NCSL in the News | May 2019

5/1/2019

May 23

Can Cutting Off Opioids Too Quickly Harm Patients? Feds Say Yes.
Governing
The new recommendations likely will prompt states to consider adjusting their opioid prescribing laws, said Karmen Hanson, a public health expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Measles case spurs look at NM laws
Albuquerque Journal
NCSL Information Cited.

Survey: Public Workers Struggle With Out-Of-Pocket Health Costs
Wisconsin Public Radio News
An analysis last year by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows state fiscal pressures are boosting employee’s share of health costs.

Paul Muschick: Want to increase voter turnout in municipal elections? Eliminate them
Allentown Morning Call
“There is a quiet trend toward moving local and school elections to coincide with larger elections,” the National Conference of State Legislatures reported in an April 2016 elections reform newsletter.

Lifers stay jailed despite ‘3 strikes’ law change
Peninsula Daily News
But a movement to reform the laws grew as backers cited the high cost of life imprisonment and the potential injustice of lumping lower-level offenders with violent predators, said Alison Lawrence, head of the criminal justice program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Immigrant students graduating from NC high schools want in-state college tuition
The State
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, opponents of the in-state tuition have argued that it would be an incentive to immigrate illegally, or take away an opportunity from another student.

May 22

Lifer inmates excluded from Washington '3 strikes' change
Star Tribune
But a movement to reform the laws grew as backers cited the high cost of life imprisonment and the potential injustice of lumping lower-level offenders with violent predators, said Alison Lawrence, head of the criminal justice program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

PA may be moving to open primaries, but not today
The Danville News
The others are Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Oregon, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Supreme Court maintains ban on corporate money for candidates
WFMZ-TV 69 News
All federal candidates are barred from accepting political donations directly from corporations. Twenty-two states also ban corporate contributions to candidates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 21

Drama in Georgia district reveals debate over four-day school week
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Half of those districts are in Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma and Oregon, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

‘3 strikes’ sentencing reform leaves out Washington inmates
The Washington Post
But a movement to reform the laws grew as backers cited the high cost of life imprisonment and the potential injustice of lumping lower-level offenders with violent predators, said Alison Lawrence, head of the criminal justice program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ohio lawmakers again seeking to pre-empt Cuyahoga County plastic bag ban
Cleveland News
Thirteen states, including Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, have moved to block local governments from banning plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

PA may be moving to open primaries, but not today
The Danville News
The others are Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and Oregon, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

May 20

If Colorado Gave Lawmakers More Time, They’d Get More Done, Right? Not Necessarily
Colorado Public Radio
Only a handful of state legislatures meet year-round, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

States spend big on 2020 census
Santa Maria Times
No state approaches that total, but 10 others have enacted laws to spend a total of $31.7 million to make sure as many residents as possible are counted, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

CT could be at forefront of recreational pot, social justice mix
The Middletown Press
A few of these states have also adopted similar social justice cannabis laws to what Connecticut is advancing, most notably California and Massachusetts, said Karmen Hanson, program director of Behavior Health at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Illinois expungement proposal for pot convictions one of nation’s most comprehensive
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin
Hutchinson, president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the bill is the result of “the most robust, comprehensive debate about this in advance of legalization that has happened in this country.”

Gov. Lee will sign bill banning handheld phones while driving in TN
WBIR 10 News
Sixteen states and Washington D.C. already prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia passed a similar law last year.

Why Democrats can't figure out how to raise the minimum wage
WZVN ABC 7 News
States and cities have been passing their own laws, to the point that more than half of the states -- 29 -- have higher minimum wages than the federal government, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 17

Stevie Wonder, pet cemetery, songwriter jamboree: News from around our 50 states
USA Today
The National Conference of State Legislatures says Mississippi and Alabama are the only states without laws requiring equal pay for equal work, though one is working its way through the Alabama Legislature.

Jackson ordinance: Don't ask salary history for city jobs
San Francisco Chronicle
NCSL Information Cited.

Ohio man charged after pregnant woman loses baby in crash
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NCSL Information Cited.

Governor: Would welcome blueprint on road spending
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states and the District of Columbia since 2013 have enacted legislation that will increase or may increase overall state gasoline taxes.

Are Arizona farmers ready to grow legal industrial hemp?
Mohave Valley News
Arizona and at least 40 other states have enacted legislation to establish an industrial hemp program, Mindy Bridges, senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said in an email.

Women's Representation In State Legislatures That Passed Abortion Bans Is Consistently Low
Bustle
In fact, as it stands, the Heart of Dixie has only four women in its state Senate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 16

Wednesday round-up
SCOTUSblog
At The NCSL Blog, Lisa Soronen observes that Justice Clarence “Thomas spent a mere page explaining why a majority of the justices were rejecting stare decisis (let the decision stand) in this case.”

ALABAMA ABORTION BAN IS A 'VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS,' AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS
Newsweek
Just 15.7 percent of legislators in the state house are women, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and all 25 senators who voted in favor of the legislation were white, Republican men.
 
‘A typical male answer’: Only 3 women had a voice in Alabama Senate as 25 men passed abortion ban
The Washington Post
While women comprise 51 percent of Alabama’s population, they make up just 15 percent of the legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Oregon Democrats Abandon Vaccine, Gun Bills In Concession To Republicans
HuffPost
Twenty-nine other states and the District of Columbia similarly allow religious but not philosophical exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Nixa rep's campus carry plans likely dead this session, but he’ll try again next year
Springfield News-Leader
As of August, 16 states banned the idea outright, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New legislation proposes to revive death penalty in Delaware
Delaware State News
Per the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states have a death penalty law.

May 15

New Tax Will Help Washington Residents Pay for Long-Term Care
The New York Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no state has passed such sweeping coverage for long-term care, including nursing home fees, in-home assistance and reimbursing family members for care they provide.
 
Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act to improve employment for the disadvantaged
Brookings Institution
Over 30 states now use some version of outcome-based funding for public higher education (National Conference of State Legislators, 2019).
 
It's winter; any idea where your legislator is?
Lewiston Morning Tribune
When Brenda Erickson, a senior research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, looked into this a few years ago, she found a handful of states, including Washington, that allowed legislators to get a temporary substitute if they were called up for military service. The rest made no exception.

Inslee signs bill setting state on path to 'public option'
Kitsap Sun
Lawmakers in at least eight other states have proposed their own public option measures, but so far none have passed legislation implementing a public option according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
School immunization and vaccine exemptions: How states stack up
Education Dive
Based on data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), here's where states stack up on religious and personal exemptions.
 
State legislators get donations even as they vote on bills
Tahlequah Daily Press
According to National Conference of State Legislatures, Oklahoma is one of 13 states that only restrict lobbyist contributions during the session.
 
In Reversal, Maine Senate Drops Religious Exemptions From Vaccination Bill
Maine Public
Currently Maine is among 17 states that allows school children to opt-out of school-required vaccinations for religious and philosophical reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 14

State Legislatures' Group Gets First New Leader in 32 Years
Governing
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) will be getting its first new leader since the Reagan presidency. Tim Storey, a 30-year veteran of NCSL, is set to become the group’s new executive director. He will replace Bill Pound, who has run the organization since 1987, and is expected to maintain Pound's bipartisan approach.

Washington goes slow on self-driving cars, and states don't mind
Roll Call
Twenty-nine states now have laws regulating self-driving vehicles on the books, with a variety of approaches, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Gymnasts testify; lawmakers won't name abuse bill lobbyists
Washington Post
Thirty-seven states have introduced measures in 2019 to extend the amount of time victims of sexual abuse have to file lawsuits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But Texas is the only state where lawmakers are trying to bar victims from taking on institutions.

New Tax Will Help Washington Residents Pay for Long-Term Care
The New York Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no state has passed such sweeping coverage for long-term care, including nursing home fees, in-home assistance and reimbursing family members for care they provide.

Winners and losers of the biggest state political battles of the year, so far
The Washington Post
That’s in part thanks to the Republican tax law, which went into effect in time for states to see more revenue from taxes, especially wealthier earners, said Arturo Pérez with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Gehrke: With some of the worst vaccination rates in the country, it’s likely a matter of when — not if — Utahns contract measles
Salt Lake Tribune
Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is one of 17 states that let parents opt out of vaccinating their children, whether it’s because of paranoia over some trash they read on the internet or because they just don’t feel like getting it done. 
 
Texas House passes bill to vastly expand access to medical cannabis
The Texas Tribune
More than 30 states allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Physicians want to end vaccine exemptions
The Eagle-Tribune
At least 10 other states are considering stricter laws this year in response to what health officials say is the worst year for measles in decades, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pressure grows to open Pa. primary election
Sharon Herald
There is movement, albeit slow, among states to open up primaries, say researchers from the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
Daily compensation for Arizona lawmakers will drop as session drags on
Arizona Central
Arizona's per diem rate is lower than many other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' database of lawmaker pay and per diem.

May 13

Dozens of states consider move to permanent daylight savings time
The Hill
The number of states taking up time-change bills has spiked in recent years, buoyed by research that shows health, crime and economic benefits to sticking with a consistent time throughout the year, according to Jim Reed, who studies energy- and environment-related legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Florida is about to ban sanctuary cities. At least 11 other states have, too
ABC Action News
Meanwhile, more than 30 bills related to sanctuary policies -- both for and against them -- are pending across the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Washington State Narrows Exemptions For Measles Vaccine Requirement
HuffPost
Washington is one of 17 states that have allowed exemptions for “personal, moral or other beliefs.” It will still allow religious exemptions ― most states do, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures ― once the law takes effect at the end of July.

Could an elected official blocking users on a Facebook page violate free speech?
virginiafirst.com
In an interview over the phone, Del. Peace said: "to his knowledge, he was not aware of any comments being deleted." His office follows guidelines issued by The National Conference for State Legislatures and tries to "maintain community standards" if comments are too profane because minors may look at the account.

Washington State To Offer First 'Public Option' Insurance In US
Colorado Public Radio
It's also a departure from public option proposals that have cropped up in other states, where lawmakers have mostly tried to broaden eligibility for programs like Medicaid, said Emily Blanford of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Physicians want to end vaccine exemptions
Gloucester Daily Times
At least 10 other states are considering stricter laws this year in response to what health officials say is the worst year for measles in decades, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Missouri State notches big win in state budget, could reduce tuition hike
Springfield News-Leader
As of January, Missouri was one of six states with such a policy, according to a January report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

States spend big on make-or-break 2020 census
Fairfield Daily Republic
Thirty states have also set up complete count committees, according to the NCSL. Such committees are tasked with outreach to county, municipal and community organizations that can help make sure more people are counted.

May 10

States spend big on make-or-break 2020 census
Roll Call
California has already allocated more than $100 million on efforts aimed at getting all its residents counted in the 2020 census. No state approaches that total, but 10 others have enacted laws to spend a total of $31.7 million to make sure as many residents as possible are counted, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Missouri lawmakers reject in-state tuition for immigrants
WRAL.com
Missouri is one of six states that blocks in-state tuition for students living in the country illegally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures . Actions by lawmakers in 16 states allow in-state tuition, and five more states provide for that through state university systems.

Oklahoma Governor Signs Autonomous Vehicle Legislation
Government Technology
While autonomous vehicles are being tested in other states, notably California and Pennsylvania, there's been only moderate interest in Oklahoma. According to the National Council of State Legislatures, 29 states have enacted some kind of autonomous vehicle law.

Missouri lawmakers spar over in-state tuition for immigrants
mySanAntonio.com
Missouri is one of six states that blocks in-state tuition for students living in the country illegally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Actions by lawmakers in 16 states allow in-state tuition, and five more states provide for that through state university systems.

May 9

Oregon House passes bill removing religious, philosophical exemptions for vaccines
CNN
If passed, Oregon would become the fourth state — joining California, Mississippi and West Virginia — that would prohibit parents to opt out of vaccines if they have religious beliefs against immunizations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Washington governor approves step toward daylight saving
San Francisco Chronicle
More than 30 states are considering legislation related to the practice of changing clocks twice a year, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Gas taxes and driver's license fees would go up dramatically under Illinois Senate proposal
Chicago Tribune
Since 2013, 30 other states, including neighboring Indiana, have enacted legislation to increase gas taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Texas House passes bill to vastly expand access to medical cannabis
The Texas Tribune
More than 30 states allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Gov. Jay Inslee signs mandate for carbon-free electricity by 2045
The Spokesman Review
Washington, D.C., passed a bill last year establishing a 2032 date for a 100% renewable energy mandate, and Puerto Rico this year established a 100% renewable energy mandate by 2050, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Missouri lawmakers may end high tuition rate for immigrant students
The Joplin Globe
Missouri is one of six states that currently block in-state tuition for students living in the country illegally, according the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

May 8

Transportation Financing Running Out Of Gas
Forbes
Since 2013, 31 states and the District of Columbia have passed bills to increase state gas taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.  
 
States seek to cut off religious exemptions for vaccination
ABC News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all but Mississippi, West Virginia and California grant religious exemptions. 
 
Texas bartender charged for serving gunman before mass shooting
BBC News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states have some form of liability laws for establishments serving alcohol.
 
Louisiana promised children a way out of bad public schools. Then steered thousands to D and F grade private campuses.
Times Picayune
He was not alone. More than two dozen other states offer some sort of school choice program, 14 of which are variations of traditional school voucher programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lawmakers may end high tuition rate for immigrant students
Houston Chronicle
Missouri is one of six states that currently block in-state tuition for students living in the country illegally, according the National Conference of State Legislatures . Actions by lawmakers in 16 states allow in-state tuition, and another five states provide for that through state university systems.

After centuries in Virginia, tribe still waiting for U.S. recognition
WHSV 3 News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are about 570 federally recognized tribes in the United States, as well as about 65 tribes recognized only by state governments.
 
Oregon House passes bill removing religious, philosophical exemptions for vaccines
WRAL News
If passed, Oregon would become the fourth state — joining California, Mississippi and West Virginia — that would prohibit parents to opt out of vaccines if they have religious beliefs against immunizations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 7

Protesters chant ‘stop taking bribes’ in Pennsylvania House
Washington Post
Most other states have laws limiting the extent of gifts that lawmakers may accept, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
U.S. Measles Cases Continue to Climb
The Wall Street Journal
NCSL Information Cited.
 
Florida school districts push back against bill to arm teachers
Fox News
According to The National Conference of State Legislatures, Florida is among at least nine states allowing armed school staff.
 
Texas House passes bill to vastly expand access to medical cannabis
The Texas Tribune
More than 30 states allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Pressure grows to loosen party grip on Pennsylvania primary
Allentown Morning Call
There is movement, albeit slow, among states to open up primaries, say researchers from the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
Colorado To Join Other States In Increased Consumer Protection Against Surprise Medical Bills
KUNC
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, surprise billing is “gaining renewed attention among congressional leaders.”

May 6

WILL DONALD TRUMP REALLY BE KEPT OFF 2020 BALLOTS IN CALIFORNIA, OTHER STATES, IF HE DOESN'T RELEASE HIS TAX RETURNS?
Newsweek 
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states have considered proposals so far this year that would force all presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns before appearing on the ballot during a primary or general election.

Maine Senate Moves to End Some Exemptions for Vaccines
U.S. News & World Report
Schools and many health care facilities typically require vaccinations, but Maine is among 17 states that allows some non-medical exemptions for "personal, moral or other beliefs," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

17 anti-tax-rise pledgers voted for Arkansas roads-levy bill
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
So far in 2019, Arkansas along with Alabama, Ohio and Virginia, have enacted gas tax increases, although Virginia's applies only to a portion of the state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

N.C. House members: Cellphone ban while driving needs work
Greensboro News & Record
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now prohibit the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State lawmakers push for open primaries in Pa.
ABC 27
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania is in the minority, one of nine states where only registered republicans or democrats can vote in closed primaries.

‘They come down:’ Balloon releases harmful to animals, environment; experts offer alternatives
Fox 6 News
Bills to limit the intentional release of large numbers of balloons are being aired in legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Maine, said Jennifer Schultz of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 2

Texas lawmakers want to make clear guns allowed in churches
Washington Post
Currently, eight states and Washington D.C. prohibit firearms in places of worship unless officials at the religious institutions give permission, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wyoming passed a measure last year allowing people to carry concealed weapons into houses of worship.

North Dakota legislative effort to reduce marijuana penalties expected to have little impact
Bismarck Tribune
As of late last year, 22 states and the District of Columbia had decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, including Minnesota, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lawmaker sought ethics opinion ahead of controversial gambling bill vote
The Statehouse File
The Indiana General Assembly does not meet year-round and allows its members to benefit from other sources of income, so long as they do not interfere with their ability to make objective decisions about legislation. Only 10 state legislatures operate on a full-time basis, according to a 2017 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  
            
Immigrant-heavy GOP states OK with census citizen question
Albuquerque Journal
About half the states have created “complete count” commissions to coordinate grassroots efforts designed to convince people to complete their census forms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

May 1

Why, Despite Trying, No State Has Passed a Soda Tax Since 1992
Governing
Similar debates are happening in a number of legislatures this year. Statewide taxes on sugary drinks have been proposed in California, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

New Jersey Governor Refuses to Fly ‘Reprehensible’ Mississippi Flag
The New York Times
It also hangs in the lobby of the Hall of the States, an office building that is a short walk from the United States Capitol, where the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have offices. 
 
Tennessee gov to mull ban on handheld phones while driving
San Francisco Chronicle
NCSL Information Cited 
 
Kamala Harris' 'right to work ban' is pandering to unions for 2020 financial backing: The Hill’s Kristin Tate
Fox Business
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 27 states that have passed Right to Work laws. 
 
Why, Despite Trying, No State Has Passed a Soda Tax Since 1992
Governing
Statewide taxes on sugary drinks have been proposed in California, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
An Early Adopter of Term Limits, Arkansas Now Rethinks Them
Governing
Fifteen states have adopted term limits for their lawmakers, though only six of those are lifetime caps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Amid measles scare, Wisconsin legislators seek to end 'personal conviction' vaccines waiver
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Only three states — Mississippi, West Virginia and California — don't allow any nonmedical waivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
More States Aim to Knock Air Out of Festive Balloon Launches
NBC 10 Philadelphia
Bills to limit the intentional release of large numbers of balloons are being aired in legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Maine, said Jennifer Schultz of the National Conference of State Legislatures.