Government

by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, CSG Senior Fellows

We spend a great deal of time in an activity they refer to as “radar screening.” The whole point of the effort is to read as much as we can about state government, while interviewing dozens of officials and observers every month. Then we connect the proverbial dots and try to discern the most important topics for the states, whether or not they’ve actually reached the general press. Here, we outline five items we think will grow ever more significant to the states as the new year moves along.

In most years, it's education and health care. At least, those issues rank at the top of the list in governors' state of the state addresses from 2012 to 2014.

The Council of State Governments has been providing the tools state policymakers need to get the job done for more than 80 years. CSG offers a number of valuable programs and publications to give state leaders the information they need to better serve their constituents.

The question the Supreme Court will decide in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores is simple:  who must ask about the need for a religious accommodation—the employer or the...

By Scott D. Pattison, National Association of State Budget Officers

With nearly one-third of total state funds coming from the federal government, states are extremely dependent on the federal government for money. This is a significant portion of state budgets and makes for some fairly major challenges for state officials. Just as important is the fact that the federal government is extremely dependent on the states to carry out federal programs and mandates. Overcoming current challenges in federalism, therefore, will help both levels ensure the goals they set for programs are being met.

Despite political gridlock and partisanship in Washington, D.C., Congress and the president recognize intellectual property as a driver of economic growth in America. Unfortunately, cybercrime is on the rise, and intellectual property is oftentimes the primary target of cyber criminals. To protect intellectual property, the White House, Congress, and state governments all are working diligently to enhance cybersecurity.

President Obama announced Dec. 17 that he would make efforts to ease travel and trade restrictions to Cuba in an effort to empower “Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” The White House has expanded the list of authorized travelers to Cuba and has authorized new goods and services to be exported to Cuba. The departments of Treasury and Commerce have jurisdiction over many of these regulatory changes, and each department submitted its final rules to the Federal Register Jan. 16. The final rules take effect immediately.

Same-sex marriage and an Affordable Care Act case heard in one Supreme Court term.  Does it get any bigger than this?  

The Court will decide whether it is constitutional for states to prohibit same-sex marriage and whether states may refuse to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed out of state.

While the Court refused to hear a number of cases presenting the same issues earlier in the term, these grants came as little surprise.  Between then and now the Sixth Circuit ruled that same-sex marriage bans are...

The federal government spends a lot of money in the states; it infused $3.1 trillion into states in the 2013 fiscal year. Programs include such things as Social Security and Medicaid, and salaries and wages for federal employees living and working in those states. In the 2013 fiscal year, federal spending in the states was the equivalent of about one-fifth of states’ economic activity, according to a report released in December by The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Federal Spending in the States 2004–2013.”

As state leaders outline their strategies and goals for 2015, they are keeping a close watch on the actions of the federal government and how such policies will impact their respective state. Such federal actions – whether in the form of federal funds, congressional legislation, executive orders, and regulations – can dramatically influence the direction and overall strategy of the state. With nearly one third of state funds appropriated from the federal government, many state programs are dependent on a consistent source of funds. This close relationship between the federal government and states has grown more complex in recent years, leaving less certainty about the roles and responsibilities of each respective government.

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