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.

New Election Laws at the Polls

More than 2,300 bills dealing with elections were introduced in state legislatures in 2011, significantly more than the 2,049 bills introduced in 2010. Odd-numbered years in general have more elections-related legislation than even-numbered years; this may be because in odd-numbered years, more legislatures are in session and the sessions tend to be longer. In 2011, 308 elections-related bills were enacted. This is the most enactments since 2003, when states were still adjusting to changes based on the fraught 2000 presidential election. This year, states made major changes voters will experience (voter ID requirements, how and when voting takes place) and ones that election administrators will carry out behind the scenes (deadlines for mailing ballots, changes to ballot access, voting equipment requirements) during the 2012 elections. More

State Budget Update

For the first time since before the recession, some states have found themselves in the fortunate situation of having excess funds halfway through the budget year. NCSL's Spring 2012 State Budget Update includes information on FY 2012 revenue performance; projected return to peak revenues; spending overruns in FY 2012; new FY 2012 budget gaps and FY 2013 budget gaps; and a summary of the state fiscal situation. Credentialed members of the media may receive a free full copy of NCSL's "State Budget Update: Spring 2012.” The link to the report on our website does not contain links to the detailed 50-state tables. Please contact the press room to obtain a complete copy of NCSL's budget report.  

Tolling for Dollars

Concerns about funding shortfalls for highway improvements, the potential of electronic toll collection, and increasing interest in public-private partnerships have led states to reconsider tolling. As At least 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have some form of tolling authorizations or facilites operated by the state, regional or privately operated entities. More

Online Gambling 

Since the U.S. Department of Justice ruling that each state should decide whether to allow Internet gambling for its residents, at least six states have introduced legislation authorizing forms of Internet gaming. Utah lawmakers passed legislation specifically prohibiting Internet gaming, and Michigan has pending legislation prohibiting online lottery sales. Maine has altered their gaming statute in response to the ruling. NCSL has asked Congress to respect the sovereignty of states and to not consider any legislation that would overturn the DOJ’s ruling or regulate gambling at the federal level. More

Preventing Identity Theft

During 2012 legislative sessions, 32 states have introduced or have pending legislation regarding identity theft. Every state now has some type of identity theft or impersonation statute. Utah lawmakers passed a bill requiring the Department of Workforces Services--if it learns a Social Security number is being used by an unauthorized person--to inform law enforcement and the Social Security number's owner. Virginia enacted legislation that requires local departments of social services to conduct annual credit checks on foster children 16 years and older to uncover and resolve cases of identity theft or misuse of personal identifying information. More