BOS 2015

THE BOOK OF THE STATES 2015

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

 

Every state has a system for asking voters to show that they are who they say they are. The most restrictive of such laws have drawn court challenge. This litigation is as varied as the voter ID regimes: cases have proceeded on different facts in different contexts, under different legal theories. 

There were many issues facing governors in 2014. Even as the stock market rebounded and state budgets grew at a moderate pace, unemployment and underemployment remained high. Public discontent with government has been indiscriminate in its focus, levied at not only politicians in Washington, but also those in state capitals. This led to political fallout from voters as they vented their anger and frustration on elected leaders on Election Day.1

Mixed messages of the current economy keep at bay a full recovery from the Great Recession that officially ended in June 2009. The drop in oil prices has put money in consumers’ pockets, but these consumers seem wary of returning it into circulation, with many using the extra cash to pay off or reduce personal debt. In some ways, governors are similarly disposed as they map the policy and budget way forward for their respective states. Several chief executives are asking for more stringent laws, constitutional requirements, for budget balance or regarding the payment of debt, to keep their states on a path toward fiscal sustainability. Watch words this year include “cautious optimism” and “continuous improvement.”1 

Voters who want to share a selfie with their marked ballot on Election Day need to think twice. Many states make it a crime to take photos or videos in the voting booth, and at least one state has adopted strict new penalties for sharing your ballot selfie via social media. States with such bans say the laws are necessary to ensure ballot secrecy and discourage vote selling, but election officials say the prohibitions are tough to enforce. In an era where more and more voters have smartphones, states are grappling with just how smart it is to ban ballot selfies.


The 2014 election resulted in Republican dominance of state legislative control unmatched in nearly a century. Riding a surge of disaffection with a president in the sixth year of office, combined with low, midterm voter turnout among Democrats, Republicans won big. They also continued to benefit from a built in redistricting advantage stemming from the 2010 election success by the party. Essentially, everything went one direction in the 2014 election—the direction of the Grand Old Party.

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