Capitol Research

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults—United States, 2014 report, which found that nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-60 are not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The average hours of sleep Americans get each night vary across states and across geographic locations, the average hours of sleep Americans get each night also vary across racial and ethnic groups, age groups, employment statuses, levels of educational attainment, and relationship statuses.The implications of sleep deprivation extend beyond individual health and can impact public safety and the workforce.

Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have produced a whirlwind of state government activity since 2013 with more than 30 states and the District of Columbia approving legislation to address the legality of the services and a host of other issues. The issue of the adequacy of insurance for rideshare drivers has produced some of the most significant questions for lawmakers. A model law developed by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators has become a template for many of the state laws passed in recent months but some states have approved rideshare laws with unique features.

In 2016, 45 states plus the District of Columbia have sales taxes in place and five states do not. Tax rates in 2016 remained relatively unchanged from 2015, but have been creeping slowly upward over the past decade.

As of Feb. 2, 2016, scholarship tax credits were available in 18 states. Scholarship tax credit programs are used to provide a form of school choice, allowing individuals or corporations to receive a tax credit on state taxes for donations made to grant private school scholarships. Scholarship tax credit programs are also known as tuition tax credits and education tax credits. Some states provide parents the opportunity to deduct all or a portion of their child’s private school tuition from their state taxes. Others provide corporations the ability to donate to an approved non-profit scholarship funding organization and apply for a tax credit for the donation.

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, an important case that addresses the constitutionality of considering race in public university admissions decisions. Fisher v. Texas dates back to 2008 when Sugar Land High School student Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin, or UT-Austin. The facts in Fisher v. Texas reflect the decades-long evolution of the use of race as a factor in university admissions. Currently eight states ban race-based affirmative action at all public universities. Despite the bans, public flagship universities in nearly all of these states have implemented alternative methods to promote racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity on campus.