State Net Capitol Journal - News and View from the 50 States
Volume XX, No. 16
May 21, 2012
HEADLINE: The Continuity of Change
Budget & taxes
Congressional Republicans call out struggling US states
Politics & leadership
UT last sagebrush rebel standing
Chafee orders RI to recognize gay marriages
The next issue of Capitol Journal will be available on June 4th.
Change is the watchword in the 2012 state legislative elections as Democrats seek to recover some of the vast ground they lost two years ago. Whether they can actually reverse the recent Republican tide remains an open question.
SNCJ Spotlight
Dems seek comeback in legislative races but GOP holds edge
Change is the watchword in the 2012 state legislative elections as Democrats seek to recover some of the vast ground they lost two years ago. Nearly a quarter of the 7,382 state legislators elected in 2010 and 2011 were newcomers, and the turnover could be even higher this year. "We're going to have new faces, new approaches and new ideas with all the positives and negatives this brings," said Tim Storey, an elections expert with the National Conference of State Legislatures, who observed that turnover is always high the year after the decennial reapportionments based on the latest U.S. Census.
Whether there will be sufficient Democrats among this flood of newcomers to reverse the recent Republican tide remains an open question. Republicans now thoroughly dominate the statehouses after an historic breakthrough in 2010 when they won the U.S. House of Representatives and more state legislative seats than in any election since 1928. The GOP has majorities in both legislative chambers in 26 states plus virtual control in Wisconsin, where it holds the Assembly and the Senate is tied because of a vacancy. Unicameral Nebraska, nominally non-partisan, is behaviorally Republican. Democrats control both chambers in 15 states; party control is divided in the other seven. 
State legislative races fly below the radar of presidential and congressional campaigns. But in terms of policy change, Republican state victories in 2010 mattered more than did the GOP takeover of the U.S. House. Gridlock prevails in Washington D.C., where Democrats control the White House and the Senate and Republicans the House. In contrast, GOP governors and state legislators have during the past two years substantially advanced a conservative agenda on abortion, collective bargaining, immigration, pension reform and voter identification. 
Legislatures could become even more influential in the future if the U.S Supreme Court limits the federal role on health care and immigration. The high court is expected to rule in June on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that President Obama pushed through Congress on a party-line vote in 2010. If a provision of the law mandating purchase of medical insurance is struck down, health insurance will become a central issue for the states. 
Then there is the federal challenge to Arizona's 2011 immigration law, which among other things allows local police officers to inquire into the citizenship of persons they detain. Encouraged by Arizona, other states have passed even more controversial immigration laws, including a statute in Alabama that requires public schools to ask students about the immigration status of their families. A federal court has put this provision on hold, pending the high court ruling on the Arizona law. The Obama administration has never offered a comprehensive immigration bill but nevertheless contends that immigration is exclusively a federal responsibility. If the court decides to the contrary, expect a flood of proposed new state immigration laws when legislatures convene in 2013. Many undoubtedly will be restrictive, but federal preemption would also sweep away liberalizing laws such as the Utah measure that allows illegals to have conditional driver's licenses. 
With so much at stake in the legislative elections, partisans on both sides are focusing on a few states where the presidential race is close and legislative control is narrowly divided. In Gallup's computation, a dozen could go either way in the presidential election, in which Gallup currently gives a narrow edge to President Barack Obama against his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Historically, it is these swing states where political advertising is concentrated in which the presidential race has the most spillover effect on congressional and state legislative races. The good news for Republicans is that they have such sizeable margins of control in the legislatures of the most populous swing states — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — that they are likely to remain in GOP hands no matter what happens in the presidential race. Republicans also appear to have an insurmountable advantage in North Carolina legislative races and will retain legislative control in Virginia, which does not hold state elections this year. Seven other Gallup swing states — Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Wisconsin — are competitive in various degrees. 
Democrats may have their best opportunity to take over a legislature in Colorado, which Obama carried in 2008 and where Democrats defied the Republican trend in 2010. Colorado Democrats, who control the Senate by five votes, are eying the House, where Republicans hold a one-vote margin. Democrats also have hopes in Wisconsin, which in a June 5 recall election will provide an early test in a closely divided state. Democrats seek to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker and replace him with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. They have five chances to win the deadlocked State Senate. Four Republican senators face recall against Democratic challengers, and the vacant seat is also contested. The gubernatorial election, a possible harbinger for November, is drawing funds and campaign workers from outside Wisconsin. Walker is the bete noire of organized labor but a hero to conservatives for banning collective bargaining for most public employees. 
In three other swing states Democrats are playing defense in an effort to hold state senates by narrow margins. Democrats lead by four seats in New Mexico, two in Iowa and one in Nevada. New Hampshire, the other presidential swing state, appears safely in Republican hands, but the House has 400 districts, all tiny by standards of other states, so a slight shift in the vote can have large consequences. Storey thinks the Democrats may have an outside chance. 
Beyond the presidential swing states, attention is focused on state senate races in California and New York, both of which are safely in the Obama column in every poll. California is so lopsidedly Democratic that Republicans lost every statewide race in 2010, and are heavily outnumbered in the Legislature. But California requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has been consistently frustrated in his effort to do so by Republican legislative minorities. Redistrictings and retirements, however, have given California Democrats a chance to win an elusive two-thirds majority in the Senate, which has been Brown's biggest stumbling block. Democrats now hold a 27-15 advantage. In New York, where Democrats have a big majority in the Assembly, Republicans took over the Senate by two votes in 2010. Democrats are trying to get it back. 
In independent-minded Maine, likely Democratic in the presidential election, Republicans hold five-vote margins in both legislative chambers and Democrats will challenge for control of both of them. Arkansas, which voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election and is expected to do so again this fall, is the last of the 13 Confederate states in which Democrats control any legislative chamber. Democrats hold a five-vote edge in the Senate and an eight-vote margin in the House; Republicans aim to reduce these majorities. 
This rundown comes with the usual disclaimer: the elections, except for the Wisconsin recall are more than five months away, and much can happen between now and November. Nonetheless, the 20ll redistrictings were instructive. In a country that is closely divided, both parties mostly took a cautious approach in drawing new districts, more like boxers circling one another in the ring rather than aiming for a knockout. For the most part — Democratic legislators in Illinois and their Republican counterparts in Texas were conspicuous exceptions — the parties that controlled redistricting sought to cement control of seats they already hold rather than take a chance of pursuing marginal districts. 
Such prudence could enable Republicans to hold onto a large share of the legislative seats they won in 2010 even if the presidential election does not go their way. It's also worth noting that states in which nonpartisan commissions do political reapportionment generally lived up to their independent billing by creating a significant number of congressional and legislative districts in which either party has a chance to win. 
In 2012 the independent-commission states have been joined by California, which is engaging in a double experiment by also having an open primary in which the top two vote getters advance regardless of party. In the short run, these twin experiments appear likely to benefit the Democrats. In the long run, independent redistricting and the open primary could once again make California politically competitive. That's the hope, anyway, of the good-government groups that supported the changes. Only time will tell if they work.
— By Lou Cannon
The Week in Session
States in Regular Session CA, DE, IL, KS, LA, MA, ME, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PR, RI, SC, US 
States in Recess: DC, NH 
States in Special Session: AL "a" 
Special Sessions in Recess: DE "b" 
States Projected to Adjourn: KS, ME, MO, OK, 
States Adjourned in 2012: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, MN, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IN, KY, MD, MN, MS, NE, NM, OR, SD, TN, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY State Special Sessions Adjourned in 2012: AK "c", CO "a", FL "b", KY "a", MD "a", VA "a", WA "c", WA "d", WV "a"  
Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions 
— Compiled By AMY LARSON
(session information current as of 05/17/2012)
Source: State Net database
Bird’s eye view
Casino gaming revenues on rise
Graphic for Bird’s Eye View article Tax revenues from commercial casino operations increased in 13 states in 2011, according to the American Gaming Association. The biggest increases came in states where new casinos opened during the year or had a full year of operations for the first time, including Maryland (464.2 percent), Kansas (38.0 percent), Pennsylvania (9.6 percent) and New York (17.9 percent). Nationally, commercial casinos paid over $7.9 billion in direct gaming taxes to states and localities in 2011, 4.5 percent more than in 2010. But some states did see revenue declines, such as New Jersey (9.1 percent), due in part to increased competition from a full year of table game operations in the neighboring states of Delaware and Pennsylvania.
U.S.A. map for Bird’s Eye View article
Budget & taxes

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS CALL OUT STRUGGLING US STATES: As economic turmoil returned this month to Greece and Spain, key Republicans in Congress issued a tough message for struggling U.S. states. 
"Recent experience on Wall Street and in Athens suggests that if decision makers in Illinois, New York, California or anywhere else believe Washington will bail them out of their fiscal mismanagement, we cannot expect any self-directed reform from them," U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) wrote in a May 14th op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. 
The missive from the two members of Congress' Joint Economic Committee was spurred by a new report from the Republicans on that panel concluding that California, Illinois and Michigan are states with economic policies most like those of Greece. 
"States that have followed Europe's economic policy model of unbridled spending are getting Europe's economic results: low growth and looming fiscal catastrophe," the two Republicans wrote. "Congress must — in word and if necessary in law — make plain that the taxpayers will not protect these states from the consequences of their policies." 
The Joint Economic Committee Republicans' report suggested such states would do well to follow the example of Utah, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, which it said were the states most like Germany, considered "Europe's model of fiscal prudence." 
The report comes just as California announced its budget hole has grown to nearly $16 billion. But the state will get at least some assistance with that problem without having to go to Congress. Facebook's initial public offering this month is expected to provide billions of dollars in tax revenue for the state. (STATELINE.ORG, JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE REPUBLICANS) 
INCOME TAX COLLECTIONS UP IN APRIL BUT NOT ENOUGH TO HELP SOME STATES: State personal income tax collections grew an average of 7.3 percent in April, based on analysis of the 20 states for which data is available by Reuters. But that rate is considerably less than the 18.5 percent burst in April of 2011. And the range among states was wide, from a 44.9 percent gain in Indiana to a 13.4 decline in Rhode Island. 
California's collections were in positive territory, inching up 1.7 percent to $7.17 billion. But that was well below the state's $9.13 billion forecast, contributing to the $15.7 billion gap in next year's budget. Income tax collections in Pennsylvania were, likewise, up over last year — 8.3 percent to $1.7 billion — and below forecast, by $26.4 million. 
Kim Reuben, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, attributes such discrepancies to states setting their expectations on last year's surge in collections. But she believes that "blip" was due in part to investors rushing to pay capital gain taxes before tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush expired. 
"It turned out it was this non-wage growth, and that's not being sustained," she said. "But some states — California was the worst offender of this — built in that increase of income tax revenues into the bases of their forecasts." 
The good news, Reuben said, is that most states were more conservative. 
"They're not seeing new gaps," she said. 
But the slowing growth still worries state officials that their economies won't be strong enough to withstand threats like unemployment or Europe's financial turmoil. 
As Arturo Perez, who tracks fiscal issues for the National Conference of State Legislatures, put it, "We talk about how states went from the Great Recession to the 'Great Uncertainty.'" (REUTERS) 
BUDGETS IN BRIEF: CALIFORNIA's projected budget gap for next fiscal year has grown to $16 billion, up substantially from the $9.2 billion estimated in January, Gov. Jerry Brown announced this month. Brown issued a revised spending plan, calling for more cuts last week (LOS ANGELES TIMES). • CALIFORNIA will pay about $3.7 billion for public employee pensions next fiscal year, according to the California Public Employee's Retirement System. Although that total is more than the state currently pays, it is less than it had set aside for retirement-related expenses next year (REUTERS). • The Department of Transportation has warned CALIFORNIA that the $3.3 billion allocated for the state for high-speed rail as part of the economic stimulus will only be available until Sept. 30. The state's planned high-speed rail line has become bogged down in a high-stakes fight over its price and route (POLITICO). • MARYLAND lawmakers approved an income-tax hike on single residents making more than $100,000 and couples making more than $150,000 per year (WASHINGTON TIMES). • ARIZONA lawmakers passed a 25 percent income tax cut on capital gains this month that will be phased in over three years, becoming fully effective by 2016 (STATELINE.ORG, ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX]). • MAINE will receive nearly $75,000 as part of a settlement between the Federal Trade Commission and footwear maker Skechers USA Inc. over unsubstantiated health claims about the company's products. The company claimed its Shape-ups shoes would help people lose weight and strengthen their muscles (BANGOR DAILY NEWS).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Politics & leadership

UT LAST SAGEBRUSH REBEL STANDING: A couple of months ago, when the Utah Legislature passed a bill (HB 148) demanding that Congress cede control of 30 million acres of federal lands located within the state's borders and similar legislation was working its way through the Arizona statehouse, it looked as though another Sagebrush Rebellion was afoot. (See WESTERN STATES STAGE SECOND SAGEBRUSH REBELLION in March 12 issue.) But the more recent uprising may be headed for the same fate as the ultimately inconsequential original insurrection, which followed Congress' passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in 1976, declaring that hundreds of millions of acres of land in the West would be held in federal ownership unless disposing of it served the national interest. 
Last week Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed her state's bill, SB 1332, citing much the same arguments that opponents of Utah's HB 148 made when Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed that measure. 
"As a staunch advocate for state sovereignty, we still must be mindful and respectful of our federal system," Brewer said. "I understand and share Arizona's frustration in trying to manage our natural resources with our various partners; however, this legislation is not the answer." 
Herbert seemed a little peeved by Brewer's move but unwavering in his own state's position. 
"I will not speculate about her motives. Arizona faces their own unique circumstances," he said. "Bottom line: Utah put the federal government on notice — we simply want them to honor the commitment they made at the time of statehood. That commitment in our enabling legislation was to dispose of the public land." 
And lawmakers in Utah and other Western states haven't given up the hope of cobbling together a coalition to press the issue as happened more than three decades ago. 
"This is going to be a process. Nobody pretends otherwise, but we're in a situation where we can't take, 'No' for an answer," said Utah Rep. Ken Ivory (R), who has been trying to drum up support for the idea in Colorado and New Mexico. 
Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. Al Melvin (R), sponsor of SB 1332, has said he plans to bring the bill back next session and he expects Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to consider — and be among the most likely to pass — similar legislation. 
But Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R), like Arizona Gov. Brewer, doesn't appear to be completely on board with Utah's approach. 
"You could pass all the legislation in Idaho you want, but if it's not going to be recognized by the courts or Washington, D.C.," it could be pointless, he said last month. (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, STATE NET) 
VA REJECTS JUDGESHIP FOR OPENLY GAY PROSECUTOR: Last week, Virginia's General Assembly denied a General District Court judgeship to Tracy Thorne-Begland, an openly gay Richmond prosecutor who came out as a naval officer 20 years ago to challenge the military's now-defunct "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Thorne-Begland received only 31 votes in his favor in the 100-member House, and his nomination didn't even come up for a vote in the Senate. 
"The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy commonwealth attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged," said Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D), the state's first openly gay senator. "It's offensive that the Senate wouldn't even grant Lieutenant Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a vote." 
What further rankled supporters of Thorne-Begland's appointment was the fact that two other champions of hot-button issues — Republican former delegate C.L. "Clay" Athey Jr. of Warren, an outspoken advocate for gun rights, and Democratic former delegate Clarence E. "Bud" Phillips, a supporter of labor — got their judgeships. 
But conservative lawmakers said Thorne-Begland's advocacy was different because it amounted to military insubordination and a challenge to the state constitution's ban on gay marriage and civil unions. 
"He holds himself out as being married," Del. Robert G. Marshall (R) said of Thorne-Begland, but his "life is a contradiction to the requirement of submission to the constitution." 
During the House debate on the appointment, Marshall argued that Thorne-Begland's views were comparable to those of a polygamist, who would be denied a judgeship no matter how great a legal mind they might possess. 
"Let's pretend they were Clarence Darrow, the best lawyer in the 20th century," he said. "If he were married to three women and applied to be a judge in Virginia, we'd say, 'No, hell no and never.'... We do not recognize these other relationships at all, and they are outside our normative judgment criteria." 
Del. Mark D. Sickles (D), however, feared the House's action would result in another "Rachel Maddow moment," in reference to the MSNBC host who skewered Virginia over legislation requiring vaginal ultrasounds before abortions. (WASHINGTON POST, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH) 
AUDIT SPARKS ELECTION FRAUD CONTROVERSY IN MI: A state audit showing that about 1,500 ballots were cast in Michigan elections by deceased individuals and prisoners between Oct. 1, 2008, through June 9, 2011 touched off a debate last week over whether voter fraud is a serious problem in the state. The Secretary of State's Office, which oversees the state's elections, insisted that every example cited in the report by Auditor General Thomas McTavish was a case of a clerk accidentally crossing the wrong name off a voter list and not the result of someone using another person's identity. But state Rep. Tom McMillin (R), chairman of the House Oversight, Reform and Ethics Committee, said he wants to take a closer look at the report. 
In general, "I don't buy that there's no voter fraud," he said. "There are certainly opportunities, and I think where there are opportunities, there is someone taking advantage of those opportunities." (DETROIT FREE PRESS) 
TWO INCUMBENTS TOPPLED IN OR PRIMARIES: Two incumbent Oregon lawmakers lost their seats to primary challengers last Tuesday. In one of the most hotly contested races, Republican challenger Tim Knopp defeated incumbent Sen. Chris Telfer in District 27. Knopp, executive vice president of the Central Oregon Builders Association and a former state lawmaker — having served in the House from 1999 until 2005, including a stint as GOP majority leader in 2002-2003 — criticized Telfer for not doing enough to create jobs. 
"Central Oregon voters are most concerned about job creation and in the Legislature putting policies in place to help small business. ... That is going to be my focus," Knopp said last Tuesday night.  
Telfer's re-election bid wasn't helped by the endorsement of Knopp by two of her central Oregon colleagues, Reps. Jason Conger (R) and Mike McLane (R). Knopp will now face Democrat Geri Hauser in November. 
In another widely watched contest, in District 48, incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike Schaufler lost to challenger Jeff Reardon, both of Portland.  
Schaufler had represented Southeast Portland and Clackamas County for nearly 10 years but was involved in personal and political controversies that prompted a dozen of his House Democratic colleagues and others to throw their support behind his opponent.  
Reardon, a teacher and former Tektronix technical writer who's legislative priorities include improving education, creating jobs and protecting the environment, will face Republican George "Sonny" Yellott in November. (OREGONLIVE.COM) 
POLITICS IN BRIEF: Legislation to legalize civil unions in COLORADO died even faster during last week's special session than it did during the regular session that ended two weeks ago. On a 5-4 party-line vote, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee stopped the bill from reaching the floor of the House, where it was likely to pass, with a handful of the chamber's 33 Republicans expected to join the chamber's 32 Democrats (DENVER POST, STATE NET). • The ILLINOIS Senate followed the House in approving a plan to begin charging retired state workers, including lawmakers and judges, for their health insurance. The Senate's 31-20 vote, sent the bill to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) who plans to sign it (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES). • MISSOURI lawmakers have passed a proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters in November, would give the governor greater control over the selection of judges for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals (KANSAS CITY STAR). • OHIO Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a bill last week (SB 295) repealing legislation he signed last July (HB 194) shortening the state's early voting period and blocking counties from mailing unsolicited absentee-ballot applications to all voters. But Democrats, who qualified a referendum on HB 194 for the November ballot, may actually sue to block SB 295 because it does not allow early, in-person voting on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday preceding the Nov. 6 election (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, STATE NET).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Upcoming Elections
05/21/2012 - 06/07/2012

Arkansas Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (All)
US House (All)

Kentucky Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (Odd)
US House (All)

South Carolina Special Primary
Senate District 41

Texas Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (All)
US House (All)
US Senate

California Primary Election
Assembly (All)
Senate (Odd)
US House (All)
US Senate

Iowa Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (Even)
US House (All)

Montana Primary Election
House (All)
Senate 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22,
24, 26, 27, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 41, 43, 45, 46,
47, 50
Constitutional Officers: Governor,
Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State,
Attorney General, Auditor, Superintendent
of Public Instruction
US House (All)
US Senate

New Jersey Primary Election
US House (All)
US Senate

New Jersey Special Primary
Assembly Districts 4, 16, 26
US House 10th Congressional District

New Mexico Primary Election
House (All)
Senate (All)
US House (All)
US Senate

South Carolina Special Primary
House District 68

South Dakota Primary Election
House (all)
Senate (all)
US House (All)

Wisconsin Recall Election
Senate Districts 13, 21, 23 and 29
Constitutional Officers: Governor,
Lieutenant Governor


CHAFEE ORDERS RI TO RECOGNIZE GAY MARRIAGES: Citing "a great deal of confusion and inconsistency from state agencies regarding out-of-state marriages," Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) issued an executive order last week that directs state officials to recognize same-sex unions performed in other states. That directive, EO 12-02, codifies a non-binding 2007 opinion from then-Attorney General Patrick Lynch that the Ocean State should legally recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. It also comes a year after state lawmakers passed legislation creating same-sex civil unions. 
Chafee said his order is intended to quell any confusion over state policy in the wake of the civil unions bill. It formally orders state agencies to recognize same-sex out-of-state marriages as legal and treat those couples the same as heterosexual ones. That means equal access to things like childcare, sales tax exemptions, health and life insurance benefits, burial services and hospital visitation rights that now often exclude a same-sex partner. Both partners will also now be able to be listed as parents on a child's birth certificate. The order does not, however, allow those couples to divorce in Rhode Island, nor does it hold sway over things like income taxes and Social Security, which are regulated under the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  
Chafee's order came just weeks after North Carolina voters adopted a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages, and on the same day that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) publicly endorsed them. Quinn noted President Obama's recent stated support for gay marriage, telling reporters he "stands with the president" and that he planned to push lawmakers to legalize the unions this year. Quinn also strongly supported legislation last year that created civil unions in the Prairie State.  
Chafee's order drew strong responses from advocates on both sides of the issue.  
In a statement, Marriage Equality Rhode Island director Ray Sullivan called Chaffee's action "a great and historic day for Rhode Island," adding that "far too many same-sex couples have encountered problems with the state refusing to recognize the validity of their marriage, causing harm, confusion, unnecessary expense, and heartache."  
But Christopher C. Plante, regional coordinator for the state chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions, condemned the order. Plante told Bloomberg Businessweek that Chafee's order usurps the will of lawmakers, who opted to not pursue legalizing same-sex marriage last year in favor of endorsing civil unions.  
"To issue an executive order recognizing same-sex marriage flies in the face of the clearly expressed actions of the legislature and the people," he said.  
Plante also questioned whether Chafee was attempting to maneuver around the state Supreme Court's 2007 ruling that a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts could not divorce in Rhode Island because state law applied only to divorce between a husband and wife. 
Chafee left little doubt he is in favor of fully legalizing same-sex marriage, and would pressure lawmakers to do so in the next legislative session.  
"We must continue to push for full marriage equality," he told reporters after the announcement. "We're overdue, way overdue." (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, QUAD-CITY TIMES [DAVENPORT], BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK) 
WALKER DISPUTES JOB LOSS NUMBERS: According to new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wisconsin lost almost 34,000 jobs between March, 2011 and March, 2012, the most of any state. But Gov. Scott Walker (R), who is facing a June 5 recall election, argued last week that those figures are wrong. He instead insists that the Badger State has actually gained jobs, adding over 23,000 public and private sector jobs over the last year. Last Thursday, Walker took the highly unusual step of releasing revised figures that seemed to back up his claim, though the numbers have yet to be finalized by the Bureau and will not be officially released until after the election. The variation comes from the use of different means of collecting data. But observers noted that even with the job numbers being better than they first appeared, they are far behind Walker's promise to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin by the end of his first term in 2014. They also indicated the state lost almost 6,000 jobs in April of this year. (WASAU DAILY HERALD, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, POST-CRESCENT [APPLETON]) 
SENATE ENDORSES CUOMO MEASURE TO PROTECT DISABLED: The New York Senate approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) proposal to set up a new state agency to better protect the mentally and physically disabled. The measure, SB 7400, would create an entity called the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, which would have authority concurrent with local district attorneys to bring cases against those who abuse the disabled. Cuomo says the bill would ensure that the population has a dedicated force of investigators and prosecutors capable of protecting the one million disabled residents that rely on state-funded care in the Empire State. The measure would also, among many things, criminalize sexual contact between patients and members of the medical staff, create a 24-hour hotline to report abuse and standardize criminal background checks for employees and applicants at the state's six agencies for children and adults with disabilities. The bill has moved to the Assembly. (NEW YORK TIMES, ALBANY TIMES-UNION, POST-STANDARD [SYRACUSE]) 
GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: Citing the unlikelihood of lawmakers passing legislation to create a state health insurance exchange this session, ILLINOIS Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said he will consider creating one via an executive order. Some lawmakers oppose creating the exchanges before the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this year on the legality of the Affordable Care Act (QUAD-CITY TIMES [DAVENPORT]). • IOWA Gov. Terry Branstad (R) issued Executive Order No. 77 last week (State Net EO IA 2 2012), a directive that rescinds a state ban on the use of lead ammunition in dove hunts. Critics contend that scavengers like eagles and coyotes can be harmed if they feed on doves shot with lead. Branstad said the decision to ban lead ammunition should come from lawmakers, not the state's Natural Resources Commission, which enacted the rule last year (DES MOINES REGISTER). • MICHIGAN Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said he would accept more of his salary this year, though he has not determined how much. Snyder worked his first year in office for $1 as part of a plan of "shared sacrifice" to deal with the Wolverine State's fiscal problems. The governor joked that he would have to "check with my wife" before he could determine how much of his salary he would accept during his second year in office (LANSING STATE JOURNAL). • Staying in MICHIGAN, Gov. Snyder sent U.S. Senate leaders a letter asking them to pass legislation allowing states more leeway to collect sales taxes for online and catalog purchases. Snyder said he also wants to collect an estimated $872 million in sales tax revenue his state Department of Treasury says remains uncollected from online and mail order purchases for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 (MLIVE.COM). • UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert (R) fired the state Department of Technology Services director Stephen Fletcher last week over a security breach that allowed hackers to steal the personal health data of over 780,000 Beehive State residents. Herbert also hired an ombudsman to help guide theft victims through the process of protecting their identities and credit (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • MINNESOTA Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signed HF 2958, which commits the Gopher State to contributing $348 million toward a new stadium for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings franchise. The total tab for the facility is approximately $975 million, with the balance coming from the team and the NFL (BRAINERD DISPATCH).
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
Hot issues

BUSINESS: The MISSOURI House and Senate concur on HB 1540, which bars workers from suing another worker over accidental injuries incurred on the job. It moves to Gov. Jay Nixon (D) for review (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH). • Staying in MISSOURI, the House gives final approval to SB 607, which establishes a procedure for reestablishing billboards removed by road construction, including the ability to replace them with electronic ones. It goes to Gov. Nixon for review (STATE NET, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH). • The KANSAS House approves HB 2568, a bill that would allow businesses to delete their names and addresses from the state sex-offender web site. The measure, which also would remove hospitals from a list of treatment facilities that must report to the state when they admit a registered sex offender, moves to Gov. Sam Brownback (R) for review (KANSAS CITY STAR). • ALABAMA Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signs SB 294, which allows Heart of Dixie retailers to sell beer in containers up to 25.4 ounces. The law previously limited containers to no more than 16 ounces. It takes effect August 1 (STATE NET, MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER).  
CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The KANSAS Legislature gives final approval to SB 79, which would bar the state court system from basing any rulings on foreign laws or systems that do not grant the same rights granted by the Sunflower State or U.S. Constitutions. It has moved to Gov. Sam Brownback (R) for review (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD). • ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoes SB 1182, which would have barred law-enforcement officers from complying with the National Defense Authorization Act, a federal law that allows the government to detain people suspected of involvement in terrorism without trial, including U.S. citizens. Brewer said the measure would have forced police to choose between enforcing state laws over federal statutes (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA]). • The NEW YORK Senate approves SB 4124, which would deny anyone arrested for the murder of their spouse or subject to an order of protection filed by the deceased from having control over the victim's remains. The measure is now in the Assembly (STATE NET, ALBANY TIMES-UNION).  
EDUCATION: The ILLINOIS Senate unanimously approves HB 3887, which would extend child sex abuse reporting requirements now in place for elementary school personnel to also include certain employees at colleges and universities. It moves to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for review (QUAD-CITY TIMES [DAVENPORT]). • TENNESSEE Gov. Bill Haslam (R) signs SB 3310, a bill that requires Volunteer State schools with sex education curriculum to "exclusively and emphatically" promote abstinence as the only foolproof way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The measure also bars teachers or outside speakers from condoning or promoting so-called "gateway sexual behaviors" (TENNESSEAN [NASHVILLE]). • ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoes SB 1259, which, among several things, would have developed a statewide master list of approved online courses for junior high and high school students and created a state ranking and evaluation of each course. Brewer said she opposed the state setting or approving the curriculum (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX]). Still in ARIZONA, Brewer signs HB 2622, which expands a state school voucher program for disabled children to include those students enrolled in schools that receive D or F letter grades from the state, children of active-duty members of the military and foster children who are being adopted (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX]). • CONNECTICUT Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) signs SB 458, legislation that, among several things, requires annual performance evaluations for principals, administrators and teachers and links tenure to a teacher's effectiveness (NBCCONNECTICUT.COM). • MISSISSIPPI Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signs SB 2792, which allows Magnolia State high school students to enroll in job-training programs at community colleges while they finish working on their high school diploma (HATTIESBURG AMERICAN). • MICHIGAN Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signs SB 619, which lifts a cap on the number of cyber charter schools allowed in the Wolverine State. The measure also limits total enrollment to 2 percent of the state's student population (MLIVE.COM). • The MISSOURI House approves SB 576, a bill that would allow the creation of charter schools in any Show Me State school district that loses accreditation and, after a three-year waiting period, in districts that are provisionally accredited and not making progress toward accreditation. It moves to Gov. Jay Nixon (D) for review (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH). • The LOUISIANA House approves HB 1214, which would require Pelican State schools to develop anti-bullying policies. It moves to the Senate, which recently passed its own anti-bullying measure (SB 764). The House Education Committee endorsed that measure last Wednesday (ADVOCATE [BATON ROUGE]).  
ENVIRONMENT: The ILLINOIS Senate approves HB 4119, which would ban the sale or possession of shark fins, a delicacy often used in Chinese cooking. The measure moves to Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for review (QUAD-CITY TIMES [DAVENPORT]). • VERMONT Gov. Pete Shumlin (D) signs HB 464, a bill making the Green Mountain State the first to ban hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the practice of injecting water and chemicals under high pressure into underground shale to release natural gas (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS).  
HEALTH & SCIENCE: The RHODE ISLAND House approves SB 2555, which would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to possess up to 1,500 ounces of marijuana while empowering law enforcement to inspect dispensaries and give the state police a seat on the board overseeing the facilities. It moves to Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I), who is expected to sign it into law (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, STATE NET). • The LOUISIANA Senate Finance Committee rejects SB 744, which would have established a Pelican State health insurance exchange in line with the Affordable Care Act (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS]).  
IMMIGRATION: The ALABAMA House and Senate approve HB 658, which makes slight changes to the state's strict immigration law, including a provision allowing the Department of Homeland Security to publish on a quarterly basis the names of illegal immigrants who appear in court on charges of violating state law whether they have been convicted or not. It would also allow someone to be detained for up to 48 hours while authorities determine their immigration status. Gov. Robert Bentley (R), however, returns the measure to lawmakers, expressing concern over the DHS provision and another that allows school officials to ask kids about their parents' immigration status (CNN.COM, REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES).  
SOCIAL POLICY: The MISSOURI House approves SB 749, which would allow Show Me State health care workers, medical centers and others to refuse to provide contraception or carry out procedures that violate their religious or ethical beliefs. It returned to the Senate, which initially rejected the House amendments (NEWS TRIBUNE [JEFFERSON CITY]). • ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signs HB 2625, which allows Grand Canyon State employers that formally identify themselves as religiously oriented organizations to drop contraception coverage for birth control purposes from their health plans. Employers would still have to provide it for other medical reasons (ARIZONA DAILY SUN [FLAGSTAFF]). • KANSAS Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signs SB 62, legislation that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill a prescription for drugs they believe might cause an abortion (KANSAS CITY STAR). • The LOUISIANA House approves HB 380, which would require random drug-testing of 20 percent of the Pelican State's welfare recipients. Those failing the screening would be required to undergo education and rehabilitation or face losing their benefits. It moves to the Senate (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS]). • The MARYLAND Court of Appeals unanimously rules that same-sex couples can divorce in the Old Line State even though it does not yet permit same-sex marriages. The justices ruled that courts should withhold recognition of a valid foreign marriage only if that marriage is "repugnant" to state public policy, a bar it says same-sex marriage does not rise to (ASSOCIATED PRESS).  
POTPOURRI: The RHODE ISLAND Senate approves SB 2387, which would require electric utility companies to establish "voltage detection and repair" programs to find electrically charged objects such as manhole covers or utility poles that could injure or kill people on contact. It is now in the House (STATE NET, PROVIDENCE JOURNAL). • ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoes SB 1332, which demanded that the Obama administration cede to the state control over approximately 23 million acres of federal land. Brewer said the bill was unconstitutional (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX]). • OKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signs SB 1733, legislation that allows residents licensed to carry a firearm to openly carry a weapon or conceal it. The law also allows a property owner to openly carry a handgun on his or her land. No concealed carry permit would be required (OKLAHOMAN [OKLAHOMA CITY]).
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
In The Hopper
At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thousands of bills in all 50 states, US Congress, and the District of Columbia. Here's a snapshot of what's in the legislative works:
Number of Prefiles last week: 261 
Number of Intros last week: 1,466 
Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 1,206 
Number of 2012 Prefiles to date: 10,391 
Number of 2012 Intros to date: 75,537 
Number of 2012 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 18,885 
Number of bills currently in State Net Database: 172,137 
(measures current as of 05/17/2012)
Source: State Net database
Once around the statehouse lightly

OF SAINTS AND SINNERS: The news that the NFL's New Orleans Saints were paying their defenders big bucks for injuring opposing players shook the league to its core. It also earned the wrath of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who hit several players, coaches and administrators with long suspensions over the matter. While many say the Saints got what they deserved, Pelican State pigskin fans disagree. And now lawmakers have got into the game. As the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, the House and Senate have passed HCR 50, which urges Goodell to reconsider the penalties. And why should he do that? Because, the resolution says, there is "widespread public opinion" that the punishment is "too harsh" and "will likely have a negative economic impact across the Crescent City and the state as a whole." No word if Las Vegas is giving a line yet on how fast the commissioner will punt that idea into oblivion. 
SPEAKING OF SAINTS: While the aforementioned HCR 50 is likely to garner rolled eyes and not much else — outside of Louisiana anyway — New Jersey lawmakers are working on a slightly more reasonable sports-themed resolution. As NJTODAY.NET reports, a Garden State Senate committee last week approved a measure asking Major League Baseball to permanently retire the uniform number 21 of former Pittsburgh Pirates legend Roberto Clemente. The resolution (SCR 27) notes not only Clemente's Hall of Fame career on the field, but also his copious amount of humanitarian work off of it, including his death while delivering emergency supplies to victims of an earthquake in Nicaragua. No word on what MLB thinks of the proposal, but it would seem to have a better chance than do Saints fans begging for a lighter sentence solely so their team doesn't stink this year.  
A REAL KICK IN THE HEAD: California Assemblyman Chris Norby has a longstanding reputation for bluntness, a trait he had on full display last week. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, Norby's moment in the sun came as Golden State lawmakers were discussing AJR 27, a resolution to honor the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that mandated gender equality in high school and college sports. U.S. soccer star Brandi Chastain was on hand for the event, but Norby was in no mood to celebrate, opining instead that gains female athletes had attained under the law had come only at the expense of male athletes. A visibly shaken Chastain tried to weigh in herself, but could not because resolutions are not open to public debate. Several lawmakers from both parties, however, stood up to support the resolution, which passed 68-0. Norby did not vote on the proposal, which is now in the Senate.  
A VIDEO ABOUT NOTHING? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has his own rep for speaking his mind and damn anyone's feelings. But the Garden State gov also clearly has a sense of self deprecating humor. As the Newark Star-Ledger reports, Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker teamed up for a "Seinfeld-like" video parodying both Christie's alleged vice-presidential aspirations and Booker's recent life-saving heroics. The three-plus minute spoof shows the gov being constantly thwarted at his attempts to do good deeds by the appearance of Booker, who takes over with the catch phrase, "I got this." Christie responds by muttering "Booker" through gritted teeth, a la Seinfeld's reaction to his nemesis, Newman. Christie gets the last laugh, however, coming to the rescue as Booker tries to fend off Mitt Romney's persistent appeal to join him on the GOP presidential ticket. The video was part of the festivities at the New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club dinner.
In Case You Missed It

Historic GOP gains in the 2010 election have made for a rough year and a half for organized labor, but unions are now turning to a surprising new ally — labor-friendly Republicans. 
In case you missed it, the story can be found on our Web site at

Last week we incorrectly reported that 33 of Oregon's 100 lawmakers will leave the Legislature at the end of the session, due to a combination of term limits, new legislative district lines and aspirations for higher office. It is actually Colorado where that mass exodus is taking place. We apologize for the error.
Editor: Rich Ehisen
Associate Editor: Korey Clark
Contributing Editor: Cynthia McKeeman and Art Zimmerman
Editorial Advisor: Lou Cannon
Correspondents: Richard Cox (CA), Lauren Davis (MA), Steve Karas (CA) and Ben Livingood (PA)
Graphic Design: Vanessa Perez Design
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