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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Legislative Recap: Tobacco Restrictions

2016 July 28

In the past year and a half, several states have passed laws changing the age at which one can legally smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products.

So far in 2016, five different states, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts and Vermont, have voted on legislation aimed at increasing the legal smoking age to 21.

The California bill prohibits an individual under 21 from purchasing tobacco products. However, some skeptics questioned the effectiveness of such a measure. State Senator John Moorlach pointed out that most minors who consume tobacco products are probably not concerned about their non-compliance. “I don’t expect human nature to change, whether in or out of a university,” he said.

A similar bill in New Jersey made it past the Senate and House votes, only to be vetoed by Governor Chris Christie in June. The bill would have increased the minimum age of tobacco consumption from 19 to 21, which supporters of the bill say would have been a huge step in reducing health problems; according to some experts 90 percent of smokers begin before they are 21 years old. Speaking on Assembly bill 3254, a previous iteration of the June bill, Democratic State Senator Richard Codey expressed his disappointment in the Governor and for the people and health of the state.

Again, another state, Illinois, voted to increase the legal smoking age to 21. One of the bill’s sponsors, state senator John Mulroe, said “we are going to save lives by increasing the age from 18 to 21, because studies have ...

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Potential Ramifications of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt & an Overview of Recent Abortion Legislation

2016 July 25

On June 27, the Supreme Court issued a 5-3 ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion, reversing and remanding two provisions of HB 2, which was passed by the Texas legislature during a special session in 2013.

Voting Rights for Convicted Felons

2016 July 22

2016 has seen several state legislators propose changes in the regulation of voting rights for individuals with felonies, and the timeframe for felons to receive the right to vote.

Marijuana, States and Presidential Nominees

2016 July 20

The legislative year of 2016 has seen a multitude of bills passed that authorizes the use of marijuana in many states.

The Native American Energy Act: Economic Prosperity or Traditional Tribal Values?

2016 July 13

 The state of American Indian land sovereignty, health, and welfare becomes more and more complex as the demand for American energy independence grows.........

Open Senate Seats: Nevada

2016 July 05

 In 2016, there are five Senators who are retiring: two Republicans and three Democrats. Flocks of candidates have put their bid in for the chance to become their state’s newest junior Senator.

Britain Exits the EU: What's Brext for the US?

2016 June 30

 This past week, the world watched as 30 million Brits took to the polls to vote on a referendum deciding Britain's future within the European Union. A referendum is a general vote by the constituency on a single political question.....................

Legislators’ Demonstrate to Spur Votes on Gun Control

2016 June 28

 On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, more than 170 House Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a former leader in the Civil Rights movement, staged a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to try to spur votes..........

What is an Omnibus Bill?

2016 June 27

 Have you seen a recent headline about Congress passing an omnibus bill? Curious about what this obscure sounding piece of legislation is? Below we provide a non-partisan explanation of omnibus bills.....

To require voter ID or not require ID? A Heated Question

2016 June 15

 Has your state recently passed a Voter ID law? Want to know what the arguments for/ against this legislation are? Read our non-partisan breakdown of this heated political issue: 

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