Major topics in the 2013 state legislative sessions

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This page is a collection of issues and themes in the 2013 state legislative sessions.

All 50 states convened regular sessions in 2013.


This is a list of session guidelines for all 50 state legislatures:

Alabama State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from February 5 through May 20.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included the general fund, maintaining Medicaid, raises for teachers, giving schools more flexibility over state policies, and gun laws.[1] Heading into the session, the general fund was estimated to be $200 million short of requests.

Alaska State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 15 to April 14.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included oil tax reform, state agency performance reviews and a budget for fiscal year 2014.[2][3]

Arizona State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to June 14.

Major issues

Losing super-majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans no longer wielded the same level of power and compromises were more likely. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said her legislative priorities included education standards and simplifying the state's transaction privilege tax.[4]

Arkansas General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to May 17.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included an agreement on expanding the Medicaid program by providing private insurance for low-income residents, a two percent increase in per-student funding for public schools and a bill that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.[5] During the first budget negotiations of the year, the Joint Budget Committee rejected a pay increase for elected officials.[6]

California State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from December 3, 2012 to September 13, 2013.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included property taxes for education and tax breaks for students.[7]

Colorado General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to May 9.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included gun control, immigration reform, election reform and the enactment of laws to regulate and tax legal marijuana.[8]

Connecticut General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to June 5.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included restrictions on gun ownership, an increase to the minimum wage, labels on genetically modified foods, and the ability for illegal immigrants to apply for driver's licenses.[9]

Delaware General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to July 1.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included gun control, gay marriage, and budgetary problems.[10]

Florida State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from March 5 to May 3.

Issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included ethics and election reforms, gambling laws, Medicaid, sales tax and unmanned drone use by law enforcement.[11][12]

Georgia General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to March 29.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included juvenile-justice reform, regulation of coin-operated video games, ethics reform and a budget that was previously facing a $700 million deficit.[13]

In 2013, the legislature passed a controversial bill that allows licensed gun owners to carry firearms into public places, including schools, bars, churches, government buildings, and elsewhere. The bill was signed by Georgia governor Nathan Deal in April 2014.[14]

On May 9, 2014, a poll commissioned by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that 59 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the law, although 57 percent of Georgia voters supported gun rights more generally, while 37 percent disagreed. The poll surveyed 1,012 Georgia adults.[15]

Hawaii State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 16 to May 3.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included revenue, hotel room tax, GET increase, education funding, and renewable energy tax credits.[16]

Idaho State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to April 4.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included the creation of a state-controlled health exchange, school reform, business tax breaks and ethics rules.[17]

Illinois General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to May 31.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included regulation of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, concealed carry, same-sex marriage, and pension reform.[18][19][20][21]

Indiana General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 7 to April 29.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included education funding, utility bills, riverboat gambling, and regulation of how much pseudoephedrine individuals can buy annually.[22]

Iowa General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to May 23.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included education reform, providing healthcare for low-income and other uninsured residents, and a tax relief package that sought to lower property taxes.[23]

Kansas State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to June 20.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included school funding, a settlement between tobacco companies and the state, mental health funding, KanCare, illegal immigration, pension system changes, shifting taxes to the local level, and liquor sales.[24]

Drug testing

Legislation introduced in the state house and state senate would bring punitive measures against drug users receiving government benefits if there is "reasonable suspicious" drug use exists. The measures would apply to both welfare recipients and Kansas lawmakers, although the legislation is unclear as to what would happen if a legislator tested positive for narcotics.[25]

Kentucky General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to March 26.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included reforms to the state's tax code, pension plans for governmental retirees, legalization of casino style gambling, and redistricting.[26]

Louisiana State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from April 8 to June 6.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included the state budget, an overhaul of public education, increasing the retirement age of public workers, gun control, and abortion.[27]

Maine State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from December 5, 2012 to July 10, 2013.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included addressing education, energy, domestic violence, jobs and strengthening the state's economy, and a new two-year budget that's facing a $128 million deficit.[28]

Election of constitutional officers

The Maine House of Representatives voted 79-59 on June 4 to reject a proposal to allow voters to select the state’s Treasurer, Secretary of State and Attorney General. LD 1279 called for a referendum to amend the Maine State Constitution to shift the selection of these officers from the Legislature to voters.[29] The bill sponsored by Representative Andre Cushing (R) called for two-year terms for the Treasurer and Secretary of State and a four-year term for the Attorney General. Legislators currently select all three officers every two years. This legislation was blocked on June 3 by the Maine State Senate 18-16.[30]

The House and Senate votes largely followed party lines with Democratic majorities in both houses. Republican majorities in the House and Senate blocked similar legislation in 2011.[31][32]

Maryland General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to April 8.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included an assault weapons ban, boosting the state's wind power industry, transportation funding and repeal of the death penalty.[33]

Massachusetts General Court

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Court was in session from January 2 to December 31.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included revenue shortfalls, transportation financing, gun control, and health care costs.[34]

Michigan State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to December 31.

Major issues

After a extremely divided lame-duck session in December 2012, lawmakers are expected to have a tamer session. Major issues include the regulatory structure of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, increased transportation funding, education reform, and pension changes.[35]

Minnesota State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to May 20.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included a tax bill, establishing a health care exchange, same-sex marriage, education funding, gun control, and oil fracking.[36]

Tax increase

A bill designed to generate $2.1 billion in new revenue passed the Senate 36-30 and the House 69-65 on May 20, 2013. Governor Mark Dayton signed the tax bill into law on May 23, 2013. This legislation sponsored by Senator Rod Skoe and Representative Ann Lenczewski increased cigarette taxes by $1.60 per pack and created a higher income tax rate for upper-income earners. The bill created a tax rate of 9.85 percent for individuals earning $150,000 per year and couples earning $250,000 per year. Increased revenue was intended to fund an expansion of the Mayo Clinic, assist in building a new football stadium for the Minnesota Vikings and fill a $627 million budget deficit.[37][38]

Critics of the tax increase expressed concerns about negative impacts on the state economy. "The bill says the state can spend your money better that you can. This is not a good bill. We are going in the wrong direction. We should be looking at how we can decrease the tax burden," argued Representative Kelby Woodard.[37] Representative Bob Barrett argued against the income tax increase for upper-income earners. "We will now have the fourth-highest income tax rate in the country, and when you look how far down the ranks it goes we are second highest. That will have an impact on our economy, especially since we have border states with lower taxes," said Barrett.[37]

Mississippi State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to April 7.[39]

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included creating a budget, charter schools and Medicaid expansion.[40]

Missouri General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to May 30.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included tax credits, capital improvements, an income tax cut, and a major revision to the state's criminal code.[41]

Montana State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to April 27.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included economic development, increased natural resource development and reforms to how the state funds education.[42]

Nebraska State Senate (Unicameral)

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to June 5.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included addressing a projected $194 million budget shortfall, and increased state aid to the University of Nebraska system and state colleges.[43]

Nevada State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from February 4 to June 3.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included taxes, state's tax structure, spending, medicare, and gun control.[44][45]

New Hampshire General Court

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Court was in session from January 2 to July 1.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included the state's budget deficit, education funding, state pensions, and abortion.[46]

New Jersey State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 10, 2013, to January 13, 2014.

Major issues

The major issue for the Legislature is rebuilding the state after superstorm Sandy. Gun control is also expected to be addressed.[47]

New Mexico State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 15 to March 16.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included education, solvency of the state's public retirement system, tax cuts for state businesses, and tougher anti-DWI laws.[48]

New York State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to December 31.

Major issues

Gun control topped the list to be addressed by legislators in 2013. Other major issues included raising the minimum wage, securing federal dollars for victims of Superstorm Sandy, education, job creation, legalizing casinos off of Native American lands and restrictions to the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk procedures.[49]

Gun control:
Following the December 14, 2012 school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to make gun control a major issue in 2013. To that end, one of the first things the Legislature did in its 2013 session was to pass a tougher assault weapons ban that included restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns, as well as provisions to keep guns from the mentally ill who make threats. New York was the first state to pass new laws after the tragedy.[50]

Corruption:
In July 2013, amid a legislative session riddled with political corruption, Governor Andrew Cuomo established an investigative committee by executive order under the Moreland Act and New York Executive Law. The committee, joined by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, is tasked with examining public corruption, including potential wrongdoing by legislators in campaign fundraising. Any branch of the state government is under the authority of the committee, which will recommend changes to law and ethics rules in addition to the possibility of referring any misconduct cases for prosecution. A preliminary report was due by December 1, 2013, with a final report expected by the end of 2014.[51]

North Carolina General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to July 26.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2012-2013 legislative session included tax reform, cutting government regulations and reshaping the state's public schools.[52]

North Dakota Legislative Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to May 4.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session were focused mostly on the oil boom in western North Dakota and included a budget, the state surplus, improved transportation infrastructure, and decreasing crime.[53]

Ohio General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 7 to December 31.

Major issues

Keith Faber (R) took over as President of the Senate and the main focus of the legislature was adopting a new biennial state budget. Additionally, lawmakers addressed casino regulation, state collective-bargaining laws, Medicare expansion, and prison overcrowding.[54]

Oklahoma State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from February 4 to May 31.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included changes to the state pension system and workers compensation funds, tax cuts, and increased funding for education.[55]

Lawsuit reform

In September 2013, the legislature held a five-day special session where both houses reenacted a lawsuit reform bill. Republicans in the state legislature settled on 23 provisions with the effect of reestablishing key provisions of a 2009 lawsuit reform bill, which was struck down by the state Supreme Court in June 2013. Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman is a strong supporter of lawsuit reform.[56]

Oregon State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from February 4 to July 9.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included in-state tuition, driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, and background checks for guns.[57][58]

Pennsylvania General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 2 to December 31.

Major issues

Like many other states, Pennsylvania lawmakers had to work on the budget deficit. Other issues included economic development, public pension reform, liquor privatization, and child abuse.[59]

In November 2013, the Pennsylvania state House and state Senate voted unanimously on a bill, which was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett, to change the state’s unemployment compensation law. The bill closed a loophole that allowed a state employee to retire from his job and begin collecting benefits, only to be hired back as a part-time employee while also collecting unemployment compensation after leaving a previous job. While the law closed a triple-dipping loophole, the changes do not prevent double-dipping, in which a state employee retires, begins collecting pension benefits, and returns to work a part-time position.[60]

In November 2013, the state House approved a gambling expansion bill by a vote of 102-96. The bill would allow Pennsylvania bars and taverns to conduct “small scale gambling” such as raffles and drawings for cash prizes. A similar bill was approved by the Senate in October 2013, but the House-passed bill must be agreed to before the measure becomes law. Proponents of the bill say the state could raise almost $156 million annually in tax revenue if as many as 2,000 bars and taverns accept it. Opponents of the legislation say the bill would not produce the promised revenue and would hurt families.[61]

Rhode Island General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 1 to July 5.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included a budget deficit estimated at $69 million, legalization of same-sex marriage, gun control, and economic development.[62]

South Carolina State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to June 20.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included computer security, improving the state's roads and bridges and addressing healthcare.[63]

South Dakota State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to March 25.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 included reforming the state's criminal justice system and approving a balanced budget.[64]

Tennessee General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to April 19. Republicans had a supermajority for the first time since the Civil War era.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included guns, school vouchers, and tax cuts to wine in grocery stores.[65]

Texas State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to May 27. Thirty minutes after the regular session ended, Governor Rick Perry called legislators back for a special session starting that evening.[66]

Major issues

Along with the necessity of creating a new budget, some of the biggest issues included medicaid and school funding, a water shortage, and reforming the school finance system.[67]

Wallace Hall impeachment

See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial

After he was appointed in 2011, University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall began looking into what he believed to be clout scandals within the University of Texas system. Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program and admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals.[68] Hall, as an individual citizen, filed a large number of FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed.[69] According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[70][71] However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages.[72][73] In addition, Cigarroa wrote: "During testimony before the Select Committee, some early witnesses implied that the U.T. System has not protected the privacy rights of students, staff, and patients. This is simply not true."[74]

An effort was begun in June 2013 by members of the Texas State House to try and impeach Hall from his position as Regent. Some legislators are justifying the impeachment on the grounds that Hall did not disclose several lawsuits that he was involved in when he originally completed his Regent background check. Hall updated Governor Rick Perry's office in April 2013 with the full list.[75][76] The lack of lawsuit disclosure by Hall is not unique -- more than 9,000 lawsuits were not disclosed by other appointed Texas officials.[77] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[78] Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[79] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[80] Texas state legislators have never previously tried to remove an appointed official. Only two elected officials in the history of Texas have ever been successfully impeached.[81] Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus authorized the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations to investigate the possibility of drafting articles of impeachment.[82]

Utah State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 28 to March 14.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included ethics reform, adoption rights, alcohol laws and education funding.[83][84]

Vermont State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to May 14.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included addressing a projected budget shortfall of $50-$70 million, physician assisted death, and marijuana decriminalization.[85]

Virginia General Assembly

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the General Assembly was in session from January 9 to February 25.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included abortion, education, transportation, gun control, and ending a ban on uranium mining.[86]

Washington State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 14 to April 29.

Major issues

The budget remains the most pressing issue for the state. Other agenda items include marijuana, child sex abuse, gun control, wolves, small businesses, human trafficking, and healthcare.[87]

West Virginia State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 9 to April 14.

Major issues

Major issues include the availability of soft drinks in schools, repeal of the law allowing the sterilization of "mental defectives," and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases.[88]

Wisconsin State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to December 31.

Major issues

Following the extreme polarization of the last two years, Gov. Scott Walker (R) said he would push for a more moderate agenda in 2013. Alongside the creation of a new budget, main issues will include job creation, workforce development, tax cuts, education reform and transportation infrastructure.[89]

Wyoming State Legislature

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to February 27.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included "opting out" of the Affordable Healthcare Act and Medicaid, a 10-cent fuel tax increase, infrastructure improvements, and reforms to sex crime laws.[90]


See also

References

  1. AL.com, "Alabama Legislature 2013: 10 hot issues to watch in the upcoming session," February 2, 2013
  2. Anchorage Daily News, "Oil taxes the top agenda for next legislature," January 13, 2013
  3. ktuu.com, "Alaska Legislative Session Adjourns," April 15, 2013
  4. Cronkite News, "Brewer, top legislators: Education, businesses priorities for session," January 11, 2013
  5. arkansasbusiness.com, "Sine Die: Arkansas Lawmakers Formally End Legislative Session," May 17, 2013
  6. Arkansas online, " Legislative panel rejects pay rise for elected officials," January 16, 2013
  7. San Francisco Chronicle, "Calif. Democrats ponder their new power," December 2, 2012
  8. kdvr.com, "Colorado’s historic 2013 legislative session in review," May 10, 2013
  9. ctmirror.org, "Winners and Losers from the 2013 legislative session," June 6, 2013
  10. Beaumont Enterprise, "Budget, guns among issues facing Del. lawmakers," January 8, 2013
  11. yahoo.com, "Florida legislature passes bill restricting drone use," April 17, 2013
  12. boardroombrief.com, "Florida Legislature – 2013 session overview," May 17, 2013
  13. onlineathens.com, "Some win, some lose in Georgia legislative session," May 30, 2013
  14. The Hill, "Ga. governor signs sweeping gun rights bill," April 23, 2014
  15. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "New AJC poll shows voters disapprove of Georgia’s new gun law," May 9, 2014
  16. Hawaii News Now, " Lawmakers set stage for legislative session," January 15, 2013
  17. Idaho Statesman, "Otter facing battles within GOP as Legislature convenes," January 7, 2013
  18. Chicago Sun-Times, "Lame-duck session ends with no pension reform," January 8, 2013
  19. mymoinfo.com, "MAY 31, 2013 ILLINOIS LEGISLATORS PASS OIL FRACKING BILL," May 31, 2013
  20. [http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/01/illinois-passes-bill-to-allow-concealed-firearms-last-us-state-to-have-such-ban/ foxnews.com, " Illinois passes bill to allow concealed firearms; last U.S. state to have such a ban," June 1, 2013]
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  83. FOX 13, "Adoption and alcohol likely topics for Utah legislative session," January 21, 2013
  84. Salt Lake Tribune, "Call them the Swallow Reforms," January 24, 2013
  85. Boston.com, "2013 Vt. legislative session to get under way," January 6, 2013
  86. WRIC, "Virginia General Assembly To Convene For 2013 Session," January 9, 2013
  87. The Spokesman Review, "Budget remains pressing issue in new legislative session," January 13, 2013
  88. State Journal, "Soft drinks in schools to be considered by WV Legislature," January 8, 2013
  89. Wisconsin State Journal, "With state bitterly divided, Walker promises more moderate agenda," January 7, 2013
  90. Cody Enterprise, "Wyoming Legislature set for ‘wild ride’," January 2, 2013