Alexander Hamilton identifies a number of factors that make it most unlikely that the national government will become too powerful in the proposed new federal system of government.
James Madison writes that the authority of state governments will not be endangered by the central government in the new federal system. He argues that history, the nature and role of state governments, and the relatively few powers delegated to the national government in the Constitution support his conclusion.
After noting that there is considerable diversity among the states, James Bryce focuses on factors that promote uniformity among them. He also discusses the constitutional and legal standing of the states within the context of American federalism.
In the 1990s the U.S. Supreme Court reasserted its role as the ultimate arbiter in the division of powers between the national government and the states. In so doing, Charles Wise concludes, the Supreme Court has mostly sided with the states in their disputes with the national government.
John Donahue discusses the pros and cons of devolving governmental responsibilities to the states. He concludes that the current sentiment in favor of more devolution is likely misguided.
Alan Enrenhalt reports several recent instances in which state governments have reduced the powers of local governments. He notes the inconsistency of politicians on the issue of devolution and centralization of powers among levels of government and suggests that hypocrisy may well be at work.
LeeAnn Tracy explores the circumstances that give rise to state or city takeovers of local school districts. She also discusses the relevant procedures and the relative infrequency with which such takeovers have occurred in the past two decades.
Robert Dreyfuss chronicles the growing movement to reform campaign financing in the states. He attributes the success of the movement to grass roots organizing efforts by labor unions, environmental groups, good government reformers, and the like.
Charles Mahtesian describes the difficulties that term limits can pose for local governments. In small jurisdictions in particular, term limits can make it difficult to find any qualified candidates for certain elective offices in local government.
Allen Hertzke reports five lessons that he learned from unsuccessfully running for election to his local school board.
The authors identify three different ways to approach the issue of interest group power and provide a comprehensive summary of interest group power in the 50 states. They report a ranking of the 20 most influential interests in the 50 states and compare the current situation with the past.
Gary Boulard describes issues that the electronic mail onslaught poses for state legislators and for representative democracy as we know it.
Garry Boulard reports a recent study showing that, at the same time that power and money are flowing back to the states, newspapers have been reducing their coverage of state legislatures. He discusses the newspaper industry's reaction to the study and explores a few exceptions to the general rule.
Peter Schrag argues that the nondeliberative nature of initiatives and other instruments of direct democracy in California threatens the well-being of minority rights.
Charles Price claims that initiatives are consistent with the most fundamental essence of democracy and that they work well.
Charles Mahtesian states that the initiative process, originally intended to provide an opportunity for citizens at the grass roots to enact policies of their choosing, is now the preserve of elected officials, interest groups, and big money.
Karen Hansen reports that 20 states have adopted term limits for their state legislators. She addresses the background and implications of the term limit movement.
This brief selections traces the increase in the number of women in state legislatures over the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Garry Boulard reports on the increasing number of women who hold leadership positions in state legislatures and discusses how women leaders seem to affect the state legislature process.
Brenda Erickson discusses the issue of whether party caucuses in state legislatures should be open to the public and the press. She also reports on the variation on this matter among the 50 states.
John Nordell describes New England town meetings, which serve as the legislative bodies for many local governments in the New England states.
Donald Kettl distinguishes the pragmatism of state and local chief executives from the symbolic ideology that prevails in Washington these days.
Alan Ehrenhalt identifies six of the best contemporary American governors and notes that each previously had a wealth of experience in state and local government.
Elaine Stuart profiles Governor Tommy G. Thompson of Wisconsin, who is credited with a whole host of state policy innovations as well as important contributions to national welfare reform.
Alan Ehrenhalt reports how, initially, conservative governors, once in office, seem inclined to loosen state government purse strings and leave a legacy of good works.
Rob Gurwitt asserts that without a mayor or city manager clearly in charge, a city is likely to flounder amid the many pressing challenges facing urban America.
A former Philadelphia judge discusses mandatory sentencing laws and their negative effects on the criminal justice system and on her own career.
Charles Mahtesian reports that business interests have been actively attempting to elect business-friendly candidates to state high courts.
William Glaberson examines the impressions left by news media, which suggest that state courts are awarding huge sums at the end of what seem to be frivolous lawsuits. He concludes that the truth is somewhat different.
Karen Paget suggests that American cities have become increasingly isolated in political and fiscal terms. She reports that, even as urban needs have grown, cities have received less financial aid from national and state governments.
The authors describe the changing faces of American cities and explore several urban government responses to the changes that have been occurring. They suggest that consolidation and deannexation may be viable responses to the shrinking of large cities.
Gregg Easterbrook explores the issue of "sprawl" in metropolitan areas in the United States. He warns that antisprawl rhetoric and policies are misguided and will benefit the already affluent and powerful.
Suburban sprawl is encouraged by government subsidies that are often hidden. Phillip Longman explores who benefits and who loses in the process.
Christopher Caldwell notes the ways that suburbs have changed in the past half century. He suggests that the structure of modern suburbs in western metropolitan areas can deprive children of some aspects of what he would consider a "normal" childhood.
Jay Walljasper describes the "Fair Share" housing policy of Montgomery County, Maryland, the sixth-wealthiest county in the United States. He notes the numerous benefits for metropolitan areas.
Alan Ehrenhalt reports on the continuing demise of county governments in the New England states and explains why counties developed into stronger local government entities in other regions.
Penelope Lemov explains how state tax systems are geared to a "heavy" economy based on different assumptions and different modes of production. She recounts how one state, West Virginia, is seeking to rewrite its tax code in a comprehensive way.
Steven Gold reviews state government's use of legalized gambling to raise revenues. He explains why typical expectations about the benefits of legalized gambling are unrealistic.
Where do state lottery revenues wind up? Ellen Perlman notes the difficulties of ensuring that lottery money actually benefits the particular budget area that lottery sponsors say it will.
Steven Ginsberg discusses the generally low regard with which Americans view the property tax, but he argues that this kind of tax has several positive attributes.
The author describes the phenomenon known as "smokestack chasing," wherein state and local government officials compete in attempts to lure new businesses to their areas. He also notes some of the problems and risks that accompany such attempts.
State and local governments have turned from the construction of new sports arenas to the initiation of casino gambling in pursuit of economic development and new revenue sources, reports David Barringer.
Greg LeRoy identifies 10 deals in which state and local governments have been overly generous in giving companies tax breaks and other benefits in pursuit of economic development.
John Weicher reports the trend toward more privatization in delivering urban services and explores the circumstances in which such privatization makes sense.
Focusing on how to measure whether privatization of a government service saves money, Diane Kittower recounts various attempts by state and local governments to gauge the cost-effectiveness of privatization reliably as well as the difficulties involved.
The authors identify a dozen forms of schools and schooling in addition to traditional ones, and argue that school governance in the United States is undergoing rapid and unprecedented change.
Charles Mahtesian reports on the various arrangements under which charter schools have been introduced in many states. He identifies a number of lessons to be learned from experiences with different charter school arrangements.
Richard Rothstein explores the circumstances in which states and localities have been spending more on public schooling and the consequences of such increases. He concludes that there have been positive effects in this policy area.
Jack Tweedie summarizes what is known about what happens to people after their welfare payments run out. He also poses some other questions for which we do not yet have reliable answers.
The details and implications of the Louisiana Covenant Marriage Act of 1997 are examined by Joe Loconte in this essay. According to this much-publicized state law, couples getting married can choose between a "covenant marriage," which makes both getting married and getting divorced more difficult, and a more conventional marriage contract.
The authors present the pros and cons of a well-known policy response to problems associated with drunk driving: lowering the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) ceiling to 0.08.
A new crime-fighting system of policing, known as "Comstat," has been introduced in New York City, New Orleans, and elsewhere. Rob Gurwitt examines the preliminary evidence, which suggests that the new system works.
Susan Pikrallidas explains why the American Automobile Association favors a system of graduated driver licenses (GDL) for persons newly licensed to drive. She also notes which states have already adopted GDL systems.
Karen Ann Coburn reports that the incidence of fires has declined over the past two decades. In turn, fire departments have taken on new tasks in an effort to protect their community standing.