Policy Area

In 2004 state constitutions played an unusually important role in state and national affairs. A record number of amendments banned same-sex marriage and may have influenced the  presidential election. Other significant issues were also addressed. But the long-term trend against comprehensive revision continued.

The 2004 gubernatorial elections and resignations continued the recent trend of changes in  the governorships across the states. In addition to the 11 gubernatorial races, two governors resigned before their terms were up. In 2005, 37 of the incumbent governors will be serving in their first term. As in the past, there was a great range in gubernatorial election costs. During the four and a half decades, the overall institutional powers of governors continued to increase, especially in their veto power.

In recent years the movement of women into state-level offices has slowed following several decades of gains, and the 2004 elections continued this pattern of stagnation, producing little change in the numbers of women officials. Efforts to actively recruit women for elective and appointive positions will be critical in determining what the future holds for women in state government.

Traditionally, state-level law enforcement has represented about 10 percent of total police employment in the United States. In keeping with this employment level, state law enforcement has traditionally played an important, but relatively small role in the overall picture of policing America. The information collected for this project, however, indicates an expanding role for state law enforcement since 2001, partly due to new roles and responsibilities associated with homeland security, and partly because state police are filling gaps and vacuums created by shifts in federal law enforcement priorities. Thus, while it is true that all types of police agencies have been significantly affected post Sept. 11, it seems that state law enforcement agencies have been affected the most.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Consolidated Federal Funds Report is a key source of government spending data, including not only agency and program detail, but also the geographic distribution of funds. This article provides details and insights into the make-up and significance of this flow of federal funds on state and local areas.

State governors’ loathing of tax increases is never more apparent than in this year’s state of the state addresses. In 2005, most governors are promoting economic development through tax cuts and credits in order to be able to light up an “open for business” sign in their state. Many governors are also calling for spending reductions and/or agency and program  reorientations or reorganizations in order to reach budget balance.

State governments are becoming more disciplined in their approach to investing in and managing information technology, adopting an enterprise view with centralized oversight, common standards and shared solutions across agencies. The opportunities for improved service delivery, information sharing and economic growth through strategic technology deployment must be weighed against the potential privacy and security risks.

Telecommunications used to mean earnest debates about regulation, legislation and taxation, the instruments of government. It was about the telephone network. But popular demand for mobility and computing technology has forever changed that discussion. The communications technology industry is in the midst of a long-term transition away from the public switched telephone network towards always-on networks that use Internet and wireless technologies. Old distinctions no longer apply. These new networks are built as much around individuals as technology.

Interstate compacts are a uniquely American invention, allowing multistate problem-solving in the face of complex public policy and federal intervention. This article provides a brief history of compacts, examines a 2004 survey of interstate compact administrators and briefly looks at new and emerging policy areas in which interstate compacts may play an important role. Finally, it describes The Council of State Governments’ new service developed as a result of this work—the National Center for Interstate Compacts.

Very rarely are living governors replaced because of incapacity. The infrequency of such events is no excuse for ambiguous resolution mechanisms; yet, several states have gaps in their legal provisions. Clarity in the grounds and procedures for replacing a governor who can no longer perform the duties of office is difficult to achieve, but the alternative is to flirt with avertable crises. Below we highlight which states seem remiss, and we catalogue some pertinent issues, without endorsing any one model as the optimal approach to this knotty question.