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Entries in States (4)

Saturday
Mar092013

States Having Their Own Gun-Control Debates

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While Washington tries to decide how best to address with the gun violence epidemic in the country, individual states are making their own rules and having debates of their own.

More than 1,100 gun-related bills have been introduced on the state level, according to a review conducted earlier this week by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Some of these bills have tried to restrict access to guns, while others do just the opposite.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a law on Friday that would give school boards the authority to allow teachers to carry firearms in the classroom.

In the town of Nelson, Georgia, 50 miles north of Atlanta, lawmakers are considering an ordinance that would mandate gun ownership for all homeowners. In Missouri, a lawmaker proposed a bill that would make it a felony to propose any new gun legislation.

Some lawmakers in Colorado are attempting to pass a series of more restrictive gun control laws to combat mass gun violence in the wake of the movie theater shooting in Aurora last summer. They are facing resistance from those who want to protect the tradition of gun ownership, as well as those motivated by business interests.

One major gun manufacturer, Magpul Industries, has threatened to leave Colorado if certain measures go into effect.

In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a gun trafficking bill that would make straw purchasing illegal, and the bill will now move to be considered by the full Senate.

It’s looking doubtful, however, that the assault weapons ban will pass the Senate. Similarly, the background check bill has stalled in Congress after some important supporters backed out of talks, saying they could not support the bill in its current state.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar192012

Political Corruption: 8 States Earn Failing Grades

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- From pay-to-play politics to dismal campaign disclosure requirements, America’s fifty state governments have been weighed, measured and found wanting when it comes to ethical lawmaking.

Not a single state earned an "A" grade for ethics in the State Integrity Investigation, an analysis of states’ transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms released Monday by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International.

Eight states -- Georgia, Michigan, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming -- got failing grades. Only five earned "B's":  New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California and Nebraska.

Despite extensive laws limiting campaign donations, lobbyist influence and revolving-door politics, Georgia ranked dead last in the integrity survey. Southern lawmakers in the Peach State are experts at dodging these ethics laws and taking full advantage of the plethora of loopholes, said the analysis, especially when it comes to accepting gifts from state vendors.

From 2007 to 2008 more than 650 Georgia officials “accepted sports tickets, speaking fees, fancy meals and other gratuities,” according to the study. Yet it has been more than a decade since the state fined a vendor for failing to disclose such gifts.

It was much the same story in Michigan, where the report said abysmal election finance transparency or lobbyist spending disclosure requirements have let special interests shovel big money into state elections with little or no oversight or reporting requirements.

And in the rural plains of North Dakota, which has a statewide population of about 684,000, there is a belief that ethics are self-policed because of the neighborly nature of the state’s politics.  The state has no ethics commission, no limits on how much individuals can donate to campaigns and no disclosure requirements for how that campaign cash is spent.

In contrast, the survey said, New Jersey has implemented a take-no-prisoners, iron-fist approach to political integrity. After years of political wheeling and dealing left New Jersey with a dismal reputation for political corruption, recent reforms and strict anti-bribery laws have made it the No. 1 state for political ethics.

But the state still earned a "B" for failures in campaign finance disclosure requirements.

As Heather Taylor, a spokeswoman for the good-government group Citizens Campaign, told the State Integrity Investigation, “There’s still a lot more work to be done.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan112012

Ballot Rules: Easiest, Toughest States for Candidates

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Friday U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. is expected to issue a ruling on the Virginia ballot challenge brought by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.  Perry, joined by his GOP opponents Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum, filed a court order in late December requesting access to the ballot in Virginia’s March 6 primary, after failing to qualify in the commonwealth earlier that month.

The four GOP presidential candidates assert that Virginia’s ballot rules impose a “severe burden” and are unconstitutional. Indeed, Virginia’s requirements to get on their ballot are numerous and specific; the state requires each candidate to submit 10,000 signatures to the state board of elections, including 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts, and signatures can only be collected by registered or eligible-to-register Virginian voters.

With the decision from Judge Gibney on the way, ABC News took a look at other states, besides Virginia, that have a difficult set of requirements to gain access to their ballot, as well as the states with simplest ballot requirements.

Arizona

Arizona has one of the simplest rules for ballot qualification. There is one ballot requirement: candidates must submit a nomination paper, complete with a notarized, original (photocopied sheets not allowed) signature from the candidate. Jon Huntsman failed to qualify in this state because the paper turned in on his behalf was not notarized.

Illinois


Illinois is a difficult state, with requirements similar to (though not as stringent as) Virginia. To qualify for the presidential preference ballot, a candidate must submit no fewer than 3,000 and no more than 5,000 signatures. On top of that, to qualify for ballot access in a specific congressional district, a candidate must submit 600 signatures per district, for each of the state’s 19 congressional districts.

Louisiana

Louisiana falls into the category of states with the easiest requirements. The state gives candidates two possible ways to qualify for the ballot in their presidential primary. Candidates can either turn in a total of 1,000 signatures from members of their respective party throughout the state. These signatures must include residents of each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Or, if a candidate prefers, they can submit a filing fee of $1,125.

New Hampshire


The first-in-the-nation primary ballot is easy to qualify for: Candidates must submit a declaration of candidacy along with a $1,000 filing fee to the New Hampshire secretary of state. This low qualifying threshold tends to result in a long list of names on the ballot.

South Carolina

South Carolina is a wild card -- for a well-financed candidate the state’s qualifications are easy; for a candidate whose campaign is low on cash, the state is difficult. That’s because South Carolina, while they have no signature requirements, has a lofty filing fee. Candidates who pay the Palmetto State’s filing fee before May 5 save a bit of a money -- they are only required to pay $25,000. For candidates who submit their payment afterwards, the price jumps up $10,000 to $35,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr142011

Despite Calls to Cut Spending, States Rely Heavily on Federal Funds

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As debates over the budget and the deficit escalate and the small-government, cost-cutting Tea Party gains more clout in Washington, federal programs are coming under fire.

But at the same time, federal dollars increasingly are in demand, according to an ABC News analysis.

For all the rhetoric against federal spending and encroachment on states' autonomy, governors rely heavily on federal funds, especially given the slow economy.  Not one governor turned away all the federal stimulus money their states received and, despite opposition to the Democrats' health care plan, governors continue to take in the money that law allocated.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., founder of the Senate Tea Party caucus, has advocated for the abolishing of the Department of Education.  But doing so could have heavy consequences on the Bluegrass State.  Federal funds accounted for about 20 percent of public school funding in fiscal year 2010, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.  Cutting the department could take away more than $1 billion from Kentucky's schools.

Even in other areas, Kentucky is heavily dependent on federal funds, even though Paul and the state's other outspoken Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have railed against government spending.  Per capita federal spending amounts to more than $11,500 in fiscal year 2009, making Kentucky the 12th-ranked state for dependence upon federal funds, according to the Census bureau.

Other conservative states whose leaders have assailed federal money also rely heavily on dollars from D.C.

Today, through about 1,200 grant programs, the federal government allocates about $600 billion annually to states, representing close to one-third of the typical state's budget, including Republican-leaning ones like Texas and Tea Party-heavy states like Arizona and Oklahoma.

At the same time, the proportion of money that states give back to the federal government in the form of taxes relative to what they get in return has shrunk. Virtually all states -- whether red or blue -- get more than $1 per capita back for every tax dollar paid to Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio