NCSL in the News: 2010

NCSL in the News Archive: December 2010

Dec. 30

More U.S. cities dimming the lights
"Cities and local governments can adopt policies ... but it's more forceful if the state legislature comes in," says Melissa Savage, program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

Sales, income taxes drive modest state revenue increases
At least 15 states will have to close budget gaps in the current fiscal year, according to a report this month from NCSL. But worse news lies in the near future. The end of the federal stimulus program and rising Medicaid costs will likely mean deficits for 35 states in the fiscal year that begins in July 2011.  Stateline

Kansas likely to crack down on illegal immigration
State legislators nationwide have grown less willing to wait on the federal government to address the issue. The National Conference of State Legislatures said that in the first half of 2010, state lawmakers considered almost 1,400 immigration proposals — four times as many as five years ago.  AP in Bloomberg

Lawmakers content with tobacco rules
North Dakota is one of three states that has not raised its tobacco tax in at least 10 years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other two are California and Missouri, which has the nation's lowest cigarette tax at 17 cents a pack.  AP in NECN

College funding in Louisiana leads listing
“A major shift in political philosophy toward higher education may be on the horizon,” the new NCSL report states. “After several years of cutbacks to help balance the budget, the state contribution to higher education is at such a law point that a new relationship between the state and public higher education is on the horizon."  2TheAdvocate

Munis to cause insurer problems in 2011
In addition, the outlook for state and municipal defaults is expected to increase. At least 31 states and Puerto Rico area forecasting deficits in excess of $82.1 billion in the next fiscal year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Street

Dec. 29

New laws hit the books in new year
State legislatures drawing up budgets in a tough economy have been trimming state employees' retirement and benefits programs, a theme throughout 2010 that is likely to continue, says Meagan Dorsch, public affairs director at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  USA Today

States push citizenship challenges
Past efforts to take on birthright citizenship have failed. Still, the measures send a message, said Ann Morse of the Immigrant Policy Project for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  St. Petersburg Times

Coming soon: Higher business payroll taxes
Only California has borrowed more money than Michigan to pay unemployment benefits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Michigan Capitol Confidential

Jeb Bush's influence on education policy spreads
The recent midterm elections saw Republicans seize control of a majority of governors’ offices—29 in all—as well as take hold of both chambers of the legislature in 25 states; they now have more state legislative seats than at any time since the 1920s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Education Week

Lifesaving device: Defibrillator helps save man at Salem YMCA
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, by 2006, more than half of the states, including Virginia, had changed or expanded their AED laws. In 2004, Illinois required every physical fitness facility to have an AED by mid-July 2006, according to NCSL.  The Roanoke Times

U.S. state third-quarter revenue rose 4.8%, Census Bureau says
Two-thirds of states forecast revenue to fall short of needs to maintain current services in the next fiscal year, according to a July report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. In November, the Denver-based group said 31 states projected an $82.1 billion collective deficit for the year that begins in July for most. In 15, no 2012 budget gap was expected.  Business Week

States to follow Arizona on immigration law
The National Conference of State Legislatures predicts there could be a record number of state bills dealing with immigration in 2011.  That would be up from 1,500 such measures filed in each of the past two years.  USA Today

Dec. 28

More states seeking to follow Arizona's push for tougher immigration rules
About 300 immigration-related bills were introduced in statehouses in 2005, said Ann Morse, who directs the Immigrant Policy Project for the National Conference of State Legislatures. In each of the last two years, the figure reached about 1,500, she said. In 2011, state legislators could push the number higher. “Every indication I get is, they’re not done,” Morse said. Bloomberg

Senators propose shortening S.C. session
Besides Texas, only three other states – Montana, Nevada and North Dakota – meet every other year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Nerve

Ohio Supreme Court OKs state's satellite TV tax
Ohio had drawn support in the case from 15 other states, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association, among others. Associated Press

New republican majority can remake General Assembly staff
"North Caroline is pretty lean with respect to other states regarding staffing," said Tim Storey, a legislative analyst for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Lincoln Tribune

In unfolding war on public employees, state lawmakers and media likely to do the work themselves
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates a $118 billion dollar shortfall in state and municipal budgets in 2011. Fire Dog Lake

Dec. 27

Redistricting looms large in Congress
Tim Storey, an expert on redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that Republicans were in their strongest position to draw lines in decades. Of the districts drawn by state legislatures, he said, Republicans have the power to unilaterally draw 196, four times as many as the Democrats. A decade ago, he said, Democrats had the advantage. New York Times

Bad credit and job prospects in New Jersey
Washington, Hawaii, Oregon and Illinois have all banned the use of credit reports for hiring, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states and the District of Columbia have introduced bills this year to limit the use of credit information in employment. Star Ledger

Ebb of stimulus funding could hit Texas workers hard
Other states are in worse shape. Illinois' fiscal shortfall in 2011 is $13 billion – 47 percent of its general fund budget, according to the National Conference of State  Legislatures. California's projected deficit for 2012 is $19 billion, or 19 percent of its general fund budget. Dallas Morning News

A 'new realism' about bipartisanship may be key to states' fiscal rebound
Nonetheless, the opinions expressed at the Phoenix conference and the impressive performance of many states in balancing budgets during a time of declining revenues suggest that state legislators may be more successful than their congressional counterparts in finding common ground. Politics Daily

Wake school ideas include four-day weeks
More than 120 school districts in 20 states operate on four-day weeks, according to Ashley Wallace, an education policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. She said small, rural districts are more likely to try."It seems to a lot of people like it would be a silver bullet," Wallace said. "Some districts have seen savings. But there are a lot of variables." News and Observer

Let states go bankrupt
Heading into 2011, states are facing an overspending-generated budget shortfall of $72 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Opinion in Political

New GOP wave pushes pro-business agenda in states
In the meantime, each new business tax break enacted could add to what the National Conference of State Legislatures forecasts to be an $83 billion shortfall for the upcoming budget year in about two-thirds of the states. Associated Press

US public schools are going broke, yet some spend like a kid in a candy store
But according to a 50-state survey conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures and reported in The New York Times, 20 states said they intended from the very outset to spend all of their stabilization funds in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. Opinion in the Christian Science Monitor

Question #7 for 2011: State and local governments
The good news is it appears state and local government revenue has stabilized. The bad news is the budget gaps will still be huge in 2011. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released a report earlier this month, "State Budget Update: November 2010," forecasting....ForexTV.com

States look for winning formulas to spur lottery sales
Nationally, that translates to almost $18 billion in profit, or a little more than cigarette taxes bring in, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York Times

The Economy in 2011
Now, the National Conference of State Legislatures are predicting $110 billion in state and local budget gaps in 2011, which will have to get offset by spending cuts or tax increases. That’s actually better than 2010.Fire Dog Lake

Power sharing deal in House faces delay
The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Brian Weberg said Oregon’s House members are discovering what other state lawmakers learned when they tried to negotiate a path forward: that it takes a real deadline — usually the actual start of a session — to come to agreement. “It’s at the ultimate pressure point that these things tend to get resolved so I don’t think it’s surprising that they might miss a self-imposed deadline and run right into the hard deadline of the start of session,” said Weberg, the director of the group’s Legislative Management Program. Register Guard

New insurance mandates take effect in Wisconsin
Wisconsin is joining 24 other states that already require birth control to be covered, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two additional states require insurance companies to offer contraceptive coverage as an option to employees, but it can be declined. AYFC Blog

No limits on democracy
A few years ago, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated that serving in N.C. General Assembly is roughly 80 percent of a full-time job. That’s not just time in session. It includes interim studies, constituent service and campaigning for election. Carrboro Citizen Blog

14th Amendment isn't the highest priority
The state’s budget deficit of at least $825 million represents 9.7 percent of the total. (Only one state currently has a bigger gap: Illinois, which has a $13 billion deficit amounting to 47 percent of its budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.) Editorial in Inside Tuscon Business

To use RFID to track attendees
Not too long ago the National Conference of State Legislatures tried this out to allow people to scan and get their information at the conference and most of what I have seen in the way of folks in government are in the non participant area of general consumer digital knowledge, so not sure how that worked out. Duck Net Web Blog

Dec. 24

NCSL closed due to holiday.

Dec. 23

Employers seek to avoid higher state taxes on jobless benefits
So far, only Maryland, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Tennessee have paid back their loans in full, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Miami Herald

Sandoval administration confirms no fee increases in proposed budget
The National Conference of State Legislatures recently reported that Nevada will have the largest percentage general fund budget gap of any state in both fiscal year 2012 and 2013. Nevada News Bureau

Retiring state legislators decline comment on pensions
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the base pay of Pennsylvania lawmakers, $78,314, more than legislators in any other state, except New York, California and Michigan. Daily Item

Recall effort hits stumbling block; backers say they are prepared to move forward
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website, once Reilly’s petition wording is accepted, the group has 60 days to collect the signatures of 25 percent of the votes cast in the last election for the official being recalled. In the 2009 election, Trimberger and Kron were elected with 10,191 and 10,213 votes, respectively. Greeley Tribune

Florida the only state where those in retirement system aren't asked to contribute? Rated mostly true
PolitiFact Florida individually researched state retirement systems in all 50 states, as well as consulted with Ron Snell, director of state services for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Snell studies state pension and retirement systems. St. Petersburg Times

What would immigration reform look like if the Feds got off their duffs?
In the first half of 2010 alone, legislators in 44 states introduced 319 bills addressing immigration issues, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Miami News Times

Reapportionment wars
“Republicans are in the best position since modern redistricting began,” said Tim Storey, an expert on redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Columbia Journalism Review

Dec. 22

Census figures could launch redistricting wars
That's the data state lawmakers will use to redraw their congressional districts. And that redistricting process is sure to cause partisan battles. For more, NPR's Audie Cornish talks to Tim Storey, a senior fellow and elections analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  NPR

Coming to our census 
In Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey and Washington, district lines are drawn by independent commissions.  The National Conference of State Legislatures has a handy red-yellow-and-blue map of partisan control.  The Wall Street Journal

Texas gains 4 new congressional, electoral slots
"Folks in Texas are about as happy as they can be," said Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst at NCSL.  The state -- with more than 25.1 million residents -- will now have 36 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House, increasing its political weight by making it second only to California, which has 53.  El Paso Times

Legislative self-interest
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, almost half the states have passed legislation to reduce costs to their pension plans in the last year.  Frederick News Post

Remodeling the U.S. House
Iowa's loss leaves the state with a “diminished” voice in the federal government, said Tim Storey, a redistricting expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  “It's diminishing clout in Washington. Representation in the U.S. House comes with influence over policy, influence over the budget,” Storey said.  Omaha World-Herald

Census shows U.S. population shift giving South, West more political clout
With a net gain of six seats in the November elections, the Republicans will occupy governor’s offices in 29 states starting next year. They also will control 25 state legislatures -- including in Ohio, North Carolina and Michigan -- boosting the party’s power in statehouses by the most since 1928, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.  Bloomberg

Alternative financing lets Texas DOT build despite lean economy
According to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states are facing combined budget gaps midway through their 2011 fiscal year totaling $26.7 billion.  ThomasNet News

Census numbers say Higgins or Slaughter likely to face redistricting
"The danger you run is trying to be too clever and cutting those margins too thin," said Tim Storey, a redistricting authority for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures."There are so many competing criteria that it's a massive balancing act," Storey said.    Partisan goals certainly play a role, he said, "but it's not all about gerrymandering."  WBEN 930

More bad news for Obama as 2010 census forces 'musical chairs' effect in Congress
Republicans will have the edge in directing the process because they gained most ground in last month’s mid-term elections, and outnumber Democrat governors by 29 to 20 with one independent.  Tim Storey, of NCSL, said "Republicans are in the best position since modern redistricting began."  The Daily Mail

Dec. 21

Employers' burden could surge
So far, only Maryland, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Tennessee have paid back their loans in full, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California, with an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent, leads all borrowers with more than $9.1 billion owed.   Miami Herald and The Sacramento Bee

NCSL issues ‘Top 11 Issues in 2011 report
NCSL’s Top 11 of 2011 is an annual list that outlines popular and prescient topics across the states’ legislative agendas. State budgets will top the list for a fourth year in a row, as 15 states have reported new FY 2011 budget gaps totaling at least $26.7 billion.  CivSource

2010 census to offer bad news for Democrats
But sometimes the party in control will gamble and aggressively try to reconfigure the map to dump as many opponents as possible.  "The danger you run is trying to be too clever and cutting those margins too thin," said Tim Storey, a redistricting authority for the nonpartisan NCSL.  CBS News

Census data show 308 million people and a regional shift
Republicans also gained control of at least 18 legislative chambers in the midterms last month.  “Republicans are in the best position since modern redistricting began,” said Tim Storey, an expert on redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The New York Times

Bill would target cyber crime
All states have at least one form of "cyberstalking," "cyberharassment" or "cyberbullying" laws in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Myrtle Beach Sun News

Report: State revenues stabilizing in 2011, but more budget gaps loom
Through Nov. 15, some states have reported new FY 2011 budget gaps totaling $26.7 billion, on top of the $83.9 billion gap already resolved this fiscal year. Along with FY 2012, some officials are predicting additional budget gaps in FY 2013.  American City & County

New York poised to lose House seats in new census count
Kimball Brace, president of Election Data Services, a political consulting firm specializing in census data analysis,  said that experts are divided about whether the state will lose two seats or one.  "It’s either-or," agreed Tim Storey, an expert in redistricting with the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures.  DNA Info

The GOP strategic advantage
Republicans will completely control line-drawing in over 40% of congressional seats, their greatest such advantage in the modern era of redistricting according to the National Conference of State Legislatures Tim Storey.  Texas Insider

Research shows biennial budgeting has few benefits
Proponents of long-term budgets say the legislature will save time if they only need to debate a budget once every other year. However, a biennial budget would require officials to predict state revenues and expenditures as far as 30 months in the future, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Iowa Independent

Census expect to show Iowa losing 1 US House seat
Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the effect of losing a congressional seat can be wide-ranging. "There can be a loss of political power, a loss of influence in Washington, one less person at the highest level advocating for Iowa," Storey said. "It's hard to quantify that or place a value on that but no doubt there's a reason state's are happy to gain a member in Congress and there is a direct correlation to a state's ability to leverage federal dollars and projects."  AP in the Chicago Tribune

Revenue stop is big challenge for state budget
"While state revenues are starting to pick up, the growth is unlikely to be sufficient to replace expiring ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds or cover projected increases in programs areas such as Medicaid and K-12 education," said the National Conference of State Legislatures in a recent report.  Citizens Voice

Gov. Jan Brewer asks for Congress' help on Medicaid
A National Conference of State Legislatures official said earlier this month that governors can request eligibility waivers after Dec. 31 and will have to certify that his or her state is facing a deficit.  Tucson Citizen and The Arizona Republic

Common census politics
It’s not that the ‘losing’ states aren’t growing.  They’re just not growing as fast.  Tim Storey of National Conference of State Legislatures says the number of Congressional seats a state has does make a difference.  "It really does translate almost directly into influence and power over federal policies and what happens in Washington."  Capitol News Connection

Dec. 20

Moore advocates for civility in politics
Addressing a gathering of state legislators and legislative staff from nearly every state, Sen. Richard Moore, NCSL president, said the growing decline in civility during the campaign season will make it more difficult for Congress and state legislators to achieve consensus. Blackstone Valley Tribune

City, state end year on the brink
The state’s budget deficit is anywhere from $13 billion to $15 billion. We are 50th out of 50 states in unfunded pensions. The National Conference of State Legislatures calls Illinois’ fiscal crisis the worst in the nation.  Chicago Sun-Times

Top state issues for 2011 revealed
“Money is the starting and stopping point for virtually every state program and service. Based on our latest ‘State Budget Report,’ we are expecting that budget cuts will again be deep, controversial and painful,” William T. Pound, NCSL executive director, said in a statement.  Land Line Magazine

New population count may complicate Obama 2012 bid
But sometimes the party in control will gamble and aggressively try to reconfigure the map to dump as many opponents as possible.  "The danger you run is trying to be too clever and cutting those margins too thin," said Tim Storey, a redistricting authority for the nonpartisan NCSL.  AP in Fox News and Seattle Post Intelligencer

Rhode Island among 15 states projecting budget deficits
Rhode Island is among 15 states with projected budget deficits that total $26.7 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Providence Journal

New lawmakers focused on health care, law enforcement
The second bill would nullify a Democratic bill designed to increase funding for Medicaid. In the 2009-10 fiscal year, the mandate imposed a fee of nearly $337 million on hospitals, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Colorado Springs Gazette

Revenue stop is big challenge for Pennsylvania budget
"While state revenues are starting to pick up, the growth is unlikely to be sufficient to replace expiring ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds or cover projected increases in program areas such as Medicaid and K-12 education," said the National Conference of State Legislatures in a recent report.  Scranton Times-Tribune

Vision Stakeholder chairman paints bleak picture for Nevada’s future if policy makers fail to act
But the dismal picture of Nevada’s future quality of life is unlikely to see much improvement in at least the coming two years, where the state faces the largest-in-the-nation general fund budget gap as reported last week by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Nevada News Bureau

Republicans confident of passing Texas voter ID bill
Nine states have enacted laws requiring a photo ID to vote. Twenty-seven states have voter ID requirements, but 18 accept identification that doesn't include photos, such as utility bills or bank statements, according to a nationwide survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fort Worth Star Telegram

Take cues from other states to avoid budget cliff
No state has really planned for the ARRA cliff, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This could be a place for joint strategizing among states with similar challenges.  The Arizona Republic

'A deadbeat state,' and other tales of fiscal woe
The National Conference of State Legislatures described the post-stimulus "cliff" facing state budgets around the nation in a recent report. NPR

Texas DOT using innovative financing to build during lean times
According to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states are facing combined budget gaps midway through their 2011 fiscal year totaling $26.7 billion.  FavStocks

'Much worse than I thought'
After closing a cumulative budget gap of nearly US$84-billion this fiscal year (which began July 1 for most states), at least 15 states are reporting new gaps totalling more than US$26-billion, according to a report released earlier this month by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Financial Post

A new slogan: Got deficits?
Still, there is a bit of good news in a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures: After the worst years in state finances since the Great Depression, the green shoots of economic rebound are providing some recovery in state tax receipts.  2TheAdvocate

Dec. 17

Alabama stiffens its ethics rules
"I think the Alabama laws are a significant step forward," said Peggy Kerns, head of the ethics center at the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Alabama Ethics Commission also will gain subpoena powers. Most state watchdogs already have that authority.  The Wall Street Journal

Deficits undermine drug rehab experiment in California
California's decision to end funding runs counter to several other states like Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas. All of those are considering programs to divert low-level drug offenders from expensive stays in prisons or jails, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and The Council of State Governments.  AP in the San Jose Mercury News

Redistricting starts with a fight as big changes expected
But legislative leaders – Senate President Therese Murray of Plymouth and House Speaker Robert DeLeo of Winthrop, both Democrats – believe elected officials are up to the job.  They have already assigned deputies to oversee the process and have sent lawmakers and staff members to workshops hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Patriot Ledger

Change the GOP can believe in
The real Republican revolution in November was at the state level: The GOP posted whopping gains of at least 680 seats and now controls 25 state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).  World Magazine

Dec. 16

Control spending to avoid cuts, lawmakers told
As tough as crafting Indiana's next budget may be, legislators in some other states would happily trade places. The National Conference of State Legislatures, in a new report on state budget situations nationwide, said many states face large budget gaps; Illinois leads the pack with a budget gap of 47 percent.  Indianapolis Star

State's internet sales tax effort offline
Is it worth it?  Probably. A 2004 study by the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated there is $15 billion to $16 billion in lost revenue at stake nationwide.  Jacksonville Journal-Courier

State budget problems: More cuts likely to Medicaid
Now, with the flow of stimulus cash about to cease, an eligibility reduction is back on the drawing board for Arizona.  “This is crunch time,” said Laura Tobler, a National Conference of State Legislatures health care policy analyst.  AP in TriValley Central

N.C. governor pushes for redistricting commission, shorter sessions
Thirteen states give commissions primary responsibility for redistricting, while North Carolina is one of 11 states that place no limit on the length of legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  StarNewsOnline

Washington state's Gregoire proposes `devastating' cuts in budget package
At least 31 states and Puerto Rico forecast deficits of $82.1 billion in the next fiscal year, even as some report that tax receipts are picking up, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report on Dec. 7.  Bloomberg

Sorry, education: California state budget deficit at $28 billion
A report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures says 24 states predict moderate to severe budget shortfalls in 2013 and perhaps beyond.  Care2.com

Governors and education leaders discuss ways to improve higher education in a struggling economy
The meeting was hosted by the Miller Center, National Governor's Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.  University of Virginia

Voters’ rights bills introduced
Twenty-four states, including Arkansas, Florida and Mississippi, have initiative or referendum procedures to enact or repeal state laws or constitutional amendments, though the provisions vary by state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states allow the recall of state officials.  The Nerve

Rick Scott targets government pension plans as a way to cut costs, suggests employees should contribute
A few states, however, have begun to adopt more private-sector-like 401(k) plans where the employee voluntarily contributes to a retirement fund and the employer either matches a portion of the contributions, or contributes on their own.  And some states offer voluntary, optional 401(k) plans on top of a government pension.  PolitiFact.com

Perdue urges reforms to limit new GOP lawmakers
North Carolina is one of 11 states that place no limit on the length of legislative sessions, according to the NCSL.  Rocky Mount Telegram

Stockton number 2 in U.S. for foreclosures
A report by the National Conference of State Legislatures to be released Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010 says the fiscal crisis reshaping the level of services that government can deliver is likely to last at least another thee years for many states.  Stockton Record

Dec. 15

Va. health panel urges state to create insurance exchange, attract more doctors
Virginia is among 33 states that have created some kind of entity to deal with health law implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. About a dozen of those groups have issued recommendations and more face end-of-the-year deadlines to do so.  Kaiser Health News in The Washington Post

Ariz. eyes health care program for new budget cuts
Now, with the flow of stimulus cash about to cease, an eligibility reduction is back on the drawing board for Arizona.  "This is crunch time," said Laura Tobler, a National Conference of State Legislatures health care policy analyst.  AP in Bloomberg

End of stimulus funding an opportunity?
DeSeve, now a senior adviser to the Pew Foundation's Center on the States, spoke last week at a two-day fiscal leaders' seminar in Phoenix, sponsored by Pew and the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Philadelphia Daily News

California teachers see `amputations' as Brown seeks $28 billion of cuts
Brown said he hoped to have an agreement on a spending plan for the next fiscal year ironed out with legislators within about 60 days after introducing his budget on Jan. 10. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated California has the biggest projected deficit for the next 18 months, in a report last month.  Bloomberg

Florida congressman says DREAM Act means lower tuition for illegal immigrants
11 states already allow for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The policies in those states -- California, Texas, New York, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Wisconsin -- won't be affected by the DREAM Act.  PolitiFact.com

Dec. 14

Sen. Moore: Civility, more bi-partisanship needed in politics
Moore, an Uxbridge Democrat and current president of NCSL, told his colleagues  that a campaign strategy of “the end justifying the means is short-sighted and contrary to the public interest.”  In a press release today, Moore said the end of campaigning should not be simply to win the election, but to govern effectively by finding consensus solutions to public policy problems.  MetroWest Daily News

No holiday cheer for states in federal budget
"The bigger fear for states is if they don't get either one of these deals done and we move into the new Congress," said Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for NCSL. He noted that Republicans have pledged to reset federal spending at 2008 levels.  "That's $100 billion, or a 10 percent cut across all discretionary programs-domestic and defense," Bird said. "What if Connecticut were told in the middle of fiscal year 2011 by Congress, 'You can rely on 10 percent less in federal funding for the current year?'."  The Connecticut Mirror

Georgia legislators again freeze own pay
Five states have cut legislative salaries in the last 12 month -- California, Delaware, Florida, Maine and Massachusetts. California made the biggest cut of 18 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Reuters

National Transportation Safety Board goes after 'hard-core' drunk drivers 
According to Anne Teigen of the National Conference of State Legislatures, several states took action on the issue this year. In California, drivers convicted at least three times of drunk driving can now lose their licenses for 10 years.  JoinTogether.org

NCSL vote solidifies support for NCOIL SLIMPACT plan 
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting The National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ (NCOIL) interstate compact plan designed to implement the surplus lines reform law passed by Congress earlier this year.  National Underwriter P&C News

Dec. 13

Nevada leads nation in size Of its budget gap, national group reports
“State legislators are being realistic about the budget situations facing their states,” said William Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. “But how they balance their budgets could be filled with as many twists and turns as the latest Harry Potter movie.”  Nevada News Bureau

Falling revenues forcing states to increase taxes
New Jersey is bucking a national trend that has seen other states increase taxes on the wealthy and expand sales taxes to cover more items.  "New Jersey actually had one of the biggest tax decreases," because of the elimination of the so-called "millionaire's tax," said Mandy Rafool, a program principal with the Fiscal Affairs Program at NCSL in Denver.  Daily Record

Election dust-up foreshadows fight over rural legislators' per diem
Colorado's salary is about average compared to other states with similar meeting schedules and legislative makeups, said Morgan Cullen with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Per diem, though, often is based on cost of living, he said, adding that it costs more to live in Denver than, for example, Jefferson City, the capitol of Missouri.  The Denver Post

Another tax deal ticking bomb: State aid excluded
Michael Bird, federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said he had received the same message. After the August jobs bill, "we were told, this is going to be it," he said.  Daily Kos

Republicans have piled up legislative seats
“Whether you call it a hurricane, a tsunami or a seismic shift, it was a historic election at the state level for the GOP,” summarizes Tim Storey of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  New Bern Sun Journal

Georgia takes action on immigration as Congress stalls
Among states, however, the political landscape often permits more decisive action. In the first six months of this year, 44 state legislatures passed 191 laws regarding immigrants and illegal immigration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Report: Tough financial times are far from over for state governments
So far, budget gaps totaling $26.7 billion are anticipated for 15 states, the report said. The other 35 states do not project a gap, so far, for their current budgets, NCSL said. Last time around, states closed a cumulative $83.9 billion deficit. For many, it was their third or even fourth year of shortfalls.  AP in The Post-Standard

Little gain in salaries of Hoosier officials
The National Conference of State Legislatures divides states into different categories based on the amount of time required to perform the duties.  Indiana is in one of the lowest categories. In 2008, the most recent year available, those states had an average annual compensation of about $16,000.  Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Fresh faces
More than half of the country's governor's mansions will be filled by occupants who were not there a year ago. Legislative turnover nationwide will be about 25 percent, which a National Conference of State Legislatures analyst said is “extraordinarily high” for a non-redistricting year.  NewsOK.com

Iowa House targets professor sabbaticals at public universities
The National Conference of State Legislatures had some disheartening news this week. The group said the budget problems that've led to so many deep cuts in services already are probably going to last another three years. So states are trying to save more money, any way they can. In Iowa, lawmakers are targeting a sacred cow in academia.  Marketplace

Anti-Sharia advocates: We've not yet begun to fight
Although Oklahoma's law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.  Mother Jones

Lawmakers wary of 2-year budgeting
That’s fine as far as it goes, but lawmakers ‘ concerns about two-year budgeting are broader than their recent experience with transfers. (Update: Iowa last had biennial budgets in 1983, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.)  Des Moines Register

Business earns kudos for its commitment
It’s hard to tell how much fraud is out there without an ID requirement, and the numbers could be much larger than opponents think. The National Conference of State Legislatures says nine states ask for photo ID, and 18 others require some form of identification.  BlueRidgeNow.com

Corbett faces uphill battle
A set of reports from the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association bring grim tidings to the 29 new governors taking office, including Gov.-elect Tom Corbett, and state Legislatures filled with many new faces.  Citizens Voice

The ultimate in political gift-giving
Alabama is in the minority by not having them. Contributions are capped at the federal level, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only six states have no limits. Alabama is one of seven listed as having “minimal” restrictions.  The Birmingham News

Dec. 10

States headed for post-stimulus 'cliff'
At the moment, Illinois has by far the biggest deficit of any state, relative to its overall budget; the state's deficit is 47 percent of its budget. Arizona is a distant second at 9.7 percent.  NPR

Ariz. Gov. Brewer wants Medicaid waiver for state
An NCSL official said governors can request eligibility waivers after Dec. 31.  A governor requesting an eligibility waiver would have to certify that his or her state is in deficit or is going to be in deficit, said Joy Johnson Wilson, an NCSL lawyer based in Washington.  Wilson said she was unaware of any governors making certifications.  AP in Bloomberg

How is your community dealing with budget woes?
The numbers are daunting. A report issued this week by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that states are facing new gaps of $26.7 billion in the current year, on top of the $83.9 billion in gaps that they have already closed.  The New York Times

National Conference of State Legislators gathers over ‘dire’ numbers
While tax collections increased to 2007 levels through rate hikes and tepid economic growth, the gains are small and will not be enough to offset the loss of federal money that propped up past budgets, Perez said.  “Revenues have ended their freefall that basically existed in the last 18 to 24 months,” Perez said. “The budget paradox is that revenues are beginning to grow or stabilize, but on the other hand states still face significant budget gaps in the upcoming fiscal years. Revenues are not growing robustly (and) the end of the era of stimulus monies for states will result in a funding cliff.”  Watchdog

GOP gains in statehouses increase its clout in 2012 redistricting
Storey said that a court ruling in New York last week in favor of a Republican candidate for the New York State Senate gave the party a majority and represented the 20th legislative chamber picked up by the GOP in the midterm elections.  Politics Daily

NCSL: Hawaii to face $201.9M budget shortfall in fiscal 2012
Hawaii is one of 35 states and Puerto Rico that is expected to face a state budget gap in fiscal 2012, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Pacific Business News

Addressing voter fraud
Opponents, mostly Democrats, say requiring photo identification could discourage some voters from turning out.  “There's not a whole lot of evidence to support the claims of either side,” Jennie Bowser, an election analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, recently told The Charlotte Observer.  Greenville Daily Reflector

Dec. 9

Tough budget times are far from over for many states, may last another 3 years
And that means more pain for those who depend on state programs, from schools to public transportation.  "It just poses these excruciatingly difficult decisions," said Corina Eckl, the organization's director of fiscal programs.  AP in The Los Angeles Times

Lawmakers: Unrealistic public is budget challenge
The state leaders spoke at a meeting of approximately 60 legislators and state fiscal officials that was held in conjunction with the National Conference of State Legislatures gathering in Phoenix. The NCSL released a report Wednesday on a 50-state survey that found improving economies are producing small increases in revenue.  AP in The Washington Post

More states enter debate on sharia law
Although Oklahoma's law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says.  USA Today and UPI.com

States face big budget gaps, little chance of improvement
So far, budget gaps totaling $26.7 billion are anticipated for 15 states, the report said. The other 35 states do not currently project a gap for their budgets, the conference said.  AP in the Boston Globe

Budget gap pegged at closer to $4 billion
A new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures on budget conditions in the 50 states and Puerto Rico puts the hole North Carolina is facing at more than $3.8 billion, or 20.3 percent of current budget.  News and Observer

Vouchers floated in schools agenda
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for vouchers, but only a handful of states have implemented the program since then, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

California not alone in budget woes
Arturo Perez is with NCSL. He says while states have less cash on hand because of the recession, they're also expected to pay for more.  "It is somewhat ironic that state services or caseloads for programs such as Medicaid and other social programs tend to go up at the very same time that states are at their weakest as far as revenues are concerned because of problems with the general economy."  Capital Public Radio

With states still swimming in red ink, higher-education budgets stay tight
At least 15 states project midyear cuts, totaling nearly $27-billion, for the current budget year, says a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chronicle of Higher Education

Washington hospitals required to reveal surgical site infection rates
Hospitals will not be fined for failing to report their infection rates to the WSHA, but they cannot receive a state license if they don't comply, according to a recent report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which recognized Washington as 1 of 9 states that has passed legislation mandating the public posting of healthcare-acquired infection data.  OutpatientSurgery.net

Arizona's 'business death penalty' on trial
In 2009, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports, states enacted 333 immigration laws, and in the first half of 2010, 319 such measures were enacted.  The Daily Beast

State Sen. Alberta Darling says Wisconsin’s state deficit is proportionally as bad as California’s
The National Conference of State Legislatures, in a report released Dec. 7, 2010, also found Wisconsin better off. The report says Wisconsin’s gap is 9.2 percent of its general fund budget while California’s is more than twice as high, at 18.7 percent.  PolitiFact

Another state government group endorses NCOIL surplus lines plan
The announcement comes a week after the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released a draft resolution in support of NCOIL’s plan that NCSL will vote on at its Dec. 10 meeting in Phoenix.  National Underwriter P&C News

Legality of medical marijuana dispensaries an issue of debate in Michigan
Like most states where medical marijuana is legal, Michigan requires patients to register. That may provide protection from arrest for possessing some marijuana for personal medical use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a non-partisan organization that tracks states’ legislative trends.  AnnArbor.com

US growth forecast lifted despite states’ struggles
Meanwhile, the National Conference of State Legislatures is projecting that many states will be facing budget gaps through at least 2013 as the economic recovery struggles to keep pace with expiring stimulus measures, with the fiscal year 2010 seen as the worst so far, with record deficits of $174 billion posted by states.  EMII.com

US legislative group holding conference in Phoenix
The three-day conference of the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures starts Wednessday and is being held at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.  The conference also includes work on policy resolutions to guide the group’s dealings with Congress and the Obama administration.  AP in the Arizona Capitol Times

Dec. 8

States' budget picture is brightening
"It's a sort of budget paradox," said Arturo Perez, an analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which released Wednesday's report. "Revenues are stabilizing or even growing for the first time in 18 to 24 months. …But they're not growing fast enough to offset that 5% across the board."  Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune

States face budget shortfalls of $26.7 billion
"It looks like many states have sort of turned the corner on the worst of the revenue downturn," said Corina Eckl, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures' fiscal-affairs program. But "it's going to be a pretty sluggish recovery."  The Wall Street Journal

NTSB pushes zero tolerance of hard-core drunken drivers
Several states took steps this year to fight the problem, says Anne Teigen, a transportation analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Missouri passed a law requiring jail time for DUI offenders with blood-alcohol contents of 0.15% and higher.  USA Today

Tough times far from over for states
A report by the National Conference of State Legislatures to be released Wednesday says the fiscal crisis reshaping the level of services that government can deliver is likely to last at least another three years for many states.  AP in The Washington Post

Lawmakers want to reform Virginia foreclosure law
Heather Morton, legislative analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said legislatures are tackling several issues such as providing relief to homeowners struggling to make payments, regulating the industry so better records are kept when mortgages are transferred, and keeping property values up in neighborhoods that have empty houses due to foreclosures.  Daily Press

Bleak state budgets in the offing
The big-picture view of the legislators' report, consistent with the others, is that state revenues in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years are expected to turn up somewhat over this year, but those increases will leave most states well short of where they were in 2008 -- with overall general fund spending $42 billion less than in that year.  Inside Higher Ed

Idaho not sole state with budget challenges
The state has a projected budget gap of $340 million, or 14 percent of its general fund budget for the next fiscal year. That figure puts Idaho in the middle when it comes to state budget shortfalls facing lawmakers across the nation, according to a report released today by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization focused on state issues.  Twin Falls Times-News

Trouble online
The National Conference of State Legislatures shows that all 50 states have some sort of legislation that are specific to cyberstalking, cyberharassment, cyberbullying or a combination of those three. Colorado has laws covering all three.  Boulder Daily Camera

Dems may warm to tax plan, but cool to Obama
llinois leads the way with a $13 billion budget gap, almost half of its total budget, in a bracing report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. But Arizona, Washington and California are all facing seemingly insurmountable cash shortages.  Fox News

Mid-year budget gaps: $26.7 billion
The NCSL report is the latest to paint a mildly optimistic picture for state revenues while cautioning strongly that deep budget cuts are still likely. That comes not only because of the disappearing stimulus and new Medicaid obligations, but because states already have made years of cuts and the choices available to lawmakers now are more limited.  Stateline

Statewide ban proposed on e-mailing, texting while driving
Eight states - California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Washington - and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phone use by all drivers, according to NCSL.  The Palm Beach Post

Minnesota above average in number of women legislators
Minnesota will have 63 women members in the state Legislature in 2011, or 31.3 percent of its total 201 members.  That's better than the national average of 23.4 percent, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  MinnPost.com

US legislative group holding conference in Phoenix
Legislators from across the country are gathering in Arizona for a national conference that includes discussions on such issues as state budgets, immigration laws, job-creation strategies and redistricting.  KSWT-TV

U.S. states face `cliff' as stimulus end opens $38 billion hole
“Although a recovering national economy is helping to stabilize state revenues in fiscal year 2011, serious budget challenges await state lawmakers in the new year,” the group said today in the report. “This largely stems from fewer federal stimulus funds available for next year’s budgets.”  Bloomberg

Billions in state budget shortfalls spell trouble for Medicaid reimbursements
The study, by the National Conference of State Legislatures, does not bode well for state Medicaid programs, which will lose enhanced federal matching grants in June. Facing these prospects, states are likely to aggressively push for savings through Medicaid RACs, which are due to begin in April.  Becker's Hospital Review

U.S. state revenues can't cover stimulus end
"This will create big holes in state budgets, what many officials are calling the 'ARRA cliff,'" NCSL said. "The stimulus funds have helped support state budgets since fiscal 2009, so their dramatic decline -- they will essentially be gone by fiscal 2012 -- will pose additional budget challenges for state officials."  Reuters

Expert warns Alabama lawmakers about importance of moving forward on health care reform
But Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, predicted the Legislature would "be very much in the game" on health care reform by March when the regular session convenes.  Wren said lawmakers have been working closely with the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Huntsville Times

Newly elected women who will make history
Republican women didn’t just leave their mark in the U.S. House and Senate –  the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that Republican women gained more than 100 seats in state legislatures, from 529 in 2010 to 653 in 2011.  Human Events

US states face long haul on budget gaps
Revenues were improving now but budget gaps are projected in the next fiscal year and beyond “due in part to the exhaustion of stimulus dollars and the rising costs for programmes”, he said.  Financial Times

Alabama Voices: It's up to us
Nine states prohibit lobbyists from buying anything for lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Montgomery Advertiser

Dec. 7

Schools, lawmakers cut sabbaticals to trim costs
Julie Bell, who tracks higher education issues at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said it's not surprising cash-strapped states would review sabbaticals, faculty salaries and benefits, and the amount of time professors spend teaching.  "In this environment, everything is on the table," she said.  AP in Business Week

Is high-speed rail becoming more viable in the Intermountain West?
“Clearly, however, there is little public money to be had, especially in comparison to he estimated costs of these systems,” says Jaime Rall, a transportation analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, in a position paper. A stable funding source will further be needed for operations, she warns.  New West

Texting while driving bill will BRB
And, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as many as 80 percent of Americans admit to using their phones while driving.  NorthEscambia.com

St. Louis Democrats hope to preserve black congressional district
"Will this give Republicans a leg up in the next election cycle? Yes, but it's been overstated and can easily be exaggerated," explained Tim Storey, a redistricting expert at NCSL.  He noted that other factors, including the candidates in each district and the mood of the electorate, tend to play a greater role in determining election results.  "You can't gerrymander the other party into oblivion," Storey said.  Columbia Missourian

Online sales taxes
The National Conference of State Legislatures has made a start toward a national solution by working on a streamlined system to help online and catalog retailers to collect the right tax and remit them to state treasuries.  The project produces more money than voluntary taxpayer submissions for states that participate, including Kentucky and Indiana.  Louisville Courier-Journal

Northeast, Midwest to lose clout, Texas gains as U.S. redraws House seats
Republicans also will control 25 state legislatures -- including those in Ohio, North Carolina, and Michigan -- boosting the party’s power in statehouses by the most since 1928, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.  Bloomberg

Dec. 6

North Carolina GOP to push for voter photo IDs
Since 2003, 12 states have enacted some form of ID requirement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition to the nine states that demand a photo ID, 18 others require some form of identification.  Miami Herald

Online sales tax skipping targeted
Kentucky and most other states have similar laws, but few taxpayers comply, said Neal Osten, director of the Washington office of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  “It's very difficult to collect” from consumers, Osten said. “It's very hard for taxpayers, too.  You try to keep track of what you're buying. You might make a guess. But because online shopping has become so convenient, it's hard to keep track.”  Louisville Courier-Journal

Budgets on the rebound, but expect a wait for the effects
His observation was echoed by Arturo Perez, fiscal specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures, who said most states are projecting slow growth in tax collections in their longterm forecasts — and that 42 states are projecting less money collected in the current year ending June 30 than in the year ending in June 2008.  Statesman Journal

State lawmakers bolt Democratic party after election day
Tim Storey, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the crossovers are not "uncommon" in the wake of a wave election like the one last month. He said the changes in the south reflect a party realignment that's been happening for decades.  "They're conservatives who just feel more comfortable ideologically with Republicans," he said, adding, "I wouldn't discount there's probably some opportunism involved, either."  Fox News

Galvin calls for changes to district redrawing
Wilmot said one of the key goals in changing the redistricting process is to give the public a role in drawing the lines for congressional and legislative seats. Twenty-one states have set up commissions to redraw districts or advise lawmakers on the process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Boston Globe

NY bust: Medicaid patients' Rx drugs go to dealers
To curtail abuse by Medicaid patients, several states, including Alaska, Florida, Maine, Ohio, South Carolina and West Virginia, require state approval before OxyContin prescriptions are filled, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Texas will see dramatic gain in House
“In this modern era of redistricting, this is the best position Republicans have ever been in,” said Tim Storey, a redistricting expert with the national conference. But Storey said civil rights laws and political realities limit the scope of what Republicans can do and predicted the GOP would be “shoring things up rather than dramatically expanding their majority.”  AP in San Angelo Standard Times and The Washington Times

Local teen's hunting death raises questions
Several other states also have no minimum hunting age. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, youth hunting licenses are available in Indiana for children under 17 who've passed a hunter safety class.  Chicago Daily Herald

EEOC, lawmakers eye credit checks
While only four states have enacted laws in this area, legislation was pending in 20 states and the District of Columbia as of September, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.  Business Insurance

Florida follows Arizona's lead with new bill cracking down on illegal immigrants
In the meantime, though, several states are working to pass similar bills. As of last month, six other states have filled Arizona-style immigration bills, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Fox News

Newcomers will hold sway in many state legislatures
Nationwide, the turnover in state legislatures will be about 25 percent, a number that Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, describes as an "extraordinarily high" number in a non-redistricting year.  Lexington Herald-Leader

GOP lawmakers to pursue photo IDs for NC voters
Supporters call it a commonsense way to avoid voter fraud. Opponents argue it's an example of politicians stepping into an area where there's been no problems.  “There's not a whole lot of evidence to support the claims of either side,” said Jennie Bowser, an election analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Asheville Citizen-Times

Deal on health premiums?
Other data collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver showed that public employees’ share of health insurance costs held steady from 2006 to 2009, on average, nationally.  Bellingham Herald

Here in Alabama, it’s up to us: Good government remains a work in progress
Nine states prohibit lobbyists from buying anything for lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Alabama should join their ranks.  The Anniston Star

RNC Chair Michael Steele boasts that he has won more elections than any chairman since 1938
As for state legislature elections, it was a banner election for Republicans this year, with about 690 seats switching to Republican. Because some states hold state legislative elections in odd years, the National Conference of State Legislatures prefers to look at two-year cycles. By that measure, Republicans have gained 724 seats, Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the NCSL.  PolitiFact

Editorial: Cut off taxpayer-funded pensions upon conviction
The real remedy is for the state Legislature to cut off government pensions for public officials convicted of a felony related to their jobs. Indeed, 22 other states have such prohibitions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Mobile Press-Register

Obama faces two choices
The largest Republican wins in the House of Representatives since 1938, a net gain of six U.S. Senate seats, an increase of at least 680 state legislative seats (giving them more than at any time since 1928, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures) and a gain of 19 legislative chambers.  The Daily Caller

Dec. 3

Texas will see dramatic gain in US House seats
The party picked up almost 700 state House and Senate seats in the 2010 elections, giving Republicans their best showing since 1966, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.  ABC News and The Washington Post

The GOP made historic gains at the state level this year
The Colorado-based Storey said Republicans gained 691 state legislative seats in the November election. Nationwide, they now hold 3,928 seats to 3,366 for Democrats.  "It was definitely historic gains," he said in a telephone interview. "It’s the most GOP [state] legislators since 1928."  PolitiFact

Tough decisions helped IPERS, actuary reports 
Iowa has plenty of company nationwide in facing pension fund shortfalls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Public employees' pension funds have been hit from all sides because of aging work forces, longer life spans, weak state revenues and investment losses.  Des Moines Register

California lawmakers keep vehicle perk
California is the only state in the nation to provide vehicles to its rank-and-file lawmakers for unlimited use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  AP in the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Rail travel of the future: realistic or just futuristic?
As co-chair of the High Speed Rail Working Group of the National Conference of State Legislatures, he has been championing the possibility, saying a high-speed rail system along the Northeast corridor (Boston-New York City-Washington) and the Empire corridor (New York City-Albany-Buffalo) would “redefine our statewide economy and open upstate markets to consumers across the country.”  Westchester County Business Journal

Dec. 2

Utah's immigration bill ‘not practical,’ Latino leader says
Federal waivers can be notoriously long, difficult roads to navigate, said Ann Morse, program director of the Immigrant Policy Project program at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Salt Lake City Tribune

Newcomers will hold sway in many state legislatures
Nationwide, the turnover in state legislatures will be about 25 percent, a number that Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, describes as an “extraordinarily high” number in a non-redistricting year.  Stateline

Economic forum has spoken; tough choices come next
Only two other states leave their official revenue forecasts to an independent panel appointed by the governor and Legislature — Hawaii and South Carolina. In most states, the governor and Legislature come to an agreement on an official revenue forecast, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Las Vegas Sun

New state auditor may change voting rules
Today, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports there are eight states in which voters need to have a photo ID; Oklahoma will join that group next year.  UI The Daily Iowan

Diesel emissions act would protect public health, create jobs
DERA reauthorization has widespread support. More than 530 diverse companies and organizations from all 50 states signed letters to Congress in support of DERA reauthorization, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Conference of State Legislatures and environmental and public health organizations like Clean Water Action.  Duluth News Tribune

Questions and answers about civil unions
Five states provide all or nearly all of the same spousal rights to same-sex couples as opposite-sex couples in the form of civil unions or domestic partnership laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and New Jersey.  Rockford Register Star

Dec. 1

State tax revenues rise for 3rd straight quarter
The increase in revenues isn't unexpected. The National Conference of State Legislatures said in late September that it expected taxes to rise this year after two years of sharp drops.  AP in The Wall Street Journal

House approves civil unions for same-sex couples
If approved, Illinois next summer would join New Jersey in having a civil union law on the books. Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa have same-sex marriage laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun

Virginia lawmaker pushes for Repeal Amendment plan
Despite Republican gains in the November election that resulted in GOP control of more statehouses, the state route appears to be an uphill climb, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  The Virginian-Pilot

Bennett files immigration reform
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of Nov. 10, six other states have already filed immigration bills similar to Arizona’s and six other states have filed resolutions either supporting or condemning Arizona’s law.  Orlando Sentinel and the Jacksonville Daily Record

Redefining the lines
"You have to respond to shifts in population," National Conference of State Legislatures Senior Fellow Tim Storey said on Tuesday's MetroNews Talkline.  "The Constitution and the Supreme Court decisions that have interpreted that are very clear that the districts have to be equal in population.  One person, one vote is sort of the principle that has been framed by the courts over time."  West Virginia MetroNews

After midterms, Democratic losses continue
“This was a wave election,” said Tim Storey, an elections expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “So you will probably see that wave continue with even more Democrats moving over as the impact of the election settles in.”  CBS News

Carbon cap-and-trade market weighed by states
Of the six states in the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord -- Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin -- Democrats lost the governor's race or control of the legislature to Republicans in five, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.  San Francisco Examiner

Hospital surgery infection rates made public
The National Conference of State Legislatures highlighted Washington, along with nine other states, in its recent report, "Lessons from the Pioneers: Reporting Healthcare-Associated Infections."  Centre Daily Times