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With the flow of federal funding slowing dramatically, states will need to look to Washington for flexibility rather than dollars to meet their own budget challenges.


Chapter 6 of the 2012 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

The Uniform Law Commission is actively engaging with the federal government on behalf of the states to create and preserve an effective balance of federalism. It is also serving to increase the dialogue about the benefits of cooperative federalism and developing guiding principles on how responsibilities can be best allocated to preserve the balance of state and federal roles.

In its October Term 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide four significant and prominent federalism cases involving states. These cases include the Affordable Care Act cases, the Arizona immigration case, the Texas redistricting case and the California Medicaid case. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed amicus curiae briefs in four cases to be decided this term affecting state and local government, including the California Medicaid case.

First referenced in Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, interstate compacts are the most formal mechanism available to policymakers seeking state-driven solutions to a wide range of policy challenges. Of all the tools available to state policymakers trying to work cooperatively across borders, interstate compacts are the most formal and perhaps the least understood.1 Compacts hold a unique place in American history for several different reasons. First, while the use of interstate compacts dates back to the founding of the country, the frequency with which they are used has expanded considerably over the last half century. Second, compacts provide state policymakers with a sustainable tool capable of promoting interstate cooperation without federal intervention. Third, interstate compacts can be used to address a wide range of policy challenges, ranging from insurance reform to environmental regulation and virtually everything in between. 

Congress slowly exercised its power of pre-emption to remove regulatory powers from state and local governments commencing from 1790 through the mid-1960s, when the pace accelerated. A significant number of acts contain mandates requiring state and/or local governments to initiate a compliance action(s) or impose prohibitions. No pre-emption mandate relief act has been enacted since 1996. This article focuses on the pre-emption acts signed by President Barack Obama since January 2009.

In the relatively few state legislative and gubernatorial elections in 2011, Republicans continued their winning streak in Southern states, coming closer to complete control of states in the region by taking over the Mississippi House for the first time since Reconstruction and by taking back functional control of the Virginia Senate. The four odd-year election states of Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia staged regular elections for 578 legislative seats in 2011. In the end, Republicans picked up 25 seats in the off-year elections, adding to their dramatic gains from the year before and putting the party in its strongest position in state legislatures since 1928.

It could be argued that government is more transparent today than at any point in our country’s history. From the example set by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state financial managers have worked to implement legislation envisioning ever greater access by citizens to government spending data. Transparency websites were first a trend for just a few states; they are now the norm. With each passing legislative session, the federal government hones its focus—and its mandates—on the concept of transparency. But how much is too much? At what point on the spectrum does the risk inherent in sharing so much financial data outweigh the potential benefits? These are not easy questions to answer. Regardless, it looks like transparency is here to stay.

Partisan polarization characterizes the current period of coercive federalism, shaping state-federal relations in often conflictual ways. Major clashes have occurred over health care, immigration, education, environmental protection, voting rights and numerous cultural issues such as abortion. State-federal disputes over health care and immigration have, moreover, generated two U.S. Supreme Court contests that could mark a pivotal advance or rollback of federal power over the states. At the same time, austerity and scrambles for tax revenue continue to characterize intergovernmental fiscal relations, while social welfare spending drives state budgets and squeezes funding for nonwelfare functions and for local governments.

Chapter 3 of the 2012 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables: