NCSL in the News | January 2015

1/2/2015

Jan. 30

New Hampshire bill would remove license for concealed guns
Washington Times
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.
      
What the CBO's Latest Predictions Mean for States and Localities
Governing
House Speaker John Boehner is pushing an alternate idea that would tax Internet purchases at the sales tax rate in the seller's home state instead of the buyer's, as the MFA does. The National Conference of State Legislatures has already fired off a blistery letter to the Speaker, panning the idea as "unclear, unconstitutional [and] riddled with loopholes." But at a minimum, the idea of taxing Internet sales will get far more airtime in the House this session.
 
Arizona Tries to Contain Measles Outbreak Days Before Super Bowl
Bloomberg
While most states permit religious exemptions from vaccine requirements, 19 states also have so-called philosophical exemptions, including Arizona and California, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Texting ban for drivers needs update
Bellingham Herald
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 44 states have banned text messaging for drivers and at least 12 states including Washington have gone further to ban hand-held phone use by all drivers. Other states prohibit cell use by young drivers, school bus drivers or have taken other steps, but no state has banned all cell use by drivers.
      
RI high school dropout rate down, grad rate up
Providence Eyewitness News
As of 2012, 22 states required students to stay in school until they turn 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Mo. lawmakers reject pay raise
STLtoday.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures broke down lawmakers' pay in all 50 states for 2009. The average pay for legislators that spent more than two-thirds of a full time job being legislators -- a category Missouri falls under -- was $43,429. However, that list includes 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.

Jan. 29

Decaying U.S. Roads Attract Funds From KKR to DoubleLine
Bloomberg
More states will probably consider the contracts in 2015 amid concern that federal funding will fall short and as gasoline-tax receipts for projects decline, said Jim Reed, a transportation analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.
      
Calif. school releases students unvaccinated for measles
USA TODAY
All states grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, such as immune deficiencies. And all states except Mississippi and West Virginia grant exemptions based on religious objections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.          
      
Why this baby's mom is so angry at the anti-vaxxers
Washington Post
All states permit parents to choose not to vaccinate their public school children for legitimate medical reasons, such as anaphylactic allergic response, a life-threatening allergic reaction. All but two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, allow religious exemptions. And 19 states let parents to opt-out for philosophical reasons, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
These States Are Actually Considering Ways To Make Voting More Convenient
Huffington Post
Last cycle's voter turnout, about 36 percent, was estimated to be the lowest since 1940, but changes that could make voting more convenient -- like online registration -- might help mitigate some of the barriers from laws that restrict access. Twenty states of varying political inclinations offered online registration as of December, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
E-Cigarettes Pose Major Public Health Concern, California Says
Bloomberg
At least 41 states prohibit sales of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have enacted bans on e-cigarette smoking in public places where traditional cigarettes aren’t allowed.
      
Schwarzenegger muscles into Arizona redistricting suit
azcentral.com
The Arizona Legislature's allies are the National Conference of State Legislatures, which represents lawmakers across the country, and the Coolidge-Reagan Foundation, a political free-speech group. The National Conference of State Legislatures argues Arizona is nearly alone in cutting lawmakers almost completely out of the redistricting process. "State legislatures consider the redistricting process a core legislative function expressly delegated to them by our Founding Fathers," the brief says.      

Andreatta: Silver scandal is a golden opportunity
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state governments, considers New York to be one of three states whose legislatures require the time commitment of a demanding full-time job.
 
Bicycle safety legislation again stalls in House committee
Daily Republic
There are 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, with a 3-foot cushion law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
      
Schism over 'religious expression' bill
Macon Telegraph
If there is any national organization unifying the push among the states, it’s not known to Jon Griffin, a policy expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan research center in Colorado.
      
Our Opinion: LRC audit finally out; legislators can't stall
Hopkinsville Kentucky 
The report outlines a study conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which was prompted by complaints that then-Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis, sexually harassed three LRC staff members. In addition, critics have said the LRC and the General Assembly failed to protect staffers from sexual harassment.
                       
Voter ID bill in Senate
Charleston Daily Mail
The NCSL basically divides voter ID states into a few different categories. You can view a nifty map to see which states fall into which categories. The NCSL looks at whether or not someone is allowed to vote without an ID and if they are required to return with some sort of idenfication after voting.
 
Bill would eliminate straight-ticket voting
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.

Jan. 28

US state lawmakers slam attempt at online sales tax law
Reuters
The National Conference of State Legislatures on Tuesday released a letter it sent to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Monday that depicted a proposed online sales tax bill as an unconstitutional attack on states' rights.

State Group Calls House Online Sales Tax Plan 'Offensive,' Unconstitutional
CQ
The criticism from the National Conference of State Legislatures directed at the plan by House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., displays a divide over a national online sales tax mandate that many states consider a high priority but which anti-tax activists strongly oppose.
 
States Six Times More Productive Than Congress
CQ Roll Call
“Congress hasn’t been very productive, but that’s just not the case in the states,” said Max Behlke, manager of state and federal relations at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “States don’t have the flexibility to kick the can down the road. They have balanced budget amendments and things they actually have to address.”
 
These States Are Actually Considering Ways To Make Voting More Convenient
Huffington Post
Last cycle's voter turnout, about 36 percent, was estimated to be the lowest since 1940, but changes that could make voting more convenient -- like online registration -- might help mitigate some of the barriers from laws that restrict access. Twenty states of varying political inclinations offered online registration as of December, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
N.Y. Pension Pays $708 Million to Florida Retirees: Muni Credit
Bloomberg
Almost all states have enacted tweaks to their plans since 2009 to cut costs and ensure adequate contributions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Draft review of LRC shows problems
Glasgow Daily Times
But a draft review of the Legislative Research Commission by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which made those findings, also concludes it would be a “costly and disruptive mistake” to move from a non-partisan staffing philosophy to separate, partisan staffs for the House and Senate.
 
Legislative leaders' poor management; Staff dysfunction caused by neglect
Lexington Herald Leader
Leadership at the Legislative Research Commission, whose staff drafts the laws we live by in Kentucky, systematically wrecked a cardinal law of management: the rule of no surprises. A report on the LRC released late Monday describes a place where an official information vacuum gave rise to a communication maze that is "inefficient, irregular, subject to error" and doesn't reach all employees.
 
States Take the Lead on Transportation Fund Reform
The Heartland Institute
Surveys conducted by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures show that state governments have become laboratories for fiscal innovation.
 
Lawmaker revives bid to add right to hunt, fish to Arizona Constitution
Cronkite News
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.
 
Rep. April Weaver becomes first woman to chair health committee in Alabama House
AL.com
In addition to serving as the health committee's chairwoman, Weaver was recently appointed as a vice chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures' Health and Human Services Committee. And last week she was appointed Alabama's state director of the national nonprofit Women in Government organization.
 
EDITORIAL: Parents need trigger law to hold low-performing schools accountable
Las Vegas Review-Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, parent trigger laws have been enacted in seven states. Most share common provisions. First, they allow parents to petition to take action against a school that has not met certain performance standards.
 
What you need to know about medical marijuana legislation
LancasterOnline
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia now have broader laws on medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Numerous other states are considering it.
 
3-foot bicycle safety margin again stalls in Pierre
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
There are 25 states, plus the District of Columbia, with a 3-foot cushion law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 27

What's Really Behind the Measles Outbreak
US News and World Report 
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states that do not allow religious exemptions for vaccinations. Nineteen states allow students to skip vaccines for philosophical objections, which include "moral, philosophical or other personal beliefs." Some states require vaccines only for public school students, while others require them for both public and private schools.
 
States threaten lawsuit against Obama's municipal broadband plan
PC World
Speakers on Monday’s call, which also included representatives of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association, said they would be forced to file a lawsuit if the FCC preempts state law on municipal broadband. If the states don’t act, that could embolden the FCC or other federal agencies to preempt state laws, they said.
 
New recommendations for medical marijuana cheer Utah parents of epileptic kids
Salt Lake Tribune
Nationwide, medical marijuana for adults is legal in 23 states, and several allow it for children under certain circumstances, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Denver Broncos Don’t Want Powdered Alcohol Legal In Colorado
CBS-Denver
Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont have already banned powdered alcohol, and a handful of other states are considering following suit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Transportation taxes
Atlanta Journal Constitution 
Some of the lost revenue can be recouped through a combination of higher gas and cigarette taxes and closing special-interest loopholes. But most of the drop in revenue should be covered by simply limiting the rate of spending increases. Fiscal conservatives know spending increases should be tied not to increases in tax receipts, but to the rate of inflation and population growth. Thirty states have adopted such limits on spending, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Georgia, too, should adopt this wise practice.
 
Stumbo Will Ask For the Release of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission Audit
WFPL - Kentucky
In a statement Friday, Stumbo said he’ll motion for the release of the audit report, which was conducted last year by the National Conference of Legislatures.
 
Michigan road funding: Ballot proposal would trigger new fees for electric, hybrid vehicles
MLive.com
At least five states — Colorado, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington — have already adopted EV surcharges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and others were considering the idea in 2014.
 
Republican senator files bill to expand medicinal marijuana laws
Local 10
Recreational marijuana is now legal in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., after voters in those states approved ballot measures legalizing the drug. A medical marijuana initiative, however, failed in Florida. Take a look at which states allow recreational and medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 26

Heroin deaths spur action by leaders in Virginia, Maryland
The News Journal/Washington Post
In 2013, Maryland lawmakers passed legislation that allowed medics and other first responders to administer naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia have done the same, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; Virginia lawmakers will consider a similar law this session.
 
Voter ID Debate in New Mexico Takes High-Tech Turn
ABC News
Nearly three dozen states already have some form of voter ID requirements. But out of the hundreds of election-related pieces of legislation introduced in statehouses across the country so far this year, New Mexico is the only one considering any type of biometric voter ID measure. "Voter ID is a perennial question," said Wendy Underhill with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "The idea about working with biometrics is a relatively new idea."
 
House speaker pledges to seek release of LRC audit done in response to scandals
Lexington Herald Leader
The LRC is the bureaucracy that runs the state's legislative branch. In late 2013, legislative leaders gave a $42,410 contract to the National Conference of State Legislatures to audit the agency's performance in response to several scandals, including sexual harassment complaints that forced the resignation of state Rep. John Arnold, D-Sturgis.
 
Have Democrats lost 900 seats in state legislatures since Obama has been president?
Tampa Bay Times
We took a state-by-state look of lost seats from the best source available, the National Conference of State Legislatures. Using the group’s data, we compared the number of Democratic seats in early 2009, when Obama took office, to the number of seats after the 2014 midterms.
 
Once again, legislators threaten voters' rights
Sacramento Bee (blog)
The National Conference of State Legislatures has joined with the Arizona Legislature, filing a brief urging that the justices return to legislators the power that, in the conference’s view, is rightfully theirs. “The principle that redistricting is primarily the province of state legislatures is so fundamental that courts defer to legislative determinations regarding districting whenever possible,” the conference’s brief says.
 
Alabama Drone Task Force's recommendations limited
Montgomery Advertiser
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states have passed legislation dealing with drone use; 10 states passed legislation in 2014 on the issue. Most of the bills dealt with public use of drones, and required law enforcement to obtain warrants before deploying drones; Iowa banned the use of drones in the enforcement of traffic laws.
 
Lawmaker revising Arizona's 'revenge porn' law after suit
SFGate/Associated Press
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states have adopted revenge-porn laws in the last two years, but most are very narrowly written. The Arizona law is the only one that has been challenged by the ACLU.

Right to hunt
Hays Daily News
We are unsure why these recreational activities should deserve more protection than playing golf or watching football on television, but Kansas would not be the first state to give hallowed status to hunting and fishing. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states already have this right enshrined in their constitutions.

Proposal would add 'vaping' from e-cigarettes to Wisconsin's indoor smoking ban
Minneapolis Star Tribune
North Dakota, New Jersey and Utah have banned vaping indoors in public spaces. Fifteen other states limit cigarettes in some areas, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin is among them. The Village of Ashwaubenon, just south of Green Bay; Greenfield, a suburb of Milwaukee; and Onalaska, a suburb of La Crosse, have already banned indoor vaping.
 
Nebraska could require carbon monoxide detectors in homes
seattlepi.com
Nebraska would join 29 other states that require carbon monoxide detectors in certain residential buildings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Requirements vary by state.
 
Colorado GOP backers fret fate of bill to ban powdered alcohol
The Denver Post
Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont have banned powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Ohio considered but didn't pass bills in last year's session.
 
El Paso County DHS to require drug testing, rehab for some clients to continue benefits
Colorado Springs Gazette
As of late December, 12 states had passed laws requiring welfare recipients or applicants to undergo drug testing or screening, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Proposed Bill Could Require Photo ID Before Casting Ballot
NBC Nebraska
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states have already passed laws like this.

Jan. 23

Schools can require students to hand over their social media passwords under Illinois law
Washington Post 
Legislation prohibiting schools from accessing information about students’ social media was introduced in Hawaii, Indiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Rhode Island last year, and at least 28 states have introduced or have pending legislation regarding employer access to social media usernames and passwords as of November, the National Conference of State Legislatures found.
 
Wisconsin Governor Touts Drug Testing for Aid Recipients
ABC News
Eleven states already require drug testing of at least some welfare recipients, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. And four states require drug-testing of at least some people filing for unemployment compensation.
 
New Maryland governor wants to close budget gap with spending cuts
Reuters
The measures were not enough. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported on Wednesday that a "downward revenue revision of nearly $200 million and estimated spending shortfalls of nearly $300 million in the current year place the state in an estimated negative cash position of $291 million." 
 
Ind. House education chair forms education lobby firm
Indianapolis Star
Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has made ethics reform a centerpiece of the House Republican agenda this session. He also called in the director of the National Conference of State Legislature's ethics program to run a one-hour training program with lawmakers last week.
 
Washington Insight Column: Utah one of three states Obama hasn't visited
Salt Lake Tribune
If we needed to give Obama a reason to visit Utah, here are a few: Gov. Gary Herbert is the vice chairman of the National Governors Association, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is president of the National League of Cities and Sen. Curt Bramble is the president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Wisconsin governor touts drug testing for aid recipients
The San Luis Obispo Tribune/Reuters
Eleven states already require drug testing of at least some welfare recipients, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. And four states require drug-testing of at least some people filing for unemployment compensation.
 
House majority may give GOP advantage in passing bills
New Mexico In Depth
Nationally, 20 percent of bills introduced in state legislatures in 2013 were passed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That year, 18.3 percent of New Mexico’s bills passed both chambers and became law after winning the governor's signature.
 
Are plastics harming us?
Indianapolis Recorder
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, since 2009, the District of Columbia and 12 states, excluding Indiana, have enacted restrictions on BPA.
 
Bill would make drinking by passengers in car illegal
The Tennessean
Passing the law is going to save lives and bring more money to Tennessee, he said. Tennessee, along with every state but Mississippi, already outlaws any drinking by the driver of a car. But it's one of seven states — including Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Rhode Island and Virginia — that doesn't specifically outlaw alcohol for passengers, according to a 2013 analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Texas Legislators Looking to Protect the 'Right to Hunt and Fish'
Breitbart News
There are currently eighteen other states that have this type of protections for their citizens embedded in their state constitutions. Vermont’s protection dates back to 1777 according to an article by Douglas Shinkle published in the National Conference of State Legislators. Seventeen of the eighteen states added an amendment with voter approval. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. California and Rhode Island only guarantee the right to fish. They do not include the right to hunt. These measures were approved after 1996.
 
California Lawmakers Proposed 72 ACA-Related Bills in 2014
California Healthline
California was one of five states last year where lawmakers introduced at least 50 bills related to the Affordable Care Act, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Center for Public Integrity reports (Schulte, Center for Public Integrity, 1/21).

Jan. 22

At least six US states expect to miss revenue targets: report
Yahoo News/Reuters
Most U.S. states expect to hit their revenue targets this fiscal year, but at least six states say they could fall short, the National Conference of State Legislatures said on Wednesday.
 
New York Joins E-Cigarette Regulation Push as Cuomo Backs Bans
Businessweek
States are ushering in regulations for the $3 billion U.S. e-cigarette market, a growing business for tobacco makers. At least 41 states, including New York, prohibit sales to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
South Carolina governor seeks major tax cut, takes swipe at labor
Reuters
A report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures on Wednesday found South Carolina's current personal income and general sales tax collections meeting forecasts that had recently been raised. Altogether, the state's "revenue growth is slow and steady," according to the report.
 
Measles outbreak raises question of vaccine exemptions
USA TODAY
All states grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, such as immune deficiencies. And all states except Mississippi and West Virginia grant exemptions based on religious objections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Another political storm gathering over the Capitol: Right-To-Work debate could come soon
fox6now.com
Four years after the epic budget battle, another political storm is gathering over the state Capitol in Madison. “Right-To-Work” is shorthand for a business-friendly law which “prohibits unions at private companies from requiring workers to pay fees for representation.” According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states have “Right-To-Work” laws.
 
Hundreds of Anti-Obamacare Bills Filed in State Legislatures
Newsmax.com
Nationally, more than 700 bills related to Obamacare were filed in state legislatures either in 2014 or carried over from 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and in five states, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, and Washington, 50 or more bills were filed in each state. "The number of bills is remarkable," said NCSL health legislation expert Richard Cauchi, noting that it's not yet clear how many of those bills will come out again this year. But he and other experts do not expect the trend to change. 
 
Lawmakers consider allowing Montana voters to elect US senators during vacancies
Daily Journal
The U.S. Constitution gives states the ability to choose how to fill vacancies in the U.S. Senate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four states prohibit the governor from making an interim U.S. Senate appointment, requiring instead that the seat remain vacant until a regular or special election is held.
 
State Representative proposes lowering hunting age
WCSH-TV
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states either have a lower or no minimum age requirement for hunters.

Jan. 21

Anti-Dream Act bill fails in Virginia Senate
Washington Post
At least 18 states have laws allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state college tuition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lawsuits in California and Kansas brought by out-of-state students on the basis of the 1996 law have failed. However, in 2004, a Virginia federal judge wrote that in his opinion the law did call for in-state tuition to be granted to all citizens in such a case.
 
Senator Althoff elected Past President of National Conference of State Legislatures
Chicago Tribune
Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) was recently elected at the National Conference of State Legislatures' (NCSL) Executive Committee meeting to fill an unexpired vacancy as Immediate Past President.
 
Top of Mind Issues for Main Street Ahead of SOTU
Fox Business
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia will see wage hikes this year, higher than the federal minimum wage. Here’s a roundup from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota approved wage increases through ballot measures in the midterm elections in November. Voters in Illinois OK’ed an advisory measure.
 
War Over Obamacare Heats Up In States
NPR
Some states saw 50 or more health bills each, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL. It's not yet clear how many will be reconsidered in 2015 — many states are just kicking off their legislative sessions— but few expect any substantial retreat from the battlefront.
 
Is Vermont's Focus on Fighting Drug Addiction Working?
Governing
Take drug overdose immunity -- or “Good Samaritan” -- laws, for example. Twenty-two states have enacted some form of immunity law, which shields users and the people with them from arrest when calling 911 in the event of an overdose, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most states, immunity only extends to possession and other low-level crimes, but Vermont’s law shields people from being charged with manufacturing or selling drugs when seeking medical assistance for an overdose.
 
New rules help Illinois collect out-of-state sales taxes
Quincy Journal/Associated Press
A National Conference of State Legislatures report found unpaid sales taxes in Illinois accounted for an estimated $1 billion in 2012.
 
States Expected To Take (Slow) Lead Mandating IRAs For Small Employers
Financial Advisor
Roughly a half a dozen state legislatures have considered bills for mandatory auto-enrollment IRAs for small private employers during each of the last two years, National Conference of State Legislatures retirement policy expert Luke Martel said.
 
GOP-backed bill would end straight-ticket voting option
Indianapolis Business Journal
Only 12 states allow or offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The practice has been declining in availability over the past decade.
 
Governor's inauguration, opening day tests new security in Hartford
West Hartford News
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are metal detectors installed at 23 state Capitols, including those in New York and Massachusetts. Some screen all visitors with the metal detectors, while some — like California — exempt state employees and legislators.

Jan. 20

Chris Christie revives plan for school vouchers in run-up to 2016 decision
Forbes
Some of Christie’s possible competitors are governors who hail from states with vibrant school voucher programs: Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mike Pence of Indiana and (former governors) Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitch Daniels of Indiana. Those are among the 13 states and the District of Columbia that offer vouchers of one kind or another, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Obama criticizes state laws that hurt broadband competition
Associated Press
The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have urged the FCC not to pre-empt state laws on broadband.
 
Democratic-Dominated Cities Pass Measures That Could Conflict With State Laws
The Huffington Post /Stateline
A growing number of cities also are enacting their own minimum wage laws, even when states have boosted theirs beyond the federal level. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wage laws that set a higher rate than the federal $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Nearly half were enacted during 2014, either by legislatures or ballot issues.
 
Cuomo Proposes Raising NY Minimum Wage to $10.50 an Hour
Businessweek
The minimum wage rose in twenty states from Hawaii to Connecticut on Jan. 1 after voters approved ballot measures and legislatures enacted laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In nine of the states, the lowest pay increased because of indexing to inflation. Washington has the highest among states with an hourly rate of $9.47.
 
Disneyland measles outbreak continues to spread
USA TODAY
All states require vaccination before beginning public school, but 48 states grant religious exemptions and 19 states allow kids to skip vaccines for philosophical reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State Senate bans openly carried guns in public gallery
The Seattle Times
The National Conference of State Legislatures in 2009 studied which state capitols had firearm restrictions.
 
State goes after unpaid sales taxes
The State Journal
Illinois is hardly alone in attempting to resolve a tax-collection issue that eventually must be settled at the federal level, said Max Behlke, manager of state and federal relations for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington. “States have tried a lot of things,” Behlke said. “Most have received no revenue, and some have lost revenue.” 
 
Bill would end straight-ticket voting option in Indiana
Indianapolis Star
Only 12 states allow or offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The practice has been declining in availability over the past decade.
 
NH Legislature to consider tripling funds for research and development business tax credit
Concord Monitor
At least 28 states offer a tax credit for research and development expenses, said Heather Morton of the National Conference of State Legislatures, but none that she is aware of holds such an explicit cap on how much an applicant can receive.
 
Washington lawmakers push for higher minimum wage
Capital Press
Washington’s minimum wage increased Jan. 1 by 15 cents to $9.47, the highest in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The wage is adjusted each year based on inflation.
 
Virginia's minimum wage back in cross hairs
The Virginian-Pilot
Twenty states enacted their own minimum-wage increases this month. With the recent changes, 29 states have minimums surpassing the federal requirement, up from 23 last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
We don't need guns on college campuses
The News-Press
This type of legislation certainly isn't new for Florida or for other states. Seven states allow for concealed permit weapons on campuses, while 20 states have bans on concealed weapons on campuses, and for 23 others, the decision is up to the institutions, according to a 2014 overview by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Disease that killed Becky Lockhart has 'relentless progression'
Salt Lake Tribune
Back in late November and early December, when Lockhart believed she just had a persistent ear infection, she traveled to Arizona and then Washington, D.C., for events with the National Conference of State Legislatures. While in D.C., she met with some of Utah's members of Congress, like Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
 
Debate begins on right-to-work laws in NM
Albuquerque Journal
The first right-to-work laws were passed in the 1940s and 1950s, primarily in Southern states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Dems seek minimum-wage hike
Dubuque Telegraph Herald
Democrats have introduced minimum-wage legislation in the past few sessions with little success, but lawmakers say this year could be different, given the national momentum. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have a minimum wage higher than the federal standard, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and more than 20 of those wage hikes took effect Jan. 1 through ballot measures, new laws and indexed increases.
 
Here's why your state may be expanding religious freedom protections this year

Deseret News
"We anticipate an uptick in state legislation this year regarding state RFRAs," said Jonathan Griffin, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. "There's been greater attention paid to the topic this year in light of the (Supreme Court's) Hobby Lobby decision, and that would be my guess as to why."
 
Ebola scare prompts quarantine bill at Legislature
Post-Bulletin
The legislation would provide the most sweeping protections for quarantined individuals in the nation, according to Doug Farquhar, National Conference of State Legislatures' program director for environmental health. Seven states prohibit individuals from being fired from their jobs if they are placed in quarantine. Minnesota is not one of them.

Annual sessions, direct checks to residents floated
Jamestown Sun
Oregon was the last state to switch from biennial to annual regular sessions, in 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Business investors watch Georgia's cannabis debate
Macon Telegraph
No state Legislature has yet legalized recreational cannabis; in the four states where it’s allowed, it’s because of statewide votes, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Voters in four states have given the OK for adult recreational use of cannabis: Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
 
No shortage of proposals to revamp MNsure
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“There are a number of states where either by documented shortcomings or structural experience, people are saying: We should look at doing something different,” said Richard Cauchi, who follows health insurance issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “However, there is no one option that states are considering.”

Jan. 16

States, Retailers Object to Goodlatte Online Sales Tax Plan
CQ Roll Call
"We are against this legislation as it is currently drafted," said Max Behlke, head of state and federal relations for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "This is congressional preemption. It tells states they can't raise revenue in the way that they want to." 
 
Arkansas panel reviewing salaries sets benchmark states
Washington Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, legislators in Oklahoma make $38,400 a year. Annual salaries are $35,915 in Missouri, $25,000 in Iowa, $22,800 in Louisiana and $20,203 in Tennessee, according to the conference.
 
New York AG Proposes 'Strongest' Data Security Law in U.S.
Bloomberg
Almost all states, including New York, have laws in place requiring companies to notify consumers when sensitive data is breached, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of those laws are designed to protect only certain kinds of personal data such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license or state identification numbers, according to the organization.
 
Roundup: Data Breach Notification, Cybersecurity and Broadband
Roll Call 
Seth Rosenblatt at CNET reports on reaction from outside groups and the current landscape of state laws: “While 47 states have laws requiring companies to at least notify consumers of security breaches involving their personal information, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the similarities often end there.”
 
Block and Tackle
ABC News
Only three states — California, New Jersey and Rhode Island — offer paid family and medical leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Maine to Test Some Welfare Recipients for Drugs
TIME
The state is one 18 across the country that has enacted some form of legislation calling for drug testing for welfare recipients, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Such policies, while politically popular in some areas, have been criticized as bad regulations that are potentially unconstitutional.
 
Democratic-Dominated Cities Pass Measures That Could Conflict With State Laws
Huffington Post/Stateline
A growing number of cities also are enacting their own minimum wage laws, even when states have boosted theirs beyond the federal level. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wage laws that set a higher rate than the federal $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Nearly half were enacted during 2014, either by legislatures or ballot issues.
 
House ethics measure addresses trio of scandals
Indianapolis Star
He said that an ethics seminar with a National Conference of State Legislatures expert Wednesday did help show lawmakers about problems raised by even the appearance of an ethics problem.
 
Curt Bramble: State lawmakers push for marketplace fairness
Daily Herald (NCSL Cited)
Gridlock in Washington has stymied efforts by conservatives to enact pro-growth tax reform and other policy initiatives that would help shrink the size of government and grow the private sector economy. But at the state level it’s a different story. Conservative governors and state legislatures are leading the charge to cut taxes and promote free markets as an elixir for the partisanship and red tape that seem to be the two major exports from our nation’s capital.
 
GOP-led plan: End one-click straight ticket
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
Only 12 states allow or offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It has been declining in popularity over the past decade.
 
State lawmakers eye expanding religious freedom protections
Oklahoma News
"We anticipate an uptick in state legislation this year regarding state RFRAs," said Jonathan Griffin, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. "There's been greater attention paid to the topic this year in light of the (Supreme Court's) Hobby Lobby decision, and that would be my guess as to why."
 
Kris Kobach proposes bills to return straight-ticket voting, change election-withdraw procedure
Kansas.com
Twelve states currently offer straight-ticket voting, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

Jan. 15

JPMorgan Asked by States for Detail on 2014 Data Breach
Bloomberg
Currently, New York’s requirements only apply to certain combinations of information such as names and Social Security numbers. Most state laws governing notification of breaches contain similar restrictive provisions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Florida House panel to consider guns on campus
The News-Press
According to a 2014 overview by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states have bans on concealed weapons on college campuses. Florida is one of them. In 23 states the decision is left up to each individual college and university. Seven states allow concealed permit weapons on colleges.
 
Obama Pitching More Access to Fast Internet
New York Times
The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have urged the FCC not to pre-empt state laws on broadband.
 
Arkansas panel reviewing salaries sets benchmark states
Washington Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, legislators in Oklahoma make $38,400 a year. Annual salaries are $35,915 in Missouri, $25,000 in Iowa, $22,800 in Louisiana and $20,203 in Tennessee, according to the conference.
 
Mo. House Committee approves measure against legislative pay raise
STLtoday.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures broke down lawmakers' pay in all 50 states for 2009. The average pay for legislators that spent more than two-thirds of a full time job being legislators -- a category Missouri falls under -- was $43,429. However, that list includes 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.
 
Another view: Congress should follow Vermont's lead
Bennington Banner
If Congress were to enact a federal law for online sales tax, that could translate into another $23 billion in new annual revenue. Estimates from the National Conference of State Legislatures show Vermont would stand to collect an extra $44 million a year from an Internet sales tax.
 
Draft of report on Kentucky legislature remains untouched, unreleased after nine months
Lexington Herald Leader
Hoping to restore public confidence, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo gave a $42,410 contract to an outside group — the National Conference of State Legislatures — to perform a top-to-bottom performance audit of the $19-million-a-year LRC, the bureaucracy that runs the legislative branch of state government. The leaders pledged to publicly air and fix any problems identified.
 
Colorado lawmakers try again to ban traffic cameras
The Denver Post
Ten states prohibit the use of photo radar or red-light camera enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Colorado, ten cities use the traffic-enforcement cameras. A legislative analysis of the bill last year estimated that the cities would lose about $16.1 million in revenue from fines during the first year of a ban.

Jan. 14

Republicans have gained more than 900 state legislative seats
Washington Post
Now, there are more 7,000 state legislative seats in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which makes that 913 number slightly less eye popping. Still, the Democratic losses between 2010 and 2014 amount to 12 percent of all state legislative seats nationwide. As NCSL notes, Republicans now control over 4,100 seats  -- their highest number since 1920. After taking over 11 legislative chambers from Democrats in 2014, Republicans now control 30 state legislatures completely -- and have full control of state government (state legislature and governor) in 23 states.  Democrats, by contrast, have full control of 11 state legislatures and total control of state government in just seven states. (Click for an amazing NCSL chart detailing which side controls every state legislature.)
 
Washington Governor Seeks New Taxes as a Court Order Looms
New York Times
Court orders on education are common in state politics. Particularly since the 1990s, lawsuits have focused on state constitutions, which vary greatly in their requirements for education. Sixteen states, for example, simply require a system of free public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Klobuchar, Heitkamp Propose Bill to Support Sex Trafficking Victims
Valley News Live
The 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.
 
Maine Gov. LePage gets OK to begin drug testing some welfare applicants
The Republic
Federal law prohibits people from receiving welfare benefits if they have a prior drug felony conviction, but states can opt out of the ban, according to National Conference of State Legislatures. Maine is one of at least five states that allow those with prior convictions to receive benefits if they are drug tested, the group says.
 
Ethics issues loom over General Assembly's start
The Virginian-Pilot
Virginia is one of nine states without an independent commission to investigate ethics violations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The state received an F in a report card on ethics by the State Integrity Investigation, a partnership of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.
 
Sales tax changes are coming, sooner or later
The Tennessean
Regardless of what happened last year, the dynamics seem to point to eventual change. Beyond the lobbying of the retail federation, several states have pushed Congress to adopt the act, eager to bolster their coffers with new sales tax revenues. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that Tennessee lost $748 million in 2012 in uncollected sales tax from online sales of remote retailers; nationally, the estimate was $23 billion.
 
Pence surprises in State of the State address
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are three provisions that would count as having a balanced budget requirement. Indiana has one - a statutory provision that it cannot carry over a deficit into a new fiscal year.
 
Anchorage senator proposes hemp as agricultural crop
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states currently allow production of hemp in some capacity.
 
Legislature Group Recaps School Bus Stop Arm Video Laws
School Transportation News
The latest state to implement a law is South Carolina, where Gov. Nikki Haley signed SB 718 in June. Douglas Shinkle, program principal for NCLS, reported that the law allows a school bus to be equipped with a recording device that can capture a clear view of vehicles passing, the date and time of the infraction and an electronic symbol indicating activation of the amber lights, flashing red lights, stop arms and brakes.
 
Maryland family challenges state cap on damage awards
Baltimore Sun
Among the states that have caps, the top damage award can vary, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. For example, Delaware's cap is $300,000, but that can be exceeded when a local government buys outside insurance. Pennsylvania's cap is $500,000.

Jan. 13

You Already Have Fraud Protection Tools That Are Better Than the Ones Obama Proposed
TIME
Altogether, 47 states have laws governing how businesses must notify consumers of security breaches. Most states “require notification in the most expedient/expeditious time possible and without unreasonable delay,” says Pam Greenberg of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Exceptions include Florida, which requires notice within 30 days, and Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin, which require notice within 45 days, according to Greenberg.
 
Privacy advocates: A national data breach notification standard might actually make things worse
Washington Post
There are an awful lot of state level security breach notification laws -- 47 to be exact, plus separate ones by the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as of September, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But what the President calls a patchwork, many consumer privacy advocates see as a vital part of developing stronger protections. The state level, some experts say, is where the strongest protections currently exist and where new ones are now being created.
 
Despite Huge Victories, Republicans Face Some Obstacles
Huffington Post/Stateline
At least 18 states saw bills last year to require drug screening or testing of people to receive public assistance, and Alabama, Michigan and Mississippi passed legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More bills can be expected in Texas and other states this year. Twelve states have passed legislation in the last three years. But some have run into resistance. Florida’s law was halted by a district court judge who said it violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
 
States are assuming more responsibility for transportation funding
Washington Examiner
Surveys conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Center for Excellence in Project Finance have identified more than 30 states that have passed transportation-related fiscal initiatives in the past three years.
 
ND mulls measure for 911 callers reporting drug overdose
Washington Times
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 22 states have enacted some form of a drug immunity law.  
 
Scholarship tax credit bill back on the table in Nebraska Legislature
Omaha World-Herald
Because so many other states already have charters, the focus of choice efforts nationally this year will be on tuition scholarships, vouchers and tax credits, said Michelle Exstrom, education program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Education ruling a major hurdle for Legislature
Yakima Herald-Republic
The state’s battle over education is one of several brewing across the country. Just last month, a Kansas court ruled that state’s school funding plan was inadequate and unconstitutional, miring the state in a potential fiscal dilemma. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states, including Washington, have ongoing or recently resolved education finance litigation.
 
ND legislator offers bill to allow driverless car testing in state
Prairie Business
More than a dozen states have mulled legislation paving the way for the cars, and four states and the District of Columbia have enacted it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Ethics, drones, CVTC among issues on the table for local legislators
Lynchburg News and Advance
To date, 19 states have authorized hemp production, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
NM lawmakers to mull hemp legislation
Las Cruces Sun-News
The 2014 Farm Bill included a provision that allows institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hem According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states, including California and Colorado, have laws to provide for hemp pilot studies or for production.

Pre-filed bill aims to make industrial hemp a cash crop in Alaska
Alaska Dispatch
Should the bill become law, Alaska would join 19 other states that allow the production of hemp in some capacity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 12

States passed 171 immigration laws last year
Washington Post
Last year, 43 state legislatures and D.C. enacted 171 immigration laws and 117 resolutions. That’s a 7.5 percent decline from 2013, when states passed 185 laws, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers consider 'hybrid-origin sourcing' for sales taxes
New Orleans City Business 
A public hearing in New Orleans today examines the potential effects of collecting sales taxes at the location of the seller rather than at the consumer level.
 
Abortion Restrictions Pick Up Steam in GOP-Led States
Wall Street Journal
In the midterm elections, Republicans, many backed by antiabortion groups, took the majority in 11 legislative chambers previously held by Democrats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The GOP now controls 68 chambers, versus 30 for Democrats.
 
As White House defends unions, states go on the attack
Al Jazeera America
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that 11 legislative chambers flipped from Democratic to Republican majorities as a result of the past election.
 
Idaho Could Legalize One Form Of Medical Marijuana
Boise State Public Radio
Eleven states have passed similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The majority apply only to patients with what's known as “intractable epilepsy,” a form that's difficult to treat.
 
Grand Forks legislators handle additional role in different ways
Grand Forks Herald
North Dakota allows for legislators to earn a monthly lodging reimbursement up to 30 times 70 percent of the daily lodging rate, according to the NCSL. That was around $1,500 a month in 2013, according to the NCSL.
 
From state job to lobbying gig? Officials want 'cooling-off' year first
The Seattle Times
At least 32 states have cooling-off periods of a year or more for state legislators and some other public employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Similar restrictions apply to members of Congress and their staffs.
 
April Weaver appointed to National Health and Human Services Committee
Clanton Advertiser
Rep. April Weaver has been appointed to serve as a national Vice Chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Health and Human Services Committee. 
 
Bill would streamline SC medical facility building program
Charlotte Observer
Since then, more than a dozen states have repealed their certificate of need programs. Regulations vary widely among remaining states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Delegate signs on as co-patron on bill to legalize hemp production
Lynchburg News and Advance
To date, 19 states have put laws on the books authorizing hemp production, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Online voter registration getting new look
Sharonherald
Twenty-four states either have online voter registration or are in the process of adding it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill would streamline SC medical facility building program
Hilton Head Island Packet
Since then, more than a dozen states have repealed their certificate of need programs. Regulations vary widely among remaining states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Brawner: What should elected officials be paid?
Log Cabin Democrat
But with legislators, it’s much harder to make a comparison. Some legislatures are full-time, and some are very part-time. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arkansas is one of 23 states where being a legislator is about two-thirds of a full-time job, but that’s a rough estimate.

Jan. 9

Predicting how much Alaska’s government can afford to spend every year is hard. It fluctuates more than any state.
Washington Post
Although 35 states have existing or proposed severance taxes, revenue makes up a small part of most states’ budgets, according to a June report from the National Conference of State Legislatures. For Alaska and North Dakota, however, it makes up a large portion. Alaska saw its tax revenue increase by 47 between 2011 and 2012, while North Dakota saw a 27.3 percent increase.
 
Should public schools teach how to use guns? Yes, say South Carolina legislators
Yahoo News
As The Christian Science Monitor reported last year: "In 2013, seven states passed legislation permitting teachers or administrators to carry guns in schools and more than 30 state legislatures introduced bills that would permit staff members to carry guns in public or private schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures."
 
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., Kyle Veazey On Politics column
InsuranceNewsNet.com/Commercial Appeal
Fifty-one percent of Tennesseans are women, leaving the 17 percent sent by voters of the state to conduct their business dramatically out of balance by gender. As of 2009, the most recent year data was compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 percent of state legislators nationwide were women, leaving Tennessee with work to do even to get to the national norm. (New Hampshire, at 37.3 percent, led the way among the 50 states when that study was done.)
  
Parolees should have right to vote, lawmaker says
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Almost every state places some limits on voting by felons. All but two — Maine and Vermont — bar prisoners from casting ballots, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Delaware holds off on new drone laws
The News Journal
Delaware was not among the 43 states that introduced bills or resolutions focused on drones last year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, 13 adopted new laws and 11 adopted resolutions covering some aspect of the UAV activities.
 
From state job to lobbying gig? Officials want 'cooling-off' year first
The Seattle Times
At least 32 states have cooling-off periods of a year or more for state legislators and some other public employees, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Similar restrictions apply to members of Congress and their staffs.

Jan. 8

NH lawmakers allow concealed weapons in House chambers
Boston Globe
Wednesday’s vote makes New Hampshire one of at least seven states that permit concealed weapons in their legislative buildings, according to research conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2011. Guns are not allowed at the Massachusetts State House.
 
Oil Taxes Tempt Recession-Scarred U.S. States as Prices Plummet
Bloomberg News
At least 17 states last year considered imposing or amending so-called severance taxes, which generated more than $16 billion in 2013 in the U.S. Many are expected to introduce similar bills this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.
 
Connecticut's Malloy Sworn In for Second Term
Wall Street Journal
At least 23 states constitutionally restrict the use of fuel- tax revenues for highway and toll purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Lawmakers hear about ethics
Helen News
The main presentations were by former Utah House Speaker David Clark, who was a banker in his private life, and former Colorado House Minority Leader Peggy Kerns, a former businesswoman and federal official who now is director of the Center for Ethics in Government, located at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.

State lawmakers outline 2015 priorities
Uniontown Herald Standard
“According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states operate under a tax or expenditure limitation,” said Bartolotta. “Pennsylvania is in the minority of states having no controls.”
 
Salary panel to compare Arkansas with other states
Arkansas News
The National Conference of State Legislatures considers the Arkansas Legislature a hybrid legislature, or one in which members spend more than two-thirds of the time required for a full-time job but are not paid enough to make a living without other income. 
 
States find you can't take legal marijuana money to the bank
TucsonSentinel.com
Meanwhile, medical marijuana use continues to expand. Although Florida voters fell just shy of approving medical marijuana in November, it is allowed it 23 states and D.C. Eleven other states, including Florida, have approved legislation for cannabis research and treatment of disorders that can cause seizures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Proactive approach on banning Palcohol
Williamson Daily News 
Some state legislatures aren’t waiting to see if that happens. The National Conference of State Legislatures says five states have already banned the powdered concoction and three other states are considering such legislation.
 
Partisan effort reflects poorly on GOP
Bismark Tribune 
In 2012, five states considered but did not pass legislation dealing with U.S. Senate vacancies. In 2011, three states considered but did not pass legislation dealing with U.S. Senate vacancies. In 2010, seven states considered legislation to change the way vacancies in the U.S. Senate are filled; none of that legislation passed.

Jan. 7

Food Safety Not a Likely Hot Topic for 2015 Legislatures
Food Safety News
“As lawmakers roll up their sleeves to begin work on many important issues, state fiscal conditions, at least, are stronger than they have been for several years. With only a few exceptions, state finances continue to improve slowly but steadily from the depths of the Great Recession,” writes NCSL’s Julie Lays. 
 
States Find You Can't Take Legal Marijuana Money to the Bank
Stateline
Meanwhile, medical marijuana use continues to expand. Although Florida voters fell just shy of approving medical marijuana in November, it is allowed it 23 states and D.C. Eleven other states, including Florida, have approved legislation for cannabis research and treatment of disorders that can cause seizures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Opening Day, Inauguration Test New Security Measures At Capitol
CT News
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are metal detectors installed at 23 state Capitols, including those in New York and Massachusetts. Some state Capitols screen all visitors with the metal detectors, while some — like California — exempt state employees and legislators.
 
Utah ready to punch above its weight in Congress
Deseret News
Gov. Gary Herbert will become head of the National Governors Association this summer while Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is president of the National League of Cities, and state Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, is president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 6

How Can Democrats Take Back the States?
New York Times
Republicans control 68 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers — the highest number in the history of the party — and over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats. That is their highest number of legislators since 1920, as Tim Storey at the National Conference of State Legislatures writes.
 
Iowa Democrats say economic bills will be among priorities
MiamiHerald.com/Associated Press
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, said that two priorities for Democrats will be strengthening the preference given to Iowa companies in the awarding of state contracts and ensuring that employers are not stealing wages from Iowa workers. "Those are two areas that I think make sense, that would strengthen the middle class and grow Iowa's economy," Gronstal said.
 
As of January 1, minimum wage increases had gone into effect in 20 states and the District of Columbia — due to automatic increases in some states and the result of legislation or ballot initiatives in others. A total of 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federally mandated $7.25 an hour, including Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Budding Pot Industry Has Trouble Stashing Its Cash
The Fiscal Times/Stateline
Meanwhile, medical marijuana use continues to expand. Although Florida voters fell just shy of approving medical marijuana in November, it is allowed it 23 states and D.C. Eleven other states, including Florida, have approved legislation for cannabis research and treatment of disorders that can cause seizures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 
 
Republican Wave Boosts Anti-Renewable Energy Efforts – Again
Government Technology
Noticeably absent from the debate in Kansas two years ago were utilities. Most utilities have already exceeded the 15 percent RPS goal, as well as a subsequent 20 percent goal. Their apparent neutrality on the renewable energy standard might have something to do with the fact that utilities tend to plan 20 to 40 years out and therefore crave policy stability, Glen Anderson of the National Conference of State Legislatures told Governing last April.
 
With ‘lockboxes’ for toll receipts, lots of ways to pick the lock
The Connecticut Mirror
"Dedications, restrictions and prohibitions on diversion are not always effective," researchers for the National Conference of State Legislatures wrote in a 2011 analysis of states with legal mechanisms to safeguard gasoline tax receipts. Seven states "report recent legislative diversions of transportation funds to other purposes, notwithstanding existing restrictions," researchers Jaime Rall and Nick Farber wrote three years ago.
 
Nine diagnoses to appear in Peake's cannabis bill
Macon Telegraph
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total 23 states have passed workable medical cannabis programs.

Jan. 5

New year means minimum wage increase for millions
The New York Times
Minimum wage increases went into effect today in 20 states, including Massachusetts, as well as in the District of Columbia. A few other states will enact a pay bump later in the year. All told, 29 states will exceed the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour at the beginning of January, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Republicans in state governments plan juggernaut of conservative legislation
Washington Post
“State legislatures need a long-term funding solution for their transportation infrastructure. If Congress does not act, states will have to look at other funding solutions,” said Mick Bullock, a spokesman for the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.

2 Loudoun lawmakers fight in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants
Washington Post
At least 18 states have laws allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state college tuition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Arizona, Georgia and Indiana explicitly bar such students from paying in-state rates.

Dozens of states increase minimum wage, as Washington debate over federal increase continues
Fox News
New York increased its minimum wage on Wednesday, which means workers in 29 states and the District of Columbia will now receive an hourly wage above the federal minimum of $7.25, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

20 states to raise minimum wage by New Year's Day
MSNBC
The hourly rate hikes in nine states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Washington, will be minimal, ranging from 12 cents to 23 cents, and are the result of adjustments to keep up with inflation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

As higher minimum wages kick in, franchises feel the pain
CNBC
As of Jan. 1, 29 states and Washington, D.C., will boast minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Ky. legislature stalling self-reform
Lexington Herald Leader
By early October 2013 the legislative commission that oversees the professional staff — co-chaired by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg — had appointed an interim director, Marcia Seiler. The commission also hired the National Conference of State Legislatures to help find a permanent replacement — a process Stivers estimated could take six to eight months — and to conduct a performance audit of the office.

Federal online sales tax bill may emerge from 'limbo' in 2015
Kansas.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that states lost more than $23.3 billion in tax revenue in 2012 from uncollected sales tax on online transactions, according to its most recent estimate.

Online purchases should include state sales taxes
Montgomery Advertiser
In addition to the fairness aspect, there are major fiscal implications for Alabama. In 2012, the Legislature passed a measure directing 75 percent of Internet sales tax revenue – should Congress ever authorize it – to the perpetually strapped General Fund. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that would have sent about $127 million to the General Fund in fiscal 2012.

Salter: GOP now dominates statehouses
Jackson Clarion Ledger
Also ominous for the GOP is the fact that the 2014 election results came from an election with a low turnout of historic proportions. The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Tim Storey reported that “since 1902, the party in the White House has lost an average of 411 legislative seats and suffered losses in 27 of the 29 mid-terms. That very strong trend in American politics doomed the president’s party once again as Democrats lost approximately 320 seats in this cycle.”

New year brings hundreds of new laws
13WMAZ
Minimum wages are going up in 20 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 12 states, voters approved a boost. In others, workers are getting automatic cost-of-living bumps. ‚ÄčThe hourly wages of 2.4 million workers will increase by up to $1 to an average of $8 and a high of $9.15, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The federal hourly minimum is $7.25.

Liquor Control hopes senators seek ban on powdered alcohol
Lincoln Journal Star
Vermont, Louisiana, South Carolina and Michigan have already passed bans on the sale and possession of powdered alcohol, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Voter registration could go digital: Muscatine County ready for online options for eligible voters
Muscatine Journal
The National Conference of State Legislatures said 21 states — including Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois — offer online registration and three states, including Nebraska, have passed legislation to create a system but have not yet implemented it.

New year, new laws on minimum wage, taxes, campaign donations, gun buys, and more
MassLive.com
In 2015, Massachusetts' minimum wage will be one of the highest in the nation. Only four states and Washington, D.C., will have higher minimum wages, while two other states also have a $9 wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four of the seven states with minimum wages of at least $9 are in New England – Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island, in addition to Massachusetts.

Minnesota roads need money, but where should it come from?
TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
Linking gas taxes to the price of fuel, as Dayton plans to propose, is an increasingly popular idea around the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sixteen states index gas taxes for inflation, including five of the six states that raised gas taxes in 2013.