States passed 153 laws in the first six months of the year, more than during the same period of any year since 2011.

The laws — passed by all but nine states — affect everything from budgets to education to health care to licensing and human trafficking, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. States also adopted 238 resolutions, which  typically carry less weight and commend, recognize or urge actions by others.


Immigration laws passed in the first half of 2015. (National Conference of State Legislatures)

Here’s a summary of the trends:

  • The largest share of laws — 23 percent — affected budget and appropriations. Education laws accounted for 15 percent of the total, while those related to health accounted for 14 percent. Twelve percent affected IDs and driver’s licenses, while 10 percent affected law enforcement.

  • Budgets: The budget-related laws passed typically appropriated funds for health, naturalization or refugee services, education programs or law enforcement.
  • Education: Seven states appropriated some or all of the federal naturalization exam, in some cases using the questions in high school civics classes. Utah and Connecticut made it easier for undocumented immigrant students to get higher education assistance, while Mississippi made it harder.
  • Employment: A number of states passed laws regulating employment, addressing eligibility for unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation and authorization to work.
  • Driving: Delaware and Hawaii made it easier for undocumented immigrants to drive legally. Connecticut required that licenses for such immigrants clearly state that they cannot be used for voting.
  • Health: California extended access to health care to poor, undocumented children. Fifteen states passed 22 health-related laws, most of them related to assistance to children and the poor or setting criteria for jobs in the health profession.

Read more: NCSL’s 2015 Immigration Report