Policy Area

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.

Public libraries will continue to be buffeted by budget shortfalls at state and local levels. The rapid changes brought about by the Internet and electronic resources, as well as copyright, privacy issues, and censorship concerns, have presented major problems. Public libraries have adapted with new forms of service and new organizational structures.

Exploding health care costs have created a health insurance affordability crisis in the United States. According to a Families USA analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, roughly 81.8 million people under age 65, or one out of three, were without insurance for some or all of 2002 and 2003. Not only has the number of people without insurance increased, but even individuals who maintain their coverage have seen higher out-of-pocket expenses as employers and insurers have instituted additional cost-sharing mechanisms. Given the situation, it is not surprising that health care is a top priority for state policy-makers. As the 2005 legislative session begins, the search is on for solutions that will both stabilize health care spending and allow more people to access affordable insurance products.

Coercive federalism has shown great continuity since the late 1960s, as characterized by a shift of federal aid from places to persons, policy conditions and earmarks attached to federal aid, preemptions, federal encroachments on state taxation, federalization of state criminal law, defunct intergovernmental institutions, reduced federal-state cooperation within major intergovernmental programs, and federal court litigation. However, unfunded federal mandates and federal court orders mandating major state institutional change have become less prevalent. State policy activism remains vigorous, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s state-friendly federalism jurisprudence has stalled since 2002.