A looming Supreme Court case could have a significant political impact in 22 states where dues are mandatory for public-sector workers represented by unions. At issue in the case of Janus v. AFSCME is whether employees who do not belong to a union should be required to pay a union fee to a union which is required to represent all workers, including non-members.
The minimum wage varies widely among states, and lawmaking on the issue also reflects significant regional and political diversity. Common themes appear in legislation as political movements coalesce across the country and drafters embrace language from other jurisdictions. Among scores of state bills over the past year containing provisions to raise the basic minimum wage, only one became law --
A bill in the Washington State Legislature would increase the maximum fine for corporate crimes from $10,000 to $1 million. Washington State HB 1806 is patterned after similar legislation in Colorado and may represent a pattern of states strengthening law enforcement tools against corporate wrongdoing.
A major overhaul of the federal government's toxic substances oversight gives less flexibility to state regulators, but its bipartisan advocates say it eliminates regulatory uncertainty. A bill formerly known as the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act passed the House on May 24, and a Senate vote is expected soon. It updates the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
West Virginia lawmakers are considering Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's proposal to raise taxes on tobacco products to reduce the state's budget deficit.
Increased tobacco taxes are also under consideration in Alaska, along with increases on alcohol, and on the fishing and mining industries.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may impact the United States economy as much as the current defense budget within a decade, according to one study.
With increased awareness of ASD, most states now require health insurers to provide at least some coverage for the disorder, a marked change from a few years ago.
Oklahoma became the 44th state to do so on May 5.
But is it enough for states to legislate health insurance mandates and a tax incentive or two? As experts around the world study ASD more closely, they point to more than just issues of screening and treatment; they say society fails to see the enormous contribution people ASD can make to the world we live in.
Fourteen states have filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking why the EPA has not published its new Clean Power Plan regulations. The request occurred a month after a top EPA official wrote that publication would occur "expeditiously." President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants on August 3, but the final rule has not yet appeared in the Federal Register.
Advocates for change in public policy are not letting legislative snags discourage them. Instead, they are fighting policy battles on ground of their own choosing. And that often means in the courts, through initiatives, or at the local rather than state or federal level.
The budget drama in Illinois continues as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has prevailed in a key battle with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly. Rauner won a clear victory on Sep. 2 in his ongoing contract dispute with the state's largest public employee union. The Democratic majority in the House failed to override his veto of legislation designed to prevent a strike or lockout if the two sides do not reach a resolution.
As the Obama administration touts its progress on climate change in advance of a United Nations conference this fall in Paris, states have wrestled with their own climate policies. They have offered a variety of creative approaches -- and pockets of fierce resistance to federal mandates.
The Laboratory of Democracy is a component of LegiCrawler's new initiative, The Infrastructure of Democracy, the go-to application for associations, businesses and interest groups to follow the policy-making process and petition their legislators. With this new platform, subscribers can watch video of committee hearings and floor votes and comment on whether they support or oppose the measure at issue. They will also be able to embed video comments from themselves regarding the legislation or positions the legislator has taken.
California is known for setting nationwide trends. Will that be the case in the state government's approach to serious drought conditions in the Golden State? Gov. Jerry Brown recently issued an executive order calling for nine key government agencies to act in the face of the unprecedented water shortage.