BOS 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

Chapter 5 of the 2012 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Chapter 3 of the 2012 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Partisan polarization characterizes the current period of coercive federalism, shaping state-federal relations in often conflictual ways. Major clashes have occurred over health care, immigration, education, environmental protection, voting rights and numerous cultural issues such as abortion. State-federal disputes over health care and immigration have, moreover, generated two U.S. Supreme Court contests that could mark a pivotal advance or rollback of federal power over the states. At the same time, austerity and scrambles for tax revenue continue to characterize intergovernmental fiscal relations, while social welfare spending drives state budgets and squeezes funding for nonwelfare functions and for local governments.

It could be argued that government is more transparent today than at any point in our country’s history. From the example set by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state financial managers have worked to implement legislation envisioning ever greater access by citizens to government spending data. Transparency websites were first a trend for just a few states; they are now the norm. With each passing legislative session, the federal government hones its focus—and its mandates—on the concept of transparency. But how much is too much? At what point on the spectrum does the risk inherent in sharing so much financial data outweigh the potential benefits? These are not easy questions to answer. Regardless, it looks like transparency is here to stay.

In the relatively few state legislative and gubernatorial elections in 2011, Republicans continued their winning streak in Southern states, coming closer to complete control of states in the region by taking over the Mississippi House for the first time since Reconstruction and by taking back functional control of the Virginia Senate. The four odd-year election states of Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia staged regular elections for 578 legislative seats in 2011. In the end, Republicans picked up 25 seats in the off-year elections, adding to their dramatic gains from the year before and putting the party in its strongest position in state legislatures since 1928.