Government

This article reviews developments in interstate relations pertaining to uniform state laws, interstate compacts and administrative agreements, civil unions and same-sex marriage, and other pertinent interstate legal matters since 2011.

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By Lisa Soronen, State and Local Legal Center Director

The Supreme Court will decide in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association whether a federal agency must engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act before it can significantly alter an interpretive rule that interprets an agency regulation.

The State and Local Legal Center argues in its...

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The U.S. Senate will return to Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, followed soon by the U.S. House of Representatives, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It is unclear how long Congress will be in session, despite many issues remaining unresolved. Most importantly, Congress must act on the 2015 fiscal year budget, which is set to expire Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown.

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The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. Governors’ salaries in 2014 range from a low of $70,000 per year to a high of $187,818, with an average salary of $134,390. When adjusted for inflation, the average salary in 2014 is very close to what it was 77 years ago, the first year CSG started collecting data.

The Council of State Governments has been collecting data on governors’ salaries for The Book of the States since 1937. The average governor’s salary has grown more slowly in recent years than in the past, with a number of states cutting their chief executive’s pay during and after the Great Recession.

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The results of the Supreme Court’s long conference are in! The court granted a total of 11 petitions.

Two cases stand out as having a particular impact on CSG members. In Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, legislative congressional redistricting authority is on the line. And in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, the constitutionality of a common judicial conduct rule prohibiting candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds is being challenged.

Relatively few state legislative seats were up in 2013 and the only major change was in functional control of the Virginia Senate, where the Democrats eked out control. Republicans, however, continue to dominate the legislative branch across the country by controlling 26 state legislatures, compared to only 19 held by Democrats. Only four states have divided legislative control, representing near historic lows of split control. 

Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast just days before the 2012 presidential election, bringing nearly everything to a halt except Election Day itself. The successes and setbacks election officials experienced in dealing with power outages, polling place changes, ballot delivery and poll worker shortages heightened awareness about the importance of emergency measures to help ensure the effective administration of elections. This article examines the key findings of the National Association of Secretaries of State Task Force on Emergency Preparedness for Elections, providing a closer look at the state laws and contingency planning work that can make a difference when disaster strikes.

Several amendments on the 2013 ballot attracted significant attention, most notably a proposed Colorado amendment that would have raised income tax rates and increased school funding but was rejected by voters. Notable amendments approved by voters include a Texas amendment authorizing use of $2 billion from the state rainy day fund to pay for water projects, a New York amendment allowing operation of up to seven casinos and a New Jersey amendment increasing the minimum wage. The level of state constitutional amendment activity was on par with recent odd-year elections, with only five states considering amendments in 2013, and a good deal of attention focused on qualifying measures for the 2014 ballot.

Governors continue to be at the forefront of governmental activity in the 21st century. They are in the middle of addressing the problems facing the country’s weak economy. The demands on governors to propose state budgets and keep them in balance have continued to increase greatly since the recession began as severe revenue shortfalls hit the states. This places severe limits on the states’ abilities to address many growing needs of people and businesses trying to live through such tough times. The varying political viewpoints on what and how state government should work on this continuing set of problems only makes it harder for elected leaders to achieve agreements over policy needs and governmental responsibilities.

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