NCSL in the News | April 2014

4/1/2014

April 30

Test Prep Endures in New York Schools, Despite Calls to East It
Besides New York, Texas restricts the number of days students can spend preparing for state assessments, said Monty Neill, the executive director of FairTest, a nonprofit group that advocates for testing reform. Limits are also in place in California, Florida and Kentucky, said Michelle Exstrom, the education program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Test prep is a big area of concern,” Ms. Exstrom said. The New York Times

State Legislature won't go back in session for ID law
The leader of the state Senate said Wednesday that the Legislature will not go back into session to fix Wisconsin’s voter ID law, which was struck down Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. Fond du Lac Reporter

Tanning ban for minors in La. nears final passage
At least five states - California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Vermont - ban the use of tanning beds for minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/KATC.com

North Dakota opens nation's first drone test site
Minnesota's neighboring state will be the nation's first to be certified for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the preferred term for drones, which is the nickname more familiar to the public.Minnesota isn't alone in attempting to put drone regulations into law. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 40 states had bills relating to the unmanned aircraft last year. Only 13 passed laws. KARE 11

Reform groups move ahead with amendments
Two public petitions to amend the Illinois Constitution to limit the power and incumbency of the General Assembly are being filed to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. Fifteen states impose term limits on state legislators, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Northwest Herald

Health care law not quite yet what the doctor ordered for Democrats
LINE ITEMS: A federal judge in Wisconsin struck down the state’s voter ID law, saying it violates the Voting Rights Act and places an unnecessary burden on the poor and minorities. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states have a similar law to the one struck down in Wisconsin. PBS News Hour

LePage vetoes harsher drunken-driving penalties
Laws differ from state to state on how long drunken-driving convictions are considered in subsequent cases. The periods range from as little as five years in 13 states, to no limit in Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado and New Mexico, according to a 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kennebec Journal

Minnesota: Take care and time with changes to election law: Pioneer Press editorial
The Pioneer Press has reported that 15 other states have online voter registration and five others are in the process of creating systems, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and that a study of the Arizona and Washington state systems found costs dropped from 83 cents to process a paper registration to 3 cents per online registration. Pioneer Press

Virginia Will Offer In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrant Students (blog)
FYI, per this list from the National Conference of State Legislatures and this one from the National Immigration Law Center, most of the places where said in-state tuition rules are in effect are "blue states," with the exception of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. The Slate

Right-to-work surge is reviving America's Rust Belt
Part of the Washington Examiner's weeklong commentary series on labor unions. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states debated the laws during their 2013 legislative sessions, up from 19 the previous year. Washington Examiner

State and local governments play key role in immigration
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate last June “does not include state impact aid to offset the increased costs for education and health care for new immigrant populations.” VOXXI

States Fear Losing Power to Regulate Chemicals
At a House hearing Tuesday, Massachusetts state Sen. Michael Moore, a Democrat, said the legislation would impose a "one-size-fits-all approach to toxic chemicals regulation." "To strip states' residents of protections enacted by their elected officials would be a serious breach of state sovereignty and would leave everyone more susceptible to increased harm from toxic chemicals," said Moore, speaking on behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/ABC News

Eight states have photo voter ID laws similar to the one struck down in Wisconsin
All told, 31 states have voter ID laws currently in effect, with some stricter requirements scheduled to go into effect in the future, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of that group, eight — signified by the darkest-green shading in the map above — have strict photo ID requirements currently in place. Washington Post Gov Beat

Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin voter ID law
There are 31 states with laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to the one a state judge struck down in Arkansas last week; that decision has been appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Pennsylvania's voter ID law has been put on hold because of court challenges. Sun Times

Opposition to Medicaid expansion threatens to shut down Virginia
Even so, Republican-led legislatures and governors in Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee enacted laws this past month that prevented governors from bypassing lawmakers to approve Medicaid expansion, joining North Carolina, which enacted a similar measure last year, the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver said. Bloomberg/The Telegram

Put officials’ financial data online
The forms are available from the PDC, but only if specifically requested by email or in person at the PDC’s Olympia office. Citizens can’t simply go online and get access, which they can do in at least 29 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bellingham Herald

Hawaii lawmakers vote to increase hourly minimum wage to $10.10
Hawaii now joins California, Maryland, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., in passing legislation to raise their state minimum wage over time to, or above, the $10 hourly mark, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Chicago Tribune

R.I. Senate bill would bar dissemination of sexually explicit images without person’s consent
And if so, Rhode Island would join several states with laws against revenge porn. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of mid-April there were bills introduced in 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Legislation has been enacted in Idaho, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, while bills passed in Georgia and Maryland were pending signatures from their governors. Kilmartin’s office said laws have also been passed in New Jersey and California. Providence Journal

AG: Kids of those in Va. illegally can pay in-state tuition
At least 17 other states have provisions allowing in-state tuition to undocumented, resident students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Pilot Online

R.I. House Judiciary Committee backs abolishing the master lever in elections
Rhode Island is one of 14 states that still has the straight-ticket option, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. State lawmakers adopted it in 1948, according to The Providence Journal’s archives, and the efforts to abolish it go back 51 years, Block and Marion say. Providence Journal

April 29

State legislators consider restrictions on cash gifts
Pennsylvania is following a trend over the past six or seven years of states tightening their gift laws, said Peggy Kerns, director of the Center for Ethics in Government at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

Proposal to ban speeding and red-light cameras in Colorado turned into a study
Ten states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/The Republic

Wisconsin lags with online voter registration
Eighteen states have already adopted online registration, with Arizona pioneering the approach in 2002 and others following since 2007. Four states have approved the method and are working on the systems. Fifteen more states, including Wisconsin, are considering legislation, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Beloit Daily

As state committee approves draft drone legislation, WNC reps Moffitt, Whitmire weigh in
The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the nation’s airspace, has said that it plans to approve at least some commercial uses of UAVs in late 2015. In the past year, dozens of states have responded by passing laws and resolutions to regulate the use the aircraft, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Carolina Public Press

Indiana lawmakers struggle with ethics process, rules
Indiana is one of 17 states where lawmakers spend roughly half their time filling their public duties and the other half of the time pursuing private careers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL does not categorize legislative bodies as either part-time or full-time, but instead divides them on a scale based on the percent of time the lawmakers spend on their public duties and the number of staff working for them. Kokomo Tribune

April 28

"House of Cards" gets more tax credits to keep filming in Maryland
Maryland is far from the only state doling out huge sums to lure in film and television production companies. While just a handful of states did so in the early 2000s, 39 states and Puerto Rico have film production incentives available in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Some states, however, questioning whether the investment is worth it -- Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and other states in recent years have ended their incentive programs, the NCSL notes. CBS News

Work begins on restoration of State House dome, ‘Lady of Wisdom’
The $1.3 million restoration of the State House dome has begun. The project consists primarily of replacing the dome’s leaky copper sheathing, which dates to an expansion of the building in 1909-10. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Maine’s State House is one of nine state capitols with copper domes. Portland Press Herald

Week ahead: House panel turns focus to chemical safety
House Republicans next week will consider their legislative response to a chemical safety bill that a Senate panel passed in April... Lawmakers will then hear from witnesses outside the government representing the American Chemistry Council, the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates, Greenwood Environmental Counsel, Proctor & Gamble Co., BASF, the Safer Chemicals and Health Families campaign, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Hill

Colorado House passes revenge porn penalties
Such online postings have become known as “revenge porn” and about two dozen states have considered legislation this year addressing the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/The Coloradoan

Distracted Driver Dies After Posting On Facebook About The Song 'Happy,' Taking Selfies
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, texting while driving is illegal in North Carolina. Huffington Post

U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits Historic High 
Different studies have shown 28 to 40 percent of first-time college students enroll in at least one remedial course, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and other reports suggest many U.S. employees lack the skills needed for the contemporary workplace. Governing

Marijuana Laws Don’t Work’: Oregon’s Blumenauer
Overhauling marijuana laws, a legislative focus of Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, is also a theme in his political advertisements. Twenty states and the District of Columbia allow for the medical use or marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

One day at a time for families dealing with autism
Iowa is one of 31 states with laws that specifically require insurers to provide coverage for the treatment of autism, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Gazette

Newly Issued DC Driver's Licenses Must Comply with Real ID Act Starting Thursday
So far, 21 states, including Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware, have already met the standards of the REAL ID Act of 2005 for driver’s licenses and identification cards, according to Homeland Security (DHS). Fourteen other states and territories, including New Jersey, are described as “not in compliance.”  In contrast, 21 states, including the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, have applied for “compliance extensions,” and are “on the pathway to full compliance.”However, “licenses from these states will be accepted for federal purposes during the extension period,” notes the National Conference of State Legislatures. “These extensions will expire on October 10, 2014 and can be renewed.” Georgetown Patch

Tanners keeping the lights on after teen ban
According to a recent story from the Associated Press, the Illinois law made the state one of only six in the country to ban teens from using equipment that emits ultraviolet radiation, including sun lamps and tanning booths. Some states have less restrictive laws for younger teens and 18 others have no statewide restrictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Olney Daily Mail

More States Aim to Protect Hunting
Similar efforts, which have been promoted by the National Rifle Association and sportsmen's groups in recent years, are unfolding in eight other states, while 17, including Alabama, already have such constitutional guarantees. Comparable bills were introduced or carried over in Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia and four other states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Journal

Fighting back against ‘revenge porn’
Victims of revenge porn have come forward, giving similar sites such as MyEx and the now-defunct Texxxan their share of trouble. Many have created blogs and online support groups. And, this year alone, bills have been introduced or are pending in more than two dozen states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legislation has been enacted in Idaho, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. And Georgia and Maryland are waiting only on governors’ signatures. Washington Post

Colorado Legal Pot Prompts Ballot Deluge From Guns to Fracking
Initiatives are being floated to skirt legislatures in states including Oregon, California, Ohio and Missouri, said Jennie Bowser, a Portland, Oregon-based political consultant and former elections policy analyst for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg Businessweek

Strapped for Cash, Alaska Politicians Aim to Open Door for School Vouchers
Josh Cunningham tracks them all for the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research agency. Cunningham said school choice programs are growing more popular, but the finances are fuzzy. It’s hard to say what vouchers cost a state because no one agrees on how to calculate savings at the state level or losses at the school or district level. Cunningham said other states are in Alaska’s position, governed by constitutions that bar public funding for private schools. Since the 1960s, seven states have tried to remove those provisions through a constitutional amendment. “Voters always rejected it,” Cunningham said. “States have had a lot more success just passing legislation and fighting it out in court, hoping that their state’s courts will rule in their favor.” Al Jazeera America

Marketing rules too lax on e-cigarettes, critics say
As federal regulators weigh what rules to impose on the booming electronic cigarette industry, consumer advocacy groups are working to mount a case for stricter limitations on marketing. At least 33 states have passed laws prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. USA Today

Indiana lawmakers struggle with ethics rules, balance, while other part-time bodies hold clues
Indiana is one of 17 states where lawmakers spend roughly half their time filling their public duties and the other half of the time pursuing private careers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL does not categorize legislative bodies as either part-time or full-time, but instead divides them on a scale based on the percent of time the lawmakers spend on their public duties and the number of staff working for them. Associated Press/The Republic

Turnover among legislators is highest in decades
"It did strike me as high when I saw that," Tim Storey, who tracks elections and legislative turnover for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said of the latest figures in Wisconsin. Nationally in 2014, "I don't see any unusual turnover," Storey said. Journal Sentinel

Wis. bill mandates rules for officer-involved deaths
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks laws around the country, hasn't compiled a 50-state review of the issue, an official there said. Chuck Wexler, executive director of Police Executive Research Forum, also wasn't sure whether other states have similar measures. USA Today/Visalia Times Delta

Elections experts tell Wisconsin lawmakers it's time to let voters register online
Eighteen states have already adopted online registration, with Arizona pioneering the approach in 2002 and others following since 2007. Four states have approved the method and are working on the systems. Fifteen more states, including Wisconsin, are considering legislation, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Star Tribune

Since January 2011, only 5% of bills made it through Mass. Statehouse
Massachusetts' legislators earned a base yearly salary of $60,033 as members of one of the 10 full-time state legislatures in the country. Only 10 states pay legislators more, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. South Coast Today

Missouri considers dumping Common Core
About 100 bills were introduced in statehouses across the country this year to pause or repeal the standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tennessee lawmakers recently approved legislation to delay Common Core-based student testing for one year. Springfield News Leader

Shooting reloads mental illness debate
Vermont is one of the only states, according to a list maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures, that has no laws on the books regarding access to guns for those with mental illnesses. Rutland Herald

Both sides eyeing Pa. same sex marriage challenge
Pennsylvania is one of 33 states that prohibits gay marriage, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. But the commonwealth is the only state in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast to bar same-sex weddings. The Herald

April 25

Arkansas AG files notice of appeal in ID case
Arkansas' attorney general told a state judge on Friday he plans to appeal a decision that struck down a new voter ID law, while a civil liberties group said it will move forward with a separate challenge to the requirement. Thirty-one states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Greenwichtime.com

5 things overhead from State Rep. Charles Brunner and State Sen. Mike Green at chamber luncheon
Two area legislatures on Friday used a Bay Area Chamber of Commerce event to remind voters of the upcoming election and discuss their stances on a few issues. Brunner made it clear that he’s opposed to a petition that’s currently circulating across Michigan requesting a part-timeLegislature. Michigan lawmakers currently earn a base salary of $71,685 per year, and the state is one of four with a full-time Legislature. Another six states are near full-time, requiring lawmakers to work at least 80 percent of a full-time job, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. MLive.com

Sex Education Teacher Standards Needed, Coalition of Health Groups Says (blog)
Only 22 states and the District of Columbia require that public schools teach sex education, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and only 19 states require that "if provided, sex education must be medically, factually or technically accurate." Education Week

N.C. panel OKs draft bill to replace Common Core
Bills rejecting Common Core have been filed in 17 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Winston-Salem Journal

Seattle mayor finds impasse over $15 hourly wage proposal
Proposals to raise the minimum wage have been considered in nearly three dozen states in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Increases have been approved in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. WHBL

Analysis of Economic Development Incentives effectiveness a bipartisan effort
State Rep. Brad Mayo, an Oxford Republican, and Sen. David Blount, a Jackson Democrat, may be on different sides of the political aisle, but they can agree on a good idea. That idea is legislation to require a regular analysis of the incentives offered to lure economic development projects to the state. Mayo, an investment adviser in his first term in the state House, said he and Blount were in the same 2012 meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Chicago where the topic of the need for additional oversight of economic incentive packages offered by the states was discussed. Y'All Politics

Bill would hike age of adults in criminal justice system to 18
New Hampshire is one of 10 states that sets the maximum age for juvenile court jurisdiction at 16, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Hampshire Union Leader

Arkansas judge declares state’s voter ID law unconstitutional
Thus far 31 states require some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and seven states require photo IDs. ABA Journal

Arkansas judge strikes down voter ID law (blog)
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states have passed voter ID laws, 31 of which are in effect. The Hill

April 24

Vermont Lawmakers Pass GMO Labeling Bill; Governor Expected To Sign
Twenty-nine other states have proposed bills recently to require GMO labeling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Huffington Post

Ark. judge voids state voter ID law
Thirty-one states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. FoxNews.com

Bill would allow sale of raw milk in Louisiana
Thirty states allow people to buy raw milk, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The laws vary on where and how it can be sold. AP/The Wichita Eagle

Are all-terrain vehicles safe toys for children?
In January 2014, the National Conference of State Legislatures compiled a list of ATV safety laws by state. Some states regulate ATV drivers almost as strictly as regular automobiles, limiting ATV driving not just to people who are above a certain age, but have an official “safety certificate” or other ATV-specific driver's-license equivalent. Consumer Affairs

Andrew Cline: Norelli takes a break, doesn’t say goodbye
A smart and energetic leader with three terms as Speaker of the New Hampshire House and one term as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures under her belt would have a lot of opportunities to run for office in the future or take a well-paid, high-profile leadership position at any number of national organizations. After 18 years of service, Norelli leaves the House this fall a respected and largely well-liked figure. New Hampshire Union Leader

Meet the Tech-Savviest Legislators in the U.S. (Interactive Map)
The legislators included on this map were based on recommendations from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), the National Association of Counties (NACo) the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and other experts. Government Technology

It’s time for a raise (editorial)
On the progressive side -- which we support -- as of April 8, 34 states are considering increases to the state minimum wage this legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Bennington Banner

EDITORIAL: Politics at the heart of moves to increase minimum wage
Already this year, five states and the District of Columbia have raised the minimum wage higher than the current federal level. In the area surrounding the halls of Congress, the minimum wage will be $11.50. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that when these measures take effect, half the states will have minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate. NewsOK.com

The battle over gun policy: Old fight; new strategies
According to an analysis conducted for CNN by the National Conference of State Legislatures, states have enacted more than 40 new gun laws since the start of the year. Roughly half are those considered by such gun-control groups as the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence as having "minimal impact" on existing law. CNN

No easy route for Gov. Hickenlooper on effort to ban red-light cameras
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about a half dozen states ban the use of photo radar to ticket drivers, with Colorado now looking to join that group. Denver Post

Colorado Parents Prefer Metal Detectors In Schools
The National Conference of State Legislatures said after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, 33 states considered bills that would have allowed for armed teachers. Only seven passed them into law. CBS Denver

April 23

Vermont lawmakers send GMO food-labeling law to governor
A law that would make Vermont the first U.S. state to enact mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, received final approval from state lawmakers on Wednesday and now heads to the governor's desk. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than two dozen states are considering GMO labeling bills. Reuters

States move to criminalize 'revenge porn'
Dozens of states are joining the push to crack down on so-called "revenge porn" -- the posting of X-rated photos or videos online meant to embarrass or blackmail someone. During the 2014 legislative session, anti-revenge porn bills were introduced or pending in 27 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, legislation to outlaw the practice has passed this year in Idaho, Virginia and Wisconsin. FoxNews.com

Washington voters OK’d affirmative action law in 1998
Washington voters in 1998 approved a ban on affirmative action similar to the Michigan statute upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 10 states, including Washington, have passed some law addressing affirmative action as of February. The Spokesman-Review

Lawmakers Discuss the Possibility of Online Voter Registration
At a hearing this week in Madison, state lawmakers discuss the possibility of online voter registration. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states offer online registration and another four have passed legislation. ABC 2 WBAY

Common Questions on Common Core Part 2: New requirements and Tests in Md.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported this year that the number of bills related to changing Common Core has doubled since 2013. Southern Maryland Online

Takeaways From the High Court's Ruling in a Michigan University-Admissions Case
Eight states, including Florida, California and Arizona, have outlawed affirmative action at public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tuesday's ruling affirms the legality of those laws, some of which have been on the books for more than a decade. Wall Street Journal

Policy Tension in Florida Over Testing and School Choice
Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship Program was founded in 2001, and during the 2012-13 school year it enrolled just over 51,000 students. However, unlike in Indiana and other states, students in Florida's tax-credit scholarship system don't have to take the same state standardized test (the FCAT, for now) as students in traditional public schools, as Josh Cunningham at the National Conference of State Legislatures has documented. EdWeek.com

Lawmakers talk guns, taxes
The law takes effect July 1, making Idaho the seventh state to allow guns on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-one states ban concealed carry on college campuses, and 22 states leave the decision up to each university. Idaho Press Tribune

April 22

Medical marijuana bill clears final Senate committee
A bill that would allow low-THC marijuana to help children with severe seizures and muscle spasms cleared its last Senate panel and heads to the chamber floor. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized medical marijuana under state law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Tampa Tribune

Minimum wage increase likely to lead to other pay hikes
As of the beginning of 2014, 21 states and Washington, D.C. had wages above the minimum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. ABC 2 WMAR Baltimore

Will Marijuana be Legalized Federally in 2014? H.R. 499 Comes Down To Attorney General Eric Holder
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that states like New York and Florida are on the verge of joining the 20 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal. American Live Wire

Wage increases include tipped workers in some states
This year 29 states are considering raising their minimum wage, in addition to the five states plus D.C. that already have done so, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Stateline/Providence Journal

A Timeline of the Rise and Fall of 'Tough on Crime' Drug Sentencing
September 13, 1994: President Clinton passes the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which the administration presents as both tough and smart on crime, according to a White House release. It increases drug treatment programs and gun safety laws, but also allocates more money for prisons and issues harsher sentences, including a three-strikes law. Twenty-four states pass three-strikes laws between 1993 and 1995, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. thewire.com

Our View: Give biennial budget a try
Three states that border Illinois – Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin – are among the 19 states that produce two-year budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Northwest Herald

Some say role of state legislator is part-time job with full-time benefits
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists Wisconsin as just one of 10 states with a full-time Legislature. And of those 10, Wisconsin is the smallest. WISN

Minimum wage at forefront in states
So far this year, 34 states have or are now considering increases to their minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Measures are still advancing in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and Vermont. McClatchy Papers/Commercial Appeal

NY ranks 33rd in U.S. for women in state Legislature
The National Conference of State Legislatures released a database earlier this month that tracks the presence of women in state legislatures. It found that just 21 percent of New York's Legislature are women, lower than the national average of 24 percent. The NCSL reports the New York Legislature, which has 213 seats, has 34 women holding offices in the Assembly and 11 women in the Senate. That's 21 percent, even though women in New York make up nearly 52 percent of the population. Associated Press/WGRZ

April 21

Norelli retiring as New Hampshire House speaker; was first Democrat speaker since 1922
“After six years as speaker and 18 years in the legislature, it is time to turn over the gavel to the next generation of leaders. I have tremendous confidence in the membership of the Democratic caucus and believe they will hold the majority and continue to fight for the values we share,” said Norelli, who said she will not seek re-election to the House. She is in her ninth term in the House and is the immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/The Republic

Immigration Policy: Is Federalism the Answer?
In 2013, there was a 64 percent increase in proposed or enacted state laws [link to NCSL immigration report] dealing with immigration, compared with 2012. National Journal

Webb balances college, parenthood
Thirty percent of all teenage girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenthood as key reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Western Courier

Proposed Initiative Could Ban All Marijuana Use in Montana: The Fight Against Smoking Pot
Montana currently only allows the use of marijuana for those who are medically approved to do so. Thanks to California's Proposition 215 - the first statewide medical marijuana voter initiative adopted in the United States - various other states have studied marijuana to examine its medical effects on patients with certain conditions. The original proposition found "Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation," as stated on the National Conference of State Legislatures website. Science World Report

Can Co-Locating Utilities Solve The Water-Energy Nexus?
Some of our fastest-growing cities are also the driest, exacerbating the problems posed by water scarcity and the water-energy nexus. In response, California, Arizona, and Nevada have enacted statutes that specifically mention the appropriation of water for generating electricity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. wateronline.com

Norelli retiring as New Hampshire House speaker
New Hampshire's first democratic House speaker in 84 years is retiring after leading the chamber six of the last eight years. The 61-year-old Norelli is in her ninth term in the House. She is the immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Houston Chronicle

Voters in states and cities are considering proposals to raise the minimum wage
A wave of efforts to raise the minimum wage at the state and local level will run through November, when voters in several states could consider ballot measures to raise hourly rates higher than the current $7.25 federal rate. So far this year, 34 states have or are now considering increases to their minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ database. The Washington Post

Road kill bill would make claiming animals simpler
Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, is sponsoring a bill to simplify the road kill claiming process and allow more people to keep dead animals for food, bait or pelts. It unanimously passed the Senate last month. About 15 states have laws related to road kill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Grand Haven Tribune 

NH Senate voting on fetal homicide bill
New Hampshire’s Senate is voting whether to treat a fetus who dies in a homicide as a person even if the mother lives. At least 38 states have fetal homicide laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/The Washington Times

Food stamp bill has nutrition provision
A GOP-sponsored bill would limit food stamp spending in Delaware only to foods that have “proven beneficial nutritional value,” a change its sponsors say would bring the federally funded program in line with other state efforts to promote healthy eating habits. At least 10 states have passed laws requiring drug testing for some welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but Delaware isn’t one of them. delawareonline.com

Legislation introduced would put bookends on use of P3′s in Colorado
Legislation that would more sharply define Colorado’s ability to use public-private partnerships to pay for Interstate 70 and other transportation expansions will get its first hearing on Tuesday in a Colorado Senate committee hearing. The National Conference of State Legislatures in February reported that 33 states and Puerto Rico now have legislation enabling transportation P3’s. Mountain Town News

Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Nebraska is one of six states in the nation that do not place any limits on the amount of money either an individual or corporation can give to a candidate. Most states put a limit on individual contributions to governor candidates, anywhere from $300 to $41,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Omaha World-Herald

Salter: Amazon presence in Fla. shaping tax debate
Online retail giant Amazon.com this month began collecting sales tax for online purchases made by Floridians. Why now? It’s because Amazon.com now has a physical bricks-and-mortar presence in Florida.  Estimates of foregone sales tax revenue from these transactions total some $23 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL identifies an annual $303.4 million in uncollected Mississippi sales tax revenues. The Clarion-Ledger

LEE, MCDOWELL (obituary)
Alabama lost one of its finest sons with the passing of Charles McDowell Lee, Sr., at his home in Auburn April 17, 2014. He received the John A. Beek Award for distinguished service for to legislative history, he served on the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Legislature and was Staff Vice President from 1976 to 1977. Opelika-Auburn News

April 18

Motorcycle helmet law advocates say rising Florida deaths prove need
Mandatory motorcycle helmet laws are at the end of the road in Florida, despite a sharp rise in cycling deaths. Florida repealed its helmet law in 2000, and virtually no one in Tallahassee is talking about bringing it back. By 1997, 26 states had universal helmet laws. Today only 19 do. This year, nine of them have been considering weakening those laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.Tampabay.com

Revenge Porn Penalties Considered In Colorado
Using intimate photos or videos of significant others to humiliate them would be a crime under a bill being considered by lawmakers in Colorado, which is joining a growing number of states tackling the issue referred to as revenge porn. Revenge porn has gotten to be common enough that about two dozen states have proposed bills to address the issue this year, including Utah, Idaho, Virginia and Wisconsin, which enacted legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/CBS Denver

April 17

Minors banned from buying e-cigarettes under bills passed by Missouri lawmakers
At least 28 states have stepped in to ban sales to minors. Only Minnesota has a specific tax on e-cigarettes and other states including New Jersey, Washington and Utah have considered a specific tax, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Can ‘revenge porn’ send you to jail? It depends where you live.
The National Conference of State Legislatures is tracking almost 30 similar bills pending in other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Washington Post/GovBeat

IRS Among Agencies Using License Plate-Tracking Vendor
Most of the federal contracts were awarded years before former contractor Edward Snowden last year exposed vast U.S. surveillance programs that intercepted the phone records of many Americans. In the aftermath, lawmakers in more than a dozen states weighed legislation this year to limit license-plate tracking, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg Businessweek

Nudged by petition effort, Missouri might pass limited early voting proposal
Missouri would make it easier for people to cast their votes before Election Day under legislation that cleared the House on a bipartisan vote Thursday. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states and Washington already allow qualified voters to cast their ballots during designated periods without giving a reason. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Drilling fees should fund education, Democrats say
Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending... Pennsylvania is among the top states in natural gas production, yet is unique because it doesn’t charge a severance tax, according to a 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tribune-Democrat

Voters should have IDs ready on election day
Arkansas' law is classified as a "strict photo ID" one, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Blytheville Courier-News

NY ranks 33rd for women holding state office
The National Conference of State Legislatures released a database earlier this month that tracks the presence of women in state legislatures. Times Union

Senate approves social media privacy bill
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in the past two years, 16 states have approved legislation dealing with the privacy of social media accounts. In 2014, legislation has been introduced or is pending in 28 states and has been signed into law in Wisconsin. The Daily Ardmoreite

'Kill switch' may be standard on U.S. phones in 2015
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015, according to a pledge backed by most of the mobile world's major players. Oregon state Sen. Bruce Starr, president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said his group "applauds today's announcement unveiling the wireless industry's commitment to reduce the number of smartphone thefts each year by providing anti-theft tools on future devices. This voluntary effort serves as another positive illustration of the wireless industry adapting to address consumer needs through self-regulation," he said. CNN

San Francisco seeks preloaded cell phone kill switches
CTIA, the wireless industry's trade association, agreed along with many members on Tuesday to install "kill switches" that consumers can activate after purchase to disable cellphones or wipe them of personal data. Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr, president of the National Conference of State Legislature, issued a statement praising the voluntary commitment. San Francisco Business Times

Arkansas voter ID law challenged in court by ACLU
Thirty-one states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven states have strict photo ID requirements similar to Arkansas. Voter ID laws have been put on hold in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania because of court challenges. Associated Press/Star Telegram

Indiana faces deadline on new education standards
Some conservatives have criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools, and about 100 state bills were introduced this year to pause or repeal the standards, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Modesto Bee

US states step up initiatives to regulate chemicals
Every year we are seeing more and more bills that would tighten state regulations on chemicals, said Doug Farquhar, programme director of environmental health for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The number of reintroduced bills in combination with new legislation is leading to a "storm" of proposed laws that is overwhelming even well-heeled lobbying efforts by trade associations, Mr Farquhar says. As of last week, his group’s database showed 519 bills across state legislatures that mention chemicals. Chemical Watch

April 16

Vermont steps closer to passing GMO food-labeling law
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are GMO labeling bills under consideration in 29 states. Reuters/Chicago Tribune

Arkansas voter ID law challenged in court by ACLU
Thirty-one states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Star-Telegram

Two more states eye drone use limits
In 2013 alone, as many as 43 states introduced a total of 130 bills and resolutions seeking drone limits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). By year-end, 13 states had enacted 16 new drone laws, while another 11 had adopted resolutions limiting the use of drones in some circumstances, according to the NCSL. Computerworld

Unpaid child support by state
The National Conference of State Legislatures recently released data regarding child support cases. The report exams the country's 15,831,904 child support cases based on 2012 data, the most recent report available. KCRA.com

Coalition of the Disappointed
Some 34 states now require voters to show some form of government-issued photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, up from zero in 2006. The states say such rules uphold public confidence in the integrity of the ballot. Wall Street Journal

Students lobby at Louisiana State Capitol for tastier school lunch
Students from Central High School and Ruston High School took over the helm of the testimony table to voice their support for Senate Concurrent Resolution 41 filed by Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture develop tastier food options for the National School Lunch Program. Gallot said he sponsored the bill following feedback from students he met through the National Conference of Legislatures back to school program. Students in his district contacted him after questioning if his concern was genuine, which he said prompted him to present the resolution. The Times-Picayune

Social Security Card Photo Proposal Meets Resistance
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 31 states require people to show some form of ID before voting. Eight states are classified as "strict photo ID" by the NCSL, while another eight are termed "strict non-photo ID." The latter means a voter can vote without a photo ID if he has other documents establishing his identity. "Voter ID continues to be a high-profile issue in many state legislatures in 2014, although not as active as in the previous three years," the NCSL writes. "In 2013, 30 states considered voter ID legislation. In 2012, legislation was introduced in 32 states. In 2011, 34 states considered voter ID legislation. NewsMax

When a 43% Graduation Rate Means Success
25 states, including North Carolina, have already tweaked their funding formulas to reward colleges for metrics like on-time graduation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Atlantic

April 15

CTIA-The Wireless Association and Participating Wireless Companies Announce the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment"
Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr, President of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), said, "The NCSL applauds today's announcement unveiling the wireless industry'scommitment to reduce the number of smartphone thefts each year by providing anti-theft tools on future devices.This voluntary effort serves as another positive illustration of the wireless industry adapting to address consumer needs through self-regulation.The NCSL encourages your ongoing collaboration with consumers and the state lawmakers as we continue to work cooperatively to reduce the number of smartphone thefts annually." itbusinessnet.com

Studies Offer Insights on Implementing Common Core
In 2013 alone, state legislators introduced nearly 300 bills related to the Common Core State Standards. This year, they are on track to do the same, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Education Week

Local tanning salons respond to state ban
According to the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois is one of six states that bans indoor tanning for everyone younger than 18. Daily Chronicle

Common Core standards dredge up old apprehensions
“There’s a lot of confusion about what standards are in (Common Core),” said Michelle Exstrom, the education program director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Much of the information out there is myth.” Las Vegas Sun/Elko Daily

Colorado bill banning traffic camera advances
Ten states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement or both, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But traffic enforcement cameras are still widely used. According to the legislatures group, more than 400 communities in the country use red-light cameras, and more than 40 municipalities use cameras to enforce speeding limits. Associated Press/Washington Times

Editorial: Give biennial budget a try
Three states that border Illinois – Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin – are among the 19 states that produce 2-year budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sauk Valley

Minimum Wage at the Forefront, With Eye on Elections
So far this year, 34 states have or are now considering increases to their minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ database. Measures are still advancing in Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts and Vermont. Stateline

Up through the ground comes education cash
Pennsylvania is among the top states in natural gas production, yet is unique because it doesn’t charge a severance tax, according to a 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Castle News

April 14

Private money, public projects: More U.S. states doing deals
Thirty-three states allow varying levels of public-private partnerships for transportation projects, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, up from 23 in 2006. Reuters

When a 43 Percent Graduation Rate Means Success
Twenty-five states, including North Carolina, have already tweaked their funding formulas to reward colleges for metrics like on-time graduation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. National Journal

Legality of private drone use up in the air 
Lawmakers are working to enact laws that keep pace with the development of drone technology and its domestic use. Thirty-five states have considered new drone bills and resolutions this year, of which four have enacted legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of those states already had laws regarding drone use, and 16 states in total have drone laws, according to NCSL. TheDay.com

Illinois Lottery app stirs up controversy
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Illinois is the only state to have an app with which gamblers can buy tickets through the ease of their cellphones. AP/Lodi News-Sentinel

SHE’S THE LAW: How A Federal Minimum Wage Increase May Affect You
As highlighted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of April 8, 2014, 38 states have considered minimum wage bills during the 2014 session, with 34 considering increases to their state minimum wage. Michigan Chronicle

Ohio lawmakers push back against efforts to unionize college athletes; other states may follow
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks statehouse legislation nationwide, said it doesn't know of proposals on college unionization in any other states, perhaps because many legislatures are out of session.  Associated Press/Star Tribune

State enacts welfare restrictions
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine other states had passed drug testing laws through late March. Associated Press/Montgomery Advertiser

New law to ramp up high school finance lessons
Some lawmakers, high school students and others say they're excited about a new state law designed to better equip high school students with budgeting and financial skills. The law ramps up classes on finance and basic economics that have been required since 2009. To date, students often take the classes online in order to accommodate busy schedules. Many states require high schools to offer the courses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Charlotte Observer

Ethics Board: How much free food to allow?
But what constitutes “widely attended” and what passes for speaking at an event are sometimes debated, according to Natalie O’Donnell Wood of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Center for Ethics in Government. “Other states sometimes also find there are vague terms that get into statute, and legislators go back into the statute and address clarifying the terms,” ethics center director Peggy Kerns added. At least nine states have adopted rules so tight that “not even a cup of coffee” is allowed, according to Kerns. Wisconsin was first to establish that “cup of coffee” rule, in 1957, and a few years ago Colorado voters adopted a constitutional amendment to set that high bar, she said. The Olympian

Texas more welcoming of firearms than other states
Although interpretations of state laws vary among pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association and Open carry.org, carrying firearms in full view is specifically allowed in 17 states, according to National Conference of State Legislatures. Most others let local governments decide whether to impose restrictions. Amarillo Globe News

New Hampshire Lawmakers Move to Decriminalize Adultery
New Hampshire is not the only state in New England where adultery remains a crime. In Massachusetts, adultery is punishable by up to three years in prison. In Rhode Island, anyone engaged in an adulterous affair faces a fine of up to $500, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Vermont and Maine have repealed their adultery laws. Associated Press/ Valley News

Pace of pension reform ebbs after 49 states change laws
In terms of reform attempts, the National Conference of State Legislatures found 29 states saw 166 pension bills introduced in 2014 alone, many of which addressed minor changes or proved too controversial to survive. Pension and Investments

April 11

Democrats embrace adding photos to Social Security cards
Eight states have a strict photo ID requirement, while eight others have more lenient rules asking for some form of photo identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since the beginning of last year, nine states have adopted new voting restrictions. Washington Post

ATVs on road, fatal accidents increase
A national study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found 1,701 ATV rider deaths on public roads from 2007 to 2011. Of those deaths, 24 occurred in Washington, 19 in Oregon and 28 in Idaho. Idaho and South Dakota are the only states to allow ATVs to use state highways, according to a December 2013 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Spokesman Review

Dems running for governor propose taxing gas drillers to benefit education
Pennsylvania is among the top states in natural gas production, yet is unique because it doesn’t charge a severance tax, according to a 2012 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Meadville Tribune

April 10

Minnesota Considers Ending Lawmaker Immunity Law
There is arrest immunity language in the U.S. Constitution and 44 other state constitutions, said Brenda Erickson, senior research analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/ABC News

Minnesota lawmakers OK raising minimum wage to $9.50 an hour
Proposals to raise the minimum wage have been considered in nearly three dozen states in 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Increases have been approved in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia. Reuters

Senate panel's medical pot hearing to be continued
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/newsobserver.com

Lobbying fee proposed to pay for oversight
Delaware is one of nine states without a registration fee for lobbyists, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. delawareonline.com

Comprehending Comprehensive Sexual Education (blog)
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures' official website, 33 states require that students receive instruction about HIV/AIDS; 19 require the information, if provided, to be medically, factually, or technically accurate; and only 22 states and the District of Columbia require that public schools teach sex education. Huffington Post

Attempt to revive distracted driver bill fails (blog)
Twelve states and the District of Columbia already ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Denver Post

National Conference of State Legislatures Opposes Federal Web Poker Ban
Last week, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) issued a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives warning against Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s Restoration of the Wire Act legislation. Card Player

Rebounding economy fills state coffers with record tax revenues
Part of the growth in personal income taxes came from wealthy individuals racing to beat the looming fiscal cliff deadline, said Todd Haggerty, a budget analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Post – Gov. Beat

States Pursuing Cash That U.S. Companies Stash Overseas: Taxes
On other issues, at least 34 states are considering whether to increase the minimum wage, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia already have this year. Bloomberg

Vermont House bucks Shumlin, speeds wage hike
Two other states — Connecticut and Maryland — are planning to increase their minima to $10.10 in 2017, two years later than the House bill would have Vermont get to that level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/MSN Money

Lobbying fee proposed to pay for oversight
Delaware is one of nine states without a registration fee for lobbyists, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Delaware Online

Senate signs off on minimum wage; House expected to follow suit today
The federal minimum wage is in effect in about half of the states. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia pay more than the federal rate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-four states were considering raising their minimum wage this year, according to the association. Four and the District of Columbia have enacted increases this year. Pioneer Press

Lawmakers to tackle jobless discrimination
Twelve other states are considering similar prohibitions on employment status used in job postings, said the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legislation is moving in Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Associated Press/Republican American

April 9

Veto-wielding Maine Republican governor faces tough re-election fight
"We're hovering at historic levels of divided government right now," said Tim Storey, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "In Maine, you've got a bright blue and a bright red candidate, and neither are afraid to speak their mind." Across the country, a similar story is unfolding, as high-profile Republican governors Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and John Kasich of Ohio spar with close-polling Democratic challengers over health care, taxes and government spending."At a time when Washington is not making policy, the states are really taking the lead in addressing problems," says Storey. "So people will be watching these races closely." Reuters

Minnesota Minimum Wage Rise Nears Approval
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states have had minimum wage increase bills before them this year. AP/CBS Minnesota

States Swerve Around Congress Into Minimum Wage Passing Lane
In total, as of April 8, thirty-eight states had deliberated minimum wage bills for the 2014 session, and thirty-four are looking at increases to the state minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall St. Cheat Sheet

DNC staffs up for voter expansion project
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas has some of the strictest voter-identification laws in the country, which require people without identification to fill out a provisional ballot and present identification less than a week later in order to get a vote counted. The Hill

Steyer Pushes Oil Tax to Pay Dividends to Californians 
Thirty states have some form of an oil and gas production tax, including every major producer except California and Pennsylvania, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas uses its “severance” tax on production, which collected about $4.5 billion in revenue last year, to help fund public education. Bloomberg

White House Praises Afghan Elections, Even Though the Country Used Something the Obama Admin. Has Fought Against
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld photo ID laws for voters in a 6-3 ruling in 2008... Since that time, a total of 34 states have enacted some type of voter ID law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though not all are photo ID, for the purpose of preventing potential voter fraud. theblaze.com

‘House of Cards,’ ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and tax credits
Ohio is an attractive place for productions like the “Captain America” sequel (as well as its franchise predecessor, “The Avengers”) because it has a hefty tax incentive program for movies, offering up to a 35 percent credit for productions that film there. That’s at the higher end of tax credits offered to productions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which says 45 states and Puerto Rico offer such incentives. Washington Post

GOP congressman: Empower states to legalize marijuana
Some potential Republican presidential candidates — including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — have signaled that they want a shift in federal policy that would leave the issue up to the states. Since 1996, when California became the first state to enact legislation allowing medical marijuana, 20 other states and the District of Columbia have followed suit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington Times

Steyer Pushes Fracking Tax to Pay Californians
Thirty states have some form of an oil and gas production tax, including every major producer except California and Pennsylvania, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas uses its “severance” tax on production, which collected about $4.5 billion in revenue last year, to help fund public education. Bloomberg News

Connecticut again tries to ban unemployment bias
Twelve other states are considering similar prohibitions on employment status used in job postings, said the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legislation is moving in Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Boston.com

Pepper plans to pursue opioid distributors on both sides of the law
Legislation allowing such punishment exists in five states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, including Florida, which allows for the death penalty in such circumstances. Coshocton Tribune

Vermont House speeds wage hike
Two other states -- Connecticut and Maryland -- are planning to increase their minima to $10.10 in 2017, two years later than the House bill would have Vermont get to that level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Bennington Banner

April 8

Bill Would Make Tough Penalties For ‘Revenge Porn’
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 other states have passed or are considering similar legislation. CBS Denver

Committee tackles drone threat
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states enacted 19 new laws related to drone activity last year, including Texas and Florida. The New Orleans Advocate

Minnesota's Minimum Wage to Jump from Lowest to Highest 
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states have adopted indexed minimum wages since 2001. Of those, only one — Vermont — did so by a legislative vote. In the 10 other states, indexing was approved by voters. Governing

Legislative Effort Would Bar Hiring Discrimination Against Jobless
Twelve other states are considering similar prohibitions on employment status used in job postings, said the National Conference of State Legislatures. CBS Connecticut

Michigan ranks 6th best for election performance, 6th worst for average voter wait times
Michigan is one of 14 states that does not offer either in-person early voting or no-reason absentee ballots, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. MLive.com

Corbett, Democratic opponents try to top one another with calls for gift ban
Ten states have full bans on gifts for politicians, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pocono Record

Politicians eager to give something back to the 'average' taxpayer
A National Conference of State Legislatures survey found that tax policy tops the legislative agenda in about a dozen states and is “a significant part of the discussion in many more.” The Oklahoman

Sweet, Richard Neal (Obituary)
He specialized in health law, veterans issues, and administrative rules, and was widely respected for his work with the Wisconsin Legislature as well as the National Conference of State Legislatures. Madison.com

Editorial: Tourism funding hampered by budget shortfall
Budget cuts are expected when belt tightening is needed — Tennessee is one of only four states (with Alaska, Indiana and West Virginia) not expected to meet budgeted fiscal year 2014 revenue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' fall budget update report (http://www.ncsl.org/documents/fiscal/fallsbu2013free.pdf) — but how to make those cuts without affecting the bottom line is key. The Mountain Press

Obama’s Education Reform Fails An Entire Generation (opinion)
You see, there are now several hundred bills across the nation that will seek to mitigate – or eliminate – the Common Core Standards in education curriculums, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wall Street Daily

States get creative to match unemployed with business
To help the unemployed get back to work, at least 17 state legislatures passed laws regarding workforce development last year, said Qiana Flores of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Stateline/USA Today

New state tax revenue data gives insight into consumer spending (NCSL Info Cited)
Hunting and fishing licenses, tobacco sales, motor fuel consumption — all are areas that are tracked by license or sales tax data.   And “severance taxes,” as this National Conference of State Legislatures graphic explained, pertain to natural resource harvesting — taking a look at historical figures can paint a picture of how materials like coal, natural gas, oil, ore, precious metals and more are being harvested. Reynolds Centers – BusinessJournalism.com

Neb. job-discrimination bill stalls in Legislature
Twenty other states and the District of Columbia already ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Associated Press/Beaumont Enterprise

Minnesota minimum wage deal reached
Thirty-four states were considering raising their minimum wage this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pioneer Press

April 7

Maryland Approves Gradually Raising Minimum Wage
More than 20 states already have a minimum wage above the $7.25 federal level, and this year four states—including Maryland—and the District of Columbia have enacted increases, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Wall Street Journal

New standards for education dredge up old apprehensions
“There’s a lot of confusion about what standards are in (Common Core),” said Michelle Exstrom, the education program director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Much of the information out there is myth.” Las Vegas Sun

Traffic-enforcement cameras might soon be banned in Colorado
In Arkansas, New Jersey and Wisconsin, laws are in place that prohibit photo radar enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Denver Post

Two More Organizations Come Out Against Graham/Chaffetz Bill
Recently, both the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL) penned letters to federal lawmakers expressing their opposition to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act bill. Poker News Daily

Lawmakers setting standards?
Though the bills failed in Wyoming, lawmakers are involved in signing off on educational standards in several other states, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Casper Star-Tribune

State lawmakers unchanged by camera's glare during debate
All 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico provide live video or audio of floor proceedings, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

12-plus states could throw out donation caps after McCutcheon ruling
Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia all currently have laws on the books that are similar to the one struck down by the Supreme Court in McCutcheon, according to lawyers and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Center for Public Integrity/Tucson Sentinel

The Senate takes encouraging steps on limiting gifts, but more work remains: Editorial
A quick inspection of the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures summarizes gift ban laws in all 50 states. PennLive.com

Louisiana Senators Keep Mandatory Motorcycle Helmet Law Intact
Louisiana is one of 19 states that require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, including the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states don’t have helmet requirements. Insurance Journal

States debate regulating pricey, sometimes dangerous raw milk
The finally tally on the raw milk bills is not yet in, but so far it appears an uphill battle is likely this year. As of last month, seven of the bills have failed, an additional 32 were still pending and one had passed, according to the NCSL. Washington Post

Getting Workers Back Into the Workforce
To help the unemployed get back to work, at least 17 state legislatures passed laws regarding workforce development last year, said Qiana Flores of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Stateline

OUR VIEW: Governor's leadership on budget fails so far
Tennessee is one of only four states that do not expect to meet their revenue projections for 2013-2014, according to the most recent report of the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL report, released in October, is positive in its general assessment of the economic situation: “Overall, state budgets appear to be stabilizing and settling into a period of moderate growth.” DNJ.COM/Gannett

States look harder at rules on gifts to lawmakers
"It is a trend both in receiving and giving of gifts to lawmakers," said Peggy Kerns, executive director of the Center for Ethics in Government at the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Many times, it's the public perception of what gifts can provide, the quid pro quo. You can't always say there's a quid pro quo, but the public is skeptical." Philly.com

Wage proposals gaining momentum, but may lead to tough decisions
The issue is increasingly being debated across the U.S. According to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 38 states have considered minimum wage legislation as of March 31 this year. By January this year, 21 states, including Ohio, already have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage. Springfield News

Tacoman who lost his child to melanoma fought to restrict youths' use of tanning beds
Six other states besides Washington have enacted bans on minors using tanning beds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. News Tribune

The Benefits of Aging in Place
Almost 90% of people over 65 want to live in their home and community as long as possible, according to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kiplinger

April 4

States protest proposed gambling ban
The National Conference of State Legislatures is protesting a plan in Congress to ban online gambling. In a letter to lawmakers on Thursday, the bipartisan group said the push would amount to the federal government usurping the role of the states to decide the legality of gambling online. “States have proven that they are effective regulators of the gambling industry and the proponents of this legislation fail to make a case that we have been negligent in our responsibilities to the industry and consumers,” wrote Oregon state Sen. Bruce Starr (R), the conference’s president, and Nevada state Sen. Debbie Smith (D), its president-elect. The Hill

NCSL publishes letter opposing new anti-online gaming legislation in US
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has published a letter strongly opposing new anti-online gambling legislation that has been introduced in the US. Senator Bruce Starr, president of the NCSL, and Senator Debbie Smith, NCSL president-elect, penned the letter on behalf of the NCSL. “On behalf of the NCSL we write to express our strong opposition to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and urge you to respect the sovereignty of states to decide whether or not to allow gambling, and in particular online gambling,” the letter said. iGamingBusiness

Education experts debate Common Core's value; teacher's group expresses distrust in the standards
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and around half would either stop or slow implementation. ABC 7

Rep. Jim Moran: 'Members of Congress are underpaid'
Several states pay their legislators a per diem to cover such costs as housing, travel and meals – some are set to a percentage based on a federal rate, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. onpolitics.usatoday.com

Money for nothing? } Pa. lawmakers need to document expenses
Pennsylvania’s lawmakers have the second-highest pay in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, members of the House were in session for only 81 days last year, working six more days than did members in the Senate, Finnerty reported. Tribune Democrat

Telling secrets: Protecting therapists who report patients’ threats
New York also allows law enforcement to remove firearms owned by patients reported to be dangerous, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Aurora Senttinel

April 3

State lawmakers group opposes bill to ban online 
In a letter to the congressional leadership and copied to all members of Congress, the National Conference of State Legislatures said the organization expresses strong opposition to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which was introduced last month by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. State Sen. Bruce Starr of Oregon, the organization’s current president, and Nevada State Sen. Debbie Smith of Reno, the current president-elect, said in the letter that Congress should “respect the sovereignty of states” in deciding if they want to participate in online gaming. Las Vegas Review-Journal

Sales Tax Slice: How Much Revenue Do States (Really) Lose From Remote Sales?
According to a University of Tennessee study and the National Conference of State Legislatures, total remote sales tax losses by the states are estimated to have been $23.26 billion nationwide for 2012, with $11.39 billion of those losses coming from electronic sales. Bloomberg BNA

Senators refuse to water down helmet law
Louisiana is one of 19 states that require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, including the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three states don’t have helmet requirements. AP/thenewsstar.com

Education experts debate Common Core's value
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and around half would either stop or slow implementation. 10news.com

Drone regulation bills in talks for Minnesota
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 40 states had bills relating to the unmanned aircraft last year. Only 13 passed laws. AP/Alberta Lea Tribune

GOP proposal would regulate 'navigators' of federal health law
Pennsylvania would join numerous states in regulating the so-called navigators called for in the federal law. Since 2012, 25 states have enacted restrictions or regulations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which says at least 37 bills have been considered in 22 states this year. Post Gazette

Legislative leaders: No changes because of online video access
Iowa is on par with other states providing audio and video access. All 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico provide live video or audio of floor proceedings, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Archived webcasts of floor proceedings are available in 39 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Globe Gazette

Women’s Economic Security Act advances in Senate
Katie Fischer Ziegler, a program manager at the Women’s Legislative Network of National Conference of State Legislatures, said lawmakers in other states are currently pursuing many of the woman-friendly measures incorporated in WESA. “But they haven’t been under one umbrella and marketed together as they were in Minnesota,” she noted. “This whole awareness campaign is pretty different. Only time will tell if it’s effective but it certainly has attracted a lot of attention, even outside of Minnesota.” Finance Commerce

Bill would ban junk food purchases with food stamps
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, since the start of 2012, at least 13 states — including California, New Jersey and Illinois — have considered bills to restrict the purchase of certain foods under SNAP. Delaware News

Common Core Debate Update: 100 State Bills Try to Slow, Stop, or Reverse the Federal Standards
The Hoosier State is unlikely to be the only one to abandon Common Core in the coming months. According to the National Conference for State Legislatures, as of March 19, 225 bills had been filed in legislatures across the country “that address, even if tangentially, college- and career-readiness standards.” About 100 of those bills aim to slow, stop, or reverse Common Core requirements. TakePart.com

School Shooting Drills Can Be More Terrifying Than Helpful
In spite of these reports of student anxiety, state lawmakers continue to pass new regulations requiring intruder drills. Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee join Arkansas in requiring schools to stage these type of full-scale exercises, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). In addition, there are “at least 32 states that require schools to implement some type of general lockdown or general school safety drills other than fire, earthquake or tornado drills,” NCSL research analyst Lauren Heintz tells The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast

April 2

With Obama’s Push, Momentum on Minimum Wage Moves to States
Jeanne Mejeur, a senior researcher at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the wave of action in the states on the minimum wage is most likely a reaction to the lack of movement on the iissue at the national level. “When Congress doesn’t act on the minimum wage, that’s when the states start looking at it,” said Ms. Mejeur, who has studied the minimum wage for 15 years. She said there have been previous waves of interest at the state level, but the president’s efforts appear to have encouraged states to seek a higher minimum wage. “This is the first time where there have been quite a few states that have gone over the threshold of $10 per hour,” she said. “This is the first that I’ve seen the states proposing these kinds of numbers.” The New York Times

A DFL push for gender fairness — and votes
Katie Fischer Ziegler, a program manager at the Women’s Legislative Network of National Conference of State Legislatures, said lawmakers in other states are currently pursuing many of the woman-friendly measures incorporated in WESA. “But they haven’t been under one umbrella and marketed together as they were in Minnesota,” she noted. “This whole awareness campaign is pretty different. Only time will tell if it’s effective but it certainly has attracted a lot of attention, even outside of Minnesota.” Politics in Minnesota

Nebraska Becomes 20th State with Online Voter Registration
Nebraska becomes the 20th state to pass or implement full online voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Governing

Campaign money: Will the Supreme Court decision have a big impact on Oregon candidates?
Oregon is one of only 12 states with no limits on the size of political donations to candidates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Oregonian

States Eye Toxic Chemical Reform As Washington Fails To Act
At least 442 bills involving toxics and chemicals have been filed in 2014, or refiled from previous sessions, covering 39 states, according to an environmental health legislation database maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Huffington Post

President Obama is in Michigan to talk minimum wage today. Here’s why.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states are considering increases to their minimum wages this year. The Washington Post

Maine Senate rejects LePage plan to ask voters about tax/spending cuts 
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states rarely use the advisory referendum, in part because the results are non-binding. Portland Press Herald

Feds may be rethinking the drug war, but states have been leading the way
Between 2009 and 2013, 40 states took some action to ease their drug laws, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of legislative data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Vera Institute of Justice. Twenty-seven states moved only in the direction of easing, while 13 other states eased some laws and toughened others — often as part of a broader rethink of their drug policies. pewresearch.org

Board OKs purchase of poll pads to relieve precinct gridlock
Electronic poll pads are being used by 27 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website. news-press.com

GOP's 2010 gains still pay dividends
B
efore the 2010 election, the GOP had majorities in 36 state legislative bodies. Afterward, the party controlled 56, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. AP/Columbia Daily Tribune

Drone bills likely grounded this year in Minnesota Legislature
In 2013, 43 state legislatures considered bills related to unmanned aircraft, and 13 states passed laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota Public Radio/WDAZ

Colorado Town Rejects Plan to Let Residents Shoot Down Drones
Thirteen states enacted laws addressing use of the vehicles, and others are being considered in Indiana, Washington and Utah, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Newsmax

CAMPAIGN 2014: Pro-marijuana supporters rally in Pennsylvania Capitol
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states and Washington, D.C., currently allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. Indiana Gazette

New State Laws Require More Sex-Abuse Training in Schools
An analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures that was last updated in 2013 showed laws in Vermont, California, and Texas that predate Erin's Laws efforts. And many districts implement programs on their own. Education Week

Hawaii Senate committee: No more tanning beds for minors
California, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Texas have similar bans in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some other states restrict tanning or require parental permission among younger teens. Associated Press/The Republic

By the Numbers: Minimum Wage in the United States
21 - The number of states with a minumum wage higher than $7.25 on the books (Washington, D.C., also exceeds the federal minimum), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states have a minimum wage that is the same as the federal level, while four have set a rate below the federal minimum. Five states have no minimum wage. NBC Bay Area

April 1

I Survived a Campus Shooting
Today, 21 states, including Illinois, ban concealed weapons on college campuses, while 23 states leave the decision up to the college. Six states have provisions allowing concealed weapons on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Those states are Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin. (Arkansas has a law, but it applies only to faculty and colleges can opt out.) The political battle is growing: Last year, at least 19 states introduced laws to allow concealed weapons on campus in some regard, according to the NCSL. Two of the bills passed, in Arkansas and Kansas. On the other hand, five states introduced legislation to prohibit concealed weapons on campus. None of those bills passed. Cosmopolitan magazine

As states repeal helmet laws, motorcycle deaths increase
Of the 19 states that still have universal helmet laws, eight are considering legislation to weaken those laws this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The New York Times/Omaha World Herald

Georgia launches online, mobile voter registration
More than a dozen states now offer online registration and a handful have passed legislation allowing Web-based programs but have yet to launch them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It’s unclear how much money the Web-based systems might help Georgia county election boards save, but NCSL program manager Wendy Underhill said a study of Arizona’s online system showed that processing online registrations cost about 3 cents each while paper applications cost about 83 cents apiece. “I think basically states are finding that there are savings but it takes time to see it,” Underhill said, adding that more people using online registration options would likely translate to more savings over time. Washington Times

States Collaborating on Rules to Address Earthquake Risks of Fracking
Several U.S. states are banding together to combat the mounting risks of earthquakes tied to the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Oklahoma would be the first state to require daily test, said Kristy Hartman, energy and policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Insurance Journal

Colorado Town Considers Letting Residents Shoot at Drones
The Deer Trail ordinance highlights growing privacy concerns nationwide with the expanded use of camera-equipped drones, which can be as small as radio-controlled aircraft. Thirteen states enacted 16 laws addressing use of the tiny vehicles, and others are being considered in Indiana, Washington and Utah, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Bloomberg

Websites that charge to remove your arrest mug shot could face fines
At least 12 other states, including Florida, have mug shot-related bills pending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Florida Times Union

States pursue tax cuts as recovery takes hold
A survey of state lawmakers by the National Conference of State Legislatures found tax policy topping the agenda in about a dozen states this year and being a significant part of the discussion in many more. At the same time, states still worry about the economy. USA Today/Hattiesburg American

Lawmakers work around voter-approved term limits
When the National Conference of State Legislatures reviewed the South Dakota Legislature’s operations last year at the request of the Legislature’s Executive Board, one of the themes in the findings was the challenge posed by term limits. Rapid City Journal

Capital medical marijuana forum brings out pros and cons
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized medical marijuana under state law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Naples News