Executive Branch

Have you ever had the pleasure of reading the Federal Register? For those that have to decipher, translate, and live with the implications of federal rulemakings, trying to understand them can cause significant frustration or perhaps be a cure for insomnia. Here's hoping that a recent announcement by Cass Sunstein, the Director of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, will offer state governments some future relief.

The president’s recently released deficit reduction plan includes a strategy to increase the solvency of state’s unemployment trust funds and to provide some fiscal relief for those states that have borrowed from the federal government to cover their unemployment insurance costs.

Lieutenant governors are often the first in line of succession when a governor leaves office in the middle of a term. But that’s not always the case. Lieutenant governors may obtain duties through gubernatorial appointment, statute, the Constitution, direct democracy action or personal initiative.

    When former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2010, he set off a chain of events not seen in the state for 140 years. That’s the last time a vacancy occurred in the governor’s office and the last time the state had to consider its line of succession.

    As the chief legal officers of the states, commonwealths and territories of the United States, attorneys general serve as counselors to state government agencies and legislatures, and as representatives of the public interest. A large group of new state attorneys general were sworn in at the beginning of 2011, following the November 2010 elections. This year will bring a continued effort to fight financial fraud but attorneys general now have expanded enforcement authority under a new federal law. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is also making a priority of providing the highest quality legal training for those in state government service.

    Governors remain in the forefront of activity in the 21st century. While the governorship was not the stepping stone to the presidency for President Barack Obama as it was for our two previous presidents, Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton from Arkansas (1993–2001) and Republican Gov. George W. Bush from Texas (2001–2009), governors continue to be in the middle of addressing the problems facing our country’s weak economy. The demands on governors to propose state budgets and then keep them in balance have increased greatly during the current recession. Proposed and adopted budgets have fallen victim to severe revenue shortfalls in the states, which has placed severe limits on the states to address the many growing needs of people trying to live through these very tough times. Politically, this has led to political fallout from unhappy voters as they vent their anger and frustration toward elected leaders on election days.

    State fish and wildlife agencies across the U.S. are faced with an uncertain future. As the economy impacts both revenues and costs of operations, these user-funded agencies must adapt to the new realities. One innovative employee-based initiative is well underway in the state of Alabama. Substantive cost-savings and increased cost-effectiveness are already being realized.

    West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2010 set off a series of events the state hadn’t seen in 140 years and raised questions about the line of succession to the governor’s office. The situation mirrored one in New Jersey in the early 2000s, when several governors left the office and senate presidents took on the role of “acting governor.” As in  New Jersey, the change sparked debate about the need for the office of lieutenant governor.

    State treasurers provide professional financial management and accountability for a variety of public funds. These include general operating funds and special funds such as unclaimed property programs. They also borrow money through the municipal debt market to finance state projects.

    Chapter 4 of the 2011 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

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