Supreme Court Rules Mandatory Public Union Agency Fees Unconstitutional

June 28, 2018

Public employees have a First Amendment right not to pay what is known as an "agency fee" for collective bargaining to a union they do not belong to, the Supreme Court has held in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito.

Supreme Court Ruling Likely to Bring New Sales Tax Revenues to States

June 26, 2018

States will have broader reach in their taxing powers following the recent Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair. Out-of-state sellers need no longer have a "physical presence" in a state to be compelled to collect and remit sales taxes to the consumer's state...

Supreme Court Set To Issue Landmark Ruling On Public Employee Union Fees

June 17, 2018

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.

State Legislatures Grapple With Minimum Wage and Related Issues

April 16, 2018

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 --

Some States Look to Increases in Fines for Corporate Crimes

Feburary 21, 2017

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.


May 25, 2016

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.


June 2, 2016

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.


May 22, 2016

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 Take Aim at EPA's Clean Power Plan, Citing Lack of Publication in Federal Register

October 8, 2015

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.

Policymaking by Other Means: Key Battles Emerge Outside of the Legislative Process

September 7, 2015

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.

Illinois Budget Deadlock Sails Through Summer As Governor Vetoes No-Strike, No-Lockout Bill

September 4, 2015

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.

State Reactions to Federal Clean Power Mandates Range from Compliance to Civil Suits

August 1, 2015

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.

LegiCrawler Introduces Laboratory of Democracy at NCSL Annual Summit

July 30, 2015

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.

Nation Watches as California Governor Mandates Broad Response to Drought Conditions

April 8, 2015

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.

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