Research / Government Operations

Policy Analysis | September 2019

The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: A Historic Perspective

Nick Bowman, Research and Publications Associate

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, would guarantee equal rights to all Americans regardless of sex. The amendment was written by Alice Paul of New Jersey and Crystal Eastman of Massachusetts and introduced at the Woman’s Rights Convention in 1923, two years after ratification of the 19th amendment, providing women the right to vote. The ERA passed the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12, 1971, and the U.S. Senate on March 22, 1972.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution states that “the Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof.” With 50 states in the Union, the Constitution is amended when 38 states ratify an amendment.

The text of the ERA reads:
“Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.”

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Policy Analysis | September 2019

Media Access at State Capitols

Nick Bowman, Research and Publications Associate

State legislatures may provide credentials to members of the media to report on legislative developments. These credentials may grant special access to state capitols, such as access outside of traditional business hours or to dedicated areas for the media. Additionally, some legislatures require media organizations to pay rent for the use of dedicated space. The information presented is a summary of a survey conducted of Southern legislative service agency directors to determine how different states and chambers address media access.


Members of the media have credentials or ID cards permitting them to bypass security and have full-time access to the State House. There is a press room in the back of each chamber and a separate press room and private offices on the first floor of the State House. A written license agreement with the organizations that use the private offices is required.


Credentialed media members are permitted to bypass security and have full-time access to the Capitol or similar state building. Members of the media also have rent-free offices on the first floor near the entrance to the Capitol.


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Policy Analysis | August 2019

Operation of State Rest Areas and Welcome Centers

Nick Bowman, Research and Publications Associate

Rest areas, or safety rest areas as they were known at the time, emerged with the creation of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. With picnic areas and restrooms available at no cost to travelers, rest areas arose as a way to take a break from interstate travel. In the decades since the first rest areas were constructed, fast food restaurants and convenience stores have appeared close to interstates and highways, providing motorists with additional options. In recent years, several states, including Florida, Michigan, Ohio and South Dakota, have closed rest areas to minimize maintenance costs. Other states, such as Missouri, have privatized the operation of rest areas and welcome centers.

The table lists the agency or department responsible for operating and maintaining rest areas and welcome centers in the 15 Southern states and provides a hyperlink to that agency’s website. In eight states, two agencies are responsible for operating rest areas and welcome centers. In the remaining seven states, one agency is responsible for operating rest areas and welcome centers.

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Penny Houston


Vice Chair
Representative John Read, Mississippi

John Read


Past Chair

(former) Representative
Eric Johnson


Cody Allen

Cody Allen
Policy Analyst

Since its creation, members of the SLC Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee have focused on the myriad fiscal issues impacting state budgets and finances. Committee appointees include many of the finance and appropriations chairs from across the South along with other prominent fiscal players. The committee routinely examines the impact of the federal budget on state finances; state revenues and expenditures; national and regional economic outlooks; historical and developing fiscal trends; performance-based budgeting; e-commerce and taxation; and public pension plans. For more than 40 years, select fiscal research departments in the SLC member state legislatures have continued to provide annual Comparative Data Reports (CDRs), tracking revenue sources, appropriations levels, performance measures, and a multitude of other metrics in Southern states. A useful tool for legislators and legislative staff alike, CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, education, Medicaid and transportation.

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