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Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking Statutes

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking Statutes
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Enacted in 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act set the minimum drinking age at 21. To comply with federal law, states prohibit persons under 21 years of age from purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic beverages.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 9.3 million persons aged 12 to 20 (24.3 percent of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month and an estimated 11.2 percent of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year.

In an effort to combat underage drinking, state legislators have enacted laws that assign responsibility to adults who allow minors to drink alcohol at social gatherings. Thirty-one states allow social hosts to be civilly liable for injuries or damages caused by underage drinkers. Twenty-six states and the Virgin Islands have criminal penalties for adults who host or permit parties with underage drinking to occur in the adults’ homes or in premises under the adults’ control. These social host statutory provisions do not apply to licensed establishments such as restaurants, bars, and liquor stores, which are covered by dram shop laws.

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Diabetes Spending Dips in States: NCSL Report

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Diabetes Spending Dips in States: NCSL Report
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

State and federal spending to combat diabetes decreased slightly in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The report, “States Address the Costs of Diabetes: A 50-State Budget Survey for Fiscal Year 2013,” tracks the funds specifically appropriated by state legislatures for diabetes in FY 2013. It also reviews the funding provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to states in FY 2012 for Diabetes Prevention and Control Programs (DPCPs), as well as changes in grant funds received from the CDC.

The total of state and federal funding appropriated by state legislatures specifically for diabetes prevention and control was $11,347,038 in FY 2013, compared to $11,947,129 in FY 2012, a difference of about 5 percent. Those figures, however, do not represent total spending by states on diabetes. The CDC also supports state efforts through grant programs, providing roughly $27 million per year.

Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2013

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2013
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Issues examined in this report include occupant protection, distracted driving, driver licensing, impaired driving, aggressive driving, speed limits, motorcycle helmets, automated enforcement, school bus safety, and pedestrian and bicycle safety. Tables and charts detailing state traffic safety laws are included; as are contacts and links for further information (Appendix A contains National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] regional office contact information). All bills discussed in this report can be found in the NCSL – NHTSA Traffic Safety Legislative Tracking Database.

2013 Military Parent Custody and Visitation Legislation

March 10, 2014 Comments off

2013 Military Parent Custody and Visitation Legislation
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Over the last decade, legislation addressing issues facing military parents has become a national trend. With the number of custody and visitation issues among military families growing, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws drafted the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) to allow states to adopt a procedure for courts to use when faced with this unique situation. During the 2013 legislative session, eight states enacted nine bills addressing deployed parent custody and visitation. Of those eight states, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, and North Dakota became the first in the nation to adopt the UDPCVA.

Already during the 2014 legislative session, three states—Mississippi, South Dakota and Tennessee—and the District of Columbia have introduced bills to adopt the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA). In addition to those states seeking to adopt the UDPCVA, seven other states have 16 pending bills for consideration during the 2014 legislative session.

Below are summaries of the 2013 enacted legislation addressing custody and visitation issues of military families. For more information about the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act and states that have introduced or enacted deployed parent custody and visitation legislation visit the Child Support Project’s Military Custody and Visitation page.

2014 Security Breach Legislation

February 27, 2014 Comments off

2014 Security Breach Legislation
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

At least 17 states introduced or are considering security breach legislation in 2014. Most of the bills would amend existing security breach laws. Kentucky’s legislation, however, would create requirements for notification of breaches in that state. Only four states–Alabama, Kentucky, New Mexico and South Dakota–do not currently have a law requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information.

Comprehensive School Choice: A Guide for Legislators

October 30, 2013 Comments off

Comprehensive School Choice: A Guide for Legislatures
Source: National Conference of State Legislators

Legislatures around the country have enacted various forms of school choice over the past 20 years. The intent of these policies has been to improve student achievement throughout the education system, seek innovative methods of instruction and school governance, and provide parents with an alternative to neighborhood schools.

Although many methods are available to states to provide public school choices—including open enrollment policies and magnet schools—the most prominent public school choice policy is charter schools. As of summer 2013, 42 states and the District of Columbia had enacted legislation permitting these unique public schools, which operate outside the traditional school governance structure, instead exercising a high level of autonomy in exchange for more stringent accountability. Most state legislatures have adopted comprehensive charter school policies and are routinely considering adjustments to them.

State Legislative Enactments Supporting Relatives, Kinship Care Providers and Grandparents 2007 – 2012

October 4, 2013 Comments off

State Legislative Enactments Supporting Relatives, Kinship Care Providers and Grandparents 2007 – 2012
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

A number of states have enacted legislation to expand support for grandparent and relative caregivers. The chart below reflects legislation enacted between 2007 and 2012. The categories identified include easing of licensure requirements, waivers and variances; expanded definition of relative;relative placement preference; school enrollment and medical consent; payment, reimbursement, subsidies; supporting relative adoption; studies, commissions and task forces; and, miscellaneous.

NCSL Report: State Immigration Laws Rebound in 2013

September 27, 2013 Comments off

NCSL Report: State Immigration Laws Rebound in 2013
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Following a lull in 2012, the number of laws states passed related to immigration rebounded significantly in 2013, according to a new report from the National Conference of State Legislature’s (NCSL) Immigrant Policy Project.

States seemed to put reforms on hold while they waited for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States, according to the report. The high court held on June 25, 2012, that federal law preempted three of four provisions in Arizona’s omnibus immigration law, SB 1070, enacted in 2010. Less than a week later, the federal government issued a new policy—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—which provides young unauthorized immigrants a temporary respite from deportation along with the opportunity to apply for work authorization.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision and DACA policy seemed to spur states back into action in 2013. As of June 30, state legislatures had already exceeded the number of laws and resolutions enacted in all of 2012. Lawmakers in 43 states and the District of Columbia enacted 146 laws and 231 resolutions related to immigration, for a total of 377—a 83 percent increase from the 206 laws and resolutions enacted in the first half of 2012. This increase was driven in large part by a spike in resolutions, with Texas alone adopting 96 resolutions commending the contributions of immigrants and seeking federal action. Excluding resolutions, enacted legislation increased 28 percent in 2013 compared to the same timeframe in 2012, with 146 laws compared to 114. This level of legislative action, however, remains below the 162 laws enacted in 2011.

State Budget & Tax Actions: Preliminary Report | August 2013

August 13, 2013 Comments off

State Budget & Tax Actions: Preliminary Report | August 2013
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

State fiscal conditions continued to improve in fiscal year (FY) 2013. General fund revenue growth was notably strong and outpaced projections in most states. At the same time, expenditures were generally on target. The combination of these factors enabled many states to shore up reserves and support supplemental expenditures. Overall, the fiscal situation was solid in almost every state in FY 2013.

In addition to revenue growth, one of the more notable developments in 2013 was the number of states that considered tax reform, as substantial changes in income taxes, sales taxes and transportation funding mechanisms dominated 2013 state tax discussions.

Despite the improved fiscal situation, lawmakers remain cautious about the budget outlook for FY 2014.

Officials are uncertain about the sustainability of the stronger revenue growth rates experienced in FY 2013 and expect revenue collections to slow. Additionally, spending needs are likely to outpace revenue projections as growing Medicaid costs and a protracted economic recovery continue to pressure state budgets. As a result, state year-end balances are projected to fall by the close of FY 2014.

Evaluating School Principals — A Legislative Approach

July 19, 2013 Comments off

Evaluating School Principals — A Legislative Approach (PDF)
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

This report offers guidance for approaching the issues of evaluating school principals. School principals play a critical role in school improvement and students’ academic success. Effective teachers and principals are the two most important school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school.

Educating Children in Foster Care: State Legislation, 2008 – 2012

July 12, 2013 Comments off

Educating Children in Foster Care: State Legislation, 2008 – 2012 (PDF)
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

State Policy Options for Educating Children in Foster Care

Children and youth in foster care face significant challenges in attaining positive educational experiences and academic achievement that, in turn, influence adult life. State legislators can continue to play a critical role in improving educational opportunities and achievement for these children by considering the following state policy options.

  • „„Decreasing unnecessary discontinuity and trauma associated with school transfers.
  • Helping foster children remain in their school of origin.
  • Increasing the ability to share information between child welfare agencies and schools.
  • Working as conveners to bring together education agencies and child welfare agencies.
  • Developing greater accountability and compatibility between education and child welfare data systems to better track educational results for children in foster care.
  • Finding ways to fund post-secondary degree programs for current and former foster youth.
  • Providing guidance services to foster care youth to help them successfully enter and complete a degree program.

State Budget Update — Spring 2013

May 2, 2013 Comments off

State Budget Update — Spring 2013

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

As the four-year anniversary of the official end of the Great Recession approaches, no strong indication exists that states are entering a robust recovery phase. Rather, states continue to move along the same path of slow and steady growth that gradually has brought them out of the economic nadir. The general outlook from state officials is one of stability, with a dose of uncertainty, as states continue to plod their way through an extended economic recovery.

There are some exceptions. A small, but increasing, number of states report moderate to strong fiscal conditions resulting in budget surplus projections. Only a few states find themselves on the other end of the fiscal spectrum, with continuing budget difficulties.

Even with this upbeat assessment of state fiscal conditions, uncertainty still hovers over state finances, as the impact of federal sequestration remains unclear. Some state officials are concerned about how federal fiscal policy could affect state revenues as federal government spending is reduced in both defense and non-defense program areas.

This report is based on data collected in the spring of 2013 from legislative fiscal officers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It includes information on:

  • State revenue performance;
  • Areas of spending over budget;
  • Impacts of sequestration on state budgets; and
  • A summary of state fiscal situations.

Pretrial Release Eligibility

April 3, 2013 Comments off

Pretrial Release Eligibility

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Minnesota’s constitutional provision is similar to that of many states’ laws governing pretrial release. Nearly every state has a presumption in favor of releasing all but a specified few defendants before trial. Forty states have such a provision in the state constitution. Where the constitution is silent on this, eight states have created a statutory presumption.

State constitutions and statutes specify which defendants may be detained before trial. Most commonly, defendants charged with capital offenses are barred from pretrial release. Other common circumstances in which release can be denied include violent and sex crimes, when the victim is a child or family member, or if the defendant has previous convictions for certain serious offenses. Defendants facing serious drug or alcohol charges, such as trafficking in a controlled substance or driving under the influence resulting in serious injury, may be denied release in a few states. However, denial of release is not absolute. A court must make certain determinations before ordering detention. For example, the court must find that “the proof is evident or the presumption great” against the defendant. Or, a court may deny release if it is determined that no conditions can reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant or if the defendant is a danger to himself or herself or the community.

While state laws broadly provide for presumption of release, they also define who is and is not eligible for pretrial release, and under what conditions.

The chart below provides more information on state laws governing pretrial release eligibility. (An additional chart provides more information on statutory guidance for setting pretrial release conditions.)

Fiscal Situation ‘Stable’ For Most States; NCSL Releases Comprehensive 50- State Budget Update

December 18, 2012 Comments off

Fiscal Situation ‘Stable’ For Most States; NCSL Releases Comprehensive 50- State Budget Update

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, more states are reporting good news rather than bad, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Fall State Budget Update report.

The report’s findings are based on a comprehensive survey of legislative fiscal officers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Items addressed in the report include: state revenue performance, revenue outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year, over-budget spending, and historical comparisons to previous economic recoveries.

“Overall, the recovery for states is stable, with half of the states expecting to return to peak revenue levels by the end of this fiscal year,” said Arturo Pérez, program director of NCSL’s fiscal affairs program.

History making ballot measures pass throughout country

November 7, 2012 Comments off

History making ballot measures pass throughout country

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Voters made history in dramatic fashion, passing groundbreaking measures to legalize marijuana use and approve same-sex marriage on a day when 174 ballot measures were considered by the electorates of 38 states. That was the most since 2006 when 204 measures were on ballots.

In many states, ballots were quite long on Election Day, with voters in Alabama, California and Florida deciding on 11 statewide measures ranging from implementation of the Affordable Care Act to same-sex marriage.

Of the 42 citizen initiatives on the ballot, voters approved 17. They rejected 23, and two remain too close to call at press time. In the 2000–2010 decade, voters approved 44.9% of all initiatives on the ballot. Of the 40 that are decided so far, 42.5% have been approved. That’s slightly below average and is subject to change as the results on these last two measures firm up.

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.
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