NCSL in the News | May 2017

5/1/2017

May 31

Missouri to Limit Union Rules in Public Construction
At least 23 states including Nevada and West Virginia have enacted similar restrictions, mostly since 2011, according to Jackson Brainerd, policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New York City Law Gives Fast-Food Workers Scheduling Rights
Similar scheduling measures for fast food, retail or other workers have been introduced in several states and are pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Texas, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States ‘awaken’ to critical infrastructure cyberthreats
There have been more than 30 bills brought up in state legislatures across the United States addressing threats to critical infrastructure, according to Dan Shea, a policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures — almost double the number introduced in each of the past two years. Many of the bills are aimed at restricting public disclosure of certain information that could leave systems like the power grid vulnerable to attack, he said. Ten would have set up task forces to examine critical infrastructure cybersecurity, though none of those has passed, Shea added.
 
States No Longer Fretting Over Federal Tax Reform This Year
“Tax reform is not going to happen, that’s what I think,” Max Behlke, director of budget and tax policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures, told Bloomberg BNA. Behlke doesn’t believe the Senate will have a health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by August, after which Congress will address the debt ceiling and reauthorization bills.
 
California Bills Target Private Business to Help Immigrants
Ann Morse, who tracks immigration bills for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the California measures are the only ones she knows of that aim to limit landlords and private businesses' cooperation and communication with immigration enforcement.
 
Pennsylvania carries out mock executions during death penalty moratorium
Capital punishment is authorized in 31 states, but only seven have carried out executions - 31 of them - since the start of 2016, according to Amber Widgery, a capital punishment policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
Nevada’s police body cam law needs penalties
Research suggests that equipping officers with body-worn cameras reduces the number of use-of-force incidents by nearly 50 percent, while also reducing civilian complaints against officers by 90 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Va. Crime commission to study expansion of DNA databank to include more people convicted of misdemeanors
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, two states, New York and Wisconsin, currently collect DNA samples from people convicted of all felonies and misdemeanors; two states collect for only some felonies and some misdemeanors.
 
Lt. Gov. Brian Calley jumps on part-time Legislature bandwagon
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states, including Michigan, have full-time Legislatures. The rest are either part-time or have a hybrid system.
 
Liability Reform Underway in Kentucky
According to a 2014 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states have enacted medical review panels. They will not, as fearmongers argue, prohibit lawsuits from going to trial.

May 30

In Albany, Stipends Known as ‘Lulus’ Feed a Culture of Scandal
New York is one of only a handful of states that rewards stipends to so many committee chairs and other leaders, and only Pennsylvania is more generous, giving a $47,880 perk to its president pro tem, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Trump’s budget plan lands with a thud in Middle America
If federal dollars are lost, it's not apparent that states and municipalities could pick up the slack. Only 28 states are on track this year to meet revenue forecasts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
California Bills Target Private Business to Help Immigrants
Ann Morse, who tracks immigration bills for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the California measures are the only ones she knows of that aim to limit landlords and private businesses’ cooperation and communication with immigration enforcement.
 
Calley plans second Mackinac announcement
Michigan is one of 10 states with some form of a full-time legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lawmakers here earn a base salary of $71,685.
 
Court right to reject voter ID appeal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states already have some kind of voter ID law in force. These laws have been put in place despite the lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud.
 
City chiefs see medical marijuana facility as a good fit
Recently approved efforts in 17 states allow use of "low THC, high cannabidiol" products for medical reasons in some situations or as a legal defense, according to ncsl.org. 
 
South Dakota saw 2nd highest tax revenue in 2016
The state brought in $107 million in 2016, a 6.4 percent from the year prior, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
What will happen to Pennsylvania’s death penalty?
Capital punishment is authorized in 31 states, but only seven have carried out executions — 31 of them — since the start of 2016, according to Amber Widgery, a capital punishment policy specialists at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Va. Crime commission to study expansion of DNA database to include more people convicted of misdemeanors
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, two states, New York and Wisconsin, currently collect DNA samples from people convicted of all felonies and misdemeanors; two states collect for only some felonies and some misdemeanors; while 42 states, including Virginia, collect for all felonies and some misdemeanors.
 
Gov. Walker wants Wisconsin to drug test Medicaid applicants
Fourteen other states have some type of drug screening or test as part of their public benefits programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Illinois farmers may soon be growing industrial hemp
There are at least 30 other states with laws related to industrial hemp, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.
 
Vermont Governor Vetoes Marijuana Bill, Wants Changes Made
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have made Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana but indicated.
 
Louisiana hosted largest tax increase in U.S.
Louisiana implemented the largest tax increase in the United States in 2016, according to a 50-state survey compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

May 26

Lawsuit Asks Judge to Block Kentucky’s Right-To-Work Law
Twenty-eight states have enacted such laws, according to a list provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Evolving Responses to State Taxation of Transportation Network Companies
In this article, Jackson Brainerd of the National Conference of State Legislatures discusses how states are responding to the tax and regulatory challenges posed by transportation network companies.
 
Wisconsin plan to be first state to drug test Medicaid applicants wins committee approval
Fourteen other states have some type of drug screening or test as part of their public benefits programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Gov. Walker wants Wisconsin to drug test Medicaid applicants
Fourteen other states have some type of drug screening or test as part of their public benefits programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Minimum Wage in Different States: Bernie Sanders To Propose $15 Minimum Wage Bill, Backed By 31 Democrats
New Mexico has $7.50, Missouri has $7.70 and Florida with $8.10, according to NCSL. In the past, the Democrats have been skeptical of the $15 benchmark, calling it impractically high.
 
Oregon’s Congressional Democrats Push For National Vote-By-Mail
The National Conference of State Legislatures counts three states with all mail-in elections: Oregon was first in 2000, followed by Washington (2011) and Colorado (2013). California is due to follow suit in 2018.
 
It’s been 10 years since Congress raised the minimum wage
Nineteen states began 2017 with higher minimum wages, from Arkansas to Michigan to Florida, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York, California and Washington D.C. all passed laws in 2016 that put them on track for $15 an hour. 
 
Vermont’s Governor Vetoes Recreational Pot Bill
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have bills pending that would legalize marijuana for adults; more than half of states allow medical use of marijuana.
 
Pennsylvania Senate approves internet play for casinos, lottery
Online casino gambling is legal in just three states: Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Four states - Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan - allow lottery games to be played in cyberspace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

May 25

State Lawmakers Confront Series of Sexual Harassment Scandals
But even just the perception that state lawmakers often misbehave can be damaging. Katie Ziegler is a researcher at the National Conference of State Legislatures who studies women's participation rates in state politics. KATIE ZIEGLER: You've got to have a lot of women in office to create an environment that more women want to join. SISK: Ziegler says one reason women don't run for office is they fear a hostile workplace.
 
Getting e-commerce sites to collect sales taxes is still an issue for Congress or courts to resolve
The National Conference of State Legislatures pushed for the bill to be introduced again, after it overwhelmingly passing the Senate in 2013 but failed in the House. The conference has estimated that states collectively are missing out more than $25 billion in sales taxes. But that’s an old estimate.
“E-commerce is growing 15 percent a year. Budget woes are an issue and we can’t collect what we are owed already,” said Max Behlke, a policy director for the group representing state legislatures in Washington.
 
Vermont governor vetoes marijuana bill, wants changes made
Nearly 20 states have bills pending that would legalize marijuana for adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Pennsylvania Senate OKs Internet Play for Casinos, Lottery
Online casino gambling is legal in just three states: Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. Four states — Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan — allow lottery games to be played in cyberspace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
A possible record number of women are running for the Virginia House of Delegates
That's below this year's average of about 25 percent for statehouses around the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Vermont, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona all lead the way with legislatures that are about 39 percent women.
 

May 24

Bill Calls for More Jail Time for Posting Crimes Online
The National Conference of State Legislature isn't currently tracking this type of legislation, a spokeswoman said.
 
Budget panel to consider UW tuition cut, performance funding
Twenty-six states have implemented similar performance-based funding for public four-year schools, according to a 2015 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The women are running; big jump in female candidates for Virginia House
That's below this year's average of about 25 percent for statehouses around the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Vermont, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona all lead the way with legislatures that are about 39 percent women.
 
States Offer Immigrants the Safety Net That Washington Won’t 
The report combines data collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Urban Institute, the Migration Policy Institute and the National Immigration Law Center.
 
Wearing masks, hoods at protests could become crime under new bill
Lawmakers in several other states this year have introduced anti-mask legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
 
Court right to reject voter ID appeal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states already have some kind of voter ID law in force.
 
Arkansas tax-redo body has first talks
Nationally, there has been a trend of net reductions in state personal and corporate income taxes, according to a new National Conference of State Legislatures report.
 
Colorado leading the way in providing for needy children, families
The National Conference of State Legislatures says Colorado is one of 26 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to allow at least some portion of child support to be paid directly to the TANF recipient with whom the child lives.
 
Sunnyside state Sen. Honeyford proposes bill to criminalize wearing masks at protests
Lawmakers in several other states this year have introduced anti-mask legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Brown concedes Dem race in Darby, will run as Republican
On the National Conference of State Legislators website, there is a section devoted to the rights of all citizens to vote, acknowledging that going to the polls may be difficult for many at long-term care facilities, not to mention the difficulties for those with mental or physical limitations.
 
National & World News, Republican Race The Clock On Health Care – But The Calendar Is Not Helping
Funding for CHIP does not technically end until Sept. 30, but it is already too late for states to plan their budgets effectively. They needed to know about future funding while their legislatures were still in session, but, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the local lawmakers have already adjourned for the year in more than half of the states.
 
Trump Must Resist Pressure From Foreign Leaders to Cave in on Global Warming
According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, 21 states have either voluntary renewable energy standards or no standards, and 20 of those voted for Trump last November.
 

May 23

States rein in cities raising minimum wage
They weren't the first ones to do so. "I believe 25 states ... now have local minimum wage pre-emption laws on the books," sad Jackson Brainerd, policy associate for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Most have been on the books for years, he added. It's not clear what circumstances led to the passage of the older laws.
 
Texas lawmakers clear way for Uber, Lyft to return to major cities
More than 40 states have set up statewide regulatory systems for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft that can be used to override local regulations in most places, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Ridley named to NCSL Committee
State Sen. Dorsey Ridley has been selected to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Legislative Effectiveness Committee.  
 
Constitutional amendment term limiting legislative leaders advances
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois is one of only 14 states with no form of term limits for state lawmakers and the following executive branch offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor general and comptroller.
 
Question about your past salary may be history
This year, at least 21 states and Washington D.C. have proposed legislation that would prohibit salary history questions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Most runaways found safe, but not all are happy endings
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures' website, 46 percent of runaway and homeless youth reported being physically abused, 38 percent reported being emotionally abused, and 17 percent reported being forced into unwanted sexual activity. 
 
Why parents of kids with special needs are fighting ‘bathroom bills’
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists 16 states where similar bills have been proposed in 2017. Some, such as Kentucky's House Bill 106, died shortly after introduction, but others are slowly winding their way through state legislatures.
 
Invisible voters left at home
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Pennsylvania is one of 12 states that hold closed primaries.
 
Laws aim to ban questions about salary history
This year, at least 21 states and Washington, D.C., have proposed legislation that would prohibit salary history questions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill would restrict smokeless, tobacco-free product
As of early 2017, a dozen states have included e-cigarettes in their definitions of tobacco products, and seven states and the District of Columbia tax e-cigarettes and/or liquid nicotine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Should Cities Be at the Center of Infrastructure Discourse
In a joint statement released in late April by the National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, NLC, U.S. Conference of Mayors, International City/County Management Association, National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments, the organizations urged Congress to preserve the tax-free municipal bonds.
 
Amid gas-tax revenue decline, new fees on fuel-efficient cards
As of April 2017, 10 states imposed an additional registration fee on electric or hybrid vehicles, ranging from $50 to $200 annually, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL. They include Colorado, Georgia (which charges $200, more than any other state), Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
 

May 19

Say Goodbye (Probably) to Straight-Ticket Voting
Texas is currently one of only ten states that allow straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Your Ecommerce Business Might Owe a Ton of Taxes You Don’t Know About
Last month, the National Conference of State Legislatures issued a report which estimated the aggregated missed revenue from sales and use taxes was $26 billion in 2015.
 
Michigan speaker backs push for part-time legislature
Michigan is one of nine states with some form of full-time legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-six other states have “hybrid” legislatures where members work the equivalent of roughly two-thirds of a full-time job.
 
What’s your past salary? Lawmakers want to ban the question.
This year, at least 21 states and Washington, D.C., have proposed legislation that would prohibit salary history questions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lynn named to NCSL Committee post 
Earlier this month, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell named State Rep. Susan Lynn to the Labor and Economic Development Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Minimum-wage hike advancing in Senate
Currently, 29 states have minimum wages above the federal level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
Limited marijuana legalization clears legislature
This is the first time any state legislature has passed pot legalization, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized already.
 
Two female legislators navigate landscape for women in Utah politics
Color indicates percentage of female legislators, with deeper red representing fewer women and deeper green depicting more, based on statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

May 18

Raise Pay? Minimum-Wage Hike Advancing in Louisiana Senate  
Currently, 29 states have minimum wages above the federal level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Georgia editorial roundup
Georgia saw roughly $12.6 billion in defense spending in 2015, which shook out to about 2.6 percent of its GDP and more than 129,000 jobs for people in the state, according to a February report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Can Nixing the Salary History Question Close the Pay Gap?
This year, at least 21 states and Washington D.C. have proposed legislation that would prohibit salary history questions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Where can you legally smoke pot in Colorado?
The other seven states that legalized recreational weed have taken approaches similar to Colorado’s though they have gone further to define what is open and public consumption, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a Denver-based nonpartisan organization that tracks legislation. In California, the NCSL research found, Proposition 64 banned marijuana consumption in public places unless allowed by a local ordinance. It also banned smoking within 1,000 feet of a school, children’s day care or youth center if it is detectable at those locations and children are present.
 
Virginia legislators scramble to protect state in federal health care debate
Rachel Bevins Morgan, senior director of the health and human services committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the leaders of a key U.S. Senate committee are looking to state legislators for alternatives to the American Health Care Act and its proposed per capita cap on federal Medicaid funding to states.
 
Wednesday round-up
At The National Conference of State Legislatures Blog, Lisa Soronen notes that in District of Columbia v. Wesby, a Fourth Amendment case the court will consider next term, the State and Local Legal Center has filed an amicus brief arguing that “the D.C. Circuit erred by applying an inflexible rule that when officers are making arrest decisions, they must believe a suspect’s version of the story, even when circumstantial evidence indicates otherwise.”
 
Senate panel advances plan to raise minimum hourly wage to $8 in 2018, $8.50 in 2019
According to data collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states began the new year with minimum wage hikes. Washington D.C., Maryland and Oregon are all scheduled to increase theirs in July.
 
Trump's electoral commission is the real fraud
Here’s another reason to question the need for the new panel: Many states already do their own post-election studies or audits. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 29 states and the District of Columbia require them. (Virginia doesn’t.)
 
Legal loophole allows rapists to assert parental rights
Massachusetts is one of two dozen states that require a criminal conviction to block most parental rights, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill seeks to protect trafficking victims
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia provide immunity and diversion opportunities for trafficked youth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pierce happy to see High Court decline ID case
Chief Justice John Roberts cautioned in the two-page order that the rejection of the appeal is not a comment on the court’s view about the substance of the law. Thirty-two states already have some kind of voter ID law in force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Cap on child welfare benefits targeted
Massachusetts is one of 17 states -- including Arkansas and Mississippi -- that caps welfare benefits for families that have additional children while on public assistance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least seven states have repealed the caps in recent years.
  

May 17

Why parents of kids with special needs are fighting ‘bathroom bills’
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists 16 states where similar bills have been proposed in 2017
 
Southland residents urge budget passage in march to Springfield
The Associated Press, citing the National Conference of State Legislatures, says no other state in post-World War II history has gone an entire fiscal year without a budget — let alone two fiscal years.
 
Supreme Court order for NC unlikely to deter voting restrictions
Two earlier Supreme Court decisions paved the way for the wave of voter ID laws that are now in place in 32 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill would dismiss charges for human trafficking victims
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia provide immunity and diversion opportunities for trafficked youth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
Rapists can still assert parental rights through legal loophole
Massachusetts is one of two dozen states that require a criminal conviction to block most parental rights, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states deny parental rights if there's “clear and convincing evidence” that an individual carried out a sexual assault that resulted in the conception of the child.
 

May 16

Expect Tax Overhaul if South Dakota Loses E-Retail Litigation
State lawmakers are already considering the option of taxing the gross revenue of companies to get around the high court’s strictures. That’s according to Max Behlke, director of budget and tax policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
6 Reasons Trump Can't (Totally) Derail Progress on Climate
Meanwhile, states and cities have stepped into the void left by Washington gridlock. Some 29 states now require a percentage of their electricity to come from renewable sources, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among them, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and New York plan to cut emissions 80 percent by 2050.
 
Terry appointed to NCSL Health Committee
State Representative Bryan Terry, MD (R-Murfreesboro) has been appointed to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Health & Human Services Standing Committee. The NCSL Health & Human Services Standing Committee enables lawmakers and key staff members from all 50 states to gain valuable experience about how each state shapes public health policy. The committee, also, provides an opportunity to share best practices, and manage the legislative institution.
 
How Can States Address Americans’ Short- and Long-Term Savings Needs?
On March 30, The Pew Charitable Trusts, in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures, hosted a webinar with researchers, state agency personnel, and lawmakers to examine what makes saving so difficult and which strategies, programs, and polices may help families prepare financially.
 
Supreme Court’s Roberts: ‘Uncertainty’ sinks voter ID appeal
Chief Justice John Roberts cautioned Monday in the two-page order that the rejection of the appeal is not a comment on the court's view about the substance of the law. Thirty-two states already have some kind of voter ID law in force, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Military presence is important to Georgia, Isles
Georgia saw roughly $12.6 billion in defense spending in 2015, which shook out to about 2.6 percent of its GDP and more than 129,000 jobs for people in the state, according to a February report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
US Supreme Court Declines to Hear North Carolina Voter ID Case
Currently 32 of the 50 U.S. states have a law requiring or requesting voters show some type of identification before they are allowed to vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Supreme Court order unlikely to deter voting restrictions
Two earlier Supreme Court decisions paved the way for the wave of voter ID laws that are now in place in 32 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Doctors Checking Patient Prescription History Could Help Ease Opioid Epidemic
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 49 states currently have PDMPs, but rules vary on when prescribers have to check them. Some states require that only certain providers check the database under certain circumstances, such as when they suspect opioid abuse or diversion.
 

May 15

Vermont Legislature to pass Marijuana Legalization Bill
Eight other states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but all of those efforts were launched by successful ballot initiatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
West Virginia has miserable company when it comes to budget ...
Max Behlke, director of budget and tax policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures, similarly tracks state governments as they wrestle with their budgets.
“A lot of states had budget problems this year. 31 or 32 had revenue gaps. It was a mix across the board,” Behlke said. “Most of the time when I call legislators or staff and ask about the budget I just hear a sigh. ‘Lemme tell you how it is.’”
 
Family and public life: Women office-seekers make it work
In terms of their representation in state government, women hold 36 of the 120 seats in the Legislature, a 30-percent-participation rate that is better than the national average of 24.8 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only one woman, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12), serves in the state's Congressional delegation.
  
Amid gas-tax revenue decline, new fees on fuel-efficient cars
As of April 2017, 10 states imposed an additional registration fee on electric or hybrid vehicles, ranging from $50 to $200 annually, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL. They include Colorado, Georgia (which charges $200, more than any other state), Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
 
Lawmakers propose constitutional right to hunt, fish
Since then, 19 more states (for a total of 21 nationwide) have adopted similar amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
House vote remains for bill on older drunken driving convictions
Twenty-three states have 10-year lookbacks and a few have lifetime. About a dozen states have the same five-year period as Alabama, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Self-driving cars on the way to NY
Each and every vehicle used for the testing must be listed in the application, along with an insurance policy of $5m must also be placed for any vehicles which will be tested. At the end of their tests, the automakers will be required to submit a detailed report of their findings and results to the DMV by March 2018. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

May 12

As Gas Tax Revenues Decline, Fees on Fuel-Efficient Cards Pop Up
As of April 2017, 10 states imposed an additional registration fee on electric or hybrid vehicles, ranging from $50 to $200 annually, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). They include Colorado, Georgia (which charges $200, more than any other state), Idaho, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
 
More states follow Trump’s assault on ‘sanctuary cities’
Last year 18 states considered such laws, compared with only four in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Vermont awaits decision from governor on legalization of pot
 
The National Conference of State Legislatures says almost 20 states have bills pending that would legalize adult-use marijuana. A number of states have rejected such proposals.
 
Maine lawmakers quash 2 bills to loosen restrictions on guns at schools
Maine is one of 23 states that leave the decision up to each college or university, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
Session ends in bustle of bills
Legislators also voted to require disclosure of paid trip, with the exception of trips paid for by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council or the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Senate committee advances straight- ticket voting ban
Straight-ticket ballots made up almost 64 percent of total votes cast in the state’s 10 largest counties in 2016. Forty-one states don’t allow straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
City to consider LB 840 funds for filmmaking
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that most states have some kind of film production incentive; however, some have repealed their incentives due to budget constraints. Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas and Missouri are among Midwest states that don't have film incentive programs.
 
Virginia House, Senate to stream some meetings
It's been an unusual lack of service: 41 states broadcast audio or video from at least some legislative committee meetings, the National Conference of State Legislatures found last year.
 
Tennessee murder charges raise questions over bounty hunters
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that at least 21 states require that bounty hunters be licensed. Tennessee, however, is not one of them.
 

May 11

Gay-Marriage Recusal
As of late 2016, two other states — Utah and Mississippi — had laws allowing public officials to recuse themselves from performing marriages because of religious beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tennessee lawmakers end session after last-minute negotiations
Although there was disagreement on the measure between the two chambers before Wednesday, the House ceded to changes made in the Senate to remove the requirement to disclose trips paid for by governmental entities, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
 
Limited marijuana legalization clears Legislature
This is the first time any state legislature has passed pot legalization, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized already. All have done so by ballot measure.
 
Hemp growing advances – but with a catch
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 16 states have legalized hemp production for commercial purposes, with another 20 having laws allowing research and pilot programs. NCSL reports that some are in compliance with federal laws that already allow research; some of the laws are conditional on changes in federal laws.
 
House votes to censure Rep. Eastman despite Eagle River opposition from Chugiak-Eagle River representatives
According to the Legislature’s reference librarians and the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Alaska House has never censured one of its members before.
 
Pennsylvania voters shift toward making pot legal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana; 28 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam have medical marijuana programs; and 17 other states allow the use of low-THC products for medicinal purposes.
 
Legislator angered at partisanship on criminal justice bill
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow ex-felons to automatically gain the right to vote upon release from prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-eight other states restore voting rights upon completion of the sentence, meaning after parole terms are complete.
 
New York state to allow autonomous vehicle testing
Supporters say it can reduce driver error and make roads safer and more efficient. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

May 10

South Carolina Ready to Become Latest State to Raise Gas Tax
So far this year, California, Indiana and Tennessee also have voted to increase the gasoline tax and have the rate indexed for inflation, said Kevin Pula, a transportation policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma legislators are also considering raising their gasoline tax, he said.
 
Hemp on verge of becoming legal crop
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 16 states have legalized hemp production for commercial purposes, with another 20 having laws allowing research and pilot programs. NCSL reports that some are in compliance with federal laws that already allow research; some of the laws are conditional on changes in federal laws.
 
Louisiana inmates freed from paying child support under legislative bill
Three dozen states already have similar laws in place, although the regulations vary greatly, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas, Mississippi and Alabama all have rules allowing some leniency on child support for people behind bars. 
 
Number of women in General Assembly hits plateau, below national average
"It's really important for women to be recruited to run by someone else, much less so for men," said Katie Ziegler, program manager of the Women's Legislative Network at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "It's not that women can't get elected, it's that the number of women running for elections hasn't grown."
 
The Alabama redistricting debate: A Q & A
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirteen states have independent commissions (with varying levels of politicization) to draw the maps. Five have advisory commissions to assist the boundary drawing, and another five – including Mississippi – have “backup commissions” that decide the boundaries in case the Legislature can’t agree. Iowa has nonpartisan staff draw their plans.
 
Vt. Legislature settles on a license plate study
Vermont is among approximately 31 U.S. states that require front and rear license plates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Vaccinations remain best disease safeguard
Religious exemptions are allowed in every state except Mississippi and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among states allowing religious exemptions, 20 also allow exemptions for personal or moral beliefs.
 
Mass.Will Collect Sales Taxes on Online Purchases July 1
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that in 2015 states lost roughly $17 billion in uncollected taxes from electronic sales.
 
Courts asked to revive challenge to gay-marriage recusal law
As of late 2016 two other states, Utah and Mississippi, had laws allowing public officials to recuse themselves from performing marriages because of religious beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
ESSA, School Choice Firing Up State Legislatures
"Legislators are asking, 'How do we completely rethink our education system?" said Michelle Exstrom, the education program director for the National Conference of State Legislators.
 

May 9

These states have banned sanctuary cities
More than 80 bills related to so-called sanctuary policies are pending across the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
House gives hemp farming preliminary approval
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 16 states have legalized hemp production for commercial purposes, with another 20 having laws allowing research and pilot programs. NCSL reports that some are in compliance with federal laws that already allow research; some of the laws are conditional on changes in federal laws.
 
Despite bipartisan support, medical marijuana bill likely won’t reach House floor
Voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medicinal marijuana initiatives in November. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states allow use of low THC, high-CBD products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense.
 
Some cheers for local newsmakers
Sununu also misplaced criticism on the Good Samaritan law - now adopted by 37 states, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Colorado will vote on lowering the age limit for lawmakers
Delaware requires its senators to be 30 before taking office, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That’s the oldest in the country.
 
Bill to abolish “one-punch” voting approved in the Texas House
Forty-one states don't allow straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
NC law does little to keep drivers with revoked licenses off road, investigation shows
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina's driving while revoked laws are in line with most states when it comes to level of punishment and fine. There are seven states, though, that do have laws that call for the possible seizure of vehicles.
 
 

May 8

Six common myths that can really mess up your retirement
Most retirees would prefer to stay put. Nearly 90 percent of older Americans want to age in place, and 80 percent said they believed their current residence is where they will always live, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the AARP Public Policy Institute.
 
Trump Questions Legal Binds on His Spending in Signing Statement
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Amid gas-tax revenue decline, new fees on fuel-efficient cars
This year, some 27 states have considered increasing fees on electric, hybrid and other vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas, an uptick from past years, said NCSL’s Kevin Pula.
 
Illinois Senate approves Right to Know online privacy bill
Similar proposals are under consideration in Alaska and Rhode Island, which, along with about a dozen other states, are also considering separate privacy legislation affecting internet service providers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill to abolish “one-punch” voting approved in Texas House
House Bill 25, approved 88-57, could drastically change Texas politics considering straight-ticket ballots accounted for almost 64 percent of total votes cast in the state’s 10 largest counties in 2016. Forty-one states don’t allow straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Trump may fight Congress on medical marijuana
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Fast-growing Oregon considers historic renter protection-law
If it passes, Oregon would be at the forefront in the U.S. in establishing renter protections, said Doug Farquhar of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Writing about campaign finance: A tip sheet with tools and examples
During the 2014 election cycle, candidates for state office (such as governor or state senator) across the U.S. raised over $3 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Branstad signs controversial voter ID bill into law
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 other states have enacted laws requesting or requiring some form of identification on Election Day. But courts in some states have struck them down, saying they are discriminatory. 
 
Oregon law seeks to protect renters
If it passes, Oregon would be at the forefront in the U.S. in establishing renter protections, said Doug Farquhar of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States could drop permit requirement for concealed guns
A dozen states allow permit-free carrying of concealed handguns, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Rifle Association.
 
The Michigan City News-Dispatch
The National Conference of State Legislatures said Indiana remains one of 12 states that does not require carbon monoxide detectors in homes.
 
Bill to abolish ‘one-punch’ voting approved in Texas House
House Bill 25, approved 88-57, could drastically change Texas politics considering straight-ticket ballots accounted for almost 64 percent of total votes cast in the state’s 10 largest counties in 2016. Forty-one states don’t allow straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 
States Work to Unify Food Truck Licensure
So far, more than a dozen states have discussed nearly 40 proposals related to food truck regulation over the past two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Only a few have passed into law.
 
Small-Business Owners Are Split on the Federal Minimum Wage Debate
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nineteen states unveiled higher minimum wages at the start of 2017.
 

May 5

Want to change Congress? Change who votes in 'safe' Republican or Democratic primaries.
For this analysis, I looked only at the 34 states that allow at least some crossover voting. These are the states that the National Conference of State Legislatures categorizes as “partially open,” “open to unaffiliated,” “open,” and “top-two” systems. In these states, I identified Republican members of the House who come from the 146 districts where the Federal Election Commission tabulated at least one vote from the 2014 primary elections (2016 results are not yet posted). The remaining districts in these states did not have a contested primary in 2014 or do not have votes recorded with the FEC.
 
Death of 22-year-old inspires carbon monoxide alarm ordinance
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Indiana is one of 12 states that doesn’t require a carbon monoxide detector in homes. Up until Thursday’s vote, Indiana was one of four states without either a state law or any local ordinances, Kesling said.
 
Vicksburg mayor part of group studying lottery
Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Georgia just passed a law allowing concealed guns on campuses
Nine other states — Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin — already have laws allowing guns on college campuses under certain conditions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A Tennessee law allows faculty to carry guns, though a ban is still in effect for students and the general public.
 
New York City employers won’t be able to ask for your salary history anymore
More than 20 states, from California to Georgia to Vermont, are considering similar legislation that would bar employers from asking about a job applicant's pay history, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York City joins Massachusetts and Philadelphia, which already have those laws on the books.
 
Push for early voting in Rhode Island gets support from town clerks
The National Conference of State Legislatures now counts 37 states with some form of early voting, though some Republican-led states are moving to scale it back.
 
Wisconsin Lawmakers Search For Ways to Fund Transportation
Every time you purchase a gallon of gas in Wisconsin, the state collects 32.9 cents per gallon. That tax hasn’t budged since 2006, and according to the National Council on State Legislatures, Wisconsin’s gas tax makes up about 60 percent of the transportation budget. Kevin Pula is a policy specialist with the council.
 
Politician runs underground medical marijuana network
Seventeen others, including Georgia, allow the use of marijuana products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
 

May 4

Mass. needs stronger review of tax incentives
Our 2012 report prompted a major focus on tax expenditures by the National Conference of State Legislatures, and since then, 21 states and the District of Columbia have approved laws requiring regular evaluation of corporate tax breaks. Pew’s study found that, in almost every case, adopted legislation received strong bipartisan support and brought together supporters and skeptics for comprehensive reform of tax incentives. It is ironic that the Commonwealth launched this vital economic stabilizer in 2012 and has fallen so far behind other states since then.
 
Rhode Island Push for Early Voting Gets Town Clerks’ 
The National Conference of State Legislatures now counts 37 states with some form of early voting, though some Republican-led states are moving to scale it back.
 
Support Varied State Laws Confound Uniform Leave Policies, Report Says
Several states provide for a limited number of hours each year for parents to attend school-related events and activities for their children: California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.
 
Amendment backers hope to tap anger over ethics law repeal 
At least 10 states, but not South Dakota, have provisions to protect citizens' initiatives from state lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Resolution Targets California’s Proposed Travel Ban, Discourages Similar Blackmail
The measure is to be sent to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments and American Legislative Exchange Council so it can be given to other lawmakers to form plans against “this type of blackmail.” 
 
Group studying lottery starts meeting in Jackson
Mississippi is one of six states without a lottery, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The FDA Just Released Some Scary Warnings About Moldy Tattoo Ink
Do your skin a solid and check out the National Conference of State Legislatures for /react-text react-text: 260 state-by-state guidelines on tattoo regulations.
 
Pennsylvania deficit ballooning as fiscal year winds down
Twenty states have faced budget deficits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Extending Good Samaritan law should not be the end for Sununu
Sununu also misplaced criticism on the Good Samaritan law — now adopted by 37 states, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Two popular tax incentive programs apparently off chopping block
In Georgia, qualified companies can get an immediate point-of-purchase sales tax exemption that will save productions up to 8 percent on most below-the-line materials and service purchases or rentals. There is no per-project or annual program cap for film incentives, according to information obtained from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States work to unify food truck licensure
So far, more than a dozen states have discussed nearly 40 proposals related to food truck regulation over the past two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Only a few have passed into law.
  

May 3

Hoeven: Tribal Energy Development Strengthens Economic Sovereignty and Self-Determination
Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today addressed the 2017 National Tribal Energy Summit. The summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Conference of State Legislatures, supports tribal and federal initiatives to increase American energy security.
 
Charters, Vouchers, ESAs Add Heat to State Legislative Debates
Josh Cunningham, an education manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures said that, compared to nonelection years, such as this year,  he's seen an uptick in legislation for ESAs in this year's legislative sessions and, so far, a decline in efforts to dramatically expand or start brand new voucher or charter school programs. 
 
North Dakota Health Department begins implementing new medical marijuana law
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow for “comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
House passes ‘knee-jerk’ ban on California
The measure is to be sent to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments and American Legislative Exchange Council so it can be given to other lawmakers to form plans against “this type of blackmail.”    
 
Recent Missouri Editorials
A report from the National Conference of State Legislatures sums up the situation: "Access to high-speed internet in schools is particularly important for rural and low-income communities.
 
Booming Oregon considers law to protect renters
If it passes, Oregon would be at the forefront in the United States in establishing renter protections, said Doug Farquhar of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pennsylvania’s deficit growing as fiscal year winds down
Twenty states have faced budget deficits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reasons include a sluggish national economy, and income growth not yet yielding spending growth.
 
Bill terminates parental rights for rapists
According to a report last month from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states allow for the termination of parental rights of perpetrators of sexual assault who conceive a child as a result. Twenty states allow for some form of restriction on the parental rights of perpetrators of sexual assault. 
 
GOP: Stop crossover voting
Lathan said the ALGOP wants rules written into law. Alabama is one of 15 states with open primaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Challenges of Medical Liability Reform in a Changing Healthcare Environment
According to a National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) summary brief on healthcare cost-containment strategies for medical malpractice reform, 5 overall costs for medical liability in the United States (including payouts, legal and administrative costs, and additional defensive medical practices) range from $55.6 to $200 billion annually, accounting for 2.4% to 10% of all healthcare spending.
 

May 2

Congress claws back power from Trump
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws green-lighting medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Advocates of the language, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), applauded its inclusion Monday, which was done over objections of some powerful GOP lawmakers.
 
Study on drug-impaired driving gets pushback — from other safety advocates
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), citing federal statistics, last week issued an update of a comprehensive 2015 report saying that 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, higher than the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol. The report comes as 29 states, along with the District of Columbia, have moved to legalize medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some have also lifted penalties on recreational use. What’s more, the use of opioids has become epidemic in some parts of the country. 
 
2016 apparently not a banner year for enough Pennsylvanians; state tax revenues sag again
Arturo Perez, fiscal analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Monday a new survey of states to be released next week will show that at least 19 are either experiencing budget shortfalls this year or have already taken corrective mid-year measures to address them.
 
Bill on Inslee’s desk seeks to combat exploitation of vulnerable adults
Thirty-seven states have criminal penalties for financial exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-four states currently have pending legislation, NCSL says.
 
Trump Tax Changes Could Hurt Nevada
The National Governors Association, whose vice chairman is Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments, all oppose the proposal.
 
Digital Bridge Needed in Missouri
A report from the National Conference of State Legislatures sums up the situation: “Access to high-speed internet in schools is particularly important for rural and low-income communities.
 
Lieutenant governor promises funds coming for teachers hoping to learn new computer skills
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about one-third of U.S. states have changed the definition of a “textbook.”
 
Bill would allow concealed weapons on Maine campuses
Currently, Maine is one of 23 states that leaves the decision up to each college or university, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nine states have laws that allow students to carry firearms on campus.
 
 

May 1

State and local tax deduction: an item blurring party lines
A raft of organizations that represent state and local governments — including the National Governors Association, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Conference of State Legislatures — denounced the measure, saying it would upset the balance between local and federal interests and undermine growth. "We fundamentally believe that Americans' income, property and purchases should not be taxed twice," the organizations said in a statement.
 
New Idaho law on vacation rentals seeks middle ground
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states considered short-term rental legislation in 2016; six of those passed, and more have been proposed this year. Approaches have varied widely, including a ban on advertising certain types of apartments in New York City for short-term rental and an Arizona law forbidding any local regulations.
 
States to Battle White House for Tax Deduction, Muni Exemption
Individuals who claim the deduction will face double taxation if the White House plan becomes law, according to the Big Seven, which represents the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Leaders at the Core of Better Communities, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments.
 
How Have ESSA-Related Bills Fared in State Legislatures So Far This Year?
Early this legislative season, the National Conference of State Legislators predicted that, with accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act due by this fall, there would be an uptick in bills around teacher evaluations, school accountability systems, and assessments.  
 
Trump names anti-abortion leader Yoest to top HHS position
Republicans currently control both chambers of state legislatures in 32 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Portland Press Herald
Vermont is one of just five states without some sort of ethics oversight body, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New State Law Seeks to Combat Vulnerable Adult Exploitation, Abuse
Thirty-seven states have criminal penalties for financial exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-four states currently have pending legislation, NCSL says.