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NCSL in the News October 2011

NCSL in the News: 2011

NCSL in the News Archives

NCSL in the News: October 2011

Oct. 31

 E-Verify use increases
"We've been tracking these bills for the last six years or so, and the intensity is increasing, largely because of federal inaction," said Ann Morse, program director for the Immigrant Policy Project at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan group that monitors state initiatives. Springfield News-Leader

New hands-free phones raise legal issues
Currently, 34 states have banned texting while driving; nine states have banned the use of hand-held phones while driving, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. Columbus Dispatch

State prisons facing layoffs
Other states have reacted to budget shortfalls in recent years by speeding the release of inmates, closing prisons or increasing their use of privately run facilities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Monterey County Herald

Voter ID initiative set for Mississippi ballot
Only 14 states require photo ID as a condition of voting, and just 16 others require non-photo proof of identity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Voice-activated phone could snarl texting laws
Currently, 34 states have banned texting while driving; nine states have banned the use of handheld phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As Washington mulls cuts, states prep for impacts
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is currently surveying state budget officers to determine exactly how many are developing contingencies in the event of serious federal cuts. Officials in states that rely heavily on federal funds are most likely to be taking those steps. By that measure, “You can basically gauge their level of anxiety,” says Arturo Perez of NCSL. Governing

Siri could get you into hot water behind the wheel
Thirty-four states have banned texting while driving; nine others have made the use of handheld phones while driving illegal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. While no state has outlawed all phone use in the car for adults, California and others has done so for drivers under the age of 18. HispanicBusiness.com

Oct. 28

California proposes to curtail workers' benefits
So far in 2011, 27 state legislatures have enacted significant retirement-system changes, following 21 states in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The activity is "far in excess of what has happened in any previous year," said Ron Snell of the conference.  Wall Street Journal

States’ Medicaid cost-cutting may not control program spending
Most of the projected 29 percent increase in state spending “is really just to keep people on the program,” said Joy Johnson Wilson, health policy director for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington. “We knew it was a big hole, because the economy hasn’t improved that much -- not enough to get people into jobs and off of Medicaid.”  Bloomberg Businessweek

Capitol policies allow concealed weapons in most places
At least nine other states allow weapons in their statehouses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Appleton Post Crescent (AP)

Hit movie inspires tougher South Korean laws for sex crimes against minors and the disabled
Elsewhere, Britain has no statute of limitations on child sex crimes and a number of U.S. states have done away with statutes of limitations for rape cases regardless of the age of the victim, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Washington Post (AP)

Gov. Jerry Brown risks backlash on pension plan
But only four states have added elements of a 401(k) plan or raised retirement ages, according to Ron Snell, a senior fellow the National Conference of State Legislatures.  "If California were to adopt these reforms, it would definitely give them a dramatic national presence," Snell said. "But if they go down in defeat, that would also have a very chilling effect."  Los Angeles Times

Amendment would tie legislators' salary to median household income
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Massachusetts is currently the only state that ties legislative salaries to the state's median household income, although members also receive $600 a month for expenses.  Montgomery Advertiser

Guns may be allowed in Wisconsin Assembly, not Senate galleries
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of last year seven states allowed visitors to carry weapons into their capitols with a concealed-weapons permit, and two other states allowed anyone to carry a weapon into their statehouse.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Voter ID proposal on Mississippi ballot Nov. 8
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 30 states require all voters to show ID at the polls -- many of them in the Deep South. Fourteen of the 30 require photo ID.  WAPT

Targeting immigrants is a losing strategy for Republican candidates
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year, of which only 5 percent tend to go on to college.  Opinion in the Bellingham Herald

Apple's new Siri could get you into hot water behind the wheel
Thirty-four states have banned texting while driving; nine others have made the use of handheld phones while driving illegal, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  San Jose Mercury News

'Privacy 101' at ACC's Annual Meeting of In-House Counsel
The short answer is, "We don't know," said Childe, adding, "I strongly encourage you to get some outside counsel on this." She also recommended that in-house counsel look to the National Conference of State Legislatures as a resource for keeping tabs on state laws.  Corporate Counsel

Oct. 27

Calif. prison restructuring brings layoff warnings
Other states have reacted to budget shortfalls in recent years by speeding the release of inmates, closing prisons or increasing their use of privately run facilities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Seattle Post Intelligencer (AP)

Cost of Medicaid in Virginia swells
The number of states with some type of Medicaid-related health-care provider tax increased to 46, plus the District of Columbia, in fiscal 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Washington Times

Ballot law update: October sees variety of legal developments
Since the beginning of the year, 246 laws have been proposed in 40 states affecting the initiative and referendum process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Ballot News

Wis. Democrats to start process of recalling Gov. Scott Walker
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Wisconsin does not have any regulations that state when a recall can be filed, so there are no guidelines to follow.  Advance Titan

D.C. ethics board: Laws on behavior of government officials ‘not sufficient’
At the hearing, former Ward 3 council member Kathy Patterson advocated the creation of a council ethics committee that would internally monitor and enforce members’ behavior, as she said the National Conference of State Legislatures first recommended after a study a decade ago.  Washington Post

Naughton headed to Afghanistan
It is not uncommon for state legislators serving in the military to be called to active duty. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as many as 32 members of various state legislatures have been deployed to another country during the past two years.  Times & Courier

Voice-activated iPhone could snarl laws on drivers' texting
Currently, 34 states have banned texting while driving; nine states have banned the use of handheld phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Montreal Gazette

Oct. 26

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma named to national leadership post
The National Conference of State Legislatures has chosen Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) to be its overall co-chair for 2011-2012.  In her new leadership position, Ma said she will help “represent the states’ agenda in the continuing debate over the changing state-federal relationship.”  Los Angeles Times

Gov. Bobby Jindal backs former Edwin Edwards ally John Alario for Senate president
At the time, Hainkel was the first legislative leader in the nation to serve in both capacities, said Karl Kurtz, a researcher at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a clearinghouse for legislative issues. Alario would be the fourth lawmaker in the nation to hold both presiding offices.  Times-Picayune

Oct. 25

Republicans go big with new tax structures, but status quo could stifle simplicity
All have debt, and Illinois in particular, with a 3 percent flat income tax, has the worst financial situation in the entire union, with $120 billion in debt, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox News

What is the most effective model for school funding?
However legislators ultimately reform their funding systems, state legislators are certainly rethinking a basic premise on how states fund schools: from an input-based system to an output-based system (Daniel Thatcher is a Policy Specialist with the National Conference of State Legislators).  Learning Matters

Texas voters face ballot proposal on water quality
Using property taxes to maintain water quality and conserve water has never been done before, according to Larry Morandi, director of state policy research for the National Conference of State Legislatures. But it could work, he said, because it gives landowners the choice to comply.  “Providing market incentives for landowners to decide what they want to do, whether in liberal or conservative states, that's always the preferred approach than a regulation that says, ‘Hey, stop farming in this way,’” Morandi said.  Texas Tribune

Proposed tanning salon regulations would require teens to bring a parent
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 31 states regulate indoor tanning by minors.  WITF

As other colleges revise concealed weapons laws, University considers loosening restrictions
This year 14 states have introduced legislation to allow guns on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Red and Black

Indiana officials dabble in iPad trend
The National Conference of State Legislatures does not have a complete list of the states that are using or considering a move to iPads, but officials at the group said Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia are among those trying them out.  Reporter-Times

Does the new iPhone's "Siri" make texting while driving legit?
Currently, 34 states have banned texting while driving; nine states have banned the use of handheld phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Central Valley Business Times

Oct. 24

With U.S. infrastructure aging, public funds scant, more projects going private
“States are facing a transportation funding crisis,” said Jaime Rall, transportation policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. But she does not pin the blame for the crisis on the recession alone. She also points to the “political reluctance to raise the gas tax,” she said.  Washington Post

E-Verify emphasis can make it hard to find workers
As states strengthen sanctions against illegal immigrants, 18 have passed laws making the program mandatory for certain employers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  San Francisco Chronicle

Texting makes drivers twice as slow to react to road dangers, Texas study finds
Thirty-four states ban texting while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Dallas Morning News

Utah school district first to sell bus ads
Seven states allow school bus ads, and three other states considered legislation this year that didn't pass, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Washington Examiner/AP

The red state in your future
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 25 state legislatures are controlled by Republicans and 16 by Democrats, with eight split (i.e., each party controlling one house).  Forbes

Pa. debating new voter ID rules
Voter identification has been a hot topic in legislatures around the country, with bills introduced this year in more than 30 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Six states where Republicans control governor's offices and legislatures passed photo ID laws this year, bringing the number of states that require a photo ID to 14, according to the NCSL's tally.  NBC Philadelphia

$3B tax hike for schools on ballot for CO voters
No other state is proposing a statewide tax hike next month, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.  Canadian Business/AP

Parole system tweaks effective
Mississippi’s prison population soared from 12,292 at the end of the 1995 fiscal year to 31,031 at the end of the 2005 fiscal year. A recent National Conference of State Legislatures report called "Principles of Effective State Sentencing and Corrections Policy" outlines the broader impact.  Opinion in the Picayune Item

State aims to cut back teen tanning
State lawmakers are considering a measure that would prohibit the use of tanning facilities by anyone under the age of 14 without a written prescription. It would require in-person parental consent for those ages 14 to 18 and require an eye protector, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Western Front

Oct. 21

The state budget crisis isn’t over yet
There’s still a $91 billion budget gap for Fiscal Year 2012, according to a recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post

States ready tests for kindergarten
Nationwide, 25 states require kindergarten assessments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal

Florida chamber makes online sales tax top issue
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates all states that levy sales taxes are losing $23 billion a year on Internet sales. Miami Herald

Ohio GOP to split 2012 primaries amid map spat
Jennie Drage Bowser, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, said the trend this year has been to states consolidating elections not adding more. "Some states are moving their primary to very early in the cycle, and other states have moved it to later in the year, probably in a cost savings effort," she said. "Holding one primary is certainly less expensive than holding two." WSLS NBC Roanoke, VA

A verification system for new hires backfires
As states strengthen sanctions against illegal immigrants, 18 have passed laws making the program mandatory for certain employers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg Businessweek

Atheist lawsuit fails to outlaw 'moment of silence' in schools
Virginia school boards are required to "establish daily moments of silence for meditation, prayer or other silent activity in every classroom in the public schools of Virginia. No other activities may be allowed during this time," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Deseret News

Chris Matthews: South Carolina GOP 'Randy' to 'Roll Up the Vote,' keep blacks from polls
Also missing from the discussion was the new law's provision for provisional balloting in the event a voter shows up at a polling station without a voter ID. From the National Conference of State Legislatures website: If the elector cannot produce identification, he may cast a provisional ballot that is counted only if the elector brings a valid and current photograph identification to the county board of registration and elections before certification of the election by the county board of canvassers. NewsBusters (blog)

Issue 3: voting on healthcare
In the last two years, 17 states have enacted binding legislation opposing elements of federal healthcare reform, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ballot questions impacting the ACA are pending in five other states in addition to Ohio. Cleveland Jewish News

Democrats fret about stricter voter ID laws
New voter ID laws have been enacted in Kansas and Rhode Island, and lawmakers in Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have moved to tighten laws previously in place, according to data collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Roll Call

Oct. 20

Mass. State Rep. Harold P. Naughton to be deployed to Afghanistan
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as many as 32 members of various state legislatures have been deployed to another country during the past two years. MetroWest Daily News

The town that lived off speeding tickets
At least three states now limit the amount of income a town can collect from traffic tickets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fox Business News

New York State revenue falls $392 million short of estimate
New York joins California and Florida in reporting revenue below forecasts this month. U.S. states are projecting combined budget gaps of $31.9 billion in fiscal 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. Bloomberg Businessweek

Revenue chief: 40 percent chance of recession in 2012
Pennsylvania is not alone. State legislators across the country this year faced budget deficits totaling more than $500 billion -- nearly 20 times the size of Pennsylvania's entire annual budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Connellsville Daily Courier

Oct. 19

Obama looks to South in bid to help keep his job
Southern Democrats suffered big losses in last year's midterm elections. Twenty Democrats in Congress from across the region lost their seats and Republicans seized control of chambers in North Carolina, Louisiana and Virginia. Republicans picked up 17 state House seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Casper Star-Tribune

Oklahoma lawmakers won't get a raise this year
They are the 16th-highest paid legislators in the United States, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tulsa World

Ayers pushes for state rules on body piercing
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Massachusetts is one of 18 states without laws restricting body piercing on minors. Patriot Ledger

Supporters, foes make cases on Colorado education-tax ballot issue
Colorado is the only state in the U.S. considering a statewide tax increase in November, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Denver Post

New laws take aim at bullying
States began passing anti-bullying laws in earnest in the early 2000s, according to Josh Cunningham, a research analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Education Week

Kerkman named to leadership position
State Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Randall, has been named to a leadership post in the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kenosha News

Connecticut takes on Amazon over sales tax collection
At least six states have enacted laws similar to the new law in Connecticut as of June, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  These laws are intended to capture the $23 billion lost each year in sales tax revenues that go uncollected from online purchases. LocalizedUSA

U.S. News to host June 2012 conference addressing STEM shortfall
The event will bring together officials from major corporations including Intel, AT&T, and Monster, as well as policy experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and education experts from the National Math and Science Initiative and other educational organizations. U.S. News and World Report

Oct. 18

Tax Foundation: Unemployment insurance debt can cost jobs
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the amount owed by 27 states and the Virgin Islands is $38 billion as of Sept. 29, the day before they started having to pay interest. Hawaii Reporter

Proposal to abolish ND property taxes stirs debate
No state has abolished property taxes, although a number have attempted to limit their growth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver and the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C. AP

Groups urge GASB to slow down
In an Oct. 14 letter to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, 21 organizations — including AARP, the National Conference of State Legislatures and multiple public employer groups — expressed their concern that GASB’s timeline for finalizing its proposal “may be too compressed to properly assess the impact” of the proposed changes and the transition time needed for the new rules. Pensions and Investments

(Opinion) Higher ed is an investment
A recent policy report produced by the National Conference of State Legislators and the Western Interstate Compact for Higher Education concluded that many states are looking to higher education policy as an “investment strategy … (to) plan for jobs that will drive the economy in the future.” Las Vegas Sun

Oct. 17

Mass. bill seeks to limit body piercing on minors
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Massachusetts is among fewer than 20 states that do not have statewide laws restricting body piercing on minors. WLNE ABC Providence, RI

Last-minute 'gut and amend' laws bypass scrutiny in California
Some state legislatures do not allow bills to go through such radical changes, said Brenda Erickson, a research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sacramento Bee

Tax fairness (Opinion)
Since June, at least six states have enacted laws similar to Connecticut’s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL estimates states are losing a combined $23 billion of sales taxes each year from online purchases, a figure that climbs annually as online shopping grows. Lawrence Journal World

W.Va. still pursuing health insurance exchange
At least 14 states have already enacted the necessarily legislation, including West Virginia and neighboring Maryland, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP

Congress stalled on immigration reform
In just the first three months of this year, 1,592 immigration measures were considered by 50 states and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hattiesburg American

State to offer Ohio businesses amnesty on use tax
This year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least six states have enacted laws intended to facilitate the collection of such taxes, typically though a broadening of the definition of physical presence. Columbus Dispatch

Issue 3 would gut key federal health care overhaul provision in Ohio
Four others are in the process of possibly doing so and nine have passed non-binding resolutions admonishing the health care law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fremont News Messenger

Some schools adopting a four-day week
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states currently have school districts (with public schools) operating on a four-day week. HULIQ

Connecticut tax hikes among largest
Connecticut and Vermont were the lone Northeast states to raise taxes at least 1 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with many of the state taxes covered in the report taking effect in the fiscal 2012 year that begins next June. Westfair Online

Ohio district proposes shorter school week
he National Conference of State Legislatures says more than 20 states already have some school districts on four-day weeks. AP in Palladium-Item

Oct. 14

State revenue under plan means cuts from New York to California
States are projecting combined budget gaps of $31.9 billion in fiscal 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. A 14 percent third-quarter drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the worst performance since the end of 2008, and concern that Europe’s debt crisis may spread have dented consumer and business confidence, curbing tax receipts.  Bloomberg Businessweek

Needy school district floats 4-day week
As the economy continues to struggle, more districts across the country are floating the idea, said Ashley Wallace, a senior policy specialist in education at the National Conference of State Legislatures. But converting is generally a long process, with months or years of study and community input, she said.  The Columbus Dispatch

Cain’s sales tax would hurt consumer spending 'for some years'
Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for NCSL, said the sales tax, on top of what state and local governments already levy, could make it difficult for them to adjust their tax rates.  “Would the 9 cents create a ceiling, or would states say, now we have to lower our costs because the cost of goods and services are higher than a lot of people are comfortable with?” Bird asked. “It’s hard to say.”  Bloomberg Businessweek

Should online retailers pay sales tax?
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that $23 billion in sales tax goes uncollected each year as consumers shift purchasing online.  Sign On San Diego

‘No’ on I-1163
The system is not perfect, but SEIU’s evidence is largely anecdotal and, as we pointed out in a 2008 editorial, Washington’s health care system was named one of the top three in the country by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Editorial in The Columbian

Connecticut tax hikes among largest
Connecticut and Vermont were the lone Northeast states to raise taxes at least 1 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with many of the state taxes covered in the report taking effect in the fiscal 2012 year that begins next June.  Westfair Online

Law barring many credit checks could aid jobless
Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington already have imposed pre-employment credit-check bans and similar legislation has been proposed or is pending in 28 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Safeguarding Pennsylvania's election process
We join 14 legislatures that are considering new voter ID requirements this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight of the 27 states that already require ID are considering changing their laws to require IDs to include photos.  Opinion in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Oct. 13

Nebraska’s uninsured wait for uncertain healthcare exchange
Two states already have an exchange – Massachusetts and Utah. Thirteen more have exchanges in the works according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  KVNO News

States test waters in online sales taxes
Oklahoma officials think they are losing as much as $225 million for state and local governments over uncollected use taxes. Nationwide, estimates from the National Conference of State Legislatures is $23 billion in lost taxes to Internet sales.  Norman Transcript in the Washington Examiner

Rep. Tillis criticized for drug test idea
Proposals to drug-test welfare recipients popped up in at least 36 states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  "States are obviously making some very tough decisions given the budget issues they face," said Rochelle Finzel, a program manager with NCSL. "This falls into the broader discussion about state budgets and what services states should be providing."  Charlotte Observer

Oct. 12

Credit check law has fans, foes
Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington already have imposed pre-employment credit-check bans and similar legislation has been proposed or is pending in 28 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Sacramento Bee

Conn. gets tough with Amazon, pushing on with tax
NCSL estimates that all states are losing $23 billion each year, a figure that climbs annually as more people shop on the Internet instead of in their local stores, said Neal Osten, director of NCSL's Washington, D.C., office.  Connecticut, he said, is estimated to lose $152 million a year from uncollected sales taxes from Internet retailers that don't currently collect the tax.  NewsFactor Network

Kids' ER concussion visits up 60 percent over decade
In 2011, bills were introduced in at least 39 states that were aimed at better management of traumatic brain injuries, and most targeted sports-related concussions in youths, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in The Daily News and The Gainesville Sun

Womack proposes online sales tax bill
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that states would lose $23.3 billion in 2012 because they cannot collect sales tax from online and catalog purchases.  Arkansas would lose an estimated $113.9 million, the group said.  Fort Smith Times Record

Michigan's pension changes may be model for struggling states
Since 2009, 40 states have cut benefits, made employees pay more for retirement or both, said Ronald Snell, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Bloomberg in the San Francisco Chronicle

TransUnion’s credit data sale hurts unemployed, groups say
California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington state also limit use of credit reports, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Almost 60 bills in 28 states and District of Columbia were introduced or pending in 2011, according to the conference’s web site.  Bloomberg Businessweek

Punishment isn't the only way to fix immigration
Texas and New Mexico also allow access to state aid, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Opinion in The Arizona Republic

California laws bar credit, E-Verify checks of most employees
With the signing of A.B. 22, California joins Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon and Washington state in barring credit checks of prospective employees, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  Business Insurance

Kroll COO shares best tips for data breach notification
To date, 46 states have passed laws regulating data breach notification, and 14 states are considering new or expanded legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Corporate Counsel

Drug tests no way to treat poor
The National Conference of State Legislatures say 36 states considered drug testing this year for recipients of cash assistance from the major welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.  Editorial in The News-Press

Anthony verdict brings in changes
Several states have already filed their versions of Caylee's Law in their respective legislatures, according to National Conference of State Legislatures' website.  Fourth Estate News

Oct. 11

Drivers paying more tolls to use roads, bridges
This year, California, Washington, Texas and Indiana moved to make it easier to collect tolls on state and local roads, according to Alice Wheet, a transportation research assistant at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

U.S. voters will weigh ballots focused on budgets, higher taxes
Fiscal issues are the theme of the 34 proposals, said Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow specializing in elections at the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  “The states continue to be concerned with, and to struggle with, budgets and funding ongoing services,” Bowser said in a telephone interview.  Bloomberg BusinessWeek

States adding drug test as hurdle for welfare
This year, 36 states considered drug testing for recipients of cash assistance from the major welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; 12 states proposed it for unemployment insurance; and some also considered making it a requirement for food stamps, home heating assistance and other programs.  New York Times

Michigan’s pension changes serve as model
Since 2009, 40 states have cut benefits, made employees pay more for retirement or both, said Ronald Snell, senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Still, seven states this year rejected plans to switch to 401(k)s, Snell said.  Bloomberg

Waiver for state testing standards would prevent No Child Left Behind sanctions
State Sen. Nancy J. King, chairwoman of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ education committee, said schools must spend more time preparing students for MSAs and HSAs.  “It’s a proven test. It’s not like it’s unreasonable from what I’ve been told,” said King of Montgomery Village, a former president of the Montgomery County Board of Education.  Gazette.net

Sioux Falls company sues over junk email
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists 37 states with laws concerning unsolicited emails, but most are pre-empted by CAN-SPAM. The act leaves room for states to prohibit "falsity or deception."  Sioux Falls Argus Leader

State GOP lawmakers oppose statewide education tax
While 29 states are asking voters for more education money, Colorado's Proposition 103 is the only one coming right out and asking for a tax increase, according to analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Vail Daily News

La. does better; are we doing well?
Federal Funds Information for the States, a statistical analysis service employed by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, reports that Louisiana ranks 15th among the states according to the organization's measure of "economic momentum."  Opinion in the Opelousas Daily World

Perry's camp preps for Tuesday debate
Eleven states — California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington — have laws allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state rates if they meet certain requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Austin News

Four Loko agrees to change labeling
The National Conference of State Legislatures says alcohol control boards in at least 13 states have banned Four Loko.  WXOW

Same-day voter registration at issue in Maine
Among the seven other states that have allowed same-day registration, bills were introduced in two this year — Montana and New Hampshire — to repeal that provision. In New Hampshire, the bill failed to pass in the House. Montana's bill was vetoed by the governor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Lewiston Sun Journal

Bisbee hospital CEO’s shares innovative, integrative strategies on future of healthcare
Joining him on the panel were Rachel Morgan with the National Conference of State Legislatures and Kathy Duckett with the Boston-based Partners Home Care. Each offered their experiences in expanding capacity and access to health services and different approaches in how to fund these changes.  Tucson Citizen

Haley to speak with classes at Wyandotte, Sumner Academy
Senator David Haley will speak to two USD 500 schools this week as part of the America’s Legislators Back to School Program, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Kansas City Kansan

Oct. 10

Conn. gets tough with Amazon, pushing on with tax
Cash-strapped states across the country are grappling with how to capture the sales tax revenues that go uncollected from online purchases, with at least six states enacting laws similar to Connecticut's as of June, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. NCSL estimates that all states are losing $23 billion each year, a figure that climbs annually as more people shop on the Internet instead of their local stores, said Neil Osten, director of NCSL's Washington, D.C., office. The AP in Business Week

California allows college aid to illegal immigrants
Only two other states, Texas and New Mexico, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for state financial aid for college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Reuters

New law makes tanning beds off-limits to most California teens
While most states regulate how minors can use tanning facilities, California's recently enacted restrictions go further than any other state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. CNN

Maine voters revisit registration rules
In New Hampshire, the bill failed to pass in the House. Montana's bill was vetoed by the governor, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The AP in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Groups question legality of new districts
Tim Storey, a redistricting expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that out of about 40 lawsuits filed nationally over the last redistricting a decade ago, courts forced only about 10 to 12 states to make substantial changes. "People who do this have gotten better at understanding how to navigate" the law, Storey said. Baltimore Sun

Congress' inaction on immigration reform fuels states' actions
Many measures didn't pass in part because of concerns about their constitutionality and the cost of enforcing them, said Ann Morse, program director for NCSL's Immigrant Policy Project. "State lawmakers are very frustrated because Congress is not addressing immigration reform," said Morse, adding that the last major federal immigration reform was in 1986. "I expect a lively debate again next spring because there's going to be no change federally. ... States continue to return to this issue." Montgomery Advertiser

California Dream Act signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, making illegal immigrants eligible for college aid when the law goes into effect
When the law goes into effect, California will join Texas and New Mexico as the only states permitting undocumented students to qualify for this kind of aid, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures. New York Daily News. New York Daily News

Louisiana better off than most, economic data show
According to the rankings, complied by Federal Funds Information for the States, a joint subscription service of the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures, Louisiana ranked 15th on the composite index of economic momentum, .26 percent above the national average. NOLA

Time for new rainy day fund?
Many states have a way of setting aside leftover funds at the end of a budget cycle or earmarking money for the future needs such as schools. But a 2008 report by the National onference of State Legislatures said Washington was one of just 11 states to enshrine its fund constitutionally, making it harder to raid. The Olympian

Straight ticket popular choice
West Virginia is one of just 16 states that offers a straight ticket ballot choice, according to information from the National Conference for State Legislatures. Other states with the option
include Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Wheeling
News-Register

Senator David Baria speaks to classes at Bay High School and Waveland Elementary
Sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the program is designed to teach young people--the nation's future voters and leaders--what it's like to be a state legislator:
the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the very fabric of representative democracy. David Baria's website

Capitol is visited by seminar attendees
About 130 out-of-state visitors toured the Capitol and spent time in training sessions Tuesday as part of professional development seminars under the National Conference of State Legislatures. Statesman Journal

Membership has its privileges
If lawmakers want to sign up for a state health insurance plans, that’s fine. But they should pay the cost of their coverage. Several other states make coverage optional at the legislator’s
expense, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Editorial in the Des Moines Register

California allows college aid to illegal immigrants
Only two other states, Texas and New Mexico, allow illegal immigrants to qualify for state financial aid for college, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. FOX 40,
Sacramento

Oct. 7

Kids' ER concussion visits up 60 pct over decade
In 2011, bills were introduced in at least 39 states that were aimed at better management of traumatic brain injuries, and most targeted sports-related concussions in youths, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seattle Post Intelligencer

Alabama immigration law puts squeeze on schools
Alabama is unique in requiring schools to check students' immigration status, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Education Week

Oct. 6

False default signal seen with swaps cost most since January: Muni credit
Prices of privately traded credit-default swap contracts have risen 78 percent since May 31 even after states closed a projected $32 billion in budget deficits, according to the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

RI governor blasted over illegal immigrant tuition
Thirteen states have passed laws allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP in the Boston Globe

Pa., Neb. Republicans want electoral vote changes
"If Pennsylvania were to pass it, you can bet that other states would start looking at it harder," said Tim Storey of the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Most state legislatures are adjourned for the year, but Storey said a legislature could return in January or February and act in time to affect the 2012 election. AP on CBS News

‘Sexting’ messages, images grows popular among college students
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 21 states have introduced bills or resolutions aimed at sexting among minors in 2011, and at least 14 states have enacted bills to address the issue. Alabama has not. University of Alabama Crimson White

Debate over gun control continues
However, this year alone, at least 14 states have introduced 35 bills that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on college campuses and loosen restrictions on gun bans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. University of Alabama Crimson White

Students reflect on moment of silence
Similar laws operate in at least 35 states, according to a 2000 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Times Record News

After a data breach, preparing for breach notification
To date, 46 states have passed laws regulating data breach notification, and 14 states are considering new or expanded legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Corporate Counsel

Oct. 5

Residency requirement in play as House continues work on redistricting
“It’s certainly not late, but you’re not early. I think Massachusetts is right in the middle of the peloton,” said Tim Story, a senior fellow and redistricting expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. State House News Service

LeBeau appointed to national post
Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, D-East Hartford, has been appointed co-chairman of the Labor and Economic Development Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures. LeBeau has been a committee vice chairman for nine years. “This appointment recognizes the huge strides Connecticut has taken on the jobs and economic front over the years,” LeBeau said. Connecticut Journal Inquirer

Top alums, including Voinovich, give advice on leadership
The third panelist was former Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, who served as House minority leader, a member of the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators and chair of the Midwestern Council of State Governments. She also is a senior fellow at OU's Voinovich School. Ohio Athens News

Illegal students face obstacles even after college
Eleven states -- California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington -- have laws allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state rates if they meet certain requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Delaware News Journal

Amazon deal with California may set precedent for online tax collection
“We’re going to face hundreds of millions, billions of dollars in (aid) reductions,” said Neal Osten, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Washington office. “This is something Congress can do for the states.” Columbus, Indiana Republic

Oct. 4

Four Loko agrees to change labeling reflecting alcohol content
The National Conference of State Legislatures says alcohol control boards in at least 13 states have banned Four Loko. CBS News

Okla. considers punishments for juvenile 'sexting'
Oklahoma was among 21 states with bills or resolutions introduced this year to deal with sexting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP in the Houston Chronicle

Study predicts voting laws will change political landscape
This year, more than 30 states debated changes to their voting laws. A dozen 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

Proposition to tax California oil for education
There are 11 other states that do not impose a severance tax on oil, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Daily Sundial

Reader's View: Idaho lawmakers aren’t in it for the money
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho legislators received a salary of $16,116 in 2010, which was lower than all but 13 states. To put that in context, Parade magazine’s annual salary comparison has your legislators’ compensation just below a library assistant from Monticello, Ga. ($17,000) and a barista from Denver ($18,000). Idaho Statesman

Voter ID, registration laws may affect 5 million Americans in 2012 election: Report
These new laws have been introduced in statehouses across the U.S. after the 2010 midterm elections resulted in GOP control of 54 out of the 99 state chambers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. International Business Times

Record number of immigration bills
The number of immigration bills proposed in state capitals reached a record 1,592 this year, but the number actually signed into law fell by one–fourth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tucson Citizen

Analysis: New plans may not save public pensions
According to the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems, the next two years will see "modest growth" in hybrid plans that combine elements of the defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Around 5 percent of public entities already offer hybrids. Reuters

SB 1070 could be a hot topic for new Supreme Court session
In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports a record nearly 1,600 immigration bills introduced across the country. CBS KOLD Arizona

Oct. 3

Federal cuts might affect state pension plans
Ron Snell, a pension expert and senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, agrees. “In most states, it's very difficult to change the employee contributions, but that assumption is being tested. Financial cuts have certainly spilled over into contribution issues.” Pensions & Investments

Michigan universities set own rules on illegal immigrant tuition rates
Thirteen states have laws or policies that grant in-state tuition rates for the children of undocumented immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Battle Creek Enquirer

Voting laws pushed by GOP could affect millions
Before this year, only Indiana and Georgia had strict photo identification requirements for voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, five more states - Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas - passed laws to join their ranks. San Francisco Chronicle

States improving revenue seize gift unseen since Clinton era: muni credit
Municipalities have refinanced debt, reduced employee payrolls and cut capital projects to balance budgets. States have faced budget deficits totaling $511 billion in the past four years, data from the National Conference of State Legislatures show. Bloomberg

Voting laws
This year, 34 states introduced legislation to require it — a flurry of activity that Jennie Bowser, a senior fellow at the National Conference of State Legislatures, called “pretty unusual.” New York Times in the Sierra Vista Herald

New York's crumbling infrastructure: Where did the money for roads go?
Nationwide, 31 states and Puerto Rico had laws authorizing these kinds of collaborations for infrastructure improvements as of September, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ithaca Journal

Illegal students face obstacles even after college
Eleven states — California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah and Washington — have laws allowing the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state rates if they meet certain requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oklahoma allows in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants under a state Board of Regents policy. Wall Street Journal

NY to require benching students with concussions
Washington and Oregon passed similar measures in 2009, and most states have followed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York Daily News

The trials of an "intexticated driver"
Other states followed Utah’s lead in prohibiting texting behind the wheel. In July, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that 34 states and the District of Columbia now ban texting while driving. Another nine states and the District of Columbia ban talking on cellphones while driving, the NCSL reports. Herald Journal

Public workers may face cost of deficit cuts
Slowing consumer spending cascaded through the economy in the past four years, leading to the worst tax declines in a half century and state budget gaps totaling $510.5 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. Daily Herald

Retirement 'reforms' bear close watch
NCSL reports that 26 states have made "significant changes" to their retirement systems this year and that 39 have made "substantial revisions" in the past two years. Jackson Clarion Ledger

Eyman challenges state's route on tolls
Research by the National Conference of State Legislatures confirms that no state Legislature sets tolls directly. In seven states, including Washington, the Legislature must authorize using tolls to help pay for projects. Seattle Times

State aims to test its youngest students
Massachusetts is lagging the nation in creating a statewide kindergarten assessment program. Twenty-five states, including Connecticut, Vermont, and Maryland, already have such a system, while at least four other states are working to implement one, according to a report last year by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Boston Globe

Opinion: New voter ID law not necessary
Currently, 7 states have some form of photo ID requirements, and another 7 have what the National Conference of State Legislatures designates as “strict” photo ID requirements. Texas is one of them. Amarillo Globe-News

Dems seek unemployment fund ruling
Twenty-seven other states have already borrowed money from the federal government to keep paying out jobless benefits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Albuquerque Journal

Chain e-mail claims Florida is the first state to require drug testing for welfare
So while many have considered more drug-testing since the '90s, very few have passed laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that represents state lawmakers. PolitiFact Florida

The man behind the illegal immigration crackdown
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports most states have immigration bills or resolutions. Kobach has worked with several states to craft them, including Georgia, Texas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Missouri. WBEZ Chicago

Mashpee selectmen support state voter identification ballot initiative
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states currently require all voters to show identification before voting at the polls. In 14 of those states, the identification must include a photograph of the voter, while in the remaining 16, including Rhode Island and Connecticut, non-photo identification is acceptable. Cape Cod Enterprise

UW–Madison economist Reschovsky to receive national honor
The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Tax Association give the award each year in memory of Steve Gold, an active member of all three organizations whose career and life tragically were shortened by illness. University of Wisconsin-Madison 

 

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