State Net Capitol Journal - News and View from the 50 States
Volume XXII, No. 28
September 15, 2014
HEADLINE: Core Conundrum
Budget & taxes
States keeping eye on billionaires
Politics & leadership
Indictment not insurmountable obstacle for NY lawmakers
McAuliffe proposes limited VA Medicaid expansion
The next issue of Capitol Journal will be available on September 29th.
Four years ago, all but a quartet of states were gung ho for the Common Core curriculum standards. Now a growing number of states, pushed by hyper-partisan members in each party, are forcing some states to reconsider.
SNCJ Spotlight
Once valued Common Core becomes a political football
As millions of U.S. schoolchildren learn reading, writing and arithmetic under new national academic standards known as Common Core, a backlash has developed in several states.
Although the noisiest resistance has come from conservatives aligned with the Tea Party, the opposition also includes teachers unions opposed to standardized tests to measure teacher performance and liberals who object to corporate sponsorship of the program. 
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia three years ago endorsed Common Core, which sets standards for the academic skills students are expected to master from kindergarten through high school. This year, however, Indiana and Oklahoma abandoned Common Core. Legislatures in three other states — Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina — have passed laws to reconsider the standards although Common Core is being used by these states this fall. 
The revolt against Common Core came as a surprise to many of its supporters. When the National Governors Association and state school officials, with the backing of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, convened five years ago to draft the standards that became Common Core, support was so universal that Time magazine recently described the meeting as "a love-in." 
Small wonder. The nation's businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have long complained that high school graduates entering the workforce are too often deficient in basic reading and computational skills. It's a problem for higher education, too. In 2012, some 20 percent of college freshmen needed to take remedial courses, reducing their chances of graduating. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, four successive presidents have endorsed proposals for more rigorous academic standards to better equip high school graduates for college or work. 
Common Core stresses critical thinking instead of multiple-choice tests. It left development of curriculums to the states but created a set of national standards that can be measured by testing and will supposedly help students who move from one state to another, such as the children of military families. 
Under Common Core standards, kindergartners should be able to count from 1 to 100. Third graders should be able to write a narrative describing real or imagined experiences and to describe and analyze two-dimensional shapes. Sixth graders should be able to write a narrative of an historical event. 
Common Core's critics on the Right portray the program as a distressing example of federal dominance. State Rep. Dennis Richardson, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Oregon, compares Common Core to the Affordable Care Act, which he said "was passed by Congress before any of our congressional representatives had an opportunity to read it." 
Linking Obamacare and Common Core has become a central element of the Republican narrative of federal overreach, but there's a notable difference in the way these two programs were created. 
The Affordable Care Act, whatever one thinks of it, was indeed a top-down program. Passed on party lines by Congress and signed into law by Obama, it determined the incomes at which persons became eligible for subsidized health care through exchanges managed by the states or federal government. The law also mandated expansion of Medicaid, the program that provides health services for the poor. States now have an option on Medicaid only because the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to require the states to expand it. 
Common Core, in contrast, arose in the states from the wreckage of No Child Left Behind, a policy of the George W. Bush administration that tied federal funding to mandatory standardized tests. This well-intentioned effort fell short, in large part because tests differed from state to state, and no one was quite sure what was being measured. As Tim Murphy wrote in a recent issue of Mother Jones: "Many teachers and parents were frustrated by an approach that seemed to punish schools for problems beyond their control, and the lack of uniformity from state to state — even zip code to zip code — made it impossible to tell how well kids were actually performing." 
Responding to these concerns, the National Governors Association (NGA) set out to improve upon No Child Left Behind, joined by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a national organization of education commissioners. 
The two groups utilized a report written for the Carnegie Corporation by educators David Coleman and Jason Zimba, which called for fewer and simpler tests. The NGA and CCSSO, devised what they called "a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12." Because the states were financially strapped by the Great Recession, they sought help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has channeled $200 million into Common Core's implementation. 
Common Core also received a boost from the Obama administration. For the president, it seemed a safe way to deliver on his campaign promise "to fix the failures of No Child Left Behind." To Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, it seemed promising in its own right. At Duncan's urging the administration put forth a $4.35 billion program called Race to the Top, which gave money to states in return for ambitious tracking of student performance at all grade levels. 
Despite federal support, Common Core remains essentially a state-grounded program. When the standards in an early form were presented to the governors in 2009, only Sarah Palin of Alaska and Rick Perry of Texas opposed them. But as Murphy observes, Common Core did not receive broad public attention during the recession, when the nation was absorbed with the devastating economic issues created by the financial crisis. It wasn't until 2011, as implementation began, that the Tea Party latched onto the issue, calling Common Core a threat to local control, and more fancifully depicting it as anti-religious or socialist. 
The slings and arrows from the Right were soon matched by brickbats from the Left. Diane Ravitch, a prominent left-of-center education historian, deplored what she saw as corporate pressure on the states to take the money offered by Race to the Top. Randi Weingarten, the influential president of the American Federation of Teachers, withdrew her support for Common Core and said her organization would take no more money from the Gates Foundation. 
The testing of students to determine the hiring, firing, and promotion of teachers particularly riles the teachers' groups. Weingarten has called for a three-year moratorium on such testing and, like her Tea Party counterparts, imaginatively compared the advent of Common Core to the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act. 
Duncan partially bowed to the teachers' demands last month by announcing that states could delay for a year the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings. This modest action was accompanied by sizzling rhetoric that might have come from Common Core's critics. 
"I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools," Duncan said in his blog. 
Teachers are an important element of the Democratic political base, and Duncan may have been trying to reassure them in advance of the midterm elections, in which for the most part Common Core has been a second-tier issue. It has, however, popped up in races in Florida, Louisiana and Ohio in what could be an unfortunate prelude to the Republican presidential primary contests of 2016. 
Common Core until recently was not a partisan issue. Among Republicans, it was passionately backed by Jeb Bush and favored to varying degrees by Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Now, Jindal and Rubio have joined Sens. Ted Cruz and Gov. Perry of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in opposing Common Core, while Christie is reconsidering his earlier support. 
Unless Bush becomes the GOP nominee — and it's not even certain he will be a candidate — Common Core could become a partisan football that at the national level is routinely supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. 
That would be unfortunate. Improving the language and mathematical skills of U.S. school children is in the interests of everyone, whatever their politics. That doesn't necessarily mean anointing Common Core: the jury is still out on the new standards and the tests that measure student performance. Neither have been in use long enough to know if they work. 
But the verdict on Common Core should be decided on the basis of the evidence, not partisanship. It deserves a chance to rise or fall on its merits.
— By Lou Cannon
The Week in Session
States in Regular Session: DC, MI, NJ, PA, PR, US, VA "a" 
States in Informal Session: MA 
States in Recess: CA "b", DE "c", IL, MI, NY 
States in Special Session: NV "a" 
States currently prefiling for 2015 Session: CO, FL, KY, MT, NV, OR, VA, WY 
States adjourned in 2014: AK, AL, AR, AR "a", AZ, AZ "a", CA, CA "a", CO, CT, DE, DE "b", FL, FL "a", GA, HI, IA, ID, IL "a", IL "b", IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MS "a", MS "b", NC, NE, NH, NJ "a", NM, OK, OR, PR "a", PR "b", RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, WA, WA "a", WA "b", WA "c", WI, WI "c", WV, WV "a", WV "b", WY 
*Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions 
(Session information current as of 09/11/2014)
Source: State Net database
Bird’s eye view
Small but growing number of states reject Common Core
Graphic for Bird’s Eye View article Between 2010 and 2011, 46 states and the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core Standards, which lay out the academic skills students are supposed to master at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. Since then, however, two of those states — Indiana and Oklahoma — have repealed the standards, while three others — Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina — have passed laws to reconsider the standards or create new ones, leaving the Common Core standards in place for now.
U.S.A. map for Bird’s Eye View article
Budget & taxes

STATES KEEPING EYE ON BILLIONAIRES: When the wealthiest Americans sell large quantities of stock or suffer big losses, it can have a significant impact on the finances of the states where they reside, especially if those states are small and collect taxes on income or capital gains. 
"Smaller or mid-sized states with one or two billionaires — that's not something you can ignore," said Lyman Stone, an economist for the Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation. "States with income taxes would have an interest in tracking that." 
The problem is that billionaires aren't in the habit of sharing their financial plans with state officials. So revenue estimators in many states have taken to interviewing financial planners and economists to try to get a general idea of what their local billionaires might do and what the potential tax implications would be. 
"Our economic advisers maintain good relationships with the big accounting and law firms, and while they can't talk about individual taxpayers, they get an idea how those tax advisers will generally advise their clients," said Oregon Budget Director George Naughton. 
The decision of many high earners to take their capital gains in 2013 to avoid an expected increase in the federal capital gains rate in 2014 — and the resulting state revenue boost and subsequent dip — would be an example of the sort of intelligence state officials are looking for. 
Even big states have been known to take an interest in the financial affairs of their wealthiest residents. When Menlo Park, California-based Facebook issued its initial public stock offering in 2012 — creating at least 10 billionaires and many more millionaires — state budget officials were watching closely. 
"We generally do not base our forecasting on individual wealthy individuals," said California Budget Director Michael Cohen. "California's economy and taxpayers are too diverse. One exception is with the Facebook IPO — there was enough public information and the one-time event was large enough for us to try to capture the IPO's effect on revenues separately." 
Shortly before Facebook shares began trading, California's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) predicted that nearly 1 percent of all personal income in the state in 2012 — and around 20 percent of all personal income growth for that year — would be related to Facebook, with the dollar figure placed at $1.6 billion. That estimate wasn't too far off. The LAO later revised the number down to $1.25 billion. (STATELINE.ORG, CALIFORNIA LEGISLATIVE ANALYST'S OFFICE, BUSINESS INSIDER [NEW YORK]) 
GAMBLING COMPANIES BETTING BIG ON BOSTON: Two major gambling companies have gone all in for the biggest pot in New England: the Greater Boston market. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has proposed building a $1.3 billion casino at Suffolk Downs in Revere, while Wynn Resorts has proposed a $1.6 billion facility in Everett. And the Massachusetts Gaming Commission could award one of those two companies the region's only casino license this week. 
Clyde W. Barrow, an expert on gambling and casinos at the University of Texas-Pan American and the former director of the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, said, "This is the big one." 
"It's going to be the most capital investment, has the ability to generate the most tax revenues," he said. "So, I think this is the single most important decision the Commission will make on license." 
But that decision could become moot in November, when Massachusetts voters will consider a referendum on a 2011 law authorizing three casinos in different parts of the state. If that referendum passes, the Boston-area casino would be nullified, along with an MGM casino already approved for Springfield. (HARTFORD COURANT) 
BUDGETS IN BRIEF: WASHINGTON's Port of Seattle has won a $20 million federal grant to repair and expand one of its busiest container terminals. The grant was part of $600 million in grants set aside for critical transportation projects around the country (SEATTLE TIMES). • NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) has given the go-ahead for the state's racetracks and casinos to offer Las Vegas-style betting on professional sporting events (NORTHJERSEY.COM). • The Los Angeles Unified School District got a 43 percent discount on the 45,000 iPads it ordered from Apple last year, while MAINE's Department of Education only received a 14-percent discount on the 40,000 iPads it ordered around the same time (PORTLAND PRESS HERALD). • The investment portfolio managed by WEST VIRGINIA's Investment Management Board grew 15.8 percent — from $14.58 billion to $16.87 billion — in the last fiscal year (CHARLESTON GAZETTE).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Politics & leadership

INDICTMENT NOT INSURMOUNTABLE OBSTACLE FOR NY LAWMAKERS: New York Sen. John L. Sampson (D) was indicted in May for allegedly embezzling $440,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes. New York Sen. Thomas W. Libous (R) was indicted in July for allegedly lying to federal agents. And New York Sen. Malcolm A. Smith (D) is facing retrial for allegedly trying to bribe his way into the New York City mayoral race as a Republican. But all three ran for re-election this year and Sampson and Libous actually won their primary contests last week. 
An indictment would seem to be a professional death sentence for a public official. But that's apparently not the case for New York state lawmakers. As The New York Times put it, "besmirched lawmakers" hit the campaign trail with the same playbook: "Allude to the charges if cornered, but only in passing. Suggest, as opaquely as possible, that but for the continuing legal proceedings, they would love nothing more than to explain their supposed misdeeds in detail. And above all, amid a perpetual quest for state funds, highlight the value to the community in keeping an experienced legislator in the state capital." 
Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, said, "There are clearly different approaches to what you do when you've been indicted." 
"Here in New York, it doesn't seem to be a deterrent," she said. 
That may largely be a product of what the Times described as Albany's "prolific history of misbehavior, where convicted lawmakers are, not infrequently, succeeded by the merely yet-to-be-charged." Twenty-six state lawmakers have left office in connection with criminal or ethical allegations since 1999, according to the good government group Citizens Union. (NEW YORK TIMES) 
WINDS CHANGING FOR WIND-POWER? Wind-power development has generally enjoyed favorable breezes since Congress initially provided a production tax credit for it in 1992 and later extended that credit a few years at a time. Turbines now operate in more than three dozen states and provided more than 4 percent of the nation's power in 2013. Wind power also comprised 43 percent of all new U.S. electric power generation installed in 2012. But wind-power developers are facing growing resistance in some parts of the country. 
Opponents of a proposed $250-million, 44-turbine project in 2011 in the small dairy town of Forest, Wisconsin actually secured enough votes to take over the town's government and filed a lawsuit in state court to block the project. 
"We are here to protect our property values, our eagles, our health and our town," said Brenda Salseg, spokeswoman for The Forest Voice, the town's opposition group. 
In addition to concerns about the health effects of living near wind-power projects and the toll on birds and bats killed by turbine blades, opponents have also criticized the variability of wind power and faulted the tax credit for encouraging new projects when many utilities already have plenty of power. 
The opposition has naturally found its way to gridlocked Washington, where efforts to extend the tax credit this year have made little headway in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. 
"My feeling is the current situation is as bad as it has ever been," said Robert Kahn, a Seattle-based consultant who represents wind-power developers. "Congress is so polarized about so many things that if some people are for it, other people are going to have to be against it." 
The battle against extending the tax credit has been championed by the conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity, whose co-founder, billionaire David Koch, has extensive interests in fossil fuels. 
"We need to make this the year that Congress stops rubber-stamping more money to prop up a favored industry," said the organization's president, Tim Phillips. 
But wind-power advocates say fossil-fuel industries have received federal subsidies for decades, and the federal government should either continue offering incentives for energy alternatives that don't produce carbon emissions or charge for such emissions. 
"We don't want to lower or eliminate our tax credit when everyone else gets to keep theirs," said Jim Reilly, a senior vice president for the American Wind Energy Association. (SEATTLE TIMES) 
KY GOP BORROWS 'AL HANDSHAKE': The Republicans who currently hold 46 of the 100 seats in Kentucky's House have a plan to take control of the chamber away from the Democrats that borrows heavily from one used by Republicans in Alabama in 2010. Even the name they've given their plan — the "Handshake with Kentucky" — is a nod to their Southern neighbors' "Alabama Handshake." 
Kentucky House Republican leader Jeff Hoover described the plan very much as then-Alabama House Minority Leader Mike Hubbard described the Alabama Handshake four years ago: "When I look someone in the eye and shake their hand, I've made a promise and commitment. This 'Handshake with Kentucky' is a public promise that we, the House Republican Caucus, and our candidates are making with the people of the Commonwealth." 
Coming from a politician, such a promise may not seem like much, but the Handshake proved to be popular with voters in Alabama, helping Republicans take control of that state's House. And Hubbard is now House speaker. Kentucky Republicans are hoping their Handshake resonates the same way with voters there. 
POLITICS IN BRIEF: Labor unions have contributed $625,000 in the past two months to Patriot Majority NEW MEXICO, a Democratic-leaning political committee that has been a top spender in the state's legislative races (ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL). • SOUTH CAROLINA House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R) has been indicted for using tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses (GREENVILLE NEWS). • Despite more female candidates for statewide office in NEBRASKA, women will remain a minority in the state's Legislature next year no matter how many of them win. At best they would only hold 26 percent of the state's Senate seats (OMAHA.COM).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Upcoming Elections
(09/12/2014 - 10/03/2014)

There are no elections scheduled during the 
next three weeks

MCAULIFFE PROPOSES LIMITED VA MEDICAID EXPANSION: Rebuffed by the GOP-controlled legislature on his plan to expand Medicaid to more than 400,000 additional Old Dominion residents, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) last week unveiled a drastically reduced proposal that would cover only about 25,000 Virginians. 
McAuliffe's 10-point plan would primarily extend coverage to 20,000 people with severe mental illness. Additional efforts would also be made to improve care for people already in Medicaid and boost outreach efforts to those who qualify for the state-federal plan but are not enrolled, including about 35,000 children. In all, he said, the plan would positively impact the lives of 200,000 residents, mostly kids, veterans and the working poor. The new proposal does not need legislative approval, being paid for with approximately $40 million in carry-over funds from the 2015 fiscal year, which ends next July 1. That all changes next year, however, when lawmakers will be asked to authorize around $80 million annually to keep the programs going. If approved, the state allocation would be matched by equal or greater federal funding.  
McAuliffe had placed expanding Medicaid at the top of his agenda, but he never was able to gain buy-in from Republican lawmakers, who steadfastly refused to go along. He vowed last week to keep fighting for full expansion. Lawmakers will address the issue again in a special session that begins Sept. 18, although few expect the results to be much different. (WASHINGTON POST, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, THE HILL) 
MCCRORY SIDESTEPS COAL ASH BILL: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) announced last Tuesday he would allow legislation requiring his former employer, Duke Energy, to clean up dozens of toxic coal ash sites around the Tar Heel State to become law without his signature.  
The legislation establishes timelines and requirements for the company to remove or cap coal ash at 33 of its open-air dumps, and further requires it to dig up or cap all of its coal ash dumps by 2029. But McCrory said he strongly objects to a provision in the bill (SB 729) that also allows legislative leaders to appoint most of the members of a new commission tasked with overseeing the cleanup, which he believes infringes upon his executive power.  
"The legislature's duty is to draft and pass laws, not execute them. That is the executive branch's duty," he said. The governor said he would seek an opinion from the state Supreme Court on the commission's constitutionality.  
That drew a sharp rebuke from McRory's fellow Republican, Senate leader Phil Berger.  
"The governor's primary concern appears to be a desire to control the coal ash commission and avoid an independent barrier between his administration and former employer," he said in a statement. "Keeping the commission separate from the agency that regulates coal ash is not only constitutional, it is a wise policy choice." 
McCrory worked for Duke Energy for 29 years, retiring in 2008. He has since received strong financial support from the company's executives, though he contends he has never given them any sort of special treatment. (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, GREENSBORO NEWS & RECORD, INSURANCE JOURNAL) 
CHRISTIE ALL IN ON SPORTS BETTING: New Jersey Gov. Christ Christie (R) issued a directive last Monday giving Garden State casinos and racetracks the green light to accept Las Vegas-style betting on most professional and college sports. The move is an attempt to help bolster the state's struggling gambling industry, particularly among the casinos in Atlantic City, where four of the city's 12 casinos have gone out of business in recent years. Christie said last week that the city has become too dependent on casino gaming to drive its economy. Most gambling establishments, however, indicated they would hold off from jumping into sports betting until district court judge Michael A. Shipp rules on a Christie administration request to modify an injunction the judge issued in February 2013 blocking the state from allowing sports betting. Christie made the request in response to a U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last fall that upheld Shipp's ruling, but which also noted that the state could legalize sports betting through its own legislative process. Christie ironically vetoed a bill last month that would have done just that. Shipp is scheduled to address the motion on Oct. 6. (NEW YORK TIMES, NORTHJERSEY.COM) 
GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: NEVADA Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) signed a $1.3 billion tax incentive package to complete an agreement to convince electric car maker Tesla Motor to build a $5 billion battery factory in the Silver State (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL). • 
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
Upcoming Stories
Here are some of the topics you will see covered in upcoming issues of the State Net Capitol Journal: 
- Election previews 
- A view from across the pond 
- Student loan debt
Hot issues

BUSINESS: Acting NEW JERSEY Attorney General John J. Hoffman (R) issues a directive that allows casinos and horseracing tracks to offer sports betting without facing criminal liability. The new rule goes into effect immediately (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER). • CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs AB 1522, a bill that requires employers to offer employees who work at least 30 days in a calendar year at least one hour of paid sick for each 30 hours worked, up to three days in a calendar year (STATE NET). • Also in CALIFORNIA, Gov. Brown signs AB 2365, which bars retailers from imposing so-called non-disparagement clauses on customers, clauses that bar the consumer from posting negative reviews of that retailer at online sites like Yelp (STATE NET). • Staying in CALIFORNIA, Brown also inks his name to AB 1443, which extends prohibitions on harassment and discrimination to unpaid interns (STATE NET). • Again in CALIFORNIA, Brown signs SB 2053, so-called "workplace bullying" legislation that would expand a Golden State law requiring employers with more than 50 workers to provide supervisory employees training in sexual harassment prevention to also offer those supervisors at least two hours of training to prevent "abusive conduct" in the workplace (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, STATE NET).  
CRIME: NEW YORK Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signs SB 6750, legislation that requires the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to provide local law enforcement with personal descriptions and other identifying information of unknown deceased persons (LEGISLATIVE GAZETTE [ALBANY]). • Also in NEW YORK, Cuomo signs AB 4465, which requires the state Department of Health to establish an up-to-date website that deals with topics pertinent to women's health concerns, including details on almost two dozen preventative options available to them under the Affordable Care Act (LEGISLATIVE GAZETTE [ALBANY]). • NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) signs AB 2280, legislation that requires local police agencies to equip new patrol cars with cameras or outfit their officers with body cameras (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER).  
ENVIRONMENT: NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Pat McCrory (R) allows a bill that would establish timelines and requirements for removal or capping of coal ash at 33 open-air dumps operated by Duke Energy to become law without his signature (CHARLOTTE OSBERVER). • * NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoes AB 1080, a bill that would have banned smoking on most public beaches and in public parks (BURLINGTON COUNTY TIMES).  
HEALTH & SCIENCE: CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signs SB 578, which requires Golden State therapists and psychologists to retain their clients' health service records for seven years, or until seven years after a minor client turns 18 (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, STATE NET).  
SOCIAL POLICY: The MISSOURI House and Senate override a veto by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) of HB 1307, a bill that imposes a 72-hour waiting period on women seeking an abortion, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The law goes into effect 30 days after the vote, which occurred last Wednesday (CBSNEWS.COM). • NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) signs AB 845, which among several things decrees that for marriages that lasted fewer than 20 years, the length of alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage unless a judge decides there are "exceptional circumstances" (STAR-LEDGER [NEWARK]).
— 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 2014 Prefiles last week:
Number of 2015 Prefiles last week: 105 
Number of Intros last week: 327 
Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 99 
Number of 2014 Prefiles to date: 21,427 
Number of 2015 Prefiles to date: 4,013 
Number of 2014 Intros to date: 81,779 
Number of 2013 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 40,747 Number of 2014 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 26,304 
Number of bills currently in State Net Database: 171,081 
(Measures current as of 09/11/2014)
Source: State Net database
Once around the statehouse lightly

HE SAID HE'D BE BACK: It took four years, but "The Governator" finally came back. Perhaps not surprisingly, it took an event all about him to bring former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger back to the Capitol in Sacramento, a place as governor he regularly ditched on weekends in favor of the more celebrity-friendly environs of La La land. The event in question was the unveiling of Schwarzenegger's official gubernatorial portrait, which will eventually hang on the building's third floor right next to that of his predecessor, recalled Gov. Gray Davis. And like its larger than life subject, Schwarzenegger's portrait is freaking huge — over four feet wide and more than six feet tall. The event brought out many of the Capitol's glitterati, including current and former legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown. But of course, in a room full of big talkers and outsized personalities, Arnold still had the line of the day, noting that he never envisioned himself being governor or having a portrait in the Capitol, though he "might have envisioned a sculpture on [famous Venice, CA landmark] Muscle Beach." 
TWITTER DISASTERS[S] OF THE WEEK: One has to wonder if politicos will ever get the hang of this whole social media thing. The latest Twitter mishap comes to us via Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who the Los Angeles Times reports sent out a tweet from his official Twitter account featuring Travis County Dist. Atty. Rosemary Lehmberg, one of the lead figures in the ongoing saga leading to Perry's recent indictment by a Travis County grand jury, surrounded by a mountain of beer bottles and a reference to her own drunk driving arrest. Perry deleted it shortly thereafter, saying it was "unauthorized." Not to be outdone, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell's office sent out a tweet that was supposed to highlight a public education initiative. But as the Washington Post reports, the URL in the link was one character off, taking viewers not to info on the initiative but to one for a female model who specializes in bondage photos. Oops! Markell's office quickly yanked it down and issued an apology.  
WHO IS THIS RAY RICE OF WHOM YOU SPEAK? Back in the old days, when the Baltimore Ravens were winning the Super Bowl, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and his hand-picked gubernatorial successor Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown loved them some Ray Rice. Couldn't get enough of him. Hailed him as, in Brown's words, "a truly exceptional leader and role model, both on the field and in the community." Of course this was before the horrific video emerged of Rice beating his then-fiancee/now-wife into unconsciousness in an Atlantic City casino elevator. Within hours any positive mentions of Rice had disappeared from Brown's social media accounts and both he and O'Malley, who is likely to seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, issued statements condemning domestic violence and the now-former Raven. Just like rats running from a sinking ship. Or, in this case, rats running from a true rat.
In Case You Missed It

Business tax incentives have come under greater scrutiny in recent years. But states are still handing them out in droves. 
In case you missed it, the story can be found on our Web site at
Editor: Rich Ehisen
Associate Editor: Korey Clark
Contributing Editor: Mary Peck, David Giusti
Editorial Advisor: Lou Cannon
Correspondents: Richard Cox (CA), Lauren Davis (MA), Steve Karas (CA) and Ben Livingood (PA), Cathy Santsche (CA), Felicia Carrillo (CA), Dena Blodgett (CA)
Graphic Design: Vanessa Perez Design
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