Capitol Comments

Carolyn Cournoyer writes for Governing on a Texas bill that would make sending and receiving text messages illegal for lawmakers, in the interest of keeping public business open.

As Cournoyer explains:

The measure, introduced in March by Rep. Todd Hunter, would make it illegal for Texas legislators to send or receive a text, e-mail or instant message, or make posts to websites, during public meetings. It’s not a question of whether lawmakers are paying


A recent opinion issued by the Legislative Counsel in Oregon reaffirms the role the state’s legislature must play in the interstate compact adoption process.  Specifically at issue is Section 4 of Oregon HB 2679, which allows the Director of the Department of Consumer Protection and Business Services to enter into an interstate agreement to allocate state surplus line premium taxes without first seeking legislative approval.  In the opinion, the Legislative Counsel argues that the legislation as drafted represents an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.  

A new law requiring Florida teachers to contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward their retirement benefits faces a legal challenge. The Florida Education Association filed the lawsuit June 20 against Gov. Rick Scott and others.

The lawsuit asserts the legislature acted unconstitutionally when it required that 3 percent of the salaries of active members of the Florida Retirement System (FRS) be withheld and applied toward their retirement benefits. The teacher’s union is referring to this requirement as a “pay cut.” The lawsuit further contends that the actions by the legislature to reduce the cost-of-living benefits of those employees were also unconstitutional.

According to estimates released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), state personal income grew in all 50 states in the first quarter of 2011, ranging from.7 percent in Iowa to a high of 6.9 percent in North Dakota.  Overall, state personal income grew by 1.8 percent, up from a 0.8 percentage growth rate the previous quarter.  Inflation grew alongside personal income, increasing to 0.9 percent in the first quarter from 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

I suspect my memories from my years spent as a high school social studies teacher are not that atypical. Particularly during the three years I taught 9th graders, each year it seemed I invariably began the school year with a handful of students who were so far behind their peers I was compelled to scratch my head in disbelief that they had been promoted from the middle school ranks with reading and writing skills that were probably more on par with 5th and 6th graders.

Finally, one day amidst the chatter in the teacher’s lounge I heard the explanation. The students were beneficiaries – or victims, depending how you view it – of ‘social promotion.’

The Wisconsin budget has passed its last legislative hurdle and only Governor Scott Walker's signature is needed to make it official: no budgeted funds will flow to Planned Parenthood clinics.

When Gov. Walker signs the budget, which he has said he will do before June 30, Wisconsin will become the fourth state to refuse to fund Planned Parenthood clinics for family planning or other health services. The budget strips $1 million of state and federal funds for nine health centers, which Planned Parenthood says serve more than 12,000 uninsured women in many small communities.

CSG Research & Expertise in the News: 6/12-6/118, 2011

The following compilation features published news stories during the week of June 5-11 that highlight experts and/or research from The Council of State Governments. For more information about any of the experts or programs discussed, please contact CSG at (800) 800-1910 and you will be directed to the appropriate staff.  Members of the press should call (859) 244-8246.

Imagine yourself a 13 year old sitting in your school classroom, called away from class by the school safety officer and taken to be questioned by a uniformed police officer. Would it be clear that you had the right to walk away from the questioning?

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police must take into consideration a child’s age when considering whether to issue a Miranda warning to youth. They found that children deserve the extra protection of the Miranda warning because they are likely to feel compelled to answer questions from the police.

Google has launched a new service called "Me on the Web."  It's a collection of Google's resources that help you 1.) monitor you and/or your agency's online identity and 2.) remove certain content from Google's search results.

To access the service, you need a Google account, which you already have if you use Gmail or sign in for any other Google service, including YouTube.  If you don't have an account, it's simple to sign up.

The following is the link to Google Dashboard, in which you can find "Me on the...

For the second time in less than a week, a governor has vetoed their state’s budget. Following Governor Perdue’s veto of North Carolina’s budget earlier this week, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed yesterday what he called an "unrealistic" budget and called for extended tax hikes or deep spending cuts.