Stateline’s annual Legislative Review looks at policy and politics in the states since legislatures began their work in January.
The 2018 midterm election created six new Democratic “trifectas” — states where Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Democrats in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and New York used their new power to advance legislation long blocked by Republicans.
More state abortion legislation was enacted this year than at any time in nearly 50 years. Outright bans and so-called trigger laws in a handful of states would make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Taking the opposite approach to the Supreme Court’s conservative shift, a few states enacted abortion protections, ensuring the legality of the procedure if the high court’s landmark abortion rights decision is struck down.
The year began with 24 states considering privacy laws to rein in collection and sharing of personal information by businesses and social media, building on landmark new laws in California and Vermont last year. After heated opposition from big tech companies, many measures were defeated. Several states have opted to study the measures further because the issue has become so thorny.
Ahead of the 2020 general election, some states took strong steps to limit voter access in the name of election integrity. Republican-dominated state legislatures curtailed early voting, restricted mass voter registration drives and purged registration databases. Democrats, fueled by the success of 2018 ballot initiatives and legislative gains, passed measures expanding early voting, implementing automatic voter registration and restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated.
Three states and the District of Columbia this year enacted legislation requiring their utilities to produce electricity from 100% renewable or zero-carbon sources by 2050 or earlier, with three additional states setting 100% renewable or zero-carbon energy goals.