States Addressing the Teacher Shortage, Part 2: Retention

States seeking to solve the teacher shortage, in addition to facing the long-developing crisis of teacher recruitment, are now also facing a crisis of teacher retention.

Especially in the wake of COVID-19, keeping the teachers hired in any given year is an uphill battle.

The National Education Association (NEA) – the nation’s largest teacher’s union – surveyed its members in February 2022 and found that “more than half (55%) of members plan to leave education sooner than planned” and that “the top issue facing educators right now is burnout.”

States across the nation are seeking solutions to improve teacher retention, with research and state examples providing a wide array of options and approaches to choose from. Two key strategies emerging from those examples are:

Supporting career development opportunities through mentoring programs
Improving working conditions for teachers by:

increasing teacher capacity by providing support staff and reasonable class sizes
increasing teacher opportunities to participate in the school decision-making process
supporting administrator training and development

The post States Addressing the Teacher Shortage, Part 2: Retention appeared first on CSG ERC.

Arkansas Looks to Broadband, New Partners to Tackle Rural-Urban Divide in Disability Service Delivery

By Sean Slone, Senior Policy Analyst

Nearly 50 million Americans live in rural areas, where the percentage of people reporting disabilities is highest (17.8%, compared to 12.1% for metropolitan counties). Yet despite the high rate of disability in rural areas, people with disabilities can face significant barriers accessing services and supports, including employment supports. Challenges include long waitlists for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services, limited employment options, and lack of transportation and/or broadband to access training and employment opportunities.

Arkansas is one state that has sought to address the challenges faced by people with disabilities living in rural areas and better connect them to employment services, supports, and opportunities. Strategies include expanding broadband access in rural areas, delivering VR services remotely, and leveraging statewide and community partners to better reach individuals with disabilities living in rural areas.

Employment Barriers for People with Disabilities in Rural Areas in Arkansas

A 2021 profile by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture identifies Arkansas as one of the most rural states in the country; forty-one percent of Arkansas’ population lives in rural areas, compared with 14% of the U.S. population. According to Jonathan Taylor, Executive Director of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, Arkansans with disabilities living in rural areas can face significant barriers to employment in the state. Many experience a four-to-six-month wait to receive VR services, which help them prepare for and attain employment. Once an individual is able to work with a VR client manager, they then struggle finding employment opportunities.

“There are large pockets of the state where in your community, the only employers may be a gas station, a convenience store or a Dollar General,” Taylor said. “In those environments with very low staff, it can be very difficult for somebody with an intellectual or developmental disability to find an environment where they can thrive.”

In addition, there may be limited opportunities for remote work, due to the lack of broadband internet in the state. According to the Federal Communications Commission, only 60% of Arkansans in rural counties live in areas with internet that meets a benchmark download/upload speed. “There are parts of Arkansas where you literally hear that old school dial tone, because that’s all you can get—dial-up [internet]—and it’s unbelievably slow,” said Taylor.

Expanding Broadband and Remote Services and Opportunities

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson devoted significant resources to expanding broadband access in the state. In 2019, he issued a state broadband plan and created a state broadband office that has awarded nearly $400 million in grants to connect rural parts of the state, utilizing federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other sources. He also worked with the legislature to commission a study of households underserved by broadband.

In addition to connecting individuals with disabilities in rural areas to remote work opportunities, expanded broadband can help them better access VR services. Taylor said the state’s VR agency, Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS), was able to pivot effectively to providing virtual client management during the pandemic. Taylor feels that more virtual interface options for people with disabilities in rural Arkansas can go a long way in solving both their transportation and service delivery challenges. ARS is expected to upgrade its website in 2023 to provide more options for virtual service delivery.

Working With Other Partners to Reach Rural Communities

In their efforts to provide employment supports and services to more people with disabilities in rural areas, state agencies in Arkansas have started to collaborate and blend and braid funding to expand their collective reach. This includes collaboration between ARS and the state’s Provider-Led Arkansas Shared Savings Entity (PASSE) program, which serves Medicaid clients with complex behavioral health, developmental, or intellectual disabilities. ARS is able to share funding with the PASSEs to reach more rural pockets of the state with Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS), which provide students with disabilities the opportunity to prepare for and explore the world of work. The sharing arrangement allows ARS, which can offer services in only a limited number of high schools in the state, to extend its reach to serve more people.

Similarly, ARS is working with Easter Seals Arkansas to extend Pre-ETS to rural areas through its SET for Success program in several central Arkansas school districts. As part of the program, trained professionals work with students to help them navigate the post-high school transition period with workplace readiness training, work-based learning experiences, and other initiatives.

Additional Proposed Strategies

State officials see promise in two other strategies to extend service delivery to people with disabilities living in rural areas: engaging people with disabilities directly to better understand their needs and connect them to each other, and collaborating with non-traditional partners such as churches and faith communities to better reach those with disabilities. 

Taylor said the Arkansas State Rehabilitation Council has started to engage people with disabilities at a high level to talk about the accessibility of ARS offices and services. However, they’re now considering a more concerted effort to build networks within and among smaller rural communities and to connect the individuals who could benefit from services to each other.

As for faith communities, Taylor believes they could be an answer to helping overcome mistrust of government services in some communities.

“There are more churches than anything else, particularly in the smaller communities,” said Taylor. “I certainly see that as key [to reaching individuals with disabilities in rural areas].”

Considerations for States

Other states have also launched initiatives to help deliver employment and related services to people with disabilities in rural areas.

Colorado Senate Bill 17-011 (2017) created a technical demonstration forum to study solutions to improve transportation access for people with disabilities, including those living in rural areas of the state, with an emphasis on providing adequate access to geographically dispersed jobs.

Hawaii Senate Bill 892 (2015)makes appropriations to expand broadband access, in part to “empower people with disabilities and remov[e] barriers that keep them from participating in everyday activities.”

In Idaho, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has collaborated with libraries to establish information and referral procedures for serving individuals with disabilities in rural communities, where VR lacks a physical presence.

From 2015-2017, Montana Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services contracted with the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana to provide Pre-ETS to students with disabilities.

In July 2020, the Tennessee Department of Human Services published a best practice guide to delivering Pre-ETS virtually. It includes practices for partnering with local education agencies, which can aid in delivering virtual services to those in rural areas.

Wyoming addresses rural transportation access needs for workers with disabilities through regional transportation voucher programs operated by Wyoming independent living centers, Wyoming Independent Living Rehabilitation and Wyoming Services for Independent Living, with funding support from state government.

States Addressing the Teacher Shortage, Part 1: Recruitment

States across the U.S. are considering solutions to address potential teacher shortages. While the extent of the shortage differs from state to state, teacher shortages are most severe in subject areas such as math, science, special education and English language development.

The source of teacher shortages is twofold: waning teacher recruitment and poor teacher retention rates.

In March 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that 44% of schools were reporting teacher vacancies. Resignation is the leading cause of vacancies accounting for 51% of reported vacancies, and retirement is reported for 21% of vacancies. NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr cites the COVID-19 pandemic as a source for these shortages. Other reports note a variety of factors contributing to declining teacher recruitment and retention, such as working conditions, financial compensation and inadequate preparation and support for new teachers.

As turnover rates increase and recruitment decreases, schools are often forced to increase class sizes while decreasing student supports. In addition, many schools are left to fill vacancies with underqualified teachers, which also contributes to higher turnover rates.


The post States Addressing the Teacher Shortage, Part 1: Recruitment appeared first on CSG ERC.

Binational, bipartisan group of legislators in place to lead Great Lakes Caucus over next two years

With staff support from CSG Midwest, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus works to strengthen the role of state and provincial legislators in advancing Great Lakes-related policies in areas such as controlling the spread of invasive species, protecting drinking water, managing nutrient pollution and improving coastal resiliency.

Leading that work is a select group of legislators serving on the GLLC’s Executive Committee. That leadership team is now in place for the next two years, and includes six new members:

Québec MNA MNA Joëlle Boutin
Ohio Sen.  Theresa Gavarone
Michigan Rep. Rachel Hood
Minnesota Sen. Mary Kunesh
Pennsylvania Sen. Daniel Laughlin
Wisconsin Rep. Lisa Subeck

The Executive Committee’s two officers are Wisconsin Sen. André Jacque, GLLC chair; and Illinois Sen. Laura Fine, GLLC vice chair.

In addition to these two officers and the six new members, other legislators from across the Great Lakes basin are returning to serve second terms on the GLLC Executive Committee: Illinois Rep. Sonya Harper, Indiana Rep, David Abbott, New York Sen. Mark Walczyk and Ontario MPP Jennifer French. The Executive Committee also includes three ex officio members, all of whom are past chairs of the GLLC: Illinois Rep. Robyn Gabel, Indiana Sen. Ed Charbonneau and Minnesota Sen. Ann Rest.

Learn more about the GLLC

The post Binational, bipartisan group of legislators in place to lead Great Lakes Caucus over next two years appeared first on CSG Midwest.

On the Road with CSG West: New Mexico

Two weeks ago, staff from CSG West conducted their annual state visit to the Land of Enchantment. Edgar Ruiz and Martha Castañeda connected with legislators February 7th-9th.

New Mexico’s first session of the 56th Legislature kicked off January 17 and will run for 60 days, until March 18th. As of the halfway point of the session, lawmakers had filed over 1000 bills and other measures. In even years, such as next year’s, the session is limited to 30 days and focused on the state’s budget.

New Mexico is in the enviable position of having a significant budget surplus. Just in the first four months of 2022, more than $1.7 billion were added as a result of oil and gas revenues from the Permian basin. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Mexico’s Permian basin produces the most oil than any other region nationwide and is second to the Appalachia region in gas production. Recognizing that this windfall is one time money make the budget process tricky for policymakers.

Many of the same issues other states are weighing are on this year’s legislative agenda in Santa Fe. Among them are daylight savings time, gun safety, changes to pretrial detentions, reducing gross receipts tax, reproductive rights, and voting access just to name a few. A bill adding an official state aroma to the list of more than 20 state symbols was getting a lot of attention. Senate Bill 188, sponsored by CSG West legislative liaison Senator Bill Soules of Las Cruces, and has garnered nationwide attention. In this NPR Weekend Edition interview with Scott Simon, Senator Soules explains the idea originated in a fifth grade classroom which invited him in November to learn what it’s like being a state senator. This is civics lesson the kids won’t soon forget, as a handful of the kids from that class at Monte Vista Elementary in Las Cruces spoke in support of the bill in front of the Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee.

CSG West staff met with many members, both new and others that have been engaged with CSG West over time. The new Speaker of the House, Representative Javier Martinez, who is a 2017 graduate of the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship, was generous with his time in meeting with staff. Speaker Martinez has represented Albuquerque’s House District 11 since 2015 and previously served as Majority Floor Leader.

The Henry Tolls Fellowship Program is named after former Colorado Senator Henry Wolcott Toll, who founded CSG in 1933. The program is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials. Each year, the program gathers 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government in Lexington, Kentucky for an intensive five-day “leadership boot camp.”

Staff met with House Minority Floor Leader Ryan Lane who is a 2022 graduate of the Western Legislative Academy (WLA). The WLA was established in 2000 at a time when many Western states had term limits in place. It is open to legislators in their first four years of cumulative service on a competitive basis as there are four slots available per state to fill. The goals of the program are to help legislators become more effective leaders and, in turn, build strong legislative institutions. It’s held in annually in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and includes experts in state legislatures, communications, time and focus management, governance, ethics, and negotiations.

Staff also met with key legislative staff such as the director of the Legislative Council Service (LCS), Raúl Burciaga, who previously served as Chair of CSG West’s Legislative Service Agency and Research Directors Committee.

From Left to Right: Senator Harold Pope, Edgar Ruiz,
Martha Castañeda and Senator Bill Soules

The post <strong>On the Road with CSG West: New Mexico</strong> appeared first on CSG West.

Southern Pulse Newsletter, February 2023


This February the CSG South team has been traveling nonstop across the south to meet members in the thick of their own labor of love: working through the legislative session! We thank our legislators and legislative staffers from Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri, Kentucky, and Mississippi for taking time out of their incredibly busy schedules to meet with us. We can’t wait to sit down with Arkansas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina in the coming weeks!

On February 1st, we officially launched registration for the most anticipated regional conference in the nation. The 2023 Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) will be held over five action-packed days in stunning Charleston, South Carolina, and the registered attendees are already pouring in! Make sure you secure your hotel accommodation and your guest, spouse, and youth spots in one of our many off-site activities. Register here, and be sure to explore the schedule, keynote speakers, and more!

From state visits, one-on-one meetings, policy info requests, and SLC planning, we are proud to showcase the wealth of ways we are here for Southern legislators and staff.

Stay connected and see you soon!

Click here to read Southern Pulse- February 2023

The post Southern Pulse Newsletter, February 2023 appeared first on CSG South.

The Role of State Legislative Leaders in Policymaking

By Ishara Nanayakkara

State legislative leadership roles directly impact the agendas and actions of legislatures. Although voters are responsible for electing officials, they have little direct say in who holds leadership positions within each chamber as the legislatures usually select their own leaders.

These leadership roles, such as creating the calendar or presiding over debates, allow elected officials to play a more significant role in policymaking than the typical legislator. For instance, presiding officers, such as the House speaker and Senate president, have the power to exert decisive control over legislative proceedings. They oversee the process through which legislation is referred to a committee and are responsible for setting and executing agendas.

Those holding leadership positions play explicit and implicit roles in elections by making appearances at campaign events or developing strategies to hold a majority in or change control of a chamber. Other institutional management duties consist of making committee assignments, appointing committee chairs and legislators to task forces, enforcing disciplinary measures, and overseeing staff. This means leaders have the power to advance or even stall the careers of individual legislators.

Quick Facts About Legislative Leaders

  • The late Sen. Thomas Vincent Miller Jr. served as Maryland’s president of the Senate from 1987 to 2019 and is the longest serving state senate president in the U.S.
  • The Nebraska Legislature has only one chamber, called the Unicameral, meaning there are fewer legislative leadership roles. Instead of having a speaker of the House and a president of the Senate, Nebraska has a speaker of the legislature.
  • In 26 states, the lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Senate. In other states, members of the chamber choose the president of the Senate. 
  • Lieutenant governors are usually elected, but the title in Tennessee and West Virginia is given to the member-selected Senate leader.

Overview of Legislative Leadership Roles

The president of the Senate is the primary leader of the Senate and the speaker of the House is the primary leader of the House or Assembly. Their duties for each respective body include:

  • Presiding over daily sessions.
  • Preserving order in the chamber.
  • Stating parliamentary motions.
  • Ruling on parliamentary questions.
  • Appointing committee chairs and members.
  • Referring bills to committee.
  • Signing legislation.
  • Acting as the official Senate spokesperson

President pro tempore and speaker pro tempore preside over the Senate or House and exercise all powers and duties in the absence of the Senate president or House speaker. They also carry out other duties as assigned by the Senate president or House speaker, which can vary by state. These positions may be honorary ones, but in states where the lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, the president pro tem serves as a de facto president.

The majority leader is the lead speaker for the majority party during debates. They also develop the calendar and assist the president or speaker with program development, policy formation and policy decisions.

The majority caucus chair is responsible for developing the majority caucus agenda with the president and speaker, presiding over majority caucus meetings and assisting with policy development.

The majority whip’s duties include assisting the floor leader, ensuring attendance, counting votes and communicating the position of the majority.

The minority leader serves as the principal leader of the minority caucus. They are responsible for developing the minority position, negotiating with the majority party, directing activities on the chamber floor and leading debate for the minority.

The minority caucus chair’s duties include presiding over caucus meetings and assisting the minority leader with policy development. The minority whip is responsible for assisting the minority leader on the floor, counting votes and ensuring attendance of members of the minority party.

2023 State Legislative Leaders

(as of Feb. 13, 2023)
Speaker: Nathaniel Ledbetter
Speaker Pro Tem: Chris Pringle
Majority Leader: Scott Stadthagen
Minority Leader: Anthony Daniels
Lt. Governor/President: Will Ainsworth
President Pro Tem: Greg Reed
Majority Leader: Clay Scofield
Minority Leader: Bobby Singleton
Speaker: Cathy Tilton
Majority Leader: Dan Saddler
Minority Leader: Calvin Schrage
President: Gary Stevens
Majority Leader: Cathy Giessel
Speaker: Ben Toma
Speaker Pro Tem: Travis Grantham
Majority Leader: Leo Biasiucci
Minority Leader: Andrés Cano
President: Warren Petersen
President Pro Tem: T.J. Shope
Majority Leader: Sonny Borrelli
Minority Leader: Raquel Terán
Speaker: Matthew Shepherd
Speaker Pro Tem: Jon Eubanks
Majority Leader: Marcus Richmond
Minority Leader: Tippi McCullough
President Pro Tem: Bart Hester
Majority Leader: Blake Johnson
Minority Leader: Gred Leding
Speaker: Anthony Rendon
Speaker Pro Tem: Christopher Ward Majority Leader: Eloise Reyes
Minority Leader: James Gallagher
President Pro Tem: Toni Atkins
Minority Leader: Brian Jones
Speaker: Julie McCluskie
Speaker Pro Tem: Chris deGruy
Majority Leader: Monica Duran
Minority Leader: Mike Lynch
President: Steve Fenberg
President Pro Tem: James Coleman
Majority Leader: Dominick Moreno
Minority Leader: Paul Lundeen
Speaker: Matt Ritter
Majority Leader: Jason Rojas
Minority Leader: Vincent Candelora
President Pro Tem: Martin Looney
Majority Leader: Bob Duff
Republican Leader: Kevin Kelly
DelawareSpeaker: Peter Schwartzkopf
Majority Leader: Valerie Longhurst
Minority Leader: Michael Ramone 
President Pro Tem: David Sokola
Majority Leader: Bryan Townsend
Minority Leader: Gerald Hocker
District of Columbia Chairman: Phil Mendelson
Chairman Pro Tem: Kenyan McDuffie
Speaker: Paul Renner
Speaker Pro Tem: Chuck Clemons
Majority Leader: Michael Grant
Minority Leader: Fentrice Driskill
President: Kathleen Passidomo
President Pro Tem: Dennis Baxley
Majority Leader: Ben Albritton
Minority Leader: Lauren Book
Speaker: Jon Burns
Speaker Pro Tem: Jan Jones
Majority Leader: Chuck Efstration
Minority Leader: James Beverly
Lt. Governor: Burt Jones
President Pro Tem: John Kennedy
Majority Leader: Steve Gooch
Minority Leader: Gloria Butler
Speaker: Scott Saiki
Vice Speaker: Greggor Ilagan
Majority Leader: Nadine Nakamura Minority Leader: Lauren Cheape
President: Ron Kouchi
Vice President: Michelle Kidani
Majority Leader: Dru Mamo Kanuha
Speaker: Mike Moyle
Majority Leader: Megan Blanksma
Minority Leader: Ilana Rubel
President Pro Tem: Chuck Winder
Majority Leader: Kelly Arthur Anthon
Minority Leader: Melissa Wintrow
Speaker: Chris Welch
Majority Leader: Robyn Gabel
Minority Leader: Tony McCombie
President: Don Harmon 
President Pro Tem: Bill Cunningham
Majority Leader: Kimberly Lightford
Minority Leader: John Curran
Speaker: Todd Huston
Speaker Pro Tem: Mike Karickhoff
Majority Floor Leader: Matt Lehman
Minority Leader: Phil GiaQuinta
President Pro Tempore: Rodric Bray
Majority Floor Leader: Chris Garten
Minority Floor Leader: Greg Taylor
Speaker: Pat Grassley
Speaker Pro Tem: John Wills
Majority Leader: Matt Windschitl
Minority Leader: Jennifer Konfrst
President: Amy Sinclair
President Pro Tem: Brad Zaun
Majority Leader: Jack Whitver
Minority Leader: Zach Wahls
Speaker: Dan Hawkins
Speaker Pro Tem: Blake Carpenter
Majority Leader: Chris Croft
Minority Leader: Vic Miller
President: Ty Masterson
Vice President: Rick Wilborn
Majority Leader: Larry Alley
Minority Leader: Dinah Sykes
Speaker: David Osborne
Speaker Pro Tem: David Meade
Majority Floor Leader: Steven Rudy
Minority Floor Leader: Derrick Graham
President: Robert Stivers
President Pro Tem: David Givens
Majority Floor Leader: Damon Thayer
Minority Floor Leader: Gerald Neal
Speaker: Clay Schexnayder
Speaker Pro Tem: Tanner Magee
President: Page Cortez
President Pro Tem: Beth Mizell
Speaker: Rachel Talbot Ross
Majority Leader: Maureen Terry
Minority Leader: Billy Bob Faulkingham
President: Troy Jackson
Majority Leader: Eloise Vitelli
Minority Leader: Trey Stewart
Speaker: Adrienne Jones
Speaker Pro Tem: Sheree Sample-
Majority Leader: Marc Korman
Minority Leader: Jason Buckel
President: Bill Ferguson
President Pro Tem: Malcolm Augustine
Majority Leader: Nancy King
Minority Leader: Vacant
Speaker: Ron Mariano
Minority Leader: Brad Jones
President: Karen Spilka
Minority Leader: Bruce Tarr
Speaker: Joe Tate
Speaker Pro Tem: Laurie Pohutsky
Majority Floor Leader: Abraham Aiyash
Minority Leader: Matt Hall
President Pro Tem: Jeremy Moss
Majority Leader: Winnie Brinks
Minority Leader: Aric Nesbitt
Speaker: Melissa Hortman Speaker Pro Tem: Dan Wolgamott
Majority Leader: Jamie Long
Minority Leader: Lisa Demuth
President: Bobby Joe Champion
President Pro Tempore: Ann Rest
Majority Leader: Kari Dziedzic
Minority Leader: Mark Johnson
Speaker: Philip Gunn
Speaker Pro Tem: Jason White
Lt. Governor/President: Delbert
President Pro Tem: Dean Kirby
Speaker: Dean Plocher
Speaker Pro Tem: Mike Henderson
Majority Floor Leader: Jon Patterson
Minority Floor Leader: Crystal Quade
President Pro Tem: Caleb Rowden
Majority Floor Leader: Cindy O’Laughlin
Minority Floor Leader: John Rizzo
Speaker: Matt Regier
Speaker Pro Tem: Rhonda Knudsen
Majority Leader: Sue Vinton
Minority Leader: Kim Abbott
President: Jason Ellsworth
President Pro Tem: Kenneth Bogner
Majority Leader: Steve Fitzpatrick
Minority Leader: Pat Flowers
NebraskaUnicameralSpeaker: John Arch
Speaker: Steve Yeager
Speaker Pro Tem: Daniele Monroe-
Majority Floor Leader: Sandra Jaurgui Minority Floor Leader: P.K. O’Neill
President: Stavros Anthony
President Pro Tem: Pat Spearman
Majority Leader: Nicole Cannizzaro
Minority Leader: Heidi Seevers Gansert
New Hampshire
Speaker: Sherman Packard 
Speaker Pro Tem: Laurie Sanborn
Majority Leader: Jason Osborne
Minority Leader: Matthew Wilhelm
President: Jeb Bradley
President Pro Tem: James Gray
Majority Leader: Sharon Carson
Minority Leader: Donna Soucy
New Jersey
Speaker: Craig Coughlin
Speaker Pro Tem: Benjie Wimberly
Majority Leader: Louis Greenwald
Republican Leader: John DiMaio
President: Nicholas Scutari
President Pro Tem: Sandra Cunningham
Majority Leader: M. Teresa Ruiz
Minority Leader: Steve Oroho
New Mexico
Speaker: Javier Martinez
Majority Floor Leader: Gail Chasey
Minority Floor Leader: Ryan Lane
President Pro Tem: Mimi Stewart
Majority Floor Leader: Peter Wirth
Minority Floor Leader: Gregory Baca
New York
Speaker: Carl Heastie
Speaker Pro Tem: Jeffrion Aubry
Majority Leader: Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Minority Leader: William Barclay
President Pro Tempore/Majority Leader:
Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Minority Leader: Rob Ortt 
North Carolina
Speaker: Tim Moore
Speaker Pro Tem: Sarah Stevens
Majority Leader: John Bell
Minority Leader: Robert Reives
President Pro Tem: Phil Berger
Majority Leader: Paul Newton
Minority Leader: Dan Blue
North Dakota
Speaker: Dennis Johnson
Majority Leader: Mike Lefor
Minority Leader: Josh Boschee
President Pro Tem: Donald Schaible
Majority Leader: David Hogue
Minority Leader: Kathy Hogan
Speaker: Jason Stephens
Speaker Pro Tem: Scott Oelslager
Majority Floor Leader: Bill Seitz
Minority Leader: Allison Russo
President: Matt Huffman
President Pro Tem: Kirk Schuring
Majority Floor Leader: Rob McColley
Minority Leader: Nickie J. Antonio
Speaker: Charles McCall
Speaker Pro Tem: Kyle Hilbert
Majority Floor Leader: Jon Echols
Minority Leader: Cyndi Munson
President Pro Tem: Greg Treat
Majority Floor Leader: Greg McCortney
Minority Floor Leader: Kay Floyd
Speaker: Dan Rayfield
Speaker Pro Tem: Paul Holvey
Majority Leader: Julie Fahey
Minority Leader: Vikki Breese-Iverson
President: Rob Wagner
President Pro Tem: James Manning Jr.
Majority Leader: Kate Lieber
Minority Leader: Tim Knopp
Speaker: Mark Rozzi
Republican Leader: Bryan Cutler
Minority Leader: Joanna McClinton
President Pro Tem: Kim Ward
Majority Leader: Joe Pittman
Minority Leader: Jay Costa
Rhode Island
Speaker: K. Joseph Shekarchi 
Speaker Pro Tem: Brian Patrick Kennedy
Majority Leader: Christopher
Minority Leader: Michael Chippendale
President: Dominick Ruggerio 
President Pro Tem: Hanna Gallo
Majority Leader: Ryan Pearson
Minority Leader: Jessica de la Cruz
South Carolina
Speaker: G. Murrell Smith Jr.
Speaker Pro Tem: Tommy Pope
Majority Leader: David Hiott
Minority Leader: J. Todd Rutherford
President: Thomas Alexander
Majority Leader: A. Shane Massey
Minority Leader: Brad Hutto
South Dakota
Speaker: Hugh Bartels
Speaker Pro Tem: Mike Stevens
Majority Leader: Will Mortenson
Minority Leader: Oren Lesmeister
President Pro Tem: Lee Schoenbeck
Majority Leader: Casey Crabtree
Minority Leader: Reynold Nesiba
Speaker: Cameron Sexton
Speaker Pro Tem: Pat Marsh
Majority Leader: William Lamberth
Minority Leader: Karen Camper
Lt. Governor/Speaker of the Senate: Randy
Speaker Pro Tem: Ferrell Haile
Majority Leader: Jack Johnson
Minority Leader: Raumesh Akbari
Speaker: Dade Phelan
Speaker Pro Tem: Vacant
Lt. Governor/President: Dan Patrick
President Pro Tempore: Kelly Hancock
Speaker: Brad Wilson
Majority Leader: Mike Schultz
Minority Leader: Angela Romero
President: Stuart Adams
President Pro Tem: Wayne Harper
Majority Leader: Evan Vickers
Minority Leader: Luz Escamilla
Speaker: Jill Krowinski
Majority Leader: Emily Long
Minority Leader: Patricia McCoy
President Pro Tem: Philip Baruth
Majority Leader: Alison Clarkson
Minority Leader: Randy Brock
Speaker: Todd Gilbert
Majority Leader: Terry Kilgore
Minority Leader: Don Scott Jr.
President Pro Tem: Louise Lucas
Majority Leader: Richard Saslaw
Minority Leader: Thomas Norment Jr.
Speaker: Laurie Jinkins
Speaker Pro Tem: Tina Orwall 
Majority Leader: Joe Fitzgibbon
Minority Leader: J.T. Wilcox 
President Pro Tem: Karen Keiser
Vice President Pro Tem: John Lovick
Majority Leader: Andy Billig
Minority Leader: John Braun
West Virginia
Speaker: Roger Hanshaw
Speaker Pro Tempore: Paul Espinosa
Majority Leader: Eric Householder
Minority Leader: Doug Skaff
Senate President: Craig Blair
President Pro Tempore: Donna Boley
Majority Leader: Tom Takubo
Minority Leader: Mike Woelfel
Speaker: Robin Vos
Speaker Pro Tem: Kevin Petersen
Majority Leader: Tyler August
Minority Leader: Greta Neubauer
President: Chris Kapenga
President Pro Tem: Patrick Testin
Majority Leader: Devin LeMahieu
Minority Leader: Melissa Agard
Speaker: Albert Sommers
Speaker Pro Tem: Clark Stith
Majority Floor Leader: Chip Neiman
Minority Floor Leader: Mike Yin
President: Ogden Driskill
Vice President: Dave Kinksey
Majority Floor Leader: Larry Hicks
Minority Floor Leader: Chris Rothfuss
American SamoaSpeaker: Savali Talavou AlePresident: Tuaolo Fruean
GuamUnicameralSpeaker: Therese Terlaje
Vice-Speaker: Tina Rose Muña Barnes
Minority Leader: Frank F. Blas Jr.
Northern Mariana IslandsSpeaker: Edmund S. Villagomez
Vice Speaker: Joel Castro Camacho Majority Floor Leader: Edwin Kenneth
President: Victor Borja Hocog
Vice President: Jude Untalan Hofschneider Majority Floor Leader: Justo Songao
Puerto RicoSpeaker: Rafael “Tatito” Hernández
Speaker Pro Tem: José M. Varela
Majority Leader: Angel Matos Garcia
Minority Leader: Carlos “Johnny”
Mendez Nunez
President: José Luis Dalmau-Santiago
Vice President: Marially González Huertas
Majority Leader: Javier Aponte Dalmau
Minority Leader: Thomas Rivera Schatz
U.S. Virgin IslandsUnicameralPresident: Novelle Francis Jr.
Vice President: Marvin Bylden
Source: CSG, National Conference of State Legislatures

State Approaches to Marijuana Policy

By Blair Lozier, Valerie Newberg and Dr. Dakota Thomas

The adoption of varying types of policy addressing marijuana legality continues in many states despite the drug remaining a controlled substance at the federal level. As of 2023, 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational adult use of marijuana. By contrast, there are 20 other states to have decriminalized marijuana-related offenses such as small quantity marijuana possession, cultivation and transfer.

Legalizing marijuana allows states to create an adult-use market for cannabis products that is both regulated and taxes, whereas decriminalization typically results in the removal of criminal penalties and the possibility of incarceration for low-level marijuana offenses. Several states that moved to decriminalize or legalize marijuana have also implemented policies allowing for the expungement of low-level marijuana offenses.

State marijuana policy is enacted through legislative and executive action, or by registered voters. The legalized use of recreational marijuana was decided by voters in five states during the 2022 election. Two of those five states voted in its favor. Marijuana remains illegal in federal law and regulations, though President Joe Biden has proposed changes to this policy.

Hovering your mouse over a state will display more information about that state’s policy. Hovering your mouse over a legend category will display all states sharing the highlighted policy.

NOTE: The map shows only the highest level of legalization or decriminalization, which may only apply to specific offenses. Some states have only legalized or decriminalized possession for up to a specific amount, for example, while other related charges are subject to different rules. 

States have taken four main approaches to marijuana policy: full criminalization, legalization of medical marijuana, recreational decriminalization and recreational legalization. Marijuana remains entirely illegal in four states, with criminal penalties for its sale, possession and use. Seven states have legalized medicinal use of CBD oil with THC but no other forms of marijuana, while eight states have legalized all forms of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twenty states have decriminalized possession/use of marijuana under certain conditions, typically meaning possession of small quantities of marijuana will not result in incarceration or criminal record for first-time offenders. Finally, 21 states have fully legalized recreational use of marijuana, thus allowing the creation of a regulated, recreational adult-use marijuana market that is taxed by the state. Each of these approaches is broken down in the following sections.

Decriminalization of Recreational Use
Decriminalization of recreational marijuana is a step short of legalization and entails removing criminal sanctions from marijuana possession/use while the drug remains illegal. Twenty states have decriminalized recreational marijuana. The drug is still illegal but punishment is not a criminal sanction like incarceration or criminal record for first time offenders. Instead, offenders may pay a civil fine or attend required treatment/education.

Legalization of Medical Use
As of December 2022, 16 states have legalized only medical use of marijuana. These states consist of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia. In these states, a qualified individual must be diagnosed with a condition whose symptoms can be clinically treated by marijuana, such as those associated with HIV/AIDS, PTSD, glaucoma and other conditions, and receive a medical marijuana certificate.

Recreational Legalization
There are 21 states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In most of these states, consumers can legally purchase marijuana products from a state-licensed and regulated facility. Use of marijuana products in public may remain punishable by law and there may be limits on possession of high quantities of marijuana. Additionally, the federal government still prosecutes marijuana offenses such as the illicit sale of marijuana (including to minors and across state lines), drugged driving and possession of marijuana on federal property in states with legal recreational use laws.

Hovering your mouse over a state will display more information about that state’s expungement policy. Hovering your mouse over a legend category will display all states sharing the highlighted policy.

Expungement Policy for Marijuana Charges
In some states where marijuana is decriminalized or legalized, the law allows for prior criminal convictions for low-level marijuana offenses to be expunged. Expungement is the legal process by which the record of a criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state and/or federal records. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing courts to expunge eligible marijuana convictions, with six of those states requiring automatic expungement for all qualifying convictions.

Recent State Changes to Marijuana Legality
In the 2022 election, five states had marijuana legalization measures on the ballot. Missouri and Maryland voted to legalize recreational use, while Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voted against full recreational legalization. Medicinal uses will remain permitted in those states.

  • Arkansas voters rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized the recreational adult use of marijuana.
  • North Dakota’s citizens voted against legalizing the recreational adult use of marijuana.
  • South Dakota voters decided against legalizing the possession, distribution and recreational use of marijuana for persons 21 years and older.
  • Maryland voters approved the measure legalizing marijuana for adults 21 years and older. This ballot will allow the state Legislature to pass laws for the use, distribution, regulation and taxation of marijuana.
  • Missouri voters approved the legalization of marijuana. The amendment (1) legalized the purchase, possession, consumption, use, delivery, manufacture and sale of marijuana for person use for adults at last 21 years or older, (2) enacted a 6% tax on the retail price of recreational marijuana, and (3) allowed convicted persons with certain marijuana-related offenses to petition for release from prison, parole and probation, while also having their records expunged.

Federal Marijuana Policy
While many states have legalized, decriminalized or allowed use of marijuana in medicine, it remains illegal at the federal level and is considered a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive classification given by the Drug Enforcement Administration for substances with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

In October 2022, President Biden moved to decriminalize marijuana possession at the federal level through a three-step approach that began by pardoning all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana. As of Dec. 2, 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland is developing an administrative process to pardon eligible individuals. President Biden then urged state governors to issue similar pardons for state possession offenses. The president’s third step tasked the Department of Health and Human Services with declassifying or reclassifying marijuana as a controlled substance under federal law by petitioning the attorney general and the Food and Drug Administration for review of its risks and clinical benefits.

If marijuana is determined to have medical use and a lower level of potential for abuse and dependence, it may be reclassified or declassified entirely. However, President Biden stated that important limitations on trafficking, marketing and sales to minors should remain in place. As of February 2023, the FDA has not approved the cannabis plant for medical use.

Additional Resources
Cannabis Regulators Association: