CSG South

In December 1999, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 2000, requiring all public utilities that own, operate or control interstate transmission facilities to file a proposal or a progress report on how they would create or join a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), or to describe any barriers to joining or forming such a group. In short, an RTO acts as an umbrella organization that brings all public utility transmission systems within a region under common control, and FERC had hoped to complete the RTO formation process by December 12, 2001.

CSG South

On November 7 and 8, 2003, legislators and policymakers from across the South met in Point Clear, Alabama, for the 2003 SLC Rural Forum, an open discussion on the status and future of the rural South. Through the two days of discussion, participants were asked to identify the most critical concerns for rural areas, the potential partners for addressing these concerns, and the appropriate role for state government in improving the condition of the rural South.

CSG South

This presentation discusses some of the actions taken by states in grappling with the serious fiscal challenges that have arisen in the past few years. It consists of two interconnected parts. Part I looks at broad national economic trends and some trends at the state level. Part II delves into some of the more innovative strategies adopted by policymakers to overcome the budget shortfalls that have plagued states for almost four consecutive years now.

Privatization continues to be a controversial management issue in state governments. In the past five years, 1997-2002, the extent of privatization activities in the states has largely remained the same as in the previous five years or slightly increased. The main reasons for privatization are a lack of personnel or expertise and cost savings. In most cases, privatized services account for less than 5 percent of agency services, while reported costs savings range from none to less than 5 percent. But many state agency directors surveyed seem to have no clear ideas as to how much has been actually saved from privatization. Nevertheless, privatization is likely to continue in the states in the next few years as in the past decade.

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.

Chapter 4 of the 2003 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

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.

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

With continued threats of terrorism facing the country, states are struggling to maintain basic public safety programs while taking on the additional responsibility — and costs — of homeland security. The year 2002 produced a National Strategy for Homeland Security and legislation creating a new federal Department of Homeland Security, but little funding has been provided to support enhanced preparedness efforts by states. It will be important for states to think and plan regionally, utilize mutual aid and leverage limited resources to meet the challenge of making communities safe from terrorism and natural disasters.