CSG’s Interbranch Working Group grew out of the realization that many state issues require the input and perspective of the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. By bringing officials together from all three branches to help solve complex public problems, it has become the catalyst to share best practices and identify and monitor divisive issues across the states.

The U.S. is undergoing a major demographic revolution that will have major public policy implications across regions and states and within regions and states. Our population is aging, we are becoming more diverse, dramatic migration patterns are occurring and social indicators reveal major challenges ahead.

State courts are improving public service by adopting the CourTools Access and Fairness survey to gather the views of court users. Key issues of access to court services and fairness in court proceedings are highlighted.

Budget crises associated with the general economic downturn overshadowed other issues confronting the state courts. Judicial branches developed objective measures of their efficiency, accessibility, and fairness to demonstrate their accountability for how public funds are spent. Courts also helped lead interbranch efforts to confront problems like mortgage foreclosures and child abuse and neglect.

Since its implementation in 2005, Washington’s Government Management Accountability and Performance (GMAP) program has become an invaluable tool to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire in measuring and improving the performance of state agencies.

Fewer state constitutional amendments were proposed and approved in 2008 than in recent evennumbered years. Several amendments, however, generated considerable attention. Voters in three more states approved same-sex marriage bans, including the first measure to overturn a state court ruling that had legalized the practice. Two more affirmative action bans were proposed; one was approved, the other defeated, marking the first popular rejection of such a measure. Other notable amendments addressed abortion, voting rights, redistricting, gambling and investment of public funds in the stock market. Meanwhile, voters in three states rejected automatically referred measures on whether to call constitutional conventions.

Most states collect and analyze data on their government work force. With the baby boomer population reaching retirement age and 27 percent of the state work force across the country eligible to retire within the next five years, assessing the shrinking work force will continue as a critical exercise.

This article investigates the nature and extent to which state courts are racially and ethnically diverse. Judicial diversity is examined for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. The findings indicate that only modest increases in judicial diversity have occurred in the states’ major appellate and trial courts since 2008. Minority judges are more likely to obtain seats on state courts through gubernatorial appointment, especially in states that formally use elections to select judges. This research underscores the complexity of state judicial selection and the role governors play in increasing racial and ethnic judicial diversity.

Democrats have been on a roll in legislative elections and increased their numbers again in 2008. Buoyed by the strong campaign of President Barack Obama in many key states, Democratic gains last year leave them at their best political position in legislatures in well over a decade. Democrats control 24 legislatures, Republicans control 14 and 8 are divided between the two parties.

Each state provides its governor with an office staff dedicated to supporting the governor and to assisting the governor in the leadership and management of state government.

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