A steady rise in states considering guaranteed workplace retirement savings laws has revived a debate over the potential for federal government intervention in covering American workers whose employers don’t already offer 401(k)s.

North Carolina became the latest state last month to introduce a bill (H.B. 496) that would establish a savings tool akin to an automatic individual retirement account for private-sector workers. Nationwide, 16 states and two cities have passed state-sponsored retirement savings plans, according to the Georgetown University Center for Retirement Initiatives.