BOS 2009


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 » State Constitutions

Chapter 2 » Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations

Chapter 3 » State Legislative Branch

Chapter 4 » State Executive Branch

Chapter 5 » State Judicial Branch

Chapter 6 » Elections

Chapter 7 » State Finance

Chapter 8 » State Management, Administration, and Demographics

Chapter 9 » Selected State Policies and Programs

Chapter 10 » State Pages

The current economic crisis and the new Democratic majority in the federal government will produce significant policy changes relevant to state-federal relations, but, overall, American federalism will continue its contemporary coercive course in an evolutionary manner because that course has involved expansions of federal power that were augmented by crises in the past and by change-minded presidents supported by partisan majorities in Congress.

As our world shrinks and the enormity of specific policy issues grows, multiple states are finding themselves facing similar, if not identical, situations. While states must act to address current and emerging problems, they are not required to act alone. In fact, states may find that acting in cooperation with their neighbors affords significant opportunities for creative problem solving, economies of scale and the bolstering of state rights over a range of topics. Interstate compacts are not new, nor are they unfamiliar to the modern policymaker. However, the innovative ways in which interstate compacts may be used are evolving before us – seeking to tackle a host of issues not previously addressed by this interstate mechanism. As states struggle with nearly unparalleled financial downturns and revenue declines, interstate compacts are an efficient tool to promote cooperative regional or national action.

Fewer state constitutional amendments were proposed and approved in 2008 than in recent evennumbered years. Several amendments, however, generated considerable attention. Voters in three more states approved same-sex marriage bans, including the first measure to overturn a state court ruling that had legalized the practice. Two more affirmative action bans were proposed; one was approved, the other defeated, marking the first popular rejection of such a measure. Other notable amendments addressed abortion, voting rights, redistricting, gambling and investment of public funds in the stock market. Meanwhile, voters in three states rejected automatically referred measures on whether to call constitutional conventions.