BOS 2012

THE BOOK OF THE STATES 2012

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 and Administration

Chapter 9 » Selected State Policies and Programs

Chapter 10 » State Pages

Voters in nine states approved 21 of 34 ballot propositions in 2011. The number of propositions was down significantly from 183 in 2010, but comparable to previous odd-year elections. Perhaps the highest profile contest was an Ohio referendum on a law limiting collective bargaining by public employees. The fate of tax and borrowing proposals in several states provides a temperature reading on the electorate’s fiscal attitude.

Even though the nation has more than 200 years experience in conducting elections, changes mandated by federal and state laws, combined with technological changes and major shifts within society, mean that states need immediate policy and budget responses. The cost to states and local governments for election administration is likely to be high for the next three years, but some of that can be mitigated with legislative action to grant reprieve from outdated laws and practices.

The fields of medicine, education, child welfare, mental health, probation and corrections have all been influenced by evidence-based practices. In essence, evidence-based practices are a set of guidelines—based upon rigorous research, evaluations and meta-analysis—that have proved effective in improving decision making and outcomes. In the medical world, for example, evidence-based practice refers to the “conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients.”1 Only recently, however, has this approach spilled over into state courts in the form of providing decision-making tools for judges at the time of criminal sentencing.

More and more frequently, state and territorial attorneys general are at the forefront of dealing with great issues of the day, from combating human trafficking to enforcing consumer protection and cyberspace laws. With each year, attorneys general face additional challenges and legal landscapes. In 2012, attorneys general are shining a light on modern day slavery, as well as continuing to fight financial fraud. Additionally, Election Day 2012 will bring at least five new state attorneys general and another five who are seeking re-election.

Can cutting red tape in state government really make a difference when it comes to job creation and business support? At a time when many states are seeking ways to encourage economic growth and stability, secretaries of state are making efforts to ensure that state filing and licensing offices are business-friendly and streamlined for success through business one-stops, fee reductions and other incentives.

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