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State Constitutional Right to Hunt and Fish

April 17, 2015 Comments off

State Constitutional Right to Hunt and Fish
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Eighteen states guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions, with 17 of those approved via the voters. While Vermont’s language dates back to 1777, the rest of these constitutional provisions—in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming—have passed since 1996. California and Rhode Island have language in their respective constitutions guaranteeing the right to fish, but not to hunt. Advocates also consider Alaska’s constitutional language—“Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use”—as meeting the test because of its strong case law history.

States that limit or prohibit juvenile shackling and solitary confinement

March 31, 2015 Comments off

States that limit or prohibit juvenile shackling and solitary confinement
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

State legislatures and courts across the country also are reexamining the practice of placing juveniles in solitary confinement and shackling youth during court appearances without first assessing each juvenile’s individual behavior.

Powdered Alcohol 2015 Legislation

March 13, 2015 Comments off

Powdered Alcohol 2015 Legislation
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Alcoholic beverages may soon be available in powdered form or in capsules.

In April 2014, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for a product called Palcohol that can be added to water to make an alcoholic beverage.

The makers of Palcohol, who are seeking federal approval to market it, say their freeze-dried vodka, rum, “powderitas” and other drinks will appeal to backpackers and others who want a lightweight, more portable form of liquor. Within two weeks of approving the labels, the TTB issued a statement that the label approvals were issued in error. In March 2015, the TTB approved the revised labels for Palcohol, allowing the product to be sold legally in the United States, unless otherwise prohibited.

NGA And NCSL Release Recommendations For ESEA Reauthorization

February 11, 2015 Comments off

NGA And NCSL Release Recommendations For ESEA Reauthorization
Source: National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures

The National Governors Association (NGA), along with the National Conference of State Legislatures, today released Governors’ and State Legislators’ Plan to Reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a bipartisan path for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Governors and state legislators say the new act should improve the law’s governance structure to provide states greater authority to align and leverage their early education, K-12 and postsecondary policies to increase educational effectiveness. The law should reinforce the principle that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states. It also should support state-led strategies to improve low-performing schools and include the ability to empower teachers and school leaders to prepare all students for success.

Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse Definitions and Relationships

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse Definitions and Relationships
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Domestic violence and abuse, an issue that is never far from the headlines, continues to be a pervasive issue in the United States. State legislatures are at the forefront of defining and penalizing domestic violence and abuse.

States vary in their domestic violence provisions. Approximately 38 states place domestic violence definitions and penalties within the criminal code and nearly every state provides a definition within the domestic relations or social services codes. Within this variance are broad definitions that may include stalking, harassment and, in some instances, nonphysical abuse including intimidation and emotional abuse.

Some states also have addressed child witnessing of domestic violence. Approximately 23 states address child witnessing of domestic violence somewhere in statute. While some consider it an aggravating circumstance when sentencing a perpetrator, other states have created a separate offense that may be levied. View the Child Welfare Information Gateway Child Witnesses to Domestic Violence report for a discussion of the crossover between child abuse and neglect and domestic violence.

Within the realm of domestic violence and abuse are various other topics, including protection orders, safe court processes and custody and visitation or parenting time. According to the American Bar Association, the presence of domestic violence is a factor considered when determining custody and visitation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Below is a chart with basic state provisions regarding domestic violence or abuse, the definitions of conduct amounting to domestic violence or abuse, and the relationships where that conduct may be considered domestic violence or abuse.

Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse Definitions and Relationships

January 26, 2015 Comments off

Domestic Violence/Domestic Abuse Definitions and Relationships
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Domestic violence and abuse, an issue that is never far from the headlines, continues to be a pervasive issue in the United States. State legislatures are at the forefront of defining and penalizing domestic violence and abuse.

States vary in their domestic violence provisions. Approximately 38 states place domestic violence definitions and penalties within the criminal code and nearly every state provides a definition within the domestic relations or social services codes. Within this variance are broad definitions that may include stalking, harassment and, in some instances, nonphysical abuse including intimidation and emotional abuse.

Some states also have addressed child witnessing of domestic violence. Approximately 23 states address child witnessing of domestic violence somewhere in statute. While some consider it an aggravating circumstance when sentencing a perpetrator, other states have created a separate offense that may be levied. View the Child Welfare Information Gateway Child Witnesses to Domestic Violence report for a discussion of the crossover between child abuse and neglect and domestic violence.

Within the realm of domestic violence and abuse are various other topics, including protection orders, safe court processes and custody and visitation or parenting time. According to the American Bar Association, the presence of domestic violence is a factor considered when determining custody and visitation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Below is a chart with basic state provisions regarding domestic violence or abuse, the definitions of conduct amounting to domestic violence or abuse, and the relationships where that conduct may be considered domestic violence or abuse.

State Legislatures Magazine — January 2015: Lawmakers have a slew of hot issues to juggle as sessions rev up around the country this month

January 20, 2015 Comments off

State Legislatures Magazine — January 2015: Lawmakers have a slew of hot issues to juggle as sessions rev up around the country this month
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The overall economy is improving. Gas prices are down and state revenues are up. Things are better, but they’re not great.

Lawmakers are reporting for duty with partisanship and polarization casting longer than normal shadows down revered statehouse hallways. Social issues continue to divide, voters’ cynicism grows for all things “government” and federal inaction threatens states’ stability.

Still, state lawmakers find ways to get things done. They look for areas of agreement, they learn from experiences in other states and they find solutions to fairly serious problems, often quite innovatively and almost always more effectively than their federal counterparts.

As lawmakers roll up their sleeves to begin work on many important issues, state fiscal conditions, at least, are stronger than they have been for several years. With only a few exceptions, state finances continue to improve slowly but steadily from the depths of the Great Recession. NCSL’s most recent fiscal survey of the states found most spending in line with appropriated levels for FY 2015. In fact, as the New Year approached, only Medicaid and corrections in a couple of states were running over-budget.

The same survey found that the top funding issues state legislatures are expected to address during 2015 legislative sessions are education (from preschool to university), Medicaid, and transportation infrastructure. Other hot fiscal issues include tax reform and gaming.

As we do this time each year, we’ve listed the topics—many new and emerging—that will likely occupy a majority of lawmakers’ time and energy across the country.

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