CSG Midwest
It’s an axiom, especially to those of us reared on “Schoolhouse Rock”: Bills originate in the legislative branch. That’s certainly the case throughout the Midwest — anyone can suggest a bill, but only legislators can introduce them for consideration.

Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis and Connecticut Deputy Speaker Bob Godfrey have collected a few tips for legislating effectively over their combined 46 years of state legislative service. CSG’s Capitol Ideas magazine sat down with them during the 2016 CSG National Conference in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, to get their thoughts on what freshman legislators need to know as they start their terms.

When it comes to comparing state legislative salaries, there are lots of caveats. In 2016, seven states paid legislators a per diem salary rather than an annual salary. Thirty-eight states paid their legislators an annual salary, with a huge range. In Texas, legislators were paid $7,200 per year while in California lawmakers earned $100,113. The average annual salary for these 38 states was $37,447.

After more than four decades in public office, New York state Sen. Hugh T. Farley announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election and would retire at the end of 2016 to spend more time with family. Farley, also Senate vice president pro tempore, was first elected to the New York Senate in 1976, making him its second longest-serving member.

CSG Midwest
Decades ago, after a session of Iowa’s part-time Legislature dragged into July, the state’s lawmakers agreed they needed to find a way to prevent that from ever happening again. Their bipartisan solution at the time: Create a series of deadlines for when bills had to advance or die.
CSG Midwest
Most Midwestern legislatures provide sign-language interpreter services and/or closed captioning in order for the deaf and hearing-impaired to follow and take part in legislative activities such as committee hearings, floor debates and State of the State addresses.
To comply with state law and/or the federal American with Disabilities Act — Title II of which forbids discrimination by any public entity — many legislatures also provide these services for meetings between individual legislators and constituents, provided these services are requested in advance.
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. 

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