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.

State Legislators and Governors Oppose Congressional Action on State Bankruptcy

The nation's legislators and governors have signed a joint letter stating stating their opposition to proposals to allow states to declare bankruptcy. The letter, signed by the leaders of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association, reminds members of Congress that states have faced growing budget deficits for several years and have closed those deficits by cutting spending, and when necessary, increasing taxes. Governors and legislators have had to make tough and politically unfavorable decisions to be fiscally responsible and balance state budgets. Throughout this process, state elected officials have never walked away from their obligations to constituents or to the bond markets by requesting that the federal government allow states to receive bankruptcy protection. While a number of states continue to face budget deficits over the next few years, lawmakers will continue to use their sovereign authority to balance their budgets and meet their obligations. State and local leaders are interested in working with their federal partners to improve the fiscal stability of government at all levels.

Status of State Pensions, and What the Future Holds

What’s the state of state pensions in your state?  NCSL, in partnership with other national and state government associations, has released a joint fact sheet on the operation and funding of public pensions, including how they fit into budget projections at the state and local level and the steps governments are taking to bring pension plans into long-term solvency. In 2010, state and local governments enacted significant modifications to improve their retirement funding. Read about the challenges that lie ahead for state pension funding in this important publication. NCSL also has a report on state pensions and retirement legislation enacted during the 2010 legislative session. It will allow you to see how policymakers have addressed issues that could arise in any state.

State Efforts to Prevent Teen Dating Violence

February 1 marked the start of Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month, a national effort to promote safe dating practices. The CDC reports that one in 11 adolescents say they have been the victim of physical dating violence. Policymakers play an important role in preventing teen dating violence; at least 14 states have laws that urge or require school boards to develop curriculum on this issue. NCSL has developed a breakdown of introduced and enacted legislation dealing with dating violence and a 50-state map showing the percentage of high school students who have experienced teen dating violence.

February is American Heart Month

The month of February is also dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing knowledge about prevention; heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the United States. NCSL has worked in partnership with the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention to provide up-to-date information on heart disease and stroke statistics, treatment costs, and state initiatives, including an interactive 50-state map that provides state-specific data for heart disease prevention efforts.

Broadcasts and Webcasts of Legislative Floor Proceedings and Committee Hearings

With many legislatures back in session, there is plenty of action happening in statehouses across the country. Live webcasts of legislative proceedings are available from at least one chamber in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Many legislatures also are offering webcasts of all or selected committee hearings, and at least 30 states and D.C. broadcast some legislative proceedings on television.  NCSL has compiled a complete list with links to state legislatures’ offerings.