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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.

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:

...

Recent reports about state courts invariably highlight contention over how judges are selected and the unrelenting decline in court budgets. This report is no different. But behind the saga of inadequate court resources and the presence of big money, special interest influence and partisanship in the selection of judges, other significant stories are playing out. State courts are striving to innovate by applying the latest technology to the courthouse and courtroom. State courts also are looking for advice from new media experts about new ways to communicate with the public and improve court processes, as well as how to adapt those processes to ensure trials remain fair in a digital world. Evidence on the value of implementing procedural fairness as a mechanism for reducing recidivism was reinforced by a new community court evaluation.
 
A Transformative Transportation Project: Panama Canal Expansion—The ongoing expansion is perhaps the most transformative global transportation project now in progress. Upon completion in 2014, the expanded Panama Canal will facilitate an even greater flow of trade between Asia and the Americas and will substantially impact the volume of trade reaching Gulf and Atlantic coast ports in the United States. The impetus for the expansion of the canal, approved by the people of Panama in October 2006, sprang from that nation’s desire to continue as a pivotal player in global trade patterns and strategically leverage its greatest asset—the Panama Canal—for its own economic well-being.

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