NCSL in the News | September 2014

9/1/2014

Sept. 30

Brown Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants for Drone Surveillance
Wall Street Journal
Meanwhile, states are moving ahead with their own drone regulations. Since 2013, 20 states have enacted laws on the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Thirteen of these new laws place restrictions on how police can use the new technology, according to the NCSL. Other provisions in these new laws deal with drone use by the general public. The legislative efforts have largely proven not to be a partisan issue because most lawmakers are keen on protecting privacy rights while implementing the new technology, said Richard Williams, a policy specialist with the NCSL.
 
GOP aims for gains in legislatures
Politico
Republicans effectively control 59 of the 98 state legislative chambers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures; Nebraska has a unicameral, nonpartisan legislature. It’s a huge swing from before the previous midterm elections, in 2010, when Democrats controlled 62 chambers.
 
New work, drug-testing requirements on the horizon for Maine welfare recipients
Fox News Business/Associated Press
Several other states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, have implemented drug-testing requirements for people with prior drug-related convictions, said Rochelle Finzel of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
EDITORIAL: The flawed rationale for early voting
Washington Times
Ohio voters were to begin casting votes for congressmen, governor, attorney general and a host of local offices and initiatives on Tuesday until the Supreme Court stepped in. In Iowa, whose Senate race is one of several that could tip the partisan balance of power in the Senate, early voting began last week. Only 17 states will treat Nov. 4 and only Nov. 4 as Election Day, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Schnurman: Texas is dithering while other red states take action
Dallas Morning News
This year, lawmakers in 10 states and the District of Columbia enacted a higher minimum, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures.
 
Changes on the horizon in Maine welfare programs
Charlotte Observer/Associated Press
Several other states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, have implemented drug-testing requirements for people with prior drug-related convictions, said Rochelle Finzel of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker releases earned sick time proposal
Mass Live-Gannett News Service
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Connecticut is the only state to currently mandate paid sick leave. California just passed a paid sick leave law this month, which goes into effect in July, which gives workers up to 24 hours of sick leave a year.

Sept. 29

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.
 
Is the Supreme Court Ready to Settle the Gay Marriage Battle?
NBC News
(NCSL Info. Cited) The Supreme Court, which returns from summer break on Monday, will decide whether to wade back into the contentious debate over same-sex marriage this term and potentially settle the issue nationwide once and for all.
 
Arguments set this week in Arkansas voter ID case
Beaumont Enterprise
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.
 
4 solid-red states could boost wage-increase momentum in U.S.
TH Media
States have already been busy on the minimum wage this year. Ten state legislatures and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wages in 2014, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Gallery with guns may await Moeller next session
The Columbian
There are only 12 states that have no restrictions on carrying firearms within statehouses, according to Morgan Cullen with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Creating an Integrated Grid: Regulators, Legislators Can Help
The Energy Collective
Kenneth Geisler, VP of Strategy for Siemens Smart Grid North America, discussed these challenges recently at the Legislative Summit of National Conference of State Legislators. He suggested several possible policy options that regulators and legislators might consider.
 
Flynn Elected to the NCSL Executive Committee
KMOO
At the annual National Conference of State Legislative Summit in Minneapolis, MN, Representative Dan Flynn was elected to serve on the 2014-2015 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Executive Committee.
 
Do Nebraska lawmakers need staffers all year long?

Watchdog.org
Nebraska’s Legislature employs more people than Idaho’s, which has a slightly smaller population, and less than West Virginia, according to a 2009 survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sept. 26

450,000 in Va. may lack proper ID needed to vote
Washington Post
The federal Help America Vote Act mandates that all states require identification from first-time voters who register to vote by mail, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Eighteen states and the District stop there when it comes to providing identification for voting. Dozens of states have imposed varying restrictions on identification that voters must present when they cast ballots.
 
More paid leave coming to states? Four get $500K to figure it out
Washington Post
Rhode Island is one of only three states that currently have passed paid family leave laws. California provides up to six weeks of leave each year, also paid out of employee payroll taxes, with a maximum benefit of $1,067, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey provides six weeks of paid leave a year, up to $524 a week, also paid through employee payroll tax. All three states expanded existing temporary disability insurance programs to include paid leave. Only a handful of states have such disability insurance programs.
 
Producing voters who truly care trumps having more registered
Daily Trojan
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that same-day registration is only offered by 10 states and the District of Columbia. To vote in an election as a citizen of any other state, one has to register prior to a deadline, with most falling between eight and 30 days before the election. Implementing same-day registration will both register more voters and inspire voters to vote because motivational messages can be incorporated. 

Sept. 25

Easing of marijuana laws worries road safety advocates
USA Today
The trend toward liberalization of pot laws is rolling on: Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have November ballot measures to legalize adult recreational use; Florida has a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. On Sept. 18, Philadelphia became the latest city to decriminalize marijuana. Six states – Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Washington and Pennsylvania – have enacted laws or established codes setting a specific driving threshold for the amount of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, in the blood, the NCSL says. Drivers in excess of those thresholds could face a charge of driving under the influence of marijuana.
 
Congress punts hacker fight to 2015
The Hill
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted their own data breach notification laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but none exists at the federal level. Companies complain that leaves them with a dizzying maze of rules to deal with.
 
Most states aren't waiting until Election Day to start voting
CBS News
(NCSL Info. Cited) Iowa is home to one of the most closely watched Senate races this year and voters don't have to wait until November to vote for their candidate - voters can vote early, in-person starting Thursday.
 
Unexpectedly, red states might be next to raise minimum wage
The Modesto Bee
States have already been busy on the minimum wage this year. Ten state legislatures and the District of Columbia have raised their minimum wages in 2014, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Labor Dep't Paying $500K to Study Paid Leave
CNS
Aside from R.I., California and New Jersey are the only two states currently offering paid family leave. All three states fund their programs through employee-paid payroll taxes, says the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Domestic abuse a challenge for states
The Sentinel/Stateline
For the most part, recent state legislation has concentrated on housing and employment protections (such as prohibiting landlords from evicting battered women for calling the police); broadening definitions of abuse (to include, for example, teenagers who are battered by boyfriends); and protecting the confidentiality of domestic violence shelters and counselors, said Rochelle Finzel of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  

Sept. 24

ACLU Sues Over Arizona 'Revenge Porn' Bill
NBC Nightly News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states have adopted revenge porn laws in the last two years, but most are very narrowly written.
 
Early Voting: A State-By-State Breakdown
Pittsburgh Courier
Using information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures, with the various restrictions and instructions included, we’ve simplified this list in alphabetical order, and it should be noted that the 14 states that do not have early voting will consider allowing an absentee ballot if a valid excuse is provided.
 
Federal judge takes on Texas voter ID law at heart of discrimination debate
The Guardian/Associated Press
Nineteen states have laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls, and Texas is among four states where legal fights are pending over the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
'Kardashian' star rocks the vote
Politico
Jenner registered to vote while in Milan, between her appearances in fashion shows, using Rock the Vote’s smartphone tool. The organization said it’s the first time the tool can be used to register entirely on a mobile phone for one of the 20 states that allows online registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures — including California, where Jenner is a resident.
 
Journal Poll: Thumbs down on licenses for immigrants here illegally
Insurance News Net
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to get some type of driver's license or permit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But only one other state, Washington, issues a full-fledged license like New Mexico's.

Sept. 23

When It Comes To Handling Domestic Violence Cases, States Are Still Falling Short
Huffington Post/Stateline
For the most part, recent state legislation has concentrated on housing and employment protections (such as prohibiting landlords from evicting battered women for calling the police); broadening definitions of abuse (to include, for example, teenagers who are battered by boyfriends); and protecting the confidentiality of domestic violence shelters and counselors, said Rochelle Finzel of the National Conference of State Legislatures.  
 
On state ballots, minimum wage, bears and weed
Politico
Missouri and Connecticut voters will vote to potentially join the 33 states and District of Columbia that have early voting procedures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Tracking devices for domestic abuser pushed
Des Moines Register
At least 19 states have laws similar to the one Sheila Lynch is proposing, according to the Colorado-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Pilot programs are in place in some communities, and lawmakers in additional states have proposed or recently passed similar legislation.
 
Editorial: Those lazy Americans, Boehner says
The Anniston Star
As for reality, Boehner is disingenuous if he doesn’t include these facts along with his quip that a “record number of Americans” prefer to lounge instead of labor for their pay: The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, declined to three million in August, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The national unemployment rate for August was 6.1 percent — the lowest since August 2008 in the height of recession turmoil, says the NCSL.
 
Fate of Texas' tough voter ID law in judge's hands
Lubbock Online/Associated Press
Nineteen states have laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls, and Texas is among four states where legal fights are pending over the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Absentee ballots in Iowa up nearly 98 percent from 2010
TH Online/Associated Press 
In the 2012 election, 43 percent of the 1.6 million Iowa residents who voted cast absentee ballots, up significantly from the 2010 election when nearly 31 percent of 1.1 million voters completed a ballot ahead of time.
Two-thirds of the states allow some type of early voting, the National Conference of State Legislatures said.

Sept. 22

Semantics triggers opposition to I-594’s gun-sale checks
The Seattle Times
Federal law requires only licensed firearms dealers, like those at retail stores, to make sure that gun buyers pass a background check. Right now, six states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island — and Washington, D.C., also require background checks for anyone buying or receiving a gun, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. I-594 would put Washington state in that second category.
 
Public comments on banned animals
Charleston Daily/Associated Press
West Virginia was one of the few states with nothing on the books about owning exotic animals. Nevada, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Wisconsin still don’t even have a partial ban, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Federal law only covers moving animals from state to state, the conference said. 
 
Crowdfunding gaining steam
Leader Telegram/Stateline
The Indiana law is about "expanding investment choice" for people who ordinarily wouldn't be able to put money into a private offering, said Carol Mihalik, the state's securities commissioner, who joined Holdman to speak about crowdfunding at the recent National Conference of State Legislatures annual summit in Minneapolis. "Right now, I can sit on a couch at home on my laptop in the middle of the night and log onto a registered website in Indiana and look at the offerings and choose to invest," Mihalik said.
 
Tensions rise as wealth gap pinches states’ revenue
The Desert Sun/Associated Press
Across all states, sales taxes account for 30.1 percent of all state revenue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Personal income taxes make up 36.6 percent. The rest comes from other sources, such as taxes on fuel, alcohol and cigarettes.
 
Is state’s political landscape set to shift?
Delaware News Zap
The 2008 election was an important one for the First State, according to Sam Hoff, the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History and Political Science at Delaware State University. The already blue Delaware grew even bluer, in the words of Dr. Hoff. Only four states gave the Obama/Biden ticket a higher percentage of votes than Delaware. “If there’s any doubt, go to the next cycle,” he said. “Republicans had their best result since 1938 nationally but Delaware, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, was the only state to have a net Democratic gain in the state legislature.”
 
Pet lovers all ears while W.Va. banned animals
The Marietta Times
West Virginia was one of the few states with nothing on the books about owning exotic animals. Nevada, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Wisconsin still don't even have a partial ban, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Federal law only covers moving animals from state to state, the conference said.

Sept. 19

'Right to Hunt' Amendments Pit Gun Rights vs. Animal Welfare
Governing
There’s been a steady stream of bills in state legislatures seeking constitutional protections for hunting, some appearing in more liberal (but active hunting) states.  Over the past two years, bills have appeared in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
The Benefits of Aging in Place
Kiplinger Report
This particular fantasy puts me in good company. Almost 90% of people over 65 want to live in their home and community as long as possible, according to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
VIEWPOINT: FCC should end NFL blackout rule
South Bend Tribune
The NFL has also gotten the support of the Conference of State Legislatures and the Congressional Black Caucus to claim that elimination of the rule would hurt local economies by keeping fans away on game days, thus harming stadium employees, nearby restaurant owners and so forth.
 
Politics in the Spotlight: What Do ID Laws Mean for Voters?
Wall Street Cheat Sheet
Wisconsin is the ninth to state to enforce strict ID laws alongside Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Indiana, and Mississippi, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which provides the handy map seen below. Arizona, North Dakota, and Ohio all have strict non-photo ID requirements, and 20 other states have non-strict photo and non-photo ID requirements that are enforced to varying degrees.

Sept. 18

UW-Madison to issue separate voter IDs starting next week
Wisconsin State Journal
A total of 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls and 32 of those were in force as of Friday, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin would be among nine states with the strictest photo ID laws, the NCSL said. 
 
Time to give NFL’s blackout rule the boot
Indy Star
The NFL also has gotten the support of the Conference of State Legislatures and the Congressional Black Caucus to claim that elimination of the rule would hurt local economies by keeping fans away on game days, thus harming stadium employees, nearby restaurant owners and so forth. The reality is that stadiums fail to sell out when teams lose too often or inclement weather interferes. The FCC blackout rule doesn’t fix either of those problems.
 
Montana to Vote on Same-Day Voter Registration
Flat Head Beacon
Ten states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-day voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Voters in Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin have been able to register on Election Day since the mid-1970s, while a handful of blue states — California, Colorado and Connecticut — have begun allowing the practice in just the past two years.
 
Nearly 24,000 Transgender Americans May Lose Right to Vote Because of Strict ID Laws
Yahoo News
According to Herman and the National Conference of State Legislatures, the new strict regulations will be enforced while the appeals case is being heard. The voter ID law in Texas is also being challenged in federal court.

Sept. 17

States Weighing Legal Pot Look To Tax Revenues In Colorado
Huffington Post/Stateline
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Another 11 states allow limited access to specific medicinal products with low levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Many of the states that allow medical marijuana tax it through a general sales tax, as over the counter medications are typically treated, according to Karmen Hanson, a program manager for NCSL.
 
NAACP wants investigation into Berger campaign ad
News Observer
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states have passed laws requiring some form of ID to vote.
 
Bill would allow McLaren Health to build new hospital in Oakland County
Crains Detroit Business
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 36 states have a CON review process. The state says the CON process it is meant to balance cost, access and the quality of health care in Michigan. Opponents say it actually helps preserve monopolies and limit competition and doesn’t necessarily rein in costs.
 
Rep. Mike Denham - Kentucky, nation celebrate Constitution
The Ledger Independent
Starting this week, hundreds of state legislators from across the country will begin visiting classrooms to kick off the 16th annual “America’s Legislators Back to School Program.” Sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, this event initially lasted just one day but now extends through much of the school year. While most students tour the state Capitol at least once, often during a field trip in elementary school, this program flips that by bringing state government to them.

Sept. 16

(NCSL Date Cited) The first midterm election votes will be cast this week
Washington Post
In an era of early voting, no-fault absentee ballots and all-mail elections, Election Day is something of a misnomer. Candidates and their supporters now drive their voters to the polls for days, weeks, sometimes more than a month. And it’s already kicked off: 379 voters in North Carolina have requested and returned absentee ballots from state elections officials.
 
Wyoming bill would cut wait time for convicted felons to vote again
Washington Post
Only two states, Maine and Vermont, do not take away felons’ voting rights. The rest either require an individual to complete the sentence before being able to vote again, or require an application process, according to the national Conference of State Legislatures. Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia require gubernatorial pardons.
 
3-foot buffer zones for cyclists to take effect across California
LA Times
California is the 24th state to enact a three-foot passing law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania gives cyclists the biggest buffer, requiring at least four feet between cars and bikes at all times.
 
Walker's drug testing plan adds wrinkle to heated governor's race
WTMJ-Milwaukee
11 states have passed drug testing or drug screening laws for people on government assistance. In most cases it's when a person is suspected of illegal drug use. A bunch of other states have proposals on the table according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Courts concluded drug testing requirements in Florida and Georgia violated federal laws.
 
NC courts sort voucher law, students stay in class
Education Week
At least a dozen states and the District of Columbia provide state-funded school vouchers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Wisconsin election officials scramble to deal with reinstatement of voter ID law
Star Tribune/Associated Press
A total of 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls and 32 of those were in force as of Friday, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin would be among nine states with the strictest photo ID laws, the group said.

Sept. 15

With Tech Taking Over in Schools, Worries Rise
The New York Times
This year, 36 states introduced legislation on student information privacy and security, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research group. About 30 bills were passed, as varied as measures that ban school districts from collecting details like students’ pregnancy history and those that require education departments to publish lists of the exact data points they collect.
 
A look at voter photo ID requirements
WTOP/Associated Press
Nineteen states have laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls, though legal fights are pending over the issue in four states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Civil rights groups argue such laws unfairly target poor and elderly residents who are less likely to have IDs, while supporters say they protect against voter fraud.
 
Felons getting closer to voting in Ky.
Cincinnati Enquirer
Kentucky is one of only four states that requires a pardon from the governor for a felon to vote again. In 38 states, most felons automatically get their rights restored upon completion of their sentences, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Barnett: Better pay for a better NC legislature
News Observer
Morgan Cullen, a senior policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, recently wrote an article for the NCSL magazine on legislative salaries. He agrees with Kinnaird that low pay reduces diversity in legislative bodies. “What we are seeing is a lot of retirees in state legislatures and a lot of wealthy people,” Cullen said. “What we’re not seeing is people in their income-earning years.”
 
Wealth gap putting the squeeze on state revenue
Philly.com/Associated Press
Across all states, sales taxes account for 30.1 percent of all state revenue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Personal income taxes make up 36.6 percent. The rest comes from other sources, such as taxes on fuel, alcohol and cigarettes.
 
Rauner education plan raises eyebrows
The Pantagraph/Associated Press
Nationwide, hundreds of individual school districts have implemented varying degrees of teacher merit pay programs, but on a statewide level there has been "little to no activity on the issue" over the last five years, said Michelle Exstrom of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sept. 12

N.J. Mandates Cameras for Its New Police Cars
Wall Street Journal
The move puts the state in the vanguard of those pushing for wider use of police cameras. States have passed legislation to study on-body police cameras or allow pilot programs, but none have mandated them statewide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Utah teacher hurt when gun accidentally shatters toilet
Idaho Statesman/Associated Press
Utah is among the few states that allow people with concealed-weapons permits to carry guns in public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Teachers are not required to disclose that they are carrying a weapon, and administrators are prohibited from asking if they carry or barring them from bringing their weapons.
 
New law requires 3-feet buffer space for bicyclists
Fox 5 – San Diego
California is among 24 states that require motorists to give bicyclists 3-feet of clearance while passing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sept. 11

Cities Ask FCC to Fight Restrictive Broadband Laws
CQ Roll Call
“In the absence of express congressional intent they’re kind of trying to bushwhack their way into territory where they really don’t belong,” says Susan Frederick, senior federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures. If the FCC rules in favor of the petitions, it would “fundamentally alter our notions of federalism,” NCSL contends in its comments. “Municipalities and other types of political subdivisions are creatures of the state — they are created by the state and they are bound by the state and federal law.” And the NCSL also says in its comments that Congress intended for the FCC and states to share jurisdiction over the matter of expansion of municipal broadband.
 
Everything’s bigger in Texas, except share of federal highway fund
Dallas Morning News
State officials say temporary funding from Congress is problematic, particularly as the nation’s highways age. The $10.8 billion approved in July doles out money through May. “These short-term extensions have made it very difficult to forecast projects that take a number of years,” said Ben Husch, a committee director at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Editorial: Change Is Coming, Right?
The Connection
The National Conference of State Legislatures www.ncsl.org summarizes how the 50 states regulate contributions: “States commonly place limits on contributions to candidates from various sources, and also on contributions to political action committees (PACs) and political parties. Just four states — Missouri, Oregon, Utah and Virginia — place no limits on contributions at all. Another seven states — Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas — have minimal contribution limits. These states limit or prohibit contributions by corporations and unions to candidates, but leave contributions from all other sources unlimited. In the remaining 39 states, contributions to candidates from individuals, political parties, PACs, corporations and unions are typically limited or, in the case of corporations and unions, prohibited outright.”
 
Missouri lawmakers ban e-cigarette sales to teens
Houston Chronicle
At least 38 other states prohibit selling alternative tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Former Rick Perry Campaign Manager Gets in the Pot Business
Governing
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, Colorado and Washington allow adults to consume marijuana recreationally.

Sept. 10

Tuesday is the last day of the state legislative primary season
Washington Post
“Those may be the most interesting primaries of any state this year,” says Tim Storey, an expert on state legislatures with the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. Of the 63 New York Senate seats, 20 feature incumbent candidates running unopposed, according to data maintained by Ballotpedia, an online political encyclopedia.
 
In which former Bush and Perry adviser Joe Allbaugh gets a piece of the pot business
Washington Post
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, Colorado and Washington allow adults to consume marijuana recreationally.
 
California governor to sign mandatory sick leave bill
Reuters
Brown is scheduled to sign the legislation at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Wednesday. California would become the second state in the country, after Connecticut, to require paid days off for employees who are ill, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
States pushing through labeling for 'frankenfoods'
Washington Examiner
About the best thing that the industry can say about 2014 is that it could have been worse. Labeling legislation was introduced in at least 28 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Incentives Watch: The Separation of Church and State Ignites Litigation Involving Scholarship Tax Credits
Bloomberg BNA
Scholarship or tuition tax credit programs allow businesses and individuals to claim tax credits in proportion to donations made to a qualified scholarship or tuition organization. These third-party organizations fund scholarships for students who wish to attend schools other than their assigned public school, including private and religious schools. Altogether, 14 states currently offer some form of tuition or scholarship credit, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Where Kids as Young as 5 Learn to Shoot Automatic Weapons
The Beast
According to Jon Griffin, a policy specialist at The National Conference of State Legislatures, “no states have pending legislation on this, but Mississippi introduced a bill in 2013 (SB 2765) that would have enacted a prohibition similar to Connecticut’s. The bill did not pass.” There have been reports that an Arizona lawmaker plans to introduce a similar bill in the next session.
 
Sheriff's investigating Palm Desert High School texting
Desert Sun
To avoid these harsh consequences, some states have passed specialized "sexting," creating lessor penalties to shield teenagers from serious criminal charges. However, California has no such legislation. Several sexting bills have failed, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Lawmakers consider override on school transfers veto
South County Mail
Missouri's current voucher program is unique in that it requires the failing school to pay for transfer students, rather than the state, said Josh Cunningham, an education policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, in an email.
In total, 13 states and the District of Columbia use state-funded school vouchers. Of these, four states pay for students to transfer to private schools.

Sept. 9

MFA and ITFA Likely to Be Back Burner Items When Congress Returns
Tax Analysts
Lawmakers likely won't allow the government to run out of funds this time around, but they will "go down to the last second" in finalizing a solution, said Max Behlke of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Because of the partisan bickering and the short time frame before the November 4 midterm elections, the MFA (S. 743   and H.R. 684) will likely get punted to the lame-duck session. "Even though we have support and we have the votes, I don't think leadership wants to put that vote out there ahead of the election because of the perceived tax increase," Behlke said.
 
Raising minimum wage rate doable this year
The Northwestern/Wisconsin State Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a handful of states will be at or above $10 an hour within a few years, under current law. Yet those tend to be states dominated by Democrats.
 
Unwrapping political gifts in Virginia
WAVY Virginia
Peggy Kerns, who is Director of the Ethics Center at the National Conference of State Legislatures, does give Virginia credit. “Virginia made a good first step,” she said. “It’s difficult to turn around a whole culture … Virginia is no longer on the list of states with no regulations. Now there are only nine states on that list.”
 
Joe Allbaugh Gets Piece of Pot Business
Texas Tribune
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, Colorado and Washington allow adults to consume marijuana recreationally.

Sept. 8

Clarence Page: Virginia meets the Chicago Way
Chicago Tribune
Virginia traditionalists like to cite the Virginia Way as better than the Chicago Way. Virginia didn't have any governors indicted before McDonnell. But that's partly because Virginia has some of the most lax ethics laws in the nation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, it is one of just 10 states that allow officeholders or their relatives to take personal gifts of unlimited value. McDonnell promised ethics reform as a candidate, then dropped the issue as governor.
 
Hank Hayes: Money questions slam brakes on Tennessee road projects
Kingsport Times News
Two years ago, six states and the District of Columbia enacted laws moving toward increasing gas taxes, but about 35 states also began looking at mileage-based fees and other revenue measures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Women remain minority in Nebraska Legislature
Columbus Telegram/Associated Press
That would be near the national average of women making up 24.2 percent of legislatures in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Women in Nebraska have gained prominence in recent high-profile elections, including Republican Deb Fischer's victory in the 2012 U.S. Senate race and Jean Stothert's win in last year's Omaha mayoral contest.
 
The simple way to raise the minimum wage
Dunn County News
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a handful of states will be at or above $10 an hour within a few years, under current law. Yet those tend to be states dominated by Democrats.
 
Hopes of jobless fade with time
Detroit News
Anti-bias bills to help the unemployed have been introduced in 24 states and D.C. since the start of 2011, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But few got very far.
 
Susan Sward: San Francisco immigration court a window to children’s crisis
Sacramento Bee
“Congress has to appropriate money” to tackle this problem, Ann Morse, immigration policy director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, told me. “A lot of communities are stepping forward to try to help these kids, which is good, but this really needs a national resolution.”

Sept. 5

Lawmakers must wait to lobby under new law
Delaware Online
At least 31 states have enacted similar measures, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which all have one-year restrictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Judge orders Maryland to adopt online voting tool
Baltimore Sun
Maryland officials surveyed other states and found just two that have adopted online tools specifically to help disabled voters, but some jurisdictions have gone further than Maryland in allowing voters to use electronic voting methods, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Dozens Busted in 'Fight for $15' Fast-Food Protests
WTAM
Protesters in about 150 cities are participating in the Fight for $15 campaign, according to union organizers who planned the event. The current minimum hourly wage in Michigan is $8.15; in New York, it's $8, reports the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
California Leading the Way in Protecting Jennifer Lawrence’s Privacy
City Watch
But there’s some gradual progress being made in this area. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states enacted specific “revenge porn” bans this year. These measures clarify that it is illegal for people to distribute nude photos online without the consent of the people depicted in the photos.

Sept. 4

'Active Shooter' Drills Spark Raft of Legal Complaints
Wall Street Journal
During the past decade, many states began requiring that schools hold lockdown or general-safety drills, apart from natural-disaster preparedness exercises. Since the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in 2012, five states have passed or amended laws specifically mandating that schools conduct active-shooter drills, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Salter: Highway funding kicked down road, but not far
Clarion Ledger
Kevin Pula, a research analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures, writes: "It is widely acknowledged that because of more fuel efficient vehicles and changing travel habits the current structure of a fixed gasoline tax is unsustainable as a transportation funding source. "Some have proposed an indexed gasoline tax. Indiana Representative Ed Soliday (R), however, pointed out that a simple index of the gasoline tax to the consumer price index (CPI) is not a long-term solution because highway maintenance and construction costs are rising at a faster rate than the CPI," Pula concluded. The Federal Highway Trust Fund is funded from federal taxes on gasoline and motor fuels and is the source of money for federal spending on highways, bridges, roads and transit.
 
Common Core replacement for Ohio would have biases, differences from its supposed Massachusetts model
Cleveland Dealer
The guidelines for standards in House Bill 597 share some common language with bills passed five other states - Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina - that are replacing the Common Core with their own standards, said Daniel Thatcher, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Election Day voter registration to be decided on Montana ballot
The Missoulian
Montana is one of 10 states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming, plus the District of Columbia, that allow voter registration on Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California and Illinois have enacted Election Day registration but have not yet implemented it.
 
Walker Still Ducking Right to Work Questions
Milwaukee Mag
Walker's still gripping the fence tightly. The Associated Press reports that Walker has again denied any interest in right to work, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, another key player, has continued to throw cold water on the prospect. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are now 24 right to work states (plus Guam, a U.S. territory). These have traditionally been southern states, but Indiana and Michigan joined ranks with laws passed in 2012.
 
THEIRS: The simple way to raise the minimum wage
Rapid City Journal/Wisconsin State Journal
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a handful of states will be at or above $10 an hour within a few years, under current law. Yet those tend to be states dominated by Democrats.

Sept. 3

Pot, abortion, minimum wage among hot-button issues on ballots in Nov.
CBS News
Across 39 states, there are a total of 128 initiatives and referenda on the ballot this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A referendum allows voters to approve or reject policies considered by the state legislature, while a ballot initiative lets citizens bypass state lawmakers completely to vote on an issue.
 
Netflix Supports Government-Run Internet
National Journal
The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures also filed comments claiming the FCC lacks the legal authority to act. The groups noted that some local Internet projects have been expensive failures, and argued it's reasonable for state lawmakers to try to protect taxpayer money.
 
Short-Term Rental Company Invests in Online Tax Return Filing Service
Tax Analysts
Max Behlke of the National Conference of State Legislatures predicted that coming to terms with how to regulate and tax businesses in the so-called shared economy will be a hot topic among state lawmakers next year. "States are just trying to grapple with what these industries are," Behlke said. Behlke doesn't think there will be an onslaught in 2015 of new legislation to regulate and tax those businesses, but rather believes that lawmakers will work to ensure they are remitting taxes. The shared economy industry wants to comply with regulations and tax policies, he said.
 
Pension Tax Bites Michigan’s Snyder in Re-Election Bid
Bloomberg News
Five states with income taxes exclude public or private pensions -- Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Mississippi and Pennsylvania -- according to a 2010 report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Kentucky taxes only pension income above $41,100 for most retirees, the most generous exemption among states.
 
States Move Ahead on Nexus for Sales Taxes
Accounting Today
It is unclear how much tax revenue states are missing from unreported online sales. A 2009 study by professors at the University of Tennessee projected that annual national state and local sales tax losses on e-commerce would grow to $11.4 billion by 2012. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated in 2012 that states lost $23.3 billion in 2012 from being prohibited from collecting sales tax from online and catalog purchases.
 
Editorial: Results do matter when it comes to spending tax dollars 
Charleston Daily
Results do matter when it comes to spending tax dollars. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported some good news. Performance-based budgeting is making a comeback in state after state. The concept is simple. Officials make sure that they get the most out of the public’s money.
 
Why Congress Won't Help Jennifer Lawrence
Gov Exec.
Eradicating revenge porn, however, has been gaining momentum at the state level. California passed the first revenge-porn law in 2013, prohibiting the distribution of compromising images taken "with the intent to cause serious emotional distress." And so far in 2014, 11 states have joined the effort to enact a patchwork of revenge-porn laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two dozen others are considering legislation. Whether the most recent celebrity photo leak will prompt any real reforms in Washington is an open question, but it will certainly put a spotlight on how the privacy and safety of women are abused.

Sept. 2

California governor lauds passage of 'historic' sick leave bill
Reuters
A measure to grant California workers mandatory sick leave that passed the state legislature early on Saturday appeared poised to become law after Governor Jerry Brown lauded it as a historic achievement. If Brown signs the measure into law, California will join Connecticut as the only states mandating paid sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Obama college ratings drive wedge as state schools show support
Chicago Daily Herald/Bloomberg News
More than half of the 50 states have already adopted or are exploring tying higher-education funding to similar performance benchmarks, rather than distributing aid based on enrollment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
Michigan's minimum wage takes first step up
Detroit News
Michigan was the first state this year with a Republican-led Legislature to raise its minimum wage rates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Lawmakers were particularly nervous about a provision in the Raise Michigan proposal to boost to $10.10 the $2.65-per-hour “tipped” minimum wage for food servers and bartenders who rely mostly on gratuities. Restaurant industry leaders said the $10.10 rate would put many eateries out of business. The fear was shared by restaurant owners and the Michigan Restaurant Association.
 
Law enforcement part of debate over gun measures on state’s November ballot
The Peninsula/Associated Press
Only six states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island — plus Washington, D.C. currently require universal background checks for all sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
 
More women at the top of South Dakota's ballot
Myrtle Beach Online/Associated Press
About 23 percent of South Dakota's 105 legislative seats are currently occupied by women— 1 percent below the national average cited by the National Conference of State Legislatures — and about 26 percent of candidates who made it through June's primary are women.
 
Texas voter ID battle to continue in court
Lubbock Online
In addition, Texas and 33 other states have passed laws requiring their voters to show government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot and 31 already enforce it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.