The movement to add environmental bills of rights to state constitutions is important as one manifestation of a wider environmentalism that began to sweep the country in the 1970s, but also because it sheds interesting light on state constitutions and constitutional processes. The states proved to be more hospitable for this type of constitutional reform than the federal because state constitutional traditions diverge substantially from the national model. In particular, the argument is that the openness of state constitutional processes to their political environment facilitated the effort to place environmental rights, as well as a variety of other environmental provisions, in state constitutions.   

Although constitutional amendment activity was lower in 2014 than in recent even-numbered years, several of the 72 approved amendments attracted significant attention. These include amendments relaxing legislative term limits in Arkansas, creating a bipartisan redistricting commission in New York, eliminating a judicial merit selection commission in Tennessee, strengthening the right to bear arms in Alabama and Missouri, guaranteeing a right to farm in Missouri, and barring state and local officials from enforcing unconstitutional federal directives in Arizona.

Chapter 1 of the 2015 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

Several amendments on the 2013 ballot attracted significant attention, most notably a proposed Colorado amendment that would have raised income tax rates and increased school funding but was rejected by voters. Notable amendments approved by voters include a Texas amendment authorizing use of $2 billion from the state rainy day fund to pay for water projects, a New York amendment allowing operation of up to seven casinos and a New Jersey amendment increasing the minimum wage. The level of state constitutional amendment activity was on par with recent odd-year elections, with only five states considering amendments in 2013, and a good deal of attention focused on qualifying measures for the 2014 ballot.

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

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

Book of the States 2013

Chapter 1: State Constitutions


  1. "State Constitutional Developments in 2012"


State Constitutions:


Several of the 135 amendments on the 2012 ballot attracted significant attention, including a California amendment increasing income and sales tax rates, a Colorado amendment legalizing recreational marijuana, and various amendments regarding the right to bear arms, same-sex marriage and affirmative action. Although voters in three states rejected automatically generated referendums on calling constitutional conventions, two recently established constitutional revision commissions were operating this year, thereby continuing a recent tradition of undertaking constitutional reform through piecemeal amendments and commissions rather than in conventions.

While hunting and fishing rights as well as gun control have not been major issues in this year’s Presidential election – though as I understand it Congressman Ryan is an avid hunter when he’s not working out – the issue is at play in several states this election cycle.

Four states – Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming – are considering constitutional amendments that would protect the rights of residents to hunt and fish, subject to state regulations. Each clearly states that hunting and fishing will be the preferred means...

Stateline Midwest ~ June 2012

Question: What states in the Midwest have freedom-of-conscience language in their constitutions or statutes?

Several of the 26 amendments on the 2011 ballot attracted significant attention, including an unsuccessful Mississippi personhood amendment and a successful Ohio amendment exempting residents from health insurance mandates. Voters also considered high-profile amendments regarding voter identification, eminent domain and sports betting. Additionally, the Alabama and Ohio legislatures established constitutional revision commissions charged with reviewing and recommending changes to these state constitutions.