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Lawmakers in several states, including New York, above, and Kansas, are considering ways to limit their governors’ emergency powers, including the authority to change election rules.

First Branch News | Legislative Headlines, Week of Feb. 22, 2021

By Gene Rose | Feb. 26, 2021 | State Legislatures News

First Branch News is NCSL’s weekly roundup of legislative headlines from news sources across the country and throughout the territories.

Legislative Operations

New protocols are in place for the Florida Legislature, including a suspension of the Senate page program. (Learn how some previous pages are keeping busy in Virginia, where the current page class also was suspended.) The Vermont General Assembly has decided to work remotely for the rest of the 2021 session. Several groups have asked the Nevada Legislature to allow more public participation in the current session. Individual states are taking different approaches to allowing guns in capitols. A bill moving through the Georgia General Assembly would set term limits for state legislators and other state officials.

Authority of State Legislatures

Lawmakers in several states, including New York and Kansas, are considering ways to limit their governors’ emergency powers, including the authority to change election rules. The Utah governor indicated he is personally involved in discussions on legislation to reduce the administration’s emergency authority. The Massachusetts Legislature has questioned the governor’s handling of the vaccine rollout.

Legislators and Staff in the News

Daniel Harris became the deputy executive director of the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office, and two policy analysts were given promotions. A number of Rhode Island legislative staff were laid off in a cost-savings move. The District of Columbia’s independent chief financial officer announced his resignation.

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton took advantage of a snow day at the Capitol to attempt an “amateur recreational saucer sled land speed record.”

Other News

State legislatures, including those in Oregon and Pennsylvania, are adjusting to a delay in data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Legislation introduced in Congress, and supported by NCSL, would restore state and local governments’ ability to use advance refunding to manage bond debt and reduce borrowing costs for public projects. Legislatures are considering 123 ballot measures so far this session. Based on NCSL research, women have gained considerable power in state legislatures this year. Despite advances in diversity, an analysis finds that legislatures remain largely white and male.  A new project called “The States Newsroom” looks to increase statehouse news coverage across the nation.

This Week From NCSL’s State Legislatures News

Articles from news sources curated in First Branch News are provided for information purposes only and do not reflect NCSL views.

Gene Rose is NCSL’s communications director.

Additional Resources