Archive for the ‘National Conference of State Legislatures’ Category

State Legislatures Enact 206 Immigration Related Bills and Resolutions in First Half of 2012 – Down 20 % From Same Period Last Year

August 6, 2012 Comments off

State Legislatures Enact 206 Immigration Related Bills and Resolutions in First Half of 2012 – Down 20 % From Same Period Last Year

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Lawmakers in 41 states enacted 114 bills and adopted 92 resolutions dealing with immigration in the first half of 2012. The immigration activity is detailed in a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Immigrant Policy Project released Monday at the NCSL Legislative Summit.

This marks a decrease of 20 percent from the 257 laws and resolutions enacted in the first half of 2011. Law enforcement and identification/driver’s licenses remained the leading issues addressed by state legislatures, comprising 18 percent and 11 percent respectively, of all enacted laws on immigration.

U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal Health Law

June 28, 2012 Comments off

U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal Health Law

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision today in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) v. Florida. There were four issues before the Court regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): the applicability of the Anti-Injunction Act; the constitutionality of the individual mandate; the severability of the individual mandate provisions from other provisions of PPACA; and the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion.

Below is a chart explaining the legal arguments for and against each of these issues along with the Court’s ruling.

Dual Employment: Regulating Public Jobs for Legislators – 50 State Table

May 30, 2012 Comments off
Source:  National Conference of State Legislators

Many state legislators balance their public office with other employment. If they work in another public sector job, they may face regulations that address the type of jobs they may have. Dual employment─also known as double dipping─is the practice of drawing two government incomes. Through constitutional provisions and statutes, states may curb other public sector employment opportunities. Some states exempt teachers from dual employment provisions. This table is intended to provide general information and does not necessarily address all aspects of this topic. Because the facts of each situation may vary, this information may need to be supplemented by consulting legal advisors.

State legislative fiscal directors are “cautiously optimistic” about their “stable” fiscal situations

May 7, 2012 Comments off
Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures
The outlook of legislative fiscal officers is one of cautious optimism as state budgets slowly but steadily improve following the end of the Great Recession. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has released its “State Budget Update: Spring 2012” report, which shows that revenue performance remains positive, expenditures in most states are stable and few states have faced mid-year budget shortfalls in fiscal year (FY) 2012.
“For the first time since before the recession, some states have found themselves in the fortunate situation of having excess funds halfway through the budget year,” said Arturo Perez, director of NCSL’s fiscal affairs. “Many states anticipate using them to rebuild rainy day funds or will carry them over into FY 2013.”
Revenue performance through the first eight months of FY 2012 has been a key factor in the improved condition of state finances. Sales taxes and corporate income taxes generally performed better than personal income taxes.
“Even though the economic outlook in the states is improving, tax collections across all categories remain uneven,” said William Pound, executive director of NCSL. “And that’s one reason state lawmakers are still uneasy.”

+ Full Report (PDF)

Oil and Gas Severance Taxes: States Work to Alleviate Fiscal Pressures Amid the Natural Gas Boom

March 2, 2012 Comments off
Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures
As state lawmakers across the nation debate the implications of more (or less) stringent oil and gas regulations, Pennsylvania faces a slightly different battle: the continuing fight over a natural gas drilling tax that some argue may have already cost the state over $300 million in lost revenue.
Pennsylvania remains the largest natural gas-producing state without a severance tax. At least 36 states impose some sort of severance tax, and 31 states specifically levy taxes on the extraction of oil and gas. In 2010, more than $11 billion was generated in the United States from severance taxes alone. Between 10.5 percent and 74.3 percent of total state tax revenue came from severance taxes in at least six states—Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
Severance taxes help insure that costs associated with resource extraction—such as road construction and maintenance, and environmental protection—are paid by the producers, helping to alleviate potential impacts on state and local taxpayers. States distribute revenues in various ways, but typically, most of the collected taxes are deposited into the general fund. Many states also use the extra revenue to fund conservation and environmental cleanup projects and distribute portions of the collected taxes to local governments.
Furthermore, some states—such as Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming—reserve a portion of the collected taxes for permanent funds, whose earned interest can help balance state budgets.
So far this legislative session, at least 11 states are considering legislation to either impose a new—or amend an existing—tax on oil or gas production.
Below is a chart of existing oil and gas severance taxes followed by a chart of key pending or enacted legislation so far this session. The chart of recent legislation only includes bills that propose new taxes on oil or gas production—or aim to revise existing taxes. Bills that solely amend revenue allocations have not been included. A 50-state map of oil and gas severance tax laws and legislation follows.

2012 State and Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates

January 14, 2012 Comments off

2012 State and Presidential Primary and Caucus Dates
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The following table summarizes the dates for all state, Congressional and presidential primaries and caucuses in 2012. A chronological listing of presidential primaries and caucuses is also available.

NCSL highlights some of the top issues that will dominate the legislative agenda in 2012

January 9, 2012 Comments off
Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures
Forty-six states will hold a legislative sessions in 2012, and many policymakers cannot shake the fact that the sluggish economy has controlled the nation’s legislative agendas for the past six years. But for the first time since the recession began, lawmakers will not spend the first part of their legislative session addressing new budgets shortfalls that have opened up since the legislature passed a budget. States are now halfway through the second quarter of FY 2012; new budget gaps are practically nonexistent.
This does not mean states are rolling in the dough. Revenue collections over the past year have increased for states, but at a very slow pace. A new “State Budget Report” released in December by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) shows state economies are starting to rebound and show signs of strength.
“The revenue growth states have experienced has helped to mitigate budget shortfalls,” said William Pound, executive director of NCSL. “It could help stave off some of the deep cuts that lawmakers have made in previous sessions.”
Innovation has been the key over the last few years, as state lawmakers and legislative staff have been forced to do more with less. States have looked at public-private partnerships in corrections and transportation, creating state-owned banks, privatizing social services and even consolidating state agencies and functions, such as combining state park and wildlife duties under one agency.
Money is the starting and stopping point for virtually every state program and service. This year will be no exception and the budget will still dominate the agenda for most states in 2012, especially with the uncertainty of the how federal deficit reductions will affect fiscal year 2013 state budgets.
Each year, NCSL develops an annual list that examines some of the most pressing and important topics on state legislative agendas. The Top 12 of 2012 is not meant to cover every topic or issue states will tackle during the upcoming legislative session, but rather to highlight some of the program areas and issues that will command the attention of policymakers.

A wide range of new legislation goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012

December 28, 2011 Comments off
Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures

A host of new laws—from making it a crime to sell a live animal on any street or in any parking lot, to honoring law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty with a special medal—become effective Jan. 1, 2012.

In 2011, all 50 states and territories met in regular session and enacted close to 40,000 new laws on issues across the board. Laws do not always become effective on Jan. 1, however. State constitutions or statutes usually establish when they go into effect, or sometimes, an effective date is written into the specific piece of legislation.

Several states passed legislation regarding the use of E-Verify that will go into effect at the start of the new year. Several legislatures also changed requirements for upcoming elections. Other bills range from prohibiting the sale of shark fins to allowing civil unions, from creating a license plate for music teachers and banning people under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) found an assortment of laws in at least 21 states that will become effective on New Year’s Day. The following list is a sampling of some of the new state laws (organized alphabetically by topic) ringing in the new year.

Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices

December 12, 2011 Comments off

Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures/AARP

Nearly 90 percent of people over the age of 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible. However, for older adults to age in place, their physical and service environment must be able to accommodate their needs.

NCSL partnered with the AARP Public Policy Institute to examine promising state land use, transportation, and housing policies that may enable aging in place. These policies include integrating land use, housing and transportation; efficiently delivering services in the home; providing more transportation choices; and improving affordable, accessible housing to prevent social isolation.

+ In Brief (PDF)
+ Full Report (PDF)

Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators

November 23, 2011 Comments off

Juvenile Justice Guidebook for Legislators
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Under a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NCSL has published a juvenile justice guidebook addressing the most important juvenile justice policy issues of the day. This juvenile justice primer highlights significant research, program approaches and gives examples of state legislation.

State Tax Update: August 2011

September 21, 2011 Comments off

State Tax Update: August 2011
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

For the first time in 10 years, states cut taxes more than they increased them. But readers should not draw hasty conclusions about what this means for states’ fiscal health. Most states continued to face substantial budget shortfalls during their 2011 legislative sessions, even though some states saw revenue collections increase. The net state tax reduction is a result of temporary tax increases expiring in a handful of states. Removing the impact of those temporary taxes from the mix, states enacted a net tax increase of $9 billion. But again, this is misleading because large tax increases in only two states accounted for nearly all of the gains. In short, the aggregate figures are skewed by a handful of states where tax increases and tax cuts were large and extensive.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Elimination & Consolidation of State Entities

August 15, 2011 Comments off

Elimination & Consolidation of State Entities (PDF)
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

To address budget gaps in recent years, policymakers have cut spending, used federal funds, enacted revenue increases, used rainy day funds, and employed various other measures to satisfy statutory and constitutional balanced budget requirements.

Among the spending cuts, some states have sought to eliminate or consolidate various state entities, including departments, agencies, offices, divisions, boards, commissions and councils. These actions have often been characterized as streamlining, reorganizing, modernizing, redesigning or increasing the efficiency of government.

In general, these actions have not represented substantial savings for state budgets. Instead, policymakers have primarily opted to cut appropriations for existing state entities and programs while keeping them largely intact.

Since 2009, at least 19 states have eliminated or consolidated state entities. Of these states, at least 11 have instituted eliminations and 13 have implemented consolidations. Several states – California, Connecticut, Missouri, Nevada and Washington – have done both. State functions that have been impacted include personnel management, criminal justice, information technology, central services, and tourism.

California, New Jersey and Washington have been relatively active in eliminating or consolidating state entities. This report highlights examples from these states first, followed by other selected state examples. Savings estimates are included where available.

Payday Lending 2011 Legislation

June 22, 2011 Comments off

Payday Lending 2011 Legislation
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

This page addresses state legislation regarding payday lending or deferred presentment, which features single-payment, short-term loans based on personal checks held for future deposit or on electronic access to personal checking accounts, and loan products designed to be an alternative to payday lending.

To date, state legislators in 28 states have pending legislation in the 2011 legislative session.

Do For-Profit Schools Pass the Test?: June 2011

June 8, 2011 Comments off

Do For-Profit Schools Pass the Test?: June 2011
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Undercover investigations, congressional hearings, advertising campaigns, lawsuits, blocked funding, new federal regulations, public service announcements, and too many newspaper opinion pieces to count. For-profit colleges and universities are clearly in the spotlight.

Today these institutions enroll some 3.2 million people in everything from small vocational programs to traditional degree programs, with flexible schedules and online options.

Budget cuts to state and community colleges that have triggered higher tuition, larger classes and limited class selection in states across the country make for-profit colleges increasingly attractive to nontraditional students looking for programs that better meet their needs.

The popularity of these proprietary schools grew from a mere 2 percent of students in 1986 to more than 10 percent in the 2008-2009 school year. But this growth has raised concerns—at both the state and federal levels—about the quality of education these institutions offer, the amount of money in scholarships and loans they receive, the tactics they use to attract students and the success of their graduates in finding jobs.

Lawmakers in 18 states have considered at least 30 bills this year, many of which would increase oversight and regulation, as well as establish additional consumer protections. So far, seven of these bills have become law, with provisions varying from restricting recruiting practices to requiring schools to pay into a student protection fund, to limiting eligibility of state student aid programs.

Transportation Governance and Finance: A 50-State Review of State Legislatures and DOTs

June 4, 2011 Comments off

Transportation Governance and Finance: A 50-State Review of State Legislatures and DOTs
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

On June 1, 2011, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Center for Excellence in Project Finance released the report Transportation Governance and Finance: A 50-State Review of State Legislatures and Departments of Transportation.

This authoritative analysis of state transportation governance and finance provides an overview of key issues, supplemented by detailed information for all fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The report focuses on transportation finance and on the roles and relationships between the branches of state government that are most active in transportation issues.

Record Number of Immigration-Related Bills and Resolutions Introduced in States During First Quarter of 2011

May 25, 2011 Comments off

Record Number of Immigration-Related Bills and Resolutions Introduced in States During First Quarter of 2011
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

According to a new immigration report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the 50 states and Puerto Rico have introduced a record 1,538 bills and resolutions relating to immigrants and refugees in the first quarter of 2011. This number surpasses the first quarter of 2010 by 358.

Although employment, identification/driver’s licenses and law enforcement continue to be top areas of focus, with the passage of federal health care reform, health has also emerged as a top contender. In the area of health, 68 bills were introduced in 38 state legislatures. Most of these bills address eligibility criteria for health benefits for immigrants and their children.

Utah’s package of immigration-related laws attracted particular notice. Along with addressing several key issues, collectively, the laws establish a temporary guest worker program and a Utah Commission on Immigration and Migration to help integrate immigrants into life in Utah.

+ Full Report

Tapping School Facilities for Community Health: Joint-Use Agreements

May 2, 2011 Comments off

Tapping School Facilities for Community Health: Joint-Use Agreements
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Physical activity promotes good health and reduces the risk of chronic disease. Exercise can help control weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve mental health. Physical inactivity, on the other hand, can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Lawmakers can play a role in increasing community places for physical activity, that may, in turn, contribute to better health and lower health care costs. Many communities lack safe places to exercise and play near where people live and work. Opening school fields, tracks, courts, playgrounds and gymnasiums to the public, when not in use by students, is a low-cost way to encourage more people to be physically active and to achieve maximum value for dollars appropriated by legislators for school facilities.

+ Full Document (PDF)

Transmitting Electricity in an Increasingly Complex Energy Market: A Legislative Update

April 29, 2011 Comments off

Transmitting Electricity in an Increasingly Complex Energy Market: A Legislative Update
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The United States’ transmission infrastructure will need significant upgrades in the coming 2 decades. While population growth and new consumer devices are increasing electricity demand, distributed energy and smart grid technologies are drastically changing how electricity is delivered. A recent study conducted by The Brattle Group estimates that, by 2030, industry needs to invest $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in total infrastructure, including about $298 billion for transmission and $582 billion for distribution.

Transmission upgrades will need to account for the increasingly important role of renewable energy in many states, since the best renewable resources are often located far from cities where the electricity is needed. Siting, regional coordination, and cost-recovery challenges often challenge transmission development. Many states are working to address these issues through a variety of policies.

State revenues are showing encouraging signs of recovery, but persistent budget gaps remain a daunting obstacle

April 19, 2011 Comments off

State revenues are showing encouraging signs of recovery, but persistent budget gaps remain a daunting obstacle
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

State budgets have been under constant pressure since the Great Recession first began in 2007. Legislators continue to make difficult budget decisions as it remains uncertain when states will be free of the budget gaps that have dogged them for several years.

A new state budget report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) sheds some light on the shifting fiscal picture for states. NCSL’s State Budget Update: March 2011 shows that state revenues continue to stabilize or even grow, which is a welcome change after some of the most challenging budget years ever faced by states.

The general improvement in state tax collections is tied to the strong performance of personal income and sales and use taxes. Thirty-eight states reported personal income tax collections were performing at or above estimate. Additionally, 37 states reported general sales tax collections are on target or above estimate.

+ State Budget Update: March 2011

Identity Theft 2011 Legislation

April 11, 2011 Comments off

Identity Theft 2011 Legislation
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personally identifying information, like a person’s name, Social Security number, or credit card number or other financial information, without permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

In 2011, 33 states have introduced legislation regarding identity theft to date.


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