In the News | March 2021

3/3/2021

Mar. 30

New York may deserve to be called the Garden State
Politico
An expert from the National Conference of State Legislatures talked about strategies states have used to respond to the record demand for benefits.
 
Lawmakers debate standard for stoned driving
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Under Nevada’s current law, people are considered impaired if their blood test comes back showing the presence of 2 nanograms per milliliter of THC or 5 or more nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite. Nevada is one of six states with thresholds on THC in the blood to test for impairment, ranging from 1 to 5 nanograms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while 11 states have a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana.
 
Census data delay scrambles plans for redistricting; NC considers options
BlueRidgeNow.com
"States that have done the exact same thing for decades in a row now have to look for alternatives," said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maine Republicans Propose Limiting Governor's Emergency Powers
Maine Public
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, roughly half of state legislatures have introduced bills this year seeking to curb governors’ emergency powers. In many instances, the bills have been backed by Republicans in states led by Democratic governors.
 
Can people obtain a rifle quicker than they can register to vote?
Austin – American Statesman
As support, Padilla’s office referred PolitiFact to statistics from the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures; the pro-gun-control Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; and an analysis by the Washington Post.
 
Census data delay scrambles plans for state redistricting
The Weirton Daily Times
“States that have done the exact same thing for decades in a row now have to look for alternatives,” said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. In many states, redistricting is done by lawmakers subject to a gubernatorial veto. A growing number will use independent or bipartisan commissions, but Republicans will have ultimate control over redistricting in more than twice as many states as Democrats.
 

Mar. 29

State lawmakers take aim at the emergency powers governors have relied on in the pandemic.
The New York Times
A list of bills by the National Conference of State Legislators shows that the gamut of the proposals is both broad and inventive.
 
Anger and incredulity at hearing on NJ's unemployment system
New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio
Zach Herman, a research analyst in the Employment, Labor & Retirement Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said states tried a multitude of approaches to expand the capacity of their unemployment systems after the pandemic struck. North Carolina and others created application tracking systems for the applicants. “They can see where their application is in the process and then also if there’s an issue with their application, they can go into it and see what it is,” Herman said. “So, if they typed their Social Security number wrong, they can go in and fix that Social Security number.”
 
Census data delay scrambles plans for state redistricting
Washington Post
“States that have done the exact same thing for decades in a row now have to look for alternatives,” said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maryland explores tightening law on public-private partnerships amid proposal to build new toll lanes
Washington Post
As of 2019, at least 38 states and the District had laws allowing P3s to some extent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Georgia lawmaker arrested as governor signs new election law
BBC News
Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows Republicans have legislative control in 30 states and unified control - including the governorship - in 23 states, far more than Democrats.
 

Mar. 26

California's net neutrality law springs to life
ABC News
Other states may also enact their own net-neutrality laws before the federal government acts. Nine states have introduced net neutrality bills this session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Are suit jackets oppression? Lawmakers fight own dress codes
Washington Post
The National Conference of State Legislatures hasn’t tallied how many legislatures are considering or have adopted rules addressing attire this year. But the Denver-based organization said roughly half of all state legislatures had some sort of formalized dress code in 2019.
 
What Utah childhood vaccination rates can, and can’t, reveal about demand for COVID-19 vaccine
Salt Lake Tribune
School immunization rates can shed light on how pockets of vaccine uncertainty work. Utah, Colorado and Idaho are among 15 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, where parents can opt their children out of vaccines required for school entry for philosophical reasons.
 
Minnesota marijuana bill continues push through House
St. Peter Herald
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized varying forms of recreational marijuana use for adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Medical marijuana is legal in Minnesota, though its restrictions are some of the toughest in the country.
 

Mar. 25

States Mull Paid Sick Leave After Stimulus Bill Drops Mandate
Law 360
"Paid sick leave has been slowly gaining momentum since 2011. In general, states are realizing that there's value to offering some of these paid leave laws for workers," said Suzanne Hultin, program director in the employment, labor and retirement program at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "COVID has been a reason for more states to continue examining that."
 
New York Lawmakers Reach Deal to Legalize Marijuana
The Wall Street Journal
Fourteen states and three territories have legalized recreational marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York would join its neighbors in an expansion of legal marijuana sales.
 
New York Lawmakers Reach Deal to Legalize Marijuana
The Wall Street Journal
NCSL Information Cited
 
Ban on police chokeholds advances in Missouri Senate
St. Louis 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.
 
Pandemic adds hurdles for sexually transmitted disease reduction
Roll Call
The nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures found that only 28 states require sex education and HIV education in schools.
 

Mar. 24

Lake County officials considering use for $94 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds
Chicago Tribune
The National Conference of State Legislatures states the funds can be used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including through aid to households, small businesses, nonprofits and industries like tourism and hospitality.
 
Ban on police chokeholds advances in Missouri Senate
St Louis Post
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.
 
Bill looks to ease access to Washington’s Death with Dignity Act for terminally ill
The News Tribune
Washington, D.C., and eight states, including Washington state, currently allow the practice of medical aid in dying, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A bill passed the Legislature in New Mexico this year and awaits the governor’s signature.
 
As PA ponders legalizing pot, some 20,200 possession arrests were made last year
Courier Times
If signed, Virginia's law will bring the total to 15 states and three territories that have legal marijuana for non-medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Mar. 23

Georgia Lawmakers Ponder What Makes Online Sports Bets Worth The Gamble
GPB
However, many of the 25 states that have legalized sports betting now offer it through the state lottery, such as Tennessee. That has “blurred the lines between lottery and casino gambling,” according to a March 1 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Echoing Trump claims about ‘ballot harvesting,’ Florida Republicans cite it as reason to make mail voting more difficult
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Laws in 26 states allowed the practice in 2020, and 12 states had limits on the number of ballots any one person could collect and return, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. As part of a widespread Republican attempt to restrict mail voting, multiple states are moving to limit the practice. Federal election legislation that has passed the U.S. House would allow it everywhere.
 
Ban on meal, lodging payments for Pa. lawmakers introduced as constituents sound off in anger
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers make the third-highest salaries for state lawmakers in the country, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
MISSISSIPPI HAS OPTION TO BE INNOVATIVE WITH FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS
The Clarksdale Press-Register
There are restraints on how the funds can be spent that will need to be explored. But policymakers can take their time to study their options because they have multiple years to spend the funds. The funds can be spent, for instance, “to make investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Mar. 22

Mississippi has the option to be innovative with federal stimulus funds
Sun Herald
There are restraints on how the [American Rescue Plan] funds can be spent that will need to be explored. But policymakers can take their time to study their options because they have multiple years to spend the funds. The funds can be spent, for instance, “to make investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Echoing Trump claims about ‘ballot harvesting,’ Florida Republicans cite it as reason to make mail voting more difficult
South Florida Sun Sentinel
Laws in 26 states allowed the practice in 2020, and 12 states had limits on the number of ballots any one person could collect and return, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Ban on meal, lodging payments for Pa. lawmakers introduced as constituents sound off in anger
WITF
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers make the third-highest salaries for state lawmakers in the country, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers have data options for redistricting, experts say
Metropolis Planet
Ben Williams and Wendy Underhill, both of the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures, briefed the Senate Redistricting Committee about the basics of the redistricting process and what options states have to using census data.
 

Mar. 19

Which is easier in your state: Buying a rifle or voting?
The Washington Post
When it’s time to vote or buy the rifle itself, more states require voters to show some form of ID (according to the National Conference of State Legislatures) than mandate background checks for sales between private parties. (That data, from 2018, comes from FindLaw.)

Gov. restores rights of nearly 70,000 felons
Richmond Free Press
Gov. Northam’s action allows Virginia to join 18 other states that allow felons to vote after release from prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen other states require convicts to complete probation or parole before regaining their rights.

Pandemic redefines ‘public’ access to meetings
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
As a result of the pandemic, all legislative chambers now also provide live audio or video feeds of at least some committee hearings. A growing number are archiving those files for people to access on demand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
What's for lunch to size of classes can determine where you go to college
Cherokee Tribune & Ledger-News
Ben Williams and Wendy Underhill, both of the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, briefed the Senate Redistricting Committee about the basics of the redistricting process and what options states have to using census data.
 

Mar. 18

Growing Number of Cities Weigh Tribal ‘Land Acknowledgements’
PEW States
In many cases, said Martha Saenz, the program manager for the State-Tribal Institute at the ‎National Conference of State Legislatures, these efforts have surfaced as part of larger national reckonings with social equity, white supremacy and racial justice.
 
“It’s an up-and-coming issue, for sure, as state legislators and others grapple with how we can continue to acknowledge tribes and tribal history and address the issues that come out of that,” said Saenz, whose organization tracks state-level legislation and advises lawmakers.
 
Wisconsin Assembly Approves Bill Allowing To-Go Cocktails
Wisconsin Public Radio
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than a dozen states have laws on the books allowing to-go cocktails, several of which were approved during the pandemic.

Pandemic redefines ‘public’ access to meetings
Williamsport Sun-Gazette
As a result of the pandemic, all legislative chambers now also provide live audio or video feeds of at least some committee hearings. A growing number are archiving those files for people to access on demand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Legislative Roundup: 3 Days Remaining In 2021 Session
Los Alamos Daily Post
A 2018 National Conference on State Legislatures report said 61 percent of all nursing home patients around the country suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. In residential care units, that figure is 42 percent, according to the report. 
 
Lawmakers have data options for redistricting, experts say
KPVI
Ben Williams and Wendy Underhill, both of the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, briefed the Senate Redistricting Committee about the basics of the redistricting process and what options states have to using census data.
 
“First, not all states have the opportunity to use an alternative data source because quite a few states say explicitly in their constitution that they must use the decennial census data,” she said. “But (Illinois) is not in that group. It is in the group where the constitution is silent about what the data source would be. So this may be something you would think about.”
 

Mar. 17

How smokers have boosted state tax revenue during the pandemic
Market Place
Jackson Brainerd, with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the demand for drugs of all kinds tends to stay steady during hard times. “We saw this during the Great Recession as well. Tobacco and alcohol were relatively stable, so sin taxes have played a role in keeping state budgets afloat,” he said.

Virginia Gov. Northam will restore voting rights to 69,000 former felons with new policy
CNN
Virginia is one of a handful of states that still require a governor to act to restore voting rights. In 18 states, felons received automatic restoration of voting rights as soon as they are released from prison, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., felons never lose their voting rights, even when they are behind bars.

Pandemic redefines 'public' access to government meetings
AP National
As a result of the pandemic, all legislative chambers now also provide live audio or video feeds of at least some committee hearings. A growing number are archiving those files for people to access on demand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Cannabis entrepreneurs, celebrity investors light up as legalization blooms
Reuters
So far, 36 states and the District of Columbia have approved medical use of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of them,15 states and D.C. have approved recreational use of pot.

'I am worried': California Gov. Newsom kicks campaign into gear as recall looms
NBC News
California is one of 19 states with recall options, and it has one of the lowest thresholds to make the ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In California, the threshold is just 12 percent of the last vote for that particular statewide office. Montana has the lowest threshold, at 10 percent of the previous vote. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin set 25 percent thresholds. Meanwhile, Kansas and Louisiana have the highest thresholds, at 40 percent of votes cast in the last election.
 

Mar. 16

New poll shows Oregon voters support proposals to punish lawmakers who boycott the Capitol
oregonlive.com
The other possible ballot initiative would amend the state Constitution to extend legislative sessions in response to a walkout, impose unspecified consequences on lawmakers who walk out and authorize unspecified “alternative quorum requirements.” Oregon’s two-thirds quorum requirement, laid out in the Constitution, is rare in the nation: Only Indiana, Texas and Tennessee have that high of a quorum to conduct general business, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the political encyclopedia website Ballotpedia.
 
Pandemic redefines 'public' access to government meetings
Fulton Sun
As a result of the pandemic, all legislative chambers now also provide live audio or video feeds of at least some committee hearings. A growing number are archiving those files for people to access on demand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lessons in Finance Could Reduce Student Debt | Voice of America - English
Voice of America
To encourage more financial literacy among borrowers, states have adopted changes in their legislation to encourage financial education, according to a 2020 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. For instance, Arizona enacted a bill that allows a course in financial literacy to qualify as work activity. Additionally, Arizona has also appropriated $1 million to fund the provision of personal finance courses to high school students before graduation.
 
No Comment: In Oklahoma’s Legislature, Public Rarely Given Chance to Weigh In
Oklahoma Watch
Although current figures are unavailable, a 1997 National Conference of State Legislatures study found at least nine states required a bill to have a public hearing before it could potentially become law.
 
Why is the Arizona Legislature so afraid of Arizona citizens?
AZ Central
HCR 2016 would require that any citizen-generated ballot proposal receive 55% of the vote rather than the simple majority required here and in every other state where citizens have initiative and referendum power. (Certain other states do require a higher vote threshold for constitutional amendments or certain types of laws c, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.)
 
Fact Checker: Sen. Joe Bolkcom talks about marijuana possession
The Gazette
Fifteen states have legalized recreational marijuana and 27 states have decriminalized small amounts of the drug, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
https://www.thegazette.com/factchecker/fact-checker-sen-joe-bolkcom-talks-about-marijuana-possession-20210315
 

Mar. 15

Pandemic redefines 'public' access to government meetings
Washington Post
As a result of the pandemic, all legislative chambers now also provide live audio or video feeds of at least some committee hearings. A growing number are archiving those files for people to access on demand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The Rise of Women in State Legislatures: A State-by-State Map
Governing
The 1987 law that first designated March as Women’s History Month acknowledged women as “early leaders in the forefront of every major progressive social change movement.” In 2021, more women than ever — over 2,200 — are serving in state legislatures, with increasing control over the levers of power and change. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that 90 women now serve in leadership positions in these bodies, another record.
 
Two states tax some drivers by the mile. Many more want to give it a try.
Washington Post
“We’re in the beginning, the very beginnings of the tangible transitions to this now,” said Douglas Shinkle, transportation project director at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “There’s a lot of palpable excitement.”
 
Paid sick leave bill advances to Senate floor
Albuquerque Journal
While about 12 other states already have paid sick leave laws on their books, many of them exempt small businesses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Democrats slash fees to get on ballot
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
During the previous election cycle, Arkansas' filing fees for state legislative candidates were the highest in the nation, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Nevada lawmaker proposes setting sun on clock changes
Tahoe Daily Tribune
Daylight savings time-related proposals are common in statehouses throughout the U.S. More than 350 have been considered since 2015, according to a tally from the National Conference on State Legislatures. The proposals often lose traction because Congress would have to revise the Uniform Time Act to make any changes possible.
 
Local state representatives among 24 women serving in House
KTLO
The Arkansas House of Representatives is recognizing its 24 female members during Women’s History Month 2021.According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), approximately 2,145 women were serving in the 50 state legislatures in 2020.
 

Mar. 12

Congress just passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. What’s in it for Utah?
The Salt Lake Tribune
State and local officials can spend that money to address the COVID-19 emergency and offer help to businesses, nonprofits and others impacted by the pandemic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Maryland Bill Would Ban Firearms at Election Sites
NBC Washington
Ten states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico explicitly prohibit guns and other weapons within poll sites, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
 
Just four Colorado cities use ranked-choice voting. Democratic lawmakers want to make it easier for others to adopt.
The Colorado Sun
Although ranked-choice voting has been used by American cities at various points over the last century, it started to gain traction again in the past two decades, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Congress just passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. What's in it for Utah?
Salt Lake Tribune
State and local officials can spend that money to address the COVID-19 emergency and offer help to businesses, nonprofits and others impacted by the pandemic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They can also use those funds for essential worker pay; for water, sewer and broadband projects; and to prop up government services that would otherwise be impacted by a pandemic-related revenue loss, according to NCSL.
 

Mar. 11

Florida lawmakers debate political bias on college campuses
Associated Press
Over the past three years, seven states have enacted measures over free speech on college campuses — not to mention about a dozen states that are currently debating such legislation, according to a database kept by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maryland bill would lessen punishment for some teen sexting
Washington Post
As of four years ago, about half of states have passed laws that “reduce penalties or provide alternative punishments for minors charged with sexting,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Massachusetts lawmakers challenge Charlie Baker’s pandemic emergency powers through new bills
Boston Herald
Lawmakers have filed more than 200 bills and resolutions in at least 40 states this year seeking to restrict or provide more oversight of their governors’ unilateral powers amid the pandemic and other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
The most extreme voting restrictions proposed by the GOP
Washington Post
Iowa is already among the few states that required absentee ballots to be sent before Election Day, but only four states did so as of last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — Alabama, Iowa, North Dakota and Utah. And none of them required this earlier than the day before Election Day, as the bills in both Arizona and Iowa would do.
 
Permanent Daylight Saving Time? Senate considers idea amid debate over pros and cons
The Charlotte Observer
At least 350 pieces of legislation that would either make DST or standard time permanent have been introduced in “virtually every state” since 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2018, Florida became the first state to pass legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent.
 
Minnesota To Receive Billions In Aid From $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Plan
WCCO | CBS Minnesota
The payout from the federal government to state and local governments can be used for COVID-19 response, government services affected by a shortage in revenue from the pandemic and water, sewer and infrastructure, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The funds cannot be used for pensions or to offset revenue lost from tax cuts enacted in March onward.
 
Democratic legislators propose a raise for lawmakers to encourage more diverse candidates
The Oregonian
Based on salary alone, Oregon lawmakers’ pay is currently roughly in the middle of legislatures nationwide. In a 2020 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon had the 22nd highest annual legislator salary among the 42 states that pay annual salaries.
 
Illinois struggles to pay its pensions, but these lawmakers signed up anyway
Journal Star
Serving in the General Assembly came with a base salary of $69,464 in 2020 and is considered a nearly full-time job, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan legislative association. Others consider it part-time.
 
Alabama House committee opens debate on medical marijuana bill
Montgomery Advertiser
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states and the District of Columbia have a medical marijuana program. Alabama has authorized the use of cannbidiol (CBD) oil for participants in a health study at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Mar. 10

Police Unions Won Power Using His Playbook. Now He's Negotiating the Backlash.
The New York Times
Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police last May set off protests nationwide, 27 states and Washington D.C. have adopted new police oversight and reform laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Officials in Boston, Los Angeles and other cities agreed to limit police spending. In November, voters overwhelmingly approved 17 ballot measures in six states to rein in police officers.
 
Massachusetts lawmakers challenge Charlie Baker's pandemic emergency powers through new bills
Boston Herald
Lawmakers have filed more than 200 bills and resolutions in at least 40 states this year seeking to restrict or provide more oversight of their governors’ unilateral powers amid the pandemic and other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Both chambers of New York’s Democrat-controlled legislature recently passed a bill curbing Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive powers by requiring legislative review of new pandemic-related orders. And Kentucky’s governor, Democrat Andy Beshear, is contesting Republican-led legislative attempts to curtail his power in court.
 
The Health 202: States propose bills to ban employers from mandating coronavirus vaccines
Washington Post
The bills, mostly backed by Republicans, would limit employers’ ability to require coronavirus vaccines for their staff, according to data from the National Council on State Legislatures. Some would go even further and limit the ability of workplaces to require any vaccines at all, potentially affecting existing rules for flu and hepatitis B vaccines in hospitals and nursing homes.
 

Mar. 9

Georgia remains at center of voting rights fight after state Senate passes bill to restrict those rights
CNN
Much of the debate in Georgia focused on the ways the Senate bill would limit voting by mail. The bill aims to dismantle a 2005 Republican-backed law allowing no-excuse absentee voting. Georgia is one of 34 states that do not currently require an excuse to vote by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lottery officials push for online sales
Yahoo News
At least six states including New Hampshire have authorized their lotteries to sell online products, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Fact Check: Did Biden Sign an Executive Order Allowing Incarcerated Felons to Vote?
Newsweek
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Vermont, Maine and Washington, D.C allow people convicted of a felony to vote while in prison. In some states, people with felony convictions regain their right to vote immediately upon their release from prison, while other states will restore voting rights only after parole and/or probation is served.
 
GOP pushes bills to allow social media ‘censorship’ lawsuits
AP
GOP politicians in roughly two dozen states have introduced bills that would allow for civil lawsuits against platforms for what they call the “censorship” of posts. Many protest the deletion of political and religious statements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Democrats, who also have called for greater scrutiny of big tech, are sponsoring the same measures in at least two states.
 
Fake 'Vaccine Exemption' Card Proliferates on Twitter Despite COVID-19 Misinformation Ban
Newsweek
People can only claim an exemption from getting vaccinated if they live in a state that allows religious or philosophical exemptions. Washington D.C. and 45 states grant religious exemptions. In addition, 15 states allow philosophical exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Idaho House panel OKs bill to make ballot measures tougher
The North Platte Telegraph
In all, 14 states allow voter initiatives that go directly to the ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Is the next COVID-19 relief proposal a 'blue state bailout'?
The Gazette
The Fact Checker excluded Nebraska, which has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature, and used National Conference of State Legislatures data on state party composition.
 
Key House Republicans turn to state legislatures in battle against Democrats’ HR 1
MSN
In a letter to the president and president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures , Rep. Chip Roy of Texas joined with three ranking members on committees with jurisdiction over voting rights issues — Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan of Ohio, House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis of Illinois, and Oversight and Reform Raking Member James Comer of Tennessee — to make recommendations on how states should handle election laws.
 
Daylight saving debate: More states move to stop switching time
KLFY
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 350 bills and resolutions have been introduced in virtually every state since 2015 that would either place the state on standard time permanently or make permanent daylight saving time (DST) if federal law was changed to allow it, but none of significance passed until 2018, when Florida became the first state to enact legislation to permanently observe DST.
 

Mar. 6

Democrats and Republicans are battling over voting rights in Congress and at statehouses. Which side will win?
USA Today
“In general, H.R.1 would create much more uniformity in how elections are administered across the nation and that means states would have much less discretion,’’ said Wendy Underhill, director of elections for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. “And that, if enacted, most would have a great deal of work to do to come into alignment.’’
 
Florida Republicans Pitch State as Model for Elections Expanding GOP Appeal
Wall Street Journal
NCSL Information Cited
 
Hunger-Free Campus Bills Have New Urgency
Inside Higher Ed
State lawmakers are becoming more aware of the needs of the diversifying student population, said Sunny Deye, director of the postsecondary education program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lottery officials push for online sales
The Salem News
At least six states including New Hampshire have authorized their lotteries to sell online products, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers to debate if Louisiana should require kindergarten
Martinsville Bulletin
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia require children to attend kindergarten, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Louisiana lawmakers have debated mandating kindergarten for years, including most recently in 2012.
 
Illinois struggles to pay its pensions, but these lawmakers signed up for them anyway
Belleville News-Democrat
Serving in the General Assembly came with a base salary of $69,464 in 2020 and is considered a nearly full-time job, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan legislative association. Others consider it part-time.
 
Pence protests election bill in video
The Republic
Ballot collecting also is legal to varying degrees in many states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Indiana currently allows people to return absentee-by-mail ballots on behalf of others provided that they live in the same household.
 

Mar. 5

How Much Does the Federal Minimum Wage Buy You? Now vs. Then.
Wall Street Journal
Minimum wages above the federal floor have been enacted in 29 states (plus D.C.) ranging from $8.65 in Florida to $15 in the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
With fewer state governments divided by party than in years past, GOP has edge in redistricting
Stateline
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 25 other states have constitutional or statutory requirements to redistrict in calendar year 2021 – deadlines that the census delays will make it difficult if not impossible to meet.
 
Electric vehicles are coming to Minnesota. Republicans and Democrats have very different ideas on how state government should respond.
MinnPost
As of 2019, 28 other states had a registration fee surcharge on electric vehicles, and 14 also have a fee for plug-in hybrids, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Philly, Some Suburbs Drag Pa. to Court Over Blocking Plastic Bag Bans
NBC Philadelphia
Ten states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — and several big cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have approved a ban on plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

Mar. 4

Canopy leveraging Constellation relationship to bring CBD-infused drink to U.S. stores
CNBC
As of Tuesday, 14 states, Washington, D.C. and three territories have legalized cannabis, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Virginia’s legislature last week sent a bill that would legalize recreational use to its governor.
 
U.S. House set to pass sweeping election bill, Senate prospects unclear
Reuters
States use different criteria and procedures for drawing the maps. In 33 states, state legislatures control at least part of the process of drawing those maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The Important Role of Public Affairs TV in Volatile Times
Governing
The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains an online inventory of these state-level public affairs services and their parts. NCSL now matter-of-factly notes, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many state legislatures have been meeting remotely and have been live-streaming floor sessions and committee hearings to ensure public access.”
 
The Year of Governors Living Dangerously
Governing
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that governors in at least 40 states are facing legislation aimed at limiting their emergency powers.
 
A Different Way to Vote Gets a New York City Audition
Bloomberg
Plurality systems -- known as first-past-the-post in the U.K. and elsewhere -- gained favor in the 1950s, because they could be done with machines, while ranked-choice then had to be counted by hand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Westerman drafts voting bill
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
But at least 38 states, including Arkansas, already mandate audits after federal elections, as do the five states most disputed by supporters of then-President Donald Trump following the 2020 elections -- Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to a 2019 study by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State Senate votes to extend welfare drug screening program
The Daily Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states have similar drug screening bills for people on public assistance.
 

Mar. 3

Canopy launches CBD-infused sparkling water line in the U.S.
CNBC
While 36 U.S. states and four other territories have approved cannabis for medical use, 11 more have passed laws allowing the use of CBD extract, usually in oil form, with minimal or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
A Different Way to Vote Gets a New York City Audition
Washington Post
Plurality systems -- known as first-past-the-post in the U.K. and elsewhere -- gained favor in the 1950s, because they could be done with machines, while ranked-choice then had to be counted by hand, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The Year of Governors Living Dangerously
Governing
The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that governors in at least 40 states are facing legislation aimed at limiting their emergency powers. And the American Legislative Exchange Council has taken advantage of the political turmoil to advance its ongoing effort to limit government’s powers.
 
Westerman drafts voting bill
Arkansas Online
"Arkansas is very much part of the trend towards more post-election audits," said Wendy Underhill, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures' elections and redistricting team. Post-election audits aren't a new phenomenon, however, she said. "The traditional audit was usually done after certification at the election ... [so] we can improve our procedures for the next time," she said. "A lot of people now are thinking, 'Let's audit it immediately, so if there is a problem with this election, we could jump right on it before the certification.'"
 
Voting restrictions bill passes Georgia House over strong opposition
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Later Monday afternoon, the Senate Ethics Committee voted to curtail absentee voting. Georgia has allowed any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot since 2005, making it one of 34 states that don’t require an excuse to vote from home, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tight Budget Or Not, MSU Denver Wants $50M To Help Erase Racial Equity Gaps In Education
Colorado Public Radio
Only 11 states have performance-based funding models that divvy up money to schools based on race, low-income status and how many underserved and at-risk students they serve, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Vermont has put women at legislative helm. Where will they steer?
The Christian Science Monitor
According to 2019 federal government data, the state is 50.6% female and 20% of the population is 65 or older. In 2020, 40% of Vermont legislators were women, in a year when that percentage saw a slight increase nationally, reaching just over 29%, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
House Democratic leaders unveil sweeping election reform bill
Martinsburg Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states allow a family member to deliver a ballot for a voter, while 26 states allow a designee to deliver the absentee ballot, putting limits on the number of ballots a designee can deliver at one time. West Virginia already allows one person to deliver no more than two absentee ballots.
 

Mar. 2

Census data snafu upends 2022 elections
Politico
At least nine states have constitutional or statutory deadlines to redraw their maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that won’t mesh with such a profound delay in the data delivery. Election officials in some states, such as North Carolina, have recommended moving back early primary dates to make more time for drawing new districts. And both political parties will have to grapple with how to recruit candidates to run for districts that may not exist until just before election season begins.
 
Twin threats to redistricting: practical, political
Politico
At least nine states have constitutional or statutory deadlines to redraw their maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that won’t mesh with such a profound delay in the data delivery.”
 
Supreme Court to debate voting rights case that advocates worry will limit access to polls
USA Today
Twenty-six states allow voters to designate a third party to turn in their ballots, though 12 of those states limit how many ballots a person may collect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Everyone's voting rights need to be protected. That includes former felons.
MSNBC
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 11 states where felons lose their right to vote indefinitely, at times being re-enfranchised only after pardons from the governor.

Mar. 1

Advocates Back Legislative Effort to Legalize Marijuana in New York
Wall Street Journal
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use of the drug, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation setting marijuana regulations last week.
 
'Sham Transactions' Trigger States to Crack Down on Tax Havens
Bloomberg Tax
The march toward combined reporting reflects growing frustration with patterns of corporate tax base erosion over the last 40 years. An analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures revealed corporate income tax was 9.4% of total state tax collections in 1981, dropping to 4.8% by 2018.
 
The fight to raise minimum wage is sparking conversation in the Brazos Valley
KXXV News Channel 25
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are currently 29 states paying above the minimum wage, but many small and local businesses have expressed their concerns in regards to how they will maintain employees or sustain their businesses.
 
Maine tribes push back at state bill
Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Across the country, only 13 states offer their own recognition of tribes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Republican legislators around the country seek to strip governors and officials of emergency election powers
WICZ
Lawmakers in at least 40 states and two territories have introduced more than 200 bills or resolutions this year that would limit or impose greater oversight on governors' powers or spending decisions during an emergency, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
"There's always been a tension between the branches of government, and when an emergency comes up, those tensions come to the surface," said Wendy Underhill, who oversees the elections and redistricting programs at NCSL.
 
House OKs stand-ground bill
El Dororado News-Times
Under current law, people are generally required to retreat before using lethal force in self-defense unless they cannot do so “in complete safety” or they are at their homes. SB24 removed that duty for most places where a person is “lawfully present.” Similar legislation was passed in Florida in 2005 and subsequently in about 24 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
In Idaho, vaccinating kids against COVID-19 is crucial part of herd immunity
Post Register
Immunizations in Idaho schools has both one of the lowest flu vaccination rates and some of the most lenient vaccine requirements for children to attend public school. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho is one of 15 states that lets parents opt out of school-required vaccines for their children due to personal beliefs. All states allow children to be exempt for medical reasons, and many other states allow religious exemptions.
 
New push for mandatory kindergarten, but battle shaping up
The Advocate
A total of 19 states and the District of Columbia require children to attend kindergarten, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That list incudes Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Also, 39 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to offer kindergarten, like Louisiana. Mandating kindergarten has been tried in the Legislature for years, including 2012, 2008 and 2005.
 
Tuition reimbursement bill would expand school choice in Wyoming
Wyoming Tribune
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, Wilson’s is one of at least 89 bills filed across 29 states this year that relate to private school choice.