NCSL in the News | October 2014

10/1/2014

Oct. 31

Mega-Donors Give Big in State Elections
Time
In 21 states, corporations cannot give money to candidates’ campaigns, and 16 states ban unions from giving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Unions and corporations can give through their political action committees, though contributions may be limited.) Thirty-eight states cap the amount a person or group can give to a single candidate.
 
GOP goal: two-thirds of state legislative chambers
Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg
After Republicans took 21 new legislative chambers in the 2010 election, states cut taxes, restricted abortion and limited collective bargaining for public employees. State-level policy making is increasingly important with Congress and President Barack Obama deadlocked, said Tim Storey, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.
 
Arizona growth slowdown leaves next governor $1 billion hangover
Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg News
Arizona's dependence on revenue growth from new residents and businesses puts it apart from states that developed earlier, said Arturo Perez, fiscal affairs program manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures, based in Denver. "It bears watching," Perez said of Arizona's projected budget gap. "I wouldn't say it's a bellwether state. It's too early and too small of a sample at this point."
 
Jim Huffman - The Case Against Early Voting
The Daily Caller
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33 states plus the District of Columbia offer some form of early voting. In addition, three states (Oregon, Washington and Colorado) conduct all elections by mail, effectively requiring every voter to vote early if they wish to return their ballot by mail (Voters can deliver, or have someone else deliver, their ballot to designated depositories as late as election day). That leaves only 14 states where the sole alternative to showing up at the polls on election day is to request, with an excuse, an absentee ballot to be returned by mail.
 
Aging Prisoners Shackle State Budgets
Governing
It’s hard to say just how much older prisoners will end up costing states. At least 16 states mandate the use of specialized corrections impact statements to help lawmakers understand how various criminal justice proposals affect prison populations and associated costs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Renewable Energy's Rise Hurting Utilities
Governing
The problem with net metering for some utilities is equity, says Jocelyn Durkay, a policy associate on energy with the National Conference of State Legislatures. Non-rooftop customers -- or clients that aren’t generating their own power -- are essentially paying more for electricity than net-metering customers because net-metering customers are using the grid infrastructure to sell power back, but not actually helping pay to maintain it. This inequity is forcing states to revisit their net-metering policies.
 
Missouri House candidates share same-sex marriage views
The Missourian
The nation's movement toward the acceptance of same-sex marriage leaves Missouri in the minority as one of 18 states with no provisions allowing same-sex marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Missouri's ban is enshrined in its constitution after voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2 on the August 2004 ballot.
 
Jack Cardwell - Wolf offers change, would implement needed impact fees on drillers
The Herald
Lechner points out how nice it is seeing all of these out- of-state license plates in the county. Gee, I thought this drilling was supposed to provide jobs for local residents. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania is the only large gas-producing state without a severance tax.

Oct. 30

Republican Goal: Two-Thirds of U.S. Legislative Chambers
Bloomberg News
After Republicans took 21 new legislative chambers in the 2010 election, states cut taxes, restricted abortion and limited collective bargaining for public employees. State-level policy making is increasingly important with Congress and President Barack Obama deadlocked, said Tim Storey, an analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. “You can’t understate the impact of these elections on people’s lives and public policy, especially at a time when Washington is almost certainly going to remain gridlocked,” Storey said.
 
U.S. Chamber Warns Cyberattack Disclosures Could Hurt Corporate Profits
Wall Street Journal
At the state level, the disclosure laws are a patchwork quilt. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring companies or governments to notify individuals of security breaches involving personally identifiable information, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But the laws vary widely on who must comply with the law, what constitutes a breach and the timing of the notification requirements.
 
Voting Next Tuesday? Here Are 8 Things You Need To Know Before Midterm Elections
MTV News
As the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) explains, South Carolina was the first state to pass a voter ID law. Hawaii, Texas, Florida and Alaska soon followed, but in each state there were provisions “for voters to be able to cast a regular ballot even if they did not have the requested ID.”
 
Want to see the status of voter ID laws around the country? The NCSL created a nifty, color-coded map that shows how the laws vary from state to state, and how strict the law is in each state.

Republicans Could Control More Statehouses Than Ever After Legislative Elections
International Business Times
“The states have been pushing the envelope from all directions, and sometimes counter-intuitively,” Tim Storey, a legislative analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Washington Post. “Immigration, minimum wage, tax increases, tax cuts, environmental legislation, abortion rights, all of those things, you’ve had a real uptick in policy-making at the state level.”
 
Beware revenge porn laws: Column
USA Today
This year alone, at least 28 states have introduced or have pending legislation to curb the posting of humiliating sexual images, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It's all well-intentioned, but on thin ice constitutionally.
 
It's White House vs. Americans on voter ID
WND.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks the latest developments on voter ID, a total of 34 states currently have laws on the books requiring some form of identification for voting. 

Oct. 29

Election could tip historic number of legislatures into Republican hands
Washington Post
“The states have been pushing the envelope from all directions, and sometimes counter-intuitively,” said Tim Storey, a legislative analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Immigration, minimum wage, tax increases, tax cuts, environmental legislation, abortion rights, all of those things, you’ve had a real uptick in policy making at the state level.”
 
Voters Weigh Approving Recreational Pot in Oregon, Alaska
Bloomberg
Colorado began recreational-marijuana sales in January, followed by Washington state in July. Voters in both states legalized the practice in 2012. In Florida, voters next week will decide whether to allow its medical use, which is already legal in 23 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (0834296D:US).
 
Early voting question on the ballot
CT Post
Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow in-person early voting during a designated period prior to Election Day, and 27 states allow voters to mail no-excuse absentee ballots, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Rock County voters face advisory referendum on minimum wage
Gazette Extra
Nationally, 34 states have considered minimum wage increase in 2014. As of September, 10 states and the District of Columbia had increased the minimum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Student Government debates Secure Communities policy
The Daily Texan
According to the resolution, which cites the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Secure Communities” is a program implemented to remove unauthorized immigrants who are convicted of an especially violent crime. The resolution also states 82 percent of the people convicted and deported in Travis County under Secure Communities are nonviolent.

Oct. 28

State Ballot Initiatives Could Boost Turnout, Affecting Key Races
National Journal
But marijuana, abortion, guns, and minimum wage are returning as key issues this year, said Wendy Underhill, program manager for elections at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several of these initiatives have drawn millions of dollars from those on either side. The NCLS has a database containing a century's worth of statewide ballot measures. 
 
Ballot Proposal Could Open Door To Early Voting
CBS Connecticut/Associated Press
The state’s only ballot question for the Nov. 4 election asks voters whether the Connecticut constitution should be amended to remove several election restrictions that officials say prevent early voting measures. Thirty-three states offer some form of early voting, and in three states all voting is done by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Many ‘lives’ of Colorado’s personhood amendment
The Durango Herald
Wendy Underhill, program manager with the National Conference of State Legislatures, says the fact groups can make repeated attempts at similar proposals is part of the state’s system. “They can, in fact, bring it up, and bring it up again, and bring it up again,” Underhill says. “They can change the argument a little bit. They can reach out to different people. Yes, the process is such that more or less the same measure can be brought to voters more than once.”
 
New bridges between Louisville and Indiana may set standard for financing future highway projects
Lexington Herald Leader
California passed the first legislation allowing public-private partnerships for transportation projects in 1989. Today, 33 states and Puerto Rico have such authority, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Early voting edges ahead of pace set in Maine’s 2010 elections
Press Herald
Maine is one of 33 states that have some form of voting that allows individuals to cast a ballot in person before Election Day without having to offer an explanation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oct. 27

Voter I.D. laws by state - Proving that you can vote
Washington Post
NCSL Info Cited - Voter identification laws vary by state - some requiring proof of identity at election polls. Virginia is now one of seven states where voters must present a photo ID.
 
Democrats love seeing minimum wage on the ballot
Journal Star/Associated Press
NCSL Info Cited - As Democrats across the country make an election-year push to raise the minimum wage, they often point to fast-food workers, baristas and others struggling to raise families, pay rent or get through school — some on as little as $7.25 per hour.
 
Voter ID Laws: Where Utah Stands
Utah Public Radio
According to a probe into state-by-state voter codes by the National Conference of State Legislatures, on a one to five scale from most relaxed to most strict, Utah ranks at about a two.
 
Ballot proposal could open door to early voting
San Francisco Gate/Associated Press
The state's only ballot question for the Nov. 4 election asks voters whether the Connecticut constitution should be amended to remove several election restrictions that officials say prevent early voting measures. Thirty-three states offer some form of early voting, and in three states all voting is done by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Why no vote fraud where ID is optional?
Des Moines Register
These are excerpts from an opinion written by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, and joined by four other judges on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in support of rehearing the challenge to Wisconsin's new voter ID law. “We can learn something about the significance of voter-impersonation fraud from a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. We learn that 32 states require voters to present some form of identification at the polling station but that of these, only 17 require photo identification. The other 15 usually will accept a utility bill, a non-photo ID or some other document that includes the voter's name and address.”
 
Election 2014: Rush Is On To Prepare Americans For New Voting Laws 
Times Record
While the justices voted to let Texas, Ohio and North Carolina proceed with their new laws, they blocked Wisconsin from implementing its voter photo ID requirement on Oct. 9 without explanation. In all, seven states — including Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia — will employ strict photo ID requirements on Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lee Memorial comes out against medical pot ... sort of
The News-Press
Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia, allow some form of medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized its recreational use by adults.
 
Arizona lawmakers eye e-cigarette tax
Tri City Herald/Associated Press
Legislators in dozens of states last year were faced with bills related to electronic cigarettes. Two states have already enacted "sin taxes" on them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. On the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration has struggled since 2011 to implement rules on how to categorize and regulate them as well as liquid nicotine.
 
High-tech cameras are watching you
The Register Mail
Aerial drones equipped with cameras are another tool sparking privacy debates. Used in everything from law enforcement and rescue operations to wildlife tracking and commercial photography, drones pose concerns because of their ability to fly over areas where people may expect privacy. So far, 20 states have enacted laws that govern the use of unmanned aircraft, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Privacy advocates want rules on how drones can be used and how long footage can be stored. They’ve also asked for drones only to be used with a warrant. Most states that have enacted drone laws for law enforcement require a warrant.  
 
Dueling gun initiatives pit two world views in fight over expanding Washington’s gun background checks
The News Tribune
Jonathan Griffin, who has tracked firearm legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said there is a lack of independent research showing clear relationships between gun violence and gun laws. “There hasn’t been a lot of research done — independent research. Beyond that it’s pretty hard to make a causal comparison,” Griffin said. “There are so many things that go into reduction of violence.’’
 
Get the Job- Economy on the rebound
NJ.com
The employment sectors seeing the most significant improvement during the past year have been professional services, wholesale and retail trade, leisure, hospitality, healthcare, financial services, transportation and manufacturing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Editorial: Red light cameras scam drivers
The Columbia Chronicle
There is an abundance of studies analyzing whether red light cameras decrease crashes, but they provide contradictory results. The disjointed evidence has encouraged some states to outlaw red light cameras altogether. Seven states ban the use of red light cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Also, state and city use of red light cameras has declined 6 percent since 2012, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Despite this trend, Chicago touts the largest program. 

Oct. 24

Voters To Decide On A Pay Raise For State Lawmakers
KJZZ
But if legislator pay is higher, could it make the pool of candidates interested in running more diverse? Morgan Cullen is with the National Conference of State Legislatures and he tracks legislator pay around the country. Arizona is what the NCSL calls a hybrid legislature: not full-time, but with too many responsibilities to be considered truly part time. "The average salary for those hybrids is a little over $43,000 a year, so they're making decidedly less income among their counterparts," Cullen said.
 
Michigan Capitol security won't tighten after Ottawa gunfire
Detroit Free Press
The National Conference of State Legislatures said this spring more than half of the nation's statehouses had metal detectors, and Ohio was the only state more populous than Michigan without them.
 
Editorial: House, Senate should consider same ethics rule
Herald Bulletin
The Turner case aside, the Indiana House currently has a workable process in addressing ethics problems, based on the report given by Peggy Kerns of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
All 50 states have statutes regulating ethics. Indiana is among 47 states that require legislators to file a financial disclosure, though many Hoosiers would agree that finding a statement of economic interest can be a tough online search. And Indiana does not require the statement to offer addresses of businesses or information on real property.
 
Carson City ready for legislative lodgers to descend
Nevada Appeal
During the session, legislators will be paid $149.90 per day for the first 60 days and $152 per diem for the entire 90-day session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Voters to decide fate of Nebraska'a minimum wage increase
Norfolk Daily
This fall, five states will vote on minimum wage measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Besides Nebraska, the others are Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois and South Dakota, but the Illinois measure is only an advisory vote.

Oct. 23

University Defends Response to Threat to Speaker
ABC News/Associated Press 
Utah is one of seven states that allow concealed carry on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but it is the only state that has a separate law prohibiting universities from not allowing concealed weapons at events. Republican Utah lawmaker Curt Oda of Clearfield said the law also allows people to carry guns openly on campus.
 
Legislators need stricter disclosure rules, advocates say
TheStatehouseFile.com
Indiana is one of 47 states that require lawmakers to file financial disclosure forms, said Peggy Kerns, director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. But Indiana is one of 14 states that don’t require lawmakers to disclose property interests. Some states put those forms online but others require those who want to see them to jump through hoops. “One of the criticisms and controversies of financial disclosure is the confidentiality of some of the information,” Kerns said. “Some states have raised that as a concern.” And Kerns acknowledged that there are gray areas in conflict of interest laws and rules. Generally, the rules address situations in which a lawmaker could benefit personally from legislation But they are not as clear about whether a conflict exists when a lawmaker is part of a group that benefits from legislation – such as a teacher voting on education issues. 
 
Eight Trends to Watch for on the November Ballot That Have Nothing to Do With Congress
The Blaze
Already 17 states have the right to hunt in their state constitutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Ballot initiative seeking to raise California's medical malpractice cap generates big spending
Gazette Extra/Associated Press
About 30 states have some kind of limit on the amount of damages a jury can award to patients for medical mistakes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of the restrictions are from $250,000 to $500,000 for pain and suffering.
 
Rush is on to prepare Americans for new voting laws
The State
In all, seven states – including Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia – will employ strict photo ID requirements on Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That means voters without proper identification will be allowed cast provisional ballots but must take additional steps to verify their identity after the election for their votes to count.
 
Editorial: Re-elect Smith to State Senate
Reno Gazette Journal
In just her first term in the State Senate, the Sparks Democrat served as the assistant majority leader and chairman of the very important Senate Finance Committee. She also was elected chairman of the National Conference of State Legislatures this year, a first for a Nevada legislator.
 
A Powerful Nursing Home Owner and a Push For Medical Review Panels in Kentucky
WFPL
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states require that malpractice claims first go before a medical review panel of one form or another. In at least 12 other states, the panels were repealed by lawmakers or invalidated by courts.

Oct. 22

Voter to Obama: 'Don't touch my girlfriend'
CNN Headline News
(NCSL Info Cited) Before he voted, the president reminded everyone in the precinct about the importance of early voting. To find out when you can cast a ballot in your state, check the map at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Drug dealers use food stamps like currency
Telegraph Forum/Gannett
Eleven states require drug testing for food stamp recipients, and most of those have passed laws within the past three years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Ohio isn't one of them.
 
What Really Happens at Community Colleges? A Tool Taps Data for Answers
Chronicle of Higher Education
State legislators are becoming increasingly data-savvy, said Julie Davis Bell, education program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures. As state lawmakers and Obama-administration officials continue to focus on community colleges as the gateway to higher education for many students, Ms. Davis Bell said the Completion Arch would be a useful tool for policy makers.
 
Legislators’ trips abroad apparently above board
The Day
Connecticut's laws governing gifts to public officials fall in the expansive middle ground of state ethics laws for public officials, according to Natalie O'Donnell Wood, program principal with the Center for Ethics in Government at the National Conference of State Legislators. On one end of the spectrum in laws governing what constitutes a gift and what officials may accept are "no cup of coffee states," where officials are barred from accepting almost any gift or coverage of costs. On the other end are states that barely limit what officials may accept, Wood said. All but 14 states have disclosure requirements for officials who accept gifts and honoraria, according to NCSL. Vermont, Iowa and New Mexico are among the states that don't require disclosure.
 
Lou Cannon: GOP Dominates Legislative Races But Democrats Take Aim at Governorships
NoozHawk.com
But Republicans have more opportunities in this year’s legislative elections, said Tim Storey, a political analyst for the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislators. GOP prime targets include the state senates in Colorado, Iowa and Nevada and the state houses in Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire and West Virginia, all held now by the Democrats.
 
Missourians to vote on teacher, tenure evaluation changes
Rolla Daily
No other state has approved a constitutional amendment tying teacher evaluations to student performance, according to a review of a National Conference of State Legislatures database.
 
Christie says GOP gubernatorial candidates need to win so they control 'voting mechanisms' 
NorthJersey.com
The National Conference of State Legislators has deemed four states to have “strict photo ID” requirements in place — Georgia, Indiana, Kansas and Tennessee — and four more — Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia — set to follow suit once their laws are implemented. These states severely limit the forms of identification required to vote. Voters who do not meet the standard are permitted to fill out provisional ballots, which are only counted if the voter presents election officials with a valid identification card within days of the election.

Oct. 21

Lawmakers take up ethics reform
Indy Star
Peggy Kerns, an ethics expert from the National Conference of State Legislators and a former Colorado lawmaker, provided an overview of how other states handle issues such as conflicts of interest and financial disclosures. Indiana, for example, is one of only 14 states that don’t require lawmakers to disclose property holdings.
 
Virginia woman first to be charged under new ‘revenge porn’ law
New York Daily News
The misdemeanor charges carries up to one year in jail or a $2,500 fine, or both. Virginia is one of 13 states to implement revenge porn laws since 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Measles, Pertussis Vex Kansas Health Workers As Ebola Steals Headlines
Kansas City Public Radio
In Kansas, county health officials are the first line of defense. They have the authority to unilaterally order individuals into quarantine to prevent the spread of infectious disease. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, public officials have not exercised that power on a wide scale since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
 
Mo. to vote on teacher evaluation changes
South East Missourian
No other state has approved a constitutional amendment tying teacher evaluations to student performance, according to a review of a National Conference of State Legislatures database. The Center on Great Teachers & Leaders at the American Institutes for Research reports that 39 states and the District of Columbia mandate student learning be included in some way.
 
Experts say Carter's school funding model untested
The State
Education finance and state budget experts aren't so certain. No other state is using the exact model Carter has proposed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But Alabama, Michigan and Utah split education funding from other expenses, and the three states are nowhere near the top in national education rankings. 

Oct. 20

Voter-ID Actions Push Fight Past November
Wall Street Journal
Texas and Wisconsin are two of 34 states that have passed laws requiring some type of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most, but not all, of those laws are in effect.
                  
Races for the statehouse
Washington Times
Based on statistics provided by the National Association of State Budget Officers, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Tax Foundation, Pat McCrory of North Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas, Republicans both, won scores of 78, compared to Mr. Brown’s 19, John Hickenlooper’s 26 in Colorado and Deval Patrick’s 29 in Massachusetts. They’re all Democrats.
 
States Of Confusion: How Governors Trash Their Economies By Micromanaging Business
Forbes
Last week CATO Institute released its biennial Fiscal Report Card on America’s Governors, which provides some startling facts that should have voters across the country seriously considering how they vote on November 4 and in the coming years – and, quite possibly, where they will choose to live, operate their businesses, and raise their children. Data was collected for 2012 and 2013 from individual states’ budget documents, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, from the National Conference of State Legislatures, from the National Association of State Budget Of¬ficers, and from the Tax Foundation, with qualitative analysis coming from hundreds of news articles and state budget documents. Analysis also included various policy proposals in 2014.
 
Missouri to vote on teacher evaluation changes
Springfield News Leader
No other state has approved a constitutional amendment tying teacher evaluations to student performance, according to a review of a National Conference of State Legislatures database. The Center on Great Teachers & Leaders at the American Institutes for Research reports that 39 states and the District of Columbia mandate student learning be included in some way.
 
Hunting rights issue before Mississippi voters
Hattiesburg American/Associated Press
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the constitutions of 17 states guarantee the right to hunt and fish. Vermont’s language dates to 1777, while the rest — in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming — have been adopted since 1996.
 
Online app for Tenn. lawmakers wins award from National Conference of State Legislatures
Associated Press
An online application for Tennessee lawmakers has won an award from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Ending Election Day registration in Montana sees no support
The Missoulian
Montana is one of 10 states plus the District of Columbia that allow voter registration on Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Flextime movement grows, helping working families
Roanke Times/Stateline
Some cities and states are trying to give that flexibility to their own employees. California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina direct state agencies to allow “flextime” schedules for their workers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Election Day voter registration faces referendum
Bozeman Daily
Nine other states and the District of Columbia offer Election Day voter registration. Each state requires the voter to present identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
From GMOs to marijuana, voters will decide several state ballot questions
High Plains
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which maintains data on statewide ballot initiatives, notes that in addition to several land and conservation measures on ballots this year—most of which set aside money for particular land uses—many states have marijuana-related questions.
 
Philly cigarette tax a boon for Bucks border businesses
Bucks County Courier
But a 2010 National Conference of State Legislatures study found cigarette taxes aren’t a stable revenue source because, unlike other excise taxes, they’re levied on a per-unit basis that doesn’t automatically provide revenue growth in response to price increases.

Oct. 17

GOP has a built-in advantage in fight for US House
Houston Chronicle
Before the 2010 election, the GOP had majorities in 36 state legislative bodies. Afterward, the party controlled 56, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Officials Urged to Take Care With Social Media
Stateline
NCSL spokesman Mick Bullock said that social media can be a great tool for legislators, giving them an unfiltered platform to communicate directly with their constituents. But legislators first need a plan, he said, to figure out what they want to get out of social media. Then, there is training available in how to use it properly and effectively. That can range from a legislator getting tips from a savvy staffer to a more formal process in which NCSL experts have visited some states, such as Alaska, and offered legislators and staff training not only about how to use social media, but also about the legal and ethical considerations. “Elected officials are no different than the private sector,” Bullock said. “We have to be careful in this age of instant communication. Something you put out right now can be worldwide in a matter of seconds.”
 
States Approach Federal Data Breach Law with Caution
Governing
That thinking reflects the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) position on a national disclosure law. While not opposed to a baseline federal notification standard, states should have the authority to adopt standards that provide consumers with additional protection and notification, says James Ward, NCSL’s committee director for state-federal relations. “NCSL also supports state financial regulators and attorneys general to enforce any new federal data security breach notification standards.” Should Congress decide to preempt state law, he adds, it should only affect laws that are inconsistent with the federal standard and it should preserve state laws that apply to entities that may be excluded from the federal act.
 
Pepper spray OK, but 2nd Amendment rights stop at Alabama college campuses
AL.com
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are 20 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
 
Arizona minimum wage to surpass $8 an hour in 2015
KTAR
Arizona's current wage of $7.90 was the 14th-highest in the nation, according to data collected in August 2014 by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Feminist speaker criticizes Utah's campus gun laws
USA Today
Utah is one of seven states that allow concealed carry on college campuses, along with Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Idaho and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But it is the only state that has a separate law prohibiting universities from not allowing concealed weapons at events.
 
Mark Shields: GOP's 2010 statehouse gains eased rules for gun buyers
Tampa Bay Times
According the National Conference of State Legislatures, 16 states saw at least one legislative chamber or a governorship shift from Democratic to Republican control. Within that group, we found just three instances of new laws that you could say made it easier to buy a weapon.
 
Arkansas high court strikes down voter ID law
Press Telegram
Thirty-one states have laws in effect that require voters to show some form of identification before casting a ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven other states have photo ID requirements in effect as strict as Arkansas' law.

Oct. 16

Arkansas Voter ID law struck down
Politico/Associated Press
Thirty-one states have laws in effect that require voters to show some form of identification before casting a ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven other states have photo ID requirements in effect as strict as Arkansas’ law.
 
Courts Are Ruling on Voting Laws – Here's Where They Stand
Bloomberg News
As it stands, 34 U.S. states have some form of voter identification law, 31 of which are in force. Sixteen of the laws require voters to present a photo ID, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
 
Minimum wage fight moves from Capitol Hill to state and local ballots
Washington Examiner
Some states have done that through legislation, including, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. As a result, 23 states now require hourly wages higher than the federal government’s minimum.
 
Feminist Speaker Who Faced Mass Shooting Threat Calls Utah's Gun Laws 'Mindboggling'
Huffington Post/Associated Press
Utah is one of seven states that allow concealed carry on college campuses, along with Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Idaho and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But it is the only state that has a separate law prohibiting universities from not allowing concealed weapons at events.
 
Same-sex marriage could add $8 million to Nebraska's economy, study finds
Lincoln Journal Star
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia allow marriages between same sex partners by state laws or judicial decisions, including Iowa and Minnesota, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Utahns respond to concealed-carry controversy
Standard Examiner
Utah is one of seven states that allow concealed carry on college campuses, along with Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Idaho and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
When Guns Come to Campus, Security and Culture Can Get Complicated
Chronicle of Higher Education
Seven states now have laws that allow people to carry concealed firearms on campuses, and lawmakers in 14 more states have introduced bills this year that would permit concealed carry, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oct. 15

Crumbling U.S. Fix Seen With Global Trillions of Dollars
Bloomberg
California passed the first legislation allowing public-private partnerships for transportation projects in 1989. Today, 33 states and Puerto Rico have such authority, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
With Overcrowded Prisons, Californians Could Soften Some Crimes' Penalties
Governing
At least 14 states reduced felony theft thresholds since 2009, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). In many of those states, the thresholds had not increased with inflation, meaning offenders faced stiffer penalties for stealing less and less valuable goods. Meanwhile, at least 17 states adjusted thresholds for drug crimes, NCSL reported.
 
Answers from experts on Amendment 2
WTSP
Karmen Hanson compares medical marijuana laws across all 50 states for the National Conference of State Legislatures. She said Florida's Amendment 2 isn't so different from other laws on the books, but there's something to keep in mind.
"The language in Amendment 2 just enables the state of Florida to create a medical marijuana program. It doesn't dot all the 'i's and cross all the 't's."
 
Editorial: Stronger N.J. whistleblower law would help reveal waste, violations of public trust
Times of Trenton
Across the country, states offer varying levels of protections for people who air their concerns about misbehavior or misdeeds in the workplace. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that some states’ whistleblower laws cover only state workers, while others extend protection to public and private workers.
 
State Lawmakers Increasingly Realizing the Importance of Early Care and Education
Ed Central
“Let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life behind. Let’s give our kids that chance!” These were President Obama’s words during his 2013 State of the Union Address, where he called on the nation to expand access to early childhood education. While federal progress has been slow, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) quarterly Early Care and Education E-Update shows that Obama’s call to action has not fallen on deaf ears, particularly at the state level.
 
Minimum wage proposal on ballot has strong support
The Courier
Of the 45 states that have their own minimum wage level, only Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota and Wyoming are below the federal standard of $7.25, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oct. 14

Maine, most other states don't regulate hayrides
Philly.com/Associated Press
Maine doesn't have statutes that regulate hayrides, the state fire marshal's office has said. Rhode Island is the only state that appears to explicitly require a permit to operate hayrides, said James Hanseen, transportation program director at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Early voting proposal draws opposition from Missouri elections official
St. Louis Dispatch
At least 33 states and the District of Columbia allow eligible residents to vote in-person during a designated period before the election without stating a reason, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  
New Jersey Legislature Considers Additional Protections for Car “Black Box” Data
National Law Review
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, fourteen states have enacted statutes that generally only allow access to data on an EDR with the car owner’s consent. If enacted, New Jersey’s law would prohibit third parties from accessing an EDR’s data without the owner’s consent, a warrant, or a discovery order in a civil case. Other provisions in the law would allow manufacturers, dealerships, and car repair facilities to access the data for the purpose of diagnosing or repairing the vehicle, as well as allowing the disclosure of de-identified data “for the purpose of improving motor vehicle safety, security, or traffic management.”
 
High-tech cameras are watching you
The Chronicle Review
Colorado’s broad passive surveillance law is unique. But more states are working on regulations to govern the use of automatic license plate readers. Legislation on license plate readers is pending in 16 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
 
6 days of early voting up for Missouri vote
St. James Leader/Associated Press
Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to vote early without an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio and Wisconsin have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days it is available.

Oct. 13

Big Abbott donors among top law firm contract recipients
Dallas Morning News
It is among only 11 states that have minimal or no limits on campaign contributions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The remaining 39 states place limits on the amount individuals and political action committees can give to candidates.
 
Voters prepare for crowded Nov. 4 election with uncertainty
Lubbock Journal
Though nationwide straight-ticket voting is not as common as it used to be — in the last two decades alone a half-dozen states have eliminated it — Texas and 13 others still allow it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Gun measures with opposing aims present voters with a choice
The Herald of Everett
If it passes, Washington would join California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., with so-called universal background check requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
A Quarter Of Latinos In The U.S. Are Uninsured
Huffington Post/Stateline
Currently, California doesn’t cover undocumented residents statewide, but there are various county-level programs that do.  California also has state funded Medicaid coverage for people who are designated as having "Permanent residence under color of law” (PRUCOL), including youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and other state-funded coverage for pregnant women regardless of status, according to Gilberto Mendoza, policy associate with the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
Courts block voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Texas, ahead of 2014 midterms
Christian Science Monitor
In 2010, only two states, Indiana and Georgia, had strict laws requiring photo IDs. But since then, a flurry of new strict photo ID laws have been enacted by eight more GOP-controlled states, including Texas and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Beware of term limits
The Post and Courier
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states currently have term limits for state legislators. This provides a perfect laboratory to explore the pros and cons of term limits. California, Colorado and Oklahoma enacted term limits in 1990, while Nebraska was the most recent state to pass term limits in 2000. However, term limits don't always stick. State legislatures in Idaho and Utah repealed term limits in 2002 and 2003 respectively, and state courts in four other states ruled that term limits were unconstitutional.
 
Southern Nevada financial industry paranoid about pot business
Vegas Inc.
Supporters say marijuana relieves pain, controls nausea and vomiting and brings other relief to people stricken with AIDS, cancer and glaucoma. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington state and Colorado also have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
 
6 days of early voting up for Missouri vote
Miami Herald/Associated Press
Currently, 33 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to vote early without an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Republican-controlled legislatures in Ohio and Wisconsin have taken recent steps to curtail early voting by limiting the days it is available.
 
Kentucky drone expert: Unmanned flights could aid farmers, create jobs
WDRB
Kentucky hasn't enacted drone-related laws, which have passed in neighboring Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Tennessee and 16 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kentucky is among 35 states that considered such measures this year.

Oct. 10

States expect a fifth straight year of tax growth
Washington Post
Overall, the mood is modestly optimistic for tax collections during the 2015 fiscal year, with only a handful of states expecting declines, according to a summer survey of state legislative fiscal offices released Thursday by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. The survey gauges analyst attitudes on the year ahead, but such forecasts are often subject to error. 
 
From wolves to pot, states tackle range of issues on fall ballots
Washington Times
The Michigan battle is one of some 146 initiatives, referenda and other measures on the ballots this midterm season, on issues ranging from abortion, gun rights and gambling to redistricting, the minimum wage and state official salaries. (Another 12 ballot questions have already been voted on this year, for a total of 158.) Some 35 are initiatives signed by registered voters in petition drives, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.  
 
A Quarter of Latinos Are Uninsured
Stateline
Currently, California doesn’t cover undocumented residents statewide, but there are various county-level programs that do.  California also has state funded Medicaid coverage for people who are ‘Permanently residing under color of law” (PRUCOL), including youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and other state-funded coverage for pregnant women regardless of status, according to Gilberto Mendoza, policy associate with the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
Rival gun measures on ballot in Washington state
ABC News/Associated Press
Six states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island — plus Washington, D.C., require universal background checks for all sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states have varying laws on expansion beyond what federal law requires, including Oregon, which requires a background check for purchases at gun shows.
 
Anti-online impersonation measure meets resistance
Meadville Tribune
Every state has some form of law that protects against identity theft, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania’s is the only one triggered when online impersonation is used for theft.
 
South Dakota Proposal on Doctor Choice Opposed by Health Insurers
The Insurance Journal
In South Dakota, such a law for pharmacies went into effect in 1990. Twenty-six other states currently have some form of any-willing provider laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The services they encompass vary widely; most of the laws apply exclusively to pharmacies, others to chiropractors and some to a broad range of providers.
 
Utah.gov on Best of the Web Medal Platform Again
Yahoo Finance
The Best of the Web award is just the latest in a series of good news for Utah.gov. Recently the website was recognized by the National Conference of State Legislators, The Public Technology Institute, Web Marketing Association, and International Academy of the Visual Arts. Utah.gov has received 14 awards so far this year.

Oct. 9

White House Press Secretary Claims Minimum Wage Increase Will Bring ‘Important Benefits for the Broader Economy’
The Blaze
No state currently has a minimum wage of $10.10 or more. However, states that will phase in a wage of $10.10 or higher by or before 2018 are California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
One Strategy That Can Help Get Latinos To Vote
Huffington Post
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 14 states do not offer early voting.
 
Colorado’s first legal hemp harvest since 1957 is underway
Summit Daily
There are cracks forming in the façade of federal hemp prohibition: This year’s farm bill contained a provision allowing colleges and universities to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes without fear of federal interference, and 19 states have laws on the books permitting such pilot projects, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight of those states — Colorado, California, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia — have passed laws removing barriers to more widespread hemp production.
 
Legal for boss to ask for your social media password
WGME-CBS
Our research found in the past 2 years, a dozen states have passed password protection laws to stop employers from asking for passwords to personal accounts in order to get or keep a job. Legislation has been introduced in at least 25 other states this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
South Dakota measure on doctor choice stirs debate
The Capital Journal/Associated Press
In South Dakota, such a law for pharmacies went into effect in 1990. Twenty-six other states currently have some form of any-willing provider laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The services they encompass vary widely; most of the laws apply exclusively to pharmacies, others to chiropractors and some to a broad range of providers.

Oct. 8

West Virginia’s Saira Blair Seeks to Become Youngest State Lawmaker
Wall Street Journal
If she wins in November, the fiscally conservative 18-year-old also would become the youngest state lawmaker in the nation, according to records kept by the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is extremely rare for a teenager to be elected to a state legislature, NCSL policy analyst Morgan Cullen said. There are more than 7,300 state legislators in the U.S., and fewer than 5% are under the age of 30, he said. House chambers in Arizona, Colorado and Utah, for example, require candidates to be at least 25 years old, while at least two states require state senators to be at least 30. Some states have no age requirements.
 
Six things the Jennifer Lawrence photo hack could be other than a ‘sex crime’
Washington Post
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states have passed anti-revenge porn laws: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Arizona and Idaho are the only states to make revenge porn a felony on the first offense. In Georgia and Utah, it is a felony on the second offense. Some of these laws have been criticized as overly broad. The American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that the Arizona law is unconstitutional.
 
How (And How Not) To Help Job Seekers
Forbes
Some policymakers have tried to help the long-term unemployed by enacting laws that would levy fines on employers who do not hire candidates just because they have employment gaps. Measures like this have already passed in the District of Columbia, New York City, Wisconsin, and New Jersey, while the National Conference of State Legislatures reports nine states considered such legislation last year.
 
Biden Urges $10.10 National Minimum Wage as Poverty Check
Bloomberg Businessweek
As of August, 23 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages above the federal limit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirty-four states considered increases during the 2014 legislative session, while 10 states and D.C. raised their rates, the conference reported.
 
Here come the ballot initiatives
Politico
The midterms are less than a month away, and taxes are on the ballot. Voters in nine states will weigh in on more than a dozen proposals, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Massachusetts, they’ll consider a bid to repeal provisions approved last year that indexed the state’s gas tax to inflation. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is headed there this week to rally support for the repeal. In Tennessee, voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would prevent lawmakers from imposing personal income taxes while Georgians will take up a proposal to cap income tax rates. A third non-binding vote in Washington state asks whether a recently approved tax on recently legalized marijuana ought to be undone. Not all though are aimed at reducing taxes. There’s a non-binding vote in Illinois on a proposal to impose a 3 percent millionaire’s tax. In Nevada, there’s a bid to eliminate a cap on mining taxes while another would raise taxes on businesses to help pay for education programs. 
 
Education Measures on Ballot in 11 States
Education Week
"Tax increases seem to fail more frequently than bond measures, and I would guess that that will still be true come this year," said Wendy Underhill, a senior policy analyst and state ballot expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Child sex abuse victims face hurdles seeking redress in court
The Japan Times
In the United States, for example, nearly every state suspends the statute of limitations for civil action when victims are minors. Many states have also adopted additional extensions for cases involving sexual abuse of children, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oct. 7

Buffett Strikes Again in Nebraska Governor's Race
Bloomberg News
Buffett's latest donation, which will be detailed in disclosure reports, matches the $100,000 he gave Hassebrook in June. In Nebraska, there's no limit on how much an individual can give to a candidate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Supreme Court won't hear appeals of overturned same-sex marriage bans: What does that mean for Alabama?
AL.com/Gannett News
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already allowed same-sex marriage before today, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
N.J. lawmaker tries to limit new bills ... by introducing a new bill
NJ.com/Gannett News
In Colorado, state senators and assembly members are limited to introducing just five bills per legislative session, not counting appropriations bills, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Unlike New Jersey, where sessions last two years, Colorado’s only last four months. And Colorado’s constitution requires that every bill be heard in committee.
 
Little opposition to Nebraska minimum wage rise
News Observer/Associated Press
This fall, five states will vote on minimum wage measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Besides Nebraska, the others are Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois and South Dakota but the Illinois measure is only an advisory vote.
 
Opinion - Why Maine shouldn’t try so hard to get on camera
Bangor Daily
In 1992, Louisiana became the first state to offer an incentive package designed to lure productions. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 39 states and Puerto Rico offer some form of film production incentive.

Oct. 6

New age restrictions on e-cigarettes in Missouri have support from tobacco, e-cig sellers
US News and World Report/Associated Press
Of the states that have banned e-cigarette sales to minors, 31 have specified that e-cigarettes are "alternative nicotine" or vapor devices, not traditional tobacco cigarettes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Analysis: Justices signal skepticism on voter ID
Washington Times/Associated Press
Thirty-two states have laws requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states have strict photo ID requirements similar to Arkansas’.
 
An Early Ballot Education
Wall Street Journal
That misses the big picture. If limiting early voting to 28 days represents a substantial burden on minority voters in Ohio, what about the 14 states that allow no early voting? According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, those states include such right-wing strongholds as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Delaware.
 
Handicapping the gaming location
The Hill
A few months back, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (HR 4301) which would stop all online gambling under the guise that online poker is morally reprehensible while casinos are just fine. A broad coalition of think tanks opposes this legislation, as does the National Conference of State Legislators and others.
 
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn - It’s states’ job to decide on broadband
The Tennessean
States have spoken. We should be careful and deliberate in how we allow public entry into our vibrant communications marketplace, a sector of our economy that invests tens of billions of dollars each year, accounts for tens of thousands of jobs and serves millions of consumers. The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have joined me in stating their concerns with Chairman Wheeler’s plans to take power away from the states.
 
States seek to protect student athletes from heat stroke and other maladies 
Sea Coast/Stateline 
Concussions and extreme heat have drawn the most attention in high school sports, but they are not the only dangers to young athletes. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, at least 17 states have laws either requiring or urging some or all schools to have automatic external defibrillators on hand. 
 
Summit boy, 4, one of youngest ATV deaths in Butler County
Tribune Review
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 12 states, including Pennsylvania, have age restrictions that apply only on publicly owned lands; 24 states, including Maine, New York, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, have age restrictions that apply to all property, public and private; and 14 states have no age restrictions.
 
Minimum wage increase would have minimal immediate effect, studies show
Journal Star
Jeanne Mejeur, the National Conference of State Legislatures' expert on state labor and employment issues, called that report "the most middle-of-the-road one." "The studies that have been done on minimum wage impacts have been published by interest or advocacy groups that tend to have either a pro or con position on minimum wage," she said. "Some say increases cost jobs by increasing labor costs; others say increases create jobs by putting more money into the hands of consumers. Occasionally, studies use the same data to reach different conclusions." 
 
Ballot question in November could help change the way state votes
The Bulletin
Research from the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that 33 states and the District of Columbia allow early voting at an election official’s office or satellite location during a designated period prior to Election Day. Satellite locations, which vary by state, include supermarkets, shopping malls and libraries.
Oregon, Washington and Colorado conduct voting solely by mail.
 
Gabby Giffords' group says people in NH want to raise minimum wage and Marilinda Garcia opposes it
The Telegraph
New Hampshire is the only state among its neighbors without a higher wage than the federal floor of $7.25, and it has the lowest minimum wage of any New England state. The minimum wage is $8.73 an hour in Vermont, $8 in Massachusetts and $7.50 in Maine. All told, it is one of 18 states have the same minimum wage as the federal minimum of $7.25, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Jay Cooke: Paper or plastic choice going away?
MyCentralJersey.com/Gannet News
And according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Garden State joins Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags.
 
Long-term unemployed face discrimination from potential employers, Michigan lawmaker says
Minnesota Live/Gannet News
This is something happening nationally. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, a handful of states considered similar legislation in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In fact, Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, introduced similar legislation when he was in the House.
 
Rolly: My mea culpa: The legislative session that wasn’t
Salt Lake City Tribune
My mistake: There was no August Interim Committee meetings. The legislators usually take one month off each year to attend national meetings such as the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Rangel: Straight-ticket voting increases, hurts weaker party at ballot box
Amarillo Globe
Although straight-party has been gradually phased out in most of the nation — in the last two decades a half-dozen states have eliminated it — Texas and 13 others still give voters such option, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oct. 3

Can Flextime Help Working Families Have It All?
Stateline
Some cities and states are trying to give that flexibility to their own employees. California, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina all direct state agencies to allow “flextime” schedules for their workers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Arkansas Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments In Voter ID Case
Times Record
Thirty-two states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states have strict photo ID requirements similar to Arkansas, according to The Associated Press. 
 
Federal data breach notification law could simplify process
Business Insurance
With the exception of Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Dakota, every state as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands has enacted legislation requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information, according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Missouri man on death row says cell tracing unfair
My San Antonio
Other cases of phone and data privacy have risen to the nation's highest court in recent years. The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that police can't search phones during an arrest without a warrant, and the National Conference of State Legislatures reports about 10 states have passed legislation granting residents similar protections.

Oct. 2

California bans plastic grocery bags
CNN
Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey are all considering imposing a tax on plastic bags that customers would have to pay, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Rhode Island has introduced legislation that would require stores to recycle plastic bags.
 
N.J. Red-Light Cameras Lose Support as Drivers Complain
Bloomberg News
New Jersey would become the seventh U.S. state, and the most populous, to nullify existing red-light camera programs. Mississippi, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina and West Virginia have all backed out, according to Anne Teigen, a spokeswoman for the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Legislators Try Again To Draft Drone Regulations
CBS
Connecticut is one of 30 states that haven’t passed some kind of drone law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twelve states have limited how law enforcement can used drones, and seven states have criminalized the use of drones for non-government surveillance, according to the conference.
 
'Sexting' investigation at Coachella Valley High School
The Desert Sun
Some states have passed specialized legislation addressing "sexting," but California has no such legislation. Several bills addressing this issue have failed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oct. 1

California becomes first state to ban plastic bags
Washington Post/Associated Press
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
California Creates Student Loans for Undocumented Students
Bloomberg News
At least 18 states allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Undocumented students aren’t eligible for federal financial aid such as Pell Grants and federal student loans; nor can they get private student loans. Five of the 18 states—California, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington—fill some of that gap by letting undocumented students receive state financial aid. California’s aid was previously limited to grants and work-study.
 
Jared Bernstein - So you wanna raise the minimum wage? Here’s what you need to know about the economics.
Washington Post
On the other hand, wage initiatives can still gain real traction at the state and city level. The “fight for $15” lives on, and according to the National Conference of State Legislators, “38 states introduced minimum wage bills during the 2014 session,” and “Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and D.C. have enacted increases during the 2014 session…23 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal [level].”
 
Question on Drug Testing Doctors Buried in California Ballot
Governing
The malpractice changes and the requirement to consult a prescription drug database aren’t unprecedented moves. About 35 states cap non-economic damages for medical malpractice, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nearly every state has a database tracking prescription information for certain controlled substances, but only a few (including Kentucky, New York, Tennessee and Virginia) require doctors to use them.
 
Lawmaker wants LRC report released to public
Park City Daily
The National Conference of State Legislatures was brought in to do the review after sexual harassment allegations last year against former Rep. John Arnold prompted the resignations of Arnold and the director of the Legislative Research Commission.