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. This issue will focus specifically on NCSL reports that were released at our 36th annual Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky.

An Educational Road Map

What will it take to ensure that 55 percent of Americans hold a post-secondary degree by 2025? The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and The College Board have joined together to produce a practical policy guide for state legislators to help achieve this goal.

In 2006, NCSL’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education urged state legislators to invest in strategies to improve college completion. In the last few years state legislatures have worked hard to reform state policy and funding to improve higher education productivity. But there is still much work to do. High school completion rates are dropping.

NCSL has teamed up with The College Board to release “The College Completion Agenda:  State Policy Guide.” This guide is written specifically for state legislators and is a road map for increasing the number of Americans who attain a postsecondary degree and gives lawmakers information to use to be an positive and active force in their state. Reporters can use this guide to see what policy issue and challenges their state might face. More

States Work to Stop Hospital Infections

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)—also known as hospital-acquired infections—are among the leading causes of death in the United States, accounting for 99,000 deaths annually.

HAI is an infection patients acquire while receiving treatment for other conditions in a healthcare facility. They affect patients, health care systems and society by increasing the cost of treating infections and causing greater disability and death. Since 2005, the number of states with laws requiring health care facilities to report HAIs has grown from six to 27.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has released its report “State Public Reporting of Healthcare-Associated infections: Lessons from the Pioneers.”  This NCSL report offers an in-depth analysis of nine of those state HAI public reporting laws and gathers information about the challenges, successes and “lessons learned” from states that have pioneered public reporting. More

Measuring Chemicals in People

Secondhand smoke in a bar. Used pharmaceuticals in tap water. Lead paint in an old home. These are a few examples of the many ways we are exposed to chemicals in our environment—in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the foods we consume and the products we use every day.

A new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures addresses options available to state legislatures trying to measure chemical exposure. “Biomonitoring: A Best Practices Report for State Legislators” lays out policy options for lawmakers to consider when crafting biomonitoring policies and programs that attempt to determine what chemicals make their way into humans, and at what levels. More

States Step Up to the Plate on Immigration

With no federal immigration reform in the foreseeable future, state legislatures will continue to lead the way in addressing the complex and challenging issue of immigration. According to a new immigration report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), every state in regular session addressed immigrant issues in their legislatures in 2010.

This report, developed by NCSL's Immigrant Policy Project, is a snapshot of immigration laws enacted between January 1 and June 30, 2010. No bills related to immigration were introduced in Montana, Nevada, North Dakota or Texas as these states are not in regular session in 2010; or in North Carolina, which began its legislative session in May. Legislative proposals included in this overview address legal immigrants, migrant and seasonal workers, refugees or unauthorized immigrants. Terms used in this report by and large reflect the terms used in state legislation. More

An Uphill Battle for State Budgets

State Budget Update: July 2010 (Preliminary Report)” presents the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL’s) latest look at the state fiscal situation. Based on data collected from legislative fiscal directors in late June and early July, the report provides complete or partial information on 49 states. It provides information on estimated year-end balances, projected budget gaps in FY 2011 and beyond, and FY 2011 tax forecasts. The report also addresses new potential gaps in FY 2011, largely because of assumptions about the six-month extension of enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentages—FMAP.

States faced a collective budget gap of at least $83.9 billion during enactment of their FY 2011 budgets (see Table 5). The aggregate figure is slightly less than the original forecast made in NCSL March State Budget Update, which was $89 billion. More gaps are expected in the next two years. More