spotlight story

With Feds Distracted, States Will Have Much to Ponder in 2020 | 11-22-2019

It’s the holiday season, and if most voters are thinking about politics at all they are probably pondering more about how to get through family festivities without a major blowup over differing political philosophies than they are about next year’s...

The Fires Next Time: The Threat to the West | 11-15-2019

Fire-prompted power shutoffs that left millions of Californians in the dark have pushed Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), one of the nation’s largest utilities, to the brink of a state government takeover. The blackouts touched off public...

States Weigh More Bans on Vaping | 11-08-2019

As public health officials confront an outbreak of lung injuries linked to vaping from e-cigarettes, a patchwork of state and local responses have cropped up in lieu of federal regulation. But with a developing and not yet fully understood problem...

Data Privacy Laws, Hackers Put New Emphasis on Cyber Insurance | 11-01-2019

The impending California Consumer Privacy Act and other state data privacy laws have done more than motivate companies to rethink how they manage consumer data; it also has many organizations thinking more than ever about how they manage their cyber insurance...

States Win and Trump Loses In Courts | 10-18-2019

California would have the fifth largest economy in the world if the state was a separate nation. And ever since Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, the Golden State has behaved as if it really is a separate country, standing...

States Pose Roadblocks for Motor Vehicle Subscription Services | 10-11-2019

Although motor vehicle subscription services - similar to auto leases but with no long-term commitment, the ability to change vehicles periodically and insurance and maintenance bundled in - have only been around for a few years, they’ve been embraced...

Battle Still Raging Over CA Data, Worker Classification Laws | 10-04-2019

Halfway through the California legislative session this summer, it looked like the tech industry and other corporate interests were easily winning a furious battle to re-shape the state’s highly anticipated data privacy law before it goes into effect...

States Save for Inevitable Rainy Day | 09-20-2019

Many states have learned lessons from the Great Recession of 2007-09 and are better prepared for the next economic downturn, according to findings by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) and other analysts. “Rainy day...

Online Sports Betting | 09-13-2019

There was a time when, if you weren’t in Las Vegas and you wanted to put some money down on a football game – say $100 that the Rams would cover the spread on Sunday – you needed to talk to a bookie. So, you picked up your phone. ...

Will Government Ransomware Outbreak Spur More Legislation? | 09-06-2019

This year more than 70 state and local governments have been targeted by hackers that have locked up their computer systems and demanded ransoms to release them. A majority of states have taken legislative action in recent years to protect data held by...

Excessive CEO Compensation | 08-30-2019

It’s a good time to be a CEO in America. Various studies show that CEOs of major corporations made hundreds of times what their workers earned in average pay last year. According to data compiled by the Associated Press , average CEO compensation...

Will More States Follow CA on Deal with Automakers? | 08-15-2019

Bypassing the Trump administration, California has reached agreement with four of the world’s largest automakers to improve fuel efficiency and reduce automobile emissions that contribute to global warming. And more are likely to follow. ...

States Still Attending to Medical Balance Billing | 08-09-2019

When SNCJ reported in August 2017 on medical balance billing - the direct charging of patients by healthcare providers for services that aren’t fully covered at the providers’ rate by the patients’ insurance - nearly half of the states...

States Adding Biometrics to Data Privacy Battle | 08-02-2019

At the start of this year, many observers believed states might be lining up to duplicate California’s tough new data privacy law, set to go into effect next year. That rush didn’t quite materialize, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers completely...

Obamacare Challenged as States Experiment on Health Care | 07-19-2019

As the fate of the Accordable Care Act (ACA) hangs in the balance in a federal court, states are experimenting with myriad policies affecting health care coverage and insurance costs. In a hearing in New Orleans on July 9, two Republican-appointed...

Local Governments Shine Light on Public Surveillance | 07-12-2019

In May the Board of Supervisors for the City and County of San Francisco approved an ordinance banning the use of facial recognition technology by all city departments. It’s the only major U.S. city to have taken such action against the emerging...

New Laws Require Merchants to Take Cash | 07-08-2019

Phrases that might have no meaning to your grandchildren: having a “fat wallet,” offering “a penny for your thoughts,” and the notion of “stacking paper.” The question “can you change a dollar?” one day...

California Bill Highlights Worker Misclassification Debate | 06-28-2019

When San Francisco-based Lyft driver Roosevelt Thomas recently got a message from the company urging him to sign a petition opposing California Assembly Bill 5 – which would turn rideshare drivers from independent contractors into employees –...

Multiple Battles over Rising Drug Costs | 06-14-2019

Reducing the soaring prices of commonly used prescription drugs has become a political priority in the nation’s statehouses. So far this year, 258 bills that sponsors hope will assist consumers in managing pharmaceutical costs have been filed in...

Will Arizona Lead Charge for Licensing Reciprocity? | 06-07-2019

If a hair stylist learns their craft and is licensed in Las Vegas and then moves across the state line to Arizona, does what they learned in Vegas stay in Vegas? Probably not. But their ability to work might. Or at least it used to. Presumably,...

Tech Industry Winning War to Shape CA Data Privacy Law | 05-31-2019

In the battle to mold and amend California’s sweeping data privacy law before it goes into effect next year, efforts to carve out numerous exceptions are easily winning out over those that would make the law even tougher. The ramifications...

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...