CSG Midwest
States in the region are split on whether to allow individuals to carry weapons, and this policy question has led to proposals in a handful of legislatures in recent years.

The halls of Congress are quiet once again as lawmakers return home to their districts for the seven-week summer recess. Although Congress goes on recess every August, the adjournment will be longer this year due to the political conventions. Neither chamber will resume formal activity until after Labor Day when lawmakers return for 19 legislative days before adjourning again in October for the presidential election. They will return to a litany of unfinished items, including the annual appropriations bills and measures to address the Zika virus and the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

The handful of state elections in 2015 resulted in very little change to the state partisan landscape. Republicans maintained their historically strong hold on state governments.

On Tuesday, voters in California approved a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to suspend members without pay with a two-thirds majority vote.  Proposition 50, which received support from 75 percent of voters, was billed by supporters as an important anti-corruption measure that would keep suspended legislators from receiving salaries, pensions, and other benefits and privileges associated with holding office.  The impetus for the measure came after the legislature was unable to suspend the salaries and benefits of three former lawmakers who were indicted on criminal charges. 

Chapter 3 of the 2016 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

CSG Midwest

Earlier this year, to coincide with an open-government initiative known as Sunshine Week, reporters from the Associated Press sent requests for the records of legislative leaders in all 50 states. They asked for lawmakers’ daily schedules as well as emails from their government accounts. In most cases, AP reported in March, its reporters came away empty-handed, as they ran into more denials for the requests than approvals.

This right to deny access to certain records is a long-standing, widespread prerogative of legislators in states across the country — the result of a mix of constitutional language and principles, statutory language, and legal opinions.

On Wednesday, March 9th, state regulators from across the country testified in front of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about the difficulties they face as co-regulators with federal agencies.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management held a hearing yesterday on the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act (UMITA), proposed legislation aimed at strengthening the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) and addressing the challenges state and local governments face as they implement congressional and agency mandates.

President Bill Clinton signed the UMRA into law in an effort to improve regulatory practices and to bring more...

CSG Midwest
Nebraska lawmakers voted in early 2016 to maintain the Unicameral Legislature’s secret-ballot method of selecting committee chairs and other leaders. Every two years, each of the state’s 49 senators casts votes for these leadership positions (including the top position of speaker). Under this system, the jockeying among members to become speaker or chair of one of the 14 standing committees can go on for months.
CSG Midwest
Most legislatures do not have firm rules in place, and nearly all committee witnesses still make their statements in person, according to a recent CSG Midwest survey of the region’s legislative service agencies. However, most states in the Midwest do provide remote testimony as an option in certain situations — especially those in which an invited committee guest faces travel-related obstacles.