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NCSL in the News May 2012

NCSL in the News Archives

NCSL in the News: May 2012

May 31

Bath salts, drug alleged 'face-chewer' Rudy Eugene may have been on, plague police and doctors
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), as of May 14, 38 states - including Florida, where the 'face-chewing' attack took place - have instituted bans on bath salts (which they term "substituted cathinones"), but many levy no penalty for violating the ban. And according to the NCSL, 'minor changes to the chemical make-up of these substances can create new but very similar drugs not covered in the law.' CBS News

Chicago City Council committee approves plan to bar teens from tanning beds
If Chicago passes such a ban on tanning, it would be similar to statewide bans taken in California and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NBC Chicago

Advocates to take same-sex marriage fight to court
Twenty-five same-sex Illinois couples filed two civil lawsuits Wednesday after being turned away when they tried to apply for marriage licenses in Cook County. Six states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex marriage, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Illinois is one of five states that allows civil unions for gay couples. WBEZ Chicago

What are 'bath salts' and are they illegal?
In addition, at least 38 states have enacted bath-salt bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The bans spell out a wide range of penalties for possession and trafficking, and include a variety of different chemicals that can be used to make bath salts, not just the three stimulants banned by the DEA. Reuters/FindLaw.com

Health risks don’t deter avid tanners, even young ones
Most states have no minimum age as long as there’s parental consent. Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and North Dakota are the states with a minimum tanning age of 14. North Carolina’s is 13, Wisconsin 16 and Texas 16.5. As of Jan. 1, California became the first to completely ban tanning under age 18. Vermont will join California on July 1. To view the law list, visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website at ncsl.org. Houma Courier 

May 30

An 'unprecedented' exodus of lawmakers
The last time an election occurred in the wake of redistricting was 2002. That year, just under 24 percent of legislative seats changed hands in the November election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Politico

Judge upholds suspension of pension increases for New Jersey public employees
Throughout the country, 83 of 85 statewide pension plans for teachers and public employees give some kind of cost of living adjustment, said Ron Snell, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures. He said there are a few hundred more plans across the nation offering COLAs for municipal police officers, troopers, firefighters and other public employees. Star-Ledger

As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fights to keep his post, recall elections spread across U.S.
Recall attempts are far more common in local jurisdictions (at least 29 states have the power to recall local officials, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures). International Business Times

Health exchange progress
Republican Alabama Rep. Greg Wren, an ALEC member and chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures' federal health care task force, agrees that states need to set up insurance exchanges to protect themselves. "I still think it's better to have state control," he says. He authored a bill that would create a state health exchange; the bill is delayed. USA Today 

May 29

Brick-and-mortar stores push anew for online sales tax collection
The Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that online merchants do not have to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence. In the meantime, online retailers have escaped more than $11 billion a year in state sales taxes, according to data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fox Memphis/Dow Jones

Gas taxes remain steady in the face of falling prices
The state taxes and fees make up a significant portion of each state's funding stream for road maintenance and building, and other transportation programs. This funding stream is often strained, though. Last year, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that state transportation programs face $58 billion a year in unmet needs for maintenance and another $119 billion annually for improvements. National Journal

State senator from Fort Myers gets a blurb from ex-Florida Governor Bush
Lizbeth Benacquisto, the state senator from Fort Myers, continues to be a favorite among Republican leaders in Florida...The National Conference of State Legislatures is predicting as many as half of all state legislators in the country will have two years of experience or less. The reason: term limits and redistricting. News-Press

State legislators are holding off writing new immigration laws
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the number of immigration bills introduced across the country has fallen off dramatically so far this year. During 2011, more than 1,500 immigration bills were proposed, the NCSL said. But this year only 865 were introduced in 45 state legislatures during the first quarter, a 44% decrease. About.com

Cash balance plans gain favor as option among public pension funds
More than 15 cities, counties and states have cash balance and other types of hybrid plans, the majority approved or implemented in the last two years, according to Pensions & Investments data and reports from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pensions & Investments

Big outside spending may await West Virginia races
At least four other states also have an across-the-board, $1,000-per-election cap, including neighboring Kentucky, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Close to half set differing limits, depending on the office. Around a dozen allow unlimited individual contributions, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Virginia. Charleston Daily Mail/AP

Three strikes: comparing Massachusetts proposal to other states
The California case had a national impact. According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states passed three-strikes laws between 1993 and 1995. Massachusetts would become the 27th state if it passes pending legislation. But while nearly 9,000 are in jail in California for third-strike offenses, few other states have seen a comparable impact from their laws. Sentinel & Enterprise

Massachusetts House, Senate take on dueling three-strike bills
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislative actions and consequences, says 16 of the 26 states with three-strikes laws have moderated some aspects of the law to allow for lesser sentences. In many states the stricter sentences were rarely applied even before the laws were changed. Sentinel & Enterprise

'In-house' absentee voting to begin Tuesday in Anderson
Starting Tuesday morning, voters will be able to cast “in-house” absentee ballots for the June 12 primary at the county elections office in downtown Anderson...Residents in 32 states and the District of Columbia can vote in a designated period before an election with no excuse or justification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Independent Mail

Kansas governor signs bill banning Islamic law
Both the Washington-based council and the National Conference of State Legislatures say such proposals have been considered in 20 states, including Kansas. Gele said laws similar to Kansas’ new statute have been enacted in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee. CBS St. Louis/AP

As conservatives rally on marriage issue, fate rests with high court
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states have prohibited same-sex marriages, either through state law or by amending their state constitutions. MSNBC 

May 25

State budgets spring new, smaller holes
The picture is an improvement from a year ago, when the center put the total shortfall at more than $100 billion for fiscal 2012 and the National Conference of State Legislatures at $91 billion. With the exception of Vermont, all states must end their fiscal years with balanced budgets. NPR/Reuters

NJ looks to ban text message ads
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about a dozen states, including California, Texas and Rhode Island, have laws prohibiting unsolicited text message ads. NBC Philadelphia

Arizona may add more uses for medical marijuana
Arizona is among 17 states that have enacted laws allowing medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fox El Paso/AP

States introduce fewer immigration bills
The number of immigration bills and resolutions appearing in state legislatures across the country declined steeply in the first quarter of this year, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. National Journal

Appearances notwithstanding, transparency board still at work
In its current form, however, the DATA Act faces opposition from state officials who label its proposed reporting requirements an unfunded mandate. Here, for example, is what the National Conference of State Legislatures said after the bill won House approval last month: “While NCSL agrees transparency and accountability should go hand-in-hand with federal spending, states should not be expected to provide the funds to make this possible. Another unfunded federal mandate as states slowly recover from the recession is the wrong way to go.” Federal Times

Editorial: House shouldn't meddle with pension reform
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Michigan is one of two states that have moved to a defined contribution plan for state employees. And it made that move 15 years ago for new hires. Detroit News

NJ Assembly approves teen indoor tanning ban
Thirty-three states regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 23 states have seen legislation prohibiting tanning introduced since 2011. California and Vermont are the only states that have outright bans against tanning for children under age 18. New Jersey Herald 

May 24

How did Wisconsin become the most politically divisive place in America?
Around the time that Walker announced the measure, similar laws were introduced in Michigan, Ohio and Florida, and a nationwide demonization of public employees caught fire. Within two months, the National Conference of State Legislatures had tracked more than 100 bills, initiated across the country, attacking public-sector unions. New York Times

Tanning salons and underage teens: what are the laws? And who's bending the rules?
Lately, officials in the U.S. have been trying to discourage young adults from tanning in order to help reduce incidents of melanoma, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Huffington Post

Romney proposes to boost school choice for students with disabilities
Only eight states now offer vouchers for students with disabilities: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Education Week

Governor McDonnell signs voter ID bills
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research organization, Voter ID continues to be a high-profile and highly-contentious issue in many state legislatures. Connection Newspapers

Redistricting wars
Not coincidentally, Iowa also has the country’s most nonpartisan, nonpolitical redistricting process; the National Conference of State Legislatures describes it as “unlike any other state” in this regard. City Journal

State comparison for indoor tanning restrictions of minors
Due to these damaging effects, policymakers in some states are regulating minors’ use of tanning devices, such as tanning beds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website. Medical Daily

State immigration bills see significant drop, but not off the table
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which bills itself as a bipartisan organization serving legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories, said although immigration continues to be a hot-button issue with state lawmakers, bills aimed at immigrants and refugees saw a steep decline in this year’s first quarter compared to last year’s. Government Security News

May 23

Driver's license campaign for immigrants in peril
A national survey released Tuesday suggests Ortiz's argument is true not just in Colorado but nationwide. The National Conference of State Legislatures detected a dramatic decline in immigration-related bills, including driver's license or other ID proposals. Denver Post/AP

Manchester family pushes for expanded autism coverage for military families
Outside the military, heath coverage for autism varies from health plan to health plan and from state to state. A total of 34 states, including Connecticut, have some type of law related to autism and insurance coverage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hartford Courant

Is North Dakota ready for medical marijuana?
The National Conference of State Legislatures says Montana and 16 other states as well as Washington, D.C., allow medical marijuana use. INFORUM

Marijuana: Is it medicinal?
Montana and 16 other states already have laws that allow the medical use of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Dickinson Press

Michigan House to vote on election law changes
Michigan is already among 16 states that require or request a photo ID of voters when they cast ballots, though not all of the laws have taken effect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference’s website says election legislation is pending in 32 states this year, including 10 with proposals to strengthen existing voter ID laws. CBS Detroit

Immigrant driver’s license push stalls in Colorado
A national survey released Tuesday suggests Ortiz’s argument is true not just in Colorado but nationwide. The National Conference of State Legislatures detected a dramatic decline in immigration-related bills, including driver’s license or other ID proposals. ABQ Journal/AP

May 22

Kansas redistricting case unlikely to move at Kobach's pace
Kansas is the only state in the nation in which legislators haven't drawn new congressional districts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Kansas City Star/AP

High court ruling not expected to impair health IT
A January report from the National Conference of State Legislatures found that state officials are prioritizing efforts to establish insurance exchanges to meet the January 2013 deadline for having some infrastructure in place.  Laura Tobler, program director of NCSL's Health Program, said, "states will need upgrades to their existing Medicaid eligibility systems as well as new information technology systems to support exchange functions. Some states are looking at or may have already solicited subcontractors to upgrade or build the necessary IT system[s]."  iHealth Beat

Report: Fewer illegal immigration bills introduced so far in 2012 than 2011
The National Conference of State Legislatures says there was a 44 percent drop in the number of bills and resolutions introduced during that time period. Of the 865 measures brought up in 45 states and the District of Columbia, 90 had been enacted as of the end of March.  KJZZ

Not pretty, but the process we have
After the special session ended, I attended meetings in Denver of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Executive Committee. I was elected to NCSL’s Executive Committee last summer and the Conference’s membership includes all state legislators nationwide. The NCSL task force on federal deficit reduction also met during this time and I remain very concerned about Congress’ inability or unwillingness or both to act on the federal deficit.  Opinion in the Cortez Journal

May 21

State, local government groups fear impact of conference restrictions
Federal officials often attend those conferences to serve as keynote speakers, network with local officials, and provide guidance and insight during smaller workshops and panel discussions.  “What we don’t want to see happen is agencies all of a sudden get hesitant about interaction with their partners,” says Michael Bird, senior federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Governing

California's budget problems linger while many other states shape up
Fewer state budget deficits are being projected than in recent years, the National Conference of State Legislatures said in a report this month, with revenue in most states meeting or exceeding expectations.  "This is good news for state lawmakers who have closed more than $500 billion in budget gaps over the previous four fiscal years," the report said.  Sacramento Bee

Kansas House approves new congressional map
Kansas is the only state in which legislators have failed to pass a new congressional map, according to National Conference of State Legislatures, and the inaction threatens to delay the state's Aug. 7 primary election.  Bloomberg Businessweek/AP

Obama campaign working to counter new voter ID laws
A dozen states passed more restrictive rules requiring voters to present state-issued photo IDs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although Democratic governors in four states vetoed them.  Washington Post

Dropout rate: Ohio slips as nation improves
The National Conference of State Legislatures cited Indiana as a state with good, comprehensive legislation for dropout prevention.  Cincinnati.com

NAACP endorses gay marriage
The NAACP opposed a constitutional amendment approved in North Carolina last week that would ban same sex marriage. Twenty-eight other states have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chicago Tribune/Reuters

NLC opposes legislation that would undermine partnership with federal government
Joining NLC on the letter were the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International City/County Management Association.  Nation's Cities Weekly

Feds ease deadline for state to create insurance exchange
As of this month, 10 states and the District of Columbia had passed legislation to establish state-based health insurance exchanges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.   Kingsport Times News

Fundraising can be difficult task for inexperienced campaigners
Kentucky does have lower limits on campaign contributions than a number of other states for the 2011-12 election cycle, according to information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Missouri, Oregon, Utah and Virginia place no limits on contributions.  Bowling Green Daily News

Stop party work by state employees
A study by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that 42 states have statutes that address the political activity of public employees. Some states apply the law equally to all state workers, including those in the legislative and executive branches of government.  Editorial in the Concord Monitor

Guest column: Wisconsin in uncharted waters with recent wave of recalls
The most important difference among states is the circumstances for recall. There is no restriction in 11 states (including Wisconsin), although five require a statement of reasons. "Often the reasons are political," notes the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Opinion in the Green Bay Press Gazette

Welfare drug test proposal continues to be debated
Seven states have passed bills to test applicants or recipients in the past two years and at least 28 states have considered legislation in 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Middletown Journal

Don't ignore the elephant
According to a 2009 study of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Nebraska’s monthly program costs exceed those of all other state employee insurance plans nationwide.  Editorial in the Lincoln Journal Star

State legislature faces controversy over budget surplus
Even with the cost of these support agencies not counted, Pennsylvania has the second-most expensive legislative branch in the nation, according to the most recent comprehensive report for fiscal 2010-11 by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Citizens Voice

Attacking Medicaid fraud will save many millions of dollars
A National Conference of State Legislatures report also estimates Medicaid fraud and abuse nationwide to be between 3 and 10 percent.  Opinion in the Elgin Courier News

Special sessions give taste of full-time legislature – a bad one
According to a chart from the National Conference of State Legislatures, these states include California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, and those with an almost full-time legislature: Illinois, Florida, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Wisconsin.  Opinion in the Maryland Reporter

Kansas lawmakers expect to pass no remapping plans
Their failure to draw new lines has threatened to delay the state's Aug. 7 primary election, and Kansas is the only state in which legislators have failed to approve a congressional redistricting plan, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Wichita Eagle/AP

Legislator's log – May 20, 2012
I learned that first hand when I traveled to this Far East nation as a trade ambassador with the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2010.  SurfKY News

May 18

Teen immunization rates improve with middle school vaccine mandates
Researchers examined data from the National Conference of State Legislatures and several other organizations to identify states with middle school vaccination requirements in place at the start of the 2008-09 academic year.  American Medical News

Locals react to state-proposed teen tanning ban
Current New York state law allows teens ages 14-17 to tan with parental permission. California and Vermont banned tanning for those under the age of 18 earlier this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Hornell Evening Tribune

I'm paying for what?! Mandated health insurance benefits
The trend accelerated in the late 1980s and through the 1990s with the evolution of managed care, says Richard Cauchi, program director for health at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox Business

Light at the end of the tunnel for state and local pensions?
Forty-three states have made changes in the last three years, according to the National Conference of State Legis­la­tures: 30 states have upped employee contri­bu­tions, for example, and more than 30 states have reduced benefits. These changes and other factors have slowed the growth in pension costs.  Galesburg Planet

More US states pursuing drug testing for welfare recipients
Legislatures in at least 28 states are considering drug testing applicants or recipients of public assistance programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  World Socialist Web Site

May 17

Oklahoma welfare applicants to face drug screening
Fourteen other states had similar proposals pending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chicago Tribune/Reuters

Hoosier lottery takes steps toward privatization
During the last fiscal year, the state earned $188 million from the lottery, and in 2010 it earned $183,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Courier-Journal

Legislation to prevent employers from requiring access to social media accounts of employees or applicants out of committee
The state of Maryland passed a similar bill last month, which is believed to be the first in the nation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least nine other states are considering similar measures. WGMD Radio

Indiana election: Democratic governor nominee John Gregg has a deal for business
A study last fall by the institute and the Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research estimated the sales taxes lost in online transactions at about $77 million. Gregg said a different study by the National Conference of State Legislatures pegged the amount higher. Indianapolis Star

Kansas pharmacists can refuse some birth control
Kansas joins six other states - Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Idaho and Arizona - that allow pharmacists to deny abortion-causing drugs or drugs that they believe may induce abortions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. EmpowHer

May 16

Brown confronts California intractability as gap widens
California is one of nine states where revenue has trailed expenditures since July 1, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

Analysis: State income up in April, but may not be enough
"We talk about how states went from the Great Recession to the 'Great Uncertainty,'" said Arturo Perez, who tracks fiscal issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters, KGMI, WINA

Blood standard for driving under influence of marijuana rejected for 3rd time in Colorado
While it’s already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, states have taken different approaches to the issue. More than a dozen states, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island, have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has the same policy but exempts marijuana. Washington Post, Fox News, AP in the WNCT

Lots of evidence of Medicaid fraud
The National Conference of State Legislatures report also estimates Medicaid fraud and abuse nationwide to be between 3 and 10 percent. According to a brief for lawmakers in 2010 by the
group, Medicaid expenditures for fraudulent claims cost states billions of dollars each year. Letter to the editor in the Chicago Sun Times

I'm paying for what?! Mandated health insurance benefits
The trend accelerated in the late 1980s and through the 1990s with the evolution of managed care, says Richard Cauchi, program director for health at the National Conference of State
Legislatures. Fox Business News

Veteran sate senator won’t seek re-election
Sen. Eileen Daily of Westbrook served on the Fiscal Chairs Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. CT News Junkie

Philippine-American vets enlist lawmakers' help
According to Jim Reed and Alison Lawrence of the National Conference of State Legislatures, up to 30 percent of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from psychological problems. That translates to 500,000 of the 2 million vets from those wars nationwide who suffer from a mental disorder or substance abuse. About 10 percent of all people in jails and prisons are veterans. Las Vegas Journal Review

Senate eyes welfare drug test pilot program for three counties
Lawmakers in at least 28 states have put forth proposals to drug test public assistance applicants or recipients in 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three passed legislation. Dayton Daily News

May 15

New York bill seeks to deny murderers right to decide how, when to bury spouses they’ve killed
Neither the center nor the National Conference of State Legislatures had information on whether any other states are considering legislation similar to the New York bill.  The Washington Post/AP

Tanning youth ban bill advances
Thirty-three states regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. An additional 23 states have seen legislation prohibiting tanning introduced since 2011.  Philadelphia Inquirer/AP

Kansas Gov. Brownback signs act allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense abortion drugs
Four states — Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota — have laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill an emergency prescription for contraceptives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The State

South Dakota lawmakers loosen travel policy slightly
Any lawmaker who is a member of a committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures or the Council of State Governments will be allowed one state-financed trip a year to attend meetings of those organizations.  KDLT News

Nebraska state employee health insurance ranks among highest
State Auditor Mike Foley says a 2009 study of the National Conference of State Legislatures; shows monthly program costs exceed those of all other state employee insurance plans nationwide.  KHAS-TV

May 14

Legislature approves bill to bar use of Islamic law, other foreign codes, in Kansas courts
Both the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the National Conference of State Legislatures say anti-Shariah proposals have been considered in 20 states, including Kansas. Oklahoma voters approved a ballot initiative in 2010 that specifically mentioned Shariah law, but both a federal judge and a federal appeals court blocked it.  Washington Post/AP

Could voters split their tickets for president, governor on Election Day?
Fourteen states have some type of option that enables voters, with just one ballot mark, to choose all candidates from a given party, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A 15th state, North Carolina, offers the option for all races except for president, which is why it's not included here.  Governing

Drilling prospects spark Illinois land rush
State lawmakers are responding, updating mining laws to regulate such extraction and safeguard groundwater. Across Illinois and some two dozen other states, nearly 140 fracking-related bills have been introduced, many of which would require public disclosure of fracking fluids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Jacksonville Journal Courier/AP

Drastic pension overhaul biggest in state history
Ohio’s proposed changes are in step with reforms recently adopted by other states. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states have enacted significant pension reforms in the past two years.  Middletown Journal

Bill by state senator from Lancaster County would allow Pa. voters to register online
Arizona, the first state to implement online voter registration in 2003, has seen a dramatic savings since converting from a paper-only system, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures study.  The costs associated with a paper registration there were 83 cents, while the cost of an online registration is only 3 cents.  York Daily Record

Audit: Cost of state's health insurance program is 'exorbitant'
"No less disturbing is the degree to which, according to a 2009 study of the National Conference of State Legislatures, monthly program costs exceed those of all other state employee insurance plans nationwide," he said.  Lincoln Journal Star

Bill gives veterans a chance to avoid jail
Connecticut's measure is similar to laws passed in several states that allow veterans into pretrial diversion programs, said Alison Lawrence, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  "Each year we're seeing a few more states create programs such as this," Lawrence said.  Norwich Bulletin/AP

Initiative seeks to modify lawmakers' term limits
The 1990 ballot measure that established California's term limits was sold as a way to reduce the power of special-interest groups. It gave California the strictest legislative term limits in the country, along with Arkansas and Michigan, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  North County Times/AP

State looking to expand Medicaid managed care
States generally are facing unsustainable cost growth in Medicaid, putting pressure on budgets, said Neva Kaye, an official with the National Academy for State Health Policy, during a recent online forum hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Beckley Register-Herald/AP

Map: Where is same-sex marriage legal?
Below is a map, based on data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, that outlines the policies of states that have moved to relax prohibitions on these issues. Also included are the two states that have so far this year scheduled ballot initiatives defining "marriage" as being between a man and a woman.  National Journal

Wilkes 5th in amendment support
North Carolina is the last Southern state to pass an amendment banning gay marriage and the 29th state overall, reported the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Wilkes Journal-Patriot

NAACP, ministers work to improve black vote in Chattanooga
In January, Tennessee joined Georgia and other states with stricter voter ID requirements. In all, 15 states are expected to have photo ID laws by the November elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chattanooga Times Free Press

Kansas Senate passes anti-shari`ah bill
The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the National Conference of State Legislatures also attacked anti-Shari`ah proposals as demonizing Muslims.  On Islam

Illinois court rules against nexus law
The issue is unlikely to go away. States expect to give up more than $23 billion in 2012 as a result of not being able to charge tax on online transactions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Business Finance Magazine

State-local governments proving market doubts wrong
More than half of U.S. states project ending this fiscal year with cash surpluses, the first time since the start of the recession that so many will have extra funds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chicago Daily Herald

Feds, telecomm industry preach dangers of texting while driving, but no action from lawmakers
But despite these campaigns, attempts in Florida to pass a texting while driving ban have fallen flat. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35 states and the District of Columbia have laws banning texting while driving.  Blog in the Sun Sentinel

The anti-recall patriots
The Journal Sentinel, and conservative bloggers like Christian Schneider, argue it has become too easy to recall public officials. On the contrary. “Historically, recall attempts at the state level have been unsuccessful,”the National Conference of State Legislatures has noted.  Opinion in Urban Milwaukee

Parent report cards are novel way to boost support
Michigan is the only state that has enacted a similar measure, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Elizabethton Star/AP

On this Mothers Day, we think of Trayvon’s mom and others like her
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2011, 18 states introduced legislation to allow concealed weapons on college campuses.  Opinion in News One

Patti Higgins gives up AK Dem chair to challenge Rep. Charisse Millett
In April 2009, Johansen and Millett attended the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C., followed immediately by the Alaska Geothermal Conference in Fairbanks, according to state records.  Alaska Dispatch

May 11

Pa. legislature seen as unlikely to allow gay marriage
Six states and the District of Columbia now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Philadelphia Inquirer

NJ gov vetoes bill creating online marketplace for subsidized health insurance under Obama act
At least 10 states have passed bills to set up insurance exchanges, and two, New York and Rhode Island, have done so through executive orders, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a dozen other states have legislation pending. Washington Post

Parent report cards are novel way to boost support
Michigan is the only state that has enacted a similar measure, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Associated Press in the Free Times Press

Christie vetoes key element of Obamacare
Ten states have so far enacted the exchanges through legislation and another two through executive order. A handful of legislatures have rejected the exchanges and many states, including Pennsylvania, have legislation pending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Mexico's Republican governor was the first to veto such a measure. Philadelphia Inquirer

Kansas House approves new map for state Senate
Kansas is among a handful of states where legislators haven't finished redrawing their own districts, and it is the only state where lawmakers have failed to approve a new congressional
map, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press in the Coshocton Tribune

Christie plays games with health care 'exchanges'
Christie's veto makes him the first governor in the nation to veto such a bill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (correction, second governor). MSNBC in the Maddow Blog

O’Malley reflects on gas tax, transportation funding
Jaime Rall, a senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Maryland is not the only state struggling to find transportation funding. “They’re introduced
every year, and few states have been able to implement gas taxes in recent years,” Rall said. “Certainly, general attitudes towards increased taxes and high fuel costs are issues lawmakers take into consideration.” Maryland Gazette

Obama makes a stand, says he supports gay marriage
Thirty-nine states, including Michigan, limit marriage to relationships between and a man and a woman, either through state law, constitutional provisions or both, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures. Detroit Free Press in the Chicago Tribune

May 10

In political gamble, Obama supports gay marriage
In past years, said Bowser, "it's mostly been anti-same-sex marriage, not pro-same-sex marriage. This is a turnaround." USA Today

Obama's declaration on gay marriage welcomed by friends, foes
More than three dozen states now have measures that bar recognition of gay marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and such unions aren't recognized by the federal government. San Francisco Chronicle

Same-sex couples should be able to marry: Obama
North Carolina voted on Tuesday to join 28 other states that have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters and Tuoitre News

States cut off driving privileges for unpaid tickets
Illinois can suspend licenses after 10 unpaid tickets. New York and New Jersey also can suspend for unpaid tickets and California can refuse to renew the license of a scofflaw, said Anne Teigen of the National Conference of State Legislatures. USA Today in WBIR and Tucson Citizen

States scramble to regulate fracking
“This is such a huge issue. It really is a balancing act,” says Jacquelyn Pless, who tracks fracking policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Every state is looking at it
differently.” Stateline in the Joplin Globe and Water World

Obama makes a stand, says he supports gay marriage
Thirty-nine states, including Michigan, limit marriage to relationships between and a man and a woman, either through state law, constitutional provisions or both, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures. Six states and Washington, D.C., issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and two more -- Maryland and Washington -- passed laws this year to allow
same-sex marriages, though both could be challenged in referendums. In California, a federal appeals court ruled that the state's restriction on same-sex marriage was invalid but it still is
not allowed pending appeal. Five states, including Illinois, provide for civil unions, according to the NCSL's tally. Some others grant spousal rights to unmarried couples through domestic
partnerships. Detroit Free Press

Obama gay marriage declaration welcomed by friends, foes
More than three dozen states now have measures that bar recognition of gay marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and such unions aren’t recognized by the federal government. Obama said he was expressing his personal view and that its legality was a matter for states to decide. Bloomberg

Christie’s 10% tax cut imperiled as N.J. revenue slumps
If April collections trail expectations, New Jersey would join a minority of U.S. states, including Connecticut, California and New York that have reported revenue missing forecasts, according to a survey by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey, joining Indiana, Arizona and more than two dozen others, has projected ending the year with more
cash than budgeted, the group said May 3. Bloomberg Business Week

Connecticut closes deficit as malloy tax hike falls short
A minority of U.S. states, including Connecticut, California and New York, have reported revenue missing forecasts, according to a survey by the Denver-based National Conference of State
Legislatures. From New Jersey to Indiana and Arizona, 29 states have projected cash surpluses at the end of the current fiscal year, the group said on May 3. Bloomberg Business Week

Obama's bold, risky shift backing gay marriage
38 states have adopted various prohibitions of same-sex marriage, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seattle Times

Pa. becomes most populous state to oppose Real ID
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 16 other states are opposing it through their laws, while a handful of others passed resolutions against it. USA Today in the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Obama supports gay marriage, taking a risky stand
38 states have adopted prohibitions of same-sex marriage, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. WPIX-TV

Emotions mixed on Obama's support for gay marriage
Thirty-nine states limit marriage to relationships between a man and a woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NBCDFW

Prop seeks to modify term limits
The 1990 ballot measure that established California's term limits was sold as a way to reduce the power of special interest groups. It gave California the strictest legislative term limits in the
country, along with Arkansas and Michigan, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Associated Press in The Reporter

Florida slammed for lack of age restrictions on tanning booths
Nationally, though, legislatures appear more willing to take up the issue. California became the first to ban indoor tanning for those under 18 starting Jan. 1 and Vermont followed soon after. A similar law is awaiting the governor's signature in Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Gainesville Sun in the Herald Tribune

NATION: Gay marriage a gamble for Obama
North Carolina was just one of several battles same-sex marriage proponents face over the several months. Voters could effect same-sex marriage in several states this fall, said Jennie Bowser of the National Conference of State Legislatures. USA Today in Delmarva Now

Obama: Same-sex marriage should be legal
Same sex marriage currently is legal in six states and Washington D.C. Maryland and Washington state have passed laws allowing gay marriage that haven’t yet taken effect. Thirty- eight states have laws or constitutional provisions limiting marriage to relationships between a man and a woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Business Week in Your Olive Branch

Proposition 28 seeks to modify lawmakers’ term limits
The 1990 ballot measure that established California’s term limits was sold as a way to reduce the power of special interest groups. It gave California the strictest legislative term limits in the
country, along with Arkansas and Michigan, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. San Francisco Chronicle

Obama backs gay marriage, Americans bitterly divided on issue
38 states have adopted prohibitions of same-sex marriage, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. Jagran Post

North Carolina OKs same-sex union ban
Twenty-eight other state have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. China Post

Obama says OK to gay marriage
North Carolinaalso joins twenty-eight states with voter-approved constitutional same sex-marriage bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Examiner

Budget revisions close gap but give pause
Only a few states, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, have missed their revenue forecasts this year. Hartford Courant

May 9

A heady time for muni bonds
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than half of U.S. states foresee ending this fiscal year with cash surpluses, the first time they’ve been so in the black since the start of the recession. Bloomberg Businessweek

Gay marriage shows Obama dilemma in battleground states
“Same-sex marriage proponents are using the ballot this year in a way I haven’t seen in the past,” said Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow at the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. “I’m seeing more petitions filed on this issue than I have before.” Bloomberg Businessweek

GOP fight could leave Kan. lawmakers without maps
The National Conference of State Legislatures said Kansas is the only state in which legislators haven't approved a congressional redistricting plan. Eight other states haven't finished legislative redistricting; two of them, Alabama and Mississippi, don't have legislative elections this year, and two more, Maine and Montana, plan to tackle the task in 2014, according to the NCSL. RealClearPolitics

North Carolina passes ban on gay marriage
Passage of the measure, called the Defense of Marriage Act by Republican sponsors, makes North Carolina the final state in the South to pass an amendment banning gay marriage, and the 29th state overall, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sun-Sentinel

Gay marriage: North Carolina voters approve constitutional ban
With passage of the amendment, North Carolina becomes the 29th state to pass an amendment banning gay marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. WGNtv.com

For same-sex marriage supporters, North Carolina amendment is another hurdle in a long road
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, of all the statewide popular votes on same-sex marriage, all but one have considered restricting -- rather than expanding -- marriage rights. International Business Times

North Carolina approves constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson wrote: ‘This is an interest fact I just learned: First cousins can marry in North Carolina. (Unless they are of the same sex, I assume.’ First cousins in North Carolina can, in fact, marry, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, state law prohibits double-cousin marriage. Daily Mail

North Carolina voters approve same-sex marriage ban
Twenty-eight other state have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. WBFO

Woman arraigned on arson, other charges
At least 35 states including Pennsylvania have banned bath salts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Tribune-Democrat

North Carolina defends marriage amendment
North Carolina is among about 39 states with state laws or constitutional provisions limiting marriage to one man and one woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lumina News

Florida law goes easy on tanning
Florida is one of 21 states that don't specifically set a minimum age for indoor tanning, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Gainesville Sun

GOP redistricting fight could mean courts make final decision
The National Conference of State Legislatures said Kansas is the only state in which legislators haven't approved a congressional redistricting plan. Eight other states haven't finished legislative redistricting; two of them, Alabama and Mississippi, don't have legislative elections this year, and two more, Maine and Montana, plan to tackle the task in 2014, according to the NCSL. Lawrence Journal World

Battle over election law persists
The National Conference of State Legislatures has a database on changes to voting laws in Florida and other states at its website, ncsl.org, under the legislatures and elections tab. Orlando Sentinel

Amendment One polls give edge to North Carolina gay marriage ban
Voters in 28 states have instituted constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eleven of those bans were instituted in 2004; some Democrats say anti-gay initiatives helped drive turnout for then-President George W. Bush. Washington Post

State senate approves “The Valor Act”
As the previous session’s Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, and a recent appointee to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Task Force on Military and Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Donnelly has continued to advocate for issues affecting the Commonwealth’s veterans. Patch.com

Same-sex marriage backed by half of Americans
Such rights are granted in just a handful of states currently. Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2004; Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia also offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Mother Nature Network

May 8

North Carolina voters look set to pass same-sex marriage ban
Twenty-eight states have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters

State-local gov'ts proving market doubts wrong
More than half of U.S. states project ending this fiscal year with cash surpluses, the first time since the start of the recession that so many will have extra funds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg Businessweek

Same-sex marriage backed by half of Americans
Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, in 2004; Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia also offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. LiveScience.com

Delaware Nation President: State-recognized tribes cutting into federal funding ‘pie’
The National Conference of State Legislatures cites the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) 2011 register, listing state-recognized tribes in the states of Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Vermot, Virginia and Washington. The NCAI website listing state-recognized tribes was down while this article was being written. Indian Country Today Media Network.com

NC marriage battle heats up ahead of Tuesday's vote
Twenty-eight states have so far passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Christian Post

May 7

State budgets get breathing room
And 21 states predict by 2013 to bring in the amount of tax revenue that they did before the recession started, says the latest 50-state data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Chicago Tribune

Friends and foes of gay marriage woo voters in N.C.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks Defense of Marriage Act laws, 28 states have such constitutional provisions. NPR

New Jersey's I.D. program faces a delay
Congress has provided $221.4 million to implement the program, though the federal government estimated that it will cost $3.9 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal

States scale back worker pensions, triggering legal and political battles
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that since 2009, 43 states have boosted the slice of money workers must pay toward their own retirement, changed the age when a retiree can get benefits or modified their pension plans in other ways. Statesman Journal

North Carolinia voters could ban same-sex marriages
Twenty-eight states have voter-approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Capitol Hill Blue

Lawmakers throw around bonds for pet projects
Arturo Pérez, fiscal affairs director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said historically low interest rates and low tax collections during the recession combined to persuade some states to borrow more. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Amendment draws voters to polls
Six states and the District of Columbia currently issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as of March, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Greenville Daily Reflector

Legislators continue to propose drug testing for welfare recipients
"Public welfare programs are definitely being looked at more closely," said Rochelle Finzel, a researcher for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Lawmakers want to make sure those benefits are being used appropriately." Evansville Courier & Press

Economy blamed for decline in voter registration among Hispanics, blacks
A dozen state legislatures passed rules last year requiring voters to present state-issued photo IDs when they arrive at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although in four states the laws were vetoed by Democratic governors. Charlotte Observer

Live Wire: 39 states have laws or constitutional amendments banning gay marriage
Ten states, including North Carolina, have enacted laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fayetteville Observer

Fewer jobs means more spending on U.S. Medicaid
The National Conference of State Legislatures said in a report on Thursday that 10 states are over budget on Medicaid this year. Chicago Tribune

Dual costs
Medicaid spending has since increased to the second-largest budget category in state budgets, according to National Conference of State Legislatures, trailing only K-12 education. ModernHealthcare.com

Farm bill pits South against Midwest
Many advocacy groups -- including the National Conference of State Legislatures -- voiced public opposition to the cut. Atlanta Journal Constitution

States fear DATA Act’s costs
State officials also believe that the switch is being implemented too quickly, and it could be executed more effectively if it was gradually phased in, says Michael Bird, senior federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Government Technology

Bill giving pharmacists leeway on abortion drugs passes in Kansas
Four states — Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota — have laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill an emergency prescription for contraceptives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lake Wylie Pilot

Better than expected: Some US states run surpluses
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 29 states and the District of Columbia project their fiscal 2012 revenue will exceed budgeted obligations by $9.1 billion. For most states, the fiscal year ends June 30. Moneynews

Family engagement key in expanded learning opportunities
The series of briefs is a combined effort of the HRFP and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a bipartisan organization that serves the legislative leadership in all 50 states. Education Week News

Louisiana ranks high on index of state economic momentum
FFIS is a non-partisan subscription service created by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks and reports on the fiscal impact of federal budget and policy decisions on state budgets and programs. NOLA

May 4

State budget surpluses rising as economy lifts revenue
Twenty-nine state governments, including New Jersey, Indiana and Arizona, anticipate ending their fiscal years with more money on hand than forecast when they put together their annual budgets, according to a survey released Thursday by the  National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bangor Daily News/Bloomberg

Transparency advocates cheer, but states fear DATA Act's costs
State officials also believe that the switch is being implemented too quickly, and it could be executed more effectively if it was gradually phased in, says Michael Bird, senior federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Governing

State, local groups press Congress to pass flexible education reform bill
In their May 3 letter, the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, and eight other groups representing state and local authorities said the last reauthorization of ESEA came in the No Child Left Behind Act. But while they said that bill had a "commendable intent," it contained flaws that need to be fixed the next time around.  The Hill

Louisiana ranks high on Index of State Economic Momentum
FFIS is a non-partisan subscription service created by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks and reports on the fiscal impact of federal budget and policy decisions on state budgets and programs.  The Times-Picayune

US jobs growth slows again in April
“State fiscal conditions continue to improve at a slow and steady pace,” the National Conference of State Legislatures, the bipartisan research group that conducted the study, said on Thursday.  Financial Times

Family engagement key in expanded learning opportunities
The series of briefs is a combined effort of the HRFP and the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization that serves the legislative leadership in all 50 states. The brief also provides a list of policy recommendations for legislators to consider.  Education Week

Better than expected: Some US states run surpluses
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 29 states and the District of Columbia project their fiscal 2012 revenue will exceed budgeted obligations by $9.1 billion. For most states, the fiscal year ends June 30.  Reuters

Ohio's future oil, gas tax picture debated
Data from the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures shows Ohio's severance tax rates are among the lowest in the nation.  The Review

Senate, Donnelly back act aiding veterans
Senator Ken Donnelly, Democrat of Arlington, among the supporters, was the previous session's chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, and a recent appointee to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Task Force on Military and Veterans' Affairs.  Your Arlington

May 3

Foes of genetically modified foods seek vote on labeling in California
In the past year, lawmakers in about 20 states, including New York, Connecticut and Vermont, have introduced bills that would require similar labeling rules, although none has become law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Wall Street Journal

Ohio's future oil, gas tax picture debated
Data from the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures shows Ohio's severance tax rates are among the lowest in the nation.  Boston Globe/AP

Bill giving pharmacists leeway on abortion drugs passes in Kansas
Four states — Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota — have laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill an emergency prescription for contraceptives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Three others — Florida, Maine and Tennessee — have broad refusal measures that don’t specifically mention pharmacists, the group says.  Kansas City Star

In-state students may have to swear NH residency before getting financial aid
There are 12 states that expressly permit in-state tuition for non-resident immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  This is after lawmakers in the state of Oklahoma repealed its law. The only Northeast state where it’s legal for undocumented immigrants to get in-state tuition is New York.  Nashua Telegraph

Kentucky's cash-strapped courts to shut temporarily
Kentucky joins a long list of states that have imposed cuts on court services in recent years in a bid to balance budgets hurt by the economic downturn, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chicago Tribune/Reuters

As N.J. tanning mom dispute heats up, experts shed light on 'tanorexia' phenomenon
Lawmakers are taking notice. So far, 33 states have enacted laws restricting minors’ access to tanning salons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Just Wednesday, Vermont became the second state, after California, to ban the use of UV tanning beds by minors under 18.  The Star-Ledger

NM electronic voter registration drive tests power of technology against voter ID policies
Since 2008 -- a year in which then-candidate Barack Obama's campaign organization registered and mobilized millions of new voters -- nearly 30 states have enacted laws restricting the activities of groups and individuals that work to put voters on the rolls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Huffington Post

Mr. Hackney heads home
Through the years, Hackney has served as speaker, House minority leader, House Democratic leader, speaker pro tempore, president of the National Conference of State Legislatures and a number of other roles.  The Carrboro Citizen

May 2

1st Pirate candidate out to steal spotlight in Massachusetts
According to Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, just 23 of the more than 7,000 American state legislators are from a third party or independent.  Every election year, about 10 percent of candidates in general elections aren't affiliated with Democrats or Republicans.  U.S. News & World Report

Florida health centers receive funding from federal health care law
Earlier this year, a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures noted that Florida had received $119.6 million in Affordable Care Act grants during the first two years under the law.  Tampa Bay Times

Concealed-gun laws conflict
In the United States, 49 out of 50 states have concealed carry laws, with Illinois as the lone exception, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Albuquerque Journal

Bills on social network, childcare licensing intro'd
Lawmakers in Maryland recently passed a bill banning educational institutions from demanding such information, and the National Conference of State Legislatures says at least nine other states are considering similar bills.  WDEL 1150AM

Romney used fees to close budget gap
A National Conference of State Legislatures study put the figure even higher, saying Massachusetts in 2003 imposed more than $501.5 million in fee hikes, more than any other state. New York, with a far larger budget, was a distant second with $367 million.  San Francisco Chronicle/AP

Top 30 largest campaign war chests in Rhode Island
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Rhode Island is one of 22 states that does not place any restrictions on giving and receiving campaign contributions during the legislative session.  GoLocal Providence

Buying asthma medication online can be safe and affordable
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance, NeedyMeds, Rx Outreach, Together Rx Access, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Medicare all have prescription medication assistance programs for the financially disadvantaged.  Market Watch

Morning word, 5-2-12
Only 19 states allow recall elections according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Mexico is not one of these 19 states.  New Mexico Telegram

May 1

States scaling back worker pensions to save money
NCSL reports that since 2009, 43 states have boosted the slice of money workers must pay toward their own retirement, changed the age when a retiree can get benefits or modified their pension plans in other ways.  "In most cases, the changes affect only people hired after the legislation was passed. In a few plans, the changes apply to non-vested members as well," said Ron Snell with NCSL.  Atlanta Journal Constitution/AP

AZ lawmakers considering film tax credit
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states offer incentives such as tax rebates and sales-tax exemptions to film companies.  Arizona Daily Star/AP

Big business silent on NC gay marriage amendment
Nearly 30 states have constitutional provisions defining marriage as between a man and a woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. North Carolina is the only state south of Washington, D.C., and across most of the country's interior now without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  Bloomberg Businessweek

Congressional battle over proposed SNAP cuts to continue
Cochran joined with a handful of Republican senators in opposing the change. This week, the National Conference of State Legislatures sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee opposing the intent of the Sessions amendment and supporting Cochran’s position on SNAP.  DeSoto Times Tribune

One solution to session logjam, Iowa lawmakers say: Let's bolt
At least 15 states have annual legislative sessions but biennial budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Iowa’s recent heartburn may be a symptom of the state’s adjustment to the new two-year process, noted Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst for the national conference.  “Anytime you bring change into any system, there is always a potential for some sort of disruption of the process,” said Perez.  Opinion in the Des Moines Register

ACLU announces suit against state for voter ID law
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, voter ID laws have been challenged and upheld in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.  WITF

Lawmakers in Indiana, across the nation consider drug tests for welfare recipients
“Public welfare programs are definitely being looked at more closely,” said Rochelle Finzel, a researcher for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Lawmakers want to make sure those benefits are being used appropriately.”  The Statehouse File

Stewart County cuts school week
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are not enough comprehensive studies to show that a four-day school week is more productive than a traditional five-day week.  GPB News

Enrollment in Alabama’s high risk pool increases six-fold
Alabama is far from alone in seeing higher enrollment. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 49 states, plus Washington, DC, saw an increase in enrollment in their high-risk pools last year.  ThinkProgress

Facebook’s new “life-saving” tool? It could be for fighting cyberbullies
Thus there is increasing pressure from governmental bodies due to the issue. Nearly every state is either working on or has already enacted legislation to combat cyberbullying, cyberharrassment or cyberstalking, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Opinion in All Things Digital

Needed change
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states already have commissions that have primary responsibility for redistricting. The commissions are appointed and function in various ways, but several are similar to the plan being proposed for Kansas.  Opinion in the Lawrence Journal World

Few controversial ballot issues this year to help boost GOP turnout
Ballot initiatives can increase voter turnout by a couple of points, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Jennie Drage Bowser.  “The tie between turnout and a ballot measure is clear,” Drage Bowser said. “The more controversial the better.”  Utah Policy/Politico

4 senators leave council, citing 'extreme' agenda
To be sure, lawmakers routinely join organizations of state legislators; the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments are the most popular.  Omaha World-Herald

 

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