Capitol Research

The combination of states reducing spending on postsecondary education and rising tuition costs has led to a shift in economic burden from the states and institutions to students. As a result, a growing number of students are pursuing degree programs that yield higher annual salaries following graduation.

Crowdfunding has been used to finance a vast assortment of projects in the last few years, but federal regulators have been slow to implement the sections of the JOBS act that allow most individuals to invest in startups financed by equity crowdfunding. In response, states have passed laws allowing companies to create crowdfunding platforms that cater to investors and entrepreneurs within the same state.

The U.S. Department of Labor has published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a new rule that could extend overtime protections to almost 5 million additional workers as early as 2016. Current law requires employers pay overtime for non-salaried workers. Salaried employees are defined by a set of criteria, including job duties and a salary threshold. The proposed new rule would more than double the salary threshold and tie it to inflation, which means more workers would qualify for overtime protections. The number of workers that would be affected by the changes varies by age, education level and state; middle-aged, educated workers would see the biggest impact.

Gas tax increases were the centerpiece of transportation funding packages in six states during the first half of 2015. Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah all moved to increase their fuel taxes. Two other states—Kentucky and North Carolina—also made efforts to prevent expected declines in gas tax revenues and to make their gas taxes more sustainable.

Spurred in part by recent mass shootings on school grounds, state policymakers and university officials have revisited the issue of concealed carry gun permits on college campuses in an attempt to make those campuses safer. For some of the states that have passed concealed campus carry legislation, schools have faced costs in upgrading campus security facilities.