Most of the 50 state legislatures have adjourned for 2017. And with more than 135,000 proposed bills, resolutions, and measures introduced in state capitals across the country according to CQ State Track, we take a look at the eight biggest issues in the states this year.
1.) STATES PONDER BEVY OF ’BALANCE BILLING’ PROPOSALS
Without federal laws or regulations regarding “balance billing” or “surprise bills,” state legislatures have taken the lead in addressing the practice of healthcare providers billing patients for the difference between insurance reimbursements and what they charge for services in emergency departments and in-network hospitals.
According to CQ State Track, at least 89 bills have been introduced in 28 states since 2016 addressing balance billing and, prior to 2017 legislative sessions, 21 states had encoded a range of laws designed to resolve balance billing disputes between providers and patients, including arbitration procedures, encouraging greater transparency, or adopting laws that hold patients harmless when confronted with a “surprise bill.”
Of these 21 states, six states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York — have encoded “comprehensive protections.” In fact, a 2017 Florida bill bans “balance billing” completely. Among significant balance bills proposed in 2017:
* Rhode Island H5012 requires the state health insurance commissioner to create an arbitration process for disputed charges stemming from involuntary out-of-network care.
* Florida HB 221 prohibits balance billing by stipulating that patients cannot be charged more than the equivalent of in-network rates in emergencies and other instances of involuntary care — such as an out-of-network specialist participating in a procedure at an in-network hospital. Ambulance services are exempt.
* Washington HB 2447 prevents out-of-network physicians from balance billing patients for services in an in-network hospital. Patients would be assessed at in-network rates.
* Oregon HB 2679 establishes a hospital rate commission within the Oregon Health Authority to review charges and determine if they are “reasonable.” as reasonable and penalize those with unreasonable charges. Oregon HB 2339 requires insurers reimburse out-of-network providers at a “reasonable and customary rates” to prevent patients from receiving “surprise bills.”
* Georgia HB 71 and SB 8 both proposed protections from “surprise” out-of-network medical bills and requiring more transparency. The House Insurance Committee passed HB 71 but it did not come up for a vote in the House before the crossover deadline. SB 8 passed the Senate but did not receive a House vote before the session ended. Instead, both chambers passed resolutions — HR 745 and SR 974 — to create a study committee to examine how to address balance billing in anticipation of proposing legislation in 2018.
* Arizona SB 1441 provides a mechanism for patients to appeal “surprise bills” through the state’s Department of Insurance.
* Ohio SB 284 requires hospitals provide two written notices to insured patients, clarifying the potential for out-of-network fees. It would also require patients’ informed consent before receiving out-of-network services.
* Oklahoma HB 2216 requires a non-network provider to give patient an estimate of charges and a disclosure that the provider will either accept patients’ benefits or plans to use balance billing. The bill passed out of the House 93-0. The bill is now with the OK Senate for consideration.
* Pennsylvania SB 1158 — The Emergency Medical and Health Care Services Surprise Billing Prevention Act — would have required insurers and healthcare providers settle disputed involuntary out-of-network bills through arbitration, removing the patient from the process. The bill failed to make it out of the Banking & Insurance Committee. Sponsors vow to re-introduce the bill in 2018.
* Rhode Island HB 5012 — The Craven Bill — would have established a despite resolution process for charges related to emergency care, surprise medical bills for out-of-network service. It died in committee but could be reintroduced in 2018.
* Texas SB 507 would require “clear notices” on bills that explain patients’’ eligibility for mediation.
* Utah HB 395 addressed balance billing stemming from emergency room charges. The bill failed, but may be re-introduced in 2018.
2.) GUN CONTROL BILLS GAIN TRACTION
With a White House administration and Republican-controlled Congress committed to resisting any gun-control initiatives at the federal level, and Republicans in control 33-of-50 governorships and both chambers of the legislature in 32 states, the stage was set for 2017 to be a good year for “pro-gun” legislation.
According to CQ State Track, more than 1,600 firearms-related bills were filed in state legislatures across the nation but, thus far, it has been a good year for gun control advocates with 14-of-18 states rejecting bills to allow guns in schools, 14-of-16 states discarding proposals to allow guns on college campuses and 20-of-22 states discarding bills that would have eliminated requirements for permits to carry guns.
Perhaps the most significant gun-related legislation of 2017 – which received rare bipartisan support – were bills strengthening existing laws or passed new ones to help keep guns away from domestic abusers.
Lawmakers in Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah all passed new restrictions on firearms for domestic abusers this year.
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GUNS IN SCHOOLS: Proposals ranged from allowing school staff and faculty with concealed carry permits to be armed on K-12 public school properties, to allowing anyone with a permit to open/concealed carry on school grounds.
Only three of at least 18 of these types of proposals passed while several remained in committees for possible carry-over to 2018. Among them:
* Wyoming HB 194 allows the board of trustees in each school district to adopt rules and regulations to allow the possession of firearms on school property by school district employees possessing a valid concealed carry license. Passed into law and went into effect on July 1.
* Virginia HB 1392: Will allow school security officers to carry a firearm if they meet designated criteria. Signed into law on March 13.
* West Virginia SB 388 allows individuals without concealed carry permits to possess rearms in vehicles on K–12 school property. Passed on May 23 and went into effect on July 7.
* Pennsylvania SB 383: Would allow school staff to lawfully carry firearms on school property after receiving authorization from the school board of directors. Approved June 28 in a 28-22 vote and referred to the House Education Committee awaiting review, possibly this fall.
* Colorado SB 5: Would allow designated school employees to carry concealed handguns in public schools. Postponed indefinitely in March in the House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs.
* South Carolina SB 85: “Jacob Hall’s Law,” would allow teachers and other officials with proper clearance to carry a weapon on school property. Introduced in the Senate in January and was in the Senate Judiciary Committee when legislature adjourned.
* Tennessee SB 131/HB 49: Would allow open or concealed carrying of a firearm for those with handgun carry permits. Senate version remained in Senate Judiciary Committee at adjournment and House version failed in the House Civil Justice Committee.
CAMPUS CARRY: In 2017, at least 16 bills were introduced to allow students and faculty to carry guns on college campuses. Such proposals failed in Wyoming, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Oklahoma while they were passed in Arkansas and Georgia.
The two bills that passed: Georgia HB 280, which allows concealed-carry permit holders to carry firearms onto college and university campuses. Signed into law and effective July 1; and Arkansas HB 1249, which allows concealed carry permittees age 21 or older, after they complete up to eight hours of training, to bring guns onto college and university campuses. Signed into law in March as Act 562 and goes into effect on Sept. 1.
‘CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY’: In 2016, four states — Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, West Virginia — adopted “Constitutional Carry,” or permitless carry, which allows people not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm to carry a firearm without a permit, bringing the number of permitless carry states to 12.
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During 2017’s legislative sessions, 20-of-22 Constitutional Carry bills introduced failed, including in Indiana, Arkansas, Texas, South Dakota and Utah.
Two were adopted, raising the number of permitless carry states to 14: New Hampshire SB 12 and North Dakota HB 1169.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BILLS: Twenty-three states have imposed laws limiting access to firearms for domestic abusers since 2013 – including six new laws in 2017 signed into law by Republican governors. Adopted bills include:
* Maryland HB 294 and SB 224 prohibit a person from possessing rearms if he or she is given probation before judgment for a second-degree assault that was domestically related.
* New Jersey SB 2483 creates a process for a person convicted of a domestic violence crime to relinquish his or her rearms to law enforcement.
* North Dakota SB 2309 requires courts to report information about protection orders for inclusion in FBI databases and forward protection order information to local law enforcement.
* Tennessee HB 1112 sets out a procedure for a person convicted of domestic violence to relinquish rearms.
* Utah HB 206 prohibits rearm possession by domestic violence misdemeanants and subjects of restraining orders. In addition, three states adopted new laws – Hawaii HB 459, Washington HB 1501, Tennessee HB 1112 – that requires dealers to report to law enforcement when a potential purchaser fails a background check.
3.) ONLINE PRIVACY PROPOSALS
In April, Congress approved SJ 34 under the Congressional Review Act, effectively eliminating the Federal Communications Commission’s 2016 final rules for protecting customers’ online privacy.
Since then, lawmakers in 21 states have filed at least 46 measures proposing to impose restrictions on what internet service providers (ISPs) can do with data it collects from online users in their states.
Because Congressional action occurred late in many state legislative sessions, most proposals did not get out of committee before adjournment, or were filed as “carryover bills” for consideration in 2018.
According to CQ State Track, at least three states, Nevada, Montana and North Dakota adopted online privacy laws or passed resolutions calling for such legislation, while lawmakers in Connecticut, Michigan and Pennsylvania are expected to file digital privacy bills during their ongoing sessions. Among bills proposed during 2017 sessions:
* Alaska HB 230 and HB 232 would establish unfair trade practices under the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act if telecommunications and ISPs collect customer information. Both bills, following a first reading in April, were referred to the House Labor & Commerce and Judiciary committees.
* California AB 375 — The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act — would prohibit an ISP from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to customer personal information unless customer gives prior opt-in consent, which may be revoked by customer at any time. The bill would prohibit ISPs from refusing to serve a customer who does not provide consent or charging a customer a penalty for not doing so. Introduced in May, the bill remains in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and is expected to be presented for adoption sometime this year.
* Colorado HJR 1032 is a resolution endorsed by the House and Senate that “encourages” ISPs to offer privacy policies and opt-out pages to allow consumers to protect their privacy online.
* Hawaii SB 1201 establishes a Broadband Task Force to develop a statewide plan to address fee updates, regulations and broadband technological advancements. Bill passed the Senate but was adopted by House without privacy provisions and, therefore, remained in conference committee when the session ended.
* Kansas HB 2423 would prohibit the collection and sale of personal data by ISPs. Session ended with the bill in the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs.
* Maine S. 566 and LD 1610 would prohibit broadband providers from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to customer personal information unless the customer expressly consents. The bills would prohibit ISPs from refusing to serve a customer who does not provide consent or charging a customer a penalty for not doing so. LD 1610 was pending before the House Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee when legislature convened for 2017 in late June.
* Maryland SB 1200 — The Internet Consumer Privacy Rights Act of 2017 — would have amended the Maryland Consumer Protection Act to prohibit an ISP from selling or transferring a consumer’s personally identifying information without permission and to display or send advertisements to a consumer based on browsing history without permission. The bill made it through the Senate, but failed to get out of the House Economic Matters Committee when the legislature adjourned.
* Massachusetts HB 3698, HB 3766, SB 2053, SB 2062 prohibits disclosure of customer proprietary information by ISPs; prohibits telecommunications and ISPs internet service providers from collecting personal information from customers without approval. The house bills have been moved to the Joint Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee while the senate bills, which had hearing scheduled for July 18, are being considered by the Joint Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee.
* Minnesota HB 2209, HB 2579, HB 2606, SB 1937, SB 2303, SB 2309 and SB 2438 concerned a range of telecommunication issues, including data privacy; collection of personal information without approval; and establishment of labor and industry standards and apprenticeships. All remain pending before various committees and will carry over into 2018 session although SB 1937, which would have appropriated money for jobs and economic development was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
* Montana HB 2 and SB 95 prohibiting ISPs from collecting customers’ personal information without consent was signed into law by Gov. Stephen Bullock into law as part of state’s General Appropriations Act of 2017.
* Nebraska LR 136 allows for study to examine the effect of the Congress eliminating the 2016 Federal Communications Commission rules. The proposal was referred to the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee where it remained at adjournment.
* Nevada SB 538 requires Internet website or online service operators to disclose information relating to collecting information to customers. Bill was passed on June 12.
* New Jersey AB 2037 would direct the state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU), in concert with the state’s Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division of Consumer Affairs to develop a public awareness campaign promoting awareness about the disclosure of customer information by ISPs. AB 4800, AB 4819 and SB 3156 would prohibit ISPs from any disclosure, sale, or unauthorized access to customer information unless customer authorizes it.
AB 4838 is similar, but requires a subscriber to specifically opt-in when renewing service to allow ISP to disclose information. AB 4897 prohibits subscriber penalty for not allowing ISP to disclose information. All are pending before various committees and could be adopted by year’s end.
AB 7495 and SB 5516 would prohibit the sale of personal information by an ISP. SB 3367 defines ISP privacy requirements. Several have passed through committees and await votes while others are pending before committees and could be adopted by year’s end.
* North Dakota HB 2015 authorizes a study of telecommunications companies and ISPs privacy policies to determine the need for legislation. Bill passed, but did not include an appropriation to pay for the study.
* Oregon HB 2813 would have prohibited ISPs from disclosing, selling or permitting access to customers’ information without consent. It was in committee upon adjournment in July 7 and, therefore, will need to be reintroduced in 2018.
* Rhode Island HB 6086 would prevent any state or local government agency’s ISP contractor from collecting and disseminating customers’ personal information. The bill was pending before the House Corporations Committee when the legislature adjourned.
* South Carolina HB 4154 would require that any telecommunications company or ISP with a franchise, right-of-way, or any other agreement with state agencies or local governments, not collect customers’ personal information without written approval. Bill was before the House Judiciary Committee when the legislature adjourned and will be carried over to 2018 session.
* Washington HB 2200 and SB 5919 would protect the privacy of internet users. HB 2200 passed the House and was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. SB 5919 was referred to the Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee. There was a June 29 public hearing on the proposal during the legislature’s executive session but action no is action is likely until 2018.
* Wisconsin SB 233 provides criminal penalties if a broadband ISP does not follow state guidelines protecting customers’ privacy. Bill is pending in Senate Elections and Utilities Committee and may be submitted for a vote by year’s end.
* Vermont HB 535 and SB 147 define privacy and data-collection rules for telecommunications service providers, including ISPs. HB 535 was before the House Committee on Energy and Technology and SB 147 was before the Senate Finance Committee when the session adjourned and will be carried over to 2018. States also have introduced other types of digital privacy legislation, such as “Right To Know” bills that require commercial websites to inform visitors of what personal information could be collected from them while on the site.
Among them: Alaska SB 118, Illinois HB 2774 and SB 1502, New Jersey AB 4817 and Rhode Island HB 6087.
4.) VOTING LAWS
State legislatures considered more than 100 bills to restrict access to registration and voting in at least 31 states in 2017, according to CQ’s State Track. Conversely, at least 530 bills designed to ease access the polls —primarily automatic voting registration and expanded absentee voting — were presented in 45 states.
VOTER ID BILLS
The most common type of legislative restricting access to voting are Voter ID laws. Ten states have adopted more stringent voter ID requirements since 2010. More than 40 such bills were proposed in at least 22 states in 2017 with at least five being adopted. Among the most notable:
* Iowa HF 516, a broad-based omnibus bill, not only requires a Voter ID card to gain access to the polls, but restricts voter registration efforts, Election Day registration and early and absentee voting. Also contains “voter list maintenance” provisions that could lead to purges of rolls. Signed into law on May 5.
* Arkansas HB 1047 restores a statutory requirement blocked by the courts since 2014 that voters must show one of a limited set of IDs was signed into law. HJR 1016, passed house and senate, authorizes a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to require Voter ID.
* North Dakota HB 1369 re-imposes Voter ID requirement after a court blocked a similar law in 2016 which only accepted a narrow range of identification documents without presenting ways for those without accepted ID to vote. HB 1369 expands options but according to critics still won’t pass legal muster because it won’t allow those without IDs to cast provisional ballots on Election Day. Signed into law in April.
* Oklahoma SJR 34 would add a Voter ID requirement to the state constitution, shielding the provision from lawsuits. The proposed ballot measure was passed in the Senate but remained in the House Rules Committee at adjournment.
* Texas SB 5 requires voters present one of eight forms of photo ID or sign “a reasonable impediment” declaration stating why he/she could not get one of these IDs. The bill is in response to a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court that Texas’s 2011 Voter ID law, SB 14, “purposely disenfranchises minorities.” Unless blocked in court, law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
RESTRICT REGISTRATION BILLS
According to CQ’s State Track, nearly 40 bills that would impose more strident requirements on the voter registration process were introduced in at least 22 state legislatures in 2017. House and/or senate committees in Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia are among those that have considered such bills. Among the most notable:
* Indiana SB 442 will “purge” voters from the rolls if an Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck determines there is a match based on first name, last name, and date of birth with a voter registered in another state. Signed into law on April 13, took effect July 1.
* Montana SB 352 — The ‘Montana Ballot Interference Prevention Act’ — will ban “ballot harvesting” by civic groups and individuals from collecting and delivering absentee ballots. The proposed act will be presented to voters as a ballot measure.
* Georgia HB 268 imposes a requirement that information on voter registration forms match exactly with other state records. The “No Match, No Vote” bill provides a 26-month deadline for voter applicants to correct discrepancies in the information they submit to the state when they register to vote. Signed into law in May.
* Iowa HF 516, the same omnibus bill that imposes tight restrictions on Voter ID requirements, also includes requirements that suspected non-citizens be deleted from the voter rolls and strict rules for voter list maintenance. Signed into law in May.
BILLS THAT EXPAND ACCESS
There were more than 530 bills easing access to the polls introduced in at least 45 states in 2017. Most were procedural, such as encoding more ways for citizens to automatically register to vote.
Other expanding-access bills that were adopted include New Jersey SB 92, which will help active-duty military citizens cast ballots in local, state elections; Idaho HB 149, which adds concealed-carry permits as an acceptable form of identification to vote; New Mexico HB 98 which expands accommodations to enhance access to polls for those who are disabled.
AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION (AVR): In 2015 and 2016, six states passed or implemented AVR with the trend accelerating in 2017 as more than 85 AVR bills were introduced in at least 32 states.
Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, the District of Columbia have moved ahead with AVR mechanisms administratively whereas atlas one legislative committee in Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Maine passed AVR measures during this year’s sessions.
Among significant AVR bills: Indiana HB 1178 mandates Bureau of Motor Vehicles employees to ask customers transacting any business at a license branch if they want to register to vote or update their registration.
Signed into law in April; Maryland HB 1626 allows online updating voter’s address on an existing registration. Enacted in May; Nevada IP 1, approved by the assembly and senate to establish an AVR option, but vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. The legislation, an initiative petition, will be on the ballot in 2018 for voters to decide.
ABSENTEE VOTING: There were nearly 170 bills proposing to improve early voting or absentee voting access in at least 35 states, according to CQ’s State Track.
Among the most significant: Montana HB 287 make absentee voting more convenient by not having to repeatedly file requests for ballots to be mailed; Kansas HB 2158 extends deadlines for early voting. Signed into law in April, effective July 1; Tennessee SB 286, Oklahoma SB 347, Virginia HB 1912, Utah HB 105 and Utah HB 230 all make it easier to vote without showing up to the polls on Election Day.
RESTORING FELONS’ Voting Rights: Of at least 55 bills filed in 18 states to help restore the right to vote those with criminal convictions, proposals have advanced through at least one committee this year.
In Virginia, a bill restoring felons’ voting rights has passed the House and Senate, but was not enacted. Thus far only two have been adopted – Wyoming HB 75 and Nebraska LB 75 – with Wyoming’s bill signed into law and Nebraska’s bill vetoed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.
5.) GAS TAX HIKES
With the federal gas tax rate remaining 18.4-cents per gallon since 1993, 22 states had raised fuel tax rates since 2012 before state legislatures began their 2017 sessions.
Prior to convening, according to CQ State Track, bills proposing gas tax increases had been prefiled in 12 states.
By mid-March, lawmakers in at least 21 states had filed proposed gas tax hikes. By late July, however, only five states — California, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and South Carolina and West Virginia— had approved measures raising state taxes on a gallon of gas, while Utah and West Virginia had modified their variable-rate gas taxes to generate more revenues for roads. Here are synopses of those adopted bills:
* California SB 1: A 12-cents per gallon gas tax goes into effect starting Nov. 1 with the passage of a $52.4 billion, 10-year infrastructure bill – “The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017” – signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on April 28.
The gas tax hike, California’s first per-gallon increase in 23 years, required a two-thirds super-majority off the Senate and Assembly to pass.
Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen has already filed a ballot measure to repeal the measure. He hopes to secure 365,880 signatures to present voters with the proposed repeal on November’s ballot.
Highlights: Projected to raise $5.2 billion a year for infrastructure investments and cost the average California driver about $10 per month by increasing the gasoline tax by 12-cents per gallon, establishing an annual “transportation improvement fee” that ranges from $25 a year for vehicles worth less than $5,000 to $175 a year for vehicles worth more than $60,000, increasing the diesel fuel tax by 20-cents per gallon.
* Indiana HB 1002: A 10-cents per gallon gas tax increase to generate a projected $6.4 billion over the next seven years went into effect July 1.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed it into law on April 27, marking the first time Indiana has raised the state’s fuel tax since 2003.
Highlights: increases fuel tax 10-cents per gallon starting July 1 to 28 cents a gallon and then indexes fuel tax to inflation for the next seven years with a cap of 1-cent increase per year; establishes a $50 annual “infrastructure improvement fee” for hybrid vehicle registration and $150 for electric vehicles; establishing a $15 annual “infrastructure improvement fee” and increases registration fees by 25 percent for trucks over 26,000 pounds.
* Montana HB 473: A 6-cents per gallon gas tax increase to raise a projected $31.6 million in new transportation revenues each year.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock signed it into law on May 3.
Highlights: Increases gasoline tax rate by 4.5-cents per gallon effective July 1 and gradually increasing the rate to an additional 6 cents per gallon by 2023. Legislators passed two companion bills — HB 650 and HB 205 — that add additional fees.
Bullock vetoed HB 205, which contained a $95 annual registration fee for electric vehicles, but signed HB 650 into law. It establishes a 3-percent administrative fee for Department of Motor Vehicle transactions.
* Tennessee HB 534: Raises state’s fuel tax for the first time since 1989 on July 1 by 4 cents to 25.4 cents a gallon. The bill was proposed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam as the IMPROVE (Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy) Act and will raise an estimated $350 million in new revenue annually. Haslam initially sought a 7-cent per gallon increase.
Highlights: Increases gas tax by 4 cents per gallon effective July 1 followed by 1-cent increases in July 2018 and 2019 for a total increase of 6-cents per gallon; increases diesel tax by 4 cents per gallon on July 1 followed by additional 3-cent increases in July 2018 and 2019 for a total rate increase of 10-cents per gallon; establishes a $100 annual fee for electric vehicles; raises vehicle registration fees by $5, $10 for vehicles for hire and $20 for trucks.
* South Carolina HB 3516: Raises gas tax by 12 cents per gallon over the next five years to, eventually, generate an estimated $640 a year in new revenues for roads and bridges. “The Infrastructure and Economic Development Reform Act” was vetoed by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, but the legislature overrode his veto and enacted the bill.
Highlights: Increases gasoline tax rate by 2 cents per gallon effective July 1 and by an additional 2 cents annually until 2022 for a total increase of 12 cents, which will eventually raise the rate to 28.75-cents per gallon. Also: Increases biennial vehicle registration fees by $16 starting Jan. 1; replaces $300 sales tax on motor vehicles with an “infrastructure maintenance fee” of 5 percent of purchase price (capped at $500); establishes $120 “road use fee” for electric or hydrogen-fueled vehicles and $60 fee for hybrid vehicles.
* West Virginia Senate Bill 1006: Increase in the highest and lowest amounts that can be levied by the state’s variable minimum wholesale gas tax that will average about 3.5 cents more per gallon of gas, effective July 1, to generate an estimated $100 million annually for road improvements that, lawmakers say, will create nearly 48,000 jobs.
The variable minimum tax fluctuates annually in conjunction with the wholesale price of gas in West Virginia. The bill also allows the state’s DMV fees to increase its vehicle registration fee from $28.50 to $50 per year, inspection sticker fee from $5 to $10 beginning and sales tax on vehicle purchases from 5 percent of the total cost of vehicle to 6 percent.
* Utah SB 276: Modifies state’s variable-rate gas tax, raising the gas tax from an average of 0.6-cent per gallon in 2019 and 1.2-cent per gallon in 2020. Among gas tax-hike bills that failed:
* Kansas HB 2237 would have raised the state’s gas tax by 11 cents to 35 cents per gallon and lower the state sales tax on some food from 6.5 percent to 5 percent. The bill is sponsored by the House Taxation Committee, which staged a hearing on the proposal on Feb. 7, but never made it beyond that.
* Louisiana HB 632 would have increased the state’s gas sales tax from 20 cents to 43 cents a gallon to address a $13 billion decade-old backlog in maintenance roadwork as well as $16 billion in “mega projects” favored by state residents.
6.) MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
West Virginia became the 29th state to adopt a comprehensive medical cannabis law when Democratic Gov. Jim Justice signed SB 386 into law in April.
During 2017’s legislative sessions, according to CQ’s State Track, proposed bills related to medicinal marijuana were proposed in every state as the emphasis gradually swings from marijuana being regarded as an illegal drug to a medicinal agent.
The most substantial momentum in 2017 related to marijuana-related legislation, however, was that at least 40 bills, and three state Constitutional amendments, proposing to legalize recreational adult-use to varying degrees were introduced in 22 states.
Of those, as of late July, at least a dozen will be carried over into 2018 sessions while two in New Jersey remain technically alive for adoption this year.
The one legalization bill that only passed – Vermont SB 22 – is significant because for the first time, a state legislature adopted made adult recreational use of marijuana legal by legislative action rather than voters approving it through ballot measures, which is what happened in the eight states and the District of Columbia where recreational use is legal.
While Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott (R) vetoed the bill, he did so citing specific regulatory revisions. If those are remedied – and lawmakers appear amenable to doing so – he said he would sign the bill when the legislature convenes in 2018. Among proposals to legalize adult-recreational use of marijuana in 2017:
* Arizona HB 2003: Died upon adjournment in the House Rules Committee.
* Connecticut SB 11, HB 5194, HB 5539, HB. 6518: All died in various committees but are certain to be revived in renewed reiterations in 2018.
* Delaware HB 110: Approved in 7-2 House Revenue & Finance Committee vote but did not advance before the legislature adjourned. It will carry over to 2018.
* Georgia SB 295: Introduced in March to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee but was not moved before adjournment.
* Hawaii HB 449, HB 1464, HB 205, SB 548: All died upon adjournment)
* Illinois HB 2353, SB 316: HB 2353 was in the House Rules Committee and SB 316 was in the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be carried over to 2018. The Illinois House on May 5 also passed HR 121, a resolution urging Congress to amend federal law, including the Controlled Substances Act, to allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.
* Kansas SB 178: Died in the Senate Commerce Committee but will carry over to 2018.
* Kentucky SB 76: Died in the Senate Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations Committee. * Maryland SB 0927, SB 0928, HB 1185, HB 1186: All died upon adjournment.
* Minnesota HF 926, HF 927, HF 2714, SF 1320: Were introduced into various committees and did not advance, but will be carried over to 2018.
* Mississippi SB 2379, HB 1443, HB 1444: All failed to move from various committees and died with adjournment.
* Missouri HJR 21: Proposed state Constitutional amendment making marijuana legal for citizens 21-years-of-age and older. Died in the House Select Committee on Local, State, Federal Relations and Miscellaneous Business upon adjournment.
* New Hampshire HB 656: Retained in “full work committee” when legislature adjourned for carry-over consideration 2018. committee; SB 233, which would have made possession and cultivation legal, died a 19-4 vote.
* New Jersey SB 3195, AB 2068: SB 3196 was introduced in May and remains in the Senate Judiciary Committee. AB 2068 was introduced in January and remains in the Assembly Judiciary Committee
* New Mexico HB 89, SB 278, SJR 19: All died in committee upon adjournment.
* New York SB 3040, AB 3506: “The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” introduced in both houses in January. Senate version was in the Senate Finance Committee and Assembly version in the Assembly Codes Committee in June and will be carried over to 2018.
* Pennsylvania SB 213: Introduced in January to the Senate Law & Justice Committee where it remained, and died, upon adjournment.
* Rhode Island HB 5555, SB 420: Both would establish a system for the regulation and taxation for adult use and cultivation of marijuana. HB 5555 introduced in February to the House Judiciary Committee. SB 420 introduced in March to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Both committees have “recommended measure be held for further study.”
* Texas HJR 46, SJR 17: Proposed Constitutional amendments to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis. Introduced in late 2016 to the House State Affairs Committee and Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Neither were considered by committees before deadlines passed.
* Vermont SB 22: Amended versions of HB 170 and others. Legalizes possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older. Vetoed on June 21.
* West Virginia HB 3035: Proposal to legalize the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana and establish a regulatory program for growing, selling and testing of marijuana sold in West Virginia introduced in March to the House Health and Human Resources where died upon adjournment.
* Wyoming HJR 11: A proposed amendment to the state Constitution to permit the cultivation, manufacture, use, possession and sale of cannabis for those 21-years-of-age or older and to provide for the taxation, regulation and inspection thereof. Never presented for a vote.
‘DECRIMINALIZATION’ BILLS: In addition to the eight states where recreational use is legal, 13 states no longer charge people in possession of small amounts of marijuana with criminal offenses. In 2017, New Hampshire became the 14th state – and the last New England state – to do so when Republican Gov. Christopher T. Sununu signed HB 640 into law.
Two New Jersey bills – AB 2050, AB 2614 – makes marijuana legal but do not impose regulation and, therefore, can be regarded more as decriminalization rather than legalization bills. Both are carry-overs from 2016 that remain the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
They would submit legalization and/or decriminalization to a state ballot. Proposed 2017 decriminalization bills that failed upon adjournment: Alabama HB 269; Arizona HB 2002; Florida HB 1443, SB 1662; Hawaii SB 16, SB 169, HB 107, HB 1358, HB 1463; Iowa SF 266; Virginia SB 908; HB 1906, SB 1269; Wisconsin SB 318, AB 409; and Wyoming HB 157.
New Mexico SB 258 passed the Senate in a 33-9 vote, but died in the House; South Carolina HB 3162, Tennessee HB 831 and SB 1116 will carry over to 2018; Texas HB 81 was approved by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee but died in Calendars Committee
MEDICINAL MARIJUANA BILLS: West Virginia became the 29th state to adopt a comprehensive medicinal marijuana program when SB 386 passed the legislature in 28-6 Senate and 76-24 House votes and was signed into law in April.
In 2017, at least 33 laws proposing comprehensive medical cannabis programs were proposed in 15 other states. Of those, 22 introduced laws in 10 states – Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas – died in committee. Meanwhile, at least 11 proposed bills in five states — Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee — will be carried over to 2018.
7.) ‘OPIOID CRISIS’ BILLS
In 2016 lawmakers in 47 states considered 536 bills related to the opioid crisis and prescription drug-abuse prevention.
This year, according to CQ’s State Track, more than 570 bills were introduced in all 50 states to address the soaring rates of addiction to prescription painkillers such as Percocet, OxyContin and Vicodin, as well as illegal narcotics, including heroin and fentanyl.
Among the more significant legislative packages:
* MARYLAND: In signing an executive order declaring the opioid epidemic a state of emergency and allocating $50 million in new funding, Gov. Larry Hogan introduced his 2017 Heroin and Opioid Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement Initiative in early 2017 comprised of a multi-pronged emergency legislative effort that included three signature bills. Two of the three passed:
* HB 1432, “The Prescriber Limits Act” will limit doctors from giving patients no more than a seven-day supply of opioids in a prescription. It was signed into law in May.
* SB 1060/HB 1082, “The Heroin and Opioid Education and Community Action Act of 2017” or “Start Talking Maryland Act,” will expand drug courts and drug education programs in schools to include heroin and opioid education, and require schools to store the anti-overdose drug naloxone and train school nurses, teachers and staff in how to use it. Signed into law in May.
* HB 687, “The Distribution of Opioids Resulting in Death Act,” would have created a new felony, punishable by up to 30 years, for people who provide the drugs that ultimately contribute to an overdose death.
The bill has 43 cosponsors and had a first hearing on Feb. 28 before the House Judiciary Committee where it remained when the legislature adjourned.
ARKANSAS: Seven of 11 proposed 2017 bills related to prescription opioid regulation were adopted and passed into law. Among the most significant:
* HB 1024 and HB 1025 modifies the definition of “chronic non-malignant pain” in the state’s Combating Prescription Drug Abuse Act and lowers dosages; HB 1025 would give the state’s prescription drug monitoring program access to the names of all Medicaid prescription drug beneficiaries.
LIMITING THE AMOUNT OF OPIOIDS IN PRESCRIPTIONS:
There were 78 bills proposing to limit the amount of opioids that can be prescribed to patients in 27 states. Many either carried over to 2018 or in late July were still in committee in year-round legislatures, such as California and New Jersey.
These nine were adopted and passed into law: Indiana SB 226, Kentucky HB 333, Louisiana HB 192, Maine SB 338, Maryland HB 1432, Virginia SB 1180, Utah HB 50, Arizona SB 1023/HB 2307 and North Carolina HB 243.
‘RESCUE DRUG’ BILLS: There were 134 bills regarding the availability and liability-free dispensing of opioid antagonists, such as naloxone, introduced in 39 states in 2017.
Many either carried over to 2018 or in late July were still in committee in year-round legislatures, such as California, Illinois, and New Jersey.
These 36 bills were adopted and passed into law in 24 states: Arkansas SB 111, Delaware SB 48, Florida HB 249/HB 477, Georgia SB 121/HB 249, Indiana SB 392/SB 499, Kansas HB 2217, Maine HB 238/1098, Maryland SB 967/SB 1060/HB 1082/HB1329, Mississippi HB 996, Montana HB 323/HB 333, Nebraska LD 487, Nevada AB 428, New Jersey SB 295, New Mexico HB 370, North Carolina HB 243, Oklahoma HB 2039, South Dakota HB 1082, Tennessee SB 458, Texas SB 584, Utah HB 66, Virginia SB 848/SB 1031/HB 1453/HB1642/HB 1750, West Virginia SB 36, Wisconsin AB 1 and Wyoming SB 42.
Among notable proposals that were not adopted was Missouri HB 90, ‘The Narcotics Control Act,’ which would authorize the creation a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
Missouri is the only state in the nation without a PDMP. For the third year in a row, the bill cleared the House before running into a gamut of Senate amendments. The House rejected the amended version and failed to be approved before the legislature adjourned.
8.) ABORTION/REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
According to CQ’s State Track, more than 1,050 abortion-related bills, measures and resolutions have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide in 2017.
That’s about the same as in 2016, when state lawmakers submitted at least 1,025 abortion-related proposals.
These figures are actually down from earlier in the decade when increasingly conservative state legislatures were hotbeds of anti-abortion proposals. While “pro-life” fervor remains ambient in many state legislatures, “pro-choice” lawmakers – in preemptive anticipation of how reproductive rights would fare in the coming years under the Trump Administration and a Republican-controlled Congress in dismantling the Affordable Care Act and its contraceptive coverage guarantees – have stepped up their legislative efforts in 2017.
According to CQ’s State Track, more than 400 bills that would expand access to reproductive health services have been filed across the nation – nearly double the number of “proactive measures” filed in 2015.
Below are 2017 legislative trends in abortion/reproductive rights bills
LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION BILLS:
Legislators in at least six states submitted such bills this year. They include:
* Indiana HB 1134 would repeal statutes authorizing and regulating abortion and “finds that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.” Introduced in the House Public Policy Committee in January.
* Oklahoma SB 817 would prohibit abortion after conception. Introduced in the Senate Rules Committee in February.
* Texas HJR 121 is a resolution for a proposed “Life at Conception” provision to be incorporated into the Texas Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The Texas Constitution amendment would guarantee the right to life of unborn children and prohibit abortion “to the fullest extent possible.” Introduced in the House State Affairs Committee in March.
* Iowa HF 297 and SF 253 would enact a law “relating to the protection of life beginning at conception.” Introduced in February to the House Human Resources Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
* Alaska HB 250 — the “Life at Conception Act” — would repeal the exemption for abortion from state laws against murder and manslaughter of an unborn child. It changes the word “unborn” to “preborn,” which the legislation defines as a “natural person from the moment of conception who has not been born.” Introduced in June in the House Health & Social Services Committee.
* North Carolina HB 163 — “Right To Life At Conception Act” — would add a provision to the state constitution that life begins at conception. Introduced in the House Health Committee in February.
TOTAL BAN BILLS:
Total ban bills were filed in at least five states in 2017, including two each in Oklahoma and Texas: Colorado HB1108, Kentucky HB 419, Mississippi HB 1197, Oklahoma SB 32 and SB 817, and Texas HB 948 and 1049.
ABORTION REVERSAL BILLS:
In 2016, Utah adopted a bill that requires doctors to tell women that medication abortions can be “reversed” after the first dose in the two-dose protocol. This claim has spurred a harsh response from virtually any and all medical professional groups because it is not supported by evidence.
Similar bills were proposed in at least two other states in 2017: Indiana HB 1128 would require pregnant women be informed orally and in writing before an abortion obtained through an abortion-inducing drug that the abortion may be possibly reversed. It remains in the House Public Policy Committee.
Colorado HB 1086 would have created an” Abortion Pill Reversal Information Act.” The bill was “postponed indefinitely” in February by the House Committee on Health, Insurance, & Environment.
20-WEEK/‘PAIN CAPABLE’ BILLS:
At least 21 “20-week abortion ban” bills, also known as “Pain- Capable bills,” were proposed in 17 states in 2017 with legislatures passing them in five – South Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa and Montana.
Brief outlines of adopted bills:
* South Dakota HB 1101 increases the penalty for performing an abortion of an unborn child capable of feeling pain. Was signed into law.
* Tennessee HB 1189 — “The Tennessee Infants Protection Act” — prohibits abortion of a “viable fetus” except in a medical emergency, and requires testing to determine viability if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant, was signed into law on May 22.
* Kentucky SB 5 creates new sections in state statutes prohibiting an abortion when the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater. Signed into law in January.
* Iowa SF 471 prohibits an abortion after 20 weeks’ post-fertilization or the fetus achieves viability, and requires a 72-hour waiting period before any abortion. Signed into law in May.
* Montana SB 329 — “The Montana Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” — passed by legislature but vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock.
Bills that failed or remain in committee: Missouri HB 908 — The “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” introduced in March;
Virginia HB 1473 and HB 963 — the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” — prohibiting an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. Introduced into House Courts of Justice Committee in December and February;
Maryland HB 547 would prohibit an abortion unless probable age of the unborn child is determined. Introduced in March to House Health and Government Operations Committee;
New Mexico HB 220 and SB 183 would amend the state’s existing “partial birth” abortion ban by prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks. Introduced to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee and Senate Public Affairs Committee in January;
Washington HB 1775 would enact the “Washington Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Introduced in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on June 21;
Florida HB 203 would have created the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” prohibiting abortion of unborn child capable of feeling pain. Failed in the House Health Quality Subcommittee in May;
Massachusetts HB 934 would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Introduced in June to the Joint Judiciary Committee;
New Jersey AB 3452 and SB 2026 would create the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” that would ban abortion 20 weeks or more after fertilization. AB 3452 introduced in March to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. SB 2026 introduced in April to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee;
New Jersey SB 1352 would enact the “Post-Viability Protection Act.” Introduced into the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in February;
Illinois HB 3210 would prohibit any physician or person from knowingly performing an abortion when probable gestational age of the unborn fetus is 20 weeks or more. Introduced into the House Rules Committee in March;
Oregon HB 3017 would have prohibited abortion of unborn child with probable post-fertilization age of 20 or more weeks. It was in committee upon adjournment on July 7 and, therefore, failed;
New Hampshire HB 578 — the “Viable Fetus Protection Act” — would ban abortions after a fetus reaches the point where it could survive outside of the womb. Tabled in 280-82 House vote.
‘HEARTBEAT’/6-WEEK BAN BILLS:
Six-week abortion bans, also known as “Heartbeat bills,” would essentially ban abortions at about six weeks, which is when a fetus’s heartbeat can usually be detected. Such bills have been adopted by North Dakota and Arkansas lawmakers, but deemed unconstitutional.
In 2016, Ohio legislators presented a “heartbeat bill” to Gov. John Kasich, who vetoed it before signing a 20-week abortion ban into law.
At least 13 “Heartbeat bills” were proposed in eight states in 2017. Thus far, none have been adopted.
They are: Alabama HB 154 — The “Fetal Heartbeat Bill” — introduced in February to the House Health Committee;
Oklahoma SB 710, introduced and withdrawn in February;
Missouri SB 408, HB 757 and HB 692 all requires the use of a fetal heartbeat detection test prior to an abortion and prohibits an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
New York AB 5384 would require a test for a fetal heartbeat prior to an abortion.
In committee; Tennessee SB 244 and HB 108 requires fetal heartbeat testing prior to an abortion. SB 244 introduced into the Senate Judiciary Committee in January and HB 108 introduced into the House Health Subcommittee Committee in March;
Mississippi HB 1198, SB 2584 and SB 2562 would have prohibited an abortion “of an unborn human individual with a detectable fetal heartbeat” except when a medical emergency necessitates. All died in committee;
Alabama HB 154 would enact the “Fetal Heartbeat Act,” prohibiting abortion after heartbeat has been detected. Introduced into the House Health Committee in February;
Illinois HB 4467 would prohibit performing an abortion without first determining whether there is a detectable heartbeat. Introduced in April.
‘DISMEMBERMENT’ ABORTIONS: At least 18 “dismemberment bills” were proposed in 13 states in 2017 with one passing and signed into law – Arkansas HB 1032, “The Arkansas Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act.”
These proposals either failed or remain in committee: Missouri HB 537, “The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.”
Introduced in February in the House Children And Families Committee; South Carolina HB 3548, “The South Carolina Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Act,” passed House in 83-17 vote on March 30 and was introduced as SB 564 in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee, where it was at adjournment; South Dakota HB 1189 would prohibit and criminalize “dismemberment abortions.”
Passed by the Judiciary Committee; New York AB 4777 bans “dismemberment abortions.” Introduced in February in the Assembly Health Committee;
Texas SB 415, HB 844, HB 200 would prohibit “dismemberment abortions,” making it a criminal offense. HB 844 introduced in House State Affairs Committee in February and SB 415 introduced in House State Affairs Committee in March. HB 200 introduced May 9 and placed on the General State Calendar;
North Carolina SB 425 would enact “The Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Act.”
Introduced into the Senate Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee in March; New Jersey AB 1700 would enact “The Protection of Fetuses from Dismemberment Abortion Act” by prohibiting dismemberment abortions.
Introduced in January to the Assembly Women and Children Committee; Illinois HB 2891 defines “dismemberment abortion” and prohibits dismemberment abortion unless necessary to preserve the life of the mother.
Introduced into the House Rules Committee in March; Michigan SB 392 and HB 4552 modify state statutes to ban dismemberment abortion.
Introduced in the Senate Health Policy Committee in May; Maryland HB 1167 and SB 841 would prohibit dismemberment abortion “that kills an unborn child.” Introduced in March. SB 841 remains in the Senate Finance Committee.
ULTRASOUND BILLS: Another relatively recent trend in anti-abortion legislation is the requirement that women be offered — or be required — an ultrasound, or listen to a sonogram, before they can have an abortion.
There were at least 16 “ultrasound bills” proposed in 10 states in 2017 with one passing – Kentucky HB 2, “The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act,” which now requires an ultrasound prior to an abortion in the state.
These proposals either failed or remain in committee:
Indiana SB 118 would mandate an abortion provider provide a pregnant woman with an ultrasound at least 48 hours before an abortion.
Introduced in January to the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee; South Carolina SB 467 would amend the “South Carolina Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” by requiring ultrasounds be conducted prior to performing an abortion to determine if there is a fetal heartbeat.
Introduced in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in March; New York AB 5374 and AB 5637 would ensure women have an opportunity to review an ultrasound before giving informed consent to receive an abortion.
Introduced in the Assembly Health Committee in February; Virginia SB 53 would require a woman undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion.
Introduced in December to the Senate Education and Health Committee; Virginia SB 1549, conversely, would eliminate all procedures and processes, including performance of an ultrasound, required to receive a woman’s informed written consent prior to an abortion.
Passed by Senate Education and Health Committee in January; Alabama HB131 and SB 272 — “The Ultrasound Access Act” — requires a woman receive a sonogram prior to an abortion.
Introduced in February to the House Health Committee and in March to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee; New Jersey AB 689 and SB 476 would require physicians provide patients an opportunity to undergo ultrasound or sonogram within 48 hours of performing abortion.
Introduced into the Assembly Women and Children Committee and Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee in January; Illinois HB 283 would enact the “Ultrasound Opportunity Act” and set forth legislative findings and definitions.
Introduced into the House Rules Committee in February; Wyoming HB 182 would require physicians to inform a pregnant patient at least 24 hours prior to the abortion that they have a right to view an active ultrasound and hear the fetal heartbeat.
BANS ON ‘SELECTIVE’ ABORTIONS: Legislators filed at least 10 bills in eight states that would prohibit certain selective abortions relating to sex, race, or Down Syndrome.
At least one, Arkansas HB 1434, “The Sex Discrimination By Abortion Prohibition Act,” passed and was signed into law in March.
These proposals that either failed or remain in committee:
Missouri SB 96 would prohibit certain selective abortions relating to sex, race, or Down Syndrome. Introduced in May onto “informal calendar”;
Ohio HB 214 and SB 164 would prohibit abortion if unborn has or may have Down Syndrome. Introduced into the House Health Committee in May and Senate Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee in June;
New York AB 6769 would “establish a cause of action for damages” against a person who attempts or performs a sex selective abortion. Introduced in the Assembly Health Committee in March;
Oklahoma HB 1549 would create “The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2017,” which would prohibit abortions solely because the fetus has Down syndrome “or a genetic abnormality.” Was introduced into the Senate Rules Committee in April;
Rhode Island HB 5158 would prohibit abortions solely as a means of sex selection. Introduced in the House Judiciary Committee in March;
Illinois HB 282 would prohibit any person from performing an abortion of a fetus solely because of the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome. Introduced into the House Rules Committee in March;
Oregon SB 541 and HB 2588 would have prohibited late-term sex-selective abortion. Both were in committee upon adjournment.
PRO-CHOICE LEGISLATION: Lawmakers in at least 21 states and the District of Columbia have filed bills and resolutions proposing measures that would expand reproductive health services and reaffirming support for access to abortion and Roe v. Wade.
Among the most significant reproductive rights legislation adopted in 2017 was a Virginia law requiring insurance plans cover contraceptives and allow enrollees to receive a year’s supply at once and Oregon HB 3391, which allows health benefit plan coverage of specified health care services, drugs, devices, products and procedures related to reproductive health with exemption for plans sold to religious employers signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
Also: Delaware SB 5 was passed as a bill, not a resolution, that confirms that “the United States Supreme Court’s decisions in Roe v. Wade, and subsequent cases, established access to abortion is a Constitutional right and that states may not prohibit abortion prior to viability.” Signed by Gov. John C. Carney, Jr., in June.
Other significant proposals that either failed or remain in committee:
Missouri HB 1173 would prohibit and repeal abortion laws and regulations that place a burden on a woman’s access to abortion if no legitimate health benefits are conferred.
Introduced in May and referred to House Select Committee on Local, State, Federal Relations and Miscellaneous Business Committee; Missouri HB 759 would enact the “Respect Women’s Abortion Decisions Act.”
Introduced in May in the House Select Committee on Local, State, Federal Relations and Miscellaneous Business Committee; New York SB 2796 and AB 1748 would enact the “Reproductive Health Act,” confirming access to contraception and abortion is a “fundamental component of a woman’s health, privacy and equality” and revise the state’s “antiquated abortion laws.” Both remain in the Senate Health Committee. Pennsylvania HB 77 would repeal provisions related to spousal notice before an abortion.
Introduced in February to the House Health Committee; Virginia HB 2186 would enact the “Whole Woman’s Health Act,” which provides that “a woman has a fundamental right to obtain a lawful abortion and that no statute or regulation shall be construed to prohibit” her from doing so.
Introduced in February to the House Courts of Justice Committee; Colorado SB 28 proposed “The Women’s Reproductive Information Guarantee for Health and Transparency (RIGHT) Act.” It passed a second reading the Senate in April but remains in committee. Colorado HR 1005 is a resolution that would ensure access to reproductive health care.
Introduced in February and signed by the Speaker of the House; Georgia HB 455 and SB 238 would ensure protections of a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion.
Introduced in the House Judiciary Committee in January and in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in February; Michigan SB 452 and HB 4760 would remove the state-imposed 24-hour waiting period before an abortion.
Introduced in the Senate Health Policy Committee in June; Michigan SB 451 would prohibit laws or administrative rules that place a burden on access to abortion. Introduced in the Senate Health Policy Committee in June; New Jersey AB 4878 and SB 3175 would require health insurance coverage for services and drugs related to contraception and reproductive health and repeal conflicting laws.
Both introduced in May to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee; California SB 320 would provide education on at public postsecondary on-campus student health centers about abortion by medication techniques.
Introduced in April in the Senate Education Committee; Hawaii SB 124 would authorize advanced-practice registered nurses to perform aspiration abortions. Introduced in the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee in January.
RESOLUTIONS: Lawmakers in at least five states proposed eight resolutions confirming support for Roe v. Wade and access to abortion.
Adopted in California were SR 12 and AR 6, resolutions reaffirming the state’s commitment to women’s reproductive health. AR 6 adopted on Jan. 19 in 24-7 vote. SR 12 adopted Jan. 30 in 57-17 vote.
Others that remain in committee:
Missouri HCR 18 would “resolve that abortion shall be recognized as an essential component of women’s health care.” Introduced in May to the House Select Committee on Local, State, Federal Relations and Miscellaneous Business Committee.
Wisconsin SJR 11 and AJR 10 are proposed resolutions stating the legislature’s declaration that abortion is health care. Senate version “scheduled for hearing” while the House resolution introduced to House Rules Committee in February.
Michigan HR 16 and SR 15 are proposed resolutions to recognize the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling. HR 16 introduced in the House Government Operations Committee and SR 15 introduced into the Senate Government Operations Committee in February.