Legislative Branch

The CSG Committee on Suggested State Legislation convened on Saturday, June 22, 2013 to review 81 bills on the second and final docket of the 2014 SSL cycle. Several topics including online gaming, teacher tenure, gun safety, and law enforcement use of drones were addressed by the committee.

Why not federalize Medicaid? The question was theoretical, but Robert Kerr, South Carolina’s former Medicaid Director, gave attendees at The Council of State Governments’ Medicaid Policy Academy in June something to think about.

Chapter 3 of the 2013 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

2012 was marked by a shift to political poles. Both parties built on their leads in regional strongholds, with Republicans picking up 59 seats in the South and Democrats adding 168 to their total in the East. The number of divided governments dropped to a 60-year low, while outsized legislative supermajorities climbed to historic highs.


An article from our Meet a Member Series. Meet South Dakota State Senator, Craig Tiezen. 

Stateline Midwest ~ May 2013

More than a decade has passed since Minnesota legislators and the state’s governor last received a salary increase. That may change since this year, if the Legislature follows through on a pay raise recommended by Minnesota’s 16-member Compensation Council, a mix of state legislators, judges and members of the executive branch.

Stateline Midwest ~ May 2013

Legislating is not a full-time job for most of the Midwest’s 1,550 state lawmakers — at least when it comes to pay. In 2012, only legislators in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin were paid salaries above the nation’s per capita income of $42,693. And in Michigan and Ohio, the advent of term limits means state lawmaking is, at most, only a temporary career.

Nicholas Kusnetz of the Center for Public Integrity says voters have largely embraced the idea of a “citizen legislature” — individuals from different walks of life gather in the capitol, conduct the state’s business, and then return to their homes and places of employment.

It sounds good in theory, Kusnetz says, but he adds that states should do more to address an unavoidable reality: the slew of conflicts of interest that arise when lawmakers rely on outside income.

Stateline Midwest ~ April 2013

For most presidential candidates, the road to the White House begins in Iowa. Since the 1970s, the state’s presidential caucuses have served as the nation’s first real test of voter interest in competing candidates, and have launched the successful campaigns of presidents from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. As important as they are to the candidates themselves, the Iowa caucuses are significant in other ways as well. 
Rep. Linda Upmeyer, who serves as Iowa House majority leader, says the precinct caucus system — which features local meetings of neighbors in each of Iowa’s 1,774 election precincts — shapes the way voters think about politics and participate in the process.

Stateline Midwest ~ February 2013

Across the Midwest, the average state representative serves just over 58,000 constituents, while the average state senator represents almost 122,000. Both of these numbers are slightly lower than the corresponding national averages, and state-specific figures vary significantly, depending on population size and the number of seats in each legislative chamber.
In North Dakota, for example, each legislator represents just over 14,000 constituents (each of the state’s 47 districts includes two representatives and one senator), the smallest such number among senate constituencies nationwide.
At the other end of the spectrum, Ohio stands out as the state with the region’s largest legislative districts. The Midwest’s second-most populous state, Ohio is governed by one of the region’s smallest legislatures.

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2013

When Minnesota legislators opened hearings on a series of gun control proposals in February, interested onlookers packed committee hearings. And some of those in attendance were likely packing heat.