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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.

Chapter 4 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

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 movement of women into state-level offices has slowed in recent years after several decades of gains. Efforts to actively recruit women for elected and appointed positions will be critical in determining what the future holds for women in state government.

Chapter 5 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

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.

The long awaited return to normal for the nation’s population growth and migration flows after a long lull that began during the Great Recession has yet to surface. This can be gleaned from a spate of recently released demographic statistics. The continued slowdown has implications for population growth in most states, especially the rapid population gainers of the pre-recession period. The continuing freeze on previously free-flowing migration streams across broad regions of the country suggests a revival will not occur anytime soon.

Chapter 6 of the 2014 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

State and territorial attorneys general have made it a priority to combat the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and to protect military service members from predatory lenders. Their efforts include law enforcement operations, state drug monitoring programs and education campaigns. 

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