Lay of the Land: 2018 State Legislative Sessions

Welcome back, states!

By the end of January, almost 40 state legislatures across the nation will be in session. Use this primer to get in the know about key issues and players likely to affect planning during the 2018 legislative season.

Which Statehouses Are Convening?

There are 46 legislatures that meet in 2018. Of these, 38 states will be in session by the end of January and six more will convene in February. Louisiana and North Carolina remain, officially convening in March and May respectively. Texas, North Dakota, Montana, and Nevada are not in session on even years.

Political Power in the States

The political landscape within your state legislature and in legislatures across the country is critical information at the outset of legislative sessions. This breakdown by state details control of U.S. state chambers and executive offices.

In 2018, there are currently 6,066 seats in state legislatures up for reelection and 36 gubernatorial races. Keeping in mind the potential for leadership changes in your state can influence the way you approach an issue.

Infrastructure, Housing, Opioid Epidemic

While states await an infrastructure plan at the federal level to determine funding and ultimately carve out their full plan, they can take a lead themselves.

Seventy-five percent of money spent on public infrastructure is accounted for by state and local government. In 2017, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania increased their gas sales tax. Whether it is roads and bridges or water and broadband, infrastructure will remain a consistent focus.

2017 was also a big year for housing, particularly in the state of California as Governor Brown signed into law 15 housing bills. Moving into 2018, California and states across the nation are making housing a priority.

In Massachusetts, a statewide zoning reform bill seeks to begin mending housing affordability challenges by setting new "statewide standards allowing for multifamily housing, accessory dwelling units ... and other 'smart growth' initiatives" and in Utah, housing is on the agenda as well.

Furthermore, as states grapple with housing and infrastructure, legislators and governors will be looking for ways to create healthier communities, which includes addressing the opioid epidemic. APA is examining the intersection of planning and the opioid epidemic in a three-part series to better understand how planners are involved in this crisis facing communities nationwide.

These are just a few areas to keep in mind at the beginning of 2018.

Top image: Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Getty Images photo.

About the Author
Catherine Hinshaw is APA's state government affairs associate.

January 23, 2018

By Catherine Hinshaw