Book of the States

The Council of State Governments continues a long tradition of “sharing capitol ideas” with the publication of the 2016 edition of The Book of the States. Since 1933, CSG has served as a resource for state leaders and a catalyst for innovation and excellence in state governance. The Book of the States has been the reference tool of choice since 1935, providing relevant, accurate and timely information, answers and comparisons for all 56 states, commonwealths and territories of the United States.  

The 2016 volume includes 157 in-depth tables, charts and figures illustrating how state government operates. It also includes 30 articles from state leaders, innovative thinkers, noted scholars and CSG’s in-house policy experts that analyze and report on the transformations taking place in state government. Staff members mined more than 500 sources to obtain the information shared in The Book of the States

  The 2016 edition of The Book of the States is now available! 

 Archive: 1935-2012

In this presidential election year, many state government chief executives found themselves in the proverbial “hot seat.” Some had to deal with a precipitous drop in state revenues and so broached taboo topics in their state of state speeches, like painful cuts or new taxes. Others deflected criticisms related to religious liberty bills or defended themselves in the face of gross state mismanagement and ineptitude or even moral lapse. In light of a still sluggish economy and the caustic election climate, state chief executives, for the most part, keep their addresses short and focused. On average, governors addressed fewer issues than in the recent past. Also, the average number of topics addressed by at least two-thirds of governors dropped by half to two, from an average of four, evidenced over the last six years—that is, at least 66 percent of governors outlined their education and jobs agendas.1

The handful of state elections in 2015 resulted in very little change to the state partisan landscape. Republicans maintained their historically strong hold on state governments.

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide six big cases this term—five of them will directly impact the states. Redistricting and preemption cases are also popular with the court this term. The Supreme Court will decide four redistricting cases—including a “big” redistricting case—and four preemption cases. Justice Scalia’s death is likely to impact the outcome of many of the cases important to the states.

This article reviews developments in interstate relations pertaining to uniform state laws, interstate compacts and administrative agreements, civil union and same-sex marriage, and other pertinent interstate legal matters since 2014.

Federalism is again a silent note in the presidential campaign, although some candidates advanced platforms or policies relevant to state-local relations. Despite partisan gridlock,Congress finally reauthorized the highway and education programs, with the latter increasing state and local discretionary authority, but regulatory enactments and Supreme Court diminutions of state powers continue apace. Legalized marijuana still experiences intergovernmental impediments; a revival of the Sagebrush Rebellion was a publicity failure; the federal government is poised to demand states’ compliance with REAL ID while also encroaching upon state regulation of the operation of autonomous motor vehicles.

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