Decreased consumer spending and shuttered businesses have lowered sales tax revenues. Travel restrictions are cutting into lodging, car rental and other tourism-related taxes. Job losses and weak economic activity will reduce personal and corporate income tax collections.
Every legislature’s—indeed, each legislator’s—experience during the coronavirus pandemic has been different. Yet chamber leaders across the country tell similar stories. They are trying to coordinate with their governors while coping with budgets that suddenly went from sound to sapped.
Lawmakers have introduced bills in the Mississippi Legislature for at least 40 years to replace the flag that prominently displays the Confederate battle emblem. The bills have always suffered a quiet death on deadline day, however, so no one had reason to think this year would be different. They were in for a big surprise.
NCSL jumped on the podcast bandwagon at the end of 2016, and posts its 100th podcast today. “Our American States” has hosted a number of remarkable people and has focused on topics of interest to legislators and staff: election security, marijuana legalization, cybersecurity, the opioid crisis, and many more. What will the next 100 cover?
Pennsylvania Representative Bryan Cutler (R), was elected the chamber's 141st speaker (watch his speech), Senate Republicans name a new minority leader in New York, Delaware's longest-serving lawmaker retires and more.
The only Alaska Native woman serving in the House, Zulkosky is something of a rising star, with a professional background that has prepared her well for membership on the Energy, Education and Environmental Conservation committees and for her role as chair of the House Health and Social Services Committee.
FROM THE EDITOR
It wasn’t an easy decision, but after 45 years of producing State Legislatures, NCSL’s magazine that covers state policy and politics, we’ve decided to take the publication digital, offering a new online version to better keep you updated on the people and news surrounding state legislatures. Love it in print? Watch out for two keepsake editions each year for in-depth looks at the issues our members care most about.
ON THE SAME PAGE
In Washington, D.C., lawmakers face a large gap to bridge as Democrats and Republicans are split on banning chokeholds and qualified immunity, among other partisan policy differences. Iowa’s legislation, meanwhile, achieved unanimous support in both chambers after two days of deliberation. Including the drafting of the bill, the whole process took a total of 10 days.
STATE LEGISLATURES SPOTLIGHT
Tune into State Legislatures Spotlight, a new video series that takes an in-depth look at our feature stories. In this episode, we chat with Alan Greenblatt, author of “Legislative Leaders Pivot to Non-Virus Challenges in a Spirit of Cooperation,” about how leaders are dealing with the pandemic, working virtually and an increased spirit of cooperation.
POLICY TREND | EMPLOYMENT
The legislation was the culmination of decades of political activism by and for the 50 million Americans living with a disability who were seeking equal rights after centuries of discrimination, isolation and dehumanization. It's also one of the rare pieces of legislation that has touched the lives of every American.
POLICY TREND | ELECTIONS
Since COVID-19 hit, interest in casting absentee ballots—aka voting by mail and voting at home—has increased due to concerns about maintaining social distancing at polling places. Here’s how some states fared during primaries with increased voting by mail strategies in place.
Is “working from home” beginning to feel more like “living at work?” Check out this expert advice on how to maintain a work-life balance—along with tips on decreasing distractions and feelings of isolation—when your office is simply a few steps down the hall.
Fire has always been an enemy of old buildings. State capitols are no exception: Fire destroyed at least 25 of our early state capitols in the 19th and 20th centuries, and at least five of Virginia’s pre-independence capitols burned down. Here’s how capitol restoration teams are adding safety measures and suppression systems to prevent losing more of these treasures.
POLICY BRIEF | ENERGY
Hydrogen, regarded as a potential clean energy solution for decades, may finally be ready for the spotlight. The gas burns cleanly, can be used in power plants like natural gas, or in fuel cells to power vehicles or buildings. And it’s declining production costs and ability to produce power free of carbon emissions are driving interest in a “hydrogen economy” in which the gas could take the place of traditional fuels.
NCSL ON THE HILL
NCSL hosted its first virtual Capitol Hill briefing recently to educate select staff on the dire fiscal conditions states are facing due to the pandemic. Watch the briefing and read more on the latest news from D.C.
POLICY BRIEF | TRANSPORTATION
With more than 1.2 million electric vehicles in the United States—a number predicted to soar to 18 million by 2030—concerns of the recovery, safe handling and recycling of the lithium-ion batteries used to charge them is emerging. Learn what states, as well as the federal government, are doing to address the issue.
NCSL NEWS | HUMAN SERVICES
To deepen its support for policymakers with an interest in prenatal-to-3 policies, NCSL’s Children and Families Program is partnering with the new Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
POLICY BRIEF | TRANSPORTATION
Starting July 1, Idaho, Indiana and South Dakota began banning drivers from using cellphones behind the wheel, unless they’re hands-free. They join 22 states and the District of Columbia, which already have hands-free laws for all drivers.
LEADERSHIP | COVID-19
COVID-19 moved quickly through the states, and legislatures sprung to action just as swiftly. It didn’t take long for lawmakers to realize the disease was going to be more devastating than first believed.
POLICY TREND | LABOR
The way we work is evolving. Technological advances demand highly skilled workers, and gig jobs require people who can be paid by the task or project, not by the position they hold in a company. The transformation of today’s workplace has left businesses, educators and policymakers playing catch-up. COVID-19 has only accelerated the pace of change.
STATE STATS | FISCAL
To prepare for a possible recession, state lawmakers have been building up their budget stabilization—or rainy day—funds for nine years straight, reaching a record combined total of $74.9 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.