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NCSL in the News: March 2011

NCSL in the News: 2011

NCSL in the News Archives

NCSL in the News: March 2011

March 31

States hit the gas for road funding
Officials in Nebraska, Hawaii, Virginia, South Carolina and South Dakota have considered proposals to raise gas taxes in recent months, according to transportation experts and information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

Effort to rewrite Kansas DUI laws stalled in Senate
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing for an ignition interlock law, arguing that it will reduce repeat DUI offenses, traffic accidents and fatalities. Nine states require such devices for all first-time DUI offenders, while an additional seven require them for some, based on the offender's age or blood-alcohol level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Kansas City Star

Bill would link jobless benefits, drug tests
South Carolina is one of 23 states where lawmakers are trying this year to make drug testing a condition for receiving public assistance, including unemployment benefits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Myrtle Beach Sun News

Legislature advances state meat inspection proposal, possibility of horse processing
The National Conference of State Legislatures also has urged Congress to oppose legislation to restrict the market, transport, processing or export of horses or horsemeat, and not to interfere with a state's efforts to establish horse processing plants.  Lincoln Journal Star

Thursday churn: College completion
The College Board – the people who bring you the SAT and a lot of other tests – is leading a national campaign to increase the number of Americans who have college degrees, and it’s bringing its State Capitals Campaign to Denver today, along with the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, both based in Colorado.  Education News Colorado

Immigration debate brings thousands to capitol
Georgia isn’t alone in trying to deal with illegal immigration. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2010, 46 states and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws dealing with immigration and refugees.  Georgia Bulletin

Moving forward despite delays
Tuesday of last week, Indiana's Democrat walkout became the longest walkout in our nation's history according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This is not a record for which we are proud. I remain optimistic that our House colleagues will return. I believe Democrat and Republican House members alike want to get back to work.  Princeton Daily Clarion 

March 30

Colorado concussions law most far-reaching in country
Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon are among the states that have passed laws that address head injuries in youth sports, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Utah signed a bill into law last week and California and Nebraska are among states with pending legislation.  AP in NPR

Sponsor of tough Arizona law on illegal immigrants says he approves of similar bill in Georgia
Illegal immigration has been a hot issue in legislatures around the country this year, with lawmakers in at least 25 states proposing laws that are similar to or at least include several provisions contained in Arizona's laws by mid-March, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Republic

Bill would push back funeral protesters
North Dakota is one of 45 states that restrict protests at funerals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Five states now keep demonstrations at least 1,000 feet from a service, the organization says.  AP in The Jamestown Sun

Federal lawsuit urges action to ensure Maine redistricting is completed before 2012 election
Maine and Montana are the only states that allow redistricting to wait until after the 2012 congressional elections, said Tim Storey, a redistricting expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Republic

Double-dippers earning pensions plus paychecks are targeted by U.S. states
“Most of the impetus behind the issue of return to covered service by state employees is due to the unfavorable publicity,” said Ronald Snell, the Washington-based director of state services at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “The impression in the public’s mind is that this is the way public employees cheat the system.”  Bloomberg

In-state tuition bill reignites immigration debate
Eleven states have similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oregon is among about a dozen states considering such bills.  Statesman Journal

Opponents call South Carolina voter ID bill too costly for taxpayers
About half of the states are considering measures to create or strengthen ID requirements at the polls this year. At least eight states already have strict photo ID requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Myrtle Beach Sun News

Resolution would start process for annual Nevada legislative sessions
Montana, North Dakota and Texas' legislatures also meet every other year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other 46 states meet every year, the NCSL said.  Reno Gazette Journal

Five early career money myths for new grads and young professionals
In New York, for example, unmarried children can stay on a parent's insurance until age 30 if they live in state. A state-by-state list of provisions is available from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Ledger

Redistricting battles could target veteran US senators
Republicans took over at least 19 Democratic-controlled state legislatures in November and gained more than 650 seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, meaning they control much of the redistricting processes around the country.  Press TV

Legislature keeps public out by flouting own transparency rules
When I asked last week, the National Conference of State Legislatures told me most states "do not allow title-only bills for legislative consideration, generally under the reasoning that you need to know the details of a bill to make an informed decision about how to vote on it and even where to refer it."  The Seattle Times

Kansas House sends voter ID bill to governor
The bill would make Kansas the 10th state to require voters to show photo ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in San Antonio Express 

March 29

The GOP’s voter ID gambit
Those states look to join the eight states that require photo ID and the 19 that require some form of ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Blog in the Washington Post

Legislators weigh in on Amazon.com dispute
Collecting that money from Amazon barely would put a dent in the state's $27 billion budget gap, but over time, taxes collected by all e-retailers could help alleviate the state's finances. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that the state will lose $1.8 billion in uncollected sales tax from online and catalog purchases in 2012. Houston Chronicle

Rep. Moxley named to national leadership post
Tom Moxley, Council Grove has been named co-chairman of the Agriculture and Energy Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL). Abilene Reflector Chronicle

Redistricting Battles Begin: Could Your Congress Member be in the Line of Fire?
Republicans took over at least 19 Democratic-controlled state legislatures in November and gained more than 650 seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, meaning they control much of the redistricting processes around the country. ABC News

Gov. Martinez coming to Carlsbad to sign 'Katie's Law'
The National Conference of State Legislatures says New Mexico and 23 other states have some version of Katie's Law. Carlsbad Current Argus

'Combined reporting' bill for business taxes debated
Since 2006, six states have adopted combined reporting, including New York and Massachusetts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republican American

Bill to cut power, and individual freedom to light bulb law!
Bills similar to South Carolina have been introduced this year in three other states -Texas, Georgia and Minnesota - according to Glen Anderson, director of energy program for the National Conference of State Legislatures. South Carolina SC

Retailers urge state to press Amazon
Collecting that money from Amazon barely would put a dent in the state's $27 billion budget gap, but over time, taxes collected by all e-retailers could help alleviate the state's finances. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that the state will lose $1.8 billion in uncollected sales tax from online and catalog purchases in 2012. San Antonio Express News

March 28

Retirees' cost-of-living raises eyed as budget fix
Minnesota, South Dakota and Colorado in 2010 reduced cost-of-living increases for people who are already retired, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and all three states now face legal challenges over the moves.  AP in The Olympian

State holds Medicaid program steady in face of cuts nationwide
The federal government is expected to pick up most of the tab of new participants until 2020 when its share drops to 90 percent, but states are nonetheless downsizing their Medicaid services where they can to save money now and in the future.  “States are looking at everything they can,” said Melissa Allen, a health policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Illinois Statehouse News

GOP ready to redraw North Carolina's political map
"It's definitely been the epicenter of some of the most landmark redistricting cases in the modern era," says Tim Storey, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Some of the seminal Supreme Court cases that guide legislators in every state in the country in the redistricting process originated in North Carolina."  Charlotte Observer

Virginia offers naming rights for rest stops
Several other states -- including New Jersey and Illinois -- are looking into similar sponsorship initiatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

A lottery wouldn’t make much of a dent in our budget
One study showed that, on average, states that had lotteries received about 0.95 percent of their total revenue from such winnings. (Source: National Conference of State Legislatures).  Las Vegas Sun

Across country, GOP pushes photo ID at the polls
About half of states are considering measures to create or strengthen ID requirements this year, according to NCSL. Many are considering stringent controls that would mirror laws in Georgia and Indiana, which require voters who don't have photo ID at the polls to return to election offices within days and produce that kind of identification in order to get their votes counted.  Associated Press

Florida's fiscal outlook: The good, the bad and the uncertain
After two years of what economists euphemistically call “negative growth,” Florida ’s state revenue has started to climb. According to Arturo Perez, director of the Fiscal Affairs Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, that’s pretty much the story nationwide.  Capitol News Connection

Hawaii departments fired 67 out of 14,000 in 2010
All states, except for Montana, are "At-Will" states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "At-Will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, so long as it isn't an illegal reason.  Honolulu Civil Beat

GOP poll finds some support of walkout
For instance, Texas Democrats in 2003 stayed out 30 days in an attempt to block a redistricting bill. At that point, the special session ended. The Democrats remained out of state for at least another week, but the assembly was adjourned.  Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Get a grip on state budget
The chairman of the House Finance Committee, Oshiro found that silver lining in the dark cloud hovering over a recent presentation by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  “For me, it was to give ourselves a good sense that what we’re going through is no more, no less than other states,” said Oshiro, who represents Wahiawa constituents when he’s not fighting fiscal battles.  Honolulu Star-Advertiser

How should educators and legislators deal with minors Who ‘sext’?
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 26 states have tried to pass some sort of sexting legislation since 2009.  The New York Times

Inmate early release raises concerns for Wisconsin candidates for governor
Wisconsin was one of 13 states last year that either created or expanded programs to speed up early release, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Appleton Post Crescent

Incandescent light bulbs may become new symbol of South Carolina
He’s not alone in his belief that Washington has gone too far with the 2007 energy law that effectively takes incandescent light bulbs off the market in January by setting new standards the traditional bulbs can’t meet.  Bills similar to Sandifer’s have been introduced in three other states — Texas, Georgia and Minnesota — according to Glen Andersen, energy program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Greenville News

Tax on gas drillers boils in Harrisburg
A 2007 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures said 28 of 32 natural-gas production states have some kind of tax on drilled gas. Pennsylvania is the only one with significant drilling and no tax.  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Some Maine state employees “double-dip”
Ron Snell, a pension expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that “people going back to work and people retiring for the sole purpose of double-dipping are two separate issues.  As far as the law is concerned,” he said, “the purpose is to allow retired people to return to work when there is an apparent necessity for their services. You have to make an allowance for that.”  Watchdog

Total recall
Currently 19 States permit the recall of state officials and in at least 29 States recall elections may be held in local jurisdictions (National Conference of State Legislatures).  iNEWP

Recession, job losses take toll on tax collection
A recent report by NCSL indicates that major revenue shortfalls often result in raising income, sales or corporate taxes to balance budget deficits because of their broad bases and dependability.  "When state year-end balances fall significantly, tax increases are likely to follow," said the report, written by Ron Snell. "When balances are increasing, states are more likely to reduce taxes."  Danbury News Times

Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes appointed to national committee
State Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes will serve on the Law and Criminal Justice Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The bipartisan organization focuses on improving the effectiveness of state legislatures in policy and communication, among other priorities, her office said.  MLive

March 25

Immigration bills rile farmers
At least 25 states are weighing proposals to crack down on illegal immigration and employers who hire them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona law allows police to check the immigration status of people they stop, and establishes stiff penalties for businesses or individuals who hire illegal immigrants.  The Wall Street Journal

Prisons look to share food costs with Ohio State
No other states have prisons and universities buying food together or considering such plans, as far as the National Conference of State Legislatures knows.  AP in Seattle Post Intelligencer

More cell phone limits in car debated by NC House
Chief bill sponsor Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, who sponsored the texting ban bill in 2009, said the extra limitations are worth protecting the public on the roads.  Eight states and the District of Columbia already ban the use of hand-held phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in BusinessWeek

In our view: Greasing skids
Jason Mercier of the WPC contacted Bruce Feustel of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Mercier quotes Feustel: “Most states I am familiar with do not allow title-only bills for legislative consideration, generally under the reasoning that you need to know the details of a bill to make an informed decision about how to vote on it and even where to refer it.”  The Columbian

Uptown Gig Harbor manager looking to fill Borders vacancy
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, failure to collect taxes for online sales resulted in a loss of about $8.6 billion for states nationwide, and the organization projects those losses to reach $37 billion between 2009 and 2011.  The Peninsula Gateway

Push made to require ID at the polls
Eight states request or require a photo ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states, including Connecticut, require some form of identification.  Rainey said his committee is particularly concerned with illegal immigrants receiving benefits.  Metro West Daily News 

March 24

States face up to "new reality" of U.S. healthcare
Last year, lawmakers in 40 states filed measures limiting, altering or blocking implementation of the law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Few ultimately passed. This year, "there's a similar intensity of filings," said the NCSL Health Program Director Richard Cauchi.  Reuters

Ohio could allow parents to take over failing schools
Last year, a California law took effect that allows 51 percent of parents with kids in an academically failing school to petition the district for a take over. The National Conference of State Legislatures said about a dozen states are considering similar bills, but how close they are to adopting them is unclear.  Dayton Daily News

Indiana Democrats resolved as House negotiations continue
The Indiana Constitution prohibits official business in the Indiana House and Senate without a two-thirds majority of members present. That's unusual. In most states, a quorum is a simple majority, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Louisville Courier-Journal

Recession, job losses take toll on tax collection
A recent report by NCSL indicates that major revenue shortfalls often result in raising income, sales or corporate taxes to balance budget deficits because of their broad bases and dependability.  "When state year-end balances fall significantly, tax increases are likely to follow," said the report, written by Ron Snell. "When balances are increasing, states are more likely to reduce taxes."  Connecticut Post

Harmed in the hospital? Should you sue?
Note that many states have caps on rewards for pain and suffering; the National Conference of State Legislatures and MedicalMalpractice.com have each compiled a list detailing the laws in many states.  CNN

Tougher North Carolina cellphone-driving rules eyed
Eight states and the District of Columbia already ban the use of hand-held phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Asheville Citizen-Times

Editorial: Make online sellers collect sales tax
The inability to collect sales taxes on purchases from out-of-state retailers, online and otherwise, will cost the 50 states a total of $23 billion in 2012, or 13.4 percent of their total projected budget deficits for that fiscal year, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Shooting survivors decry Texas guns-on-campus bill
The bill, SB 354, would make Texas the second state after Utah to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses. Lawmakers in nine other states, including Arizona, have introduced bills to allow guns on campus this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Huffington Post

Teenagers advised to stop tanning; doctors group recommends tanning bed ban
Many states already have laws aiming to help curb use of tanning salons among those under 18 years old. At least 32 states now regulate use of tanning facilities by minors, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Kansas City Star

Six health IT resources you should know about
Thanks to a new database launched by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), those interested in health reform legislation now have a one-stop shop to keep track of it all.  Government Technology

Democrats air ads assailing Daniels
According to a blog run by the National Conference of State Legislatures, in most states a legislative quorum to do business constitutes a simple majority of the members – making a minority party walkout inconsequential.  In Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas, two-thirds of the members make up a quorum. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Texas House passes bill requiring voters to show photo ID
At least eight U.S. states have strict photo ID requirements, according to a late 2010 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. After Republicans picked up strength in the 2010 elections, photo ID bills are working their way through various state legislatures this year, including in Arkansas, Kansas and North Carolina.  AP in Fox News 

March 23

House passes voter ID bill
Other states that re­quire photo ID to vote in­clude Florida, Georgia, Ha­waii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana,Michigan and South Dakota, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Montgomery Advertiser

Senate redistricting plans conflict
"If you're going down the course of racial gerrymandering, it's not going to stand up in court," McPherson cautioned after citing some judicial decisions, Justice Department decisions and documents offered by redistricting experts with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Shreveport Times

Kansas mulls Kobach voter ID, citizenship plans
The bill would make Kansas the 10th state with a requirement that voters show photo ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Examiner

First test for newly-elected Texas Hispanic Republicans
Texas is one of about 25 states considering requiring photo IDs for voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states already ask voters for photo ID. WNEP-TV

Del. bill would expand rights for same-sex couples
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six states have passed civil union legislation –Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont. Colorado is currently considering a civil union law. Newsworks.com (blog)

Lawmakers not expecting strong push for term limits this year
Jennifer Bowser, a senior fellow at National Conference of State Legislatures based in Washington D.C., said term limits were popular among voters in the 1990s, but the movement has lost steam. “There is some evidence it has begun to wane in popularity,” Bowser said. Daily News Transcript

Teen charged with bullying girls on Facebook
Almost 40 states and territories have similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. WUSA-TV in the Arizona Central

Database tracks state healthcare reform initiatives
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has launched a first-of-its-kind online database to track the actions of state legislatures related to some of the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Information Week

Boycott reaches 30-day mark for Ind. House Democrats as Republicans move forward without them
Most states only require a simple majority of lawmakers to be present to conduct business, which means boycotts wouldn't stop proceedings unless some members of the majority joined them. Brenda Erickson, a senior research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said only four state constitutions require "supermajority quorums" to conduct any business: Indiana, Tennessee, Oregon and Texas, where a 2003 boycott halted business for the entire 30-day span of a special legislative session. The AP in The Republic

Amendment proposed to Tenn. Shariah bill
At least 13 states have bills pending that would bar judges from considering Shariah in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Daily News

March 22

Texas voter ID bill temporarily derailed by clerical error
Twenty-eight states require voters to show some form of ID to vote, according to a late 2010 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. But only eight require the more restrictive photo ID: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota.  Fox News

State to use E-Verify to check new hires
Virginia is one of 14 states that has adopted a requirement for public or private employers to use the E-Verify system. Two other states encourage its use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Public sector plans on the hot seat
State and local governments offer health insurance coverage for roughly 10% of the nation’s workforce and hold more than 20% of total pension assets, according to national surveys by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Segal Co. and Kaiser Family Foundation that were cited in a recent the National Conference of State Legislatures report.  Employee Benefit News

Infant screening fails to detect all cases of hearing loss
The screening tests are required in 36 states, and health insurance is required to cover screening costs in 16 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  My Health News Daily

Congress should close online tax loophole
A number of senators and representatives are trying to do so. The Main Street Fairness Act would provide for a simplified sales-tax collection system, setting up a way for online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases.  The change could raise as much as $23 billion in new taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which supports the legislation.  Grand Forks Herald

Exaggerated U.S. border violence? Hardly
A total of 346 laws and resolutions related to immigration were approved by state lawmakers in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Town Hall

Ohio may require voters to show a photo ID
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight other states have a similar requirement.  The bill before the State Government and Elections Committee would continue to allow forms of ID other than photo IDs to be used to cast absentee ballots by mail.  Dayton Daily News 

March 21

Maryland lawmakers want to limit credit checks on job seekers
If it becomes law, Maryland would join a growing group of states putting the brakes on employee credit checks. Four states now have limits, and the National Conference of State Legislatures says about a dozen more are considering legislation this year.  The Baltimore Sun

Legislatures get tough with immigration
The National Conference of State Legislatures is tracking about 1,200 immigration bills, said Immigrant Policy Project Director Ann Morse.  Last year, 46 states and the District of Columbia passed 346 immigration-related laws out of 1,400 considered, she said, and she expects this year to be similar.  Chattanooga Times Free Press

Moore: It's time for Massachusetts to join the Secure Communities program
In that meeting, Moore said Morton noted that Massachusetts was one of only eight states that have not joined the Secure Communities program and "he agreed to my request to arrange a briefing for law enforcement in and around my district to help them understand the program that becomes a national practice in two years."  Milford Daily News

Parents struggle to juggle sick kids, jobs
No federal or state laws require employers to provide sick days, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  As of Feb. 14, at least two state legislatures, Connecticut and New York, have proposed legislation that would mandate employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.  Cincinnati.com

Bill toughens school guidelines on concussions
Similar measures were passed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington in 2009 and 2010. At least four other states -- Idaho, Maine, New Mexico and Virginia -- have laws addressing sports-related brain injuries in the last three years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Elmira Star-Gazette

States look to shrinking legislatures to save money
Only five states have changed the size of their legislatures since 1990 and only two of those -- North Dakota and Rhode Island -- cut the number, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states increased them.  WNEP-TV

Michigan's pension tax issue more complex than characterized
The covering document talks to the rationale behind state income tax exclusions and the full report contains a state-by-state comparison of the income tax policies for pensions broken down by type of pension.  AnnArbor.com

Killing our children softly in Illinois
Childhood obesity in Illinois is at 34.9% according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Illinois weight loss problems mount as the state will pay $3.439 billion in annual medical costs of obesity.  American Banking & Market News

Correctional officer says Rhode Island has nation's most generous "good time" policy for prisoners
A more recent survey, completed in January by the National Conference of State Legislatures but not yet published, found the awarding of "good time" appears to be a growing trend. The survey showed that 14  states appear to be more generous than Rhode Island.  PolitiFact

Cracking down on textual harassment
With texting and cyber-harassment rising, 37 states, including Florida, have enacted cyber-harassment laws. Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington target texting in addition to emails, blogs, the Internet and other electronic communication, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Province

March 18

Tennessee bill to allow gun rights on campus spurs objections
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, of the 48 states that allow residents to carry concealed weapons, 22 — including Tennessee — ban guns on campus. Another 25 allow universities to set their weapons policies.  Asheville Citizen-Times

Speaker Oceguera proposes bill requiring training for legislators
Karl Kurtz of NCSL provided background about what kind of training other states are providing.  He said 16 states do some kind of pre-session training for new members.  “New member training is the best thing that legislatures can do to try to address the problems of inexperience brought on by term limits,” Kurtz said, citing a study about term limits.  Nevada News Bureau

Voter ID bill stirs legislative passion
"If they don't have a photo ID, they're given a provisional ballot, which is then segregated from the rest of the ballot," said Jennie Bowser, who tracks voter ID laws for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  North Carolina Public Radio

Daugaard signs $4 billion state budget bill that covers $127 million shortfall
Three other states that passed two-year budgets last year have already made adjustments this year for the remainder of their budget periods, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Canadian Business

Immigrant advocates dispute anecdotes driving LePage's safety-net proposal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Immigration Law Center, Maine is one of 23 states that provide cash assistance to legal immigrants during the five-year waiting period for federal assistance in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.  Lewiston Sun-Journal

States, business watch for effects of Illinois tax
Income taxes are second only to federal aid as a source of state revenue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Amazon and Overstock.com Inc have threatened to cut off affiliates who work with them in states with Internet tax laws.  International Business Times

Kansas Senate panel modifies Kobach voter ID bill
But the committee kept intact a proposal from Kobach to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, starting next year. That provision would make Kansas the 10th state with a photo ID requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Washington Examiner

Cultivating real profits from fake weed
The Drug Enforcement Administration on Mar. 1 temporarily banned five synthetic cannabinoids, and U.S. lawmakers are considering a permanent prohibition. Twenty-one states have banned some synthetic cannabinoids, says Alison Lawrence, a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bloomberg BusinessWeek 

March 17

Labor group seeks $10-an-hour minimum wage
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have higher minimum wages than Massachusetts, with Washington the highest rate in the country at $8.67 per hour.  Boston Herald

New York would require delay to play after concussion
At least four other states — Idaho, Maine, New Mexico and Virginia — have laws addressing sports-related brain injuries in the last three years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Wall Street Journal

Iowa agriculture committees approve bill that would limit animal groups' undercover investigations
Doug Farquhar, program director for environmental health at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Iowa would be the first state to approve such restrictions but Florida is considering similar legislation.  AP in the Los Angeles Times

South Carolina governor introduces lawmaker report cards
Karl Kurtz, a political scientist with the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures, said governors typically keep a mental checklist of how legislators handle their priority issues.  "If that's the case, then why shouldn't they publish it?" he said.  "On the other hand, it has some negative images," Kurtz said.  Fox 59

Database tracking state legislative actions on health reform launches
The database includes 2011 legislation, including pending, failed and enacted bills and resolutions. Topics relate to some of the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act and include Medicaid, health insurance exchanges, health insurance reform, health information technology, prevention and wellness and providers and workforce.  Becker's Hospital Review

Poll shows Pennsylvanians support drilling tax, more for cash for education
Of 32 states that produce natural gas, Pennsylvania is one of only three that do not tax production, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Scranton Times-Tribune

Grass-roots credited with defeat of same-sex marriage
Already, same-sex duos can obtain marriage licenses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia, noted the National Conference of State Legislatures.. In some of those places the law has been imposed by judicial fiat.  World Net Daily

Recall vote system in Idaho set up perfectly
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states allow for the recall of state officials. The conference’s website says that approximately three-fourths of recall elections are for city council or school board members.  Idaho Press-Tribune

State surplus lines legislative developments
One proposal, called the “Surplus Lines Insurance Multistate Compliance Compact” or SLIMPACT, was created by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, and has been endorsed by the Council of State Governments and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Jorden Burt LLP

Perone named vice chairman of National State Legislators' Committee
State Rep. Chris Perone has been appointed vice-chairman of the Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Hour 

March 16

Group to study whether to go to a 401(k) system
Ron Snell, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, said many states are trying to figure out what to do with their retirement systems, most of which are traditional pensions like Wisconsin's.  Wisconsin State Journal

Hawaii House Speaker tired of 'band-aid approach' to fixing deficit
Say's comments followed a briefing by two representatives of the National Conference of State Legislatures on what other states are doing to address budget shortfalls.  Honolulu Civil Beat

Health reform tracking made easy
The National Conference of State Legislatures has just launched a searchable database of what states are doing with regard to healthcare reform. Medicaid, exchanges, insurance reforms and opt-out bills.  The Hill

Women object to Kalispell legislator’s words
Some 38 states currently have fetal homicide laws in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Daily Inter Lake

Should Internet access be restricted in public libraries and schools?
Utah is one of 25 states that has an Internet filtering law for publicly funded schools or libraries, states the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of these require school boards or public libraries to have a policy that prevents minors from accessing sexually explicit, obscene or harmful materials online.  Deseret News

With data disconnected, states are unable to answer basic questions on early childhood
The ECDC is coordinated by six partner organizations,the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, Council of Chief State School Officers, Data Quality Campaign, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and Pre-K Now and provides a national forum to support the development and use of coordinated state early childhood education data systems.  New America Foundation

March 15

For politicians, less hazard in testing waters
“The flip side of it could be that resign-to-run laws may prevent people from seeking higher office,” said Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Some people might argue that if they serve in lower office first, they bring experience.”  Las Vegas Sun

Kansas pension woes incite fight over school funding
n funding pensions, "You get to the point of a trade-off," said Ron Snell, a budget specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, adding, "Budgeting right now is almost a zero-sum game."  AP in BusinessWeek

Let voters decide term limits
Of the 15 states that currently have term limits, three allow as many years as Pittman's proposal -- 12. Others limit the number of years to six or eight, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Montgomery Advertiser

Hundreds rally at Michigan Capitol against Snyder's tax plan
Michigan is one of only 10 states with an income tax that provides a full exemption to public pension income. Michigan's exemptions on private pension income are among the most generous nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Lansing State Journal

Giving prisoners time off for good behavior could reduce recidivism
According to a July 2009 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states then had incentive programs “that reduce the costs of incarceration and help offenders succeed when they return to the community.”  Hartford Advocate

Arizona unions aid educators’ fight against the state’s anti-ethnic studies law
According to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, it is unaware of any other state with legislation similar to H.B. 2281.  In These Times

Letter: Illinois not sensible
According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois has the worst money problems in the nation and is at least $13 billion in debt.  Rockford Register Star 

March 14

Voting: The rising degree of difficulty
The push for voter ID is nothing new, nor is the perennial debate over voter access versus voter fraud.  Eight states already require or request voters to present a photo ID at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and another 20 or so ask for identification in some form.  National Journal

Synthetic pot changes, to keep one step ahead of the law
Twenty states have banned certain synthetic cannabinoids, according to Alison Lawrence, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  The Seattle Times

Colorado Senate gives initial OK to requiring 30 minutes of daily physical activity for students
Colorado is the only state that does not require some form of physical education at any level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Republic

Other states could have a "Wisconsin moment"
Republican National Committeemen Steve Duprey has called for collective bargaining for public employees to come to an end, and several bills that would limit workers' rights have been proposed in the state legislature, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox News

Ag industry, lawmakers try to limit secret videos
Doug Farquhar, program director for environmental health at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Iowa would be the first state to approve such restrictions but Florida is considering similar legislation.  Associated Press

With strong poll support, medical marijuana gets another hearing
Fifteen states have some sort of law allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, including New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Connecticut Mirror

Experts say tackling Michigan's obesity issue requires broad approach
Obesity-related health care costs in Michigan now top $2.9 billion a year, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Lansing State Journal

Lawmakers spend less amid cuts
At the height of state spending, Georgia spent $3.89 on legislative staff for every person in the state, which is about one-third of the national average of $9.41, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Augusta Chronicle

Montgomery teen makes it her mission to educate peers on recognizing, ending abusive relationships
Over the last five years, Massachusetts, Florida and eight other states have required their school districts to create policies and lesson plans on the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Five states, including California, have introduced bills this legislative session that would require such instruction.  The Star-Ledger

Alabama Legislature: GOP bills would weaken lawmakers' power
Fifteen states, including Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana in the Southeast, now have term limits for legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most were enacted in the early 1990s.  The Birmingham News

North Naples couple’s textual harassment suit joins national trend
With texting and cyberharassment rising, 37 states, including Florida, have enacted cyberharassment laws. Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington target texting in addition to e-mails, blogs, the Internet and other electronic communication, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Naples Daily News

Malloy says it's time to decriminalize minor marijuana use
If the governor's plan were to become law, Connecticut would join 13 other states, including New York, Massachusetts and California, that have decriminalized first-time, personal consumption of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Connecticut Post

Pension systems' funding gap pits retirees against others in states' struggles over resources
In funding pensions, "You get to the point of a trade-off," said Ron Snell, a budget specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, adding, "Budgeting right now is almost a zero-sum game."  AP in Canadian Business

Tennessee bill would make following Shariah a felony
At least 13 states have bills pending that would bar judges from considering Shariah in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but none of those proposals is as strict as what Tennessee is weighing.  AP in Herald Times Reporter

Dozens of US states declare war on workers' rights
The following is a partial analysis of anti-worker legislation under consideration in a number of states, based on a database compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  OpEd News

March 11

Furloughs possible for state workers
Nationwide, state governments have been looking to furloughs for budgetary relief, said Todd Haggerty, a policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures . Haggerty said more than half the states passed some form of furlough legislation in 2010, and most extended those programs through 2011. Austin Statesman

New Mexico House OKs bill to criminalize unborn child's death
Thirty-eight states have so-called fetal homicide laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Las Cruses Sun-News

Watson to represent state at NCSL event
State Rep. Eric Watson was appointed Tuesday by Speaker Beth Harwell to represent Tennessee at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C. Cleveland Daily Banner

Illinois enacts Internet sales tax law
The Illinois Department of Revenue estimates it misses out on $153 million to $170 million in uncollected sales taxes each year from online purchases. The uncollected taxes of goods sold online and through catalogs totaled $8.6 billion in 2010 nationwide, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chicago Tribune

Georgia Senate passes bill that would make first DUI conviction a felony for illegal immigrants
The National Conference of State Legislatures has no record of any other state considering such a bill this year and said Georgia would likely be the first state to enact such a statute if it is signed into law. AP in The Republic

Ariz. Senate advances ban on texting while driving
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 38 states banned texting while driving as of 2010. ABC News and KOLD-TV

DHS extends REAL ID act deadline again
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 state legislatures have passed laws opposing their states compliance with REAL ID while 10 others have passed resolutions in one or both houses opposing the act. Court House News
http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/03/10/34826.htm

Several states beyond Wisconsin mull union limits
Limits on public worker collective bargaining have been introduced in several other states as of last week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These include Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Washington, Alaska and Arizona. Reuters

Lawmakers approve funeral protest measure
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states have enacted distance requirements of at least 500 feet for funeral protesters. Of those, five have a 1,000-foot requirement. Montana's is 1,500 feet.  Lincoln Journal-Star

March 10

'Rainy day' funds sit unused in handful of states
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that states will have closed multiyear budget gaps totaling $530 billion by the time the recession's impact has ended.  AP in the Washington Post

GOP Senators introduce national 'right-to-work' bill to restrict unions
Research by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that several states in New England and in the northern Midwest are now considering right-to-work proposals.  Fox News

Technology gives citizens a say in redistricting
Aside from computer access, a citizen hoping to influence redistricting may need significant knowledge and clout. "It's far more complicated than people realize," says Tim Storey, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization supporting state lawmakers.  U.S. News & World Report

Lawmakers' cell phones often out of public reach
Erickson said such policies are generally aimed at controlling disruptions, not preventing inappropriate communication between or among lawmakers -- or limiting lobbyists' reach. Cell phone and texting restrictions are often not effective in committee hearings, the front line on any bill, she said.  AP in the Chicago Tribune

Openness in state government? AP survey shows obstacles in all 50 states
As of 2009, 25 states allowed the use of electronic devices on the floor or in committee, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Plattsmouth Journal

Understanding the federal budget cuts
Also in fiscal year 2011, "higher education officials approved eliminating the monetary award program for need based financial applicants," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Prospectus News

We must teach our children to be compassionate
Data released by the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that 19.3 percent of all high school students have seriously considered killing themselves. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 9 percent of youth have actually tried suicide at least once.  Miami Herald

Cullerton talks tax for wealthy retirees' income
Illinois is one of 10 states in the country that exclude all federal, state and local pension income from taxation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Progress Illinois

Hawaii's per-capita spending ranks in top 5
The National Conference of State Legislatures shared a detailed report with Civil Beat, which ranks states' per-capita spending on everything from public education and welfare costs to debt interest and highway expenditures.  Honolulu Civil Beat

Wisconsin considering record number of recalls, time to reconsider direct democracy?
The National Conference of State Legislatures describe recalling state legislators as “unusual.” The action is also so infrequent and — at least in the past — difficult, that scholars from almost all 18 states who spoke to The Daily Caller had trouble even remembering the last time it happened.  The Daily Caller

Same-sex marriage bill closer to final vote
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, voters have rejected same-sex marriage in 30 state referendums. In Washington state, voters approved domestic partnership rights.  Southern Maryland Online

DHS extends deadline for Real ID implementation
On March 4, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano extended the May 11, 2011, deadline for states to be in full compliance to Jan. 15, 2013, a move welcomed by the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  American City & County

Let's shift to a full-time legislature
When measuring the activities of the various states, the National Conference of State Legislatures put Virginia in a hybrid category. "Legislatures in these states typically say that they spend more than two-thirds of a full-time job being legislators," the conference wrote in 2009.  The Virginian-Pilot

March 9

Five states moving healthcare implementation forward
“Over 370 state bills related to the Affordable Care Act have been introduced this legislative session,” says Martha Saenz, Health Program Policy Associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Texas Insider

Is Nevada’s higher education retirement plan a pension reform model?
Only three states, Alaska, Nebraska and Michigan, along with the District of Columbia, rely primarily on a defined contribution retirement plan rather than a defined benefit plan, based on 2009 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Nevada News Bureau

Group pushing for online sales taxes, sees unfair advantage
The National Conference of State Legislatures says states lost about $8.6 billion in 2010 in failing to collect sales tax from online and catalog sales. The number is projected to be approximately $37 billion from 2009 to 2012.  TechJournal South

WSU considers stricter admissions
Higher education funding has been nuanced in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington with incentive funding, based on several student performance measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Detroit News

Pearce restricts media access to Senate floor
Legislative access rules vary broadly from state to state, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures last year. Arkansas allows no media access to the floors of either chamber; California restricts media to designated media areas on the floor; Nebraska allows media on the floor even during the session.  The Arizona Republic

Politics and minority influence
Of the nation's 7,382 state legislators, 3.3 percent are Hispanic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  University of Texas at Austin News

Cullerton has a point
Cullerton's mistake Monday was not having Ronald Snell, a tax specialist at the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, by his side. Snell would have shared what he shared with us Tuesday.  Chicago Tribune

Talk at NGA meeting turns to labor, budget woes
In addition, the NGA and the National Conference of State Legislatures recently sent a letter to Congress opposing the bankruptcy option.  Education Week

Georgia GOP taxes Girl Scouts to balance budget
Groups like the AARP have come down as solidly opposed, and Mandy Rafool of the National Conference of State Legislatures points out that no other states are considering a food tax this year.  Care2.com

Conflict with NAIC over Dodd-Frank surplus lines provisions heating up
"We look forward to airing the proposal...and believe that the state leaders in attendance will be able to advance a consensus proposal that state legislatures will welcome next year," he said in a statement released in advance of Friday's meeting.  Representatives of The Council of State Governments, NAIC and the National Conference of State Legislatures were expected to attend.  Property Casualty 360

March 8

Recall efforts in Wisconsin face tough odds
At the National Conference of State Legislatures, senior fellow Jennie Drage Bowser says statistics she has compiled illustrate the difficulties in mounting successful recalls of state officials. But they also suggest that local officials face more recall peril than state or federal officials. "Historically, the recall is used a lot more at the local level— city council, school board, mayor," she says. "It's both attempted less frequently at the state level, and is much less frequently successful." NPR

Mom.me: Pediatricians warn under-18-year-olds against using tanning beds
Many states already have laws aiming to help curb use of tanning salons among those under 18 years old. At least 32 states now regulate use of tanning facilities by minors, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sacramento Bee

New bill focused on brain injuries
Lawmakers across the country are taking up the issue of concussions related to youth sports, with nine states adopting laws and 25 considering legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Springfield News Sun

States approved record number of immigration reform laws In 2010
A total of 346 laws and resolutions related to immigration were approved by State lawmakers in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Personal Liberty

Brown, GOP group reach impasse
Mandy Rafool, a state-tax expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said popular resistance to taxes "comes in waves."  Wall Street Journal

Legislative Notebook: In close vote, House panel recommends hunting over bait
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the ruling speaks to spending on campaign ads, and laws in 23 states are affected by the ruling. Georgia is not one of them. Macon.com

Montana Senate backs bill on annual legislative sessions
Forty-six states now have annual legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Besides Montana, only Nevada, North Dakota and Texas have legislatures that meet every other year. Missoulian

State, local lobbyists push to save programs from budget ax
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), meanwhile, says it is not worried about any specific spending cuts as it prepares to hold a conference in Washington April 14 to 15. "States need certainty as to what federal funds to ultimately expect for the current fiscal year as states address continuing fiscal and budget challenges,” NCSL President Richard Moore wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The Hill

Montana Senate backs bill on annual legislative sessions
Forty-six states now have annual legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Besides Montana, only Nevada, North Dakota and Texas have legislatures that meet every other year. Missoulian

Illinois, and other states, get reprieve from expensive 'Real ID' law
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 16 states have passed laws halting any participation in the Real ID program. Eight other states, including Illinois, have passed resolutions stating opposition to Real ID. My Surburban Life

Texas mulls Arizona-style illegal immigration law
Immigration curbs have caught fire nationwide. In 2010, a record number of laws and resolutions were passed by state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which calculated that 46 states and the District of Columbia had passed 346 measures, with an additional 10 having fallen from gubernatorial vetoes. Don Polson Blog

Texas legislature introduces pro-undocumented worker law
States enacted a record number of bills and resolutions on immigration issues during the 2010 sessions, and every state that met in regular session in 2010 considered laws related to immigrants, according to aNational Conference of State Legislatures report. Forty-six state legislatures and the District of Columbia passed 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions for a total of 346. Hispanic Ohio

A taxing question: Retirement income?
And the National Conference of State Legislatures reports (.pdf): Chicago Tribune Blog

March 8

On immigration, momentum shifts away from Arizona
The main factor behind the retreat is skittishness about costs, said Ann Morse, who tracks immigration legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  "Most states are looking at where to cut money, not where to spend money," Morse said.  Los Angeles Times

Homeland Security bows to Real ID outcry
A chart updated last month by the National Conference of State Legislatures lists 16 states, including Arizona, Georgia,Oregon, and Washington, with laws forbidding them to comply with Real ID and 8 states, including Colorado, Hawaii, and Illinois, that have enacted resolutions effectively boycotting it.  CNET

Cash-strapped states rethink Hollywood tax breaks
But not everybody is cutting back. A few states eager for jobs and spending are offering more money to lure Hollywood productions.  "It's a mixed conversation as to are we giving away money or are we trying to create jobs?" said Todd Haggerty, a tax policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Houston Chronicle

DB plans in cross hairs in state budget battles
Ron Snell, senior fellow at NCSL, said these are among the most prominent proposals from governors and/or lawmakers. He said legislators alone introduced 3,500 bills regarding pension plan changes in the first two months of 2011.  “The pace is very rapid this year,'' said Mr. Snell.  Pensions & Investments

Oregon's unemployment trust fund solvency bucks trend
Based on U.S. Department of Labor statistics compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states are currently borrowing from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits — including New Hampshire, which had paid off a loan but began borrowing again on Feb. 20.  Statesman Journal

New college funding plan laid out
The idea of tying college funding to performance – student retention, graduation rates and such – is being widely discussed nationally. Julie Bell, a staff member of NCSL, briefed the commission on the issue before Heath’s presentation.  “Performance funding has been one of the hottest trends around the country over the last couple of years among state legislatures,” she said.  Education News Colorado

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

New York redistricting: All for reform, and reform for none
New York is the only state seriously discussing changing the process for this cycle, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  New York is due to lose two of its 29 Congressional seats after the 2010 census, which currently has 21 Democrats and 8 Republicans.  WYNC

Francis Tullier castrated as term of prison release
As of last year, seven states had some provision in the law for chemical castration of sex offenders, in which the offender's testosterone level is lowered through routine pharmaceutical injections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  BBC News

Tennessee Republicans want to allow direct corporate donations
Tennessee and 21 other states ban direct corporate contributions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Twelve of these states allow businesses to donate through employee PACs, and eight ban direct corporate donations while allowing direct donations from unions.  The Tennessean

Survey: Support thin for Snyder's proposals
Michigan is one of only 10 states with an income tax that provides a full exemption to public pension income. Michigan's exemptions on private pension income are among the most generous nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Lansing State Journal

Friends without benefits
Although no state currently requires drug testing to receive public assistance, legislation has been proposed in at least a dozen other states, including New Mexico, Missouri, West Virginia, and Florida, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Texas Observer

Officials across U.S. struggle to control popular 'fake pot'
Twenty states have banned certain synthetic cannabinoids, according to Alison Lawrence, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  Louisville Courier-Journal

Delaware budget: Battle over benefits begins
The amount workers pay for Delaware's most-expensive family health plan -- $193 a month -- is less than counterparts in 16 states pay for their least-expensive plan, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures.  The News Journal

Utah budget mostly flat, won't tap reserves
After all, according to a report from the National Governors Association, 14 states have reserve funds that are less than one percent of their overall budgets. And 35 states face budget shortfalls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Washington Examiner

Legislative reform at the margins
According to the most recent comprehensive report for fiscal 2009-10 from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania ranks second at $327 million in the cost of its legislative branch despite being sixth in population among the 50 states.  Scranton Times-Tribune

March 4

State lawmakers aim to reduce ranks
A flurry of cuts went through in the 1960s and 1970s, but since 1990 only four states—Idaho, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Wyoming—have decreased the size of their legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

Oregon tuition bill stirs emotion
Eleven states have been identified by the National Conference of State Legislatures as allowing in-state tuition for students regardless of immigration status. Oregon is one of eight states where lawmakers are considering such bills.  Statesman Journal

Five states move ahead on health
"Over 370 state bills related to the Affordable Care Act have been introduced this legislative session," said Martha Saenz, Health Program Policy Associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Congress.org

Sears dangles carrot to Amazon's skittish affiliates
As states grapple with budget shortfalls, pressure is building to generate online sales tax revenue by changing state law. The uncollected taxes of goods sold online and through catalogs totaled $8.6 billion in 2010, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chicago Tribune

Immigration wars: More states looking at Arizona-style laws
States enacted a record number of bills and resolutions on immigration issues during the 2010 sessions, and every state that met in regular session in 2010 considered laws related to immigrants, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report.  ABC News

States worry over current year budget battles in Congress
In a letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures, officials said they need clarity on the level of federal funds states can expect heading into the final quarters of the current fiscal year.  CivSource

Cuomo offers a two-year plan
The MTA, which provides transit services downstate, uses a two-year budget to help in the planning needed to sell capital improvement bonds. And 20 states including Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and Connecticut operate on biennial budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Albany Times Union

House passes Arizona-style bill aimed at illegal immigration
Georgia is not alone in its efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. Twenty other states are considering similar Arizona-style legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Such bills have passed at least one legislative chamber in Indiana, Kentucky and Utah.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Maryland same-sex marriage opponents prepare for fight
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, voters have rejected same-sex marriage in 30 states. In Washington state, voters approved domestic partnership rights.  WTOP

Nixon undecided on postponing payment for unemployment programs
As of Jan. 21, 2011, the state of Missouri owes $769,201,133.40 for money borrowed for unemployment programs starting in 2009, according to research from NCSL.  "Some states borrowed money because they did not have the funds to cover the increased number of claims when the recession started," said Jeanne Mejeur, NCSL Program Director for Legislative Information Services.  UM Maneater

Oregon lawmakers push campaign contribution limits
The National Conference of State Legislatures says three other states allow unlimited contributions, Missouri, Utah and Virginia, while Illinois and New Mexico have recently adopted some limits.  KATU

Momentum builds in eligibility push
That measure is pending in the House judiciary committee, according to the files at the National Conference of State Legislatures, which for the second straight year is tracking such plans.  WorldNetDaily

North Carolina Senate approves cap on malpractice awards
More than 30 states have a limit or cap on damages in medical liability cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Insurance Journal

Legislative magazine article highlights Utah immigration bills
This month several Utah lawmakers were highlighted in special report published by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which asked the question, “Can Utah’s approach to immigration offer a way forward for other states?”  Senator Bramble says by the time the session is done, the answer will be yes.  KCPW

Marijuana-like high helps syn battle solid sex
The Drug Enforcement Administration on March 1 temporarily banned five synthetic chemicals called cannabinoids, and U.S. lawmakers are considering a permanent prohibition. Twenty states have banned certain synthetic cannabinoids, according to Alison Lawrence, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.  Bloomberg

March 3

Texans divide over guns on campus
So far this year, lawmakers in nine other states—including Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma—have introduced bills to allow guns on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Wall Street Journal

Campaign dollars are hard to track
Just three states — Colorado, Connecticut and Maine — have lower caps for legislative races, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Florida’s limit was lowered in 1991 from $3,000 for statewide races and $1,000 for legislative contests as part of a sweeping package of campaign finance changes.  Miami Herald

House Republicans attempt to revive Real ID
"If they don't, people won't be able to use their driver's licenses to get on airplanes," says Molly Ramsdell, who oversees state-federal affairs for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They can use a military ID. They can use some other federal ID. But they won't be able to use a driver's license."  CNET

Lobbyists, lawmakers privately craft laws
Maryland's rules are fairly typical of other states, although some, including Colorado and Florida, require open meetings when as few as two lawmakers convene, said Brenda Erickson, a senior research analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Annapolis Capital

Changes to medical lawsuits approved by North Carolina Senate
More than 30 states have a limit or cap on damages in medical liability cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. North Carolina already has a cap on punitive damages equal to the greater of $250,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages.  AP in Myrtle Beach Sun News

Governor LePage continues public hearings On Maine biennial budget
Currently, seven states are considering switching from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans. Those states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, are Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.  Gov Monitor

Oregon representatives argue for campaign contribution limits; state is among four with no caps
The National Conference of State Legislatures says three other states allow unlimited contributions, Missouri, Utah and Virginia, while Illinois and New Mexico have recently adopted some limits.  AP in The Republic

D.C. Muslim rally demands 'sharia for America'
Currently, at least 14 state legislatures have bills pending that would bar judges from considering sharia in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Christian Broadcasting Network

South Carolina Senate debating illegal immigration bill
South Carolina is among at least 11 states considering an Arizona-like law this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Lake Wylie Pilot

E-commerce taxes could help close budget gaps
One is the state sales tax, not collected on electronic commerce. E-commerce and catalog sales have tripled in 10 years, amounting to $8.6 billion in 2010 according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Charleston Gazette

College students draw new congressional maps
And so of course there are lots of rules about how it should be done. See this page from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last month the NCSL had a series of seminars on redistricting.  Hispanically Speaking News

Wearing dark colored clothing can be dangerous
Not being color conscious when choosing clothing to wear can be fatal. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures 4,378 pedestrians were killed in 2008 and 69,000 were injured. This averages to over 200 incidents per day in the United States.  Prospectus News

Texas mulls Arizona-style illegal immigration law
Immigration curbs have caught fire nationwide. In 2010, a record number of laws and resolutions were passed by state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which calculated that 46 states and the District of Columbia had passed 346 measures, with an additional 10 having fallen from gubernatorial vetoes.  AP in Sherman Denison Herald Democrat 

March 2

States question Obama citizenship with legislation
"This attention to the citizenship of presidential candidates is a fairly new issue that I'm seeing more of this year," said Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Washington Post

Bill would require Maine voters to show photo ID
The idea of voter identification has been a hot topic in state legislatures over the past decade. Since 2001, more than 700 bills have been introduced in 46 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A dozen states have passed new voter ID laws since 2003.  Lewiston Sun Journal

Experts clash on constitutionality of borrowing to balance state budget
Nevertheless, “When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, a lot of these constitutional requirements are not absolutely binding or specific,” said Ron Snell, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Medill Reports

Alaska lawmakers debate talking and driving ban
Text messaging while driving is prohibited under Alaska law, and eight states and Washington D.C. currently prohibit talking while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in Anchorage Daily News

Walker's budget removes insurance requirement to cover birth control
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 25 states, including Wisconsin, now have laws requiring insurers that cover prescription drugs to also provide coverage for prescription birth control.  The Capital Times

Pediatricians call for legal limits on teen tanning
At least 32 states currently regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, and some counties also regulate their use, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Sacramento Bee

Voter ID measure targets potential fraud, backers say
The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains records of the 27 states requiring identification before casting a ballot.  Eight states require photo IDs at polling locations.  The other 19 require some form of government-issued ID.  The Lincoln Tribune

Ban on texting while driving clears House
Thirty states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in News West 9 

March 1

Obama backs giving states leeway on health care
"A state may not like the way the (federal law) is providing that coverage and could argue that other ways would be more appropriate, but they still have to come up with a way to do those three things," says Laura Tobler of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

Forecasting the dynamics for 2012
On the other hand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now entirely control the redistricting process in states with 202 out of the 435 congressional districts.  National Journal

How states have responded to the pension crunch
For state-by-state details as of February 23rd, see The National Conference of State Legislatures site.  PBS NewsHour

Tennessee bill would make following Shariah a felony
At least 13 states have bills pending that would bar judges from considering Shariah in legal decisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but none of those proposals is as strict as what Tennessee is weighing.  AP  in NPR

Governors rip Congress' state bankruptcy talk
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah also spoke out against the idea at the meeting. In fact, NGA and the National Conference of State Legislatures recently sent a letter to Congress opposing the bankruptcy option.  Education Week

Federal law would not allow horse meat to be shipped out of state
The National Conference of State Legislatures also has urged Congress to oppose legislation to restrict the market, transport, processing or export of horses and not to interfere with a state's efforts to establish such facilities.  Lincoln Journal Star

Labor unions fighting for survival
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states and Puerto Rico have introduced legislation governing labor unions and collective bargaining.  Frost Illustrated

Gay marriage foes see hope for amendment
Thirty states have changed their constitutions to say that marriages between a man and woman are the only legally recognized unions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  News & Observer

GOP, Walker living in states of denial
As noted by Tim Storey, senior fellow of the National Conference of State Legislatures, since the midterm elections, "There are now more Republican state legislators (3,941) than at any point since they held 4,001 seats after the 1928 election ... 22 state legislative chambers changed majority control in the 2010 election cycle - all in the direction of the GOP."  Milford Daily News

Senate Republicans takes up voter ID requirement
Photo identification is only required currently in nine other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states require the ID only, not necessarily one with a photo.  Native American Times

 

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