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NCSL Forecast ’23

A State Legislatures News Special Report on 2023 Legislative Sessions

April 24, 2023

In the laboratories of democracy, the great American experiment unfolds in every legislative session.

When it comes to getting things done—even in our fraught political environment—nobody does it better than state legislatures.

As always, NCSL has the facts, the figures and the forecast to help legislators and staff prepare for the new session. From education to the environment, from elections to energy, the stories below offer NCSL experts’ insights on what lies ahead for state lawmakers in 2023.

The full special report, including graphics, can also be viewed at the Forecast ’23 website.

What’s Trending for 2023? NCSL Experts Have the Answers

central park neighborhood denver affordable housing

Housing, Child Care Workers and Adoption Emerge as Priorities

Housing and child care, two essential ingredients for thriving families and communities, have been hot topics in recent years and continue to get hotter. Adoption, on the other hand, was a sleeper issue until it broke through following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

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man with hands in handcuffs behind back closeup

Lawmakers Seek New Directions on Public Safety

As the nation navigates the lingering challenges of the pandemic, new public safety concerns have emerged, among them fentanyl overdoses and crimes of opportunity. Legislatures are responding with a focus on community-tailored strategies to reduce violence.

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young students at table with laptop computers

Addressing Student, Educator Well-Being Requires Systemic Change

Some policymakers argue that our nearly century-old education system no longer meets our needs and is not adaptable enough in times of disruption or crisis. Addressing that challenge won’t be easy, as lawmakers face a sticky system averse to change.

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vote here sign outside polling place

States to Keep Focus on Election Costs, Accuracy and the Safety of Officials

The pandemic brought with it numerous election policy changes—many temporary. As lawmakers decide which changes to keep, they will likely focus on paying for elections, defining election officials’ duties, maintaining voter rolls and ensuring accurate vote counts.

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woman working at counter in coffee shop

States Bank on Incentives, Benefits and Training to Lure Workers Back

The paradox of the U.S. labor market is that there are more job openings than workers seeking employment. The working-age population is sufficient to fill current job openings, but labor force participation has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

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electric vehicle charging station

Support for New Energy Projects and the Transition to Low-Carbon Power

Using major federal investments, states will be upgrading the electric grid, expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure and managing the impacts on consumers, workers and industry of the ongoing transition away from fossil fuels.

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flooding after hurrican ida

Tall Tasks: Severe Weather, Aging Water Systems, ‘Forever Chemicals’

Over the past decade, the increasing frequency and intensity of severe weather have put state economies in peril as the costs of disaster recovery soar.

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woman working at laptop computer closeup

Fintech To-Dos: Broadband Access, Data Privacy, Digital Currencies

As the internet pervades nearly every aspect of consumer life, lawmakers are addressing the growing interest in using digital currencies, the need for data privacy, and a fundamental reality: The internet is not equally available to all Americans.

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hand on gas pump filling gas tank

Fiscal Conditions Are Strong, but Uncertainty Looms

State fiscal situations continue to rebound as the pandemic-induced recession subsides, and despite inflation and other factors, including the war in Ukraine, states are hopeful the good times will continue, even as they prepare for challenges ahead.

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mother holding infant child

Behavioral and Maternal Health Emerge as Post-Pandemic Priorities

Workforce shortages, overdoses, mental health disorders, maternal mortality—all are ongoing problems made worse over the last couple of years by the COVID-19 pandemic, and state legislatures are responding.

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man riding bicycle in traffic

Road Worries: Sagging Gas Tax, Rising Traffic Safety Woes

The $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law provides states with hundreds of billions of dollars in transportation funding for bridge replacement, passenger rail and electric vehicle charging, along with support for existing road, transit and traffic safety programs.

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