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NCSL in the News March 2014

NCSL in the News | March 2014

3/3/2014

March 31

Sen. Daylin Leach, pro-marijuana supporters rally in Harrisurg
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states and Washington, D.C., currently allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. AP/The Times Herald

Complex referendum question but simple answer: Yes
In Wisconsin, 36% of legislators consider themselves "full time," meaning they don't hold another job. The national average is 16.4%, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Bill targets websites that don't remove mug shots
At least 12 other states, including Florida, have mug shot-related bills pending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Wink News

Fight against Common Core not over in Indiana
Lawmakers nationwide filed more than 200 bills on the standards this year alone, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/News-Sentinel

How Common Core disintegrated in Indiana
Around 100 bills were introduced in state legislatures across the nation this year to slow or halt implementation of the standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. indystar.com

GOP has a built-in advantage in fight for House seats
Before the 2010 election, the GOP had majorities in 36 state legislative bodies. Afterward, the party controlled 56, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In almost half the states, Republicans won control of the entire redistricting process. Associated Press/Houston Chronicle

Legislatures see rise in bills targeting Common Core
In 2013 and in 2012, 20 percent of Common Core related bills in other states sought to change the controversial curriculum. This year that number will rise to 40 percent, said Daniel Thatcher, an education analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures who is studying the issue. Thatcher said the number of Common Core bills introduced in statehouses across the nation increased from a modest 42 in 2011 to what will likely be over 400 in 2014. This year, 233 bills have been introduced and another 100 have yet to be entered. Thatcher created a website that follows Common Core legislation on the state level. A category he established, “redress legislation,” identifies bills that are critical about the way state departments of education are currently implementing Common Core. Cumberland Times/Maryland Reporter

State lawmakers fight Common Core
More than 200 bills on Common Core have been introduced this year in state legislatures across the nation, and about half would slow or halt implementation of the standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Springfield News Leader

Legislation would allow concealed carry at Ohio universities
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, a bipartisan organization that tracks state legislation, Ohio is one of 21 states that specifically ban concealed carry on college campuses, while 22 states leave the decision up to each individual university. Currently, seven states have statutes requiring universities to allow concealed carry on campus. Efforts to expand or restrict concealed carry on college campuses drastically increased across the country in 2007 after a mass shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University claimed 33 lives, according to the NCSL. “This is one of those issues that over the last couple of years is becoming more and more popular,” said Suzanne Hultin, a policy specialist at the NCSL. “We’re seeing a lot more bills come up and it’s not just college campuses but also K-12 schools and just in general.” The News Recor

Tax cuts focus of state budget talks amid New York pre-K funding debate
A survey of state lawmakers by the National Conference of State Legislatures found tax policy topping the agenda in about a dozen states this year and being a significant part of the discussion in many more. At the same time, states still worry about the economy. “We still have high unemployment, and there are a lot of unknowns about when the next downturn will occur,” Democratic Sen. Richard Devlin, chair of Oregon’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means, said in the NCSL survey. “We are better off than a few years ago, but we are reluctant to use the word ‘stable.’ There is nothing to celebrate.” McClatchy Newspapers

PolitiFact: Is Florida revenue growing faster than other states?
The National Conference of State Legislatures focused on state general fund revenues in its report on State Budget Actions for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. That measure excluded intergovernmental funds and revenues dedicated to programs outside the general fund, policy analyst Todd Haggerty said. Miami Herald

Pa. legislators rack up $2 million in expenses
Pennsylvania lawmakers, who receive a base pay of $84,012 per year, have the second-highest pay in the nation and the third-highest reimbursement rate for undocumented meal and lodging expenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cumberland Times

 

March 28

Louisiana lawmakers revisiting REAL ID compliance
Louisiana is one of 12 states that hasn't met the requirements of the federal law passed in 2005, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/The Times-Picayune

GOP Wrestles With Its Stance on Gay Marriage 
Opponents of gay marriage have responded with state-level bills aimed at allowing businesses to decline their services if it would violate their religious convictions. Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed such a measure amid pressure from businesses and from Arizona's two Republican senators. After that, similar bills in Idaho, Ohio, Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma stalled or died, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal

Conn. governor signs bill raising state minimum wage
As of Jan. 1, says the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. USA Today

New standards to replace Common Core
About 100 bills have been introduced this spring in legislatures nationwide to slow or stop the standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Indiana Daily Student

Grassroots effort seeks labeling of genetically modified foods
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 67 bills on GMO labeling have been introduced this year in 25 states, though only one had won committee approval. Cronkite News

Big Apple may impose dime fee on plastic and paper bags
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports more states are beginning to look for ways to reduce the number of disposable bags used in retail commerce. NCSL says no state has yet enacted a statewide ban, fee or tax. Consumer Affairs

Matthew T. Mangino: The knock on truth-in-sentencing
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers reinstated discretionary parole in 2008. Sturgis Journal

Distinguished service awards announced
Senator [Thomas] Alexander is yet another Tiger who has utilized his power in the work community to benefit others. He has earned various titles through public service, holds many leadership positions in the National Conference of State Legislatures, and is an entrepreneur. The Tiger News

GOP governors back Adelson on online gambling
So far, only Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada have established Internet gambling since that opinion was released. California, Mississippi and others are considering joining them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/The State

States Pursue Tax Cuts as Recovery Continues
A survey of state lawmakers by the National Conference of State Legislatures found tax policy topping the agenda in about a dozen states this year and being a significant part of the discussion in many more. At the same time, states still worry about the economy. Stateline

Bill would prohibit minors from tanning in Minnesota
If the bill is passed, Minnesota would become the sixth state to ban indoor tanning for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Star Tribune

By the book: Pa. lawmakers should be forced to file receipts
If the Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett enact this common-sense proposal, Pennsylvania will join the small vanguard of states that follow this common business practice. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, last year Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island gave lawmakers no per diems. Post Gazette

Texas, other states sharing information about earthquakes
Oklahoma would be the first state to require a daily test, said Kristy Hartman, energy and policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Star Telegram

March 27

Voices: Attitudes soften toward undocumented immigrants
Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the hard-line Arizona law in 2012, and in the wake of the state spending $3.2 million defending that law in court, no state has passed a similar piece of legislation. Instead, six states have granted in-state college tuition to young undocumented immigrants and nine states have approved driver's licenses for them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The pendulum seems to have swung," says Ann Morse, immigration director for the conference. USA Today

States, Cities Tackle Pension Liabilities; Watch Illinois, Detroit for Lessons
Luke Martel, senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said 48 states have enacted significant revisions to their public retirement systems since 2009, with several states enacting multiple pension overhaul laws. Only Alaska and Idaho have bucked the trend. “Of course the great recession represented a sea change in the state pension world,’’ Martel told Bloomberg BNA in an interview March 12. “It had tremendous effects on pension funding levels and really the great recession's impact has been long lasting.’’ Bloomberg BNA

The Time May Have Arrived for Online Sales Tax Fairness 
"It is looking really good," says Max Behlke, manager for state-federal relations for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). "The last couple of years people have been saying, 'This is the year, this is the year.' But after last Wednesday's hearing, it really does look like this is the year." Governing

Renewable Energy Requirements Get a Second Wind 
“There are so many factors that can affect electricity rates, from resources to demand,” says Glen Andersen, energy program director with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “It can be difficult to figure out why rates are actually going up.” Governing

Tackling disparities: from housing to food, and lots of data 
Q: What are states doing to address health disparities? A: A lot. According to Melissa Hansen, a specialist in minority health and Medicaid at the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states this year are considering measures related to health disparities. Stateline/The Bulletin

Good news for Connecticut’s governor: He just got the highest state minimum wage
As of Monday, bills to raise the minimum wage were pending in  23 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Post/GovBeat

New bill would allow murder charges against drug dealers in overdose deaths
At least five states already allow murder charges to be brought in overdose cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cleveland Plain Dealer

Inslee signs bill banning tanning beds for youth
California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Oregon ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18, and at least 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Kitsap Sun

Connecticut Lifts Minimum Wage as States Lead Obama Goal 
Connecticut is among at least 34 states that are considering whether to increase the minimum wage, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

For Utah, Women in Politics are Rare
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Utah’s lawmaking body ranked 46th in the country in female representation, with women comprising of just 16.3%. KCPW

Fracking’s Earthquake Risks Push States to Collaborate
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission this month said well operators will have to record injection well pressure daily instead of monthly. The rule needs state Legislature approval and the signature of Governor Mary Fallin. Oklahoma would be the first state to require daily test, said Kristy Hartman, energy and policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

License Plate Technology at Risk Post-Snowden
Arkansas, California, Maine, Utah, New Hampshire and Vermont already limit the use of license-plate-reader technology or the retention of data collected by the devices, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ office in Denver. Fifteen states, including Minnesota, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland, were considering similar measures this year, according to the group. Some of the bills were diluted after law enforcement agencies praised the technology’s value. Bloomberg

Michigan Chief Justice: I’m ‘So Sick’ Of Medical Pot Cases
There are bills in the works that would help to clarify the law, at least when it comes to pot shops and edibles which are not mentioned in the 2008 legislation. Of the 20 states where medical marijuana is legal, 14 allow dispensaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CBS Detroit

Bill demands pols show receipts
Pennsylvania lawmakers, who receive a base pay of $84,012 per year, have the second-highest salary in the nation and the third-highest reimbursement rate for undocumented meal and lodging expenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Daily Item

March 26

Florida's revenue 'is growing at a faster rate than almost any state in the country,' Jeb Bush says
The National Conference of State Legislatures focused on state general fund revenues in its report on State Budget Actions for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. That measure excluded intergovernmental funds and revenues dedicated to programs outside of the general fund, policy analyst Todd Haggerty said. PolitiFact
 
Breast-feeding mothers could opt out of jury duty in Missouri
Fifteen states exempt breast-feeding mothers from jury duty, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
New York Legislators Economize to Stretch Their Per Diem Pay
One proposal would prevent lawmakers who live within 125 miles of the Capitol from claiming reimbursements... The measure would also require lawmakers to submit receipts, as is required in some states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The New York Times
 
Republicans: No need for legislators to get 15.7 percent pay hike
Maryland's legislative salaries rank 13th in the nation, though nine of the states with higher pay have full-time legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Frederick News-Post
 
Welfare success story adds to Maine debate 
Several states have moved in a similar direction to ward off abuse of EBT cards. At least 22 states considered restrictions in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Portland Press Herald
 
Indiana first state to pull out of Common Core
About 100 bills to slow, stop or reverse Common Core requirements were introduced in state legislatures across the country this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an 85 percent increase over the year before. Washington Post Gov. Beat
 
School Official Says Guns On Campus Could 'Easily Trigger' Violence
There are currently seven states that allow the carrying of a concealed weapon on public post-secondary campuses according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. University Herald
 
Bill would freeze tax rates for seniors
Six states – Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas – have frozen property taxes for seniors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tribune Democrat
 
Minn. Senate panel would end welfare drug testing
Legislation by Minneapolis Democrat Sen. Jeff Hayden seeks to repeal a 2012 law mandating random drug tests for welfare recipients if they've been convicted of a felony drug offense during the last 10 years. At least nine states have passed similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Crookston Times
 

Savings for proposed online voting registration may not reach expectations from Husted, legislators
As of February, there currently are 15 states with online voting registration systems currently in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Long-Term Impact of Voting Law Changes 
One proposal that has attracted wide interest is online voter registration. More than a dozen states have considered this option in the current legislative session, in addition to 19 states that already had such a policy in place, says Wendy Underhill, a program manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Governing

LePage rolls out proposals for ‘tough love’ on welfare 
The bill sponsored by Fredette to impose new job-search requirements has counterparts in at least 19 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Morning Sentinel

Bike Passing Legislation To Be Withdrawn
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 22 states have enacted three-feet passing laws. Pennsylvania has a four-feet passing law and Virginia has a two-feet passing law. The NCSL website says “These laws seek to ensure that, when passing bicycles, motor vehicles allow adequate space to avoid sideswiping bicyclists or causing them to overcorrect to avoid a vehicle." nbc4i.com

Pennsylvania senators pitch bill that freezes property taxes for seniors
Six states have frozen property taxes for seniors — Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Meadville Tribune

Indiana becomes first state to drop Common Core standards
Rumblings of dissent have popped up across the country. More than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and about half would slow or halt their implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Fox News

Committee rejects plan to allow raw milk sales
Twelve states allow raw milk sales in stores, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 18, including Virginia, allow sales through venues like farmers markets and herd-share programs. Associated Press/Washington Post

Pa. bill requires receipts for lawmaker expenses
Per diem policies vary from state to state. Legislators in Ohio and New Jersey do not receive such payments, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York lawmakers get $165 per full day and $61 per half day and those in Maryland get $101 per day for lodging and $42 daily for meals, according to the NCSL. Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

Lou Cannon: Lack of Progress on Immigration Reform Stymies States
“The level of frustration in the states is off the charts,” said Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Morse said that polls show the public is ahead of Congress on immigration reform and that state legislatures are responding to these sentiments to the degree they are permitted to do so by the Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia last year passed 184 laws and 253 resolutions relating to immigration, a 64 percent increase from 2012. Noozhawk/State Net Capitol Journal

March 25

State legislatures see rise in bills targeting Common Core
In 2013 and in 2012, 20% of Common Core related bills in other states sought to change the controversial curriculum. This year that number will rise to 40%, said Daniel Thatcher, an education analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NASC) who is studying the issue... Bills identified as redress bills include a wide variety of measures, from delaying the use of test scores aligned with Common Core to stopping its implementation altogether.“I want to stress that a lot of times the intent isn’t to get rid of or repeal the Common Core,”  Thatcher said. “It can be as simple as a concern about using [student] assessment data for teacher evaluation purposes without having a few more years of data to substantiate the validity of the assessment.” marylandreporter.com

Proposal aims to stop mug-shot posting for profit
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 13 states have introduced legislation this year that addresses mug shots posted for profit. They include Florida, California, Kentucky and Minnesota. Wyoming signed its bill into law this month. Last year, five states, including Utah and Georgia, passed laws on the topic, the organization said. AP/San Luis Obispo Tribune

Committee rejects plan to allow raw milk sales
Twelve states allow raw milk sales in stores, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 18, including Virginia, allow sales through venues like farmers markets and herd-share programs. Idaho Statesman

Senate Panel Would End Welfare Drug-Testing
At least nine states have passed similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/CBS Minnesota

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley reaches out to tea party, backs push for part-time Legislature in Michigan
Michigan is one of four states with a true full-time Legislature, and lawmakers here earn a base salary of $71,685 per year. Another six states are near full-time, requiring lawmakers to work at least 80 percent of a full-time job, and roughly half the states have "hybrid" legislatures, where lawmakers do about two-thirds the work of a full-time job but earn less, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. MLive.com

Social media political pratfalls: Can state policies reduce the damage?
Seeing Twitter’s potential for both campaign and constituent work – as well as widespread negative press – political parties in state Houses nationwide have started to draft their own policies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnpost.com

Woman reports posting of nude photographs
Such postings, often referred to as “revenge porn,” have been outlawed in California and New Jersey, and numerous states have considered prohibitions on them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bismarck Tribune

Indiana withdrawals from Common Core
More than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and about half would slow or halt their implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That's about an 85 percent increase from last year. Cincinnati.com

Jason Stanford: Don’t look now, but ‘Education Spring’ is arriving 
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 179 bills dealing with K-12 testing have been introduced. Janesville Gazette

Are term limits for state lawmakers a good idea?
Today, 15 states have limits. Maine’s went into effect in 1996, the first year they took effect in any state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Some members of California’s Assembly were also term-limited that year.) In 2010, 380 state lawmakers were termed out of office nationwide, according to the NCSL. A 2006 NCSL study of term limits found they had little impact on the diversity of chambers and increased the importance of nonpartisan staff and lobbyists. Washington Post

Taxpayers fund creationism in the classroom
Some 26 states are now considering enacting new voucher programs or expanding existing ones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Politico

Democratic candidates eye taxes to ease wealth gap
Pennsylvania is one of eight states that use a flat-rate income-tax system, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-three states use graduated systems, which impose progressively higher rates as income rises. Nine states do not have broad-based income taxes, the NCSL says. Miami Herald

Lobbyists pay little heed to wage hike proposal
In at least eight states so far this year, a proposed increase in the state pay floor has cleared either the Senate or House, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In New York, the minimum wage was raised 75 cents to $8 this year. It will increase at the end of 2014 to $8.75 an hour and to $9 an hour at the end of 2015. Buffalo News/Bloomberg News

Assembly hikes pay for many employees, including highest-paid
“After they’ve been in the Legislature a while, that’s a skill set that’s hard to find,” said Tim Storey, a legislative analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. No one tracks the pay of the roughly 27,000 full-time legislative staff jobs nationwide. The legislature conference, however, conducts salary surveys for member legislatures that ask. There are multiple signs that pay increases are on the table, Storey said. “It’s been really crazy the last two or three months. We’re knee-deep in salary comparison surveys.” Storey said. “I wouldn’t say that the floodgates have opened, but there is definitely some rain. Clearly the market has improved.” Fresno Bee

Pennsylvania's Democratic candidates consider tax changes to ease wealth gap
Pennsylvania is one of eight states that use a flat-rate income-tax system, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-three states use graduated systems, which impose progressively higher rates as income rises. Nine states do not have broad-based income taxes, the NCSL says. Leigh Valley Times/Associated Press

'Hybrid' gas tax plan to be presented
Last year, lawmakers in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and the District of Columbia acted to increase overall state gas taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. All but Wyoming moved toward a tax that tracks with the economy to some degree, either by tying the rate to inflation or basing it on the price of fuel. DesMoines Register

Medical pot bills would OK edibles, dispensaries
Of the 20 states where medical marijuana is legal, 14 allow dispensaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Grand Haven Tribune/Associated Press

Users being charged under law intended for dealers
Eight other states have laws that allow charges to be filed when someone provides drugs to an individual who dies as a result, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The others are New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Rhode Island and Washington. Bucks County Times

March 24

Will Voter ID Changes Affect the 2014 Elections? 
"It's really tough to link policy changes to a change in turnout or electoral outcomes," says Wendy Underhill, a program manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The impact of voting-law changes "should be on the margins. Who is on the ballot, what the issues are and even [what the] weather on Election Day [will be are] going to be the bigger determinants of turnout." Since 2001, nearly 1,000 voter ID bills have been introduced in 46 states, with 34 states now enforcing some form of voter ID law, according to the NCSL. Governing

Proposed patient-centered telemedicine policy raises licensing questions
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 43 states and the District of Columbia provide some form of Medicaid reimbursement for primary-care telehealth services, while 19 states and the District of Columbia now require private insurance plans to reimburse providers for telehealth primary-care services. Arizona will join this list in January 2015... Joshua Ewing, an NCSL health policy specialist, said telemedicine is generating significant activity in state capitols. “Many states are turning to telehealth as a way to address workforce challenges—particularly in rural and underserved areas,” Ewing said. “I think many states also feel that telehealth is here, and here to stay. Therefore, they want to make sure they are in front of the issue with proper regulations that ensure patients receive safe, high-quality healthcare that is comparable to that which they would receive in a normal face-to-face interaction with a doctor.” Modern Healthcare

Michigan Senate OKs welfare drug testing program
At least nine states have adopted welfare drug testing laws since 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some apply to all applicants but others include specific language, like the new Michigan proposal, requiring testing only in the case of reasonable suspicion. MLive.com

Women Rule speakers announced
Leticia Van de Putte is the other woman from Texas running for statewide office who has quietly emerged as a strong Hispanic force across party lines both at home and nationally. She has served as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. Politico

[NH] House approves enhanced penalties in fetus death
At least 38 states have fetal homicide laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press

Coachella Valley public schools moving forward with implementing controversial Common Core State Standards
The effort was supported by grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, totaling more than $150 million dollars. Gates spoke about the standards and related computer-based testing in 2009 at a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures. KESQ

NH House votes to treat 17-year-olds as juveniles
In the past decade, the national trend has been to increase the age and send 17-year-olds through the juvenile system, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. WMUR

Editorial: Treat 17-year-old offenders as juveniles 
“Youth adjudicated as adults are more likely to be re-arrested, to re-offend, to re-offend more quickly, and to re-offend with more serious crimes” than those who are treated as juveniles, according to a 2011 National Conference of State Legislatures report. Concord Monitor

Senator Starr wants state in charge of chemicals
Oregon Sen. Bruce Starr has asked a Congressional committee to reject a proposal that would prohibit states from setting stricter chemical regulations than are in place nationally. “While NCSL supports the need for toxic chemical reform legislation, we must oppose any bill that so egregiously preempts state laws,” Starr wrote. The proposal is supported by the American Chemistry Council and the National Association of Chemical Distributors. Statesman Journal

Editorial: Quinn's class war is a distraction
Instead they hear a governor who wants to raise the minimum wage here to $10. That would be the nation's highest state minimum wage, eclipsing Washington ($9.32) and Oregon ($9.10), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chicago Tribune

March 19

Raising age to 21 for purchase of cigarettes in Colorado rejected
In Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah, the age to purchase cigarettes is 19, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Denver Post

NH House raises juvenile delinquent age to 18
In the past decade, the national trend has been to increase the age and send 17-year-olds through the juvenile system, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Houston Chronicle

Louisiana House backs ban on tanning beds for minors, with supporters citing cancer risks
At least five states ban the use of tanning beds for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/The Republic

Dems rally for same-day voter registration
Same-day registration is already law in 11 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. delawareonline.com

About 1 in 3 states restrict adoption of greenhouse gas rules tighter than EPA's
States with outright bans against adopting air rules tighter than those promulgated by the federal government are Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, South Dakota and Wyoming, according to a March 18 review of statutes by NCSL research analyst Jennifer Schultz. States that impose conditions for the setting of air rules more stringent than the federal government are Alaska, Florida, Idaho, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, NCSL found. SNL Financial

Legislative Term Limits
Read an interview with Karl Kurtz, Director of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Trust for Representative Democracy. WTTW

Is it more difficult for women in Baton Rouge to achieve success?
Legislators can help create laws that can close or mitigate the gender pay gap; notably, Louisiana's legislature has a deficit of women. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Louisiana ranks last at 12.5 percent with its percentage of female lawmakers in the state legislature.  Times Picayune

Editorial: Liberate New York’s voters
The National Conference of State Legislatures has statistics on state voting laws that put Ohio’s laws in a fair context and expose the hooey underlying the voter-suppression argument: Of the 32 states that allow some form of early voting, the average starting time is 22 days before the election; Ohio’s shortened period now starts 29 days prior. Actual early-voting days range nationwide from four to 45, with an average of 19; Ohio will have 20 early-voting days this year. Columbus Dispatch

Lobbyist pushes death penalty repeal in Delaware
Election day voting registration has existed in Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin since the 1970s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Delaware Newszap

ArkLaTex reacts to bill banning underage electronic cigarette sales
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 27 states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. KSLA

March 18

New York’s Dream Act is dead
Seventeen states, including New York, give local undocumented immigrant children in-state tuition rates for public colleges and universities, according to a February roundup by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four — Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey and Oregon — passed such measures last year. The Washington Post/GovBeat
 
Bill would ban e-cigarette sales to minors in La.
Health groups disagree on whether the products carry serious health risks, and research studies have been inconclusive so far, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures... At least 27 states already have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to NCSL. Charlotte Observer
 
N.Y. shoots down tuition for illegals in surprise Senate vote
The National Conference of State Legislatures says only four states allow financial aid for undocumented, illegal immigrant students: California, New Mexico, Texas and Washington. The Washington Times
 
I-49 speed limit increased to 75 mph 
Raising speed limits was rare last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. The group cited action in Louisiana and Virginia, which raised its speed limit on rural and urban highways from 65 mph to 70 mph. The Advocate
 
Half of states incentivize colleges to graduate more students
States differ in their performance funding incentive structures. Washington, Hawaii, Texas and Massachusetts allocate part of their funding to two-year institutions using performance measures; Arizona, Mississippi, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine only apply metrics to four-year institutions. Another 16 states measure both two- and four-year institutions, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Post/GovBeat
 
Many States Weigh GMO Labels
So far this year, 67 GMO labeling bills have been introduced in 25 states. In a dozen states, at least one legislative committee has approved a GMO bill. They include Colorado, Illinois, New York, Utah and Vermont, according to Scott Hendrick, who tracks GMO legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, 110 GMO bills were introduced in 32 states, Hendrick said. Stateline

March 17

New York Senate Rejects Measure to Give Illegal Immigrants State Tuition Aid
But only a handful of states, including California, New Mexico, Texas and Washington, grant state financial aid to undocumented students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The New York Times

Wash. Considers Gambling With Future Lottery Proceeds to Benefit Schools
Arturo Pérez, a fiscal affairs program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, told Education Week that the money is provided through bonds and an agreement is made about the conditions of the loan... "There's always a risk on the part of the investors, and the degree of the risk does vary," said Pérez. He said making the decision to borrow against money not yet received is carefully assessed by policymakers and normally only considered when the funding is used for a long-term asset such as education... "Until the debt service is retired you have committed that those funds can't be used for anything else," said Perez. Education Week

2014 Washington Legislature: Bill granting state employees time off for reasons of faith awaits Gov. Jay Inslee's signature
A representative from the National Conference of State Legislatures said she could not find a policy about employment leave for faith reasons in any other state. The Oregonian

Chance of Wage Rise So Remote Lobbyists Pay Little Heed 
In at least eight states so far this year, a proposed increase in the state pay floor has cleared either the Senate or House, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

Gallot pushes for measure banning sales of e-cigs to minors
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 27 other states have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The News-Star

One Year After Party 'Autopsy,' GOP Touts Progress
The National Conference of State Legislatures in its 2013 immigration report noted a spike in the immigration-related legislation introduced by states to 253, from 111 in 2012. Many bills sought to extend in-state tuition to children brought to the U.S. by undocumented parents and to issue driver's licenses to undocumented  workers. Court challenges of hard-line immigration enforcement legislation of the type Arizona passed in 2010, the NCSL reported, have discouraged states from passing such bills, which "largely disappeared" in 2013. NPR

OLS: Christie Cannot Invoke ‘State of Emergency’ To Cut Pensions
Further, Christie and other governors do not have the power to declare bankruptcy to get out from under contractual obligations for pensions and retiree health benefits -- as Wall Street financiers have been privately urging for years -- because states, as constitutional sovereigns with taxing authority, are not covered by bankruptcy laws, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have concluded... However, both the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures noted that unlike cities like Detroit, “bankruptcy is not a legal option for states, as constitutionally recognized sovereigns” that are bound by constitutional or statutory requirements to balance their budgets, and furthermore, have the authority to raise taxes if they need to do so. njspotlight.com

US lags as commercial drones take off around globe
Photo caption: But privacy watchdogs are urging state legislatures to step in and head off any potential privacy violations. That tension is on display as more than 35 states consider drone legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Times Record News 

All agree ethics board is troubled, views vary on how to fix it
With an annual budget of $271,000, Colorado’s ethics commission receives about half the funding of commissions in neighboring states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Colorado Independent

State Capitol security will be enhanced, but no metal detectors
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 statehouses had metal detectors installed at their entrances in 2008. Texas and Maine are among states that have installed metal detectors since that survey was completed, and Connecticut opted to add them in January. Of the eight states more populous than Michigan, only Ohio does not have statehouse metal detectors. Lansing State Journal

Alabama not only state re-evaluating
Michelle Exstrom, a director in the education program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said most of the 45 states that voluntarily adopted Common Core standards in 2010 and 2011 have started implementing them. "Legislatures of those states having concerns and vetting them are trying to figure out if those standards are rigorous enough or if they're appropriate for what they want their kids to know," she said. "That's at the heart of what is going on." Decatur Daily

Stone continues to make difference
After that experience, running for public office, seemed natural. From 1994 to 2008, she served as state representative for the 32rd District, which encompasses much of Dover and the Dover Air Force Base. In the House of Representatives she served as chair of the House Banking Committee and represented Delaware in the National Conference of State Legislatures. Delaware News

Spending tax refund windfalls
More than 27 million citizens received almost $63 billion in earned income tax credit in tax year 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Times Free Press

US lobbyists ignoring wage proposal
A proposed increase in the state pay floor has cleared either the Senate or House in at least eight US states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Press TV

Idaho’s substitute law unique
Brenda Erickson, an analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said some states, including Washington, allow for temporary subs when a legislator is called up for military duty. “More often, they’re granted an excused absence, and that’s how it’s handled,” she said. “There’s no replacement.” The Spokesman Review

Between a website and a hard place: On campaign finance rules
Pennsylvania's minimal contribution limits put it in league with six other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Unions and corporations are barred from giving directly to candidates, though the ban was struck down recently by a federal judge. WITF

Anna Crook: More room for women in House
The state of New Mexico has 25 women in the House and six women in the Senate. Women therefore hold 27.7 percent of the seats in the New Mexico legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Portales News Tribune

A 'mixed blessing' - Private school principals hopeful but leery of voucher impact
The state governments of Maine and Vermont have supported private education for almost 140 years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. According to the NCSL, 13 states, plus the District of Columbia and one county in Colorado, have implemented a school voucher program. The programs differ: Some provide money to low-income students, some to special needs students, and some to rural students, among other situations. Juneau Empire

March 14

Florida Supreme Court rules limits on medical malpractice awards unconstitutional
Thirty-five states have some type of cap on medical malpractice awards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post/Associated Press

Dangers Of E-Cigs
The National conference of state legislature says that at least 27 states have prohibited the sale of e–cigarettes to minors. Right now in Nebraska, your minor CAN purchase e–cigarettes. But, Lawmakers this week are trying to pass a ban on stores from selling to anyone under 18. KNOP News

Revenge porn bill sent to Georgia governor
Not including Georgia, legislators in at least 22 states have proposed bills to ban uploading other people's naked pictures online, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Times Free Press

Iowa Poll: Iowans don't want higher gas tax, but support rises
Last year, lawmakers in Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and the District of Columbia acted to increase overall state gas taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Des Moines Register

State high court nixes damage caps in fatal malpractice suits
Thirty-five states have some type of cap on medical malpractice awards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Herald Tribune

March 13

Mississippi will begin drug testing TANF recipients
Nine other states, all governed by Republicans — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah — have passed legislation requiring TANF applicants to be screened or tested for drug use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Post/GovBeat
 
Fla. Supreme Court tosses medical malpractice caps
Thirty-five states have some type of cap on medical malpractice awards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Ledger-Enquirer
 
Legislature in brief: March 13, 2014
California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Vermont ban the use of tanning beds for all those under 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington's Legislature also gave final passage to a similar prohibition this week. AP/houmatoday.com
 
Here's What GMO Labeling Will Cost You
In a dozen states, at least one legislative committee has approved a GMO bill. They include Colorado, Illinois, New York, Utah and Vermont, according to Scott Hendrick, who tracks GMO legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Last year, 110 GMO bills were introduced in 32 states, Hendrick said. Stateline/Huffington Post
 
Idaho Gov. Signs Controversial Guns on Campus Bill
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho will become the seventh state to allow concealed guns on campuses. Northwest Public Radio
 
Raising the alarm
Vermont, like many other states, does not require detectors in commercial places, with the exception of hotels or motels where people sleep, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Waterbury Record
 
House panel considers Internet sales tax compromise
States also are anxious for Congress to act. California lost about $2 billion in taxes on sales by out-of-state online retailers in 2012, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. LaTimes
 
States fight chemical industry over proposed rules
In a letter sent to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee chairman and the ranking member, Reps. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), the National Conference of State Legislators said a draft version of the Chemicals in Commerce Act would take authority to regulate chemicals out of the hands of states and localities. Regulation would be entirely up to the Environmental Protection Agency. Washington Post
 
Judiciary Committee Hears Internet Sales Tax Testimony
There’s also a tax revenue objection. States could have collected another $23 billion in sales tax revenue in 2012 if all online and catalog sales had been taxed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a supporter of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would give states the power to collect online sales taxes in exchange for simplifying their sales tax systems. Heartland News
 
Bill reversing ban on lawmakers' drunken-driving arrests passes committee
The U.S. Constitution provides immunity from arrest for members of Congress, and 43 state constitutions, including Minnesota's, offer similar safeguards to state lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pioneer Press

March 12

MAP: The gender pay gap by state
Five states have no equal-pay laws whatsoever: Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Three states — Louisiana, Oregon and Vermont — passed or amended existing laws last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Post/GovBeat
 
In Colorado, lawmakers explore ban on cell phones when driving

Twelve states, which include California and Oregon, ban all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Denver Post

Minneapolis is in the running to host vet-owned business convention
Landing the National Veterans Small Business Conference would be an late-year exclamation point for Meet Minneapolis in what is already shaping up to be a big year. Other events on the books include the 2014 USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships (June 25 - July 2), Shriners International's 2014 Imperial Session (July 6-10), the 2014 MLB All-Star Game (July 11-15), Meeting Professionals International's 2014 World Education Conference (Aug. 2-5) and the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2014 Legislative Summit (Aug. 19-22). Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Iowa Poll: 76% favor requiring warrants for drone surveillance
Iowa is but one of more than 35 states considering drone legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The bills include everything from ways to attract an industry that could generate billions to restrictions on drone use and data collection. Des Moines Register

Court ruling on drones comes too late to help closed Myrtle Beach company 
The National Conference of State Legislatures says more than 35 states are considering drone legislation this year. Carolinalive.com

LePage proposes tax-cut referendum for June 
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states rarely use the advisory referendum, in part because the results are nonbinding. kjonline.com

Mummified woman believed to have died in 2008 voted in 2010
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Michigan voter ID law requires a photo ID but if a voter does not present a photo ID, they may sign an affidavit and vote on a regular ballot. Aside from the possible homicide, there may have been a case of voter fraud as voting records show that Farrenkopf voted for the first time in the 2010 midterm elections. UPI

Several states pursue creative strategies to link drug testing to welfare to after judge struck down
Until five years ago, few if any states drug tested for TANF. Since then, however, at least nine have passed some kind of drug testing requirements for the program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kansas and North Carolina did so last year. Washington Times

A Mayor's Pension Pushback
All states but Alaska and Idaho have enacted some sort of pension revamping since 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal

Kansas weighs regulating health care 'navigators'
More than a dozen other states are attempting to regulate navigators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Missouri, a federal judge in January blocked that state's rules, concluding that if Missouri refused to set up its own marketplace, it could attempt to impose additional restrictions on the federally run one. Times Union

Goedde's student data privacy bill clears Senate
Goedde said he got the idea for SB1372 from Oklahoma state Sen. Jim Halligan at a National Conference of State Legislatures conference last summer. Goedde used a bill passed last year by the Oklahoma Legislature “as the template,” for the measure that passed the Idaho Senate 35-0 on Tuesday. CDA Press

Gov. LePage’s drug fight puts focus on hunting down dealers
States have since adjusted their corrections and sentencing policies. In 2012, the National Conference of State Legislatures found that 24 states had changed their penalties for drug crimes, and more than half of them reduced penalties to divert low-level offenders from prison in favor of community supervision and treatment. Portland Press

Youth tanning ban bill heads to Gov. Inslee's desk
California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Oregon ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18, and at least 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. KATU/Associated Press

Lawmakers advance e-cigarette bill
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that at least 27 states have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. KLKN

March 11

States wrestle with developing, restricting drones
That tension is on display as more than 35 states consider drone legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The bills include ways to attract an industry that could generate billions and restrictions on drone use and data collection. Washington Post/Associated Press

Bell bill targets 'revenge porn'
This year, Virginia was one of 14 states to introduce legislation on so-called revenge porn, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California and New Jersey so far are the only states to successfully criminalize the practice. Even in those states, though, the laws have faced pushback. Daily Progress

March 10

Legislature considers Executive Board changes
SB 1 in its original form came from the Executive Board. It results from the outside review of the Legislature’s operations performed last year at the board’s request by a team from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Rapid City Journal

No consensus on how to notify data breach victims
The data breach at Target Corp. that exposed millions of credit card numbers has focused attention on the patchwork of state consumer notification laws and renewed a push for a single national standard. Past congressional efforts to agree on a standard have failed. Currently, 46 states and the District of Columbia have their own breach notification laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post

E-cigarettes ignite Michigan debate over regulation, sales
Twenty-seven states ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of those state laws are similar to the Senate legislation. Detroit Free Press

Kentucky lawmakers want limits on drone use by police
In 2013, nine states passed laws limiting the use of drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many others established task forces to study the issue. In all, 43 states introduced 130 bills related to drone use in 2013. Courier Journal

Reader's Watchdog: Traffic cameras net $19.7 million
Seven states prohibit use of red-light cameras to issue citations to drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and several more, including Ohio and Florida, are considering prohibitions. Des Moines Register

Freshmen lawmakers push for corrupt pols to lose their pensions
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 22 states have laws regarding forfeiture of state pensions when officials are convicted of certain crimes, although there are various exceptions. Newsday

Under a bill before the legislature, "you’d have to go to court to fire an employee."
Those phrases are significant because, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Rhode Island is one of only three states (Florida and Georgia are the other two) that are known as "at-will" employment states. Politifact

Connecticut Could Become 1st State To Curb Loud Movies
Jon Griffin, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said he believes Connecticut would be the first state to regulate the maximum decibel level at movies. Vans Stevenson, a senior vice president with the MPAA, also said the issue is not regulated. CBS Connecticut/Associated Press

Bennett seeking support for ‘revenge porn’ bill
Legislators in at least 14 other states have introduced revenge porn bills so far this year, including Rhode Island, Illinois and Maryland, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. New Jersey and California already have similar laws on the books. Delaware New

March 7

E-cigarettes ignite debate over regulation, sales
Twenty-seven states ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Paper Pushers: Industry-backed group urges feds to keep printing documents
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several states have been at least experimenting with putting government business online not only to save money but, they say, to increase public access to material. Fox News

Bill proposes traffic cameras on school buses
This session a bill in the House would give local school districts in the state the authority to attach enforcement cameras to the outside of school buses to photograph the license plates of drivers who pass the buses as they’re stopped and send the pictures to police to issue the appropriate tickets. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six states have adopted similar statutes and three others are considering them. Johnson City Press

Idaho lawmakers pass bill allowing concealed guns on college campuses
Idaho lawmakers on Thursday approved a measure allowing concealed guns to be carried onto university and college campuses. If the Republican governor signs the bill into law as expected, Idaho will be the seventh U.S. state that allows guns on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters

March 6

Colorado looks to restrict cellphones in cars
Twelve states and the District of Columbia already ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Illinois, where the law took effect Jan. 1, stores reported a jump in sales for hands-free devices like ear pieces and microphone visor clips. Texting while driving is banned in 41 states and D.C., according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/The State
 
Race To Stop 'Revenge Porn' Raises Free Speech Worries 
Just two states, California and New Jersey, have actually passed so-called revenge porn laws. But more than a dozen states have similar bills in the pipeline, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia Public Broadcasting
 
Delaware latest to consider “revenge porn” legislation 
More than a dozen other state legislatures have introduced legislation to end revenge porn this year according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. WDDE
 
Backlash over Obama spending on dog parks
"We're building on provisions in the Recovery Act to forbid the use of these funds to build things like dog parks," said President Obama at the 2009 National Conference of State Legislatures. WJLA
 
Early-voting measure falls short in Maine House
Maine is one of 27 states that allow no-excuse absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference also lists Maine as one of 32 states that allow early, in-person voting, but all early voting in Maine is done by absentee ballot. Portland Press Herald
 
Some States Still Pushing Drug Testing for Welfare
Until five years ago, few if any states drug tested for TANF. Since then, however, at least nine have passed some kind of drug testing requirements for the program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kansas and North Carolina did so last year. Stateline
 
Helena attorney submits initiative taking away governor's power to appoint senator
Thirty-six states, including Montana, fill Senate vacancies through gubernatorial appointments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In the 14 states that hold special elections, nine allow the governor to make interim appointments until the elections take place. The Missoulian/Associated Press
 
Education Leaders Worry State Moving Away From Common Core
Michelle Exstrom works for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “We’re tracking legislation in all 50 states, and we’re seeing a good number of legislation both addressing whether or not it’s an appropriate action for their state in general, and also a good number of bills that are working to implement the legislation as well,” Exstrom says. Exstrom says of the 46 states that adopted Common Core, about half are taking, another look. She says in most states – like Wisconsin, the issue never went before lawmakers, because other state agencies are tasked with setting education standards. WUWM

March 5

Bills seek to cap payday loan rates in Louisiana
A handful of states have similar caps on annual percentage rates charged on payday loans, and several others are considering them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Miami Herald

Kids in Alaska don't have to take sex ed (opinion)
Alaska is part of a relatively small minority of states that does not require school districts to teach a form of sex or health education, said Megan Comlossy, a policy expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN.com

States Struggle To Make Higher Ed Affordable
Dusatin Weeden discusses higher education costs as guest on "Think Out Loud" show. Oregon Public Broadcasting

5 State-Level Ideas to Keep College Grads Out of Crushing Debt
Lawmakers in more than 20 states have filed bills that would put states on a path to scrapping college tuition altogether, said Dustin Weeden, policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures. mainstreet.com

Medicaid Expansion Spurs States to Fight Fraud, Overpayments
In 2013, more than 100 bills designed to combat Medicaid fraud and abuse were introduced in state legislatures in at least 23 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and at least 35 of them became law. States also are fighting fraud in ways that don’t require legislation, such as improving communication among state agencies, said NCSL’s Megan Comlossy. Currently, 19 states are considering 45 bills related to controlling Medicaid fraud and errors, she said. Stateline

Covering his bases? Sen. Paul asks Ky. for approval to run for re-election, president in 2016
Kentucky state law says a candidate’s name cannot appear on the ballot twice, except in very specific circumstances, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Fox News

Texas elections mark start of state balloting with ID laws
Nine states this year are holding their first major votes — including for governor and Congress — under such laws, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for many such requirements last year after throwing out a core element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was meant to enfranchise blacks in the segregated South. Chicago Tribune

Attorney submits US Senate vacancy initiative
Thirty-six states, including Montana, fill Senate vacancies through gubernatorial appointments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The State/Associated Press

Flint legislators push for no-reason absentee ballot voting
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states and the District of Columbia offer some form of early voting, a press release stated. Additional states offer expanded voting by mail or no-excuse absentee options. Michigan Live

Maine Senate backs early voting, but likely not enough to send measure to voters
Maine is one of 27 states that already allow no-excuse absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference also lists Maine as one of 32 states that already allow early, in-person voting, but all early voting in Maine is now done by absentee ballot. Portland Press Herald

March 4

Long winter costs US states millions as salt runs low and plows work overtime
“This winter, Mother Nature is not only breaking records, she’s breaking budgets as well,” said Erica Michel, a research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “From the midwest to the south-east and up through New England, states are reporting historic spending on snow removal.” The Guardian
 
Iowa Senate passes online voter registration bill
The National Conference of State Legislatures says as of last month 16 states offer online registration and another four have passed legislation to create such systems but haven't implemented them yet. AP/San Francisco Gate
 
States Lag in Educating Students About Personal Finance
Nearly 20 states last year approved legislation or adopted resolutions regarding financial literacy, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Huffington Post
 
Hickenlooper quietly comes out for same-sex marriage
Colorado is one of 33 states that prohibits same-sex marriage by law according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those states, Colorado is among three that allow civil unions or domestic partnerships. 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages. 9News.com
 
Texas Elections Mark Start of State Balloting With Photo ID Laws
Nine states this year are holding their first major votes - - including for governor and Congress -- under such laws, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg
 
States Lag in Educating Students About Personal Finance
Nearly 20 states last year approved legislation or adopted resolutions regarding financial literacy, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Among them, California required the state board of education to integrate financial literacy into existing curriculums. Stateline
 
Date violence: Julianne Siller's family, lawmakers look to raise awareness
There are currently 15 states that do not have laws which specifically provide for a school response to teen dating violence, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Times Herald

March 3

Democratic super PAC eyes Pennsylvania state races
In all, more than 6,000 legislative seats in 46 states are in play this year, according to the tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures. USA Today

Lawmakers consider bill to bolster state tourism
When Washington had a state tourism office, its budget was approximately $3.8 million in its final two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Idaho Statesman

Improving access with online voter registration
As of this month, 15 states offer online registration and four more have passed legislation but have yet to implement the process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Easton Courier

Cellphone Bill Aimed At Teen Drivers
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states and the District of Columbia ban all cellphone usage while driving. Thirty-nine states ban texting and driving. KJZZ

Time to Ban Revenge Porn
Already, California and New Jersey have passed laws making revenge porn a crime. Another 13 states have introduced legislation to do so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii Reporter

Youth vote gets younger: Law lets most 17-year-olds cast ballot
Illinois joins 11 other states that allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they'll be 18 by the November election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chicago Tribune

Bill would restrict drones on La. private property
Several other states have placed restrictions on unmanned aircraft in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Times/Associated Press

Fundraising is a frenzy for state legislators before 2014 session begins
Florida is one of 29 states that prohibit or restrict receiving campaign contributions during a legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Daily News Tribune

Several issues before lawmakers on Crossover Day
In the past few years, nearly half the nation's states have passed laws prohibiting abortion coverage in health insurance plans offered by the new state health exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seattle News/Associated Press

Illinois Senate passes 'revenge porn' bill
At least 14 other states currently have revenge porn-related bills pending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fakhoury is not surprised Illinois only recently began confronting the issue. DePaulia News

Date violence: Julianne Siller's family, lawmakers look to raise awareness
There are currently 15 states that do not have laws which specifically provide for a school response to teen dating violence, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Mercury

House wants to be 1st with mom-friendly designation
Washington also is one of 28 states with a law exempting breast-feeding mothers from public indecency laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington Legislature passed another measure in 2009 protecting women’s right to breast-feed in public under the state’s anti-discrimination law. The Olympian

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