Capitol Ideas

Capitol Ideas is a periodic listing of story ideas and background information from new NCSL research. For more information, contact NCSL's Press Team.

Stand Your Ground Laws

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin last month drew national attention to self-defense laws, particularly Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Since the 1980s, several states have codified the common law “castle doctrine” into statutes that address immunity from prosecution for individuals who use deadly force to protect themselves. NCSL compares and contrasts the states’ most recent approaches to self-defense policy. More 


State Fuel Sales Taxes

As gas prices continue to rise, state fuel taxes will come under increasing scrutiny. NCSL’s updated chart highlights the 15 states with sales taxes on motor fuels. The data are drawn from Transportation Governance and Finance, a fifty-state review released jointly by NCSL and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. More


State Pension Reform

Over the last three years, a bevy of states have increased public employees’ age and length of service requirements for retirement. Twenty-five states have increased retirement ages for general state employees and teachers, while 13 states have changed pension and retirement plans for public safety workers.  NCSL’s new report discusses these recent reforms in detail. More


Childhood Obesity Updates

Spurred by additional funds from the federal stimulus package, state lawmakers have taken action to combat childhood obesity. NCSL’s new report highlights recent state trends to promote healthy communities and prevent childhood obesity.  The report is broken down into two broad policy categories—healthy eating and physical activity, and healthy community design and access to healthy food—and 16 specific topic areas. More


Tax Credits for Working Families

Twenty-five states and the federal government provide a tax credit to assist low-income working people, the Earned Income Tax Credit. NCSL’s report describes the federal and state versions, answers common questions about them, and describes ways to connect working people with free tax preparation services. The report also includes a link to the Working Families Project, a collaborative effort between NCSL and the Annie E. Casey Foundation Partnership to help working families succeed. More