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Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape

May 21, 2015 Comments off

Current Unmanned Aircraft State Law Landscape
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, have a host of applications including law enforcement, land surveillance, wildlife tracking, search and rescue operations, disaster response, border patrol and photography.

State legislatures across the country are debating if and how UAS technology should be regulated, taking into account the benefits of their use, privacy concerns and their potential economic impact. So far, 22 states have enacted laws addressing UAS issues. Common issues addressed in the legislation include defining what a UAS, UAV or drone is, how they can be used by law enforcement or other state agencies, how they can be used by the general public and regulations for their use in hunting game.

2015 Powdered Alcohol Legislation

May 19, 2015 Comments off

2015 Powdered Alcohol 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.

Before the 2014 legislative session, two states had existing statutes that would affect any powdered alcohol products.

Eighty bills in 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been introduced in the 2015 legislative session to date.

A Policymaker’s Guide to Comprehensive State Energy Planning

May 11, 2015 Comments off

A Policymaker’s Guide to Comprehensive State Energy Planning
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

A comprehensive energy plan serves as the state roadmap for meeting changing energy needs; promoting eco­nomic growth; and ensuring access to affordable, diverse and reliable energy.

An effective plan is a valuable asset due to the critical role energy plays in the economic success of each state and the nation as a whole. The plan provides a vision for a state’s energy future, whether it is to grow new industries in the state, reduce energy costs, increase the resiliency of the grid or meet environmental goals. It serves as a guide for policymakers, government agencies, industry, businesses and utilities as they develop integrative energy policies that meet the plan’s goals.

This guide introduces policymakers to state energy planning and explores legislative approaches to developing an effective plan. The document also investigates the reasons for and goals behind these efforts, highlighting state case studies where useful. This report was developed under the direction of the NCSL Task Force on Energy Supply, which was formed in 2009 to consider potential solutions to the nation’s energy challenges.

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.

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