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

Congress slowly exercised its power of pre-emption to remove regulatory powers from state and local governments commencing from 1790 through the mid-1960s, when the pace accelerated. A significant number of acts contain mandates requiring state and/or local governments to initiate a compliance action(s) or impose prohibitions. No pre-emption mandate relief act has been enacted since 1996. This article focuses on the pre-emption acts signed by President Barack Obama since January 2009.

First referenced in Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, interstate compacts are the most formal mechanism available to policymakers seeking state-driven solutions to a wide range of policy challenges. Of all the tools available to state policymakers trying to work cooperatively across borders, interstate compacts are the most formal and perhaps the least understood.1 Compacts hold a unique place in American history for several different reasons. First, while the use of interstate compacts dates back to the founding of the country, the frequency with which they are used has expanded considerably over the last half century. Second, compacts provide state policymakers with a sustainable tool capable of promoting interstate cooperation without federal intervention. Third, interstate compacts can be used to address a wide range of policy challenges, ranging from insurance reform to environmental regulation and virtually everything in between. 

In its October Term 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide four significant and prominent federalism cases involving states. These cases include the Affordable Care Act cases, the Arizona immigration case, the Texas redistricting case and the California Medicaid case. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed amicus curiae briefs in four cases to be decided this term affecting state and local government, including the California Medicaid case.

The Uniform Law Commission is actively engaging with the federal government on behalf of the states to create and preserve an effective balance of federalism. It is also serving to increase the dialogue about the benefits of cooperative federalism and developing guiding principles on how responsibilities can be best allocated to preserve the balance of state and federal roles.

With the flow of federal funding slowing dramatically, states will need to look to Washington for flexibility rather than dollars to meet their own budget challenges.