BOS 2011

THE BOOK OF THE STATES 2011

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 Citizens Jury process was one of the first, and yet most thorough, democratic processes created in the 20th century. It gathers a microcosm of the public to study an issue for at least five days, drawing upon witnesses from a number of points of view. It was used extensively in the 1990s and early 2000s on topics as diverse as the size of hog feedlots in a Minnesota county to global climate change, conducted in 2002 for the EPA. Its most recent major use has been to evaluate ballot initiatives in Oregon and to recommend changes to the election recount law in Minnesota. This article lays out some of the history of the process and how the Jefferson Center, its originator, hopes to use it in the future. Details about how the process is conducted can be learned at www.jefferson-center.org.

It has been a widely held belief for many years that the number of students in a class can impact student learning through the amount of individualized instruction students receive and the level of disruptive behavior, which can be worse in classrooms with too many students. However, despite those popularly held views, empirical evidence does not show a clear-cut connection between class size and student achievement, particularly at the secondary school level. This lack of evidence showing favorable outcomes associated with reduced class size, combined with restrictive state budgets, has resulted in bigger class sizes in recent years. This article examines conflicting research regarding class size and student learning, as well as state policies governing the number of students per class.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2010 set off a series of events the state hadn’t seen in 140 years and raised questions about the line of succession to the governor’s office. The situation mirrored one in New Jersey in the early 2000s, when several governors left the office and senate presidents took on the role of “acting governor.” As in  New Jersey, the change sparked debate about the need for the office of lieutenant governor.

State fish and wildlife agencies across the U.S. are faced with an uncertain future. As the economy impacts both revenues and costs of operations, these user-funded agencies must adapt to the new realities. One innovative employee-based initiative is well underway in the state of Alabama. Substantive cost-savings and increased cost-effectiveness are already being realized.

Governors remain in the forefront of activity in the 21st century. While the governorship was not the stepping stone to the presidency for President Barack Obama as it was for our two previous presidents, Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton from Arkansas (1993–2001) and Republican Gov. George W. Bush from Texas (2001–2009), governors continue to be in the middle of addressing the problems facing our country’s weak economy. The demands on governors to propose state budgets and then keep them in balance have increased greatly during the current recession. Proposed and adopted budgets have fallen victim to severe revenue shortfalls in the states, which has placed severe limits on the states to address the many growing needs of people trying to live through these very tough times. Politically, this has led to political fallout from unhappy voters as they vent their anger and frustration toward elected leaders on election days.

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