NCSL in the News | June 2020

6/1/2020

June 30

The Supreme Court Stopped Anti-Abortion Momentum. For Now.
The New York Times
Control of state legislatures is also on the table. Nearly 80 percent of state seats are up for election this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Coalition urges Senate to provide immediate pandemic relief to state and local governments
StateScoop
The letter, which is supported by groups including the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors, urges relief as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt many of state and local governments’ major revenue sources and “threatens” critical jobs supporting services in health care, education, public safety and transportation.
 
Protests Prompt Policing Changes, But Skeptics Doubt They Will Be Enough
PEW
In response to Ferguson, the Obama administration commissioned a task force to recommend policing changes. From 2014 to 2017, at least 16 states enacted legislation regulating use of force by law enforcement, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 27 states passed laws that required police training for situations involving an individual with a mental illness. And 34 states passed laws related to body cameras.
 
 

June 29

Fight over COVID-19 workplace rules moves to states
The Hill
The National Conference of State Legislatures said it is not aware of any state bills that lay out a set of safety standards, but noted that there is legislation around screening and testing procedures, as well as providing information to workers.
 
One Month After George Floyd's Death, Here's Where Police Reform Stands
Newsweek
State and local leaders have taken matters into their own hands amid the national outcry for change, as members of Congress struggle to coalesce around a singular bill to curb police brutality and overhaul law enforcement practices. And as of last week, 159 police reform proposals in 16 states had been introduced, amended or passed, according to an analysis by The Marshall Project of a database from the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Putting On Face Cover-up Throughout Pandemic Does Not Impact Concealed Carry Authorization
Press Periodical
Provisions connected to using face masks or even face treatments “are actually certainly not essentially in covered bring laws,” Anne Teigen expressed our team through e-mail. She deals with condition guns plan for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those requirements are actually typically located in different laws. The NCSL put together a checklist of 18 such condition regulations, plus one in the District of Columbia. A lot of those regulations attend to using a face dealing with during the course of the payment of an unlawful act or even to hide an individual’s identification. None of the regulations exclusively reference an individual lugging an officially enabled covered item.

 
On California's November ballot: Restoring affirmative action, letting parolees vote
People's World
In two of those states, Maine and Vermont, both parolees and currently incarcerated people can vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. On the other hand, 21 states bar both parolees and incarcerated people from voting, and 11 states say formerly incarcerated people are barred from voting “indefinitely.”

 

June 26

One Month After George Floyd's Death, Here's Where Police Reform Stands
Newsweek
And as of last week, 159 police reform proposals in 16 states had been introduced, amended or passed, according to an analysis by The Marshall Project of a database from the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Fight over COVID-19 workplace rules moves to states
The Hill
The National Conference of State Legislatures said it is not aware of any state bills that lay out a set of safety standards, but noted that there is legislation around screening and testing procedures, as well as providing information to workers.
 
Campaign to cap payday loan interest rates at 36% moves ahead in Nebraska even as federal measures remain stalled
CNBC
Across the U.S., 37 states have specific statutes that allow for payday lending, but with restrictions, such as varying interest rate caps and maximum loan amounts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Body cameras are seen as key to police reform. But do they increase accountability?
PBS News Hour
Yet only five states have laws specifically requiring at least some officers to use body cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Initiative to restore voting rights to Californians on parole heads to November ballot
Hastings Tribune
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there’s been an emerging trend to lift voting restrictions on formerly incarcerated people, though policy shifts vary by state.
 
 

June 25

Germany bans single-use plastic straws, food containers
The Hill
While there are no federal restrictions on single-use plastics, eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont — have banned single-use plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
 
College savings plans see pandemic-related declines
Education Dive
That’s why some states have created cash incentive programs — usually $50 to $100 — to encourage parents to open 529 accounts for their children, said Andrew Smalley, an education research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
 
Legislatures Concerned About Health at Special Session
Blue Mountain Eagle
Seventeen states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have introduced more than 165 law enforcement-related bills over the past three weeks, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
 

June 24

Senate Democrats call GOP policing bill ‘not salvageable,’ signal they will block measure
The Washington Post
The stalemate on Capitol Hill stands in contrast to action across the country, where more than 250 bills have been introduced in 26 states on the issue of police reform since Floyd’s May 25 death, according to a database compiled by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Fact-checking the GOP’s ‘satirical’ vote-by-mail video
The Washington Post
States and local governments are in charge of running U.S. elections. Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules, but all states offer accommodations for voters who cannot make it to the polls. “In two-thirds of the states, any qualified voter may vote absentee without offering an excuse, and in one-third of the states, an excuse is required,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Once a centrist, Andrew Romanoff’s sharp turn to the left raises questions in U.S. Senate primary
The Colorado Sun
One of Romanoff’s top concerns was looking “anti-business.” But in that year, he told State Legislatures magazine, a publication of the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, that he “practically lived” at the chamber of commerce and delivered “the most pro-business session in five years.”
 
 

June 23

Lawmakers hope House leadership change will let Lehigh Valley issues like property tax reform get more discussion
The Morning Call
The state’s minimum wage stands at $7.25. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 19 states have rates above $10 an hour.
 
Hate crimes proposal drives Georgia legislators apart — but consensus may be near
Saporta Report
That law enforcement class appears in Louisiana’s hate crime law, but not in that of any other state, according to a 2019 state law list compiled by the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
 

June 22

Iowa governor says she will restore voting rights for paroled felons
ABC News
In 2005, then-Gov. Tom Vilsack restored voting rights to individuals with former felony convictions through an executive order, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Why Trump is already sowing doubts about November's vote
CNN
"I do believe we will have a good election," says Wendy Underhill of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Whether we'll have a result at midnight on Election Night, I can't say."
 
Beware the Fall Ballot Harvest
Wall Street Journal
Are they paying attention next door in Ohio? Ballots there can be counted if they arrive 10 days late, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Democrats Want $175 Billion Stimulus For Schools
Forbes
The National Council of State Legislatures is tracking revenue declines due to the coronavirus, with some states showing more than a 20% decline.
 
Election procedures bill advances out of Senate committee
Albuquerque Journal
Five states already mail a ballot – not a ballot application – to all voters, though the states vary in how much in-person voting they also offer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
How Election Security Has Become A Top Issue
Government Technology
Ensuring the integrity and security of the election process is essential for the functioning of democracy in the U.S., and is a shared responsibility among many officials. Local election administrators are in charge of the nuts and bolts of election administration, and play a key role in elections security.
 

June 19

Which States Are Taking on Police Reform After George Floyd?
The Marshall Project
Amber Widgery, who leads the criminal justice program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said she expects more police reform bills from state legislatures when they reconvene. Some governors, like Kate Brown of Oregon, have already announced they will call legislatures back into session to address police accountability.
 
Iowa governor says she will restore voting rights for paroled felons
ABC News
Iowa had at one point restored voting rights. In 2005, then-Gov. Tom Vilsack restored voting rights to individuals with former felony convictions through an executive order, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Online Sellers Lament Lack of State Sales Tax Uniformity
Bloomberg Tax
The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers, has worked on uniform laws and lobbied Congress on sales tax issues for at least 25 years. The NCSL in January approved marketplace facilitator model legislation, which has been used as a template for action in several states.
 
Wisconsin panel gives final approval on absentee ballots
WHIO
Twenty-seven states allow voters to designate someone else to return their ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that is silent on the issue, according to NCSL.
 
Election procedures bill advances out of Senate committee
Albuquerque Journal
Five states already mail a ballot – not a ballot application – to all voters, though the states vary in how much in-person voting they also offer, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

June 18

DeSantis’ plans to rework state’s $93.2B budget could violate constitution
Orlando Sentinel
But 21 other states have already reworked their budget figures according to the new economic reality, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and some are moving to pass new budgets.
 
Court rules Legislature can bar public from Roundhouse
Albuquerque Journal
Meanwhile, the move to close the Roundhouse to the public during the special session is not unique, as 33 other U.S. state capitol buildings have been closed to the public due to COVID-19, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Wisconsin panel gives final approval on absentee ballots
Star Tribune
Twenty-seven states allow voters to designate someone else to return their ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that is silent on the issue, according to NCSL.
 
Wisconsin panel to give final approval on absentee ballots
Columbia Basin Herald
Twenty-seven states allow voters to designate someone else to return their ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that is silent on the issue, according to NCSL.
 
Gov. Mike DeWine wants chokehold ban, independent investigations for police shootings
Akron Beacon Journal
The National Conference of State Legislatures found that at least 165 law enforcement related bills were introduced in 17 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico over the last three weeks.
 

June 17

Police Killings Prompt Evaluation of Laws Allowing Deadly Force
The New York Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 16 states enacted new laws regarding use of force from 2014 to 2017. One 2014 law in Utah restricted officers to “use only that force which is reasonable and necessary” for executing a warrant. And nine states in that time period changed the law to provide more transparency in investigations of deaths involving police.
 
Medicaid, Schools, Pregnancy, Opioids: Here’s Where Colorado’s Cuts May Hurt
Colorado Public Radio
Lawmakers have almost finished up work on a drastically slashed budget to keep Colorado’s state finances in the black, but it may be months or even years before the effects truly become apparent. “It’s the worst, but also the weirdest,” of the recent recessions, said Paul Teske, dean of the School of Public Affairs at CU Denver. Colorado faces some of the nation’s starkest predicted drops in revenue, though direct comparisons to other states are difficult, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
After 100 years of voting, women remain underrepresented in government
Sioux City Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2019, women made up just 28.9% of all state legislators nationwide. That percentage is an increase from the 2018 session’s ratio of 25.3%, and the most women elected at one time.
 
Checks, balances | How Kentucky protects mail-in ballots
WHAS11.com
Signature matching is the most common verification method for absentee ballots across the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, people working to analyze signatures often get training on what to look for as they verify.
 
Hidalgo County recognizes its female veteran employees’ impact on Women’s Veterans Day
KRGV
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas has the highest total number of female veterans in the country.
 
Oil and gas and private donors paid for initiatives in Hickenlooper’s administration, investigation finds
The Colorado Sun
More than half the states allow public-private partnerships, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. But in Colorado and other states the so-called P3s are typically reserved for big-ticket items like roads and airports and come with strict oversight protections to ward off potential conflicts.
 
Rep. Leavitt Appointed to Serve on NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs
The Suburban Times
Rep. Leavitt represents an informed voice on the needs of service-members, veterans, and their families and she has effectively leveraged her experience to advocate for those groups. She will bring this perspective to the NCSL Task Force on Military and Veterans Affairs. Rep. Leavitt also serves on Washington veterans committees to include the House Veteran’s Committee as well as the Joint Committee on Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

June 12

Census Has New Method for Privacy; Researchers Want Proof
Governing
Organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislatures have called for another test run, raising concerns that differential privacy will complicate legislative mapmaking.
NCSL’s director for elections and redistricting, Wendy Underhill, said the current iterations of differential privacy may make it difficult for states to meet their constitutional requirements when drawing up new congressional districts.
“If differential privacy does not have accurate population totals at block level, it is hard for districts to be built that we are sure are of equal population,” she said.
 
Weber County Elections Office sends mail-in ballots, officials defend voting method
Standard-Examiner
Utah is one of just five states that handles elections mostly or entirely by mail. The others are Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Undocumented, Low-Income Seniors In Illinois Can Soon Get Publicly Funded Health Coverage
WBEZ
This makes Illinois the first state in the country to expand publicly funded health care coverage to undocumented seniors and seniors who have held green cards for less than five years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

June 11

California Advances Remote-Voting Measure for State Lawmakers
Bloomberg Government
Both chambers of Colorado’s Legislature passed resolutions last month to allow remote voting during the pandemic, and the Rhode Island Senate has proposed a measure to allow members to vote by email, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
From Rent Freezes to Liquor Buybacks: How States Are Helping People Cope
WBHM
Because of the quick onset of this emergency — and social distancing measures that forced many state legislatures to halt their sessions when the virus took hold — states’ options often depended on what sorts of programs existed prior to the pandemic, says Josh Cunningham, a program manager at the National Conference of State Legislatures and a former aide in the Colorado state House of Representatives.
“They have a lot of programs for economic development already in place,” Cunningham says. “Now it’s like, how do they make it more accessible?”

June 10

It’s up to the states to prevent an Election Day fiasco
The Washington Post
Reassuring guidance comes from the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). It notes that two-thirds of states provide absentee ballots without requiring any excuse, and other states are easing the excuse requirement. The NCSL website cites studies that mail-only balloting has yielded greater voter satisfaction, lower costs and higher turnout. As for fraud worries, the NCSL counsels: “In several ways, absentee/mailed ballots are as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting.”
 
Senate approves police accountability bill nearly unanimously
Colorado Politics
Amber Widgery with the National Conference of State Legislatures said that since the slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, Colorado is the only state that has introduced a policing reform bill.
"This doesn’t mean that other states aren’t going to pivot on existing bills," she said, clarifying that most other state legislatures are not currently in session. A proposed amendment to an education bill in California would address choke holds and use of force.
 
Researchers push for public test of census privacy tools
Roll Call
Organizations like the National Conference of State Legislatures have called for another test run, raising concerns that differential privacy will complicate legislative mapmaking.
NCSL’s director for elections and redistricting, Wendy Underhill, said the current iterations of differential privacy may make it difficult for states to meet their constitutional requirements when drawing up new congressional districts.
“If differential privacy does not have accurate population totals at block level, it is hard for districts to be built that we are sure are of equal population,” she said.
 
Leaders in State Legislature Back Ban on Police ‘Sleeper Holds’
CBS San Francisco
Colorado and Illinois allow use of the hold only if police deem lethal force to be justified, said Amber Widgery, a criminal justice analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, while Tennessee allows its use if other means of restraint have been ineffective. Washington, D.C., bans a similar trachea hold but permits the carotid hold under circumstances where lethal force is allowed.

June 9

As people protest across the US, some wonder: Could I be fired for protesting
CNBC
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, “The U.S. is one of a handful of countries where employment is predominantly at-will. Most countries around the world allow employers to dismiss employees only for cause.”
 
Minuscule number of potentially fraudulent ballots in states with universal mail voting undercuts Trump claims about election risks
The Washington Post
A number of states do not have a signature verification rule, including Connecticut, Maryland and New Hampshire, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. States such as Alaska, Louisiana and Virginia require a witness to sign the ballot, but they do not match voters’ signatures.
 
California would ban police chokeholds under deal struck by legislative leaders
Los Angeles Times
Colorado and Illinois allow use of the hold only if police deem lethal force to be justified, said Amber Widgery, a criminal justice analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, while Tennessee allows its use if other means of restraint have been ineffective. Washington, D.C., bans a similar trachea hold but permits the carotid hold under circumstances where lethal force is allowed.
 
Group wants to prevent ballot harvesting in Wisconsin
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Twenty-seven states allow voters to designate someone else to return their ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin is one of 13 states that is silent on the issue, according to NCSL.

Why Online Learning Is Failing Millions Of Students
Forbes
To see what your state is doing to address the digital divide, or to get involved, go to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ list of broadband task forces.

June 8

Appeals court rules Texans cannot request mail-in ballots over coronavirus fears
The Hill
However, the National Conference of State Legislatures has found that absentee ballots or ballots that are mailed to election officials “are as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting,” CNN reported.
 
County officials learn from mail-only voting in primary
Bismarck Tribune
Mail-in voting allows voters to take more time in reviewing their ballot before submitting it and reduces some expenses for staff and equipment at polling locations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets: When do police act?
The Palmetto Courier
As of August 2018, at least 16 states have adopted use-of-force laws, including better tracking of officers’ use of guns and deadly force, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
States adopting 2021 budgets while Congress dithers
Bond Buyer
That was the message during a webcast Friday by members of the National Conference of State Legislatures who said the delay by the Senate has not lessened their desire to receive additional federal aid.

June 5

GA legislative media director nationally recognized
Valdosta Today
A program of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), LINCS is a network of legislative employees that promote improved and effective communications between public information and communications staff and their legislatures, staff and constituents.
 
As Second Anniversary Nears, Is Wayfair ‘Grace Period’ Over?
Bloomberg Tax
The language lines up with that in a model statute adopted in January by the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Judge orders Tennessee to offer vote-by-mail option to all 4.1 million registered voters
FOX 17 Nashville
About a third of states, including Tennessee, require a reason to vote absentee, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Across the U.S., Lawmakers Are Slow to Pass Laws Limiting the Use of Force
WBEZ
As of August 2018, at least 16 states had passed use-of-force laws, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Appeals court blocks order that would have expanded vote-by-mail amid pandemic in Texas
WRAL
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, absentee or mailed ballots in several ways “are as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting.”

June 4

Can Tax Amnesty Programs Cure State Budget Woes?
Forbes
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that more than half of states are projecting revenue shortfalls as high as 30%. 
 
U.S. Legislatures slow to pass laws limiting use of force
Salt Lake Tribune
As of August 2018, at least 16 states had passed use-of-force laws, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Tennessee judge: Virus by-mail voting guidelines ambiguous
The Argus Press
About a third of states, including Tennessee, require a reason to vote absentee, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

June 3

Don’t Text and Drive to Save Young Lives
New York Times
State laws vary, but according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, Montana is today the only state with no regulations on texting while driving.
 
9 States Make Adjustments for Early Reading
Education Week
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia require retaining students who do not meet these proficiency standards by the end of 3rd grade, though most allow for exemptions under certain conditions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Brianna Titone Wants to Revive a Bill That Would Ban the ‘Gay Panic Defense’ in Colorado
Colorado Public radio
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, gay and trans panic defenses have been allowed in about half of U.S. states since the 1950s.

June 2

Some voters are scared the coronavirus will stop them from casting a ballot
CNBC
The District of Columbia and 34 states, including five that conduct all-mail voting, use no-excuse absentee voting, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
GOP Lawsuit: Newsom Overstepped His Emergency Powers in Changing Election Law
The Epoch Times
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), double voting in California is a felony which can carry a prison term of up to three years.

June 1

What you need to know about vote-by-mail
CNN
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, absentee or mailed ballots in several ways “are as secure or more secure than traditional methods of voting.” One reason? In most states, these ballots are examined and processed in advance of Election Day, spreading out the workload and allowing more time for scrutiny.
 
Marijuana advocates recommit to ballot quest
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
There are 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
SC’s citizen’s arrest law is 154 years old with no record of success. So why drop it now?
The Post and Courier
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, South Carolina is one among 22 states that allow for immunity under certain self-defense circumstances. Unlike “stand your ground” laws, which the state also has, a citizen’s arrest can take place on public property and with only a suspicion of wrongdoing.
 
State lawmakers wrestle with scope and timing of higher ed budget cuts
Education Dive
“Legislators are operating in an environment where the revenue forecasts are uncertain (and) the aid from the federal level is uncertain,” said Andrew Smalley, a research analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Groups want Whitmer to end lifetime ban on food stamps for people with drug convictions
Detroit Free Press
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have eliminated the ban on SNAP assistance, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Alabama’s largest cities pressure lawmakers on ‘no-excuse’ absentee voting
AL.com
The other 29 states and D.C. offer “no-excuse” absentee voting, which means any voter can request a mail ballot without providing an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.