Government

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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.

As the end of the Great Recession recedes into the past, governors maintain a “steady as she goes” approach to governing. Perhaps “cautiously expansive” best describes governors’ budget and policy agendas in 2014. The same five issues surfaced this year as last year as being part of most gubernatorial agendas: education, taxes, jobs, health care and public safety. State chief executives continue to finesse their plans for advancing their states as highly educated, economically vibrant, healthy and safe. More governors this year than last year consider state budget balance, rainy day funds and reserves, debt reduction and pensions. Many of these governors are calling for creating, funding and replenishing rainy day funds, applying surpluses to pay for infrastructure and undergirding pension trust funds. Some governors did venture into relatively new areas, given the times, by calling for serious investment in the arts as a roundabout way to influence state economic and cultural development.

The nation’s state treasurers provide a wide range of financial management services to their constituents. They work to safeguard the financial interests of citizens through the professional management of college savings plans, unclaimed property programs and professional debt management efforts. Many are also actively involved in financial literacy efforts and they regularly offer their input and expertise on financial efforts at the federal level that have the potential to impact state treasuries.

The release of voluntary interim financial information by governments is an idea that has been discussed for years. The concept seems simple enough, but in practice governments have found it difficult to implement. In the summer of 2013, the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers—known as NASACT—released a series of 10 best practices aimed at helping states realize this vision of voluntary interim financial reporting.

Party polarization continues to sustain gridlock in Washington and produce state-federal tensions. States could reduce Washington’s polarized gridlock by eliminating partisan gerrymandering and reforming primary elections, but states also are more polarized along red and blue lines. Polarization contributes to coercive federalism, and states are on the defensive in their relations with the federal government. State-federal conflicts over the Affordable Care Act, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, REAL ID and other issues marked 2013–14. Many observers tout state innovation as a counterbalance to Washington’s gridlock, but many innovations are polarizing because they are produced by one-party states and thus lack bipartisan traction. The federal government also pre-empts some state innovations and nationalizes others. The U.S. Supreme Court decided eight federalism-relevant cases during its 2012–13 term and four in early 2014, with 10 to be decided as of April 2014.

Declining budgets, the need for court reforms and efforts to rein in court power necessitate examining how courts work with or lobby other branches of government. This article examines existing research on how courts do intergovernmental relations work and focuses on the need for the development of best practices.

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