Legislative Branch

As state leaders begin to realize and utilize the incredible potential of technology to promote transparency, encourage citizen participation and bring real-time information to their constituents, one area may have been overlooked. Every state provides public access to their statutory material online, but only seven states provide access to official versions of their statutes online. This distinction may seem academic or even trivial, but it opens the door to a number of questions that go far beyond simply whether or not a resource has an official label.

In 1911, lawmakers in Wisconsin approved a flurry of sweeping and innovative proposals that distinguish that year’s legislative session, even a century later, as one of the most significant in the state’s history. One of the most enduring legacies of  that year's session was a measure establishing a new joint legislative committee charged with overseeing the state budget process.

How educated are state legislators compared to the citizens they represent? That was the question The Chronicle of Higher Education set out to answer this summer by examining the educational backgrounds of the nation’s 7,000-plus state legislators. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $825 billion stimulus law (ARRA) enacted in February 2009 has had a significant impact on the economy, including levels of employment. The CBO estimates that  ARRA’s policies had a number of effects in the second quarter of calendar year 2011, when compared with what would have occurred had the stimulus not passed, including an increase in GDP, a lower unemployment rate, an increase in the number of people employed and an increase in the number of jobs. 

The NY Times reported today that at least seven states have laws on their books prohibiting localities from adopting policies aimed at reducing obesity and improving public health. The most recent example is Ohio, where the budget bill just signed by Governor John Kasich limits local government control over restaurants.

Chapter 3 of the 2011 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has been soliciting support for Senate Bill 40. If passed, this bill will punish charities by stripping them of their tax-deductible status from donations to charities that spend less than 30 percent of their money, averaged over three years, on programs and services.

For example, Kroger wants to target charities operating in Oregon such as Shiloh International Ministries which raises $900,000 a year in donations but spends less than 4 percent on programs and services. The state would...

The balance between the powers of the majority party and procedural rights of the minority in legislatures is an institutional issue not often discussed beyond the walls of state capitols.

 

The balance between the powers of the majority party and procedural rights of the minority in legislatures is an institutional issue not often discussed beyond the walls of state capitols.

Rhode Island Governor Chaffee signed L3C Legislation into law on June 13, 2011 with the legislation to be effective July 1, 2012. HB 5279 was sponsored by Rep. Christopher Blazejewski.

In April, Blazejewski stated that “With many students graduating from our colleges and universities with a focus on entrepreneurship and community service, Rhode Island is well-positioned to become the Silicon Valley of the social venture movement,” said Representative Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence, East Providence). “As a tool for...

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