Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 19   Issue 20 - June 27, 2012



Join NCSL’s conference call this Friday, June 29 at 2 p.m. EDT, to discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its implications for states. All legislators and legislative staff have been sent an email with details on how to call in and how to ask questions. Check your inbox as reminders will be sent on Thursday, June 28. Need further help or information? Contact


On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld one provision of Arizona’s omnibus immigration law requiring law enforcement officers to determine immigration status during a lawful stop. They stated, however, that other constitutional issues could arise depending upon how Arizona or other states implement similar provisions. The Court in split decisions struck down three other Arizona provisions regarding warrantless arrests, employment and alien registration papers. The full text of the Arizona v. United States decision, an NCSL summary of state immigration laws, and additional information is available at You’ll have an opportunity to learn more about this issue at NCSL’s Legislative Summit, Aug. 6, 2012 in Chicago. Register now! ( ) ( NCSL staff contacts: Sheri Steisel, Susan Parnas Frederick, Ann Morse


On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed its 2010 campaign finance decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission by reversing a decision of the Montana Supreme Court upholding a century-old state law limiting campaign spending by corporations. The Court split 5-4 and presented a mere two-paragraph ruling in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock. NCSL staff contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni


Also on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively preempted all state mandatory sentencing laws requiring life sentences without parole for juvenile capital murder offenders if those laws do not permit consideration of mitigating circumstances. The 5-4 decision in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs follows similar decisions reached by the Court in 2005 (elimination of juvenile death penalty) and 2010 (elimination of life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes other than murders). NCSL staff contacts: Susan Parnas Frederick, Jennifer Arguinzoni


On June 21, NCSL urged congressional support for a pilot program that would lead to building, licensing and operating “consolidated interim storage facilities as needed for spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste.” A provision that would authorize this pilot program is included in Section 312 of S. 2465, which makes FY 2013 appropriations for energy and water programs. A similar House appropriations measure does not include language for the pilot program. It focuses instead, as in years past, on funding disposal activities at Yucca Mountain. The letter, signed by Kansas Senator Stephen Morris, NCSL’s president and Maryland Delegate Sally Young Jameson, chair of NCSL’s Nuclear Legislative Workgroup, also calls for “all affected levels of government, including state legislatures” to be involved in the siting of such facilities. The letter is available at: This issue is unlikely to be resolved until after the November elections when Congress must deal with its “fiscal cliff” of unfinished business. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Tamra Spielvogel


Negotiations continue on legislation that would reauthorize surface transportation programs and extend the 3.4 percent interest rate on student loans for one year. These issues could be addressed separately or together, depending upon agreements that may be struck. More details will follow in the next issue of Capitol to Capitol. NCSL staff contacts: Ben Husch, Jennifer Arguinzoni (transportation), Lee Posey, Michael Reed (student loans)