of State Legislatures in November showed 35 states and Puerto Rico projected deficits in fiscal 2012 totaling $82 billion. In 21 of those states, the budget gap was at least 10 percent of their general fund budgets.  The Seattle Times

Fewer women in Legislature mirrors trend nationwide
The decline from two years ago mirrors a nationwide trend, according to preliminary figures from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  It reported last week that the share of women in state legislatures across the country is falling from 25 percent to 24 percent.  Mason City Globe Gazette

Bring back grocery tax, lower income tax, panel recommends
Mandy Rafool, a fiscal analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said she was unaware of any other states considering plans to boost grocery taxes,  “We talk about there being no sacred cows this year, but groceries may come awfully close,” Rafool said.  AP in Macon.com

Bush brand of school reform catching on across nation
The recent midterm elections saw Republicans seize control of a majority of governors' offices -- 29 in all -- as well as take hold of both chambers of the legislature in 25 states; they now have more state legislative seats than at any time since the 1920s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  St. Augustine Record

State worries: Budget gaps, Medicaid
The NCSL said the end of federal stimulus funding, slow revenue growth and the increased demand for state services have yielded a national budget gap for the states in the range of $26.7 billion.  The Ledger

NCSL Foundation launches teacher effectiveness project
This yearlong Partners Project will match foundation members who choose to join the partnership with state legislators and legislative staff to provide information, resources and tools to legislators as they address teacher and principal quality and effectiveness.  Education Week

Anti-tax GOP confronts budget mess in Texas
Ultimately, the fight over the budget will grab most of the spotlight. With the economy still lagging, at least 35 states and Puerto Rico are dealing with budget shortfalls — and 27 of them have holes representing more than five percent of the general fund budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Houston Chronicle

Legislature should lead by example
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Wisconsin is the smallest state with full-time legislators, and ranks eighth in compensation for them.  Wisconsin State Journal

Senate budget panel working on plan to help states; Bernanke does not see states defaulting on muni debt
Conrad said the National Conference of State Legislatures has warned states face a total of $97 billion of budget gaps for fiscal 2012.  The Bond Buyer

Fewer young people in Iowa legislature
The Iowa Legislature will count 32 women this year, the smallest number since 2005.  In 2009, there were 34 women.  The decline from two years ago mirrors a nationwide trend, according to preliminary figures from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Quad-City Times

Jan. 7

Activists seek new tactics to break old pension deals
Many of the legal questions involved are surprisingly murky, and vary dramatically by state. “It is uncertain in many states what the constitutional protections are because they haven’t been tested or at least thoroughly tested in the courts,” says Ron Snell, director of state services at NCSL. “But state legislators have assumed the protections to be quite strong.”  Stateline

Iowa legislators set for new redistricting plan
With 6,115 legislative seats in play across the country, Storey said lawmakers in state where redistricting is a political football may be willing to roll the dice and let courts draw new maps.  “Everyone is doing the calculus,” he said. “If the party in power can’t hold their governorships and legislative seats they may send it to the courts."  Mason City Globe Gazette

State food safety rides a political sea change
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Congress have not restricted BPA use, some states have.  The National Conference of State Legislatures says that in 2010, 59 bills to restrict BPA were introduced in 18 states.  Food Safety News

Maryland’s budget woes will dominate 2011 legislative session
“States will very much be on their own in figuring out what to do,” said Arturo Pérez, a fiscal analyst with NCSL. “There is no parallel. This is the worst economic crisis the states have faced since the Great Depression.”  Pérez said “all the low-hanging fruit has been picked” from state budgets.  “Everything is on the table,” he said. “And when they say everything, they mean everything.”  The Daily Record

Anti-tax GOP confronts budget mess in Texas
Ultimately, the fight over the budget will grab most of the spotlight. With the economy still lagging, at least 35 states and Puerto Rico are dealing with budget shortfalls — and 27 of them have holes representing more than five percent of the general fund budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Corsicana Daily Sun

State House members pre-file 7 bills
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 30 states have some form of restriction on former legislators. At least 16 states have a one-year restriction for legislators, while at least six states have a two-year waiting period.  WGMD

Census: State pensions pummeled in 2009
State governments face operating deficits totaling at least $80 billion next year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Yet those costs are dwarfed by long term outstanding liabilities, such as unfunded retirement obligations that exceed $1 trillion using traditional government accounting methods and could be more than $4.4 trillion, according to other estimates.  Watchdog

Jan. 6

State lawmakers target automatic citizenship
Nicholas Farber, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said a compact faces a tough road to becoming final because it must be approved by the state legislative bodies of two or more states and signed by the states' governors, then receive House and Senate approval.  "With the makeup of Congress now, that is a high hurdle," Farber said.  AP

Congress unlikely to extend hand to ailing states
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 31 states and Puerto Rice face U8!1\Y_|[b6?"C\[g%BZX'+wg-@r.  AP in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Was lifting gun ban really necessary?
Seven states – mostly out West – allow individuals to carry concealed weapons into their statehouses if they have a permit, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two others states allow them in statehouses whether they have a permit or not.  Nashua Telegraph

Moore says he's still excited about serving
As I take the oath of office, I think of the 7,328 other legislators in the 50 states who, about this same time, are also beginning their new sessions. As the current president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, I know many of them, and respect their commitment to public service regardless of their party affiliation.  The Milford Daily News

Jan. 5

Factbox: State immigration measures
In 2010, according to the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures, the states enacted a record number of laws and resolutions addressing immigration issues. As of November 22, 46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions, for a total of 346.  Reuters

Horse slaughter is reconsidered
In the past two years, however, seven states, including Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota, have adopted resolutions urging Congress to support horse processing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

Virginia legislature launches iPad experiment
If the legislators take to their iPads, Steidel can imagine replacing all the laptops with the new machines. Pam Greenberg, of the National Conference of State Legislatures, says she’s unaware of any other state with a similar program.  Stateline

$4 billion question: Will new members reduce Legislature?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no other states even come close. Pennsylvania with a population of 12.5 million has a legislative branch of 253 lawmakers and 2,918 support staff.  Pottstown Mercury

Highway named for wreck victim
More than 220 million people in the U.S. subscribe to wireless services and 80 percent of those subscribers use their phones while driving, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports.  The Lake Wales News

What do mobile technology, matrix codes, and the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau have in common?
This technology will allow researchers to “scan the matrix code to display an associated Web page. If the proposal has been introduced, the matrix code will link to the bill status Web page.” A nice summary of the project is available in a National Conference of State Legislatures blog post.  State Bar of Wisconsin

Jan. 4

New year, old worry for state budgets
The conference, made up of members of states' legislatures, asked fiscal directors to identify the top three fiscal issues for 2011.  Nearly two-thirds -- 31 states -- identified budgets as a top fiscal priority.  Reuters

Gas tax hits with prices already rising
Studies cited by a staff member at NCSL show the state 30th among the states in 2004 and 20th in 2008.  'It's been a fairly rare circumstance in the last couple of years to raise the gasoline tax," said Jim Reed, transportation program manager for the organization.  Coos Bay World

States in fiscal mess: N.Y. governor cuts his pay
The situation gets worse. There are budget gap forecasts of $14.6 billion in fiscal 2013 and $17.2 billion in fiscal 2014, according to Kriss and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  CNN

Koch expects legislators to deliver on pledge
According to NCSL, 21 states have a redistricting commission that “draws up the plan, advises the legislature on drawing up the plan or acts as a backup if the legislature fails to draw up the plan for legislative districts.” This includes states like Arizona and California, both of which have independent bodies draw district lines.  Auburn Citizen

Rookie governors facing unhappy new year
But, while revenues may be inching upward, so are costs. The National Conference of State Legislatures warned in a recent report that increased state revenues are “unlikely to be sufficient” to offset the increasing costs of state programs like Medicaid and public education.  MSNBC

Proposal would tie state spending to Illinois personal income
Twenty-six states, including Michigan, Iowa and Indiana, have various expenditure limits, many of which are tied to personal income or a growth index, such as inflation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The State Journal-Register

Policy, fiscal challenges confront state officials
While state tax revenues have improved somewhat recently, 15 states already have reported new budget shortfalls since the fiscal 2011 year began last summer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And states are likely face continuing budget gaps over the next two years as well, according to the Denver-based research and policy organization.  Education Week

Fiscal outlook: States' revenue rises, but shortfalls remain
However, the National Conference of State Legislatures said two-thirds of states expected revenue to fall short of what is needed to maintain current services in the next fiscal year, with 31 states reporting a collective deficit exceeding $82 billion.  Watertown Daily Times

Jan. 3

 New laws govern guns, web, banks
"States passed laws last year to directly address cyber bullying and the use of technology to steal identities and misrepresent who you are online," said Meagan Dorsch, director of public affairs for NCSL, a bipartisan group that offers data and research to legislators nationwide. "There are a lot of examples of states expanding their current laws to try to protect the public while they engage in new technologies."  The Wall Street Journal

Texas stands against tide in retaining biennial legislature
As recently as 1940, only four states had legislatures that met every year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a research group.  The New York Times

6 states to watch on health reform
Thirty-three states have created some entity to implement the new federal health law and over a dozen require a report on the law by the early part of 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Politico

Indiana's part-time lawmakers juggle duties with jobs, families
There are 10 states with full-time or nearly full-time legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and there are movements in some of them, including Michigan’s, to become part time.  WSBT

Moped laws on agenda as fatalities continue to climb
Legislation aimed at cutting down that figure is pending or was adopted last year in a dozen states, according to Anne Teigen of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Teigen says at least 17 states require a driver's licenses to operate a moped.  USA Today

Illinois bans K2, but that might not stop the bad trips
On Saturday, Illinois became the 17th state to outlaw K2, making possession and sale of the drug a felony offense. Meagan Dorsch, a spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said more states will most likely follow suit. “We expect K2 to be a hot topic in 2011,” she said.  Chicago News Cooperative

New laws on horizon
Across the country, where the assemblies of 45 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico met in regular session in 2010, about 31,000 new laws were passed, according to a compilation by the Denver-based the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL is a bipartisan research group that helps state legislators and their staffs.  2theadvocate

Lights off ... but everyone will be home
"Cities and local governments can adopt policies but it's more forceful if the state legislature comes in," says Melissa Savage, program director in Washington for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Daily Telegraph

Lawmakers: Tobacco rules working fine
North Dakota is one of three states that has not raised its tobacco tax in at least 10 years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other two are California and Missouri, which has the nation’s lowest cigarette tax at 17 cents a pack.  AP in In-Forum

Don't balance budget on backs of the poor
Over about the last decade, states have raised cigarette taxes more than any other, Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told me last week, although the tax brings in comparatively little revenue.  Wisconsin State Journal

DREAM Act’s death may stifle immigration reform 
The good news for conservatives is that many states look ready to follow the lead of Arizona in enacting their own tougher rules against illegal immigration.  “Every indication I get is they’re not done,” Ann Morse, who directs the Immigrant Policy Project for the National Conference of State Legislatures, tells Bloomberg News.  NewsMax

Incoming Governor Brian Sandoval faces tough times
A recent report by the National Conference of State Legislatures said Nevada's general fund budget gap ranks highest in the nation, 32 percent the next fiscal year. Already most state workers are forced to take an unpaid furlough day each month to save money.  Reno Gazette-Journal

Nebraska law officers eyeing new abortion bills
So far, there are five states that have already endorsed the law in restricting abortion: Tennessee, Arizona, Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi. Furthermore, the National Conference of State Legislatures said that Kentucky, North Dakota, Idaho and Oklahoma have already bans on abortion insurance coverage. Medical Daily

Channeling Nostradamus: 11 For '11
This year the "11 for '11" list from the National Conference of State Legislatures represents solid, state-by-state research. Yet NCSL analysts, brilliant as they are, must feel like they're writing for Ground Hog Day rather than the new year. For the fourth year in a row fiscal conditions are predicted to dominate legislative sessions here in Oklahoma as well as most of the other 49 states.  Tulsa World

Shift in public pensions seen benefiting advisers
Currently, Alaska, Michigan and the District of Columbia have mandatory defined-contribution plans for their general employees, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Investment News

New laws, new laws, new laws
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) found a host of those state laws—in at least 26 states ranging from controversial to clever—that will become effective on New Year’s Day.  Shopfloor

 

 

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