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NCSL in the News: March 2010

NCSL in the News

State and Policy News Archive: March 2010

March 31

Win the race, draw the lines
The U.S. Constitution requires all local, state and federal legislative districts to be redrawn after a census is taken to make the districts roughly equal in population, guaranteeing that each person is equally represented in legislative bodies, explains Tim Storey, an elections expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. States with shrinking populations will lose seats and states with population surges will gain seats. Stateline.org. More

Wis. committee approves raw milk bil
The federal government doesn't allow raw milk sales, but does permit states to adopt laws allowing its sale as long as it doesn't cross state lines, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press. More

Bullying raises questions about schools' vigilance
Massachusetts is one of only seven states without a specific law targeting school bullying, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press. More and CNBC

Lawmakers try to pull the plug on teen 'sexting'
This year, at least 15 state legislatures are considering measures to deal with sexting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The proposals attempt to educate teens about the dangers of sexting, deter teens from engaging in the behavior and impose appropriate penalties if the teens break the law. Bloomberg's Business Week and the Miami Herald. More and More

MLAs advance energy education in Washington, D.C.
It was formed last year by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the University of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). Canada Views. More

States high on pot tax as budget cure
"A lot of the arguments now are about taxing and economics," said Matthew Gever, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters. More

Obamacare gives windfall to young adults
The National Conference of State Legislatures says ages 19 to 29 account for 13 million of the 47 million Americans without health insurance. Human Events. More

Lee, Koppelman, Wieland endorsed by District 13 Republicans
She is past chairman of the Health Care Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), consisting of legislatures throughout the nation. West Fargo Pioneer. More

March 30

State legislators ramp up campaigns against EPA climate rules
States that rely heavily on coal as a fuel source have been more likely to adopt measures to block EPA, said Glen Andersen, a program principal at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "I think it's partially just states seeing the potential costs based on what their [fuel] mix is." Blog in the New York Times. More

Wash. state to ban texting while driving
Washington becomes one of seven states and the District of Columbia in making texting and talking without a headset a primary offense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. eTrucker. More

Bill seeks to prohibit broadcast of 911 calls
Pam Greenberg of the National Conference of State Legislatures said Alabama, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida have legislation pending on the issue. Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wyoming keep 911 recordings confidential. Juneau Empire. More

Neil Guterman, distinguished expert on child welfare, chosen as new dean of School of Social Service Administration
He has advised the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, Prevent Child Abuse America, and the National Conference of State Legislatures about issues related to violence against children. He said his work has been enhanced since he joined the faculty of SSA. Article Ant. More

Corbett pits Pa. against health plan
Legislators in 28 states have proposed state constitutional amendments designed to block the federal health care initiative, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in 13 states, legislatures are considering changes in state law to resist the mandates of the anticipated federal law. Pennsylvania lawmakers are seeking action on both of those tracks. Pittsburgh Post Gazette. More

Lawmakers want to limit texting, e-mails
More than half of the legislative chambers in the states restrict the use of electronic devices in some form, including dozens that prohibit the use of cell phones on the floor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in CBS News and ABC News. More

Lou Cannon: Will federal stimulus for states expire before recovery arrives?
“We were all saying that 2011 was the year states were going to go off the cliff,” said Corina Eckl, a budget expert for the National Confernece of State Legislatures. “However, it’s a higher cliff than we thought. States are going to be in trouble in 2012, too, because the recovery is so slow. Medicaid rates will continue to grow.” State Net Capitol Journal in Nooz Hawk. More

Fla. proposal challenges federal health care plan
Florida is among 38 states that are considering or have passed laws or constitutional amendments with that intent, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in the Miami Herald. More

Health care bills change game for states
"There's going to be a big free-for-all lawsuit about this," Michael Bird, legislative counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures told Reuters. Stateline.org. More

March 29

How the health insurance reform bill affects you: Extended coverage will benefit young adults
Young adults between 19 and 29 are "the largest-growing group in the country at risk of being uninsured," and they often lose their insurance when they turn 19 or graduate from high school or college, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fosters Daily Democrat. More

Credit checks choke job hunters' efforts
Nineteen states have proposed legislation to limit employers in using credit checks to screen applicants, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tennessean. More

State budget woes in Illinois and Missouri are common across country
California led the way last year when 24 states raised taxes to the tune of $28.6 billion, the National Conference of State Legislatures tallied last week. About half of that was in higher income taxes; next came sales and corporate income taxes. The St. Louis Post Dispatch in the Lake Expo. More

OPPAGA looks at state compensation
"The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the legislatures and governors of at least 29 states have proposed or enacted measures to address budget shortfalls by decreasing state employee compensation during the 2010 budget year," OPPAGA found. "These measures have included hiring freezes, layoffs, furloughs and wage reductions. States have also made changes to employee insurance and retirement benefits." Opinion in the Tallahassee Democrat. More

Others cut but legislature’s spending up
A recent National Conference of State Legislatures chart shows Georgia in the middle of the pack of states for spending on legislative functions in fiscal 2008. Atlanta Journal Constitution. More

The benefits of health reform in Florida
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Young adults often lose their health insurance if covered under a parent‟s or guardian‟s policy at age 19 or upon graduation from high school or college.” South Florida Caribbean News. More

Head of household
According to a 2007 analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures, rigorous testing of the Cash & Counseling concept conducted in pilot programs in Arkansas, Florida and New Jersey "showed that C&C improved the delivery of services, without leading to fraud or abuse of the care receiver." Opinion in the Tulsa World. More

NY town angry over Net slurs at suicide victim
More than 15 states have laws making cyberbullying a crime or making it easier to investigate or prosecute, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. News Times. More

Legislator pay 72 percent more than in 2006
Legislative pay is calculated differently in many states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The 2009 NCSL legislative pay survey showed Alabama’s about in the middle. Gadsden Times. More

Gov. Strickland, ODOT chief losing steam as critics' questions on 3C train plan mount, go unanswered
The March edition of State Legislatures, the monthly magazine of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), has The Cost of Speed as its feature story. Opinion in The Examiner. More

Provision in health care bill protects nursing mothers
Twenty-four states, including Oregon, already have laws concerning breastfeeding in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Statesman Journal. More

Amid budget crisis, state makes parole easier
California has the nation's highest rate of sending parolees back to prison, with a little more than two-thirds of all inmates having been sent to prison for violating their parole terms, said prisons expert Alison Lawrence of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "When you see a number that high, there is a sign that something should change," Lawrence said. Daily Bulletin. More

U.S. official critical of state's living center agreement
"There are just so many people who are being warehoused in these institutions, and I think that's a tragedy," Thomas Perez , assistant attorney general for civil rights , said in an interview in Austin. He was in town to speak at a National Conference of State Legislatures redistricting law seminar. Austin American Statesman. More

California the tax increase leader for 2009
California led the nation in tax hikes in 2009, a year in which 24 states boosted taxes to cope with recessionary budget woes, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Christian Science Monitor. More

Washington's cell phone driving law gets tougher
Washington joins a handful of states -- including California, New Jersey, and Oregon -- in making texting and talking without a headset a primary offense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a dozen states have passed laws regulating cell phone use by drivers. The Associated Press in Northwest Cable News. More

Doctors’ remedies for rising costs
Thirty states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico place caps on jury awards in malpractice cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Blog in the New York Times. More

GOP’s new health care slogan is “repeal and replace”
In addition to the pending lawsuits, bills and resolutions have been introduced in 36 state legislatures seeking to limit various aspects of the health care reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Examiner. More

Pennsylvania not alone in facing economic challenges; cost-cutting commission promises to tackle major issues
The commission, chaired by Argall and made up of current and former lawmakers, business people, educators and others, heard testimony from Luke Martel, policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Republican Herald. More

March 26

States try to adapt to Supreme Court's campaign finance ruling
States considering new disclosure laws include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Iowa legislature has approved a bill requiring company directors to approve of political spending. "There are still people out there who think that corporate activity in campaigns is a bad thing, and so there are a lot of efforts to push back on the ruling," said Jennifer Bowser of the state legislatures group. Washington Post. More

Medical marijuana users risk job loss
At least 16 states are considering the legalizing medical marijuana during this legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN.com. More

The Buzz: No legal pot for top California governor candidates
California wasn't alone when it boosted taxes last year to plug its budget deficit. Nearly half of the 50 states increased taxes, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Sacramento Bee. More

Fairness of Michigan recalls questioned
At least 29 states allow recall elections in local jurisdictions. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia permit the recall of state officials, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. Detroit Free Press. More

Vinland Republican businesswoman Michelle Litjens seeks to replace Roger Roth in 56th Assembly District
Several states, including Montana, New Hampshire and Utah, fall under the part-time category, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Post Crescent. More

Redistricting will be 'first thing out of the gate' next year
Moran, who is heading to Austin Thursday for a National Conference of State Legislatures redistricting seminar, told the News Service that Massachusetts’s redistricting process would be the “first thing out of the gate” once lawmakers are sworn in next year. Georgetown Record. More

Missouri medical malpractice damage caps don’t apply to pre-2005 injuries
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of 2005 ten states capped recoveries specifically on medical malpractice cases and another 22 have caps that are not limited to medical malpractice. About a dozen states also have caps on punitive damages. AboutLawsuits.com. More

Police check link between cyber-bullying, girl's death
New York is not among the more than 15 states that have laws making cyber-bullying a harassment crime or making it easier to investigate or prosecute, the National Conference of State Legislatures said. New York State Sportswriters Association. More

Local senator pushes state effort against health care changes
National opposition to the bill from state governments seems to be high, as on Friday, March 19, bills and resolutions had been already introduced in at least 36 state legislatures seeking to limit or oppose various aspects of the reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chaska Herald. More

 

March 25

"Sexting" teens are being labeled sex offenders, lawmakers look to change that
Nebraska, Utah and Vermont have already reduced penalties for teenagers who engage in sexting, and 14 other states are considering measures that would treat sexting minors differently from adult pornographers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CBS News. More  

Amid budget crisis, California makes parole easier
California has the nation's highest rate of sending parolees back to prison, with a little more than two-thirds of all inmates having been sent to prison for violating their parole terms, said prisons expert Alison Lawrence of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "When you see a number that high, there is a sign that something should change," Lawrence said. Associated Press. More

4-day school week plan raising concerns
The idea of a four-day school week is not new. Other states with rural districts, such as California, Colorado and Arizona, have adopted similar policies. Recently, Utah adopted a shorter school year by four or five days to help balance the budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chicago Tribune. More

Heinous Web posts mar girl’s memorial site
More than 15 states have laws making cyberbullying a harassment crime or making it easier to investigate or prosecute, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York does not have such a law. The Globe and Mail. More

Will federal stimulus money for states expire before recovery arrives?
But officials in the hardest-hit states now anticipate that the flow of federal money will dry up before state sales and income tax collections have reached pre-recession levels. "We were all saying that 2011 was the year states were going to go off the cliff," said Corina Eckl, a budget expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "However, it's a higher cliff than we thought. States are going to be in trouble in 2012, too, because the recovery is so slow. Medicaid rates will continue to grow." Politics Daily. More

Using a cell phone behind the wheel is like driving drunk, say experts
An out-and-out ban on drivers using any cell phone, including a hands-free system, has yet to be attempted by a state, according to Anne Teigen, a transportation specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  More

Could this be the year for medical marijuana in New York?
California was the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana 14 years ago. Since then, 14 other states have passed similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Press Connects.com. More

Legislators mull Tennessee Health Freedom Act in wake of new federal law
Individual lawmakers in at least 36 state legislatures are attempting to “seek, limit, alter or oppose” mandates to purchase health insurance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). In 29 of those states, proposals include a constitutional amendment by a ballot question. Kingsport Times News.  More

Moran: Redistricting ‘first thing out of the gate’ next year
Moran, who is heading to Austin Thursday for a National Conference of State Legislatures redistricting seminar, told the News Service that Massachusetts’ redistricting process would be the “first thing out of the gate” once lawmakers are sworn in next year. Boston Herald. More

DWI drivers who kill can get off easy
There is no minimum sentence in Minnesota, unlike at least 20 other states that demand incarceration for certain types of deadly drunken driving offenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minneapolis Star-Tribune. More

Miss. lawmakers trim fat in stoutest state
They plan to recruit teachers, who they believe can spark a grassroots health movement that will spread to parents and students. Next month, Holland will share the story of the program with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
AOL News.com. More

Damage cap for Georgia malpractice lawsuits struck down
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of 2005 ten states capped recoveries specifically on medical malpractice cases and another 22 have caps that are not limited to medical malpractice. AboutLawsuits.com.  More

Lawsuits a sign health care battle not over
In addition to the state lawsuits, legislatures in at least 36 states have proposed measures to challenge the constitutionality of the new bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Charisma News online. More

March 24

States plot to block, limit health care reform law
"They're all very different," said Michelle Blackston, spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which is tracking the proposals. Most states are seeking to prevent their residents from having to follow the new federal requirement to buy health insurance or to pay the coming fines if they don't. FoxNews.com. More

Colo. legislators looking to beef up campaign-finance laws
Nine other states are either bolstering or implementing new disclosure rules for corporations and unions, and four others are trying to require a vote of shareholders before corporations can enter the political arena, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Denver Post. More

Campaign-finance ruling gets response
Colorado is one of 24 states that are affected by the Citizens United case, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Durango Herald.
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Medical marijuana option gets NY Senate push
California was the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana 14 years ago. Since then, 14 other states have passed similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Press & Sun-Bulletin.
More

Obamacare: The battle is far from over
In recent months, legislation, resolutions and constitutional amendments have been introduced in at least three dozen state legislatures that seek to restrict or prohibit key parts of Obamacare, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Human Events.com.
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Health care round up
Individual lawmakers in 36 state legislature are working to limit, alter, or oppose the health care legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twelve GOP attorney generals filed lawsuits challenging the legislation as unconstitutional. The Epoch Times.
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House gives preliminary OK to 3 ballot measures
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arizona is one of only five states where lawmakers lack the ability to appropriate federal funds. AZ Capitol Times.
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President Obama signs healthcare legislation as court battle looms
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, bills and resolutions have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures seeking to limit or oppose various aspects of the reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments. LaSpecula.com.
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New Jersey doctors group files suit over health care reform law
So far, Virginia and Idaho have passed laws, and measures are pending in 27 others, including New Jersey, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NorthJersey.com.  
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President signs health care bill into law, 12 states immediately sue
In addition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures over 36 states are considering some form of legislative action that would shield citizens from various elements in President Obama’s health care reform legislation. LifeSiteNews.com.
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GOPers rush to join lawsuit
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 36 states have introduced measures to limit the federal bill in some way. 29 of those states have begun exploring putting a constitutional amendment on this fall's ballot, while 13 states are pursuing changes to state law. NationalJournal.com.
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March 23

Ruling strikes down Georgia’s cap on malpractice awards
Thirty states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have legislative caps on jury awards in malpractice cases, according to NCSL. The New York Times.
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Connecticut bill would lessen teen "sexting" charge
At least 15 states have introduced or are considering bills or resolutions regarding sexting, according to NCSL. Reuters.
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Florida lawmakers consider going easier on sexting teens
Last year, Nebraska, Utah and Vermont reduced the penalties for teenagers involved in sexting, according to NCSL. TC Palm.
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Eleven U.S. states plan lawsuits against health reforms
Bills and resolutions have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures seeking to limit or oppose various aspects of the reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to NCSL. Reuters.
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Governments across TN get creative to fill dwindling coffers
Nationally, states raised $3.3 billion in new or higher fees last year, said Bert Waisanen, a fiscal analyst for NCSL. The Tennessean.
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Starting young: Is 30 the new 50 in politics?
In the nations' state legislatures, only about 4 percent of legislators are between 20 and 34 years old, according to NCSL. Le Mars Daily Sentinel.
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March 22

Iowa GOP declares war on health reform
Bills have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures seeking to limit or oppose various aspects of the reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only two states, Idaho and Virginia, have enacted laws, while an Arizona constitutional amendment is seeking voter approval on the November ballot. Iowa Independent.
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Moving on to other reforms
According to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures, estimates from 35 responding states indicated cumulative budget shortfalls of nearly $56 billion for fiscal 2011. That’s on top of hundreds of billions of cuts, including education, healthcare and human services that have already been executed over the past two years. Modern Health Care.
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Governments across TN get creative to fill dwindling coffers
Nationally, states raised $3.3 billion in new or higher fees last year, said Bert Waisanen, a fiscal analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "We've seen more of this kind of activity in the last couple of years with the difficulty they've been having balancing budgets with the slowdown in the economy and jobs," he said. Tennessean.
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Health care bill could greatly expand coverage; Critics fear added costs and government control
Although experts question whether states can override a federal law, similar legislation was recently passed in Virginia and Idaho, and is pending in more than two dozen other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A half-dozen legislatures, including Mississippi's, have so far rejected such measures, said Richard Cauchi, the Denver-based organization's health program director. Blog in AL.com.
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Democrats face dubious voters on healthcare
"There's going to be a big free-for-all lawsuit about this," said Michael Bird, legislative counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters.
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Austin to help lead Washington transportation summit
The summit, titled “The Promises and Risks of Public-Private Partnerships,” will be co-sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures — for which Austin is vice chairwoman of its Transportation Committee — and UK Trade and Investment, the economic development arm of the British government. The Herald Bulletin.
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N.J. has plenty of company as it struggles with budget
"This is the longest economic downturn . . . that the states have had to deal with since the Great Depression," said Arturo Perez, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Daily Record.
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Connecticut lawmakers take on "sexting" issue
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports at least 15 states this year have introduced or are considering bills or resolutions regarding "sexting" this year. 1010 Wins.
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Battle looms over budget woes
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a four-day week in Utah has cut energy use in state buildings by 10 percent, saved on operations and custodial costs, and cut consumption of gasoline in state cars 524,000 gallons. Union Leader.
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Health care reform battle shifts to the states
The Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures reported Friday that individual legislators in at least 36 states were seeking to "limit, alter or oppose" federal health reform. Denver Post.
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High court ruling leaves states scrambling to close gaps on spending limits
About half the states already allowed corporate spending before the ruling, and therefore were unaffected by it. But the response since then isn’t limited to states whose laws were found unconstitutional, said Jennie Bowser, an elections analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Boston Globe.
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Sen. Balfour takes political bow
He also parlayed his 18 years as state senator from Gwinnett County into the elected job of president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the premier state legislative organization. Atlanta Journal Constitution.
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How much longer can we wait to overhaul our immigration laws?
In 2009 states considered more than 1500 laws concerning immigrants and immigration, and 353 became law in 48 states, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. Brookings.
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States take aim to block healthcare plan
Bills and resolutions have been introduced in at least 36 state legislatures seeking to limit or oppose various aspects of the reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "There's going to be a big free-for-all lawsuit about this," said Michael Bird, legislative counsel for the NCSL. Reuters.
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Four-day week makes the grade
I agree after reading a 2008 report from National Conference of State Legislatures, a 2003 Indiana University report and other documents. Star News.
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March 19

Could state Sen. Susan Garrett be lieutenant governor and still keep her seat?
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that In (18) states, a legislator may not hold a second state-level elected office, but allow the legislator to hold a second county or municipal office if those offices are not "incompatible."  These states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Chicago Tribune.
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Massive state-level revolt brewing against Obamacare
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), at least 36 state legislatures are now using the legislative process "to limit, alter, or oppose selected state or federal actions, including single-payer provisions and mandates that would require purchase of insurance." NewsMax.com.
More  

March 18

NJ's facing fiscal woes - but it's not alone
"This is the longest economic downturn ... that the states have had to deal with since the Great Depression," said Arturo Perez, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Gannett Newspapers in My Central Jersey Online.
More

Caucuses remain closed in W.Va. legislature
That hasn't always been a successful strategy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Courts in Alaska and Florida both dismissed lawsuits seeking to open caucuses. In both cases, courts determined they couldn't enforce open meetings provisions because of the constitutional separation of powers. WBOY.com.
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Maine House OKs prescription drug take-back plan
Maine is one of 13 states with bills this year addressing pharmaceutical collection or disposal, according to the National Conference of state Legislatures. Business Week.
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SC legislature overturns proposed abortion coverage ban
South Carolina currently requires women seeking an abortion receive counseling on the mental health impact of their decision and obtain parental consent for women under the age of 17, with the only exceptions being medical emergencies and instances of abuse, assault, incest, or neglect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ms. Magazine.
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March 17

Pa. Senate panel tables bill to ban gay marriage
Twenty-nine states have constitutions that define marriage as being between a man and a woman while 39 states have laws to that effect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Five states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont—allow gay marriage. Lebanon Daily News.
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NJ governor takes anti-tax stance in budget plan
New Jersey's fiscal plan has been published before those of most states and could attract attention and gain influence as a means of coping with fiscal woes, said Arturo Perez, a budget analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters.
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Cell-phone-while-driving habit -- kick it or ticket
Of the six states that have laws regulating cell phone use by drivers, Washington state is the only one that considers it a secondary offense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Yakima Herald-Republic.
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AM Alert: Whitman on a roll in governor's race
HEARING: The Fair Political Practices Commission's subcommittee on the Political Reform Act and Internet political activity discusses source disclosure and financing. Among those expected to testify are Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures, campaign consultants and others. Sacramento Bee.
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March 16

TN legislators should show receipts to be reimbursed
According to NCSL, Florida is the only state where lawmakers are required to file travel vouchers to substantiate what they spent. Column in Tennessean.
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Improve, not end, 'No Child Left Behind' law
Many education experts — as well as the bipartisan NCSL — have long maintained the act's reporting guidelines need improvement. Poughkeepsie Journal.
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States hope for a rich uncle
Groups that lobby on behalf of states, including CSG, NCSL and NGA, say they have little hope of getting much more. The Wall Street Journal.
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Analysis of fetal homicide bills suggests ulterior motives
NCSL reports that 38 states have fetal homicide laws. Blog in RH Reality Check.
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March 15

911 calls: Public or private?
Pam Greenberg of the National Conference of State Legislatures, reports five states – Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wyoming – keep 911 recordings confidential. Some other states, such as Georgia, Maine, Minnesota and South Dakota, place restrictions on releasing 911 recordings if they reveal the name, address or phone number of the person placing the call. Shelby Star.
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State lawmakers try to head off health bill
Richard Cauchi of the National Conference of State Legislatures says it's too soon to say whether a majority of states will follow through and pass new laws or adopt constitutional amendments. Proponents should know by the end of May whether their movement "has legs," he says, because by then, only a dozen state legislatures will still be in session. USA Today.
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Efforts to lengthen Michigan term limits seem stalled
Several states have decided term limits don't work. Lawmakers in Utah and Idaho repealed their term limits laws, and term limits in the Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington state and Wyoming constitutions were struck down through the courts, according to elections analyst Jennie Drage Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in the Detroit Free Press.
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Upstate officials meet to discuss advancing high speed rail
Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith, co-chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) along with Senator David J. Valesky (D-Syracuse), met with Rob Simpson, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Development Corporation and Darlene Kerr, Deb Warner, and Benjamin Sio of the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce to discuss regional economic development priorities and the role High Speed Rail will play in advancing those priorities. Eagle Newspapers.
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Education voucher debate expected to heat up in N.J. soon
Sources for voucher programs across the nation. Asbury Park Press.
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State deficits
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states are expected to have a combined $56 billion in deficits for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Opinion in the Watertown Daily Times.
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Statehouse insider: Nestande streams campaign videos
The Coachella Democrat will be featured in a focus group by the National Conference of State Legislatures, reflecting on his freshman year. Desert Sun.
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State has cut 1,500 workers in last year
As the recession began, one of the first things states implemented were hiring and salary freezes and the elimination of vacant positions, said Todd Haggerty, a policy associate with the fiscal affairs program of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Now we're actually having to see some states going to having to lay off employees as revenues continue to perform poorly and states are mired in multi-year, entrenched budget gaps that they're having to close," Haggerty said. Sioux City Journal.
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Week 36: Congress plans vote on final reform legislation
At least 35 other state legislatures are considering measures to "limit, alter, or oppose selected state or federal actions, including single-payer provisions and mandates that would require purchase of insurance," according to the National  Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Media Page Today.
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Wash. Legislature toughens cell phone driving law
The National Conference of State Legislatures has said that Washington is one of six states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws regulating cell phone use by drivers, but is the only one that considers the use of a phone without a handsfree device a secondary offense. Business Week.
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Congressional black caucus member discusses Obama meeting
Census experts predict that more minority-dominated districts will emerge from the process, but they will largely be majority Latino, says Tim Storey, a redistricting expert and senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures. NPR.
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States scramble after high court election ruling
But the response since then isn't limited to states whose laws were found unconstitutional, said Jennie Bowser, an elections analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "This has drawn attention to corporate activity in campaigns in general, and Maryland's a good example of that," she said. Google News.
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Arizona strict on disclosures
Peggy Kearns, director of the Center for Ethics in Government with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, said that while the government should make sure the information is available, it's up to the public to do something with it. "It isn't a one-way street here," she said. "Ultimately, the public is responsible for looking at these documents and deciding if there are conflicts of interest." Arizona Republic.
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Washington state "911 good samaritan law" to go into effect in June
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island are considering similar measures. Stop the Drug War.org.
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Heaton announces re-election bid for Dist. 55 House seat
At the national level, Heaton currently serves as vice chairman of the Energy Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. TMCnet.com.
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Black leaders ask: where's our president?
Census experts predict that more minority-dominated districts will emerge from the process, but they will largely be majority Latino, says Tim Storey, a redistricting expert and senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures. National Public Radio.
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March 12

Cash-starved states put tax scofflaws in crosshairs
Such efforts are designed to augment states' efforts to attack budget deficits that are projected to swell to a combined $55.5 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal.
More

New estimate shows small increase in expected state revenue
Thursday's projections put Iowa ahead in the recovery curve compared with most states. More than half expect revenue to continue to decline in the current fiscal year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And states cumulatively expect to face a $55.5 billion shortfall in the coming fiscal year, the group's numbers show. Des Moines Register.
More and More

Coverage mandate for birth control, maternity care passes Senate test
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states require coverage of contraceptives in state-regulated health insurance while 23 states require coverage of maternity treatment and services. Denver Post.
More

Lawmakers toughen cellphone-driving law
The National Conference of State Legislatures has said that Washington is one of six states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws regulating phone use by drivers, but the only one to consider using a phone without a hands-free device a secondary offense. The Associated Press in the Seattle Times.
More

California democrats want to end ‘supermajority’ budget rule
California is one of two U.S. states where tax increases and spending plans each require the approval of more than half the legislative body, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. With the dual supermajority requirement, lawmakers have met the budget deadline five times in the last three decades. Business Week.
More

So far, Virginia lawmakers' pay immune from budget cuts
Compensation models differ, but judged on an annual basis, California ranks first at $95,291 and New Hampshire last, at $200 for a two-year term, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hampton Roads.
More

Berger's "women in history" experience
Berger, who is on the executive committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures, was the only woman from Wyoming in attendance. Sheridan Media.com.
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Guest Blogger: Utah House Speaker Dave Clark and Senate President Michael Waddoups on federalism
We work collaboratively with other states on uniform state laws and we participate fully with the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and other state-based associations that provide valuable training, networking and collaboration. The Heritage Foundation Blog.
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March 11

So far, Va. lawmakers' pay immune from budget cuts
Compensation models differ, but judged on an annual basis, California ranks first, at $95,291, and Texas last, at $7,200, according to NCSL. The Virginian-Pilot.
More

Draft national education standards unveiled
David Shreve of NCSL says now that the states must adopt these standards in order to get certain federal grants, they really aren't voluntary. National Public Radio.
More

N.J. bill mandates public employees live in state
Nationwide, states have widely varying policies on residency requirements for public employees, according to NCSL. Philadelphia Inquirer.
More

Governor proposes rise in income tax for Illinois
“A lot of the easy decisions were already made,” said Todd Haggerty, an analyst with NCSL. New York Times.
More

Lawmakers ponder taxing online sales
Enter the Streamlined Sales Tax project, an effort started by NGA and NCSL in 1999 to get states together to figure out how to conform their sales tax laws. Spokesman Review.
More

Legislation honoring slain teen advances
Seven states have laws that require school districts to teach students about teen dating violence, according to NCSL. Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
More

Legislative pay evidence of a larger problem
Nationwide, the average pay for full-time legislators is $68,599, or 26 percent less than Michigan, according to NCSL. Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
More

Law offers some immunity for reporting drug overdoses
Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island are also considering similar measures this year, according to NCSL. Seattle Times.
More

Mass. Senate to vote on school nutrition bill
Last year, 10 states passed school nutrition and nutrition education laws, according to NCSL. AP in Boston.com.
More

Virginia bans mandatory health insurance
In addition to Virginia, at least 35 other state legislatures are considering measures to "limit, alter, or oppose selected state or federal actions, including single-payer provisions and mandates that would require purchase of insurance," according to NCSL. MedPage Today.
More

Survived recession? Get set for higher state, local taxes
"You're looking at anything and everything--in many cases this is local aid," says Todd Haggerty, a policy specialist at NCSL. CNBC.
More

States, cities likely to slash jobs as stimulus dwindles
On the local level, the Los Angeles, Calif. United School District says its worst-case budget plan is for 8,000 layoffs, according to a recent report by NCSL. CNBC.
More

March 10

Behind the times: State's school starting age needs revision
Thirty-two states require compulsory schooling by age 6, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The remaining states are split between age 5 and age 7. Patriot-News Editorial Board.
More

States square off against Amazon over sales tax
Neal Osten of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington says it's still people's responsibility to pay the sales tax, even if an online retailer leaves it off. "A number of states right now do ask that you [pay]," Osten says. "On your income tax form, there's a line for unpaid sales taxes or uncollected sales taxes — and you can report that and pay that to the state." NPR on WBUR.org.
More

No raises for teachers, other state employees
At least 14 states laid off state employees during this budget year, from 20,000 California teachers to 48 Missouri state parks employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Charlotte Observer.  
More

Could the governor go from Frankenstein to Igor in 2 years?
And if passed, the amendment would make Wisconsin’s governor one of the least powerful, since all but six states (Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont) have some form of line-item veto for major budget bills, according to a 2008 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Badger Herald.  
More

Koppelman seeks re-election
He also serves on the Civil Justice Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council and was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. West Fargo Pioneer.  
More

Pension spike spurs senior initiative
Ron Snell, director of the state services division of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said more state legislatures have bills pending that would, among other things, lengthen the eligibility for pension vesting from five to 10 years, raise the age for full retirement and in some cases substitute 401(k)-type plans for the guaranteed lifetime benefits that many states have long promised. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
More

ND measure requires lawmakers to read, post bills
Representatives of the Council of State Governments in Lexington, Ky., and the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver said they did not know of similar restrictions on lawmakers in any other state.
The Associated Press in The Dickinson Press.
More

Amazon battles back on sales tax
Colorado's law doesn't require online companies to collect sales taxes. Instead, it requires them to notify buyers and the state of the amount that should have been taxed, says Neal Osten, director of the Washington office for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Politics Daily.
More

Iowa vs. Nebraska: Polls point to Nebraska, but Iowa won't go into debt
According to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, another group gave Utah merits: The National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL doesn't rank states from 1 to 50, according to financial analyst Arturo Perez. It's a bipartisan group that's meant to be a clearing house for information. Among other things, Perez said his group keeps track of the budget shortfalls of each state and its percentage in relation to the overall budget. For Fiscal Year 2010, Iowa is currently facing a $317 million shortfall, while Nebraska only has a $167 million shortfall. But when you figure in the percentage of the total budget, Iowa's represents 5.5 percent and Nebraska's 4.4 percent, not as big a difference. Then, taking some of the fizzle away from the bragging rights debate, Perez said, "No two states are alike." Fort Madison Daily Democrat.  
More

Silver bullet from U.S. states kills 'mandatory' Obamacare
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, formal resolutions or bills have been filed in opposition to the individual mandate in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. World Net Daily.
More

La. bill to nix health overhaul called premature
Virginia was the first state to enact such a proposal when a bill that says no state resident shall be required to get health insurance became law last week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A similar measure awaits a decision from Arizona voters in November, according to NCSL. Business Week.  
More

NM job seekers don't have to disclose crime record
The National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Employment Law Project say Minnesota passed similar legislation in 2009, becoming the first state to outlaw the conviction question. The Associated Press.  
More

 

March 9

Four day school weeks: Interesting new math or bad idea?
The National Conference of State Legislatures has a good list of older legislation from the early 2000s and 1990s. Blog in Smart Planet.
More

Around the rotunda: Txt me latr
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported last summer that more than half of 99 legislative chambers restrict the use of electronic devices in some form, including 38 that prohibit cell phones on the floor. Lincoln Journal Star.
More

Lawmakers discuss financial aid funding
Education policy specialist Brenda Bautsch of the National Conference of State Legislatures, testified about other states’ college affordability tactics and financial aid ideas. The State News (Michigan).
More

March 8

Va. health bill could foil Obama proposal
The National Conference of State Legislatures says similar bills or state constitutional amendments are being proposed in at least 32 states. Boston Globe.
More

Gov's plan to release inmates under fire
States are looking at the budget as well as a growing body of data on what works and what doesn't work in (community) supervision," said Alison Lawrence, a corrections policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The majority of people eventually get out of prison, so there's a new focus on whether incarceration works as much as we're doing it." Detroit News.
More

States to consider ban on credit checks for job applications
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 16 states, including Missouri, have proposed bills to ban credit checks on most job applicants. Ozarks First.
More

Utah campaign cash limits would have affected few
Utah is one of only six states, and soon to be four, that does not limit who or how much money can be donated to a campaign, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in ABC 4.
More

Bill to ease access to marijuana for registered patients advances
States like Hawaii that were early adopters of medical marijuana laws are less likely to have the newer dispensary provisions, said Karmen Hanson of the National Conference of State Legislatures' health program. Star Bulletin.
More

Red-light cameras gain popularity, but whether they improve safety is debatable
Conversely, eight states have banned photo red-light or radar enforcement, with three more debating the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Denver Post.
More

36 states aim to preempt federal health care plan
"That is a widespread, common theme," said Richard Cauchi, program director for the NCSL health program. "The real legal issue is the requirement that every person buy health insurance." Politics Daily.
More

Renewable energy bill closes in
Most other states with renewable energy requirements are in the 20 percent range, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in the Daily Camera.
More

Lawmakers OK $1 per pack cigarette tax hike
Utah's tax was 69.5 cents per pack, ranking 38th in the country, including Guam and Puerto Rico, according to figures from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Salt Lake Tribune.
More

House: Some Fridays not counted
In reality, many lawmakers are working on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — even when they aren't in Topeka, said Rep. Melvin Neufeld, a Republican from Ingalls. Most of his absences can be attributed to work as vice president of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Topeka Capital-Journal.
More

No matter what happens, Paterson gets his pension
Typically, a pension is considered property after five years of service, said Ron Snell, director of the state services division of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Private companies, on the other hand, sometimes have looser pension protections, Snell noted. Pro Publica.
More

50 states… A $300 billion black hole…and 10 years “lost”
Since December 2007, U.S. states have collectively run up a $300 billion budget gap, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Investment University.
More

Utah Senate passes tobacco tax increase
The tax per pack of cigarettes in Wyoming is 60 cents, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Business Week.
More and More

Republicans eye state workers' pay
A typical state government employee in an average state pays 18 percent of costs for family coverage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The News Tribune.
More

Transparency alone won't cure all that ails us
In spite of the Illinois Constitution’s requirement that all sessions of the House and Senate be open to the public, the Senate on Feb. 17 convened in secret to receive a budget briefing from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Blog with The First Amendment Center.
More

March 5

Utah Senate passes tobacco tax increase
The tax per pack of cigarettes in Wyoming is 60 cents, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in Forbes.
More

States rush to catch up with campaign finance ruling
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Connecticut, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania have not yet determined what they will do to comply with the ruling, while Montana and Texas legislatures won’t even meet again until 2011. The Arizona Capitol Times.
More

Republicans eye state workers' pay
A typical state government employee in an average state pays 18 percent of costs for family coverage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The News Tribune.
More

Lawmakers clear hurdle, others remain
In November, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that officials were hopeful that FY 2009 would mark the bottom of the revenue plunge, but their hopes have been shattered. Not only have revenues continued to fall below expectations, they are projected to be anemic for years to come, the conference predicted. The Edmond Sun.
More

Minnesota clothes tax? DFLer says it's time
Minnesota is just one of five states that generally exempt clothing from taxation (the state does tax fur, jewelry and a handful of other goods), while a few others exempt clothing sales up to a certain price, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The St. Paul Pioneer Press.
More

Credit checks face scrutiny
"State legislatures are definitely looking at whether or not job seekers or job candidates are getting caught in this bind where they've lost a job and can't pay some bills, and their credit takes some hits, takes some dings, but they can't get hired for another job," Morton said. The Post and Courier.
More

Nebraska bill targets left-lane laggards; other states may limit lane use
At least 20 states have similar left-lane restriction rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In recent months, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas have enacted laws to limit left-lane use. Land Line Magazine.
More

Texting while driving ban closer to becoming law
The National Conference of State Legislatures has said that Washington is one of six states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws regulating cell phone use by drivers, but is the only one that considers the use of a phone without a handsfree device a secondary offense. KING-TV, Seattle.
More and More

States 'race' to adopt Obama's schools policies
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also grown critical of Obama's approach, saying that the administration is straying too far from the traditional federal role in education of supporting programs that serve poor and disadvantaged children. "The administration has made a decision that they're going to try to use limited federal resources to leverage change in the entire system," says David Shreve, an education policy expert with NCSL. NPR.
More

Stronger ethics laws? Bingo!
Alabama is now one of only three states that does not give their ethics commissions subpoena power. Michigan and North Carolina are the others, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Editorial in the AL.com.
More

March 4

Law curbs teen tanning
At least 31 states regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One county in Maryland recently banned indoor tanning for all minors.The News Journal.
More

Baddour, Costello disagree over elderly drivers, cell phones
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all drivers from text messaging. Another 34 states are considering bills related to distracted driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Newburyport Daily News.
More

WA House approves tougher texting and driving ban
The National Conference of State Legislatures has said that Washington is one of six states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws regulating cell phone use by drivers, but is the only one that considers the use of a phone without a handsfree device a secondary offense. Seattle Times.
More

Building blocks of a new movement
According to Arturo Pérez of the National Conference of State Legislatures, "It's the worst situation states have faced in decades, perhaps going as far back as the Great Depression in some states." Editorial in the SocialistWorker.org.
More

Wisconsin governor signs bill banning hallucinogenic herb known as Salvia divinorum
The National Conference of State Legislatures says several states have passed laws regulating or controlling the herb since 2006 as concerns about its use and abuse have risen. Fox6NowMilwaukee.com.
More

Putting a price tag on the cost of human suffering from food borne illness
State lawmakers have been attempting to push several food safety bills over the past year. In the 2009-2010 legislative year, 553 bills involving changes to food safety have been introduced in 48 states, according to Doug Farquhar, a program director for agriculture at the National Conference of State Legislatures. EmaxHealth.com.  
More

Clay Cox jumps into 7th CD race, demands that Don Balfour give up Senate chairmanship
Cox also noted that Balfour entered the race, by phone, from Egypt, where he was delivering an address on education. Balfour is president of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
More

District 13: Lee announces bid for 4th senate term
She has been active in the National Conference of State Legislatures, serving as national chair of the NCSL Health Committee in 2009. WestFargo Pioneer.
More

March 3

States push their own jobs, consumer protection plans
The number of state consumer protection laws pales in comparison to the slew of jobs proposals being debated in statehouses country. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 16 states have proposed bills to ban credit checks on most job applicants, while Hawaii and Washington already have such bans in place. Wall Street Journal.  
More

State Senate backs ban on text messaging while driving
Nationally, 19 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all drivers from text messaging. Another 34 states are considering bills related to distracted driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  News Telegram.com.  
More

Ethics bill is hailed as a starting point
Peggy Kerns, a former Colorado legislator who now is director of the Center for Ethics in Government at the National Conference of State Legislatures, agreed scandal usually is the impetus for change and applauded Indiana's lawmakers for not waiting until some problem erupted. Indianapolis Star.
More

No-texting rules would be tough to enforce on California Assembly floor
Legislative bodies in 36 states – including California, which bans Assembly members from talking on cell phones on the floor – have enacted some sort of restriction on cell phone, e-mail or other electronic communication from the floor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sacramento Bee.
More

State Senate supports testing of drivers 75 and older
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia prohibit all drivers from text messaging. Another 34 states are considering bills related to distracted driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eagle Tribune.  
More

Cost of food-borne illnesses is deemed much higher than earlier estimates
State lawmakers, however, have been trying to pick up the slack by pushing a flurry of food safety legislation. In the 2009-10 legislative year, 553 bills involving changes to food safety have been introduced in 48 states, said Doug Farquhar, program director for agriculture at the National Conference of State Legislatures. California lawmakers have introduced 37 bills, he said. "This national push is not only coming from concerned consumers but the agriculture industry as well," Farquhar said. "When it comes to food safety and the food business, it's straightforward: When you have an outbreak, profits plunge." Los Angeles Times.
More

Harmon apologizes for closed-door Senate meeting
Last week, many members of the Illinois State Senate met in an unusual bipartisan caucus to hear an expert presentation from the National Conference of State Legislatures on the national recession and its impact on state budgets. [Harmon: Closed senate session was legal, productive, News, Feb. 24] The presentation was informative and the written outline is available for public review on the Internet. The reaction of the senators in attendance was thoughtful and contemplative. Wednesday Journal.  
More

Plan for Sakonnet River Bridge toll draws opposition
A federal law change may not be necessary, however, according to Nicholas Farber, a transportation policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Providence Journal.
More

States act to block federal healthcare mandates
According to statistics published by the National Conference of State Legislatures, legislators in at least 32 states are using their constitutionally protected power and shepherding bills through the individual assemblies that aim to block, limit, or outright declare unconstitutional any attempt by the federal government to require citizens to purchase health insurance. The New American.
More

National groups tout Wisconsin's proposed basic health plan
Laura Tobler, who directs the health program for the National Conference of State Legislatures, says other states have tried insurance programs that are run entirely on premiums.  She says Wisconsin's program would be unique, but only if it works.   She says the fundamental trouble with targeted state insurance programs is that most of the people who need them are in that situation because they can't afford coverage elsewhere.  Lowering premiums to a price they can pay means there's less money to fund the program. Fox21News.com.
More

Senate endorses exploring Internet sales tax
He said he served on the National Conference of State Legislatures, which helped form the compact, when the issue of taxing Internet purchases was first being studies.  Similar measures to join the sales tax compact have failed in the Legislature in the past. Idaho Reporter.
More

Wis. Assembly cracks down on Indian logos
No state has passed legislation banning race-based mascots and nicknames. Bills in California to ban the term “Redskins” were vetoed in 2003 and 2005, and a Vermont bill that would have prohibited schools from using American Indian symbols failed in 2005, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Native American Times.
More

States propose limiting credit checks by employers
Maryland is just one of at least 16 states across the country that are considering legislation to ban or limit credit checks on job applicants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Inc.
More

Larger battle over sentencing shortcuts just beginning
A review by the National Conference of State legislatures finds Oregon among dozens of states tweaking and re-tweaking their sentencing policies. OPB News.com.
More

Some states may prohibit credit checks on new hires
State legislators in the following states have proposed bills to ban credit checks on most job applicants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin. MetroWest Daily News.
More

March 2

State Sen. Don Balfour to run for Congress
Nationally, Balfour has the distinction of being the first Georgia legislator to chair the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Gwinnett Gazette.
More

Stop or go? Florida Legislature to debate turning off the red light cameras
Florida is among 30 states that debated the issue last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of the measures gave cities and counties the ability to use red light cameras, while others banned their use. NaplesNews.com.
More

States that are considering credit check bans
State legislators in the following states have proposed bills to ban credit checks on most job applicants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press.
More

K-12 cuts loom again as states' fiscal woes continue
About half the states are poised to slash spending on K-12 education in fiscal 2011, while another handful are expected to keep funding level for public schools, said Daniel G. Thatcher, a fiscal and education policy associate at the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Education Week.
More

Ariz. Senate votes to refer term limits to ballot
At their peak, there were term-limit laws in 21 states. But courts in four states threw them out, and lawmakers in Idaho and Utah have repealed them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. KPHO.com  
More

States using early release of prisoners to save money
Besides the 44 states that allow inmates to earn good-time credits, at least 31 also provide some form of earned-time credits for those who enroll in educational or other programs, according to a study last year by the National Conference of State Legislatures. NewJerseyNewsroom.com.
More

Gay rights enter debate over Northrop Grumman's HQ pick
Eleven states and Washington, D.C., had worker protection policies that addressed sexual orientation, according to a 2007 analysis done by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Virginian Pilot.
More

Rick Perry vs. the DPS
At least 20 other states do have metal detectors at their capitol entrances, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The group conducted a survey of security measures last year. Twenty-three states did not respond to the survey because they did not want to reveal their security strategies. The Texas Tribune.
More

HB10-1147: Bill to Protect Biking Kids with Helmets Advances
Bill sponsor Rep. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, promoted House Bill 1147 as a way to prevent life-changing brain injuries in children. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring helmets for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. State Bill Colorado.
More

March 1

Georgia bill aims at slow-poke drivers in fast lanes
At least 20 states have similar left-lane restriction rules, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Birmingham News.  More

Wisconsin Assembly cracks down on tribal logos for school sports teams, mascots
No state has passed legislation banning race-based mascots and nicknames. Bills in California to ban the term "Redskins" were vetoed in 2003 and 2005, and a Vermont bill that would have prohibited schools from using Native American symbols failed in 2005, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.he Associated Press in the Green Bay Press Gazette. More

Neb. bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks on basis of 'fetal pain'
If passed, Nebraska would be the first state to prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks on the basis of fetal pain (Young, Lincoln Journal Star, 2/26). Six other states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah -- require that a women seeking an abortion be told that the procedure could cause fetal pain, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Medical News Today. More

Pawlenty’s tax policy ignores budget realities
According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Minnesota was second to Alaska in reliance on one-time fixes to balance its most recent budget. Minnesota Daily. More

Group seeks a part-time Legislature
The length of legislative sessions varies widely around the country, but according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are nine states where the legislatures are more or less full time — California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. San Diego Union-Tribune.  More

Medicinal pot a hard sell here
Fifteen states as well as the District of Columbia now have medical marijuana laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 15 states, including Iowa, Kansas and Missouri, are considering legalization bills. Omaha World-Herald. More

Workers put furloughs to good use
More than half the states have implemented or proposed furloughs, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.
USA Today. More

Free rides unaffordable
Ronald Snell, who tracks pension developments for the National Conference of State Legislatures, predicts that many state lawmakers will discuss shifting employees from a defined benefit plan, with a guaranteed pension benefit, to a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k) in which the employee assumes most of the risk because they choose where to invest their money. The News Journal. More

No telling who pays for lawmaker travel
"You get a lot of offers," Gray said. Many come through the state's membership with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Rep. Joni Cutler traveled to Saudi Arabia for 10 days in October and November with a grant sponsored by the NCSL through the U.S. Department of State and the Saudi government. She was among 10 state legislators from across the country who participated. Sioux Falls Argus Leader. More

CAPITOL COVERAGE
Richard Cauchi, the National Conference of State Legislatures' program director for health, says he's aware of only one other state — Florida — in which lawmakers pay lower health-insurance premiums than other state employees.
Lancaster Online. More

Spurring new look at ethics
“It’s OK to put in statute these kinds of aspirational statements, and then of course, the proof comes in how it’s played out,” said Peggy Kerns, director of the Ethics Center at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states have done the same — without, of course, the cowboy flavor. Editorial in the Daily Progress.  More

Some job seekers don't have to disclose record
Minnesota passed similar legislation in 2009, becoming the only state that outlaws the question, according to the group and the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in the Las Cruces Sun-News. More

DV Scuttles Pol's Career; Nebraska Tries Again
No other state has tried to restrict abortions based on the pain a fetus might feel, the article reported. If the bill were to pass, it would likely face a court challenge and could end up in front of the Supreme Court. Six states--Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah--require that pregnant women be told an abortion could cause pain for the fetus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Womense.news.org. More

 

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