Interstate Compacts

Stateline Midwest ~ July/August 2012

With Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich’s signing of HB 473 into law in June, each of the eight Great Lakes states now has water-management plans in place to comply with a historic agreement designed to protect the world’s largest system of fresh surface water.

With growth rates approaching 20 percent, online learning represents the fastest growing segment of the higher education population.  These statistics are only expected to continue climbing as technology continues to improve. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, developed jointly by CSG and The Presidents’ Forum, that aims to promote interstate reciprocity in online and distance learning. 

First referenced in Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, interstate compacts are the most formal mechanism available to policymakers seeking state-driven solutions to a wide range of policy challenges. Of all the tools available to state policymakers trying to work cooperatively across borders, interstate compacts are the most formal and perhaps the least understood.1 Compacts hold a unique place in American history for several different reasons. First, while the use of interstate compacts dates back to the founding of the country, the frequency with which they are used has expanded considerably over the last half century. Second, compacts provide state policymakers with a sustainable tool capable of promoting interstate cooperation without federal intervention. Third, interstate compacts can be used to address a wide range of policy challenges, ranging from insurance reform to environmental regulation and virtually everything in between. 

Interstate compacts are the only form of multi-state cooperation specifically referenced in the Constitution.  This brief outlines the history of interstate compacts and specifically addresses how modern compacts are being used to address cross border policy challenges.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT, that The Council of State Governments establish a Telehealth Care Interstate Compact Working Group to explore the creation of a new interstate compact agreement designed to improve access to health care in rural areas by facilitating the interstate licensing of doctors and reforming the existing reimbursement system.  The working group will research the feasibility of such an arrangement and make specific recommendations to the CSG National Health Policy Task Force within one year.

The Council of State Governments will be offering a variety of webinars designed to educate and inform state leaders on a range of policy-related issues. Registration for these sessions is complimentary. 

Each webinar offered by CSG will be available for viewing on our website within a week of its scheduled date.

  • Essential Health Benefits: An Overview for State Legislators
    Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2-3 p.m. EST

  • Prescription Drug Abuse: A Growing Epidemic
    Presented by CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts
    Wednesday, March 7, 1:30-2:30 p.m. EST
  • Protecting Your Online Identity
    Presented by CSG's National Leadership Center 
    Thursday, March 15, 2-3 p.m. EDT

Each spring break and summer, Jean Hall and her staff in the juvenile compact office in Florida stay very busy.  The lure of beaches, sunshine and Disney attract a lot of runaways. To return these youth to their home state, Florida—like all other states—must follow certain rules under the Interstate Compact for Juveniles, or ICJ. But when a state is not a member of that national compact, no legal means exist for that safe return. That’s especially problematic for Florida, which neighbors Georgia, the only state that isn’t a member of the compact.

While interstate compacts are essentially contracts whose provisions are limited primarily by the imaginations of their drafters, their development has, in practice, evolved along best practices. Compacts are legally binding agreements between state governments. Because these dynamic institutions change with gubernatorial administrations and legislative representation, creating an agreement that adequately manages an ongoing and complex interstate relationship is critical, and delineating the governance apparatus is one way to ensure the smooth, continued operation of the compact.

As the historic Great Lakes compact made its way through state legislatures, much of the media coverage on the agreement focused on its ban of out-of-basin diversions. But the compact did much more.

Florida launched its prescription drug monitoring program yesterday--a significant development that was applauded by other state leaders like Kentucky's Governor Steve Beshear.  A prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) or prescription drug monitoring program (PMP) functions as an online database that various officials can access to see an individual's prescription history. Keeping a record of prescription history could, for example, help a pharmacist identify someone who was trying to get prescriptions for pain relief filled multipe times at different pharmacies--thus indicating drug abuse by that person and/or an intent to sell the drugs.