Archive for the ‘National Conference of State Legislatures’ Category

Driving While Revoked, Suspended or Otherwise Unlicensed: Penalties by State

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Driving While Revoked, Suspended or Otherwise Unlicensed: Penalties by State
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

All 50 states and the District of Columbia issue driver’s licenses, and conversely, all have penalties for driving without a license. These penalties vary widely, but follow a similar theme: driving without a license is a serious offense that goes beyond a moving violation. Penalties generally involve fines, jail time or both.

The box allows you to conduct a full text search or use the dropdown menu option to select a state.

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State Laws and Legislation Related to Biologic Medications and Substitution of Biosimilars

July 24, 2014 Comments off

State Laws and Legislation Related to Biologic Medications and Substitution of Biosimilars
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

For several decades, every state has regulated the use of brand-name and generic prescription drugs through statutes and agency or board rules. These state actions include when and how generics may be substituted for brand-name prescriptions, by pharmacists or others. Generic drugs typically have active ingredients that are identical to those of their brand-name counterpart. These traditional drugs include familiar pills used regularly by tens of millions of Americans as well as some specialty drugs.

Biologic medicines are much more complex than traditional chemically synthesized drugs. Biologics are manufactured from living organisms by programming cell lines to produce the desired therapeutic substances and consist of large molecules. Common biologics in use today include human growth hormone, injectable treatments for arthritis and psoriasis, the Hepatitis B vaccine and stem cell therapy.

Regulating biologics raises new issues for both state and federal policymakers. Because of their complexity, biologic drugs are much more difficult to replicate than the chemically produced generics for other drugs. The cell lines used and modifications in the manufacturing process affect biologic medicines. As a result, truly identical “generic” versions are currently virtually impossible to produce. However, once patents expire for the existing brand-name biologic drugs, “biosimilar” medicines can be produced, which is an occurrence that raises regulatory issues in the states.

Currently, there is concern that traditional statutes regulating “generic drugs” may be misapplied to new products that are not identical. This has led to a recent move to amend older state laws to address the medical and chemical characteristics of these “biologics,” as well as any future generic-style “follow-on biologics” or “biosimilars.”

In the past one and a half years at least 23 states have considered legislation establishing state standards for substitution of a “biosimilar” prescription product to replace an original biologic product.

NCSL — Child Migrants to the United States

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Child Migrants to the United States
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The U.S. is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied children arriving on the southern border, gaining humanitarian and political attention and challenging federal and state resources and management. As of June 14, 2014, more than 52,000 children have been apprehended, a doubling of arrivals compared to last year.

Federal responsibility for unaccompanied children is divided between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Children in DHS custody who are under age 18 without a parent or guardian must be screened and transferred to HHS within 72 hours. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in HHS reunites the child with family or a friend, or in approximately 10 percent of the cases, places them in foster care, pending court review of their immigration claims. After being placed either with a sponsor or in foster care, every child is put into deportation proceedings. The children may then be granted permission to stay (for example, through family visas, special immigrant juvenile visas or asylum); choose to leave voluntarily; or be removed from the United States.

The surge in children crossing the border has placed an immense strain on federal agencies to process and care for them. The agencies have responded by identifying shelters and processing facilities, redirecting staff and funds, and activating an interagency group coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have assigned more staff to apprehend and process children and families crossing the Texas border. ORR has requested approval from Congress to address a budget shortfall for unaccompanied children by shifting funding from state-administered refugee programs.
Potential state impacts include: budget shortfalls in state administered refugee programs and implications for state services; state licensing and oversight of care providers for unaccompanied children; and communication/coordination of federal enforcement and emergency response with state law enforcement.

In a June 30, 2014 letter to congressional leaders, the president provided an update on the administration’s response to the humanitarian crisis and a request for support for an emergency supplementation appropriation. The request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding, submitted July 8, 2014, would provide an additional $3.7 billion in emergency funding: $1.6 billion to DOJ and DHS; $1.8 billion to HHS; and $300 million to the Department of State.
This brief highlights recent trends in arrivals of unaccompanied children, an overview of the federal unaccompanied minor program, federal budget proposals to respond to the increased arrivals, and benefit eligibility for unaccompanied migrant children.

NCSL Launches Elections Administration Research Database

June 26, 2014 Comments off

NCSL Launches Elections Administration Research Database
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

What is the impact of major court rulings on voter ID laws?

How are states ensuring voter registration lists are accurate?

Which new voting system designs are being developed for the marketplace?

Finding these answers and other information about elections policy can quickly eat up the kind of time that a lawmaker, legislative staffer or elections administrator can hardly afford to spend.

But that was life before the Elections Administration Research Database, a new tool launched today by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The database brings together more than 1,900 reports that, altogether, address a wide range of elections topics. It is supported by generous funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The collection includes reports dating back to 2000 and reflects a variety of perspectives, from election administrators to nonprofit organizations to academic researchers. The reports are grouped by subject, author, publication and state and can be searched by a combination of these categories, or by date ranges or a specific article title.

Common Law Marriage by State

June 19, 2014 Comments off

Common Law Marriage by State
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

To be defined as a common-law marriage within the states that allow it, the two people must: agree that they are married, live together, and present themselves as husband and wife. Common-law marriage is generally a non-ceremonial relationship that requires “a positive mutual agreement, permanent and exclusive of all others, to enter into a marriage relationship, cohabitation sufficient to warrant a fulfillment of necessary relationship of man and wife, and an assumption of marital duties and obligations.” Black’s Law Dictionary 277 (6th ed. 1990).

Before modern domestic relations statutes, couples became married by a variety of means that developed from custom. These became the elements of a “common-law marriage,” or a marriage that arose through the couple’s conduct, instead of through a ceremony. In many ways, the theory of common-law marriage is one of estoppel—meaning that couples who have told the world they are married should not be allowed to claim they aren’t when in a dispute between themselves.

Saving for College: 529 Plans

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Saving for College: 529 Plans
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Quick Facts

  • Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia offer a 529 plan. Thirty-eight states offer only a college savings plan, one state offers only a prepaid tuition plan, and ten states offer both types of 529 plans. (See map below.)
  • Withdrawn funds used for college expenses are free from federal income taxes, and in some states, contributions also are eligible for state income tax breaks.
  • During the last 15 years, the amount invested in 529 plans has grown immensely. In 1999, families invested a total of $5.75 billion in 529 plans. By the end of 2013, the amount invested had increased to a record level of $227.07 billion according to the College Savings Plans Network.
  • Several factors affect the return on investment of a 529 savings plan including, the amount of time the investment has to compound, taxable family income, investment fees and sales expenses, and whether a state offers income tax credits or deductions for contributions.

State Minimum Wages: 2014 Minimum Wage by State

June 3, 2014 Comments off

State Minimum Wages: 2014 Minimum Wage by State
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures


  • 38 states have considered minimum wage bills during the 2014 session; 34 states are considering increases to the state minimum wage.
  • Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia and D.C. have enacted increases so far in 2014.
  • As of May 28, the legislature in Vermont passed an increase but the bill is awaiting action by the Vermont governor.
  • As of June 1, 22 states and D.C. have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage.
  • 19 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands have minimum wages the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
  • 4 states, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico have minimum wages below the federal minimum wage (the federal minimum thus applies).
  • 1 state, New Hampshire, repealed their state minimum wage in 2011, but left the reference to the federal minimum wage.
  • 5 states have not established a state minimum wage.

Employer Access to Social Media Usernames and Passwords

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Employer Access to Social Media Usernames and Passwords
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Increasing numbers of Americans use social media both on and off the job. Recently, some employers have asked employees to turn over their usernames or passwords for their personal accounts. Some employers argue that access to personal accounts is needed to protect proprietary information or trade secrets, to comply with federal financial regulations, or to prevent the employer from being exposed to legal liabilities. But others consider requiring access to personal accounts an invasion of employee privacy.

State lawmakers introduced legislation beginning in 2012 to prevent employers from requesting passwords to personal Internet accounts to get or keep a job. Some states have similar legislation to protect students in public colleges and universities from having to grant access to their social networking accounts.

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.

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.

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