Author Archive

Marsha Mercer


States Put Grocery Taxes on Ice

Two more states are tossing grocery taxes; others are considering it.

Health & Human Services

As Sports Betting Grows, States Tackle Teenage Problem Gambling

With sports betting legal in more than 30 states, there’s a growing recognition among state legislators and health departments that the youngest gamblers need help.

Public Safety

Gun Storage Tax Break Is Rare Point of Unity in Firearms Debate

An estimated 5.4 million children live in homes with unsecured firearms.


Black History Instruction Gets New Emphasis in Many States

Some state social studies curriculums infuse the Black experience.


Stop Milking It, Dairy Farmers Tell Plant-Based Competitors

Milk labels have become contentious as plant-based alternatives compete for customers.


More States Say Goodbye to Columbus Day

The debate over the holiday has split more statehouses this year, growing heated as it touches on immigration, race and equality at a time when those issues increasingly divide the country.


Progress Stalls for Minor Parties to Get on State Ballots

‘It’s the worst year for hostility to minor parties and independent candidates since 1971.’

Health & Human Services

As Home-Cooked Cottage-Food Industry Grows, States Work to Keep Up

Some states have embraced "food freedom" laws that exempt home producers from many food-safety laws.


New State and City ‘Pay to Move’ Programs Attract People—Not Employers

New initiatives starting this month in Vermont and Tulsa are part of a larger trend aimed at attracting workers to places that need to grow.

Health & Human Services

Take Two Carrots and Call Me in the Morning

In California, a large-scale pilot program will test the concept of "food is medicine" with a thousand patients who have congestive heart failure.


Feds Block States From Developing on Land That Could Belong to Frogs

Just over 1,500 acres in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, is at the center of a case the U.S. Supreme Court will consider this fall that asks the question of how much power the federal government has to protect habitat for an endangered species, the dusky gopher frog, even though that frog hasn't lived there for decades.

Health & Human Services

Legal Sports Betting Is About to Sweep the Nation. Services for Gambling Addicts Probably Won’t.

Only 17 states pay for one or more full-time staff positions to help problem gamblers, according to a 2016 survey from the National Council on Problem Gambling and the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators.


Why Free College Tuition Is Spreading From Cities to States

The free tuition push hasn’t produced an economic bonanza for any of the pioneering cities—at least not yet — and some states have struggled to come up with the money to keep their end of the bargain.

Health & Human Services

Explosion in Tattooing, Piercing Tests State Regulators

Nearly four in 10 people born after 1980 have a tattoo, and one in four have a piercing some place other than an earlobe.


Locked Up for the Holidays

The holiday season can be the toughest time of the year for incarcerated juveniles. In some places, officials are trying to make it a little brighter.


By Curbing Roundups and ‘Gassing,’ States Seek to Help the Hated Rattlesnake

Some states are trying to give the venomous pit vipers better odds of survival.


For Sale: States Look to Unload 'Money Pit' Buildings

Several states seek to take advantage of an improved commercial real estate market by selling old, underutilized or high-maintenance office buildings.