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CSG South

Throughout America’s history, there has been protracted debate over the best method of selecting judges. The dilemma has been how to select judges by means consistent with the nation’s democratic values, and at the same time insulating the bench from political and special interest influence. The debate has come to the forefront in recent years as judicial elections in a number of states have become increasingly costly, contested and negative. This Southern Legislative Conference Regional Resource examines state judicial selection methods, primarily in the South, along with the opinions of several legal scholars and practitioners.

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.

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 American federal system has been shaken by the impact of recent traumatic events, especially the threats to homeland security and the states’ fiscal crises. These developments have produced deep seated tensions across a wide range of intergovernmental relationships. Recent trends toward coercive relations may be ameliorated by strategies fostering contingent collaboration.

Medicaid stands out as the program hit hardest by the economic downturn and rising health care costs. Governors, legislative leaders and Medicaid officials around the country see the program’s current cost trajectory as unsustainable in both the short-term and the long-term. Yet, states have faced similar situations before. As in previous eras of runaway cost growth, state leaders are marvelously adept at developing coping mechanisms. Emerging trends in state responses to the Medicaid crisis may indicate the future direction of Medicaid policy.

This article traces past and current trends in parole and probation. Lessons from history are framed in the context of implications for future trends in the 50 states. It discusses parole and probation’s public value in terms of public safety and justice, along with the cost-benefit  implications of past, current and future trends.

In his 2002 State of the Union message, President George W. Bush announced the creation of an umbrella citizen service initiative, the USA Freedom Corps, intended to dramatically increase volunteerism. Under this initiative, the Citizen Corps has the central responsibility for mobilizing local volunteers in emergency preparedness and response. Interviews of state officials who will implement Citizen Corps suggest a framework for understanding the success of federal volunteerism initiatives devolved to the state and local levels. Five factors appear important to implementation success: goal clarity, resource availability, promotional activity, management capacity, and the strength of the implementation network.

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