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FiscalNote Releases 2021 “Most Effective States” Legislative Report

Data Emphasizes Scale of State Legislative Activity & Shows Impact of Split- vs. Total-Party Control on Effective Legislation


While New York Introduced the Most Bills, Texas Enacted the Most Bills into Law Colorado Had Highest Legislative Effectiveness Rate, and Massachusetts the Least


Alaska Enacted the Fewest Bills - just 48 - into Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 14, 2021 – Today FiscalNote, a leading technology provider of global policy and market intelligence, released its 2021 “Most Effective States” Legislative Report, analyzing the legislative efficacy and volume rates of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia during state sessions across the United States this year.   

More than 150,000 bills were introduced in legislative sessions in statehouses across the country in 2021*, according to FiscalNote’s analysis. Among those, almost 33,000 were enacted. This equates to a legislative effectiveness rate of 21% for all state legislatures combined, with roughly 1 in 5 bills introduced enacted into law. In contrast, lawmakers in the U.S. Congress introduced roughly 13,000 pieces of legislation, of which approximately 317 were enacted during the same time period in 2021 (January 1, 2021-September 22, 2021). This means state legislatures were about 19 percent more effective than Congress by the ratio of bills introduced versus bills enacted.

“State legislatures often don’t get the same level of attention as Congress, yet far more laws are enacted at the state level, which often have a very wide ranging and immense impact on diverse industries - not just in the United States, but around the globe,” said Tim Hwang, CEO and co-founder of FiscalNote. “New ways of discovering, capturing, and analyzing data are helping to both shine a light on the effectiveness of state legislative activity, as well as inform key stakeholders - and the citizenry at large - of the important and impactful measures being adopted in state capitols across the nation. It’s now more clear than ever that organizations impacted by laws in the U.S. must not only keep Congress squarely on their radars, but look beyond Wasington, D.C. to state and municipal governments - where policymaking and regulatory activity is not just increasing in volume, but scale and complexity as well.”

The FiscalNote Report

Results varied dramatically from state to state, both in terms of the number of bills introduced, as well as the percentage of bills filed that ultimately became law. 

The data suggests a strong correlation between total party control of state government (both chambers of legislature and governor) with the percentage of bill enactment. Four of the top five states with the highest number of bills enacted into law have ‘total party control’: Texas (Republican), Virginia (Democrat)**, Tennessee (Republican), and New York (Democrat).

Conversely, there is a strong correlation between ‘split-party control’ of state government and the fewest number of bills enacted. Of the 10 states with the lowest number of bills enacted, seven of the 10 have divided state government control between the two parties: Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Kansas.

FiscalNote’s insightful report was generated by leveraging the company’s proprietary and extensive policy tracking and artificial intelligence capabilities and comprehensive database of legislative activity across the United States to yield timely and actionable data. FiscalNote automatically collects data and actively keeps track of how and when bills move through the legislative cycle, allowing customers to see how many bills have been introduced, passed, vetoed, failed, or enacted in each state, as well as providing unique and essential insights across the legislative ecosystem.

With the information in today’s report, FiscalNote was able to compare the total amount of legislation introduced with the total amount of legislation enacted in each state to calculate the state’s effectiveness rate, yielding its “Most Effective States” report.

Some additional key takeaways from FiscalNote’s 2021 study:

States with Highest and Lowest Number of Bills Introduced 

New York, Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia introduced the highest number of bills in 2021. New York’s 16,818 bills introduced were more than 19 other states combined. However, less than 15% of legislation introduced in Albany was eventually enacted into law.

The states that introduced the fewest bills were Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Delaware, Colorado, Idaho, ranking lowest to highest. This appears to correlate with state population, as six of the 10 states with fewest bills introduced are also six of the 10 states with the smallest populations. Also of note: among the 10 states with the fewest bills introduced, seven of the 10 are all located west of the Mississippi River (Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Kansas).

States with Highest Amount of Bills Enacted

When it comes to the highest number of bills enacted, the top ranked states were Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, New York, and Louisiana. Texas*** ranked first with 3,849 bills enacted in 2021 - more than 20 other states combined.

States with Fewest Number of Bills Enacted

The states with the fewest bills enacted were, in ascending order: Alaska, Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Alaska only enrolled a total of 48 bills in its session. For every bill Alaska enacted, Texas enacted 80.

Percentage of Bills Introduced vs. Bills Enacted

The states with the most bills enacted as a percentage of those introduced were: Colorado (81.27%), Louisiana (68.05%), Utah (65.40%), Arkansas (60.38%), and North Dakota (58.86%)****. The state rankings of the lowest ratio of bills introduced compared to enacted is: Massachusetts (0.41%), Minnesota (1.2%), Missouri (2.75%), Pennsylvania (4.08%), and New Jersey (4.16%). On average, a bill introduced in Colorado was nearly 200 times more likely to be enacted than one introduced in Massachusetts.

All information contained in FiscalNote’s study is effective as of September 22, 2021. For more detailed information about the report, please see the full analysis here.

About FiscalNote

FiscalNote is a leading global technology provider of legal and policy data and insights. By combining AI capabilities, expert analysis, and legislative, regulatory, and geopolitical data, FiscalNote is reinventing the way that organizations minimize risk and capitalize on opportunity. Home to CQ, Roll Call, Oxford Analytica, and VoterVoice, FiscalNote empowers clients worldwide to monitor, manage, and act on the issues that matter most to them. To learn more about FiscalNote and its family of brands, visit FiscalNote.com and follow @FiscalNote.

Media Contact
Nicholas Graham
FiscalNote
press@fiscalnote.com

* Data as of September 22, 2021.

** Virginia’s state government was led by Democrats through the 2021 legislative session cycle; this survey reflects party control at the time of the legislative session and not the results of the November 2021 election, which won’t take effect until January 2022.

*** Pursuant to the Texas state constitution, the legislature meets on a biennial schedule (every two years); in 2021, the legislature convened for a total of four separate sessions during the calendar year.

**** Pursuant to the North Dakota state constitution, the legislature meets biennially.

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