NCSL in the News | May 2020

7/6/2020

 

May 28

U.S. states, cities may snub Fed lending program over high rates
Reuters
Besides Illinois, New York, California and Hawaii have bills directly related to the MLF, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Warren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor
The Hill
Six states require the governor to appoint a replacement of the same party as the departing senator, according to a 2017 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
2nd case challenging 2020 census preparation dismissed
Minneapolis Star Tribune
The National Conference of State Legislatures also said its members were concerned about a new technique meant to protect the privacy of participants in the 2020 census by adding some mathematical "noise" to the data to obscure any given individual's identity. 
 
Connecticut’s redistricting could be squeezed by COVID-19
CT Mirror
Connecticut is one of 15 states certain to miss constitutional deadlines for drawing new legislative districts unless the U.S. Census Bureau reconsiders a four-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Conference of State Legislatures said Tuesday.
 
Democrats approve rule to allow lawmakers to avoid Colorado Capitol, cast votes remotely during coronavirus
Colorado Sun
The legislature resumed lawmaking Tuesday after a two-month pause because of concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 disease. As many as 17 states allow some form of remote participation in the legislative process, according to Democratic lawmakers, citing data from the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 

May 27

What is ballot ‘harvesting,’ and why is Trump so against it?
Washington Post
“From a voter’s point of view, it may be taken as a kindness if someone offers to mail in or drop off a voted ballot [in its signed envelope],” writes Wendy Underhill, director of the elections and redistricting program at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, especially when vulnerable populations are asked to stay at home as much as possible during a pandemic.
 
Can the Government Force You to Get a Coronavirus Vaccine?
Newsweek
All 50 states already grant exemptions for medical reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 45 have religious exemptions.
 
Group ends its ballot push
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.
 
Tennessee officials: 2020 vote-by-mail for all not feasible
Fox 17 Nashville
About a third of states, including Tennessee, require an excuse to vote absentee, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
2nd case challenging 2020 census preparation dismissed
ABC 3340 News
The National Conference of State Legislatures also said its members were concerned about a new technique meant to protect the privacy of participants in the 2020 census by adding some mathematical “noise” to the data to obscure any given individual’s identity. Some users of census data are worried the technique could make the data inaccurate at small geographies.
 

May 26

Republicans sue California Governor Gavin Newsom, claim his vote-by-mail order is "illegal power grab"
CBS News
Four states already conduct their general elections by mail, and Hawaii is set to become the fifth state to move entirely to vote-by-mail this year. Another 28 states and Washington D.C. offer "no-excuse" absentee or mail voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
HEROES Act would eliminate state requirements for voter IDs in federal elections
USA Today
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan nongovernmental organization that informs legislatures on policy, “36 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls.”
 
New York Legislature to Address Virus-Related Bills
Bloomberg Tax
State lawmakers have introduced numerous bills to address the impact of the pandemic over the past two months, dealing with everything from taxes to unemployment. New York has 167 virus-related bills pending, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures database.
 
Imagination Library literacy program enacted into state law
The City Sentinel
Haste said he was inspired to begin an Imagination Library after attending a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Tennessee in 2019, which included a presentation with Parton.  
 
South Dakota has least, Illinois most coronavirus restrictions
The Highland County Press
The analysis evaluated data from the National Governors Association, Kaiser Family Foundation, Child Care Aware of America, Ballotpedia, National Conference of State Legislatures, the COVID Tracking Project among others.
 

May 22

To Figure Out Who's A Citizen, Trump Administration Is Using These Records
NPR
If a new law is passed that allows for that extension, the bureau is also expecting to release the citizenship data as ordered by Trump by July 31, 2021, James Whitehorne, the head of the Census Bureau's redistricting and voting rights data office, told redistricting officials last month during a webinar organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States, companies set up their own COVID-19 legal shields
The Hill
At least six states — Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, South Carolina, and Wyoming — have introduced legislation that would also shield more than just health care workers and facilities, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Vermont ranks in top 10 states with largest 'Rainy Day' funds
Vermont Business Journal
Finally, information on revised state revenue projections during COVID-19 comes from the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
With Millions Of Jobs At Stake, State And Local Government Associations Call On Congress To Approve Aid, National Association of Counties Reports
Sierra Sun Times
The National Governors Association, Council of State Governments, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors and the International City/County Management Association noted that unlike the federal government, state and local governments must balance their budgets  and cannot borrow money over the long term to fund continuing operations.
 
Republicans ask Hogan to call special session on Maryland election, claiming potential risk of voter 'fraud'
The Frederick News-Post
Some states require a copy of a voter ID or a witness signature on the return envelope. In Maryland, election officials review absentee ballots and verify the ballot has been signed. If a ballot is not signed, it is rejected, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

May 21

Under pressure, Trump administration weighs extending National Guard deployments
Politico
The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates the cost of the deployment to be as much as $9 million per month for every 1,000 troops.
 
Examining the arguments against voting by mail: Does it really lead to fraud or benefit only Democrats?
Washington Post
“From a voter’s point of view, it may be taken as a kindness if someone offers to mail in or drop off a voted ballot (in its signed envelope),” writes Wendy Underhill, the director of the elections and redistricting program at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures — especially when vulnerable populations are asked to stay at home as much as possible in a pandemic.
 
To Figure Out Who's A Citizen, Trump Administration Is Using These Records
NPR
If a new law is passed that allows for that extension, the bureau is also expecting to release the citizenship data as ordered by Trump by July 31, 2021, James Whitehorne, the head of the Census Bureau's redistricting and voting rights data office, told redistricting officials last month during a webinar organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Activists warn mail-in voting needed but could hurt some voters if poorly implemented
CBS News
Five states already conduct elections primarily by mail, and 29 allow anyone to vote absentee without an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
 
Colorado's automatic voter registration system now operable
Colorado Politics
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, such a process allows for voter rolls that reflect current addresses of citizens.
 
State taking steps to reopen economy, but reviving it could take years
Peoria Times
“Unlike the federal government, states can’t deficit spend and they have to balance their budgets, so you know with these types of revenue loss states could face significant cuts without assistance,” said Erica MacKellar, a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Report: Hawaii listed among states with highest Covid restrictions
Pacific Business News
For the study, researchers compared all 50 states and Washington DC in terms of restrictions using data from he National Governors Association, Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Conference of State Legislatures, among other sources. States were judged based on several criteria including statewide school restart dates, strictness of shelter-in-place orders, and the reopening of essential and non-essential businesses, among other factors.
 
Mississippi trails most states in making elections safer
DeSoto Times-Tribune
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about three-fifths of the states allow no-excuse voting by mail, and about four-fifths of the states allow no-excuse in-person early voting. Mississippi is not among those states.

 

May 20

‘Hard stop’: States could lose National Guard virus workers
Politico
The cost of the deployment is as much as $9 million per month for every 1,000 troops, according to the National Council of State Legislatures — an expense that states would have to shoulder should Title 32 expire.
 
Coronavirus putting future of state bills, grassroots efforts in jeopardy
ABC News
As of Friday, 14 states have postponed their legislative sessions because of the pandemic, 23 have adjourned their sessions for weeks and 15 states haven't approved state budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan nongovernmental organization that keeps track and advises statehouses.
 
Protect health workers from civil liability
Seattle Times
According to researchers at the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly a dozen governors around the country have extended some liability protections to medical providers during this crisis.
 
Colorado lawmakers won’t be required to wear masks at Capitol when legislative session resumes
Colorado Sun
A review of data collected by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures shows a variety of strategies that limited who came to the Capitol buildings and allowed for teleconference meetings.
 
North Dakota to use coronavirus aid to livestream hearings
San Francisco Chronicle
North Dakota is one of only eight states that don’t provide live webcasts of at least some committee hearings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Federal relief funds for states limited in use
Valdosta Daily Times
In their third joint appropriations meeting Monday, policy experts from the National Conference of State Legislatures gave Georgia legislators a breakdown of the billions of dollars already distributed and on the way to help states recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown.
 
 

May 19

Democratic activists scramble to sign up new voters during coronavirus pandemic
The Washington Post
Some states are already ramping up absentee voting because of concerns over physical participation in the elections. There are 16 states, however, that require an excuse for absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That includes Texas, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Massachusetts, and West Virginia.
 
Voting registration activists are shifting their message to health care during the coronavirus pandemic
Washington Post
Sixteen states require an excuse to vote absentee, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That includes Texas, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Massachusetts and West Virginia.
 
North Dakota to use coronavirus aid to livestream hearings
Big Rapid News
North Dakota is one of only eight states that don’t provide live webcasts of at least some committee hearings, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Coronavirus putting future of state bills, grassroots efforts in jeopardy
WCSJ News
As of Friday, 14 states have postponed their legislative sessions because of the pandemic, 23 have adjourned their sessions for weeks and 15 states haven't approved state budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan nongovernmental organization that keeps track and advises statehouses.
 
Did That Drone Just Tell Us to Stay 6 Feet Apart?
Government Technology
Since 2013, at least 44 states have enacted laws addressing drones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. For example, some states bar flights over correctional facilities.
 
 

May 18

Coronavirus putting future of state bills, grassroots efforts in jeopardy
ABC News
As of Friday, 14 states have postponed their legislative sessions because of the pandemic, 23 have adjourned their sessions for weeks and 15 states haven't approved state budgets, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan nongovernmental organization that keeps track and advises statehouses.
 
As People Use COVID-19 as Weapon, U.S. States Mull Criminal Crackdowns
New York Times
New Jersey is among the first states to consider making it a crime to issue a "credible threat to infect another with COVID-19 or similar infectious disease that triggered public emergency," said a spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
A way for the Supreme Court to avoid chaos in November: Leave the rules on governing electors to the states
The Washington Post
That was the argument made by attorneys from both of those states — two of the 30 (including the District), with elector-binding laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Expect Trump to complain, win or lose, about how ballots were cast
Newsday
Five states currently conduct all-mail elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, ballots are sent to all registered voters without their having to request them.
 
A COVID-19 vaccine could meet resistance in Oklahoma
Tulsa World
But unlike policies for children, few requirements exist for adult immunizations in the U.S. and little public health infrastructure supports mass vaccination of adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
What is ballot harvesting and how is it affecting Southern California elections?
The Orange County Register
In 27 states and Washington, D.C., it’s legal for residents to let someone other than a family member mail in or drop off their ballot, according to policies tracked by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Mississippi, with history of voter suppression, trailing most states in making elections safer
The Meridian Star
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about three-fifths of the states allow no excuse voting by mail and about four-fifths of the states allow no excuse in-person early voting. Mississippi is not among those states.
 
Office of Child Advocate would help struggling welfare system
The Morning Star
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “independence is a core defining principle of an effective and credible” watchdog.
 
Coronavirus decimates state budgets, federal funding uncertain
KMTR 16 News
The longer the situation persists, the worse it is for states, explained Mandy Rafool, the fiscal affairs program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

 

May 13

Removing polygamy as a felony is one of the important laws that take effect today
The Salt Lake Tribune
Before abolishing straight-ticket voting, Utah was one of just seven states that allowed it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The Latest: Pakistan tops 2,000 new cases for 1st time
Sentinel & Enterprise
About a third of states require an excuse to vote absentee, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
With Costs on the Rise, How Does My State Pay for Natural Disasters?
PEW Trusts
Although this study did not examine budgeting practices for public health emergencies, states are employing some of these tools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

May 12

New head of Florida’s elections supervisors group is all in on mail-in voting
WSTP
Just five states—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington—conduct all-mail elections, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
State taking steps to reopen economy, but reviving it could take years
Tuscan Local Media
“Unlike the federal government, states can’t deficit spend and they have to balance their budgets, so you know with these types of revenue loss states could face significant cuts without assistance,” said Erica MacKellar, a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Designing a State and Local Government Relief Package
Tax Foundation
The National Conference of State Legislatures has requested $300 billion in flexible state and local aid.
 
 

May 12

California Gov. Newsom signs order saying all registered voters will get mail ballots for November
Washington Post
There are five states that conduct all elections by mail — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/08/coronavirus-update-us/
 

Newsom signs executive order declaring California a vote-by-mail state
CBS News
Another 28 states and Washington D.C. offer "no-excuse" absentee or mail voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States are taking precautions to keep coronavirus from disrupting fall elections

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. 

Other states are releasing some of their prisoners. Why not Nebraska?
Omaha World Herald
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35 states from around the country have reduced their prison populations.
 
Tug of war for control of coronavirus billions happening nationwide not just in NH
New Hampshire Union Leader
Republicans have a majority control in 29 state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

May 8

Power struggles erupt as governors and state legislatures fight over coronavirus response
Washington Post
Republicans have a majority control in 29 state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Louisiana's GOP lawmakers stall paid sick leave requirement
Beaumont Enterprise
Twelve states have passed laws requiring paid sick leave for workers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 

May 7

State, Local Government Groups Call for Cybersecurity Funding
Gov Tech
Congress should authorize and fully fund "a dedicated cybersecurity program" to meet the growing needs of states, territories and local governments, argues a letter sent last week to the leaders of Congress by a group of government-focused organizations. That coalition includes groups like the National Governors Association, the National League of Cities, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, as well as a number of others. 
 
Colorado Ranked 19th In U.S. For Most Coronavirus Restrictions
CBS Denver 4
Data used to create the ranking were collected from the National Governors Association, Kaiser Family Foundation, Editorial Projects in Education, National Conference of State Legislatures, American College of Radiology, the COVID Tracking Project and news reports.
 
State House Passes Bill Requiring Notarization Of Absentee Ballots
Oklahoma News 9
If passed in the Senate and approved by the governor, the bill would put Oklahoma back on a list with only Mississippi and Missouri requiring mail-in ballots be notarized, according to a database complied by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
 

May 6

How Voting in U.S. Is Harder Than Just Checking a Box
Washington Post
In the seven states with the strictest laws, a voter must present a driver’s license or other official identification document with a photo on it; those lacking a photo ID may cast only a provisional ballot and then must take additional steps after Election Day, such as bring acceptable ID to an election office, for that vote to be counted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Legislature reaches agreement
The Ponca City News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nearly every state has revised revenue projections downward and expects to enact reduced budgets due to COVID-19’s effect on the economy and state government revenues.
 
 

May 1

U.S. states, cities may snub Fed lending program over high rates
Reuters
Besides Illinois, New York, California and Hawaii have bills directly related to the MLF, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is pushing state lawmakers for emergency bond legislation.
 
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.
 
Program gives employees more than $600 a week for working a few hours less, but few are using it
Lansing State Journal
Nearly 30 states had their own work share programs as of 2019, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Michigan adopted its program in 2015.
 
Federal aid uncertain as Indiana grapples with declining revenue
News and Tribune
The National Conference of State Legislatures, along with the National Governor’s Association, asked Congress in mid-April to make aid flexible retroactively. “Unlike prior recessions, the current decline in state and local revenues … (was) unforeseeable, immediate and unprecedentedly large,” the legislatures group said. “Without the additional federal aid to replace the immediate volume of anticipated revenue losses, many states, territories and local governments will require significant cuts.”
 
U.S. states, cities may snub Fed lending program over high rates
WTVB
Besides Illinois, New York, California and Hawaii have bills directly related to the MLF, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is pushing state lawmakers for emergency bond legislation.