In the News | January 2021

1/5/2021

Jan. 29

US House data not ready until April, states’ data after July
Associated Press
Other states have already started working on backup plans, said Ben Williams, a redistricting expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Their options include asking courts to provide relief, passing new laws or constitutional amendments changing the map-making deadlines and changing elections dates. One other option includes using other data sets for redistricting and then reconciling those data sets with the redistricting data the Census Bureau releases after July, Williams said.
 
State legislatures in 2021: What to expect on trans rights, abortion, voting and more
USA Today
Lawmakers in Florida have also backed a bill that would protect some businesses and health-care providers from lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers in at least 25 states have introduced at least 76 bills that propose protecting certain entities from coronavirus-related lawsuits, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Paid leave bills hit speed bump at Roundhouse
Albuquerque Journal
Currently, nine states have enacted paid family and medical leave laws, with California the first state to do so in 2002, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Special legislative session may be required for redistricting in Nebraska
The Grand Island Independent
The new goal for completing data processing at the Census Bureau is now April 30, but the separate data used to redraw districts may not be available until after July, the bureau has informed the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
US House census data not ready until April, states' data after July
FOX 61
The new goal for finishing data processing for the apportionment numbers used for congressional seats is now April 30. But a separate set of data used for redrawing districts for states and local governments won't be ready until after July in the most likely scenario, Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official, said during a presentation for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State lawmakers are pushing to curb governors' coronavirus powers, like mask orders and shutdowns
KHOU – 11
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.
 

Jan. 28

Census Numbers For Dividing Up House Seats Delayed Until April 30, Bureau Says
NPR
"I think the worst thing that we could do would be [to] deliver data that had question marks with it. We need to give you the best data that we can," Kathleen Styles, the bureau's chief of 2020 census communications and stakeholder relations, said Wednesday during a webinar organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Census Bureau: Apportionment data not expected until April
Roll Call
Kathleen Styles, the agency’s head of decennial communications and stakeholder relations, told the National Conference of State Legislatures that census officials are still tabulating results from the 2020 enumeration — weeding out duplicate responses and finding people who did not respond on their own.
 
US House data not ready until April, states' data after July
Minneapolis Star Tribune
The new goal for finishing data processing for the apportionment numbers used for congressional seats is now April 30. But a separate set of data used for redrawing districts for states and local governments won't be ready until after July in the most likely scenario, Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official, said during a presentation for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Policymakers Should Leverage Evidence to Inform Pandemic-Driven Budget Cuts
PEW States
The National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL’s) new Center for Results-Driven Governing recently released an issue brief to help legislators and their staff address these challenges. The brief highlights key questions that lawmakers can ask to help ensure that evidence and data are used in budget and policy decisions in upcoming sessions, and in the years ahead. 
 

Jan. 27

Arguments over $15 minimum wage persist as Biden pushes COVID economic rescue plan
CBS News
Over half the states — 29 — have raised the minimum wage above the federal minimum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And the National Employment Law Center found that by the end of 2021, 40 cities and counties will have met or exceeded a $15 per hour minimum wage.
 
State Capitols Reckon With Racism in Policing
Stateline
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).
 
Indiana officials have different opinions on same-day voter registration, but agree a proposed bill won’t move ahead in the state legislature
Chicago Tribune
As of 2020, 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted same-day registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Studies have found “strong evidence” that same-day voter registration increases voter turnout, but the extent of the impact is difficult conclude, according to the NCSL.
 
Despite insurrection, there may be more guns in the Texas Capitol this session
Texas Tribune
Metal detectors were installed at the Texas Capitol’s four public entrances in 2010 after a gunman fired shots on the building grounds. At the time, then-Governor Rick Perry and other lawmakers worried the security hurdles would make the Capitol unwelcoming to the public. At least 32 states use metal detectors in their capitol buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pandemic eases, and complicates, legislating
The CT Mirror
At least 28 state legislatures are working or voting virtually to some degree in 2021, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. A spike in COVID-19 cases temporarily shut down legislatures this month in Colorado, Missouri and Wyoming.
 
Safety advocates urge Nebraska to tighten seat belt law
North Platte Telegraph
Nebraska is one of nine states that only require seat belts for front-seat passengers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Violations are also considered a secondary offense, meaning police can't cite someone for not wearing a seat belt unless they've stopped the vehicle for some other reason.
 
Guns on campus bill moving quickly in Montana Legislature
Great Falls Tribune
The National Conference on State Legislatures counted 19 states that introduced legislation to allow concealed carry in 2013 and 14 states that proposed such bills the following year.
 
Montana's youngest legislators: Under 25, diverse, Republican with 'a libertarian streak'
Missoula Current
The three join seven other legislators under the age of 35, a decrease from 2019’s session, which featured 19 legislators younger than 35. But this is only the second time since 1989 that there have been more than two lawmakers under the age of 25. And Montana is only one of two states, joining Alaska, to have any lawmakers in the statehouse who belong to Generation Z, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Despite insurrection, there may be more guns in the Texas Capitol this session
San Antonio Current
At least 32 states use metal detectors in their capitol buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Montana Virus Liability Bill Advancing Through Legislature
Insurance Journal
Montana joins at least 20 other states that are considering liability protections against claims related to COVID-19 for businesses, health care providers or educational institutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
You can now watch state House debates, but not Senate. How to tune in.
The News & Observer
“There are no discussions about installing video equipment in the Senate Chambers,” said Lauren Horsch, a spokeswoman for Senate leader Phil Berger. That leaves the N.C. Senate as one of only two legislative chambers in the country that don’t provide public video of their proceedings, according to a list maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Jan. 26

Can the cannabis industry be an agent of social justice? Or is it just another big business?
The Washington Post
America is the world’s largest cannabis market, but the use, possession or sale of marijuana over certain amounts remains illegal under federal law. Still, state laws are shifting, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Following ballot measures in November, cannabis will be legal for adult recreational use in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Medical use will be allowed in 36 states.
 
Hawaii National Guard returning from DC to quarantine for 14 days; on duty for 31 days total
Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hickman said the cost for the Hawaii effort won’t be known until later. The National Conference of State Legislatures provided a ballpark figure for ongoing use of the National Guard for COVID-19 relief, saying the tab can run as much as $9 million per month per 1,000 troops mobilized.
 
Maine Lawmakers Fight Over What's A Proper Face Covering
Maine Public
Many Republican lawmakers in other states have ignored masking requirements or ditched them altogether in some of the legislative chambers that they control, according to a partial compilation of rules by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Police reforms moving forward in Missouri, but so is a crackdown on protesters
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
According to The Marshall Project and data obtained by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa and New York have endorsed changes such as prohibitions on chokeholds, limits on the use of excessive force and additional protections for protesters.
 
How physicians can reach lawmakers amid COVID-19 restrictions
American Medical Association
Panel moderator Tim Storey, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted that there are 99 state legislative chambers (Nebraska only has one), and there have been seemingly just as many approaches to conducting their state’s business—with some states utilizing “an enormous amount of plexiglass.”
 
Guns on campus bill moving quickly in Montana Legislature
Great Falls Tribune
The National Conference on State Legislatures counted 19 states that introduced legislation to allow concealed carry in 2013 and 14 states that proposed such bills the following year.
 
Pandemic eases, and complicates, legislating
The Connecticut Mirror
At least 28 state legislatures are working or voting virtually to some degree in 2021, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. A spike in COVID-19 cases temporarily shut down legislatures this month in Colorado, Missouri and Wyoming.
 
Research suggests anti-price gouging laws like Utah's created shortages during pandemic
Standard-Examiner
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states have some form of law that works to control prices during emergencies, including Utah.
 
Montana’s youngest legislators: Under 25, diverse, Republican with ‘a libertarian streak’
Missoula Current
The three join seven other legislators under the age of 35, a decrease from 2019’s session, which featured 19 legislators younger than 35. But this is only the second time since 1989 that there have been more than two lawmakers under the age of 25. And Montana is only one of two states, joining Alaska, to have any lawmakers in the statehouse who belong to Generation Z, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States that pay their politicians the most
Daily News
Stacker ranked the most lucrative states for politicians in ascending order based on each state's governor salary and state representative salary, using 2019 data from the Council of State Governments for governor salaries and 2020 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures for state representative salaries.
 

Jan. 25

Bill seeks to ease limits on North Dakota’s ‘castle’ law
Associated Press
At least 25 states have laws saying there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State Republicans push new voting restrictions after Trump’s loss
Politico
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan organization, 36 states have some form of voter ID law in place. The NCSL classifies Georgia as a “strict photo ID” state, meaning voters without approved ID must vote on a provisional ballot and take steps after the election to get their ballot counted.
 
Lawmakers Move to Strip Governors' Emergency Powers
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Kentucky isn’t alone. For this year’s sessions, in at least half the states, Republicans and some Democrats have proposed limiting their governor’s emergency powers in some way, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pandemic eases, and complicates, legislating
The CT Mirror
At least 28 state legislatures are working or voting virtually to some degree in 2021, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. A spike in COVID-19 cases temporarily shut down legislatures this month in Colorado, Missouri and Wyoming.
 
Young Republican lawmakers chart their own course in Montana legislature
Sidney Herald Leader
The three join seven other legislators under the age of 35 -- a decrease from 2019’s session, which featured 19 legislators younger than 35. But, this is only the second time since 1989 that there have been more than two lawmakers under the age of 25. And, Montana is only one of two states, joining Alaska, to have any percentage of lawmakers in the statehouse who belong to Generation Z, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Stephanie Grace: Congressional races put female candidates at center stage
Times Picayune
But now, every statewide office is held by a man. The eight-member Congressional delegation has been all male since Landrieu lost to Bill Cassidy in 2014; Louisiana is one of just 11 states — most of them much smaller — with no women in Congress. And last year the state ranked among the nation's lowest in terms of female representation in the Legislature, at just 18.1%, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Editorial: Make voter registration automatic in Oklahoma
Tulsa World
Kirt points out a National Conference of State Legislatures report that shows 20 states have automatically register voters. It's system that has been tested and shown to work.
 
Proposal would create more, smaller House districts
Arizona Mirror
As of 2019, Arizona had the eight most populous state Senate districts in the United States, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Lawmakers move to strip governors’ emergency powers
Lancaster Online
Kentucky isn’t alone. For this year’s sessions, in at least half the states, Republicans and some Democrats have proposed limiting their governor’s emergency powers in some way, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
ND LAWMAKERS REVISITING DEADLY FORCE BILL
News Dakota
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 25 states have laws saying there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker.
 
Bill seeks to ease limits on North Dakota's 'castle' law
Valley News Live
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 25 states have laws stating that there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker.
 

Jan. 22

Iowa Legislature's streaming of committee meetings is welcome, but the House's procedure is an unfair mess
Des Moines Register
COVID-19 has brought the 21st century to the Statehouse. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Iowa has this month become one of the last few states to provide live streams online of committee-level meetings.
 
Alabama officials to decide whether to implement President Biden's vaccine plan
ABC 40
In the pandemic, all fifty states have activated components of the National Guard to assist with COVID-19 fighting efforts and in Alabama they are assisting with the decontamination and disinfection of nursing homes with positive residents and employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
GOP lawmakers in Missouri Capitol aren’t wearing masks, and people are getting sick
The Kansas City Star
Some have suspended legislative sessions, limited access to state capitols or explored alternatives to physical meetings. Parameters have also been put in place to conduct legislative business within the constitutional constraints of each state, according to the National Council of State Legislators.
 
COVID-19 extended sentences for some incarcerated; drug treatment delays in NH stalls releases
New Hampshire Union-Leader
In at least half the states, incarcerated people can have time taken off their sentence by working, getting educational degrees or completing programs such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The showdown that could define the 2021 legislative session
Idaho Ed News
At least 25 states are looking at legislation to curtail a governor’s powers during an emergency, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States that pay their politicians the most
The Buffalo News
Stacker ranked the most lucrative states for politicians in ascending order based on each state’s governor’s salary and state representative salary, using 2019 data from the Council of State Governments for governor salaries and 2020 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures for state representative salaries.
 

Jan. 21

Some Illinois lawmakers want the COVID-19 vaccine now, but not so fast, says Pritzker
7 KHQA
The idea of vaccinating lawmakers early isn't new, though. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are at least eight states that include members of their legislature in priority phases of their vaccination plan.
 
Iowa Legislature's streaming of committee meetings is welcome, but the House's procedure is an unfair mess
Des Moines Register
COVID-19 has brought the 21st century to the Statehouse. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Iowa has this month become one of the last few states to provide live streams online of committee-level meetings.
 
Hawaii Still Has Progress To Make In Electing Women Leaders
Honolulu Civil Beat
Overall, Hawaii’s representation of women in the House and Senate totaled 24 in 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Women’s Legislative Network (2021 numbers were not available as of press time), or 31.6% of the total number of seats. For comparison, Nevada tops this list at 52.4% of their legislature comprised of women in 2020.

Two more cities pass resolutions opposing voting center consolidation proposal
Daily Times
Both resolutions expressed opposition to the move that would see Blount voting precincts shrink from 31 locations to between 10 and 15 “convenience voting centers,” a model some counties in Tennessee and 17 states nationwide have already adopted, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
 
GOP leaders seek to limit potency of medical pot for younger patients
New Hampshire Union Leader
Currently 13 states have some limits on THC content with some as low as 5% in states such as Georgia, Kansas and Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Jan. 20

State Capitols Bolster Cybersecurity as Violent Threats Grow
Governing
One of the biggest fears is the disruption of government, said Jeff Ford, chair of the National Association of Legislative Information Technology, an organization of IT professionals that is a subgroup of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). "This is a very high concern," said Ford, who also is chief technology and security officer for the Indiana Legislative Services Agency.
 
Look to the states for solutions in 2021
The Hill
State legislators working with organizations focused on state policy are empowered by the information they exchange, leading to policy discussions with multiple stakeholders.
There are several organizations that seek to fulfill this critical role of convening legislators for policy discussion, education, and development. The National Conference of State Legislatures is one; the Council of State Governments is another. 
 
The 10 best electric bikes in 2021: Rad, Electra, Norco and more
NBC News
Some states have specific laws and regulations regarding e-bikes. Some local governments are banning certain classes of electric bikes, Downey noted. Make sure you understand your region’s rules before buying a bike — the National Conference of State Legislatures offers a helpful guide.
 
COVID-19 Extends Sentences for Some Incarcerated People
Pew Trusts
In at least half the states, incarcerated people can have time taken off their sentence by working, getting educational degrees or completing programs such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sometimes programs or work are required as part of a sentence. 
 
State Capitols Brace for Cyberattacks Ahead of Inauguration
Government Technology
One of the biggest fears is the disruption of government, said Jeff Ford, chair of the National Association of Legislative Information Technology, an organization of IT professionals that is a subgroup of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). "This is a very high concern," said Ford, who also is chief technology and security officer for the Indiana Legislative Services Agency.
 
Hawaii Still Has Progress To Make In Electing Women Leaders
Honolulu Civil Beat
Overall, Hawaii’s representation of women in the House and Senate totaled 24 in 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Women’s Legislative Network (2021 numbers were not available as of press time), or 31.6% of the total number of seats. For comparison, Nevada tops this list at 52.4% of their legislature comprised of women in 2020.
 
Arkansas Senate OKs ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill, sends to House
KY3 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. Ohio’s GOP governor earlier this month signed legislation removing that state’s duty to retreat.
 

Jan. 19

The Biggest Issues to Watch in 2021
Governing
Even though public schools may be protected if they are following public health guidance, many districts are purchasing additional liability insurance, says Patrick Lyons, a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislators. “Districts are asking, ‘Even if we follow the best guidance now, what if it turns out to not be right and we have a bunch of spread. Can we be held liable for standards that weren't yet developed?’” he says.
 
Legislature pays for remote-voting system on the eve of a coronavirus-impacted session
Alaska News Source
The remote-voting system costs around $74,000, and it will be run by the International Roll Call Corp. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 states have adopted some sort of remote-voting during the pandemic.
 
The mechanics of the Idaho power struggle
Idaho State Journal
Lawmakers in other states have similar concerns over pandemic restrictions imposed by governors. Idaho joins at least 17 other states in considering enacting limits on executive powers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Election integrity still matters
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Today, there is little consistency in voter ID laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states either require or request voters to present identification at the polls. The conference says only six states have “strict” photo ID requirements—Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
 
Constitutional amendment sought for Maine's ranked-choice voting
The Conway Daily Sun
In 2019, lawmakers in at least 22 states introduced bills to adopt various forms of ranked choice voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Jan. 18

Blacks in State Legislatures: A State-by-State Map
Governing
African American representation was 9 percent in 2015, according to Amanda Zoch, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislators. Twenty-five states have seen their percentages of Black lawmakers inch upward since then, though Black Americans are still underrepresented compared to their share of the population.
 
State Capitols Brace for Cyberattacks, Too
PEW
One of the biggest fears is the disruption of government, said Jeff Ford, chair of the National Association of Legislative Information Technology, an organization of IT professionals that is a subgroup of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Idaho lawmakers seeking increased role, limitations on governor’s authority over coronavirus restrictions
East Idaho News
Lawmakers in other states have similar concerns over pandemic restrictions imposed by governors. Idaho joins at least 17 other states in considering enacting limits on executive powers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Despite pandemic spotlight on election hurdles, early voting proposals at standstill
Daily Journal
Mississippi is one of only nine states that still do not offer online registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee all allow it, and studies show it ultimately saves states money.
 

Jan. 14

Arkansas Senate panel advances 'Stand Your Ground' bill
San Francisco Chronicle
At least 25 states have laws stating that there is not duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ohio's GOP governor on Monday signed legislation removing that state's duty to retreat.
 
What would Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement mean for Florida?
Tampa Bay Times
Florida, unlike most states, has not established targets for how much of its power will come from renewable technology, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Jacobs overstates election issues
PolitiFact
States have different ways of administering elections, and legislatures can formalize these policies in statute, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Idaho Senate starts effort to wrest power from Gov. Little
The Roanoke Times
Idaho joins at least 17 other states in considering enacting limits on executive powers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
4 Idaho Senate bills aim to increase Legislature’s authority while limiting governor’s power
Idaho Statesman
Idaho joins at least 17 other states in considering enacting limits on executive powers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Pennsylvania House committee, on party line vote, advances Taxpayer Protection Act
The Wellsboro Gazette
“According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirty states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation,” she wrote. “Pennsylvania is in the minority of states having no controls.”
 

Jan. 13

What would Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement mean for Florida?
Tampa Bay Times
Florida, unlike most states, has not established targets for how much of its power will come from renewable technology, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Emissions pledges here have instead been adopted sporadically at the local level. When Trump announced his intent to ditch the Paris Agreement early in his presidency, hundreds of U.S. mayors, including St. Petersburg’s Rick Kriseman and, at the time, Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn — both Democrats — promised to uphold its goals in their cities.
 
Program that allows companies to assist employees with student loan debt extended under relief package
KXXV – Waco, TX
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the provision has been extended through December 31, 2021.
 
Montana bill seeks to limit governor's power in disasters
Tulsa World
Montana joins at least 17 other states currently considering enacting limits on executive powers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Campaign to Cap Payday Loan Interest Rates at 36% Moves Ahead in Nebraska Even as Federal Measures Remain Stalled
NBC Miami
Across the U.S., 37 states have specific statutes that allow for payday lending, but with restrictions, such as varying interest rate caps and maximum loan amounts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Behind the scenes, new chiefs of staff join leaders of Vermont Legislature
Vermont Digger
Some states, including Massachusetts, Illinois and New Jersey, have more than or close to 1,000 staffers in their statehouses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Record number of women, Black and LGBTQ lawmakers serving in Missouri's Legislature
News Tribune
In just two years, the percent of women who served in state legislatures nationwide increased by nearly 4 percentage points in 2020 to 29 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers seek to curb Idaho governor’s emergency authority
Bradenton Herald
Idaho joins at least 17 other states currently considering enacting limits on executive powers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Some WA legislators come to the Capitol armed with guns
KXLY News – Spokane, WA
The nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures doesn’t track how many state Capitols allow firearms inside. But the organization said that at least 32 states use metal detectors at their state Capitols. Washington is not among them.
 

Jan. 12

Maryland's Governor Wants to Send Covid-19 Relief Checks to Residents
The Wall Street Journal
Some states may take a wait-and-see approach with President-elect Joe Biden set to assume office and Democrats set to control both chambers in Congress, said Mandy Rafool, director of fiscal programs at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Michael Madigan Suspends Campaign for Illinois House Speaker
The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Madigan, who has been speaker for all but two years since 1983, has come under increasing pressure to step aside in the wake of a federal corruption probe. He is the longest-serving speaker of a state house nationally, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Biden, once a warrior in the ‘war on drugs,’ may slowly retreat
Washington Post
In an election that was otherwise defined by stark political differences, voters in both red states and blue states — Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota — supported ballot initiatives to legalize the personal use of marijuana, while Mississippi voters legalized it for medicinal use. Along with earlier action by state legislatures or voters, 15 states have legalized marijuana, while 36 others have approved some form of medicinal marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Many State Capitols Have Security Holes
Stateline
About 30 state capitols employ metal detectors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Spokesperson Mick Bullock would not elaborate, citing security concerns.
 
Record number of women, Black and LGBTQ lawmakers serving in Missouri’s legislature
Columbia Daily Tribune
In just two years, the percent of women who served in state legislatures nationwide increased by nearly 4 percentage points in 2020 to 29 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Arizona 2021 Legislative Session Focus: Emergency Power, Election Laws, Education Funding
KAWC
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that in six states the expanded power of the governor in an emergency has a built-in expiration date of between two and 60 days, depending on the state and the type of emergency.
 

Jan. 11

How to Ensure This Never Happens Again
The New York Times
If national legislation proves unlikely, states can enact automatic voter registration on their own. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have some version, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Strict absentee voting limits proposed after record Georgia turnout
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Sixteen states require voters to provide an excuse if they want to vote outside a polling place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those excuses can include age, disability, sickness or travel.
 
Emergency powers, election laws, education funding: Arizona Legislature's agenda
Arizona Daily Star
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that in six states the expanded power of the governor in an emergency has a built-in expiration date of between two and 60 days, depending on the state and the type of emergency.
 
Republican State Lawmaker Seeks Shortened Session Focused Only on Coronavirus Pandemic
The Daily Chronicle
Lawmakers in at least 28 states have taken similar measures to allow remote discussion or voting since the pandemic flared in March 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Three proposed bills challenge how Alabama citizens are allowed to vote
Opelika-Auburn News
Alabama is one of six states that does not allow early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alabama also requires an affidavit of two witness signatures on a mailed-in ballot, another practice where Alabama falls in the minority of states regarding the measure – one of four, according to the Federal Voting Assistance Program's website.
 
Emergency powers one of several focus points of 2021 legislature
The Verde Valley Independent
The National Conference of State Legislatures says that in six states the expanded power of the governor in an emergency has a built-in expiration date of between two and 60 days, depending on the state and the type of emergency.
 

Jan. 8

Louisiana Spotlight: Revisiting Louisiana's open primary system a difficult issue
The Advocate
Opinions already are split. The logistics are complex, and the costs can vary widely depending on approach. States have a myriad of primary systems, though Louisiana remains unique in its approach, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Strict absentee voting limits proposed after record Georgia turnout
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Sixteen states require voters to provide an excuse if they want to vote outside a polling place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those excuses can include age, disability, sickness or travel.
 
Carbon free energy required by 2050 under proposal
Glendale Star
In a November report, the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures said many states consider clean energy generation to be the key to decarbonizing both the transportation and power sectors, which together produce 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
 
California to phase out Division of Juvenile Justice, creating an opportunity for substantial reform
KOLD News 13
California will join Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Dakota and several other states that have closed state-run youth prisons in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Jan. 7

As State Legislatures Aim to Convene Amid Covid, One Tries a Drive-in
The 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 in order to allow meeting remotely, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Strict absentee voting limits proposed after record Georgia turnout
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Sixteen states require voters to provide an excuse if they want to vote outside a polling place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those excuses can include age, disability, sickness or travel.
 
California to phase out Division of Juvenile Justice, creating an opportunity for substantial reform
Cronkite News
Under a bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in September, three Division of Juvenile Justice youth correctional facilities will be closed. California will join Connecticut, Wisconsin, South Dakota and several other states that have closed state-run youth prisons in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
It's time to make voting better in Missouri
Blue Springs Examiner
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states already allow early voting, giving citizens the latitude to cast their votes weeks before Election Day. In Missouri, all that’s available is absentee voting, for which a voter has to state why he or she cannot get to a polling place on Election Day.
 
Carbon free energy required by 2050 under proposal
Glendale Star
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electricity generation, transmission and distribution make up 27% of greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation makes up 28%. In a November report, the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures said many states consider clean energy generation to be the key to decarbonizing both the transportation and power sectors, which together produce 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
 

Jan. 6

For Democrats, be careful what you wish for?
Knoxville News Sentinel
As for the 2020 elections, the Vox website reported: “According to the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures), this means that out of 98 chambers (not counting Nebraska’s unicameral and facially nonpartisan body), ‘59 are held by Republicans, 37 by Democrats.’
 
Wyoming delegation remains divided as Electoral College vote approaches
Casper Star-Tribune Online
So far, there has been no substantial evidence to support the claims outlined in that letter. All but one of the states highlighted by the Wyoming GOP — Nevada, which Biden won by nearly 36,000 votes — require an audit of their election results following the election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, none of the audits conducted have discovered fraud or accounting errors serious enough to overturn the result, while judges have tossed out dozens of court challenges by the Trump campaign for a lack of evidence.
 
A new Legislature convenes and three pay hikes kick in. Only in Massachusetts
Boston Globe
Virtually no other state pays its lawmakers so much money. (California, New York, and Pennsylvania are the exceptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.)
 
Lawmakers renew push for party registration, closed Missouri primaries
Joplin Globe
Missouri shares an open primary system with 14 other states, according to a tracking page maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nine states have closed primaries where only people registered in political parties may vote.
 
Maine Lawmakers See Flurry of Election-Related Proposals
GovTech
Other states also will face a number of proposals to alter their voter registration and election laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, the details are unclear, as few states have hit their deadlines for submitting legislative proposals.
 
Texas’ medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the country. Advocates hope the Legislature will change that.
KTRE News 9
At least some form of medical marijuana is legal in 47 states nationwide, but Texas’ restrictions put it in the bottom 11 in terms of accessibility, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Climate roadmap bill sent to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk
The Lowell Sun
The requirements set in the conference bill would give Massachusetts a more aggressive timeline for emissions reductions than larger states like California and New York, both of which require emissions to be at least 40 percent lower than 1990 levels by 2030, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maine lawmakers seek more than a dozen changes to state election laws
Central Maine
Other states also will face a number of proposals to alter their voter registration and election laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, the details are unclear, as few states have hit their deadlines for submitting legislative proposals.
 
What if Virginia’s General Assembly operated year-round?
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Currently, Virginia is among 26 states to be classified as a hybrid of part- and full-time by the National Conference of State Legislatures. According to Natalie Wood, a director at NCSL, several variables classify different types of bodies from levels of full- and part-time, ranging from session frequency and length to staffing needs and salaries.
 

Jan. 5

State Legislatures Face a Session Like No Other
Governing
“In 2020, we saw states look at their constitutions and the question of where the legislature has to take place, does it have to be at the seat of government,” says Natalie Wood, of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “In over half the states, one chamber or both adopted rules to allow remote participation on the floor.”
 
“In 2020, we saw states look at their constitutions and the question of where the legislature has to take place, does it have to be at the seat of government,” says Natalie Wood, of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “In over half the states, one chamber or both adopted rules to allow remote participation on the floor.”
 
Some Pandemic Protections for Consumers Could Become Permanent
Stateline
At least 23 states and D.C. have enacted or are considering new consumer protection laws because of the pandemic, according to a database maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Fewer Rejected Ballots Seemed to Be a Win for Voter Access. Trump and Others Disagree.
PBS Frontline
Further, roughly two dozen states temporarily eased mail voting rules as a result of the pandemic and those new policies may expire in 2021, according to data gathered by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
What if Virginia's General Assembly operated year-round?
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Currently, Virginia is among 26 states to be classified as a hybrid of part- and full-time by the National Conference of State Legislatures. According to Natalie Wood, a director at NCSL, several variables classify different types of bodies from levels of full- and part-time, ranging from session frequency and length to staffing needs and salaries.
 
Texas’ medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the country. Advocates hope the Legislature will change that.
The Texas Tribune
At least some form of medical marijuana is legal in 47 states nationwide, but Texas’ restrictions put it in the bottom 11 in terms of accessibility, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Advocates Again Pushing For Automatic Voter Registration
Honolulu Civil Beat
The nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures explains that the origins of this “pioneering new way” of registering voters came through the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The NCSL says that the NVRA, also known as the “motor-voter” law, soon became a national trend: “The U.S. Election Assistance Commission notes that during the 2016 election cycle, 33% of all voter registration applications, approximately 25 million, originated in a DMV.”
 
Climate Roadmap Bill Sent To Baker's Desk
WBUR
The requirements set in the conference bill would give Massachusetts a more aggressive timeline for emissions reductions than larger states like California and New York, both of which require emissions to be at least 40% lower than 1990 levels by 2030, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers renew push for party registration, closed Missouri primaries
Columbia Daily Tribune
Missouri shares an open primary system with 14 other states, according to a tracking page maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are nine states that have closed primaries where only people registered in political parties may vote.
 
Maine lawmakers seek more than a dozen changes to state election laws
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
Other states also will face a number of proposals to alter their voter registration and election laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, the details are unclear, as few states have hit their deadlines for submitting legislative proposals. The conference said New Hampshire has 26 voting-related bills on its legislative docket, while Texas has at least 60 and there are 41 bills on the agenda in Montana. In 2020, lawmakers in 43 states, Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico passed 223 bills dealing with elections and voting, many of them in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

Jan. 4

The legislature wants to curb Beshear’s executive powers. What does that look like?
Lexington Herald Leader
In 36 states, the legislature can call itself into special session (a concept House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, has said he’s exploring) and five of the remaining 14 states have year-round legislative bodies or must be called into session during an emergency, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Put down the phone while driving
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The biggest source of distraction for drivers, not surprisingly, is a cellphone. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that more than 303 million people in the United States have cellphones, and during daylight hours, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cellphone.
 
Rowland, Davis prepare for challenges on county commission
The Daily Sentinel
According to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, zero-based budgeting is a method that begins every budget cycle at zero and rejects any assumption that previously budgeted activities must begin where they left off. In other words, each expense must be justified from the ground up, and whatever actually gets funding depends on thorough analysis and priority.
 
PA needs the right election code revisions
Courier Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all states administer elections at local levels
 
Starting Friday, Arizona drivers using handheld cellphones can be ticketed and fined
AZCentral.com
Including Arizona, 25 states have a blanket ban on handheld-cellphone use while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. All states but two — Missouri and Montana — ban texting for all drivers. Missouri prohibits text messaging by drivers 21 years old or younger.
 
Paid sick time mandate ends for Americans in new year as pandemic rages on
KETV Omaha
Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey passed measures in 2018, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maine and Nevada did the same in 2019. Nebraska and Iowa do not require employers to offer paid sick time.
 
Delaware's Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Effect
NBC 10 Philadelphia
Delaware joins California, Hawaii and New York as states with limited plastic bag use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cities across the country, like Boston; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; Portland, Maine; San Francisco and Seattle have passed their own local legislation banning or placing fees on plastic bags.