In the News | July 2021

8/9/2021

July 30

Republicans Top Democrats in Passing State Voting Laws, Often Adding Limits
The Wall Street Journal
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which conducted its own analysis, says the U.S. this year hasn’t surpassed the number of new state election laws seen in some past years, but that some states adopted lengthy bills in 2021 full of changes.
 
“A lot is packed into a small package,” said Wendy Underhill, who directs the bipartisan group’s elections and redistricting program. “It’s the year after a great, big presidential election that left many people unsatisfied.”
 
Rise in Car Crash Deaths Prompts New Seat-Belt Push
The Wall Street Journal
In 20 states, police can pull a car over if an officer sees an unbuckled adult in the front or back seat, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Twenty-nine states have weaker laws, including nine where the failure of an adult in the front seat to wear a belt is a secondary offense, which means police need another reason, such as speeding, to stop a car and issue a citation. New Hampshire is the only state with no adult seat-belt law, and 2019 federal data show it had the lowest rate of belt use at 71%. Children are covered by separate state laws.
 
Will schools and day cares mandate COVID vaccines or masks for fall 2021 back to school?
USA Today
For public schools, vaccine requirements are largely left up to states, but none have yet required children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to reenter school, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Meanwhile, at least seven states have passed laws this year prohibiting schools from requiring students to be vaccinated – or show proof of vaccination – against COVID-19, according to a recent CNN analysis. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma and Utah.
 
NC Republicans try a backdoor grab for power
Raleigh News & Observer
Lawmakers in at least 46 states have introduced legislation relating specifically to legislative oversight of gubernatorial or executive actions during the COVID-19 pandemic or other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
ND Cyclists Can Ride

The Dickenson Press
North Dakota is one of just seven states without a safe passing law of some form, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. North Dakota's new policy, created under House Bill 1290 requires cars to provide bikers with a three-foot berth when passing.

July 29

State lawmakers work to strip old 'whites only' covenants
ABC News
Ten states this year have passed or are considering bills concerning restrictive covenants based upon race or religion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Besides Connecticut, the list includes California, Indiana, Ohio, Utah, Washington, Colorado, Nebraska, New York and North Carolina. In 2020, three states — Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia — passed legislation concerning covenants. In some cases, the bills update earlier anti-discrimination laws already on the books.
 
Flush With Cash, Red States Are Cutting Taxes
Forbes
There’s also the federal mandate included in the American Rescue Plan Act: states can’t use federal funds to cover any revenue shortfalls due to a tax cut. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that most states enacting cuts will not need to worry about the clawback provision in the near-term because increased revenues elsewhere will likely pay for the rate cuts.
 
“However,” it warns, “it is possible that an unexpected economic downturn in the future could put tax cutting states in a more vulnerable position.”
 
Editorial Roundup: South Carolina
U.S. News & World Report
The data will include the population breakdown along with demographics including ethnicity, race and voting age at all levels of geography down to the block level, according to the U.S. Census.
 
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, each state operates under certain criteria when making redistricting decisions with that data.
 
State could soon see effects of governor's limited power in emergencies
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
According to a May report from the Network for Public Health Law, at least 15 state legislatures had passed or were considering passing measures to limit the authority of public health agencies. The National Conference of State Legislatures has tracked 288 different bills across 48 states that deal with legislative oversight of executive authority.

July 28

States Flush With Cash Yet Some Worry About Future Crashes
Governing
Forty-eight states have enacted a budget so far this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an organization that advises state legislators. Most states begin their fiscal years July 1. Lawmakers are required to pass balanced budgets in every state but Vermont.
 
Summer of protest prompted spring flurry of policing bills
AP
Since May of 2020, when Floyd’s death became a national cause, more than 3,000 law enforcement-related bills have been introduced by state lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states have limited or eliminated neck restraints. Fifteen states addressed statewide standards for the use of force, and 15 created a duty to intervene for officers who witness a fellow officer using excessive force.
 
Cosmetology Puts a Face on Efforts to Curb Job License Barriers
Bloomberg Law
“Licensing is definitely something that is necessary in a lot of cases, it is there at its core to protect public health and safety,” said Iris Hentze, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “It needs to exists, but sometimes it gets away from health and safety and goes toward industries being protective of themselves. That’s where it can get unruly.”
 
State could soon see effects of governor's limited power in emergencies
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
According to a May report from the Network for Public Health Law, at least 15 state legislatures had passed or were considering passing measures to limit the authority of public health agencies. The National Conference of State Legislatures has tracked 288 different bills across 48 states that deal with legislative oversight of executive authority.
 
Mills touts growth of Maine's reserve funds
KPVI News
The total amount set aside in state rainy day funds fell for the first time since the Great Recession as state Legislatures filled budget gaps driven by the pandemic’s early fiscal and economic fallout, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nearly a third of all states reported declines in their savings, NCSL says.
 
Sununu signs ‘immunization freedom’ bill into law
Sentinel Source
The National Conference of State Legislatures counted nearly 500 bills restricting vaccination requirements introduced in legislatures across the country.

July 27

What Gerrymandering Means and Why It's Here to Stay
The Washington Post
Who draws the lines? That varies by state. Traditionally the task has been left to the state legislatures and governors, which means the party that controls two branches of state government can steer the direction of elections for a decade. To counter the influence of politics, 10 states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Montana (which is gaining a second House member based on the 2020 Census), New Jersey, Virginia and Washington -- have shifted “primary” redistricting responsibility to an independent or bipartisan commission, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Five other states have advisory commissions to help state legislators draw district lines. Iowa empowers a nonpartisan state legislative agency to draw district lines without taking political data into consideration, but the map is subject to approval by the state legislature.
 
Awash in Cash, State Lawmakers Ask How Long the Boom Will Last
PEW
Forty-eight states have enacted a budget so far this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an organization that advises state legislators. Most states begin their fiscal years July 1. Lawmakers are required to pass balanced budgets in every state but Vermont.
 
Want your vote to count? Grab some popcorn and keep an eye on SC legislature
Hilton Head Island Packet
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, each state operates under certain criteria when making redistricting decisions with that data.
 
New vaccine rules for Maine students go into effect September 1
NewsCenterMaine.com WCSH-WLBZ
All 50 states have legislation requiring specified vaccines for students, although exemptions vary from state to state. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Maine is among six U.S. states without religious or philosophical exemptions.
 
Mississippi doesn't have to change law to make voting hard. It already is.
Meridan Star
And Mississippi is the only state to require people to get two documents notarized to vote by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The voter must get both the ballot application and the ballot notarized.
 
Awash in cash, state lawmakers ask how long the boom will last
Texarkana Gazette News
Forty-eight states have enacted a budget so far this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an organization that advises state legislators. Most states begin their fiscal years July 1. Lawmakers are required to pass balanced budgets in every state but Vermont.

July 26

As coronavirus surges, GOP lawmakers are moving to limit public health powers
The Washington Post
Lawmakers in at least 46 states have introduced hundreds of bills relating to legislative oversight of gubernatorial or executive actions during coronavirus or other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Republicans increasingly look to ballot initiatives as way to enact voting measures
NBC News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states already ask voters to provide some form of ID, with most of them allowing voters without ID to cast ballots if they sign a form under oath.
 
Panicked cities pressed Biden on rescue funds during the pandemic. Months later, some are slow to spend.
USA Today
Across the country, the track record is about the same: 22 states and Washington, D.C., have yet to pass legislation or take executive action laying out how they will use the money, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
No, California Does Not Have A Personal Belief Exemption For COVID-19 Vaccines For Kids
Capital Public Radio News
NCSL Information Cited
 
2021 Session Bills Filed – Laws Passed Top 2019
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
NCSL Information Cited
 
Mississippi does not have to change law to make voting hard. It already is.
Mississippi Today
In Mississippi, a person must have an excuse to vote early, such as being disabled, over age 65 or be away from home on election day. And Mississippi is the only state to require people to get two documents notarized to vote by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The voter must get both the ballot application and the ballot notarized.
 
No more balloon releases in Galveston? City considering a ban
KTRK-TV
In 2019, bills to limit the intentional release of large numbers of balloons were aired in legislatures in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, in addition to Maine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

July 22

These routine shots already are required in schools, as more states ban Covid-19 vaccine ...
CNN
All school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons. As of April, 44 states and Washington, DC also grant religious exemptions for students and 15 of those states allow philosophical exemptions for children, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maine's Rainy Day Fund may be ready for even a downpour
Mainebiz
While several other states drew from rainy day funds during the pandemic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Mills credited prudent fiscal management and federal support for the surplus.
 
Harris to Campaign for Newsom in California’s Recall Election
Epoch Times
The last time a governor was recalled in the state was in 2003 with Gray Davis. Residents voted yes on recalling Davis by 55.4 percent and selected one of 135 candidates on the ballot to replace him. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California is one of 19 states where recalls are permitted.
 
American Rescue Plan projects have to be executed with care
Martinsville Bulletin
Per a summary from the National Conference of State Legislatures, eligible uses for this state and local aid portion of the ARP fall into four categories: restoration of government services that were lost due to reduced revenue from COVID-19; responses to the COVID-19 emergency and its economic impact (aid to households, small businesses, nonprofits and industries like tourism); premium pay to essential workers or grants to their employers; and investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure. The GFOA adds that CSLFRF money cannot be used for two items: offsetting tax reductions, or delaying taxes or tax increases; and covering pension responsibilities.
 
State fires vaccine chief after she shares policy about vaccinating teens
KTVZ
All school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons. As of April, 44 states and Washington, DC also grant religious exemptions for students and 15 of those states allow philosophical exemptions for children, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Veterans continue to find ways to serve
Bouldercityreview
An analysis conducted by the National Conference of State Legislators after the 2020 elections identified at least 911 military veterans currently serving in the legislatures of the 50 states and five U.S. territories. These veterans make up 12.24 percent of the 7,383 state legislators nationwide.
 
Governor Carney Signs HB195 Into Law, Requiring Law Enforcement to Wear Body Cameras Statewide
wrde.com
Seven states have a statewide body camera mandate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Delaware is now the 8th state to do so.

July 21

Permanent mail-in voting bill clears committee hurdle
Lowell Sun
Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-day registration, while two of those states — Montana and North Carolina — allow a voter to register and cast a ballot on the same day during an early voting window, but not on Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lou Cannon: Health Care Upgrades Become the New Normal
Noozhawk
“The pandemic has forced states to take a look at their programs, and there’s been an effort to improve access,” said Emily Blanford, a Medicaid specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Petition filer says voter ID popular amongst voters regardless of political party
News Channel Nebraska
Nebraska is one of 15 states that does not at least request voters bring a photo ID to the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington D.C. also has no ID requirements.

July 20

Permanent mail-in voting bill clears committee hurdle
WWLP.com - Boston
Twenty states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-day registration, while two of those states — Montana and North Carolina — allow a voter to register and cast a ballot on the same day during an early voting window, but not on Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Waste not? Some states are sending less food to landfills

Wisconsin Examiner
At least eight states, all in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic except California, have laws requiring some reprocessing of food waste, to keep it out of landfills and cut down on greenhouse gases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Ohio Man Allegedly Kills Pregnant Girlfriend
Daily Caller
Ohio state law allows for criminals to be charged with fetal homicide, according to The National Conference of State Legislatures. This applies to a victim, including an “unborn member of the species Homo sapiens, who is or was carried in the womb of another.”
 
Now is the time for Utah to decriminalize marijuana, writes Robert Gehrke
Salt Lake Tribune
Eighteen states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized small amounts of cannabis for adult non-medicinal use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with Connecticut, whose law took effect this month, being the latest.
 
Republican groups eye school funding overhaul that factors in student poverty
Kenosha News
More than a dozen states have passed education funding changes in the past year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

July 19

These 10 states are America’s worst places to live in 2021
CNBC
The state offers just seven days of early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Democrats' marijuana legalization bill leaves Canopy Growth CEO optimistic
Yahoo Finance
Eighteen states, two U.S. territories and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use to date, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
‘You have to fight so hard’: Those battling COVID-19 in N.C. rarely get workers’ comp
Greensboro
North Carolina’s workers’ comp laws are among the nation’s least friendly to workers. At least 17 states and Puerto Rico have taken steps to make it easier for employees to prevail in workers’ comp cases involving COVID-19, according to information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. North Carolina isn’t one of them.
 
Republican groups eye school funding overhaul that factors in student poverty
Madison.Com
More than a dozen states have passed education funding changes in the past year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

July 15

The Census Bureau remains "on track"
NPR (NCSL Town Hall Cited)
The Census Bureau remains "on track" to release 2020 census redistricting data by Aug. 16, James Whitehorne, the head of the bureau's redistricting office, said during a
@NCSLorg town hall
 
Utah Hosting National Conference of State Legislatures Redistricting Conference
Utah Extra
More than 450 people are expected this week in Salt Lake City as the National Conference of State Legislatures will host its final “Get Ready to Redistrict” seminar from July 14–16. “Redistricting is front and center on the minds of legislators throughout the nation right now as we wait for the U.S. Census Bureau to release the detailed data required to do the job,” said Wendy Underhill, NCSL’s elections and redistricting director. “We’re lucky to have the nation’s experts on this exciting and sometimes contentious topic gathered in Salt Lake City. Nearly 450 people are coming to be part of NCSL’s first big meeting since the start of the pandemic.”
 
Rep. Clyburn's false claim that 'no Democrat' has opposed voter ID laws
The Washington Post
A total of 37 states had laws in 2020 requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, 35 of which were in force in that year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It said seven states had what it called “strict” photo ID requirements in place; South Carolina was not among them. A Monmouth University poll in June found that 80 percent of Americans (including 62 percent of Democrats) support requiring voters to show photo identification.
 
More than 90% of new Covid-19 cases in Mississippi are of unvaccinated people, governor says
CNN
As of June 22, at least 13 states have enacted laws that limit requirements for individuals to demonstrate their vaccination status or immunity against Covid-19 in general, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
 
26 States Now Allow College Athletes to Be Compensated for Image, Likeness
Newsweek
According to a database compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 25 states had laws allowing student athletes to earn compensation related to their fame through use of their name, image or likeness by July 2.
 
GOP Sen. Toomey: Biden Claim Election Integrity Laws Same as Jim Crow Is 'False, Offensive'
Breitbart
With regards to Voter ID, Georgia is just one of 36 states that require identification from those who want to vote, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports.
 
Delaware is also one of those 36 states requiring voter identification.
 
“In the event the voter does not have proof of identity with them, he or she shall sign an affidavit of affirmation that he or she is the person listed on the election district record,” the National Conference of State Legislatures notes.

July 14

Dems' House hopes hang on two states
Axios
"The two states that Democrats control that are big, or where there's margin left, are New York and Illinois," Ben Williams, a nonpartisan redistricting specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures, told Axios.
 
These are the runners-up in Top States for Business 2021
CNBC
In contrast, North Carolina received lower ratings for life, health, and inclusion, ranking 37th. But like Texas, it trails on Life, Health and Inclusion, with no statewide public accommodation law to protect non-disabled residents against discrimination according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Massachusetts: Tighter rules sought for childhood vaccines
Concord Monitor
At least 10 other states began considering stricter laws on school-aged vaccines following a nationwide measles outbreak in 2019, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Newsom Can't List Himself as Democrat on California Recall Ballot, Judge Rules
NTD
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California is one of 19 states where recalls are permitted.
 
Dimond: Our incarceration nation: Even after prison, many Americans are held captive
The Winchester Star
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports the average probation can last as long as nearly five years in Hawaii, more than four years in New Jersey and about 3 1/2 years in Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Rhode Island and New York. Some critics believe the system is deliberately set up to self-perpetuate, to keep the offender under supervision as long as possible to justify the need for the system.
 
Representative John Thompson Releases Statement About Traffic Stop
Tennessee Star
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, both Wisconsin and Minnesota will not revoke driving privileges until child support payments have been delinquent for over three months.

July 13

Police-Software Startup Mark43 Retools Amid Pushback Against Law Enforcement
The Wall Street Journal
NCSL Info Cited
 
Montana Officials Debate, Create Rules For Congressional Districting

MTPR
(Complete Interview with Wendy Underhill)
 
Lawsuit Challenges Maine’s Secret Court Decisions In Medical Malpractice Cases
Maine Public
Maine is one of 17 states that uses a prelitigation screening panel for medical malpractice cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, meaning cases are reviewed by a set of experts before possibly going to trial. In most states, testimony and evidence brought forward in those proceedings is a public record and is admissible in court if the plaintiff chooses to litigate the case.
 
Tighter rules sought for childhood vaccines
Eagle-Tribune
At least 10 other states began considering stricter laws on school-aged vaccines following a nationwide measles outbreak in 2019, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Radio Host Larry Elder to Run in California Recall Race Against Newsom
The Epoch Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California is one of 19 states where recalls are permitted.

July 12

‘This is not a great outcome’: Supreme Court ruling brings fear of explosion in voting restrictions
USA Today
NCSL Info Cited
 
Lawsuit challenges Maine's secret court decisions in medical malpractice cases
Bangor Daily News
Maine is one of 17 states that uses a prelitigation screening panel for medical malpractice cases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, meaning cases are reviewed by a set of experts before possibly going to trial. In most states, testimony and evidence brought forward in those proceedings is a public record and is admissible in court if the plaintiff chooses to litigate the case.
 
Drivers can help fight distractions on the road
The Oakland Press
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that there are currently 24 states that prohibit drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. Such laws are effective.
 
Our incarceration nation: After prison many still captive
Albuquerque Journal
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports the average probation can last as long as nearly five years in Hawaii, more than 4 years in New Jersey, about 3½ years in Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Rhode Island and New York. Some critics believe the system is deliberately set up to self-perpetuate, to keep the offender under supervision as long as possible to justify the need for the system.
 
Lawmakers approve $48 billion late budget
The Salem News
Massachusetts is just one of four states — including Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina — that hasn't approved a final budget for the next fiscal year, according to a tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Redistricting Commission decides on criteria for congressional district map
Great Falls Tribune
The commission then started to discuss criteria for legislative districts, especially surrounding the potential for adding criteria surrounding population percent deviation, but ultimately decided to hold off on making any decisions until July 20. Miller will be attending a National Conference of State Legislatures seminar on redistricting before the meeting and was requested to bring insights to the next meeting.

July 1

Georgia's top elections official defended the 2020 results. Now he's defending the state's new voting law.
CBS News
Raffensperger stressed that adding voter ID is just an "objective" means of proving identity that "helps give voters a better experience." Thirty-six states require some form of voter identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, while the other 14 states require some other form of identification, such as matching signatures.
 
Pennsylvania to hold on to $5B in ARP funds
WFMZ Allentown
While Pennsylvania lawmakers chose to save the majority of their ARP funds, other states are spending it. Neighboring New Jersey is spending $600 million of its $6.2 billion allocation on special education and another $400 million for trauma centers, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures, which is compiling a data base showing how states are using their money.
 
Louisiana college athletes can profit from name, image under bill governor expected to sign
The Advocate
The 22 states that have passed the laws have effective dates that range from Thursday to the 2024 school year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maine Limits Use of No-Knock Warrants by Law Enforcement
Denver Gazette
NCSL Cited
 
Vets want PTSD added to medical pot conditions
The Eagle Tribune
At least 33 states and the U.S. territory of Guam have listed PTSD as a qualifying condition for obtaining a medical marijuana license, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States Plan To Spend More.
WSKG
But according to an analysis from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a few other big- population states, like Illinois and Florida, are spending a larger share of their money in those areas.
 
Alabama's new commission on medical marijuana taking shape
al.com
Alabama is the 37th state to legalize medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.