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The labor force participation rate has been on the decline for more than a decade and the rate of decline has increased since the Great Recession began in December 2007. The likelihood of someone not participating in the labor force, as well as the reason for not participating, often depends on a person’s age. Participation rates vary significantly across states and regions, with a range of nearly 20 percentage points between the lowest and highest states.

With more and more people relying on smartphones and tablet computers to conduct their everyday business, mobility is rapidly becoming a must-have capability for state government agencies, including election offices. State efforts to transform and modernize voting through mobile technology took center stage during the 2012 presidential election cycle, with the introduction of new smartphone apps, tablet voting programs and emergency texting options for voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy. This article outlines some of the key state mobile initiatives for the 2012 election cycle, along with some potential options that may enhance the voting experience in the future.
 
Family caregivers are the backbone of our nation’s system of long-term services and supports for older adults and people with disabilities. The economic value of their contributions is estimated at $450 billion per year. It is critical that states support the efforts of these caregivers, to help them avoid burn out and protect their own health.
 
The Internet has transformed everything we do—from buying groceries to boarding an airplane—and has emerged as the engine of a new global economy. Its growth is fueled by a set of emerging technologies and business models that are challenging our ability to control how and with whom our personal information is shared, as well as changing our understanding of privacy. These developments in technology and enterprise have created new privacy risks for individuals and corporations. Attorneys general are seeking the best ways to manage those risks by investigating, educating and advocating for meaningful online protections and controls that protect our privacy while also protecting the growth of this new economy. The attorneys general also are tracking implementation of the national $25 billion mortgage
servicing settlement they reached last year to bring relief to homeowners.
 
The federal surface transportation bill known as MAP-21, which President Obama signed into law July 6, 2012, authorized programs and funding for two years. In addition to providing at least a modicum of greater certainty for state transportation agencies, the legislation incorporates important policy changes: consolidating and streamlining existing programs to give states added flexibility, including provisions designed to accelerate the delivery of projects, moving ahead with a performance-based approach to transportation investment and providing a boost to a popular credit assistance program that could help some states tackle expensive projects. State transportation officials from four states in different regions of the country say while many of these policy changes are welcome, much remains to be done to ensure MAP-21’s success and to ensure the next federal bill addresses the long-term future of the federal transportation program.
 
The nation’s state treasurers provide financial management and accountability for a wide variety of public funds. In many states, they also work to safeguard the financial interests of citizens through professional management of college savings plans, unclaimed property programs and professional debt management efforts.
 
An innovative approach to managing nutrient runoff and water quality is being implemented in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio by using the basic structure of the successful Acid Rain Program first implemented in the mid-1990s by the EPA. In essence, the program creates a water quality cap-and-trade program that allows an industrial facility or utility to substantially reduce its compliance costs under the Clean Water Act by providing financial incentives to agriculture operations to implement best practices to reduce nutrient discharges into water. This flexible approach to environmental stewardship is thought to be the largest project of its kind in the world.
 
Citizens and governing bodies are demanding more transparency regarding a government's overall financial condition and individual transactions than ever before. The movement toward more transparency began just before the economic downturn that emerged in 2008, but really gathered steam with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, which required quarterly reporting on a national website of Recovery Act-related expenditures. States and many local governments followed by creating their own transparency websites. In 2012, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, known as GASB, issued two new accounting principles that are designed to provide increased transparency into one of government’s largest unfunded liabilities—pension systems. GASB, through the issuance of Statement No. 67 for pension plans and Statement No. 68 for employers, has dramatically changed the way pensions are calculated and reported in a government’s financial statement. This article will highlight the changes relating to Statement No. 68, focusing on how the new standard will assist state and local policymakers and the public to better understand their pension liabilities.
 
Innovation is the buzzword of this economic recovery: Two-thirds of our gross domestic product growth is attributed to it and jobs in these industries pay 70 percent more than other jobs. Yet politicians have a difficult time pulling away from traditional economic development programs that focus on shovel-ready projects or consumption-driven programs like Cash for Clunkers. Part of this reluctance, I believe, stems from a misunderstanding of what innovation actually is.
 

Chapter 1 of the 2013 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Book of the States 2013

Chapter 1: State Constitutions

Articles

  1. "State Constitutional Developments in 2012"

Tables:

State Constitutions:

...

Pages