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.

Funding Pensions in Tough Budget Times

What's the state of pensions in your state? Listen to a discussion from top policy analysts who track state pension issues at noon EST, on Friday, February 19. This free webinar, sponsored by NCSL and the Pew Center and the States, will include information from the Pew Center's hot-off-the-press report on state pension liabilities and state actions to address them. NCSL's Ron Snell and Sue Urahn from the Pew Center on the States will address the challenges that lie ahead for state pension funding and what states are doing to ensure they remain solvent. Registration is free.  

E-verify: States Are Using It, Federal Goverment Requires It

The Internet-based pilot program to help employers verify the legal status of new hires called "E-Verify" is now required for federal contractors and in several states. At the same time, it is being contested in the courts. A recently updated FAQ offers information on federal, state and court action as well as a breakdown of the states that use E-Verify. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that as of Jan. 16, 2010, more than 182,000 employers have registered with the program. Also, 13 states require public and private employers to use E-Verify to verify employees work status. More  

Jobs for Main Street Act to Help States' Fiscal Situation

In early December, the president and congressional leaders began suggesting additional state fiscal assistance was needed. President Obama described the need for additional investments in transportation, energy and water infrastructure and "steps to ensure that state and local government are not forced to lay off teachers, police officers and other key personnel at this critical time." Now, both the House and Senate have jobs legislation that includes fiscal relief for states on Medicaid, education, water and a host of other programs.  More

Education Leaders to Discuss Innovations in State Education Reform

Reporters are invited to New York City, March 12-14, to hear from some of the nation's most prominent education researchers about what they're finding works to improve education. Learn from practitioners who are pioneering innovative programs about improving student learning. Talk with state legislators about what is working in their states. Representatives from across the country will attend the seminar to share ideas and learn new strategies. Informational sessions range from closing the achievement gap to funding in higher education to online learning. The seminar is at Teachers College of Columbia University in New York City. For more information, click here.

Some States Consider Medicinal Marijuana Laws

In October 2009, the Obama administration sent a memo to federal prosecutors encouraging them not to prosecute people who distribute marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with state law. This statement to relax prosecution has allowed states some wiggle room to regulate. Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing some form of the medical use of marijuana. NCSL has developed an breakdown of information on state-specific laws on medicinal marijuana. More

Redistricting Is Coming Around the Corner

In just over a year, after they receive detailed census data, state legislators across the nation will begin redrawing state legislative and congressional districts. In most states, the legislature is solely responsible for fulfilling the constitutional requirement that local, state and congressional districts are equal in population, guaranteeing each person’s vote is represented in state legislatures and in the U.S. House. Primarily, state legislatures are charged with the painstaking task of redrawing state legislative and congressional districts to meet equal population requirements using new census data. Learn more about redistricting in this LegisBrief

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.