In the News | February 2021

2/4/2021

Feb. 17

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to Amend Proposal to Legalize Marijuana
The Wall Street Journal
Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota approved referendums to allow adult-use cannabis last year. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use of the drug, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Covid-19 Live Updates: New N.Y.C. Data Shows Wide Gulfs in Vaccination Rates
New York Times
Twenty-eight states, as well as Guam, the District of Columbia and the United States Virgin Islands, have altered legislative rules since the spring to allow meeting remotely, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Carol Murphy named to board of national legislative group
New Jersey Globe | New Jersey Politics
Assemblyman Carol Murphy has been named to the executive committee on the National Conference of State Legislature’s, the first New Jersey legislator to serve on the panel in more than two decades. “We are pleased to have these dedicated women and men serve on NCSL’s Executive Committee,” said Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, the NCSL president.  “These talented new members bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table and I look forward to working with each of them.”
 
Pennsylvania G.O.P.’s Push for More Power Over Judiciary Raises Alarms
New York Times
Historically, Pennsylvania voters have voted more in favor of ballot measures than against them, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
What's behind the wave of proposed laws targeting trans youth in the South
Tennessean
North Carolina was one of 19 states that year to consider similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only North Carolina’s bill was enacted.
 
Hawaii Lawmakers Are Considering Clamping Down On Gov’s Emergency Powers
Honolulu Civil Beat
There are 24 state legislatures that already have the power to terminate executive orders, according to a survey of state statutes from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Feb. 16

Evidence-Based Government Gets a Boost During COVID
Governing
There’s no room for waste in public-sector investments of dollars and human capital. A Center for Results-Driven Governing has been established at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to increase confidence in outcomes by curating and sharing lessons learned from decades of evidence-based policymaking. “The center isn't going to tell policymakers what they should do," says its director, Kristine Goodwin. "We're providing resources that will help them ask questions and identify solutions, and that won't look the same in every state.”
 
Pennsylvania G.O.P.’s Push for More Power Over Judiciary Raises Alarms
The New York Times
Historically, Pennsylvania voters have voted more in favor of ballot measures than against them, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Mitch McConnell Backs Bill to Ensure He's Not Replaced by Democrat If He Leaves Office Early
Newsweek
If the bill passes, Kentucky would not be the only state in which a governor must check specific political boxes in order to replace a U.S. senator who leaves office before their term is over. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six other states currently operate under similar rules where the governor's senate appointee must be of the same political party as the senator leaving office.
 
Hawaii Lawmakers Are Considering Clamping Down On Gov's Emergency Powers
Honolulu Civil Beat
There are 24 state legislatures that already have the power to terminate executive orders, according to a survey of state statutes from the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, more than 30 other state houses including Guam’s are considering other measures to tamp down the governor’s emergency power, according to the NCSL.
 
State Higher Ed Funding for Next Year Looks Like a Mixed Bag
Inside Higher Ed
“We’re seeing almost as many budget proposals protecting or bolstering higher ed as we are cutting higher ed,” said Sunny Deye, program director for postsecondary education at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Delay in census data could put transparency in Pa.’s redistricting process at risk
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Ben Williams, an elections and redistricting policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, wrote that states can push candidate filing deadlines back to give lawmakers more time to complete maps, or ask courts to push back any legislative or constitutional deadlines associated with redistricting.
 
As Iowa Republicans, Democrats clash on 'school choice' studies, here's what the research says
Des Moines Register
Benjamin Olneck-Brown, an education program research analyst at NCSL, said the overall results of such research has been mixed. “Private school choice programs are the subject of a large body of research, with mixed results,” he said. “Many of these studies evaluate particular choice programs in particular communities, and therefore may have limited generalizability.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers in 19 states have introduced a combined 56 bills related to private “school choice.” Bills in 11 of those states, including Iowa, would establish new education savings account programs.
 

Feb. 15

Pennsylvania G.O.P.’s Push for More Power Over Judiciary Raises Alarms
New York Times
Historically, Pennsylvania voters have voted more in favor of ballot measures than against them, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Legislatures divided over response to calls for social justice and police reform
NBC News
More broadly, at least 13 states have introduced laws to crack down on protests, NBC News reported, while at least four states — Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa and New York — support banning chokeholds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Delay in U.S. census data could muddle 2022 congressional elections
Reuters
The delay also may force states to pass legislation extending redistricting deadlines or turn to the courts to seek extensions. Half of U.S. states have either a constitutional or statutory deadline calling for new maps in 2021, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

As Iowa Republicans, Democrats clash on 'school choice' studies, here's what the research says
Des Moines Register
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers in 19 states have introduced a combined 56 bills related to private “school choice.”
 
Census delay in releasing population data throws states, Pa.’s May primary into question
Pennsylvania Capital-Star
Other states facing constitutionally mandated deadlines for new district maps include Maine, Missouri, and Ohio, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirteen have constitutions calling for redistricting in the year after the census, effectively meaning in 2021, including Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin, according to NCSL.
 
Census Delays Could Create Havoc and Skullduggery in Redistricting
New York Magazine
Even before the latest delays, the National Conference of State Legislatures was sending up flares about the potential consequences in states with off-year elections or with strict constitutional or statutory deadlines for redistricting based on the normal schedule for receipt of Census data…
 
The top priority for federal education aid is getting flexibility
The Bond Buyer
National Conference of State Legislatures officials said Friday their top federal priority for education is getting flexibility in how to spend their state and local aid.
 
State lawmakers hear case for election-day postmarks on ballots
The Bulletin
Oregon now requires mail ballots to be in the hands of county elections officials by 8 p.m. election day. Postmarks do not count, unlike the practice in Washington, California, Nevada, 11 other states and Washington, D.C., according to a 2020 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four other states require a postmark the day before the election.
 

Feb. 12

Legislatures divided over response to calls for social justice and police reform
NBC News
More broadly, at least 13 states have introduced laws to crack down on protests, NBC News reported, while at least four states — Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa and New York — support banning chokeholds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Gianforte signs liability shield, intends to lift mask rule
Great Falls Tribune
Twenty other states are considering protections against liability claims involving businesses, health care providers and educational institutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Map of Minimum Wages By State Shows How Badly We Need $15/Hour
Yahoo
As many Democrats are trying to make a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage a reality and include it in the new COVID-19 relief bill, a map from Statista reinforces just how vital that wage increase would be for Americans. According to Statista, which pulled data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 29 states and Washington D.C. have a minimum wage that exceeds the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
 
Oregon lawmakers consider allowing prisoners to vote
OPB
Meanwhile, HB 2679 would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, provided they turn 18 by the general election. If the bill passed, Oregon would join 18 states and the District of Columbia in extending some voting rights to people under 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Idaho medical marijuana campaign OK'd to collect signatures
KPVI News
Medical marijuana programs, in various forms, exist in 47 states, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. All states neighboring Idaho allow people to possess or cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes. Nebraska, Kansas and Idaho are the three holdout states.
 
What’s New in Civic Tech: NYC Celebrates Innovation Cohort
Gov Tech
To track these impacts, the National Conference of State Legislatures has created a space online to highlight them. You can find that space on the group’s website, and it is broken into several categories, including census, economic development, housing immigration and more.
 

Feb. 11

2022 Election Preparations Disrupted by Redistricting Data Delay
Bloomberg Government
Local election officials “have to do an amazing amount of work to take the new redistricting plan and remake precincts, remake maps, and reassign voters to the right districts,” said Wendy Underhill, the director for elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “So there’s a huge administrative function done by local election officials that usually gets dropped out of the discussion about redistricting that has to take place.”
 
Galvin Proposes Permanent Mail-In, Early Voting in Mass.
NBC Boston
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted same-day voter registration laws. The issue has been debated on Beacon Hill for well over a decade, and the Senate passed same-day voter registration in 2014, before it was left out of a final package that included the introduction of early voting.
 
There's a renewed push to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam at Colorado stores and restaurants
The Denver Post
And already, eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont — have banned single-use plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Vermont has significantly restricted polystyrene products.
 
There’s a renewed push to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam at Colorado stores and restaurants
Greeley Tribune
And already, eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont — have banned single-use plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Vermont has significantly restricted polystyrene products.
 
Editorial: Should nonmedical vaccination exemptions be dropped for schoolchildren?
Bend Bulletin
In Oregon there are also nonmedical exemptions. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported in January that 45 states and Washington D.C. grant religious exemptions for immunizations. Another 15 states are similar to Oregon and also allow exemptions for children — for parents who object to immunizations “because of personal, moral or other beliefs.”
 
Ohio Democratic lawmakers want mandatory masks, remote hearings amid COVID-19
Cincinnati.com
Since March, one or both chambers in at least 28 states have made changes to allow for remote meetings, voting or operations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Governor signs liability shield, intends to lift mask rule
East Oregonian
Twenty other states are considering protections against liability claims involving businesses, health care providers and educational institutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
If bill passes, Iowa's college athletes could soon earn money from name, image and likeness
desmoinesregister.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, five states — California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska and New Jersey — have enacted legislation over the past two years allowing athletes to profit from use of their name, image and likeness. Florida's law, signed in June of last year, will be the first to go into effect.
 
Mail-In, Early Voting And Same-Day Registration In Election Reform Bill
WBUR
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted same-day voter registration laws. The issue has been debated on Beacon Hill for well over a decade, and the Senate passed same-day voter registration in 2014, before it was left out of a final package that included the introduction of early voting.
 

Feb. 10

Trump broke them. Now the pandemic is bringing them together.
Politico
BOSTON — When the National Conference of State Legislatures came to Boston for its annual summit in 2007, its members didn’t have to work hard to find common ground. Leadership dinners talked up bipartisanship, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle building a sense of camaraderie around shared goals.
 
"Obamacare was a contentious issue whenever it came up at NCSL,” Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki, a Democrat who is the president-elect of the organization, said in an interview. “What we've had to do is try to navigate around these controversial issues, and focus on other areas where there's more commonality.”
 
“Certainly, NCSL has a place in today’s political climate,” NCSL public affairs director Mick Bullock said in an email. “In reality, I believe we showcase how working across the aisle does work and can work."
 
"In a lot of legislatures, you'll have literally one person who performs a certain function, and there are only 99 of those people in the entire nation. The only way they can learn from people who do their jobs is by going through an organization like NCSL," former NCSL staff chair Jon Heining said. "The fact that it is non-partisan is pretty necessary for us to be able to continue to participate in it. There's no such thing as a Democratic or Republican way to draft legislation."
 
The first state to pass a police ‘Bill of Rights’ could become the first to repeal it
The Washington Post
Since Floyd’s death, 36 states and D.C. have introduced more than 700 police accountability bills. Nearly 100 have been enacted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
This is the Minimum Wage in Every State
Newsweek
California, followed by a handful of other states on the West and East Coasts, were reported to offer the highest minimum wages in the country, as of January 9, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
There’s a renewed push to ban plastic bags and Styrofoam at Colorado stores and restaurants
The Denver Post
And already, eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont — have banned single-use plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Vermont has significantly restricted polystyrene products.
 
Arizona Leads Ballot Clampdown for GOP Reckoning With 2020 Loss
Bloomberg Government
Voter identification bills of all kinds have been filed in at least 28 states, and absentee or early-voting legislation has been introduced in at least 45 states, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pace increasing in Capitol as session resumes
The Winchester Sun
A recent publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures examined each state’s legislative oversight during a state of emergency.
 
State lawmakers look to eliminate hand-held cellphone use by drivers
Roanoke-Chowan
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 36 states and Washington, D.C., have laws on the books prohibiting cell-phone use by teens.
 

Feb. 9

Maryland was first state with a law protecting police accused of misconduct. It may be the first to repeal it.
Washington Post
Since Floyd’s death, 36 states and D.C. have introduced more than 700 police accountability bills. Nearly 100 have been enacted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
They range from mandating use-of-force training to creating civilian review boards to requiring departments to report when their officers use their service weapons or other force.
 
Arizona Leads Ballot Clampdown for GOP Reckoning With 2020 Loss
Bloomberg
Voter identification bills of all kinds have been filed in at least 28 states, and absentee or early-voting legislation has been introduced in at least 45 states, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Critics say they worry that changes could disproportionately disadvantage people of color and amount to voter suppression
 
Amazon endorses $15 minimum wage bill despite CBO projections that 1.4M jobs could be cut by 2025
Fox News
The federal minimum wage has not increased in more than a decade, although a growing number of states have voted to adopt their own wage increases. There are 29 states with wages above the federal minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At $14 an hour, California currently has the highest minimum wage in the nation.
 
Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced In Idaho House
Boise Public Radio
Kitzhaber said he knows some patients with chronic diseases who drive across state lines to get marijuana to treat their conditions. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states have already legalized medical marijuana and 15 have legalized recreational marijuana.
 
Fresh off re-elections, Illinois lawmakers resigning as parties pick replacements
KPVI 6 News
Illinois is one of only five states where lawmakers are replaced by an appointment controlled by the local political machines, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most other states who have an appointment process allow either a commission or governor to replace them.
 
North Dakota considers permanent daylight saving time
The Intelligencer
The North Dakota legislation would only be enacted if Congress allows it. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, momentum is building in statehouses across the country to permanently switch to daylight saving time, and 13 have done so, but are awaiting approval from Congress.
 

Feb. 8

Republicans advance more than 100 bills that would restrict voting in wake of Trump's defeat
NBC News
These bills, in the works in 28 states, primarily seek to limit mail-in voting access, add voter ID requirements and make it harder to get on or stay on the voter rolls, according to the Brennan Center. There are nearly 2,000 bills moving through state legislatures aimed at addressing election-related issues overall, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Virginia lawmakers pass marijuana legalization bills
ABC News
If the legislation is signed into law, Virginia would join 15 other states and the neighboring District of Columbia in legalizing small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Occupational Licensing Reform Gains Steam in Statehouses
State Net
Stewart’s experience is hardly unique. According to a recent four-year joint study conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association and the State Government Affairs Council, “Occupational licensing has grown exponentially over the last 60 years, comprising nearly 25 percent of the U.S. workforce, up from 5 percent nearly 60 years ago.”
 
Kelly wants medical marijuana to expand Kansas Medicaid. Will she send both up in smoke?
The Kansas City Star
Thirty-nine states have extended eligibility for the federal health insurance program, intended for disabled and low-income people. Three-dozen states, including neighboring Missouri and Oklahoma, have medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Louisiana lawmakers to resume debate on policing
Tulsa World
More than 300 bills involving police oversight, discipline, standards, technology, training, use of force standards and other changes have been filed in statehouses across at least 25 states for consideration this year, according to a database from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Kilgore-area state legislators appointed to House, Senate committees
Kilgore News Herald
The influential House committee oversees questions of state policy and administration of state government, as well as powers and management of state departments and agencies except when jurisdiction is granted to other committees, as well as regulations pertaining to utilities, telecommunications, pipelines, access of scientific and technological information and the following organizations and state agencies: the Council of State Governments, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Office of the Governor, the Texas Ethics Commission, the Texas Facilities Commission, the Department of Information Resources, the Inaugural Endowment Fund Committee, the Sunset Advisory Commission, the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Office of Public Utility Counsel.
 

Feb. 5

Know Your Workplace Rights
The New York Times
Some states already have similar [paid sick and family and medical] laws on the books. The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a state-by-state guide to paid and unpaid family and medical leave, including Covid-specific statutes.
 
Suburban, Bend legislative districts will shrink in redrawing maps
Pamplin Media Group
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which conducted a briefing for reporters on Feb. 3, Oregon is one of six states facing early deadlines for redrawing legislative districts, and one of 24 that must do it this year.
 
State lawmakers look to eliminate hand-held cellphone use by drivers
Independent Tribune
The legislation would bans teenagers from all wireless communication use while driving, other than navigation systems in which the address is inputted while the vehicle is not in motion. That’s not an uncommon sentiment. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 36 states and Washington, D.C., have laws on the books prohibiting cellphone use by teens. The NCSL said that of 220 million wireless subscribers in the U.S., 80% of them use their cellphones will driving. A sobering state from the NCSL: during daylight hours an estimated 800,000 vehicles are being operated by someone currently using a cellphone.
 
Proposal Would Let Maine Legislators Request Racial Impact Statements For New Laws
Maine Public
Racial impact statements have been adopted by roughly seven states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They are relatively new and their efficacy is still unclear.
 
Delaware lawmakers to return in fall for redistricting
Delaware State News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, redistricting data from the U.S. Census Bureau likely won’t be given to the states until at least August.
 
Idaho Senate approves constitutional ban on legal marijuana
Idaho Capital Press
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen states and three territories have legalized recreational marijuana.
   
State lawmakers look to eliminate hand-held cellphone use by drivers
Independent Tribune
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 36 states and Washington, D.C., have laws on the books prohibiting cellphone use by teens.
 

Feb. 4

Kansas governor: Medical pot should fund Medicaid expansion
ABC News
Gov. Kelly's plan is sure to further rile the conservative Republicans who lead both legislative chambers, but it could make Kansas the first state to use revenues from legalized marijuana to expand Medicaid coverage. The National Conference of State Legislatures said it knows of no state that has done so.
 
Fact-checking misleading attacks on HR 1, Democrats’ voting rights bill
PolitiFact
The majority of states already offer online voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Editorial: Census data delay serves as a reminder — put people before politics
Richmond Times Dispatch
This past May, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) warned that a 2020 census data delay would disrupt states’ redistricting procedures. In a letter to then-U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, New Jersey and Virginia were top of mind, with November 2021 legislative elections on the docket and a need for new maps to be drawn. “With delays, these states face constitutional dilemmas,” NCSL Executive Director Tim Storey said. “The bureau must consult with these states as soon as possible to determine the best course of action for releasing data.”
 
Measure granting voting rights to felons clears New Mexico House committee
Santa Fe New Mexican
The issue of granting voting rights to felons varies around the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, felons never lose their right to vote, even while incarcerated, in Vermont, Maine and the District of Columbia.
 
Measure to give legislature oversight of Iowa Supreme Court finds little support
Sioux City Journal
A spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures was not aware of any state with such a review process.
 
Idaho Senate approves constitutional ban on legal marijuana
Huron Daily Tribune
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen states and three territories have legalized recreational marijuana.
 
Proposal Would Let Maine Legislators Request Racial Impact Statements For New Laws
Maine Public
Racial impact statements have been adopted by roughly seven states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They are relatively new and their efficacy is still unclear.
 
State lawmakers look to eliminate hand-held cellphone use by drivers
Carolina Coastline
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 36 states and Washington, D.C., have laws on the books prohibiting cell-phone use by teens.
 
‘Stand Your Ground’ bill fails before Arkansas House panel
KY 3 News
At least 25 states have laws stating that there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The most recent state to enact such a measure was Ohio last month.
 
New Hampshire Republicans seek earlier state primary
Laconia Daily Sun
The state primary date, which has been held on the second Tuesday in September since 1910, is last in the nation following Rhode Island, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
As cyber threats loom, state officials aim to boost defenses
Pennsylvania Capital-Star
Executive orders and appointments to these roles are not uncommon, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In fact, only 15 states have statutes establishing chief information security officers (CISOs) despite the fact that nearly all 50 states have that post.
 

Feb. 3

Washington state eyes ‘billionaire tax’ on the ultra-rich
ABC News
Efforts to increase taxes on the wealthy are not new, but no state currently has a wealth tax, according to Jackson Brainerd, senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Washington state measure “would be the first of its kind if it passes,” he said.
 
Majority of state legislatures are Republican controlled
The Livingston Parish News
As of November 2020, three-fourths of states have governors and legislatures of the same party, “a sign that ticket-splitting may be waning nationwide,” the National Conference of State Legislatures reports.
 
Legislator seeks oversight of Iowa Supreme Court
Quad City Times
A spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures was not aware of any state with such a review process.
 
Nevada lawmakers kick off legislative session amid pandemic
Las Vegas Sun
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, many state legislatures have passed legislation allowing for remote meetings or voting. In January, the New Hampshire House of Representatives held a drive-in session in which microphones were brought to car windows for debate or comment.
 
Constitutional ban on legal pot advances in Idaho
Idaho State Journal
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen states and three territories have legalized recreational marijuana.
 

Feb. 2

Biden plays hardball as COVID relief decisions loom: The Note
ABC News
Another 11 could crash into either constitutionally mandated or statutory redistricting deadlines in 2021, including Colorado, and Maine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a dozen states are expected by state law to undergo the redistricting process the year after the Census.
 
Constitutional ban on legal pot advances in Idaho
ABC News
Thirty-six states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved comprehensive, publicly available medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fifteen states and three territories have legalized recreational marijuana.
 
Public Health Systems Still Aren’t Ready for the Next Pandemic
Governing
Some of the proposals could help public health agencies prepare for the next pandemic. But experts at the National Conference of State Legislatures predict that budget shortfalls will limit the number of states able to invest in emergency coronavirus funding, much less long-term development of public health infrastructure.
 
State lawmakers begin once-a-decade redistricting fight
Times West Virginian
“After the red wave in 2011, you had some really aggressive line-drawing in places like Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania,” said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, during a seminar sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Now I think the hot spots are going to be in the South — North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Texas.”
 
Census delay sends redistricting ripples nationwide
Sentinel Source
After the Census announcement Wednesday, the National Conference of State Legislatures released a five-point plan for states dealing with the problems caused by the delays. Wendy Underhill, the director for the organization’s elections and redistricting program, said the later the process goes the more it may flummox the actual running of the next set of elections. Election officials must draw up new precincts and place voters in the proper spots, she said, on a tight timeframe. “ ‘Oh, just move your primary date.’ I’m not saying that’s easy, but it is a thing states can be looking at,” Underhill said.
 
State lawmakers push to curb governors' virus powers
Hays Post
Lawmakers in more than half the states have filed bills this year to limit gubernatorial powers during the pandemic and other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most legislatures began their sessions this month.
 
State capitols reckon with racism in policing
The Pantagraph
On policing alone, lawmakers in at least 16 states have introduced more than 330 bills for this session, in both red and blue states, according to a database compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Billings representative selected for bigger role in national legislature group
KTVQ
A three-term Montana House representative from Billings has a bigger role in a nationwide legislative organization. The National Conference of State Legislatures selected Rep. Barry Usher, R-Billings, to serve on its executive committee.
 

Feb. 1

Kansas governor: Medical pot should fund Medicaid expansion
Washington Post
Kelly’s plan is sure to further rile the conservative Republicans who lead both legislative chambers, but it could make Kansas the first state to use revenues from legalized marijuana to expand Medicaid coverage. The National Conference of State Legislatures said it knows of no state that has done so.
 
Biden plays hardball as COVID relief decisions loom: The Note
ABC News
Another 11 could crash into either constitutionally mandated or statutory redistricting deadlines in 2021, including Colorado, and Maine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a dozen states are expected by state law to undergo the redistricting process the year after the Census, including Michigan, and the ripple effects are piling up elsewhere, with Texas possibly requiring a special session to draw new maps.
 
State Legislatures Expect to See Racial Justice Fight
Governing
“It’s the right time. It’s way past the right time,” said Washington state Sen. Manka Dhingra, a Democrat. She introduced three police accountability bills this session, including one that would require officers to intervene if they see wrongdoing by peers. On policing alone, lawmakers in at least 16 states have introduced more than 330 bills for this session, in both red and blue states, according to a database compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
State lawmakers begin once-a-decade redistricting fight
Sentinel Source
“After the red wave in 2011, you had some really aggressive line-drawing in places like Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania,” said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, during a seminar sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Now I think the hot spots are going to be in the South — North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Texas.”
 
Washington lawmakers passed a tax credit for working families in 2008. Is this the year they finally fund it?
Seattle Times
Along with the federal government, 29 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, have some type of earned-income tax credit program, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Billings representative selected for bigger role in national legislature group
KTVQ Billings News
A three-term Montana House representative from Billings has a bigger role in a nationwide legislative organization. The National Conference of State Legislatures selected Rep. Barry Usher, R-Billings, to serve on its executive committee.
 
State capitols reckon with racism in policing
Journal Gazette Times-Courier
On policing alone, lawmakers in at least 16 states have introduced more than 330 bills for this session, in both red and blue states, according to a database compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Minnesota House Democrats Launch Push For Legal Marijuana
WCCO 4 CBS Minnesota
Fifteen other states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational marijuana for adults to varying degrees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Republicans will never agree to a $15 federal minimum wage hike. Just do it, anyway
AZCentral.com
Thankfully, 29 states and D.C. already have wages higher than the federal minimum, and seven have bumped it to $15, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Arizona, the minimum wage jumped this year to $12.15 per hour, thanks to the 2016 voter-approved Propositon 206.
 
Montana House advances bill providing virus liability shield
East Oregonian
Montana joins at least 20 other states that are considering protections against liability claims related to COVID-19 for businesses, health care providers and educational institutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Idaho Senate Committee Signs Off On Anti-Drug Constitutional Amendment
Boise State Public Radio
A bipartisan bill to legalize medical marijuana is expected to be introduced next week. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states have legalized medical marijuana and 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana.