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This article synthesizes research findings on organizations registered to lobby state legislatures in the last 20 years. According to data collected and analyzed by the authors, the rapid growth in numbers of registered interests in the 1980s slowed by the end of the 1990s, and institutions became more dominant as a form of organizational representation.

Congress has failed to act in a timely manner on the reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant. Nonetheless, the next generation of welfare reform is already underway. A slowly growing economy, the end of rapid caseload reductions, massive state and local budget problems, and the constraints of a closed-ended block grant will pose serious constraints on state flexibility and on states’ ability to continue new programs developed under the block grant. At the same time, a larger portion of child-only cases, increased sanction rates, a residual population of longer-term cases and the needs of the working poor will require new programs and more effective services. Although it will be difficult, states have little option but to begin to address these problems without waiting for federal action.

Many of the state constitutional developments described in recent editions of The Book of the States have continued into the 21st century. Probably the most important of these is the absence of constitutional conventions and new constitutions. Instead, constitutional change is dominated by amendments and is piecemeal rather than comprehensive. Concerns about terrorism and the threat of war will most likely make it difficult to reverse this trend. Also important is the trend away from adoption of amendments designed to limit state governments’ capacity to govern and toward reforms that are arguably designed to make government more representative and efficient.

The roles and activities of interest groups and lobbyists in the states have received increased attention with the shift of additional responsibilities to the states in recent years and continuing state revenue problems. The authors have been studying this issue since the early 1980s and report a number of important trends regarding the changing nature of the lobbying game in the state capitals: greater representation; more sophisticated lobbyists and multifaceted lobbying campaigns.

This article reviews the most significant emerging trends in economic development and their ramifications for the states. It focuses on the role of information technology, the increasing regionalization of economic development and the new financing tools available to economic developers and how these tools have helped change the states’ development priorities.

Chapter 1 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

The regulation of political money continues to rank high on most states’ list of priorities. Experimentation continues in many areas as reform measures have been adopted both by state legislatures and statewide initiatives. Some discernable trends are clear, including more emphasis on public-funding programs (the “clean elections” movement); regulating the scope, nature and use of contributions; disclosure of political advertisements; stronger enforcement of existing laws and concern regarding independent expenditures.

Congressional preemption of state governments’ regulatory powers dates to 1790, but it generally did not have a major impact until 1965, when the number of preemptive statutes increased sharply. Most congressional preemptions involve commerce, the environment, finance and health. Technological developments and interest group lobbying will result in the enactment of new preemption statutes — particularly in the areas of banking, communications, finance services, insurance and taxation — unless states initiate actions producing harmonious interstate regulatory policies.

The American federal system has been shaken by the impact of recent traumatic events, especially the threats to homeland security and the states’ fiscal crises. These developments have produced deep seated tensions across a wide range of intergovernmental relationships. Recent trends toward coercive relations may be ameliorated by strategies fostering contingent collaboration.

When it comes to voters’ reactions to initiatives and referenda on the ballot in 2002, “cautious” was the word of the day. Amidst concerns about war, terrorism and the economy, the voters once again defied party labeling and voted their conscience when it came to ballot measures. In a time of great uncertainty, voters picked through the list of statewide ballot measures and systematically made their feelings known, while at the same time not revealing whether their underlying principles lean more liberal or conservative. The great race to categorize the voters’ political beliefs will once again have to wait for another election day.

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