Policy Area

More than a year has passed since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but the fallout continues. Three separate reports on the disaster from the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and the White House have resulted in numerous criticisms, recommendations and requirements. Whether these reactive measures will result in a better prepared nation is yet to be determined. Underlying all of the challenges is the ongoing struggle between adequate funding and saving human life and property during a disaster. Given the recurring demands on state budgets as well as federal programs, this pressure shows no sign of abating. 

The 2006 elections reversed a decade-long Republican trend as 20 Democrats and 16 Republicans won their races in 2006. This means that in 2007, the 50 states will be in a partisan split with 28 Democratic governors and 22 Republican governors—the exact reverse of the split going into the 2006 gubernatorial elections.

On May 11, 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act. The law sets minimum standards for the creation and issuance of state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards if they are to be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes. Initial estimates have shown Real ID  implementation will xceed $11 billion over five years. The burden of compliance with Real ID will prove challenging and costly for states.

For an office traditionally understudied by academics, 2006 was a year which saw three new reports quantifying the office. Each shows that the office of lieutenant governor is a risen power. Data shows approximately one in every four governors in the nation for the past 100 years once served as lieutenant governor, and no office in the past 25 years had a better success rate of becoming governor. In addition, the office of lieutenant governor was the only statewide elected office to see an increase in real income in the 30-year period ending in 2005.

The No Child Left Behind Act is the most ambitious piece of education legislation ever enacted by Congress. Designed to promote accountability and prod states to address educational inequities, NCLB includes significant provisions regarding assessment, sanctions for low-performing schools and districts, teacher quality and standards for educational research.

The Internet age is transforming the office of secretary of state. States are expanding the content of their Web sites by adding public disclosure records and new transactions. At the same time, the availability of personal information on government sites and a lack of confidence in electronic voting machines are ongoing concerns.

Empirical studies provide strong evidence that most of the U.S. cancer burden can be attributed to tobacco use, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, and failure to get screened for cancer at recommended intervals. This review of state legislation enacted between 2005 and 2006 suggests that legislators are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of policy interventions to reduce cancer risk.

The National Association of Attorneys General is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and continues to provide attorneys general with an opportunity to work collectively for the common good. Attorneys general are at the forefront of a number of critical legal and law enforcement issues and play a vital leadership role as representatives of the public interest.

Despite an impressive list of advantages, the U.S. can no longer assume that foreign firms will continue to invest and employ people here at the same rate as in the past. The effects of lobalization and off-shoring trends have led to fluctuations in foreign investment, with the U.S. dropping to third place (from second) in 2005 as the most attractive future FDI location after China and India.

State treasurers are the chief financial officers of the states whose duties are to assure the absolute safety of all taxpayer dollars and to guarantee the prudent use of public resources that fund vital government programs. In several states, treasurers also improve the financial security of their residents by providing college savings opportunities and financial education, and returning unclaimed property.