Our 2023 Progressive Agenda for the States & Localities recommends 50 bills for this year, many of them brand new. Our last IdeaLog suggested five innovative model bills on a variety of subjects. Here are five more.
Prepare agencies to defeat cyber attacks
Local governments and their agencies are currently the entities most under cyberattack in the U.S. The biggest problem is “phishing,” when a hacker sends fraudulent emails or other messages pretending to be from a reliable source in order to deceive people into revealing sensitive information or installing malware. Very often, it takes the mistake of only one inadequately trained staff member to endanger an entire agency’s database. Because there are so many different state and local government agencies—school systems, police departments, water authorities—many are simply not prepared.
The Agency Cyber Preparedness Act creates a state office of cybersecurity and directs it to work with local governments to establish and implement standards for the security of all information and information systems.
Limit the size of ammunition magazines
High-capacity ammunition magazines enable a shooter to fire many bullets very quickly without reloading. While such ammunition magazines can hold as many as 100 rounds, most hold 20 or 30 rounds and can be purchased for as little as $10 apiece. Shootings with high-capacity ammunition magazines cause more fatalities and injuries than those without such magazines. Such magazines are extremely useful for, and commonly used in, mass shootings and gang violence.
No civilian needs a high-capacity ammunition magazine for their gun. From 1994 to 2004, federal law banned the manufacture or sale of magazines holding more than ten rounds. Today, at least ten states ban magazines of different sizes. The Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Prohibition Act is based on the most recent such law, in Delaware.
Support a behavioral health hotline
In mid-2022, the federal government set up the phone number 988 as a national suicide prevention hotline, but it is up to states to promote and staff the number. Typically, a state funds a nonprofit to staff the hotline, which may also offer counseling and mobile crisis assistance teams. Some states are broadening the scope of that hotline to any behavioral health problem, not just suicide.
According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, 17 states (CO, CT, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MN, NV, NJ, NY, OR, VA, WA, WV) have enacted legislation to implement the 988 system. The Behavioral Health Hotline Act will ensure that the 988 hotline is staffed and funded.
Transition to zero emission vehicles
In the United States, about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from motor vehicles. So, it is essential to minimize vehicle emissions as soon as possible. Every state and most localities own fleets of vehicles and most also license private fleets, like buses and taxicabs.
The Transition to Zero Emissions Act creates programs to gradually convert all government-owned and licensed fleet vehicles to zero emission vehicles.
Encourage recycling through packaging responsibility
Cities and counties in the U.S. recycle only about five percent of plastic waste products. The rest ends up in landfills, which have diminishing capacity. In the past two years, four states have enacted Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, which encourage companies to make their product packaging more readily recyclable.
The Packaging Responsibility Act creates an enhanced recycling program funded by producers of products that use specific enumerated materials.