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.

Top Fiscal Issues in the States

Although a recovering national economy is helping stabilize state revenues in fiscal year (FY) 2011, serious fiscal challenges await state lawmakers in their 2011 legislative sessions. Legislative fiscal directors are keenly attuned to the fiscal pressures confronting their states, which is why NCSL asked these experts to identify the top three fiscal issues their states expect to address in this year.

State Immigration Legislation Report

State legislatures enacted a record number of laws and resolutions addressing immigration issues in 2010:  46 state legislatures and the District of Columbia enacted 208 laws and adopted 138 resolutions, for a total of 346.  An additional 10 bills passed legislatures but were vetoed by governors. During the same period in 2009, 44 states enacted 202 laws and adopted 131 resolutions, for a total of 333.  An additional 20 bills were vetoed. View the full report.

State Tobacco Taxes

Why do states raise tobacco taxes? For two reasons:  to raise state revenue and to achieve public policy health goals such as discouraging tobacco use. NCSL has a chart on cigeratte excise taxes in each state. At least 24 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Washington use cigarette excise tax revenue to fund their tobacco control programs. 

Primary Seat Belt Laws

Every state except New Hamp­shire has an adult seat belt law. One way to increase seat belt use is to enact and enforce a primary belt law. Thirty-one states have primary enforcement laws that allow police officers to stop motorists solely for not wearing a seat belt. Eighteen states have secondary seat belt laws that require another reason for police officers to stop the vehicle before they can cite the driver for failure to use a seat belt. Request a copy of this NCSL LegisBrief.