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 of State Budgets

Forty-six states and Puerto Rico begin fiscal year (FY) 2012 on July 1, 2011, but only 32 states, so far, have enacted budgets. In developing their FY 2012 budgets, states faced a cumulative budget shortfall of $86 billion. Resolving these massive gaps complicated, and often lengthened, budget deliberations. Four states have extended their sessions or met in special sessions to deliberate further on the budget. NCSL has a table detailing the current status of FY 2012 budgets in the states.


Electronic Voter Registration

Nine states currently offer paperless voter registrations, with more states expected to come online in the near future. This year, lawmakers in Hawaii and Maryland were the most recent to pass legislation allowing voters to register electronically. Which state led the way with this innovation? Visit our website to find out.   


Same-Sex Marriage Passes in New York

New York became the 7th state to issue same-sex marriage licenses (not including Washington, D.C.). NCSL tracks state laws affecting same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.


Reporters and Lawmakers Focus on Pressing Issues

Find out what policies state legislators are creating, debating and enacting regarding immigration, pensions, budgets, collective bargaining, redistricting, energy and more. Media registration is now open for the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) 37th annual Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas, Aug. 8–11.

The Summit is the largest and only meeting of its kind where legislators and staff from both political parties come together to discuss the challenging issues facing state governments. It will feature more than 150 policy sessions on higher education, Medicaid, school choice, green jobs, legislative leadership, hunger, social media, to name a few. As a reporter, you will be able to gather dozens of story ideas, put local issues into a national context, listen to solutions being debated in a bipartisan manner, and have several opportunities to meet and learn from other reporters, legislators and keynote speakers from across the country.

Please review the NCSL media policy before registering. Online registration is open until July 15. After that, members of the media must register at the Summit in NCSL’s press room at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Members of the media must present valid press credentials from a capitol press corps, official press organization or the U.S. Congressbefore obtaining NCSL press credentials.


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.