Spotlight Story

Standing Aside or Standing in the Way | 07-20-2018

Federal courts continue to frustrate the Trump administration’s efforts to punish cities and states that oppose its hardline immigration policies. Earlier this month Sacramento-based U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez rejected most of the...

Cities, Towns Weigh Vacation Home Rentals Against Housing Needs For Locals | 07-13-2018

Andy Morris didn’t set out to upend the hotel industry. Or to get involved in a huge fight with the city of Seattle. He and his wife just happened to have a tenant move out of the one rental property they owned a few years ago, just as companies...

Insurers Resist Arming Teachers | 07-06-2018

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, at least a dozen states have introduced bills dealing with the arming of teachers and other school employees, the majority of which have failed. The most...

Straws Latest Flashpoint in Battle Over Plastics | 06-29-2018

Today, a visitor to a Bon Appétit cafe will have no problem finding plenty of tasty things to nosh on. But finding a plastic straw for their soda or a plastic stirrer for their coffee will soon be impossible. San Francisco-based Bon Appétit...

Will State Elections Bring Statehouses Closer to Balance? | 06-15-2018

Lauren Arthur is not a household word, except perhaps in the neighborhood of suburban Kansas City, Missouri, where she lives. But Arthur, who on June 5 won a special election to fill a vacancy in the Missouri state senate, epitomizes the high hopes of...

Facebook Scandal and Golden State Killer Investigation Raise Privacy Questions for State Lawmakers | 06-08-2018

In the past few months, national headlines have announced that the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users was improperly used by a political consulting firm tied to the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump and a suspect in one of the...

Sports Wagering Not a Sure Bet for States | 06-01-2018

The Supreme Court’s May 14 decision to strike down a federal prohibition on sports gambling may well turn out to be the financial boon many observers believe it can be. But getting there is going to be easier in some states than in others, and state...

Obamacare: Popular but Pressured | 05-18-2018

The Affordable Care Act, long a punching bag for Republicans, has survived body blows from Congress and the Trump administration and could become a political asset for Democrats in an election year in which they hope to gain legislative and congressional...

States Return to Reinsurance to Stabilize ACA Marketplaces | 05-11-2018

Soaring premiums and declining insurer participation in the health insurance marketplaces states set up in accordance with the Affordable Care Act have been among the most common complaints about the federal healthcare law. To address those issues states...

States Push Weed Legalization Movement Into High Gear | 05-04-2018

For most of the last three decades, Sacramento resident Scott Kirchner had only one thought about legalizing marijuana: no way, no how. “I was totally against it,” he says. It was a perspective driven by his own recovery from years...

Some State Progress in Deadly Opioid Crisis | 04-20-2018

Thirteen states have made progress in battling the deadly opioid epidemic while eight states have notably failed to deal with the crisis, according to a report issued this month by the National Safety Council (NSC). It comes on the heels of a report earlier...

AI Will Change Every Job | 04-13-2018

There are numerous prognostications about the number of jobs that will eventually disappear from the human experience, to be taken over by the robots of the burgeoning artificial intelligence revolution. Which percentage you accept depends on your...

States Angle for Revenue Windfalls from Supreme Court | 04-05-2018

Sports betting and remote sales taxes have been getting a lot of attention in statehouses recently. The main reason for the surge of interest in the two issues is a pair of cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that could allow states to collect...

States Looking for Cure to High Drug Prices | 03-30-2018

During his State of the Union speech in February, President Donald Trump declared his intention to address what he called “the injustice of high drug prices.” He repeated the promise last month in New Hampshire during a press conference on...

The Rewards and Perils of Redistricting | 03-16-2018

In democracies, voters are supposed to choose their legislative representatives. Increasingly, however, U.S. courts have found that representatives choose their voters through partisan gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts. With...

More State Cybersecurity Regulation Ahead for Financial Services Industry? | 03-08-2018

Developments in 2017, including the highly publicized Equifax data breach and adoption of cybersecurity requirements for insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions by New York’s Department of Financial Services, have the financial...

States Seek To Chart Their Own Course on Net Neutrality | 03-02-2018

Whether you are reading this in Olympia or Atlanta, Boston or Sacramento, the rules for how this story – or the collection of bytes of data that comprise it - travels from the Capitol Journal to your laptop, tablet or phone, are the same. ...

Helping the Dreamers: The Clock is Ticking | 02-16-2018

States have a vital stake in federal action to rescue the beleaguered program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012 by executive order, DACA has protected from deportation nearly 800,000 young...

The Coming Era of State Blockchain Regulation | 02-09-2018

State lawmakers have spent much of the last few decades grappling with the sweeping changes brought by the Internet. Even as that process continues, a recent technological innovation, blockchain - which some have called “Internet 2.0” - appears...

2018 A Year of Opportunities, Challenges for Female Candidates | 02-02-2018

The weather in Sacramento on January 21, 2017 was cold and slightly wet, hardly a day for a long walk outdoors. But the damp early morning cold was not going to keep Marina Texeira, who owns a popular midtown nightclub, from gathering with tens of thousands...

The Unsinkable Affordable Care Act | 01-19-2018

Despite dire predictions of its demise, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is alive and flourishing as it nears its eighth birthday in 2018. Medicaid is flourishing, too, but with new controversy over pending work requirements. Nicknamed Obamacare after...

Blue States Mull Ways to Blunt Trump Tax Law | 01-12-2018

Blue states might have lost the battle to defeat the Republican-controlled Congress’s massive tax code overhaul in December, but some Democrat-leaning states are not yet ready to concede the war. Led by California and New York, states are weighing...

2018: A Year of Living Dangerously | 12-15-2017

The shadow of President Donald Trump and the Republican tax bill will hover over state governing bodies in 2018, a year of midterm elections that Tim Storey, political analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, says will be “a referendum...

More Familiar Issues Likely to Draw State Lawmakers’ Attention in 2018 | 12-08-2017

As SNCJ ’s Rich Ehisen reported last week, some of the issues likely to receive the most attention from state lawmakers next year are those that are already familiar, such as health care, the opioid epidemic and sexual harassment. Here are several...

With Elections Coming, New Year Could Be Even More Chaotic Than This One | 12-01-2017

In this space last year we noted the key word in sussing out America’s legislative landscape in 2017 would be uncertainty, due primarily to questions and concerns over the incoming presidential administration and one party having control over Congress...

State Pension Funds: The Good and the Ugly | 11-17-2017

The economy is booming, tax cuts are looming and stock indexes are at record highs. But many public pension systems that provide retirement benefits to state and city employees and teachers are in trouble. Pension fund indebtedness has worsened in 43...

Supreme Court’s Current Term Big One for States | 11-10-2017

The U.S. Supreme Court’s fall term, which began last month, looks to be a momentous one, with the justices expected to weigh such matters as whether there’s a constitutional limit to partisanship in the drawing of voting districts and whether...

Lawmakers Look to End Harassment Under the Dome | 11-03-2017

What started as a flood of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has morphed into an ever-widening outcry against such outrages regularly committed by men in all workplaces, including statehouses...

Higher Cost Of Disasters Could Portend Cost Shift To States | 10-20-2017

This past week, as firefighters continued to battle deadly wildfires in Northern California, officials there said this could become one of the Golden State’s worst ever fire seasons, coming on the heels of a historically wet winter and the hottest...

Will Massive Equifax Breach Spur State Regulation? | 10-13-2017

The unauthorized accessing of sensitive financial and personal information about 145.5 million consumers at Equifax, which the company made public last month , has prompted numerous lawsuits , congressional hearings , and investigations by federal agencies...

Obamacare Survives But Not Home Free | 10-06-2017

The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, has had more narrow escapes than the legendary Harry Houdini. But although a law created solely by Democrats has amazingly survived in a Republican political landscape, its long-term survival is not yet...

CA Dialysis Regulation Effort Stalled...For Now | 09-29-2017

Three mornings every week for the last few years California resident Dave Kennedy grabs his headphones, a reading tablet and a few pillows and makes a 15-minute drive to the dialysis clinic nearest his home in the foothills east of Sacramento. Once there...

High Risks for States in NAFTA Talks | 09-15-2017

With the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) hanging in the balance, trade experts and U.S. governors are warning that industrial and farm states would suffer economic damage if President Donald Trump carries out his threat to scrap...

Regulation Of Self-Driving Cars Picking Up Speed In States | 09-08-2017

Early last year SNCJ reported that while the development of autonomous, or self-driving, car technologies by Google, Uber, Tesla Motors and others was “progressing rapidly,” state efforts to regulate the testing and operation of such vehicles...

States Look To Grow ‘Middle Skill’ Workforce | 09-01-2017

When optometrist Dena Davidson decided she was ready to leave her profession behind, she knew two things. First, she was really interested in pursuing a career in human resources management. Second, she was less sure where or how to get started. ...

Growth Lag And Budget Caution In The States | 08-18-2017

The U.S. economy is expanding for a ninth consecutive year, unemployment is low, stock indices are near record highs, despite an early August slump, and the Great Recession of 2007-09 is a distant memory. Despite these positives, state budgets for fiscal...

States Attend To Issue Of Medical ‘Balance Billing’ | 08-11-2017

The practice among out-of-network healthcare providers of billing patients when the patients’ insurance carriers don’t cover the full cost of the providers’ services - known as “balance billing” - isn’t the healthcare...

Obamacare Lives, But Road Forward Is Rocky | 08-04-2017

After going through more resurrections than Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, the GOP’s Congressional efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act finally seem to be dead. If so, the question becomes what happens now? While definitive answers are in...

Republican Governors Torpedo Obamacare Repeal | 07-21-2017

Republican governors played a leading, perhaps decisive, role in the collapse of their party’s long-promised legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare. With Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada...

States Over-Riding Local Riding Rules | 07-14-2017

The gig business is becoming really big business. And as the number of people using ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft has mushroomed in the last couple of years - with no sign of leveling off - local governments around the country have sought to regulate...

States Address Cybersecurity, Election Reform And Other Issues | 07-07-2017

Despite the unusual amount of uncertainty heading into this year’s state legislative sessions, a few of the issues we predicted last December might receive particular attention from lawmakers, such as cybersecurity and transportation funding, have...

States Carry On Amidst Federal Chaos | 06-30-2017

Last December, the SNCJ staff laid out its annual list of issues we felt would receive significant attention in statehouses across the nation in the year ahead. Although it is something we’ve done for many years now, no upcoming year had presented...

California: Exceptional, Green and Cheered in China | 06-16-2017

The day after President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Paris climate accords California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) formed an alliance with other U.S. states to combat global warming and flew off to Beijing to discuss the issue with Chinese leaders...

Which ‘Lives Matter’ Movement Will Prevail In Statehouses? | 06-09-2017

Last year Louisiana became the first state to pass a law extending hate crime protections, like those granted to people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, to law enforcement officers. And four other states have enacted such “Blue Lives...

States Pushing Ahead With Private Sector Pension Plans | 06-02-2017

Undaunted by opposition from Wall Street, Congress and the Trump administration – or by potential litigation down the road – a growing number of states are moving forward with implementing state-run pension plans for millions of private-sector...

Medicaid Cuts Threaten Obamacare Replacement Bill | 05-19-2017

States would face demanding fiscal challenges, especially with Medicaid, if the pending Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law. Proposed heavy cutbacks in Medicaid could potentially doom the American Health Care Act (AHCA...

Tougher Distracted Driving Laws On The Way? | 05-12-2017

The number of deadly crashes on U.S. roadways increased more in the last two years than in any other two-year period over the last half century, due at least in part to distracted driving. The surge in accidents is driving up auto insurance rates across...

Spike In Middle-Age Mortality Rates Defies Easy Answers | 05-04-2017

Life expectancy for most of the developed world has risen for years. But ongoing research by Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reveals that over the last two decades mortality rates have spiked sharply for one specific group of...

Sanctuary Cities Split Country | 04-28-2017

To anyone who has watched the national political culture split into two poles over the last decade or so, it should be little surprise that the country is moving in opposite directions on so-called sanctuary cities, those which bar local officials from...

States Battle With Trump Over Fuel Efficiency | 04-14-2017

Thirteen states, led by California, are engaged in what promises to be a protracted conflict with the Trump administration over stricter emission and fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. Following up on his campaign promises, President...