What's New

This article reviews developments in interstate relations pertaining to uniform state laws, interstate compacts and administrative agreements, civil unions and same-sex marriage, and other pertinent interstate legal matters since 2011.

Transportation policy experts expect transportation funding to be high on the agenda in many state capitols when legislators around the country convene for their 2015 legislative sessions. Some states are long past due for addressing the transportation funding issue. Others have been hard at work this summer and fall in legislative study committees and other venues trying to come up with potential funding solutions. State lawmakers and others will have an opportunity in November to hear about past legislative successes, what lies ahead for 2015, innovative funding mechanisms from around the country, lessons learned from funding campaigns, and ways to develop messages and build coalitions for success in their own states. The Washington, D.C.-based organization Transportation for America is hosting a forum Nov. 13-14 in Denver.

North Carolina has exceeded the limits on emissions for ground-level ozone only once in the past two years. That could change under a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is preparing to release a new rule lowering the ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion, where it’s been since 2008, to an expected range of 70 to 60 parts per billion. The Council of State Governments will hold an eCademy session, “How Clean is Clean Enough: A Look at EPA’s Upcoming Ozone Regulations,” from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EST Nov. 19.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in 1932 that a “single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Brandeis’ “laboratory of democracy” concept is very relevant to Alaska’s successful online ballot delivery and return voting system. Alaska is the only state that will allow its registered voters to receive and cast their ballots electronically for the Nov. 4 midterm election.

In the 2012 U.S. presidential election, nearly 60 percent of registered stateside voters cast their ballots successfully. In the same election, only 18 percent of registered U.S. military and overseas voters requested ballots and slightly fewer than 13 percent of those voters actually returned ballots. This is not a new problem, according to Kamanzi Kalisa, director of the new Overseas Voting Initiative at The Council of State Governments. “For decades, members of the U.S. military and their dependents have experienced problems at every step of the overseas voting process—from registering to vote and requesting or receiving absentee ballots to returning those absentee ballots,” said Kalisa.

Proposition 47, the Reduced Penalties for some Crime Initiative, is currently on the November ballot in California. The initiative would reduce the classification of most “nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes” from a felony to a misdemeanor crime. These crimes include personal drug use, shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, writing a bad check, as long as the amount does not exceed $950. The proposition...

Dry counties could soon be a thing of the past in Arkansas. On November 4, voters will decide by ballot initiative whether or not to keep the current system of dry and mixed counties. Passage of the measure would effectively take away the power of counties to regulate their own alcohol sales. The Alcoholic Beverage Initiative is being met with resistance from religious groups, local rights groups, and the Arkansas Beverage Retailers Association.

Transportation for America is a Washington, DC-based alliance of elected, business and civic leaders from around the country that advocates for locally driven transportation solutions as a key to economic prosperity. Next month in Denver, the organization will host a two-day conference entitled “Capital Ideas: Raising Money for Transportation Through Innovative State Legislation” (register here; see full agenda here). The conference, which is geared towards state legislators and others, will look back on the experiences of states that have recently had success in passing transportation funding measures, examine innovative state policies and provide a how-to guide for policymakers on messaging, campaign strategy and coalition building to move funding initiatives forward. Transportation for America Director James Corless discussed the conference in this recent interview, portions of which also appear in the October 23rd edition of the CSG Capitol Ideas E-Newsletter.

CSG Energy and Environment

Ballot Measure 4 touches on a familiar topic to many Alaskans – the Bristol Bay.  The bay is a 36,000 square mile fisheries reserve established by the Alaska state legislature in 1972.  As part of the legislation it required that a surface entry permit for oil and gas on state owned or controlled lands be subject to approval of the legislature to protect the fishery.  Proposed...

Two firearms initiatives are on the upcoming November 2014 ballot in Washington State. Initiative 594 would require background checks on all gun purchasers and Initiative 591 would prevent the confiscation of firearms without due process and would also prevent the state from implementing background checks unless a federal standard is established.  

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