NCSL in the News | January 2016

1/1/2016

Jan. 29

Crossroads on Criminal Justice Reform
Governing
Bills in several states, including Florida, Massachusetts and Virginia, would either scrap mandatory minimums or give judges more power to depart from them when issuing sentences. Last year, Maryland, North Dakota and Oklahoma gave judges more discretion to exempt some people from mandatory minimums, according to Alison Lawrence with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Self-Driving Cars Would Need a Driver in California
Bloomberg
Six states, including Nevada and Michigan, and Washington, D.C., already have enactedlegislation advancing the development of the cars, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Voting Rights Act: After Supreme Court Ruling, 2016 Election Could Endanger Black, Latino Rights
International Business Times
Modern voter ID laws, those that require Americans to present some form of government-issued ID before receiving an election ballot, have been adopted in Democratic and Republican statehouses since 2000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
More 70 mph zones could be around the bend
Sunbury Daily Item
Changes in drivers’ behavior could be modest because higher speed limits may more accurately match how fast motorists are actually driving, according to an analysis released earlier this month by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Move to shrink the Pennsylvania Legislature gains steam
Reading Eagle
At 253 members, Pennsylvania's Legislature is the nation's second-largest and among the most expensive, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. It's one of just a few full-time legislatures in the nation and leads the country in staff size at nearly 3,000 employees. The state Legislature has the nation's second-highest paid lawmakers, who start at $85,339 a year. 
  
Methadone reimbursement bill draws crowd to hearing room
Press Herald
According to information compiled by the Discovery House, a methadone clinic with treatment centers in Bangor and South Portland, Maine had one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country in 2012. Other states – such as New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan – reimburse at much higher rates, often at more than $100 per week. But 14 states do not reimburse at all for methadone, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
California Voters Will Have Their Say On Drug Prices
California Healthline
Across the nation, prices have spawned state legislative proposals as well as federal hearings and task forces. Dozens of bills have been proposed to address the high cost of specialty drugs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill to increase state minimum wage moves to House floor
The Lane Report
Twenty nine states and Washington D.C. now have a minimum wage above Kentucky’s minimum wage and the federal minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Eight States Welcome Guns on Campus for Self-Defense
Breitbart News
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists those 23 as “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.”

Missouri lawmakers consider concealed weapons in colleges
Missouri Lawyers Media
Eight states allow people to carry concealed weapons on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan research organization. 

Ga. Democratic Senators Propose Minimum Wage Hike
WABE 90.1 FM
Georgia's minimum wage of $5.15 is among the lowest in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but many employees are subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
  
Women's wear 'distracts' lawmakers
Hannibal.net
Women are a slight majority of the U.S. population, but remain a minority in all 50 state legislatures, filling 1,808 legislative seats this year, 24.5 percent of the nationwide total, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Legislative Briefs: Constitutional amendment restoring lieutenant governor’s lietenant governor’s powers propised
KyForward.com
Twenty nine states and Washington D.C. now have a minimum wage above Kentucky’s minimum wage and the federal minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 28

Self-Driving Cars Would Need a Driver Under California Rules
Bloomberg
Six states, including Nevada and Michigan, and Washington, D.C., already have enacted legislation advancing the development of the cars, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. The Golden State is the pacesetter. 

Missouri lawmakers consider concealed weapons in colleges
Washington Times
Eight states allow people to carry concealed weapons on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan research organization. Nineteen states have banned concealed weapons on college campuses as of October 2015, and 23 states leave the decision to the schools, according to the NCSL.

Federal appeals court upholds Virginia's certificate-of-need law
Modern Health Care
Thirty-six states have CON laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The laws have been the subject of intense debate for decades. The laws' opponents say they hinder competition, leading to higher prices and lower quality. Hospital associations defend the laws as necessary to help financially protect hospitals that provide charity care.
  
Coalition of conservative groups oppose Utah collecting online sales tax
Salt Lake Tribune
Bramble, who is president of the National Conference of State Legislatures NCSL), said earlier this month that states are about to launch a national drive to make companies collect tax on all Internet sales and remit it to the states. He expects several Utah bills to address the problem in various ways. But Bramble expects at least one bill to closely mirror NCSL preferences designed to increase the likelihood that expected lawsuits over such legislation would lead the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn previous decisions that have limited online sales tax collection.
  
Even Watered-Down Drone Limits Fail In Colorado Legislature
CBS Local
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 26 states have some limits on drones. Arkansas bans drone voyeurism. California has limits aimed at banning paparazzi from private land. New Hampshire bans drone use for hunting, fishing or trapping.
  
House panel endorses bill limiting environmental rule-making
Indianapolis Star
Nineteen states currently have similar laws on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.
  
Free college may be just around the corner
CNBC
In fact, Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee already have free community college programs in place, and 11 more states introduced legislation last year to start similar initiatives. Atleast 15 to 20 additional states will consider a bill on the topic this year, predicted Dustin Weeden, a senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Wyoming Legislature set to consider 'right to privacy'
Philadelphia Daily News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 other state constitutions already recognize citizens' right to privacy. They are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina and Washington.

Jan. 27

Maryland lawmakers push for free community college
Washington Times
By the National Conference of State Legislatures’ count, nine other states have introduced bills this year to pay for community college, and many more cities and counties across the country have tried to take on the financial burden of footing the bill. This seems like momentum, but to see states actually institute such policies may take years, said Dustin Weeden, a senior higher education policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “A lot of it is going to depend on what happens in Tennessee,” he said. “If Tennessee continues to have lots of success, and early reports say it has been successful in getting students, and if they’re successful in helping them graduate and boosting higher education in the state, we could really see another resurgence of this idea.”
  
Colorado's road problems collide at Capitol
Denver Post
Since 2013, 17 states — including Republican-dominated neighbors Wyoming, Utah and Nebraska — increased their gas taxes, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Utah lawmakers OK 1 of 2 breastfeeding-protection measures
The Bellingham Herald
In addition to Weiler's bill, lawmakers are expected to consider a proposal this year from Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, that would add a prohibition on breastfeeding discrimination to a state law that already prohibits businesses from refusing to serve someone because of their religion, ethnicity or gender. At least eight other states have similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Kansas State Panel Struggles With Medical Marijuana Measure
CBS Local
Conservative-led Kansas is facing pressure to liberalize its laws on pot partly because 23 other states now allow some form of medical marijuana, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. 

The debate over scope of sex education is raging on
The Durango Herald
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states require public schools to teach sex education. In other states, including Nebraska, it’s generally up to individual school districts to decide what form of sex education, if any, is offered.

Proposals target discrimination against breastfeeding women
Daily Herald
Utah currently bars local governments from passing laws restricting where women can breastfeed in public. It also does not consider breastfeeding in public a violation of lewdness, obscenity or indecent exposure laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Common Core ballot fight heads to court
Gloucester Daily Times
But controversy over the standards has some states reconsidering. At least three have rejected Common Core, and more than a dozen others are considering doing the same, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Recent Missouri Editorials
Hastings Tribune
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 36 states have passed some form of voter ID law, but that three states, including Missouri, have been unable to implement previous laws because of unfavorable court rulings challenging their constitutionality.
  
Federal trial on NC photo ID mandate for voters begins
Asheville Citizen-Times
Thirty-three states have voter ID laws in force this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Person with gun prompts lockdown at North Carolina college
Jewocity.com
Thirty-three states have voter ID laws in force this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures

Jan. 26

Bees and butterflies could soon be on legislative agenda
Washington Times
At least 14 states have passed legislation in recent years to boost pollinator populations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Laws have focused on expanded research, beekeeper assistance, limitations on certain pesticides, protecting habitats and greater awareness.

Colorado's road problems collide at Capitol
The Denver Post
Since 2013, 17 states — including Republican-dominated neighbors Wyoming, Utah and Nebraska — increased their gas taxes, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Colorado's combined state-federal rate is 40.4 cents. Only 13 states have a lower rate, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
 
Federal trial on photo ID mandate begins
Rocky Mount Telegram
The trial, expected to last a week or so, highlights another effort to expand identification requirements to vote in person. Thirty-three states have voter ID laws in force this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Kansas secretary of state pursuing 3 new criminal cases
Lawrence Journal World
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 other states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-day registration.
 
House committee OKs bill outlawing early ballot collection
Arizona Daily Sun
At least 14 states restrict who can return a ballot and how ballots many they can collect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A person may collect as many as 10 ballots in states such as Colorado while Arizona and Texas have no limits on how many ballots a person can collect and return.
  
Kansas regents balance interests in guns-on-campus debate
Columbia Daily Tribune
Kansas and at least seven other states allow carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Applications flow in for ‘free’ community college
The Bulletin
Oregon joins Tennessee and Minnesota in offering “free community college,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and lawmakers in a dozen other states including Washington have looked to launch similar programs.
  
EDITORIAL: Bill requiring photo ID to vote is solution looking for a ...
Columbia Missourian
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 36 states have passed some form of voter ID law, but that three states, including Missouri, have been unable to implement previous laws because of unfavorable court rulings challenging their constitutionality.
  
Letter: Rapists should lose parental rights
Battle Creek Enquirer
Twenty-one states allow for termination of parental rights if the parent was convicted of sexual assault that resulted in the birth of the child, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 25

Voting Rights Debate 2016: Voter ID Laws Go On Trial, Could Play Big Role In Presidential Election
International Business Times
North Carolina's law is one of 17 that make people show photo IDs before voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
In Omaha, and much of US, debate over sex education rages on
STLtoday.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states require public schools to teach sex education. In other states, including Nebraska, it’s generally up to individual school districts to decide what form of sex education, if any, is offered.
 
Dinniman: Time to hold Harrisburg accountable
Daily Local News
Pennsylvania’s budget runs past the July 1 deadline 37 percent of the time, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Reese: Common sense isn't, when it comes to mobile tech
Pensacola News Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 46 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands all ban text messaging for all drivers.

Editorial: Bill requiring photo ID at the polls is a solution looking for a problem
STLtoday.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 36 states have passed some form of voter ID law, but that three states, including Missouri, have been unable to implement previous laws because of unfavorable court rulings challenging their constitutionality.

Tennessee sexual harassment policy mired in secrecy, experts say
The Tennessean
According to a document compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, different states’ legislative chambers in 2013 had a range of sexual harassment policies. 

Tennessean investigation finds inappropriate text messages
The Tennessean
She later asked Ridley to send background information to The Tennessean about the policy, which included links to sample policies from the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as two other organizations that provide guidance to private sector employers. 

PUBLIC SAFETY: Carbon monoxide survivors thank their 'saviors'
Press-Enterprise
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 37 states require carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in private dwellings.  

Tax filing season is underway, and IRS says most Americans to get 
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Tennessee had about 657,000 tax filers receive an average EITC of $2,492 for statewide total of $1.6 billion in 2013, the most recent year figures are available, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Many Texans likely will vote before the March 1 primary
San Angelo Standard Times
Texas is one of 37 states, along with the District of Columbia, that lets voters cast ballots early, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Bill would require IT workers to report child pornography
New Jersey Herald
It would mirror laws already on the books in at least 12 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Harsdorf pushes for financial aid boost
Hudson Star Observer
Other states’ policymakers have attempted to curtail the rising cost of higher education in a number of ways: the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that Montana last year created a new financial aid program specifically for STEM majors and Minnesota and Oregon created new programs ensuring financial aid recipients don’t have to pay tuition at community colleges.
 
Alaska lawmakers look at changes to the way student performance 
Fairbanks Daily News
According to Lee Posey with the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state will have the entire 2016-17 school year to craft plans to meet the provisions laid out in ESSA by the 2017-18 school year. 

Minimum Wage: 4 Facts about North Carolina's Minimum Wage
Newsmax
North Carolina’s minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

How inmates earn time off their sentences
The Bellingham Herald
And at least 31 states offer “earned time” for attending classes, treatment, work programs or other productive activities, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported in 2009.
 
Time to get rid of COPP
Helena Independent Record
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, most states have an ethics commission but eight do not and that includes our neighboring states of the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho.
  
Applications flow in for ‘free’ community college
The Bulletin
Oregon joins Tennessee and Minnesota in offering “free community college,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and lawmakers in a dozen other states including Washington have looked to launch similar programs.

Jan. 22

Gov. Herbert: 'Doobie for the day' not where I want to go on medical marijuana
Deseret News
Herbert also weighed in on another issue expected to come before the 45-day session of the Legislature that starts Monday, a proposal from Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, to require merchants to collect sales taxes on online purchases. Bramble, president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, wants Utah to join other states in passing legislation expected to spark a legal challenge based on past court decisions in the hope of prompting action on the issue.

Register Ohio voters online
Toledo Blade
Online registration is in effect in 29 states and the District of Columbia; two other states are creating such systems. In these states, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports, “no fraud or security breaches are known to date ... security for online voter registration is an essential element of system design.”
 
Visitors get scoop on maintaining voter registrations
Warwick Beacon
But there were visitors from out of state, too, for this tour and collaborative conversation about election technologies and policy hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Health Department gets new interim director
ECB Publishing
Her professional affiliations include membership in the National Academy of State Health Policy and the National Conference of State Legislatures Health and Human Services Committee.

Medical marijuana: The challenge for physicians
ModernMedicine
By the fall of 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia, had approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

State's human trafficking cases would come under attorney general's ...
KyForward.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage, with 12 of those states increasing their wages through legislation approved in 2014 or 2015. In 2014, that included voter-approved initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.
 
Nuclear options
Isthmus
Wisconsin is among the first states to contemplate expanding nuclear energy, but other states could soon follow suit, says Kristy Hartman, a program principal with the National Conference for State Legislatures who studies nuclear energy policy. “We are seeing a growing interest in nuclear legislation,” she says. Including Wisconsin, there are 13 states with conditional restrictions in place on the construction of nuclear power plants. 
 
Regents: Concealed carry permissible on campuses
Hutchinson News
The other states are Arkansas. Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 21

Self-Driving Cars May Get Here Before We're Ready
New York Times
“The technology is really advancing faster than we had originally anticipated,” said Steve Hill, the director of the governor’s office of economic development in Nevada, the first state to pass legislation allowing driverless cars to be tested, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “I wouldn’t really say that Nevada, or really any place else, has really developed the policies that will be needed to facilitate the industry moving forward.”
 
Juvenile justice advocates push for Louisiana to raise age to enter adult criminal justice system
The Advocate
In the past five years, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have raised the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18, according to a report released in September by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bill filed to increase Ky.'s minimum wage
The Harlan Daily Enterprise
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage, with 12 of those states increasing their wages through legislation approved in 2014 or 2015. In 2014, that included voter-approved initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Parents Rage Over Sex-Ed Class that 'Rapes Children of Their Innocence’
Yahoo
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education.
 
The Lowdown on Freezing Your Kid's Credit
Krebs on Security
Here’s a list of the states that have minor freeze laws on the books, and the status of pending state legislation from the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). That list currently includes Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. These states are reflected in the map above as the lighter-colored states.
 
Home Schools Senator Peacock completes goal of visiting every ...
Bossier Press-Tribune Online
The Louisiana Senate participates in the National Conference of State Legislatures’ America’s Legislators Back to School program. “The Louisiana Senate believes it is imperative that we engage our young people in the process of representative democracy,” Peacock said.

Jan. 20

State lawmakers push wave of police measures in wake of Laquan McDonald case
Chicago Tribune
Illinois lawmakers aren't alone in their efforts to respond to police shooting incidents through legislation. Rich Williams, a criminal justice policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said there's been a nationwide push to create laws that improve accountability in policing. "There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but (body camera) video has been informative, and so has data tracking," Williams said. "You can look at incidents over time or race-gender outcomes over time, comparing demographic characteristics versus outcomes. Then you can track performances of a different officer."
 
Illinois, other states debate laws for police videos
Kankakee Daily Journal
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws addressing body cameras, 16 of which passed in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Editorial: State should let residents register to vote online
Knoxville News Sentinel
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the District of Columbia and 29 other states already provide online registration for their residents. Two more have passed legislation, but their systems have yet to go live.
 
Lawmakers introduce bills outlawing early ballot collection
Arizona Daily Sun
At least 14 states restrict who can return a ballot and how ballots many they can collect, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Revenge Porn Ban Pushed by Arizona Legislators
Phoenix New Times
About half the states have enacted laws that criminalize the unauthorized distribution of sexually explicit images of another person, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Washington lawmakers propose free community college for state residents
Q13 FOX
Three states have created free community college programs since 2014: Minnesota, Oregon and Tennessee, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

State Regents: Many Oklahoma college freshmen need remedial courses
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, low-income, Hispanic and African-American students are more likely to need remediation than their wealthi¬er, white peers.
 
N.J. lawmaker pushes bill to keep police videos, 911 calls from public
NJ.com
Some states — including Pennsylvania, Alabama and Ohio — already exclude 911 calls from their records laws. Others do not explicitly address them in their statutes, leaving their status as public records open to interpretation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Farmers: $15 minimum wage is too much
Suffolk Times
According to the USDA ERS, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 and New Jersey’s is $8.38. Connecticut’s is currently $9.15 an hour and Massachusetts is $9 but will raise to $11 by 2017, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
 
Lawmakers go on fundraising frenzy before session
La Crosse Tribune 
More than half the states place some kind of limits on fundraising during session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 19

Debate over sex ed rages on in Omaha, much of U.S.
Indiana Gazette
Sex education is taught in varied forms and under different rules across the 50 states. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states require public schools to teach sex education.
 
Many Texans likely will vote before the March 1 primary
Fort Worth Star Telegram
Texas is one of 37 states, along with the District of Columbia, that lets voters cast ballots early, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Study: Imbalance of power in state legislatures
WBIR-TV
That's according to a study by the PEW Charitable Trusts and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
TN legislature low on women, high on businessmen and Christians
Humphrey on the Hill
The Tennessee General Assembly has fewer women among its members than the average for other state legislatures, but more business owners and Christians, according to a compilation of data by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

District 44B Delegates Young and Sydnor discuss priorities for 2016
Baltimore Sun
Last fall Sydnor attended a National Conference of State Legislatures event in San Francisco about juvenile justice reform. "There were a few ideas we came up with from that meeting," he said.
 
Opinion: Schools should allow students to conceal carry
LSU The Reveille
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 states allow their schools to decide their own weapon policy, and 19 states — including Louisiana — ban concealed weapons on campuses. 
 
Debate continues over sex education
Midland Reporter-Telegram
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states require public schools to teach sex education. In other states, including Nebraska, it's generally up to individual school districts to decide what form of sex education, if any, is offered. In 35 states, parents are allowed to keep their children out of sex-ed classes.
 
Illinois should get ahead of body cam issue
Alton Telegraph
The National Conference of State Legislatures says 16 states passed laws in 2015 requiring the use of body cameras — 20 states and the District of Columbia now have such guidelines — but just 10 address how the release of videos should be handled by applying the particular state’s open records laws.

Jan. 18

States Should Raise the Gas Tax
New York Times
Many states have acted. Last year, eight states, including Iowa, Michigan and Washington, raised their gasoline taxes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Crack down on states that still don't comply with Real ID
The Denver Post
The law was almost immediately criticized. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimated the price tag would be $11 billion over five years.
 
Taking aim at Pennsylvania gerrymandering
Philly.com
Of the 152 redistricting-related bills introduced in state legislatures last year, only seven became law - and none brought major changes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Review shows Tenn. Legislature below average in women ...
Knoxville News Sentinel
The Tennessee General Assembly has fewer women among its members than the average for other state legislatures, but more business owners and Christians, according to a compilation of data by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Government developing policies for self-driving cars
Norman Transcript
Seven states and Washington D.C. allow autonomous vehicle testing on their roads, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

House should OK online registration
Columbus Dispatch
Iowa and New Mexico are the most recent states to begin online voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

Drones fly in gray area: How close is too close?
NWAOnline
While the federal government has moved slowly to write drone rules, 32 states have enacted their own laws or resolutions regarding the crafts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lawmakers focus on details of proposed state lottery
The Decatur Daily
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states that do allow lotteries sold a combined $53 billion in tickets in 2010.
 
Labor to Focus on Contractors, Sick Leave in Legislature this Year
Atlanta Progressive News
Businesses benefit from this practice because they no longer have to pay unemployment and other taxes on workers, and can save up to thirty percent on labor costs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Man charged with killing pregnant wife seeks to withdraw guilty plea
NJ.com
New Jersey is one of only a dozen states where an unborn child is not recognized as a victim of a crime in the homicide of a pregnant woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
GOP plots revamp of medical malpractice law
Indianapolis Business Journal
Though 35 states and jurisdictions impose a limit or cap on damages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the caps have been vulnerable to court challenges.
 
TGIF: 21 Things To Know About Rhode Island Politics & Media
Rhode Island Public Radio
With Rhode Island looking to capitalize on its local food scene, check out this report by the National Conference of State Legislatures on food trends.
 
Bills would expand ability to bring guns on campus
The Tennessean
Eight states allow concealed carrying of weapons on public college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Illinois debates open-records law regarding police video
Telegraph Herald
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have laws addressing body cameras, 16 of which passed in 2015, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Drones fly in gray area: How close is too close?
Arkansas Online
While the federal government has moved slowly to write drone rules, 32 states have enacted their own laws or resolutions regarding the crafts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 15

Waiting On The Court To Figure Out How To Tax Remote Sales
Forbes
In November 2015, at a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Utah Sen. Curt Bramble (R) asked if it would be appropriate for states to draft legislation this year that was designed to present a constitutional challenge. Other states are thinking along the same lines. 
 
Washington lawmakers seek rules for police body camera video
KOMO News
Oregon, California, seven other states and Washington, D.C., enacted laws in 2015 that address access to body-camera footage and open-records laws, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.

Can drones just hover over your home?
Alaska Dispatch News
While the federal government has moved slowly to write drone rules, 32 states have enacted their own laws or resolutions regarding the crafts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But the specifics vary. And some states left it to local authorities to judge when drones are trespassing.

Minimum wage, sick leave on legislative agenda
Indianapolis Recorder
Fourteen U.S. states began 2016 with higher minimum wages, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Indiana was not one of them.
 
Editorial: Utah politicians leading fight for sales tax fairness
The Salt Lake Tribune
Both as a member of the Utah Legislature and as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Sen. Curt Bramble is tired of watching the many millions of dollars that are legally owed on purchases made by Utah residents go uncollected just because those transactions involve sellers located in other states who do business on the Internet.

“Digital assets” bill clears another hurdle to Senate floor
Florida Politics
At least nine states now have laws that allow for some level of control of digital assets after death, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Wendy Fletcher, candidate for State Rep. in 99th House District ...
The Independent
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Kentucky ranks 42nd in the percentage of women elected to serve in the state legislature.

Is Electing a Mayor, District Voting in the City of Santa Clarita's future?
Santa Clarita Gazette
The National Conference of State Legislatures defines a popular referendum as a measure that appears on the ballot as a result of a voter petition drive, meaning the community could vote on the issue themselves if they collected enough petition signatures according to specific guidelines.

WVU right-to-work study disputed as Legislature considers bill
Charleston Gazette-Mail
For Texas, he pointed to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which states that Texas adopted right to work in 1993.
 
Bill would waive drug charges during medical emergencies
New Jersey Herald
Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

In Omaha, and much of US, debate over sex education rages on
KOAA.com Colorado Springs and Pueblo News
At least 33 states have enacted a cooling-off period to delay when lawmakers can lobby, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most have a ban of one or two years after legislators leave office, and no state has a three-year ban.
  
House Republicans introduce bill allowing firearms on campus
Police News
Eight states have similar laws, including Colorado, Idaho, Kansas and Oregon. The Texas legislature has passed a bill set to take effect in August, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Guest View: Legislature gearing up for 30-day session
Mountain View Journal
Furthermore, I was selected to attend the National Conference of State Legislatures, which took place October 8 – 10, in Denver, Colo. The topic of this national conference was “Improving Higher Education Productivity.” This topic is of critical importance to our institutions of higher educations, including our own Luna Community College and New Mexico Highlands University.

Jan. 14

You may be powerless to stop a drone from hovering over your own yard
Washington Post
While the federal government has moved slowly to craft drone rules, 32 states have enacted their own laws or resolutions regarding the crafts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But the specifics vary across the country. And some states left it to local authorities to judge when drones are trespassing on people’s property.
 
Fantasy Sports New Tax Issue for States
Bloomberg BNA
Jonathan Griffin, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the issue is a hot topic for state lawmakers and action is expected in a number of jurisdictions during the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions.
 
The 6 States Where You Can't Play Powerball
ABC News
Jon Griffin, a senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that while there's ample funding for casino studies, there hasn't been much empirical research on the economic impact on states that did not participate in lotteries. "I've never conducted any research as to why these states aren't participating in lotteries," he told ABC News in 2013. "With so many states having lotteries compared to states that have casino gaming, most people don't think much about state lotteries.

1-year lobbying ban for Missouri lawmakers moves forward
Springfield News-Leader
At least 33 states have enacted a cooling-off period to delay when lawmakers can lobby, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most have a ban of one or two years after legislators leave office, and no state has a three-year ban.
 
Ohio lawmakers to form medical marijuana task force
Springfield News Sun
Currently, 23 states have comprehensive legal medical marijuana programs and 17 states approved the use of “low THC, high cannabidiol (CBD)” products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Maine and the feds are headed for a face-off over your state-issued driver’s license
Bangor Daily News
In 2007, Maine became the first state to reject it, passing legislation prohibiting compliance with the law’s mandates. Another 26 states followed suit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. And Maine has held firm to its objections
 
Federal Minimum Wage Slightly Rises In 14 US States
FinalCall.com News
According to a report published by the National Conference of State Legislatures on earlier this month, California and Massachusetts saw the highest increase, with minimum wages rising from $9 to $10.
 
A Bizarre Contradiction
Ricochet.com
The National Conference of State Legislatures has a handy compendium of state laws and rulings on the matter. (Fetal Homicide Laws) 
 
Pa. residents get bonus if they win Powerball jackpot; no state taxes
PennLive.com
California is the only other state in the country with an income tax that doesn't tax lottery winnings, Murt said. Even a spokeswoman from the National Conference of State Legislatures sounded incredulous that any state with an income tax doesn't tax lottery winnings.

Jan. 13

Utah Wants That Online Revenue
Politico’s Morning Tax
Also, state Sen. Curt Bramble and other state GOP lawmakers in Utah say they're concerned that the state is missing out on tens of millions of dollars a year. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Bramble said recently that he's hoping Congress can eventually find a legislative solution to the problem, and that Utah would fiddle with its sales tax to ensure that state residents don't pay more in taxes once online sales are added. 

Setback for online sales tax effort
The Hill
Max Behlke, manager of state-federal relations at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said that state lawmakers are “sick and tired” of Congress’s inaction on sales taxes. States may enact their own laws to try to get the Supreme Court to overturn its earlier ruling or to force Congress to act, he added.

Obama's State of the Union pledge to push for bipartisan redistricting reform was a late add
Los Angeles Times
Democrats in 2015 controlled 919 fewer state legislative seats than they did in 2009, according to an analysis of National Conference of State Legislatures data by the Pew Research center.  

Fantasy sports bill clears House committee
Florida Politics
“Fantasy games are considered to be illegal in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana and Washington (and) lawmakers in Indiana, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have introduced legislation to allow casinos or lotteries to offer daily fantasy games,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Alyssa Milano shut down: Talk show host's breastfeeding ideas stirs social media
Examiner.com
The Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to “require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk,” according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Harassing us on path to reforms
News-Press Now
Ethics reform stands as one of the legislative priorities for this session. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states have “revolving door laws,” those statutes that prohibit lawmakers from jumping directly from legislative positions to lobbying jobs.

Teen pregnancy numbers get better, but still a concern
Paris Post Intelligencer
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, roughly one in four girls will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20 and roughly one in five teen mothers will have a second child during her teen years.

Obama's 2015 proposals mostly went nowhere
Waterbury Republican American
For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures says 14 states began the new year with higher minimum wages. Of those, a dozen states increased their rates through legislation while two states automatically increased their rates based on the cost of living.

Historic Powerball Jackpot Fans Anti-Gambling Advocates' Fears
Patch.com
A handful of states have considered states to allow or expanding gaming, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Others have stepped in to preemptively block the practice, as Pew reports.

The Registered Voter Leak: Big Deal or No Big Deal?
The Cryptosphere
Learn about the voter registration systems and how they work in general: the National Conference of State Legislatures actually has a nice overview.

When tests fail
Beckley Register-Herald
Over the past decade, most all states have taken it upon themselves to propose — but not always pass – some form of screening or drug testing of applicants. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least thirteen states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients.

Jan. 12

Obama's State of Union proposals often hit wall in Congress
AP National/Yahoo News
For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures says 14 states began the new year with higher minimum wages. Of those, a dozen states increased their rates through legislation while two states automatically increased their rates based on the cost of living.
 
Lawmakers seek to collect taxes owed on Internet sales
Salt Lake Tribune
So Bramble, who is president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), said Monday that states are about to launch a national drive to make companies collect tax on all Internet sales and remit it to the states.
 
2016 Legislature may try to force feds to take action on Internet sales
Deseret News
Bramble, the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, said the organization has adopted a plan for lawmakers around the country to push similar legislation with the intention of making Congress take action.
 
Feds: South Carolina should stop regulating health care investments
The Augusta Chronicle
Since then, more than a dozen states have repealed their certificate of need programs. Regulations vary widely among remaining states, according to the National Confer¬ence of State Legislatures.

Use GPS to track domestic abusers, advocates say
DesMoinesRegister.com
Nineteen states allow pretrial electronic monitoring of defendants, particularly in cases of domestic violence, according to data from the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers Push for Legislation Allowing Voters to Recall Elected ...
JP Updates
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nineteen states (as well as the District of Columbia) permit the recall of elected officials. 

Legislature continues to buck law on salaries
Virgin Islands Daily News
Forty-seven states, excluding Vermont, Idaho, and Michigan, require some type of financial disclosure with respect to the legislator's own salary, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
Ky. bill would require 3-foot cushion when passing cyclists on road
WCPO
The 3-foot cushion between a vehicle and a bicycle has now become a widespread standard requirement across the country, with nearly half of U.S. states enacting the requirement, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Feds recommend SC do away with medical building regulations
The Times and Democrat
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.
 
Anchorage Democratic senator proposes $15 minimum wage
Alaska Dispatch News
That would make Alaska's minimum wage the highest among states, according to a review of scheduled wage increases compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New initiative seeks $13.50 minimum wage in Washington
HeraldNet
But that changed Jan. 1 when the rate climbed to $10 an hour in California and Massachusetts, $9.75 in Alaska and $9.60 in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legaislatures.

Jan. 11

Political Bombshells Ahead in State Legislative Sessions
Morning Consult
More than a dozen states are considering measures that would allow some businesses or institutions to bypass discrimination laws aimed at protecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgender community. Legislators in states as varied as Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada and Utah will consider what are commonly called Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, while Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas are all considering reforms to their own laws already on the books, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislators. Nearly two-dozen states considered legislation last year governing home-sharing services, such as Airbnb, according to NCSL. Some of those measures would have required owners to disclose how many nights their homes were rented, and how much they paid cities and states in taxes. And 26 states in 2015 passed measures regulating, or studying the regulation of, the use of drones.
 
US Gives States 2 More Years to Meet Driver's License Standards
New York Times
Some states have bitterly opposed the requirements out of privacy concerns, and more than a dozen have passed laws barring their vehicle departments from complying with the law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Bipartisan group of New York politicians push to give voters recall power
New York Daily News
Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia permit the recall of state officials, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 29 states have provisions for recall elections in local jurisdictions. 

Oil-Patch States Are Feeling the Pain As Crude Prices Plunge
VICE News
Texas is still the biggest US oil producer, but its economy is much more diverse. Oil accounts for only 6 percent of state revenue, said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Trump labels students 'bait' for shooters, joining national push for ...
Politico
With Texas's new law, eight states allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry weapons on public college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Oregon, where a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College, is among them.
 
Nixon proposes shorter legislative sessions as part of ethics bill
Fulton Sun
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists Indiana as having a schedule similar to what Nixon proposes: Ending on April 30 in odd-numbered years and on March 29 in even-numbered years.
 
Marion County bucks trend with decrease in deaths, injuries for 2015
Hannibal.net
Handheld device use while driving is banned for all drivers in 14 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a chart compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tainted Evidence: Mexico's Surprising Answer to Crime-Lab ...
OZY
Crime labs in six states are not under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
My Turn: Young elected officials have a lot to offer
Concord Monitor
A recent report by the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that 5 percent of state legislative seats nationwide are held by millennials – those born after 1980 – with 1 percent being the figure in New Hampshire. 
 
Where are the millenials in the Legislature?
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In Pennsylvania, the average age of a state legislator is 54, according to a recent examination of legislatures by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
NYC's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opened; Statement ...
Korea Portal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 states in total along with the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use. This is licensed under the 2014 Compassionate Care Act.
 
Tom Still: Wisconsin can move into the R&D passing lane with ...
Madison.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six states have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles: Nevada, California, Florida, Michigan, North Dakota and Tennessee.
 
E-Cigarette Companies Targeting Teens Through Advertising — CDC
Huewire News
At least 48 states already ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Tobacco product advertising can entice youth to start using tobacco”, the report says.
 
Google helps analyze if rooftop solar panels are good deal
Post-Bulletin
All but a handful of states have laws allowing what's called "net metering" for homes or businesses — basically selling power from rooftop cells they don't use themselves, usually to the local electric utility, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers
nwitimes.com
The study, by the Pew Charitable Trusts' Stateline and the National Conference of State Legislators, confirms that women and minorities are underrepresented.
 
First woman Iowa house speaker takes gavel
Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier
The National Conference of State Legislatures thinks Stromer and Upmeyer are the first father-daughter duo to serve as a state’s House speaker in the nation’s history, Upmeyer said.
 
Missouri lawmakers could lock horns over new lobbying rules
STLtoday.com
In all, at least 33 states impose waiting periods for lawmakers looking to move into lobbying, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 8

New York opens marijuana clinics with emphasis on 'medical'
Thomson Reuters Foundation
In addition, New York requires a four-hour mandatory training course for physicians before they can certify patients and for pharmacists before they can dispense the drug, a requirement not mandated by other state programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
N.J. Democrats' redistricting plan draws flak
Philly.com
A number of states have moved to account for competitiveness in legislative redistricting in recent years, but New Jersey would be the only one to set a specific target for the number of competitive districts, said Wendy Underhill, director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Underhill said she was not aware of any state that by law used results from statewide elections to draw legislative districts, but added that states could be using such criteria behind closed doors. Some, such as Vermont and South Carolina, allow for protection of incumbents to be included as a factor in redistricting.
 
First medical marijuana dispensaries open in New York
The Guardian
Physicians who want to certify their patients for medical marijuana have to undergo a four-hour mandatory training course, something other state programs do not mandate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New York launches 'one of the most conservative' medical ...
Business Insider
In addition, New York requires a four-hour mandatory training course for physicians before they can certify patients, a requirement not mandated by other state programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Group Insurance Board takes step toward self-insurance
Wisbusiness.com
The state was among 46 in the country in 2010 that used self-insurance in some way, ranging from the full model to bits and pieces, according to the most recent data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Congress sends health care repeal bill to Obama
JURIST
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) [official website] reports that between 2010 and 2015, at least 21 states enacted laws attempting to challenge or completely opt out of mandatory provisions of the ACA. 

Marco Rubio's Plan To Lock Tea Party Policies In Place Permanently
ThinkProgress
Term limits, however, force lawmakers to quit their jobs just as they begin to garner such expertise. Accordingly, a 2006guide published by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) explained, “term-limited legislators” must “rely on lobbyists for information” because they have no senior colleagues that they can turn to for advice.

Health benefits would count toward minimum wage under state bill
Puget Sound Business Journal
Health benefits packages are ranked in “metal” categories based on how much insurance companies contribute. The average monthly cost for a mid-level “Silver” package per person is projected to reach $228 in Washington state this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
California Raises Minimum Wage to 10 Dollars
Daily Nexus
The National Conference of State Legislatures states both adults and minors will receive the minimum wage, with some exception.
 
New spokeswoman for Idaho Breastfeeding Law Coalition
Idaho Business Review
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho is the only state in the nation that does not have a law on the books protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed her child in public.

Jan. 7

Water issues, GMOs, food safety likely to get state attention
Politico
Any issue lawmakers choose to take up could affect whether it garners the attention of Congress or creates enough pressure for federal action. While it’s too early to say exactly what will get done in state capitols this year, there are a few trends to look out for, Doug Farquhar, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ environment program, tells MA.
 
An Obamacare Provision Even Republicans Can Love
U.S. News & World Report
Five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Rhode Island and Wyoming – already have enacted interstate compact statutes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

The Tougher U.S. Pension Rules in Puerto Rico's Rescue Plan
Governing
State and local government groups, including the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), quickly voiced their opposition to the idea. They sent a letter to Congress, along with 15 other groups, complaining that the proposed provision targets all pensions, rather than limiting the issue to Puerto Rico, and that extra filing at the federal level would be too time-consuming and costly.
 
Branstad open to collecting data on police stops
DesMoinesRegister.com
Iowa is among 19 states that don’t have a law that addresses racial profiling, data from the Denver-based National Conference of state Legislatures show. 
 
S.C. hate-crime proposal goes farther than most
Savannah Morning News
Of the National Conference of State Legislature’s list of states’ hate-crime laws, only Maine explicitly names the homeless among the groups covered in its hate crime law.
 
'Millennials' Play Big Role in Nebraska Legislature
NTV
Term-limited senators are often a session-opening focus, with a last chance to get their bills heard. But a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures highlights a different group of leaders: millennials - those like Hansen, born after 1980 and becoming adults in the early 2000s.
 
Jeff Brandes cracking down on specialty auto tags
SaintPetersBlog
Texas holds the record with 363 different “specialty, organizational or military license plates,” according to a 2014 tally by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Minimum money matters
Lexington Clipper Herald
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some noteworthy statistics listed below show that minimum wage increases and cost of living increases are being applied in many states in 2016.
 
Michigan Gov. Snyder signs bill eliminating straight-party ticket ballot option
Ripon Advance
Michigan is one of 13 states that doesn’t allow for some form of early or no-reason absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Governor OKs end of straight-party voting option in Michigan
Grand Haven Tribune
Michigan is among 13 states to not allow for some form of early voting or no-reason absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
70% of teens have seen ads for e-cigarettes
Hattiesburg American
At least 48 states already ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Research shows that teens can easily buy the products online or get them from older friends.

Jan. 6

An Obamacare Provision Even Republicans Can Love
U.S. News & World Report
The little-known provision, found in section 1333 of the roughly 1,000-page Affordable Care Act, allows for states to create "health care choice compacts" permitting insurers to sell policies to consumers in any state participating in the compact, as long as they follow specific rules. Five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Rhode Island and Wyoming – already have enacted interstate compact statutes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Bills introduced, budget looms for California lawmakers 
Los Angeles Times 
The proposals mirror laws passed in 23 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which allow parents or guardians to place security freezes for minors.

70% of teens have seen ads for e-cigarettes
USA TODAY
At least 48 states already ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Research shows that teens can easily buy the products online or get them from older friends.
 
How Democratic Are Ballot Initiatives?
The Atlantic
“There’s this perception out there that the initiative process is all about the little guy,” said Jennie Bowser, a consultant who for many years studied ballot measures for the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. “But the truth of the matter is that it’s a big business. It’s really well organized, and it’s really well funded. And it is very, very rarely a group of local citizens who get together and try to make a difference.”
 
New K-12 Law Adds to Buzz as Legislatures Set to Convene 
Education Week
"Legislators are super-excited," said Michelle Exstrom, the education program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures. "They've been asking for a decade for some of these changes, and they have been very frustrated that we've been limping along with the [No Child Left Behind Act] waiver system that enticed states to put in place policies they wouldn't put in place otherwise."

Investors bet big on apps that promise to improve health — and cut costs
STAT
Though adoption has been slow so far, analysts see a lot of potential, as consumers become more comfortable with the concept of online medical care. The National Conference of State Legislatures recently estimated that 3.2 million patients will use telemedicine services by 2018, compared with only 250,000 in 2013.
 
Increased use of telehealth prompts heightened legislative activity
ModernMedicine
In 2015, more than 200 bills were introduced in 42 states addressing telehealth. The use of telehealth services is expected to grow from 250,000 patients in 2013 to 3.2 million in 2018. These are just some of the findings contained in an extensive report on telehealth by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Nebraska Legislature has biggest share of millennials in U.S., survey says 
Lincoln Journal Star 
Nebraska's 16 percent millennial membership ranks higher than any other state, according to the survey done last year by Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
Governor OKs end of straight-party voting option 
WANE
Michigan is among 13 states to not allow for some form of early voting or no-reason absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Assembly leaders pledge to fix bridges, continue progress on jobs ...
The Providence Journal
Quoting Christopher Thornberg, an economist featured in this month’s edition of the National Conference of State Legislatures magazine, she said: “If you make those proper investments, people will want to be there. ... What’s languishing are long-term investments – building new schools and repairing old roads, bridges and various sorts of infrastructure.”
 
Proposed bill would allow firearms at Purdue
Journal and Courier
Indiana law grants universities the discretion to ban or allow guns on campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Currently, Purdue imposes a "longstanding policy that prohibits weapons on campus," university police Chief John Cox said in a statement Tuesday.
 
California's $15 Minimum Wage Initiative Is Likely Headed to Voters
RH Reality Check
More than 200 bills in 2015 called for increases to state or federal minimum wage, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fourteen states began 2016 with a higher minimum wage, although the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour.
 
Snyder signs bill eliminating straight party voting
The Detroit News
Michigan is one of 13 states that does not allow for some form of early or no-reason absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New federal law could change K-12 debate at statehouses
Idaho EdNews
“Legislators are super-excited,” Michelle Exstrom, education program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, told Education Week’s Daarel Burnette II. “They’ve been asking for a decade for some of these changes, and they have been very frustrated that we’ve been limping along with the (No Child Left Behind Act) waiver system that enticed states to put in place policies they wouldn’t put in place otherwise.”
 
Shrewsbury bicyclist killed in Worcester crash loved outdoors, biked ...
Wicked Local
A bill scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the Massachusetts Legislature would require motorists to provide a minimum of 3 feet when passing a bicyclist. As of December, 26 states and the District of Columbia have enacted 3-feet passing laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jan. 5

New York will pay your student loan bills for two years
CNN Money
New York is the first state to offer loan forgiveness on the basis of income. But at least 35 other states have a similar program that's based on the type of industry you work in and where you live, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They aim to encourage people to live and work in underserved communities and take public service-oriented jobs like teachers, social workers and health care workers.
 
Police Respond to Call to Check on Two Boys & Find Them Tattooed. Then They Learn Who Did It
IJ Review
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirty-eight states prohibit piercing or tattooing minors without parental permission. In New York, where the incident occurred, it is illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of eighteen, regardless of parental consent.
 
Legislators pass budgets more swiftly if there's fallout, review finds
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW 
In more than 20 states, late budgets trigger almost complete government shutdowns, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states furlough noncritical employees, kick campers out of state parks and close driver's license centers.
 
With the New Year comes an increase in minimum wage for West ...
WHAG
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states begin 2016 with higher minimum wages. Maryland has a minimum wage increase coming this July.

Shrewsbury bicyclist killed in Worcester crash loved outdoors, biked ...
Worcester Telegram 
A bill scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the Massachusetts Legislature would require motorists to provide a minimum of 3 feet when passing a bicyclist. As of December, 26 states and the District of Columbia have enacted 3-feet passing laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Google to analyze if rooftop solar panels are good deal
Poughkeepsie Journal
All but a handful of states have laws allowing what’s called “net metering” for homes or businesses — basically selling power from rooftop cells they don’t use themselves, usually to the local electric utility, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In December, Mississippi became the 46th state to adopt broad rules promoting solar power.
 
Colorado Sen. Cadman, still a believer in democratic process, embarks on final term in legislature
Colorado Springs Gazette
The bill became law and today Colorado is one of 25 states that require carbon monoxide detectors before a house is sold, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

2016 holds flurry of state planning, legal drama for Clean Power Plan
Environment & Energy Publishing
The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains a database of legislative activity related to the Clean Power Plan.
 
Legislators pass budgets more swiftly if there's fallout, review finds
Tribune-Review
In more than 20 states, late budgets trigger almost complete government shutdowns, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states furlough noncritical employees, kick campers out of state parks and close driver's license centers.

Jan. 4

States plan renewed debate on LGBT rights, spiritual freedom
U.S. News and World Report
Republicans hold majorities in two-thirds of the states’ legislative chambers, meaning they get to set the agenda. Those priorities could include attempts to exempt businesses from providing wedding-related services to gay couples, expand gun rights and further restrictions on abortions. Democrats, meanwhile, will likely be pushing in the opposite direction. “What we’ve got is division,” said William Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. He predicts there will be a “significant number of bills” seeking to advance either religious rights or the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. “You’ve got the Democratic states reacting very differently, a lot of the time, than the Republican states to these issues,” Pound said.
 
TSA may reject drivers licenses from six states over 10-year-old ID law
Washington Times
More than a dozen have passed laws barring their motor vehicle departments from complying with the regulations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The new standards require more stringent proof of identity and could allow users’ information to be shared in a national database, The New York Times reported.
 
Pay raises for some in the new year
CNBC
Two additional states will receive automatic increases based on the cost of living effective Jan. 1. Colorado's minimum hourly pay will go from $8.23 to $8.31, and South Dakota will lift pay from $8.50 to $8.55, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Virginia voter ID lawsuit is part of national push by Democrats
Washington Post
The National Conference of State Legislators puts Virginia’s laws in the category of the nation’s strictest: Voters must present a valid photo ID to cast a ballot at the polls.
 
Let Us Celebrate The Rising Minimum Wages The New Year Brings In New Different States and Cities
Forbes
California and Massachusetts are highest among the states, both increasing from $9 to $10 an hour, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. At the low end is Arkansas, where the minimum wage is increasing from $7.50 to $8. The smallest increase, a nickel, comes in South Dakota, where the hourly minimum is now $8.55. 

In 2016, States Expected To Ramp Up Ideas To Solve Opiate Abuse
NPR
I've been working on health policy for about 15 years, and I honestly can't think of anything other than the Affordable Care Act that has touched so many other aspects of policy in state legislation.
 
Legislators pass budgets more swiftly if there's fallout, review finds
Tribune-Review
In more than 20 states, late budgets trigger almost complete government shutdowns, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those states furlough noncritical employees, kick campers out of state parks and close driver's license centers.

Capital Beat: Does graying of our Legislature impact policy?
Concord Monitor
Lawmakers in the Granite State are on average 66 years old, a full decade older than the national average of 56, according to a recent demographic report released by Stateline and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
New Google service offers advice on going solar
TheChronicleHerald
All but a handful of states have laws allowing what’s called “net metering” for homes or businesses — basically selling power from rooftop cells they don’t use themselves, usually to the local electric utility, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In December, Mississippi became the 46th state to adopt broad rules promoting solar power.
 
Bias appears to be gone, but women still a minority in government
The Gazette
Lack of female representation in government doesn’t occur only in local government but state government, too. In 2015, 23 percent of Iowa legislators were women compared to 24 percent nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Droves of drones spawn hobby flight school
Philly.com
And so far, 26 states have enacted drone-related privacy laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

Andrea Figueroa BriseƱo: Why I regret swallowing the abortion pill
Fresno Bee
The chances of breaking free from the cycle of poverty is slim for children of teen mothers. As reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Two-thirds of families started by teens are poor, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth.”

Massachusetts minimum wage increases, state income tax decreases take effect today
MassLive.com
New Hampshire's minimum wage is the same as the federal minimum wage, $7.25; in Maine the number is $7.50, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Falling fuel prices to blunt impact of Friday's gas tax hike
Omaha World-Herald
Iowa and Nebraska were among eight states that passed fuel tax increases during the year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The others were Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.

Amazon must begin collecting sales taxes in SC Friday
Charleston Post Courier
Requiring Amazon to collect taxes on its in-state sales could add tens of millions of dollars to South Carolina’s treasury in 2016, Max Behlke, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ manager of state and federal relations, told the Associated Press recently.
  
Texas Has a Way of Punishing Those Who Make Really Bad Movies
IJ Review
As of March 2014, 39 states and Puerto Rico have various kinds of tax incentives aimed at the film and television industries, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
More and More States Offer Multiple Career Paths
Construction Citizen
Earlier this month, the National Conference of State Legislatures released this report on career pathway programs that states and local governments are implementing.