Spotlight Story

States and Cities Need Accurate Census Count | 05-17-2019

Although the decennial census is required by the U.S. Constitution, it’s not a topic that makes the heart go pit-a-pat. After doing a TV episode on a census issue, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin observed that the very word “census” put the...

State Lawmakers Stepping Up Fight Against Insurance Fraud | 05-10-2019

By some accounts, insurance fraud has reached epidemic proportions, costing insurance companies and their policyholders tens of billions of dollars each year. State lawmakers have taken several measures in recent years to combat the problem, but this...

With Affordable Housing Hard to Find, States Weigh Ending Local Rent Control Bans | 05-03-2019

Saying it would “provide immediate relief to Oregonians struggling to keep up with rising rents and a tight rental market,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed legislation in February making her state the first to adopt a statewide rent control...

Medicaid Work Requirements under Fire | 04-19-2019

The Trump administration is plunging ahead with waivers that will encourage states to impose controversial work requirements on Medicaid recipients despite a federal judge’s ruling striking down such requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. ...

Regulatory Crackdown on Youth E-Cigarette Use | 04-12-2019

Lawmakers in at least 10 states are considering bills that would impose the first state bans on the sale of flavored tobacco and “vaping” products. The measures are part of a wave of legislation dealing with e-cigarettes and other vaping...

California Data Protection Law in Flux | 04-05-2019

We’re still 10 months away from California’s historic first-in-the-nation data privacy law taking effect. Which to lawmakers, tech companies and maybe even Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) means there is still plenty of time to change it. According...

A Limited Victory for Pension Reform | 03-22-2019

Pension reformers won a narrow victory this month in the California Supreme Court, but the justices dodged a decision on the “California Rule,” a restrictive provision cherished by public employee unions. In a nationally watched case...

Towers of Power: Federal, State and Local Governments Vie for Control of 5G | 03-15-2019

The next generation of wireless technology, 5G, could bring major advancements in everything from entertainment to public safety. But federal, state and local governments are at odds over how that technology should be deployed and where regulatory authority...

States Grapple with Complexities of Health Reform | 03-08-2019

It has been just over two years since President Donald Trump famously bemoaned the complexities of the American health care system, telling a meeting of the nation’s governors that “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” ...

States Claim Trump Violated U.S. Constitution | 02-22-2019

Sixteen states led by California sued President Donald Trump on President’s Day, alleging that his proclamation of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexican border was unconstitutional. Trump proclaimed the emergency a week earlier after expressing...

Challenges Ahead for AI Regulation | 02-15-2019

Artificial intelligence promises to revolutionize the way we live and work, as well as drive economic growth for at least the next decade. At the same time, it threatens to disrupt the job market, increase inequality, diminish privacy, and, as some see...

More States Propose Paid Family Leave | 02-08-2019

When the sun went down on 2018, a half dozen states and the District of Columbia had laws in place ensuring workers could take paid time off to deal with family illnesses or the birth of a child. When the calendar closes on 2019, several more may have...

States Forge Ahead with Obamacare | 01-25-2019

Battered by partisan opposition and bruised by a federal judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional, the Affordable Care Act continues to be embraced by the states and the clients it serves. Democrats made preservation of the ACA, often...

Most States Prepared for Next Recession | 01-18-2019

It’s been 9 1/2 years since the last U.S. recession - the second-longest period between economic downturns on record. The economy still appears to be going strong. But there are signs trouble may not be far off. The good news for states is that...

Lawmakers Grapple With Proliferation of E-Scooters | 01-11-2019

Many lawmakers left their state capitol buildings around the country after adjourning last year having never seen an e-scooter. A good number may never even have heard of such a thing. But that’s changed for many lawmakers returning for sessions...

Opportunities and Challenges for States in 2019 | 12-14-2018

In the third and final of our annual three-part series looking ahead to the coming legislative year, SNCJ Senior Advisor Lou Cannon takes a look at some of the challenges and opportunities that await lawmakers in 2019. This is also our final issue...

Blue Wave Could Have Big Impact on Health and Employment Laws In 2019 | 12-07-2018

Issues like budgets and funding for education are staples of every legislative session in every state. In our second installment of our annual three-part legislative preview, we continue our look at other issues we think will keep lawmakers occupied in...

Blockchain, Cybersecurity Will Challenge Lawmakers in 2019 | 11-30-2018

SNCJ devotes the last three issues of each year to a preview of the coming state legislative sessions. Here in part one of that three-part series we’ll take a look at a few of the issues that are likely to draw the attention of state lawmakers next...

Voters, Courts Slowly Taking Redistricting Power from Lawmakers | 11-16-2018

While Congressional and state legislative races drew most of the attention on Election Day, those races were hardly the only critical issues voters would decide. Missouri, Colorado and Michigan became the latest states to endorse independent commissions...

Democrats Gain in State Elections | 11-09-2018

Buoyed by the votes of suburban women and independents, Democrats gained hard-won ground in the nation’s statehouses in Tuesday’s midterm election. Democrats won seven governorships and six legislative chambers previously held...

Female Candidates Could Have Big Impact on State Legislative Elections | 11-02-2018

Women are running for state legislative office in record numbers this year. The “pink wave” may not only significantly change the gender makeup of the nation’s state legislatures, where men currently outnumber women by an average of...

Democrats Seem Poised for State Election Gains | 10-19-2018

The pendulum of politics that in many states has swung Republican for the last eight years appears to be heading in a Democratic direction in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Nonpartisan analysts and pollsters give Democrats a solid chance to win nine...

CA Pushes Net Neutrality, Feds & Telecoms Push Back | 10-12-2018

In the last bill signing session of his long and historic career, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) endorsed a measure last month that overrides federal rules and gives the Golden State the toughest net neutrality statute in the nation. But with multiple...

State Lawmakers Taking More Interest in Cryptocurrencies | 10-05-2018

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to buy goods and services, pay bills, gamble online, transfer money internationally and as an investment vehicle, among other things. And that activity is drawing more attention...

States Gearing Up to Bet Big on Sports Wagering | 09-28-2018

Rhode Island has placed a $23.5 million sports bet. The Ocean State isn’t betting on New England’s beloved Red Sox or Patriots but on the prospect that other bettors will. If enough gamblers play, the state wins and will collect $23...

States Push Hard on New Data Privacy Regulations | 09-14-2018

Taking a cue from the European Union’s expansive new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California lawmakers this June adopted the toughest and most complex data privacy regulations in the United States. Given the state’s history of...

Many States Taken Action but Many Yet to Act on Wayfair Ruling | 09-07-2018

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a law passed by South Dakota had freed it from a longstanding legal precedent barring states from imposing sales taxes on internet and mail-order retailers that did not have a physical presence within their...

Stripped-Down Insurance Plans Compete with Obamacare | 08-31-2018

Bare-bones, low-cost health insurance plans pushed by the Trump administration that critics say are inadequate are set to proliferate in the states as alternatives to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These plans, formerly limited to three months and...

Slow Progress on Public Pension Reform | 08-17-2018

The economy is on a tear, with the national growth rate high and unemployment low. Eighty percent of U.S. companies have reported earnings that exceed Wall Street forecasts. City and state revenues are surging, as the Great Recession fades in the rear...

Tip Credit Latest Front in Minimum Wage Battle | 08-10-2018

In June, Washington D.C. voters strongly endorsed Initiative 77 , a ballot referendum to require District eateries to pay workers that rely on tips the same minimum wage as other employees. But amidst furious pushback from the restaurant industry, a majority...

Cyberattacks and Regulation Fuel Demand for Cyber Insurance | 08-03-2018

Despite the significant financial risks cyberattacks pose for American businesses, many don’t have cyber insurance protecting them against losses from such incidents. But high-profile attacks like last year’s Equifax data breach and tougher...

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...