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REPORT: Trends from 2023's Legislative Sessions

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It’s 2024, and Leagues are gearing up for a busy presidential election year. As we prepare, it can be helpful to reflect on the trends from last year’s legislative sessions. 

The legislative landscape of 2023 was a whirlwind of activity, with new laws that both empower and challenge democracy on the fronts of voting rights, reproductive rights, and so much more. Our report "Trends from 2023 Legislative Sessions" shows the ever-changing legislative landscape, shedding light on how things are changing across the country at the state level of government. 

2023 Legislative Report

What's in Our Report 

In our report, you will discover an in-depth exploration of laws enacted in 2023, encompassing a broad spectrum of issues crucial to our democracy. 

For example, amongst other policy areas, this report covers: 

  • Voting Rights: A comprehensive view of how new laws affected voting accessibility, be it through voter ID requirements, absentee ballot changes, or other electoral processes; 

  • Gender Equality: An overview of the laws addressing and, at times, limiting transgender rights, as well as restricting reproductive freedoms; 

  • Reproductive Rights: An overview of laws restricting or preserving reproductive freedoms; 

  • ERA Advancements: Updates on the progress of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) across various states; and  

  • Feedback from state Leagues on their legislative priorities. 

LWV members protesting at the Supreme Court

State League Priorities in the  Report 

Last year, LWVUS gathered crucial insights into League priorities and advocacy efforts through an extensive initiative involving an online survey and focus group sessions.  

Survey results revealed that top priorities for Leagues include gun safety (50%), the environment (51.6%), reproductive rights (53.2%), and education (61.3%). 

The survey also explored Leagues' experiences working with legislators, highlighting mixed responses, with 15% finding it "very easy" and 14% finding it "very difficult." This valuable feedback continues to shape LWVUS advocacy strategies, ensuring alignment with the diverse work of Leagues nationwide. The commitment to collaborative efforts with Leagues around the country remains strong and transparent. 

How This Report Can Predict Future Trends 

Although this report covers past trends, we think that it can predict essential issues in the years to come. The issue areas that saw lots of traction last year already show signs of growing even further in the new year.  

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As voting rights advocates, we’re paying close attention to 2023 changes in voting laws and what they may signal for future voting rights legislation. Last year, several states passed laws that make it more challenging for people to vote. For example, in Idaho, they implemented a law making it more challenging to register to vote. Ohio passed a law that requires a special ID for in-person voting, adding an extra step. 

The report also discusses challenges faced by groups, like the League, that help people vote. Some states passed rules that make it harder for these groups to do their work. For instance, Alabama introduced a law making it more challenging for voter registration groups by making it a felony to help someone fill out an absentee ballot under certain conditions.  

On the positive side, some states improved voting rules. In Minnesota, they passed a law that allows more people with past convictions to vote. Washington made it easier to register by using your social security number. 

The report indicates that these changes, both positive and not-so-positive, are likely to continue in the new year. It's important for people to pay attention to these rules to ensure everyone can participate in our democracy. 

Students registering to vote with a Kansas League

Why These Trends Matter 

Our report reflects the current state of democracy in America, viewed through the lens of the bills that made their way to enactment. Understanding these legislative trends is pivotal for effective advocacy, ensuring fairness, equality, and representation for all. 

Make Change by Staying Informed 

Explore the comprehensive insights in our report on the 2023 legislative sessions. By understanding and engaging with these trends, we can collectively strive for a more equitable and just society in the year (and years) to come. 

Check out the Trends from 2023 Legislative Sessions!

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