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State Net Capitol Journal: With D.C. Stalled, More States Ponder Regulating E-Cigarettes

By Rich Ehisen The use of electronic cigarettes — battery powered devices that look like a traditional cigarette or cigar but which allow smokers to inhale flavored nicotine in a vapor form that uses no tobacco and produces no secondhand smoke — is booming. But with no definitive scientific...

State Net Capitol Journal: Voting Rights Bill Introduced In Congress

A bill introduced in Congress last month would require four southern states to once again obtain federal preapproval before making any changes to their voting laws by replacing parts of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The bill modernizes the formula in the forty...

State Net Capitol Journal: Congress Passes Food Industry Overhaul

Just when it looked as if no legislation of any consequence would ever make it through the partisan gridlock in Washington, the 113th Congress approved three significant, bipartisan measures in three months, the latest a five-year farm bill passed last week that will impact everything from farm subsidies...

State Net Capitol Journal: States Embracing Efforts to Combat Rise in Heroin Deaths

By Rich Ehisen For years, America's "war on drugs" has inspired police and lawmakers to take a very tough minded, arrest-and-incarcerate approach to dealing with illicit drug use. But an alarming increase in heroin overdose deaths nationwide has a growing number of states turning away...

State Net Capitol Journal: U.S. High Court Refuses To Hear Gun Control Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court disappointed gun-rights advocates last month by refusing to hear three lower court rulings rejecting challenges to federal and state gun-control laws. Petitioners, which included the National Rifle Association, were seeking to overturn laws they contend are in conflict with the...

State Net Capitol Journal: More States Looking to Offer ‘Safe Harbor’ to Underage Trafficking Victims

By Rich Ehisen Dealing with human trafficking has always been tricky business for lawmakers. States have in recent years been bringing down a variety of hammers, most aimed at the traffickers or the johns who solicit their often-underage victims. But how to best deal with the young girls and boys...

State Net Capitol Journal: Lack of Progress on Immigration Reform Stymies States

By Lou Cannon With congressional efforts to repair a broken immigration system stalled by election-year politics, the Obama administration is deporting unauthorized immigrants at record rates and in the process putting pressure on the states. In five years in office, President Obama has deported nearly...

State Net Capitol Journal: Alaska Senate Endorses Parnell Natural Gas Proposal

The Alaska Senate approved Gov. Sean Parnell's (R) proposal to extract, develop and transport natural gas from the state's North Slope region, potentially the biggest infrastructure project in state history. The vote on SB 138 came mostly along party lines, with four Democrats and one Republican...

State Net Capitol Journal: Lack of Progress on Immigration Reform Stymies The States

With congressional efforts to repair a broken immigration system stalled by election-year politics, the Obama administration is deporting unauthorized immigrants at record rates and in the process putting pressure on the states. In five years in office, President Obama has deported nearly 2 million...

State Net Capitol Journal: Slashed Oil Estimate Threatens Fracking In California

In 2011, an energy firm hired by the state of California estimated that a 1,750-square-mile rock formation extending from Sacramento to Los Angeles could yield 13.7 billion barrels of oil, based on existing extraction technologies. That projection spurred hopes of an energy boom in the state like those...

State Net Capitol Journal Spotlight: Issues Old And New Catch Fire In States

By Korey Clark Last week, we took a mid-year look at several of the issues we predicted last December would see a lot of action in statehouses this year. Here are a few more of those issues, as well as a couple of others that have heated up as the year has progressed. DIGITAL REVOLUTION/SHARING ECONOMY...

State Net Capitol Journal: Gun Groups Fire Back at Gun Control Efforts in Ct. and Md.

After the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the state enacted sweeping gun control legislation (SB 1160) expanding its assault weapon ban. Gun rights advocates spent the next year holding protests and challenging the law in the courts. "You have a community...

State Net Capitol Journal: California Lawmakers Enter Annual Rush to Tackle Big Issues As Session Winds Down

By Rich Ehisen | It's August, which can only mean that lawmakers in the nation's most populous state have entered their annual sprint to weigh in on numerous measures before the session winds down at the end of the month. This year, the stack of bills awaiting them when they returned from...

State Net Capitol Journal: Congress Fails Immigrants – And The States In Which They Live

By Lou Cannon | When a do-little Congress went home without addressing the crisis caused by the flight of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America across U.S. borders, immense strains were placed on state-supervised programs that provide social services, job training and preventive...

State Net Capitol Journal: California Ponders Health Insurance Rate Regulation

By Rich Ehisen | Note: On Nov. 4, 46 states will hold legislative elections, while 36 will elect or retain a governor. Meanwhile, 41 states will also weigh in on a wide range of ballot measures addressing some of the most controversial issues of the year, including abortion, marijuana use and the...

State Net Capitol Journal: Minimum Wage, Marijuana, Gambling And Guns Dominate Ballot Measures

By Korey Clark A total of 136 measures have qualified for states' November ballots, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures' Ballot Measures Database. That number is 23 percent lower than it was in 2012, when there were 176 measures on state ballots; 42 percent lower than...

State Net Capitol Journal: California Governor Signs Immigration Bill

CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs SB 873, which allocates $3 million to pay for legal aid for thousands of immigrant children from Central America who have poured into the Golden State this year to escape violence in their home countries (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE). The above article is...

State Net Capitol Journal: State Websites Increasingly Subject To Cyberattacks

States are dealing with a growing number of cyberattacks, according to a new report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the consulting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP, and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "We see attacks on Texas'...

State Net Capitol Journal: Fracking Local Ballot Issue In Several States This Year

Local initiatives aimed at banning, regulating or suspending the controversial method of oil and gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be on the ballot in three states in November, according to Ballotpedia. The initiatives include measures J, P and S in CALIFORNIA's San...

State Net Capitol Journal: Local Measures Vie With State, Federal Issues As Voters Finally Get Their Say

By Rich Ehisen Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O'Neill (D-Massachusetts) is often credited with coining the phrase "all politics is local," a nod to the critical nature of retail politics even for those inhabiting Congress in Washington D.C. O'Neill's...

State Net Capitol Journal: States Leave Partisan Fold On Health Care And The Minimum Wage

By Lou Cannon As the nation's capital resumes its customary political gridlock, both political parties are turning to the states to advance national agendas. In the process of doing so, however, they are finding that they are far from united within their own ranks. Republicans in Washington want...

State Net Capitol Journal: Renewable Energy Offsets Collapse Of Coal

The U.S. coal industry has endured a precipitous decline in recent years. A Duke University study indicated that the industry shed 49,530 jobs between 2008 and 2012. U.S. renewable energy, meanwhile, has surged. The Duke study found that wind and solar energy generation provided more than 79,000 direct...

State Net Capitol Journal: Politics Kills Clean Energy In Texas

A Texas rebate program for electric vehicles is ending on June 26 – only about a year after it began. Not because state leaders think green rebates are a waste of money or threaten the free market. In fact, a House committee unanimously passed a plan to extend the EV incentives until 2023 and double...

State Net Capitol Journal: States And Congress Differ On Security-Breach Regulation

By Korey Clark Nearly every state in the country has passed a law requiring private or government entities to notify individuals about security breaches involving their personal information. And states have been toughening those laws in recent years. But cybersecurity legislation pending in Congress...

State Net Capitol Journal: New Mexico Gov. Martinez Unveils Energy Plan

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) proposed a new “all of the above” state energy policy last week she said would utilize renewable energy sources like wind and solar, traditional fossil fuels like oil and gas and even nuclear power. “New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and...