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Elections continued to be the focal point of study and attention by federal policymakers after long lines developed in some locations during the 2012 election. The President’s Commission on Election Administration looked at election practices and made recommendations in January 2014. Congress continues to focus on military and overseas voters and also introduced voting-related bills in response to the commission. The Supreme Court negated the continued use of preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice for approval of voting changes, which is likely to lead to new legislation related to voting.

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.

Voters decided 31 state-level propositions in 2013, a slow year for citizen lawmaking. The most controversial measures were a tax increase in Colorado and GMO food labeling in Washington. Voters also decided a large number of local ballot propositions, addressing a number of high profile issues, including minimum wage, marijuana legalization and pension reform.

Chapter 1 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product grew 1.9 percent in the United States during 2013, which is somewhat lower than long-term expectations for economic growth. Employment rose a relatively healthy 1.6 percent, but nearly 1.2 million fewer people have a job than before the recession. Most analysts expect better GDP growth during 2014 and anticipate employment will finally rise above the pre-recession peak sometime during the second half of 2014. Economic growth will improve because the short-term drag caused by sequestration and the debt ceiling debate has played through the economy, improvements in household balance sheets are allowing solid consumer spending increases, business investment is rising with better business equipment purchases and housing construction is healthier in many regions.

Chapter 2 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Fiscal conditions for states continued to moderately improve in the 2013 fiscal year. Revenue collections exceeded projections for the vast majority of states and spending from both state funds and federal funds experienced stronger growth in comparison to the 2012 fiscal year. Additionally, the number of states making midyear budget cuts remained low and states have continued to replenish their rainy day funds and reserves. In the 2014 fiscal year, states are expected to have continued positive revenue and spending growth. Revenue and spending growth rates, however, are expected to be slower than last year. States are cautiously optimistic that fiscal conditions will continue to slowly improve in the 2015 fiscal year and beyond, although challenges remain.

Chapter 3 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

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. 

State fiscal and economic indicators continue to slowly improve as the effects of the Great Recession continue to linger. For more than a year and a half, state tax collections have consistently grown and states have invested in rainy day funds. On a per capita basis, state general expenditures declined slightly in 2012 over 2011 levels and education and public welfare remained the largest components of state spending in 2012—65.5 percent.

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