NCSL in the News | February 2015

2/1/2015

Feb. 27

Net Neutrality Rules Wasn't the Only Item the FCC Voted on Thursday 
Roll Call 
William Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures: “NCSL takes the preemption of states very seriously and will continue to pursue our options to ensure that any action taken by the FCC on municipal broadband networks are overturned by the courts.”

The other vote the FCC took today is very good for rural Tennesseeans
Washington Post
The National Conference of State Legislatures has objected to the FCC’s move, which it views as trampling on states’ rights. The National League of Cities took the opposite position, backing the petition filed by Chattanooga and Wilson.
“NCSL takes the preemption of states very seriously and will continue to pursue our options to ensure that any action taken by the FCC on municipal broadband networks are overturned by the courts,” said William Pound, the conference’s executive director.
 
Obama Immigration Move Won't Solve Health Issues 
Huffington Post 
Only states with state-funded alternatives, such as California’s Medi-Cal, are considering plans to accept expanded DACA/DAPA recipients. California, along with Washington, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and the District of Columbia use state or local funds to offer some health insurance to DACA recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

States Weigh Overhauls of How Police Lineups Are Handled
Wall Street Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition to Colorado, similar legislation is being proposed in New Mexico, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Missouri and Georgia. 
     
Vermont Tackles Security, Access at Government Buildings
ABC News/Associated Press
Mick Bullock, a spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said 27 states have metal detectors at public entrances and 31 states have security either at the capitol entrance, at the chamber or in the halls of the capitol. Some states have limited the number of entrances into the capitol as a security measure, he said.
 
Pot Rules: States differ on regulating marijuana use
USA Today
"Every program is an experiment in what will work with that state," said Karmen Hansen of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "It's really not that different than any other policy decision. It's just different because we're not used to it. It's a new topic." Hansen said she regularly fields calls from lawmakers trying to better understand how legalization is working, from medical marijuana for kids suffering from seizures to pot-infused edibles for tourists visiting Seattle.
 
House bill good start on LRC mess
Lexington Herald Leader
A performance audit of Kentucky's Legislative Research Commission conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures found an agency with a personnel management style marked by the seeming lack of any coherent personnel policies.
 
Salinas: Keep close eye on Common Core, NCLB
The Salinas Californian
Common Core: Lots of comments on Twitter this week proclaiming that we’re near the end of the war against Common Core. The most recent count shows 43 states are engaged, three have repealed their plans; four never installed the standards. Writing on politico.com, Stephanie Simon reports, “Bills to repeal the Common Core have been introduced in 19 states so far this year, down slightly from the 22 states that considered such a step last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, they’ve fared poorly.”
 
Berkeley City Council Declares No-Drone Zone for One Year
AllGov
The National Conference for State Legislatures (NCSL) reported that 35 states were considering restrictions on drones as of September 2014 and 10 had enacted such laws.USA Today said that number was now 15. 
 
Replacing Unsafe Train Crossings Deemed Too Expensive
Insurance Journal
At least 12 states expect budget shortfalls in the current fiscal year, according to the Denver- based National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State leaders says right-to-work legislation outcome bleak 
The Kearney Courier 
Twenty-four states have right-to-work laws. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports all of Missouri’s neighboring states have right-to-work laws on the books except Kentucky and Illinois. 
     
Maine lawmakers move to outlaw revenge porn 
Press Herald 
The push to criminalize revenge porn has ignited in state legislatures across the country. Since 2013, at least 13 states have enacted laws that ban revenge porn, according to 2014 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. And more laws are on the way. At least 13 others were introduced in 2014, while legislatures in Maine and elsewhere are rolling out proposals this year.

Feb. 26

Unable to repeal common core, foes try sabotage
Politico
Bills to repeal the Common Core have been introduced in 19 states so far this year, down slightly from the 22 states that considered such a step last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far, they’ve fared poorly.
      
Arkansas Panel Rejects 'Conscience-Protection' Measure
ABC News
The legislation is patterned after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have similar laws and 10 states are currently considering them.

Wisconsin Senate Passes Labor Bill After Union-Led Protests
Bloomberg
Twenty-four states already have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Wisconsin Republicans worry about protest redux as right-to-work debate begins
Washington Post
Republicans began pushing the first versions of right-to-work legislation in the 1940s and 1950s, when 17 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, passed bills, according to Jeanne Mejeur, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Michigan and Indiana were the two most recent states to pass right-to-work laws, in 2012.
 
Utah medical marijuana bill unveiled Wednesday
The State
If Utah passed the bill, it would join 23 states and District of Columbia where medical marijuana programs are already in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
     
Iowa bill would require body cameras for officers
DesMoinesRegister.com
The bill is one of 85 pieces of body camera legislation under consideration in 30 states, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. To date, no state has a law mandating that officers wear body cameras, according to Richard Williams of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Supreme Court to Hear Muslim Headscarf Case
WFMY News 2
The lawsuit filed in Elauf's case is trickier, because the need for an accommodation isn't always apparent during job interviews. "Employers are not supposed to ask about religious views or practices," the company argues in its brief. That view is backed by other employers, including the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
     
Lawmakers may authorize study on accepting Bitcoin payments
The Idaho Statesman/Associated Press
Tennessee has pending legislation that would allow candidates to accept virtual currency such as bitcoin as campaign contributions, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. While other states are working on or have enacted legislation addressing digital currencies, Utah and New Hampshire appear to be the only places considering accepting it for taxes and other payments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' information.
      
Georgia House approves modified cannabis oil bill
Macon Telegraph 
A total of 23 states have workable medical cannabis programs, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
House panel debates ban on photo traffic tickets
9NEWS.com
Many other states have more restrictive laws than Colorado, with further limits on location and conditions under which systems can be used, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Proposal to allow edible marijuana products for medical reasons unveiled in Utah
Daily Journal
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs.
     
KARE 11 Investigates drowsy driving
KARE
In Minnesota, there is no law that deals specifically with drowsy or fatigued driving, instead there are laws that focus on careless or reckless driving. Minnesota is not alone. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, very few states have laws on the book dealing with drowsy driving.

Feb. 25

Lawmakers may authorize study on accepting Bitcoin payments
Washington Times
Tennessee has pending legislation that would allow candidates to accept virtual currency such as bitcoin as campaign contributions, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures. While other states are working on or have enacted legislation addressing digital currencies, Utah and New Hampshire appear to be the only places considering accepting it for taxes and other payments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ information.
 
Seeds of Discontent in Oklahoma: Is the State Vegetable Really a Fruit?
Wall Street Journal
States have been selecting official flora and fauna since at least 1893, when each state designated an official flower for an exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, according to Kae Warnock of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Medicaid Enrollment Surges Across the U.S.
U.S. News & World Report
Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government picks up 100 percent of the tab for additional Medicaid enrollees, but gradually lowers the percentage of its support over time, leaving some fiscal uncertainties, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Wal-Mart criticizes 'conscience' bill opponents call anti-LGBT, governor cites concerns
Fox News
The legislation is patterned after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have similar laws and 10 states are currently considering them. Hutchinson said he understands the desire to protect religious freedom, but said he needed more information on the bill's impact.
 
Wisconsin Debates Labor Measure Backed by Walker as Unions Rally
Bloomberg
Walker, 47, and other Republicans said the bill is needed to keep Wisconsin competitive with nearby Iowa, Indiana and Michigan, all right-to-work states, by giving workers freedom and attracting more employers. Twenty-four states already have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Union leaders vow to fight Walker on right to work in Wisconsin
Macon Telegraph
Twenty-four states already have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three enacted the laws in the past two decades: Oklahoma in 2001, and Michigan and Indiana in 2012, making inroads in traditionally industrial economies.
      
Report accurate on decline in federal transportation dollars
PolitiFact
Mick Bullock, spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said transportation funding is "an issue states are grappling with all around the country.
"Pending what happens in Congress with the Highway Trust Fund, state legislatures need a long-term funding solution for their transportation infrastructure," Bullock said. ‘if Congress does not act, states will have to look at other funding solutions."
 
Somerset County election administrator featured in national publication
NJ.com
Somerset County Election Administrator Jerry L. Midgette is featured in the February 2015 issue of The Canvass, the publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
      
Drug-testing for benefits ineffective
Appleton Post Crescent
Walker isn’t the first governor to come up with this idea. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 22 states have introduced or enacted some form of legislation surrounding this issue. It’s my view that this proposal is ineffective and ill-advised.
      
US supreme court hears Abercrombie & Fitch religious discrimination case
The Guardian
In addition to the private sector, public sector employers are also wary of the implications that the ruling in this case could have on their employment practices. As a result, organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislatures, National League of Cities and US Conference of Mayors also filed a brief in support of Abercrombie & Fitch.
      
Barber considers 4-day school week
Lebanon Daily Record
Across the country, it’s mostly small, rural districts that switch to four-day weeks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Joel E. Barber School’s case, long school days already are needed because of transportation issues.
 
NM joins other states in grappling with drones
KRQE News 13
Last year, 35 states considered bills and resolutions on drones, and 10 states enacted new laws. New data for this year was not available, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Common issues addressed in the legislation include the definition of “drone”; how drones can be used by law enforcement or other state agencies; how they can be used by the general public; and regulations for their use in hunting game, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.
      
House says no to conceal-carry in Capitol, yes to packing heat in public parks
Dickinson Press
Eight states currently allow citizens with a concealed weapons permit or license to carry a concealed weapon into public buildings or the statehouse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
New Mexico joins other states in grappling with drones
seattlepi.com
Last year, 35 states considered bills and resolutions on drones, and 10 states enacted new laws. New data for this year was not available, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Roads, schools common ground at National Governors Association
The Union Leader
As Congress begins to consider reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind, the governors seized the opportunity to offer their proposals in cooperation with National Conference of State Legislatures.Gov. Hassan serves as vice chairman of the NGA Education and Workforce Committee, which released its recommendations the week before the conference.
      
Legislators sitting on cash while state struggles with budget deficit
LancasterOnline
Thirty states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 24

Union Leaders Vow to Fight Walker on Right to Work in Wisconsin
Bloomberg
Twenty-four states already have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three enacted the laws in the past two decades: Oklahoma in 2001, and Michigan and Indiana in 2012, making inroads in traditionally industrial economies.
 
Crackdown on drones goes local
USA TODAY
Since 2012, 15 states have enacted laws restricting drones in some way, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which tracks state laws.
 
Alaska's minimum wage to rise to $8.75 an hour Tuesday; another increase due Jan. 1
Fox Business
The increase to $8.75 an hour, Alaska's first minimum wage hike in more than five years, will rank the state's minimum wage ninth, along with New York, among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Voters in three other states also approved increases in their minimum wages last year, and legislatures in several states and the District of Columbia also approved hikes last year, according to the organization.
 
Tapping budget brakes, PA GOP legislators rally behind new plan to growth in state government spending
PennLive.com
Bartolotta noted that according to National Conference of State Legislatures research, 30 of the 50 states operate with some form of tax or spending control in place at present.
 
Medical marijuana bill filed in W.Va.
Huntington Herald Dispatch
Twenty-three states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Missouri lawmaker would prevent cities, towns from banning or issuing fines for plastic bans
Minneapolis Star Tribune/Associated Press
So far Florida is the only state that has halted local efforts to regulate the use of plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Similar efforts in 2013 failed in Texas.
 
Demonstrators call for minimum wage raise
WISH-TV
Twenty-nine other states have passed legislation to raise their minimum wages above the federal mandate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nine of those raised their wages just this year.
 
Should CT give terminally ill patients the ‘right to try’ unapproved treatments?
The CT Mirror
Five states — Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri — have “right to try” laws, and 24 states have bills pending that would allow the practice, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.  
 
W.Va. GOP senator pushing for legalized medical marijuana
The Idaho Statesman
Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., have comprehensive medical marijuana programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Call for state to adopt stricter disclosure rules for lawmakers
Newsday
Currently, 26 states require some level of client identification, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislators, a Denver-based research group.

Feb. 23

Don’t Give Up the Gains in Education
NYTimes.com
These bills are being advertised as a way to help the states. But earlier this month, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures jointly issued a detailed proposal for reauthorizing the act that asks Congress to hold the states accountable for preparing students for a competitive workplace. The states, which bear the direct responsibility for educating the nation’s children, know from experience that this basic policy tool kit is essential for improving schools. Instead of squandering an important opportunity, Congress needs to listen to what they have to say.
  
Seeing red: Traffic cameras hot topic in Chicago mayoral race
Reuters
Red light cameras are used in over 400 U.S. communities, but studies on their effectiveness vary, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State not joining revolt against Common Core learning model
The Seattle Times
And Washington doesn’t fit the pattern of the five states that have revoked or are in the process of revoking the Common Core, said Daniel Thatcher, a senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures. In each of them, Republicans controlled the House and Senate, he said, and four of the five have Republican governors, too.
 
The secret to fixing America's broken infrastructure
Salon News
Of course, despite its findings, the report is likely to have no effect in many state legislatures, as it follows a 2014 election that saw tax-averse Republicans increase their power in the nation’s statehouses. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that the GOP now controls more than 55 percent of the country’s 7,383 legislative seats — the most the GOP has controlled since 1920.
      
LCC president Spilde fighting performance-based state funding
The Register-Guard
State government’s idea is to use its dollars to incentivize community colleges to produce more well-qualified graduates. Thirty states use some form of performance-based funding for their public schools, colleges and universities, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
     
Iowa Gov. Branstad's cannabis oil idea faces roadblocks
The Olympian
There are more than 20 states that allow medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Iowa is among about a dozen states that approved limited medical marijuana laws in 2014 that in many cases allow the use of oil.
      
Where does New Hampshire stand on childhood vaccine exemptions?
Concord Monitor
Forty-seven other states have religious exemption policies for childhood immunizations, but some states take their laws a step further – allowing school children to opt out of vaccinations because of “personal beliefs” or for “philosophical” reasons. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, 20 states – including neighboring Maine and Vermont – make this kind of accommodation.
      
Silver's arrest draws scrutiny of lawmakers' other jobs
Poughkeepsie Journal
An outright ban on private income for lawmakers appears to be unprecedented, according to Peggy Kearns, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Center for Ethics in Government. While many states have laws governing conflicts of interest and dual public employment, she's aware of none that limit or ban outside pay. "As far as actually doing any caps on outside income — like you can't earn any money from this source, or you can only earn a certain amount of money — it's just not covered," Kearns said.
      
Our View: Severance tax needed, but at lower rate
The Sentinel
The term “severance tax” sounds intimidating but its definition is simple. It’s a tax imposed by state governments on producers or individuals that mine natural resources, including oil and natural gases. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 36 states already have such a tax.
      
OP-ED: Folmer's Senate Bill 7 would limit state spending
York Dispatch
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation. Pennsylvania is in the minority of states having no controls.
      
Bill to prohibit lawmakers' fundraising weakened, but still alive
Hawaii News Now
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 other states place some restrictions on whether lawmakers can receive political contributions during legislative sessions. But Hawaii has none.
     
Virginia bans powdered alcohol
Rappahannock News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Virginia is one of 24 states considering bans on powdered or crystalline alcohol. Seven states currently prohibit such products.
  
Sponsors of Campus Gun Legislation Are Largely NRA Members
The Epoch Times
In the several states that have legislation pending to allow guns on campuses of higher education, most of the bill sponsors are also active NRA members. The only state that requires its public institutions to allow firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is Utah.

Feb. 20

The Wrong Way To Tax Online And Other Remote Sales – Forbes
Forbes
The National Conference of State Legislators has strongly criticized Goodlatte’s proposal. The Council On State Taxation, the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, the Tax Foundation, and the Multistate Tax Commission have all come out in opposition to it. Those groups cite a variety of shortcomings with Goodlatte’s idea — and they are all correct. But for me, I just can’t get my head around why this is a better plan than the Marketplace Fairness Act.
  
Walmart Raising Wage to at Least $9
New York Times
Twenty-nine states now exceed the federal minimum, which has not risen since 2007, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. President Obama has proposed raising it to $10.10 an hour, but that effort has stalled in Congress.
     
What Wal-Mart’s Pay Raise May Mean For Other Workers
The Wall Street Journal
(NCSL Info. Cited) 
      
California Mandatory Bicycle Helmet Law Would Make Riding Less Safe, Advocates Say
Huffington Post
Liu pointed to National Conference of State Legislatures claim that 91 percent of cyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing helmets. Research on the effectiveness of helmets, however, is spotty. One study suggests there have been fewer injuries in the 21 states with helmet laws for young riders, but another shows no effect.
      
States move to give terminally ill 'right-to-try' drugs
USA TODAY
"Right-to-try" laws were passed in five states last year — Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-five more have proposed similar legislation.
 
Iowa Teens May Not Be Able To 'GTL' Anymore
MTV.com
Iowa isn’t the first to take on the issue of teen tanning. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Vermont ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18.”
      
Washington state panel OKs bill to trim vaccine exemptions
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington is among 20 states that allow for personal-belief exemptions and 48 that allow for religious exemptions.
  
Felony DUI bill, a Hickenlooper priority, faces obstacles
Denver Post
About two dozen states make most third offenses a felony, while roughly 20 impose the tougher charge on a fourth arrest, according to an analysis of 2014 data from the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Walsh just the latest Senate appointee that has lawmakers acting
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Thirty-six states fill a Senate vacancy by appointment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other 14 states use a special election.
 
Senate panel OKs bill that would ban most calls in cars
Kansas City Star
The bill's key point is that it would prohibit people from hand-held cellphone use. It would make Iowa the 14th state prohibiting such use, according to May 2014 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Virginia Lawmakers Vote to Ban Powdered Alcohol
Patch.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Virginia is one of 24 states considering bans on powdered or crystalline alcohol. Seven states currently prohibit such products.
      
Bill would restrict solitary confinement in Montana prisons
Montana Standard
Solitary confinement can include 22 to 24 hours a day of physical and social isolation, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Seven states have passed laws in recent years that limit or ban the use of solitary confinement for youth in detention facilities.
      
Senators Consider Bill to Expand Concussion Protections
Flathead Beacon/Associated Press
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed laws addressing traumatic brain injury between 2009 and 2014. Most targeted youth concussions.

Feb. 19

Nevada will be latest battleground in voter ID wars
Washington Post
Thirty-four states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification when they vote, and 31 of those state laws are in force today, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The proposal in Nevada would require a photo identification, a stricter standard currently applied by Texas, Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia.
      
Bill To Shorten Early Voting Period Advances In Georgia Legislature
Huffington Post
Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia offer some form of early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The average for those jurisdictions is 19 days.
      
It's time for Virginia to allow two terms for governors
The Virginian-Pilot
The National Conference of State Legislatures classifies Virginia's General Assembly - along with legislative bodies in 23 other states - as a "hybrid;" several are part-time legislatures. Only 10 states are classified by NCSL as having full-time legislatures, including population-rich California, New York and Florida. 
      
National panel puts spotlight on community college issues
Starkville Daily News
(NCSL Cited) Dustin Weeden, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, speaks to the audience about the political climate surrounding community college legislation.
 
State pays out for deaths, dentures, fender benders and much more
Las Vegas Sun
But a paramount protection is the $100,000 cap on what it can pay out in a settlement or suit. California doesn’t limit damages outside of medical malpractice. Washington and New York don’t have limits. At least 33 states cap the damages that may be recovered from judgments against the state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nevada is on the low end of the caps. Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania and Indiana range from $250,000 to $5 million.
 
Letters from Congress: Banks asked about hacks and cyber security
KTVA.com - Alaska News and Weather
Alaska is one of 47 states with data breach notification laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Alaska statutes were amended to require entities that collect personal information to notify affected parties after the Alaska Personal Information Protection Act in 2009. Notifications must be given in written form but may also be issued electronically.
      
Bill banning powdered alcohol advances
Casper Star-Tribune Online
That has prompted at least 34 bills in 24 states this year to ban the product before it can ever hit the shelves, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
House Democrats File Bills to Reform Kentucky Legislative Research Commission
WKMS
“The NCSL draft audit only confirmed what I hear at my House, in these halls, and I know from my own time working here,” Kay said. The bill would establish a classification and compensation system for staffers and would require job openings to be posted online for 30 days.
      
Running out of room
Newton Kansan
To combat overcrowding, at least 17 states have eased drug penalties, with most diverting offenders to treatment rather than prison time, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Feb. 18

Washington State Panel Mulls Bill to Trim Vaccine Exemptions
ABC News/Associated Press
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington is among 20 states that allow for personal-belief exemptions and 48 that allow for religious exemptions. National immunization data from 2013 shows 71 percent of Washington children between ages 19-35 months have received all of their shots on time.
 
Budget proposal would raise park fees
La Crosse Tribune
The National Conference of State Legislatures, in a January 2012 article, reported that state parks generally have not been shown to be self-supporting. And all but a few of Wisconsin’s state parks lack the commercial development — such as cabins, golf courses and food concessions — that can boost user revenues. “Although revenues from park admission fees, camping fees, golf course charges and restaurants can help fill the gaps, outside of certain very popular parks, they are not enough to make parks self-sustaining,” wrote Douglas Shinkle, who tracks environmental and other issues for the organization.
 
Running out of room
Newton Kansan
To combat overcrowding, at least 17 states have eased drug penalties, with most diverting offenders to treatment rather than prison time, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
      
Legislation to decriminalize 1 ounce of marijuana in NH returns
Concord Monitor
New Hampshire is one of a dozen states where decriminalization measures are up for discussion this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Penalties for possession of small portions of marijuana have been reduced in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to the NCSL. New Hampshire is the only state in New England that hasn’t taken some step toward lightening penalties for marijuana possession.
      
Voter ID bill introduced in Nevada Senate
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada is one of 24 states that do not require documents at polling places to cast a ballot. If SB169 is enacted, the state would join seven others with strict photo ID requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lawmakers take up bill to allow fewer vaccination exemptions
HeraldNet
Under state law, parents or guardians can obtain a vaccination exemption for medical, personal or religious beliefs. Washington is one of 20 states which allow for an exemption on philosophical grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures
      
Bill banning tanning bed use for minors passes to Iowa House
The Gazette
Nine states and the District of Columbia ban indoor tanning for minors. Iowa is one of only nine states with no age restrictions on minors tanning, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The only age restriction in Iowa’s law says operators must be at least 16.
      
SC Senate bill takes aim at online mug shot 'extortion'
Charleston Post Courier
Thurmond said other states have passed similar legislation without running into constitutional trouble — at least nine have enacted similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thurmond’s bill is based on one Georgia passed, he said.
      
Drug Testing Welfare Recipients in West Virginia
Gilberttimes
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 12 states have passed laws requiring drug testing for public assistance.

Feb. 17

States consider police body cameras after civilian deaths
Boston Globe/Washington Post
The exact contours of body camera bills are different in each state. Richard Williams, a criminal justice policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said states are determining which officers will have to wear body cameras, when recording will be required, and how to square recording policies with eavesdropping laws that require permission from both parties and the Fourth Amendment.
      
Florida State Senate to vote on concealed carry weapons bill
USA TODAY
As of March 2014, seven states have laws that legalize the possession of concealed weapons on university campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Republican lawmakers hold the line against Obamacare at state level
Los Angeles Times
Although the healthcare law was not an issue in every legislative contest, opposition to the president and his agenda was an overriding theme for many Republican candidates, said Tim Storey, a political analyst at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. "Many of the rank-and-file Republicans are extraordinarily skeptical of anything that's connected to this administration," Storey said, and have "a hard-wired reluctance to consider anything related to Obamacare and Medicaid expansion."
      
Gurnee, Waukegan leaders defend red-light camera programs
Chicago Tribune
Seven states prohibit the use of red light cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A Missouri lawmaker proposed a statewide ban there last month.
      
National, state implications of Abraham-Kenney marijuana decriminalization spat
The Philadelphia Tribune
According to pro-marijuana group NORML, 18 states have some form of possession decriminalization effort underway; as of last month, the National Conference of State Legislators put that number closer to two dozen.
 
Sen. Debbie Smith discharged from hospital after surgery
The Olympian
Smith was first elected to the state Assembly in 2000 and won a seat in the Senate in 2012. The Reno Democrat has won several lawmaker of the year awards and is the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
House Republicans push for zero-based budget
DesMoinesRegister.com
According to a 2010 report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states reported using some form of zero-based budgeting, but “it is hard to find evidence of ZBB in most” of those states.
      
Washington state lawmakers focus on costs of initiatives
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
According to NCSL, if a ballot measure will have a monetary effect on the state’s budget, 13 states require a fiscal impact statement to be drafted and placed on the petition or in the voter pamphlet. Several of those states also include that same information directly on the ballot: California, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming.
 
Do license plate readers invade privacy?
Indianapolis Star
The National Conference of State legislatures reported that 10 states have bills pending this year that would limit license plate collections.
      
The Register's Editorial: Change vaccine law, end religious exemption
DesMoinesRegister.com
Elected officials in several states are making changes to laws on exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota lawmakers are considering a bill that would require parents seeking exemptions for personal beliefs to specify and explain each vaccine they're seeking an exemption from and obtain a statement from a physician saying they have discussed the risks and benefits with the parent. Meanwhile, Montana lawmakers are considering adding an exemption for personal beliefs.
     
Scott Walker wants to remove tax money from state park system
Chippewa Herald
The National Conference of State Legislatures, in a January 2012 article, reported that state parks generally have not been shown to be self-supporting. And all but a few of Wisconsin’s state parks lack the commercial development — such as cabins, golf courses and food concessions — that can boost user revenues. “Although revenues from park admission fees, camping fees, golf course charges and restaurants can help fill the gaps, outside of certain very popular parks, they are not enough to make parks self-sustaining,” wrote Douglas Shinkle, who tracks environmental and other issues for the NCSL.
      
House supports religion, anti-discrimination bills
Russellville Courier
That legislation is patterned after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have similar laws and 10 states are currently considering them.
 
Silver arrest renews criticism of outside income
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
An outright ban on private income for lawmakers appears to be unprecedented, according to Peggy Kearns, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Center for Ethics in Government. While many states have laws governing conflicts of interest and dual public employment, she's aware of none that limit or ban outside pay. "As far as actually doing any caps on outside income — like you can't earn any money from this source, or you can only earn a certain amount of money — it's just not covered," Kearns said.
      
Some lawmakers want more focus on costs of initiatives
Bellingham Herald
While all states allow lawmakers to refer issues to the ballot, in 24 states, voters can place a measure on the ballot, either through the referendum or initiative process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. According to NCSL, if a ballot measure will have a monetary effect on the state's budget, 13 states require a fiscal impact statement to be drafted and placed on the petition or in the voter pamphlet. Several of those states also include that same information directly on the ballot: California, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming.
      
Senator wants to make bicycle helmets mandatory
KRCRTV.COM
Ninety-one percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing helmets, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported.

Feb. 13

Ethics board OKs US Open golf tickets for some lawmakers
Fox News
Ten states ban gifts to lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington state is among 30 others that put a monetary limit on acceptable gifts. Another 10 have no limits. NCSL spokeswoman Natalie O'Donnell Wood said there are exemptions even in states that ban or limit gifts.
 
Revenge Porn Is Becoming a Criminal Offense in UK
Wall Street Journal
In the U.S., states have increasingly passed laws specifically addressing the issue. At least 12 states have passed laws related to revenge porn, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. In some instances, free-speech advocates have fought back against laws that are too vague or argue that existing laws about harassment and copyright are sufficient.
      
7-year-old cancer patient gives 'a damn' about the measles vaccine
Washington Post
All states allow medical exemptions for legitimate issues, such as anaphylactic allergic response, a life-threatening allergic response. Twenty states let parents opt-out for philosophical reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Illinois bills seek to ban red light cameras drivers hate
Chicago Sun-Times
Seven states prohibit the use of red-light cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A Missouri lawmaker proposed a statewide ban there last month.
      
Women Senators plan a hearing on sex trafficking
Northland's NewsCenter
Klobuchar's bill is supported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Fraternal Order of Police, Shared Hope International, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, United Methodist Women.
 
Arkansas House says cursive writing must be taught in schools; critics say it is not needed
The Republic
Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee have passed legislation requiring elementary students learn cursive writing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Alabama's deficit is the University's problem too
The Crimson White
What little tax revenue that is collected is earmarked according to Alabama’s State Constitution in specific allocations to specific departments. To make matters worse, Alabama earmarks 90 percent of tax revenue, compared to the next highest 63 percent of Michigan and the national average of 24 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So not only do we fetter ourselves by having the lowest taxes per capita in the nation, but we inefficiently distribute money to departments based on the longest Constitution in the world. The PARCA report of 2013 aptly concludes, “This may seem the ideal recipe for limiting government and keeping its burden light. But cheap government is not necessarily efficient government.”
      
Gov. Tom Wolf outlines promised tax on natural gas
Allentown Morning Call
At least 36 other states have a severance tax of some kind, according to the national Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania's current well fee is lower than all other states' severance taxes except Ohio's, the Fiscal Office report also found. Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich is now calling for a higher severance tax.
      
Police body camera bill under fire for privacy concerns
MiamiHerald.com
Police body cameras have become part of the conversation surrounding police brutality, especially since the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., last year. This year, more than a dozen state legislatures are considering the implementation or regulation of the devices, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Illinois bills seek to ban red light cameras drivers hate
STLtoday.com
Seven states prohibit the use of red light cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A Missouri lawmaker proposed a statewide ban there last month.
      
Boardman legislator wants tougher child restraint laws
WFMJ
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, four children die and 490 are injured in motor vehicle crashes every day in America. Further, more than half of children killed in crashes are totally unrestrained.  

Idaho's Vaccination Among Lowest in US
Twin Falls Times-News
Forty-eight states allow religious waivers. Mississippi and West Virginia are the lone exemptions. Nineteen states allow waivers based on philosophical grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nationally, the trend appears to be moving in the direction of additional waivers. Five state legislatures are considering expanded waivers, according to the NCSL — and that includes a proposed religious waiver in West Virginia and, in Mississippi, a waiver that would cover medical and conscientious beliefs.
                       
Vermont's Shadow Budget: It's Hard To Know If Tax Breaks Are Working
Vermont Public Radio
But, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that’s exactly what should be reported as an expenditure. The NCSL Task Force on State and Local Taxation adopted a set of best practices for tax expenditure reporting back in August of 2014. The first sentence defines a tax expenditure as “an exemption, deduction, credit, exclusion, or other deviation from the ‘normal’ tax structure.”

Feb. 12

Missouri House endorses 'right-to-work' measure for construction industry unions
Fox Business
Twenty four states have right-to-work laws including all of Missouri's neighbors except for Illinois and Kentucky, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
California boy who beat leukemia urges near-universal measles jabs
Reuters
California is one of 20 states that allow parents to opt their children out of vaccinations on the basis of their personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California lawmakers are expected to debate a bill this year to end the exemption.

Utah proposal would ban tattooing young people in most cases
Washington Times
Mr. Christensen, the bill’s sponsor, cited 2013 statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures that show 13 states prohibited tattooing minors under any circumstances. The organization doesn’t have more recent data on the issue.
     
Utah Plan Would Force Out-of-State Online Retailers to Collect State Sales Tax
Daily Signal
Utah state Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the incoming president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, supports bill, arguing that online retailers should have to collect the same taxes as bricks-and-mortar retailers. “Utah was one of the first states to push this movement beginning in the late 1990s,” Bramble told KSL TV. “The position from legislators across the country, from governors, from counties, from cities is 15 years of [dialogue] on the issue and 20 months being in a committee, is long enough to have had a [dialogue] on it.”
      
Powdered alcohol not coming to a liquor store near you
PennLive.com
Nine states have already banned powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Utah proposal would ban tattooing young people in most cases
Daily Herald
Christensen, the bill's sponsor, cited 2013 statistics from the National Conference of State Legislatures that show 13 states prohibited tattooing minors under any circumstances. The organization doesn't have more recent data on the issue.
      
Missouri Takes a Step Toward Becoming 'Right-to-Work' State
ABC News
Twenty-four states have right to work laws in place. Two states, Indiana and Michigan, passed the legislation in 2012. All of Missouri's neighboring states are right-to-work except for Illinois and Kentucky, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The new Republican governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, has said he wants to allow individual communities or counties in the state to opt for right-to-work, and some counties in western Kentucky have voted to make it illegal for employers to require their workers to join a labor union.
 
Proposed bill would require all bicyclists to wear helmets
News10.net
According to the California Highway Patrol, bicyclists injured in traffic accidents has increased in the state. Bicyclists who don't wear helmets are far more likely to be hurt or killed in accidents, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The report also found 91 percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing helmets.
      
Bill Cutting Early Voting Days Clears House Committee
WABE 90.1 FM
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states allow early voting, with an average length of time of 19 days.
 
Bill allows experimental meds for terminal patients
The News Journal
Delaware is among one of the 21 states, including New Jersey, poised to consider "right to try" legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2014 five states – Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri – passed similar bills. Bonini worked with the Goldwater Institute, a right-wing advocacy group based in Arizona, on the First State's bill.
      
Iowa Supreme Court to hold night session
Quad City Times
Iowa lawmakers, who earn $25,000 a year, rank in the middle of the pack when their compensation is compared to legislators in other states. They much better paid than legislators in New Mexico, who get a $159-a-day per diem but no salary, or New Hampshire lawmakers, who are paid $100 a year and no per diem, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 11

Preview of House Education Committee Markup of NCLB Rewrite
Education Week News
Meanwhile, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures released their recommendations for revising the NCLB law Tuesday, ahead of the markup. Cliffnotes version? The groups support scaling back the federal role when it comes to accountability systems and school improvement. And they'd like to give states more control over testing, including the opportunity to use portfolios, performance-based tests, and other outside-the-bubble-sheet forms of assessment. The recommendations are silent, however, when it comes to how often those tests should be given (annually or just in certain grades.) That's something the groups are still grappling with, an NGA spokeswoman said.
      
Public employee unions under fire again
Politico
The GOP also acquired control of 11 previously Democratic legislative chambers, including the West Virginia House, the New York Senate and the Nevada Assembly and Senate. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans haven’t controlled this many state legislative seats since 1920.
     
Three interesting findings from our Maryland poll
Washington Post
In Maryland, religious beliefs are an accepted reason for a child entering school without receiving vaccines, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Certain medical exceptions are permitted in Maryland and all other states throughout the country.
      
Minimum Wage Continues to Rise
The National Law Review
Effective at the beginning of 2105, the laws of 29 states and the District of Columbia require minimum wages in private employment that are higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Despite already requiring higher wages than the federal minimum wage, the majority of those states experienced an increase in the state-mandated minimum wage effective in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Some states pay local lawmakers less than $10000 a year
MarketWatch
In New Mexico, state legislators make zero dollars in annual salary. The state is the only one in the nation that doesn’t pay state lawmakers an income, providing only a daily $159 per diem when the legislature is in session. But don’t assume that other legislators are doing much better. This map, compiled by Pew’s Jake Grovum using 2014 data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, shows what the job pays.
      
Editorial: Slow the revolving door from lawmaker to lobbyist
The Seattle Times
Congress and at least 32 states require a “cooling-off” period to slow this revolving door, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states require a two-year wait.
      
Ethics board OKs U.S. Open tickets for some lawmakers
HeraldNet
Ten states ban gifts to lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington state is among 30 others that put a monetary limit on acceptable gifts. Another 10 have no limits. NCSL spokeswoman Natalie O’Donnell Wood said there are exemptions even in states that ban or limit gifts.
      
Softer, less strident outreach may help calm US vaccine skeptics
WTAQ
While most Americans do immunize their children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 20 U.S. states allow public school students to take exemptions from vaccines based on personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
West Virginia GOP starts push for drug testing welfare recipients
Huntington Herald Dispatch
At least 12 states have passed laws requiring drug testing for public assistance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Bills seek to spawn hemp industry in Maine
Press Herald
Federal policy toward hemp is changing, although not nearly as quickly as hemp industry advocates and farmers across the country would like. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states including Maine have enacted policies allowing for hemp research or pilot projects while several, such as Colorado, are moving forward with licensing of industrial hemp growers.
       
Utah House OKs bill to exempt nursing moms from jury duty
LocalNews8.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 16 states and Puerto Rico offer a similar exemption to breastfeeding mothers.
      
In blue state Illinois, can union-curbing measures by GOP governor succeed?
Christian Science Monitor
According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states have so-called right-to-work laws, which allow don't allow businesses to require workers to join a labor union. In the upper Midwest, Iowa, Michigan, and Indiana are right-to-work states.

Feb. 10

States rise up against Washington
The Hill
The National Conference of State Legislatures, which monitors action in the country’s statehouses, could not confirm the center’s 200-plus bill count, though a spokesman said there is a vocal movement behind the notion that some issues are best left to the states. “It is often said states are the laboratories of democracy and the Tenth Amendment is something we at NCSL advocate for on behalf of states every day,” spokesman Mick Bullock said in a statement.
 
New vaccine exemption bills despite measles outbreak underscore anti-vaxxers' strength
Washington Times
Such bills may be the exception this year, but not in the recent past. From 2009 to 2012, 31 of the 36 bills introduced in 18 state legislatures regarding immunizations were aimed at giving parents more wiggle room on vaccines, not less, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “None of the 31 passed, largely because of strong evidence that withholding vaccinations leads to outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and other diseases,” the National Conference said in its Feb. 1 edition of State Legislatures magazine.
 
New federal regulations could finally rein in the payday lending industry
Yahoo Finance
(NCSL Data Cited)
      
Drug testing of welfare applicants yields few positives
The Tennessean
Tennessee is one of 12 states that have enacted laws requiring drug screening and testing of welfare applicants, but it’s a trend picking up steam elsewhere. Similar bills have been introduced in at least 10 other states so far this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Financial impact still unclear for Scott Walker's plan to drug test public aid recipients
Chippewa Herald
At least 12 states have passed similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
'Right to try' bill clears committee and now heads to the House
Standard-Examiner
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan and Missouri passed “right to try” laws in 2014 and Arizona voters approved a right to try ballot measure last November. As of Feb. 4, 21 additional states are considering similar legislation.
      
Utah House OKs bill to exempt nursing moms from jury duty
The Idaho Statesman
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 16 states and Puerto Rico offer a similar exemption to breastfeeding mothers.
      
Measles Vaccination: Opting Out Shouldn't Be an Option Anymore
Empire State Tribune
Washington is only one of 20 states that allow personal-belief exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
More Texas Parents Say 'No' to Measles Vaccine Despite Nationwide Outbreak
Breitbart News
“All but two states — Mississippi and West Virginia — grant exemptions from school immunization requirements on religious grounds. Texas is among 20 states that also waive requirements because of personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures,” the Tribune also stated.
 
State senators don't have too many staffers. They have too few.
The Week Magazine
It's a very different experience in most state legislatures, where you're more likely to run into an actual elected official than one of her staffers. There's just not a lot of staff in our state legislatures. As I recently learned from a talk by Karl Kurtz of the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are a total of about 34,000 state legislative staffers — including permanent staff, temporary aides for legislative sessions, and others — in all 50 state houses combined. Meanwhile, there are, as of 2009, nearly 23,000 staffers just in Congress. Congress is, in fact, the best staffed national legislature in the world.
 
Secretary of State wants to limit campaign spending
Statesman Journal
The idea of regulating campaign contributions is not unusual, and nearly all states do it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oregon is in a small club, joined by Alabama, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia.
     
Cabdrivers press N.J. lawmakers to rein in ride-sharing services
Philly.com
In June, Colorado became the first state to implement a regulatory framework for such companies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legislation to regulate ride-sharing companies was introduced in Harrisburg last year.

Feb. 9

States racing to regulate e-cigarettes 
USA TODAY
Forty-one states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes, also known as "vapor products," to people under 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
The Anti-Vaccine Generation: How Movement Against Shots Got Its Start 
National Geographic
Religious exemptions are allowed in every state except Mississippi and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Among states allowing religious exemptions, 20 also allow exemptions for personal or moral beliefs.
      
Daycare centers are latest hit with measles outbreak 
USA TODAY
California is among 20 states that allow for personal belief exemptions and 48 that allow for religious exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Mississippi and West Virginia make no vaccine exceptions for religious beliefs.
      
Vaccine experts: It's time to 'nudge' hesitant parents 
The Seattle Times
Washington is one of 20 states that allow personal-belief exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Sen. Debbie Smith recovering after brain surgery in Texas 
SunHerald.com/Associated Press
She is currently president of the National Conference of State Legislatures and a past president of the Nevada Parent Teacher Association. One of her priorities has been a construction-bond rollover bill that would allow more school building to ease overcrowding.
      
TN GOP rejects closing primaries 
The Tennessean
Eleven states have closed primaries. Tennessee allows any registered voter to vote in any primary and is one of 28 with a “hybrid” primary system, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
     
A lone woman in state Senate, W.Va. ranks toward bottom on women in state government
Charleston Daily
“Really in the last 10 years it hasn’t changed at all,” said Katie Ziegler, program manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Women’s Legislative Network. This year, women currently have about 24 percent of the 7,383 total state legislative seats available throughout the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Vaccine exemption rates at some Madison-area schools raise concern 
Madison.com
School vaccination requirements vary among states. All states allow waivers for medical reasons and all but two grant religious exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Virginia latest state to consider taking more DNA samples 
WTOP
Since Virginia became the first state to establish a DNA databank for violent felons in 1989, others have followed. Now 48 states collect DNA for all convicted felons while Minnesota and Missouri collect it for a limited number of violent or sex-related felonies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Virginia is also among the 42 states that take DNA samples for at least some misdemeanor convictions.
 
Larry Dale Keeling says both parties clowning around with LRC 
Lexington Herald Leader
For their part, Republican legislative leaders mucked it up Wednesday when they killed, on an 8-8 party-line vote, House Speaker Greg Stumbo's proposal to begin the search for a new Legislative Research Commission director (a position that has been filled on an interim basis for 17 months), who presumably would be tasked with remedying the problems outlined in a performance audit of LRC conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
A look at some vaccine-related legislation in several states 
MiamiHerald.com
California is among 20 states that allow for personal belief exemptions and 48 that allow for religious exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Measles outbreak: Vaccination rates meager in some schools 
The Journal News | LoHud.com
Despite the recent outbreak, which was traced to Disneyland, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, and other New York lawmakers are pushing a bill to make it easier to avoid getting shots by adding a philosophical exemption, which would extend the religious exemption to people without a religion. In California, one of 20 states that allow personal belief exemptions, lawmakers have introduced a bill to end the exemption. Forty-eight states allow religious exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
University of Wyoming officials mull effects of possible repeal of gun-free zones 
Casper Star-Tribune Online
Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public, postsecondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Opinion: California's Latinos need to seize their seats at the table 
Sacramento Bee
A series of indicators shows how Latinos lag in education and wealth. The recent combined graduation rate from two-year colleges and four-year colleges in California was 47 percent for whites, but only 35 percent for Latinos, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Tom Still: Options for state transportation financing range from novel to complex 
Madison.com
No state raised gasoline taxes in 2010, 2011 or 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but about 10 states have done so since. One reason: Fuel prices stabilized and then fell, which meant state pump tax increases were less noticeable. Some states are adopting pump taxes that aren’t set per gallon, but tied to inflation, the wholesale price of fuel or other economic factors.
 
How our legislators stack up with peers 
Virginia Gazette
According to VPAP, only 17 percent of the General Assembly is female. That's lower than the national average of 24.2 percent compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The lowest percentage in the United States is 12.5 percent in South Carolina, the high is 41 percent in Colorado.

Feb. 6

Few Privacy Limitations Exist on How Police Use Drones
National Journal
Colorado is one of the states without any legislation about drones at all, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which means that the limitations on the Mesa County drone program were instituted at the department's prerogative.
 
House panel backs bill seeking to boost industrial hemp crop
Washington Times
Nineteen states, including Indiana, have established laws that provide for hemp pilot studies and production under the Farm Bill’s conditions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
                  
In Mass., caucuses are secret. Elsewhere it's a different story
Boston Globe
According to the most recent numbers compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states have some form of open legislative caucus, be it the House, Senate, or both.
 
Breast-feeding publicly may finally win the day in Virginia. It's about time.
Washington Post
That’s also the case in only two other places in America: Idaho and South Dakota, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Virginia Alliance for Breastfeeding Laws. Not exactly the company the Old Dominion wants to keep, right?
     
Santa Ana lottery determines who gets permits to sell marijuana
Los Angeles Times
Medical marijuana is legal in more than 20 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though it is listed under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” — a designation it shares with heroin and Ecstasy.
      
Lawmakers want tougher vaccine exemptions amid measles outbreak
Reuters
All U.S. states require certain vaccines for students for diseases such as mumps, rubella, tetanus, or polio, but school immunization laws grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, including an inhibited immune system. At least 20 states extend exemptions to include a range of personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
At least 2 states look at broadening vaccine exemptions
USA TODAY
Colorado already is one of 20 states that allow a personal-belief exemption for parents who want to opt out of vaccinating their children and one of 48 that allow religious exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Two California Lawmakers Seek to End 'Personal Belief' Vaccination Exemption
Wall Street Journal
All states permit exemptions for medical reasons. All but two let parents refuse to vaccinate their children because of their religious convictions, according to the latest tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
The Poorest State in America Ranks #1 When it Comes to Vaccines
Yahoo News
In addition to the religious exemption, 20 states, including California, Texas, and Oregon, have a “philosophical” exemption, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This permits parents to avoid vaccination if it contradicts their personal or moral beliefs. In California, this is the most common reason parents refuse vaccines—and about 90 percent of kindergarteners overall were vaccinated heading into this school year, according to state health officials. California also happens to be where “the happiest place on earth” became ground zero for this year’s measles outbreak at Disneyland.
 
The Changing Face of Heroin
Stateline
“In some states, now that budgets are generally looking better, states are looking at this as a different problem than in the previous decade,” said Karmen Hanson, program manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “It’s not just an urban problem; it’s a rural problem. It’s not just under the viaduct in the big cities. It’s also a suburban problem. It’s widespread culturally and ethnographically.”
      
North Dakota bill would make medical marijuana legal in the state; up to 3 pot plants allowed
Greenfield Daily Reporter
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 23 states have laws allowing medical marijuana. But it is still illegal at the federal level and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved it.
      
Committee rejects bill to require paid employee sick leave
Daily Republic
Buhl O'Donnell's proposal came as President Barack Obama pushed last month for federal earned sick leave legislation and urged states and cities to support similar laws in the meantime. Three states — California, Connecticut and Massachusetts — require paid employee sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
     
See Vaccine Exemptions in Texas by School District
Texas Tribune
All but two states — Mississippi and West Virginia — grant exemptions from school immunization requirements on religious grounds. Texas is among 20 states that also waive requirements because of personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Bill Would Make California's Vaccine Rules Among the Most Restrictive in US
Education Week News
Nineteen states have such personal belief exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Because California doesn't have a seperate religious exemption, the passage of the proposed bill would lump it with just two other states—West Virginia and Mississippi—that only allow exemptions for medical reasons.
 
Minimum wage hike proposed by Ohio Democrats
cleveland.com
Ohio's minimum wage is now higher than 35 states and the federal wage of $7.25 per hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Six states and Washington, D.C. plan to raise their wages to $10 or higher by 2017. Washington state has the highest wage, raised to $9.47 an hour on Jan. 1.
 
Peak of 2015 Legislative Season Underway for State Lawmakers
Food Safety News
From reports of organizations such as the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) based in Denver, various interest groups that follow their own statehouse issues, and faithful statehouse reporters, here’s just some of what those legislative bodies are up to that may be of interest to the food-safety community.
     
Expansion of tax credit gains state support
Gloucester Daily Times
Two-dozen other states provide earned income tax credits, but the benefits vary widely. In Maine, the credit is 5 percent; Connecticut, 25 percent; and Vermont, 32 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Stumbo resolution would adopt NCSL recommendations now
The Courier-Journal
Legislative leaders contracted with NCSL to do the study in late 2013 in the wake of sexual harassment complaints filed by staff members against Rep. John Arnold and the ensuing resignations of both Arnold and longtime LRC staff Director Robert Sherman.
      
Arkansas House panel rejects proposal to force public universities to allow firearms on campus

Daily Journal
Only one state, Utah, forces its public institutions to allow firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Six states have provisions that allow for concealed carry and 23 allow the decision to be made by the college or university.

Feb. 5

How The Voting Debates Will Be Different In 2015
NPR
Wendy Underhill, who follows voting laws at the National Conference of State Legislatures, says there's a lot of interest in making sure that voter registration rolls are accurate. Several bills would require states to compare their voting lists with other states and national databases to weed out duplicate names.
      
Rick Perry Law Led To Rise In Parents Opting Out Of Vaccines
Huffington Post
Texas is now one of 20 states that allow this "philosophical exemption," according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
      
ND bill would make medical marijuana legal in the state
Washington Times
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 23 states have laws allowing medical marijuana. But it is still illegal at the federal level and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it  
 
Vaccine Waiver Behind California Measles Would Be Undone by Bill
Bloomberg
Most states allow a religious exemption from immunizations and 19 states permit personal, or philosophical, waivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine -- one at 12 to 15 months of age and a second usually before the start of kindergarten.
 
You'll Never Believe Who's Abusing Heroin Most
The Fiscal Times
“In some states, now that budgets are generally looking better, states are looking at this as a different problem than in the previous decade,” said Karmen Hanson, program manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). “It’s not just an urban problem; it’s a rural problem. It’s not just under the viaduct in the big cities. It’s also a suburban problem. It’s widespread culturally and ethnographically.” 
      
California lawmakers aim to limit vaccine exemptions
Fresno Bee/Associated Press
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, California is among 20 states that allow for personal belief exemptions and 48 that allow for religious exemptions.
      
Kentucky legislative leaders at impasse on how to fix troubled Legislative Research Commission
Lexington Herald Leader
The LRC, which employs nearly 400 people to run the state's legislative branch, was described as a dysfunctional workplace in a draft report produced last April by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
     
LRC director's position remains open
The Independent
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, co-chair with Stumbo of the 16-member governing body of legislative leaders, said he wants more information from the National Conference of State Legislatures before beginning the search.
      
Lawmakers delay vote on proposed traffic cameras ban
The Denver Post/Associated Press
Ten states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
States Reconsider Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Programs As Obama, Congress Battle Over Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding
International Business Times
Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C., have adopted laws that require sex ed in public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but the way they teach it varies. Schools generally choose between evidence-based comprehensive programs that rely on medically accurate information about relationships and contraception, or abstinence-only programs that focus on convincing students to avoid sexual intercourse until they’re older. Both methods are controversial.
      
Lawmaker wants right to hunt, fish in AZ
Nogales International
There are currently 18 states that guarantee the right to hunt and fish in the Constitution, 17 of which were approved by voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Feb. 4

Presidential candidates split on mandatory vaccines
USA TODAY
All 50 states have legislation requiring certain vaccinations for students. All but two states — West Virginia and Mississippi — grant exemptions based on religious beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty states allow for philosophical exemptions "because of personal, moral or other beliefs."
      
Should Vaccination Be a Choice? In Many States, It Already Is
Wall Street Journal
All states permit exemptions for medical reasons. All but two states let parents refuse to vaccinate their children because of their religious convictions, according to the latest tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures. And at least 20 states have secular exemptions, allowing parents to opt-out if immunizing their kids would conflict with their personal or philosophical beliefs. According to Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases figures, tens of thousands of kids across the country received exemptions from vaccinations during the 2013-14 school year, mostly of the non-medical variety.
      
The unvaccinated, by the numbers
CNN
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports: 48 states and the District of Columbia allow religious exemptions from vaccines and 20 states allow philosophical exemptions.
      
Man pleads guilty in Utah 'revenge porn' case
Washington Times
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 13 states including Utah have passed laws to punish “revenge porn” in the past two years.
      
Some NC legislators want redistricting pens out of their own hands; GOP senators not persuaded
The Republic
Twenty-one states have redistricting commissions that draw maps or advises lawmakers on boundaries, or have commissions if lawmakers can't agree on how to draw maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
     
Cross-State Health Plans Prove Popular But Unsuccessful
Governing
Benning won’t be the only legislator pushing out-of-state insurance plans this year. Republican state Sen. Andy Sanborn in nearby New Hampshire has already filed his own bill, which goes farther than other state's efforts to reduce regulation for out-of-state policies, and neither Benning nor Sanborn is likely to be alone this year. At least 22 out-of-state insurance bills were filed in statehouses last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Critics say state licensing requirements have gone too far
TucsonSentinel.com/Stateline
Jeanne Mejeur, a senior research analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), said most states have separate licensing boards for each occupation. But while in some states applicants are required to take exams and meet stringent requirements, in others they only have to register.
      
Millennials More Likely to Vote If Given Online, by Phone Options
Newsmax.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures says no states are mulling proposals to take balloting entirely online. Exceptions include Alaska, which first let voters submit ballots online in 2012. The Hill reported only a small percentage took advantage.
      
Lawmaker calls for federal balanced budget amendment
seattlepi.com
He also said he thinks Montana's balanced budget amendment works even if it sometimes means a good bill dies. Most states have balanced budget requirements with varying degrees of stringency, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Missouri lawmakers express support for ethics proposals
Kansas City Star
Thirty-two states have laws imposing some type of waiting period before legislators can return as lobbyists after they leave office, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Missouri, former legislators often return to Jefferson City as lobbyists.
     
EDITORIAL: US needs more progress for undocumented students' education
The Oracle
As for financial aid, resources are slim. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, undocumented students cannot receive federal financial aid, and only five states offer them state financial aid.

Feb. 3

What's a Data Breach? It Depends on the State
Roll Call
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws dealing with data breach notification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
California was the first state to enact such a law in 2002, according to Pam Greenberg at the NCSL. The 2005 ChoicePoint data breach — which affected 163,000 consumers — spurred a number of additional state laws, according to Greenberg. She said 22 states enacted laws just that year.
 
Identity Theft: Is a Federal Standard Really the Answer?
Roll Call
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books requiring companies to notify consumers in the event of a data breach involving personally identifiable information, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only South Dakota, Alabama and New Mexico lack such laws.
 
FCC Moves to Implement Obama's Plan for Government-Run Internet Service
National Journal
In a statement, the National Conference of State Legislatures urged the FCC to "recognize and account for the principles of federalism and numerous decisions by the United States Supreme Court with regard to the relationship between the state and its political subdivisions." The group vowed to file a legal challenge against any effort by the federal government to authorize local broadband.
 
Wyoming House approves bill allowing guns in schools
Yahoo News/Reuters
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven states now have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public college and university campuses - Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin, because of recent state legislation and court decisions.
 
Draw NC legislative districts without politics? Talks underway
News & Observer
Thirteen states now have independent redistricting commissions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Three others have commissions that advise their legislatures and five more have a designated backup group to handle redistricting if lawmakers can’t agree. NCSL elections program manager Wendy Underhill said that “independent” is the eye of the beholder. “Each (state’s) commission is designed different, and partisan interests are hard to keep separate,” she said.
 
Bill ending straight-ticket voting could go to House Tuesday
West Virginia MetroNews
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, West Virginia is one of 11 states still offering straight-ticket voting, also called straight-party voting. The others are Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
 
Missouri lawmakers express support for ethics proposals
Kansas City Star
Thirty-two states have laws imposing some type of waiting period before legislators can return as lobbyists after they leave office, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Missouri, former legislators often return to Jefferson City as lobbyists.

Feb. 2

ABC expert: 19 states now allow personal exemption for measles vaccine
PolitiFact/Tampa Bay Times
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden said on ABC’s This Week that "study after study" has shown there are no long-term hazards with vaccines even though pockets of the population are unwilling to get them. ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser lamented how there was once a time where the only children who wouldn’t get vaccinated had immunity issues. Documenting the state-by-state situation is a simple task, so we’ll handle that first. Information compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, among other sources, backs up Besser’s point.
 
Sexism at top shows Albany dysfunction
Buffalo News
Progress has been slow. New York, where women make up 23.9 percent of the State Legislature, is just about average, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Even the state with the highest percentage of female legislators, Colorado, has only 42 percent, and that’s partly a function of its smaller Legislature.
 
Same-sex marriage, other social issues return to NC legislative agenda
Charlotte Observer
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina is among a half-dozen, mostly Southern, states with similar proposals. They’ve come since a series of court decisions have helped spread legalized gay marriage across the country. Now 36 states and the District of Columbia allow such marriages. More than seven in 10 Americans live in places that allow it.
 
On social media, few rules for politicians
Columbus Dispatch
But developing a social-media ethics policy is no easy task. Most states do not have one. Use of Twitter and Facebook by public officials is comparatively new, so states are just now figuring out how to approach it, said Peggy Kerns, director of the Center for Ethics in Government at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“These things often get raised up when there are incidents that bring it to the attention of the body,” she said.
 
National free market groups ask states to follow West Virginia energy standard repeal
Daily Journal
Twenty-nine states have renewable energy standards, while nine have less binding goals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
ND lawmakers to mull bipartisan medical pot measure
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 23 states have laws allowing medical marijuana.
 
Tanja's memorial: Proposed law would define killing a police dog as murder
Chattanooga Times Free Press
It's difficult to say whether this type of law exists or has been attempted elsewhere. A spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures said he didn't have any information about dog murders. Neither did a national spokeswoman for The Humane Society.
 
Women will guide Oregon Legislature in 2015
Statesman Journal
Oregon generally has more women involved in politics than elsewhere, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Capitol likely to remain open to guns
Livingston Daily
The National Conference of State Legislatures said Michigan is one of about a dozen states where statute allows residents to openly carry firearms without banning guns in the statehouse. And state officials said that's unlikely to change,

Missouri lawmakers reject pay raise
STLtoday.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures examined lawmakers’ pay in all 50 states for 2009. The average pay for legislators who said they spent more than two-thirds of a full-time job being legislators — the category Missouri fell in — was $43,429. However, that list included states such as Hawaii and New Jersey, where the cost of living is much higher. Missouri has the 16th lowest cost of living in the country, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.
 
Might legislators cut own pay? Analyst says maybe, but it will be late in game
Illinois News Network
Only California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania pay their legislators higher base salaries, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Scott Walker Proposes Drug Testing for Low Income Residents Needing Public Assistance
Milwaukee Courier Weekly Newspaper
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reported that at least 12 states have passed laws regarding drug testing for public assistance applicants. The states include: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah. In Florida, the law was found unconstitutional because it violates the 4th amendment which protects citizens against unreasonable searches. The District Court issued a final judgement in Dec 2013, which permanently stopped enforcement of the law.
 
NH Bill Allows for Concealed Guns Without License
Valley News
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Wyoming and Vermont all have a “constitutional carry” law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Vermont has a low level of crime, which the bill’s supporters say is linked to the state’s participation in constitutional carry.