Cell Phone Counter-Revolution
To keep lawmakers focused on debate — and limit lobbyists’ influence — statehouses from coast to coast are restricting cell phones, instant messaging and use of those mini-computers found under the thumbs of compulsive e-mailers on the floors of state legislatures.
Mega-donors Get Mixed Election Returns
A bevy of big donors poured some of their personal fortunes into last year’s gubernatorial, state legislative and ballot-measure contests. But the super-rich had a mixed record in their single-handed efforts to sway election outcomes. In some cases, the motives of wealthy donors even backfired against their candidates or causes.
Bush Builds on States’ Agenda
It’s too soon to know how far the new Congress might go in accepting the president’s State of the Union proposals on health care, energy, immigration and education, but states aren’t waiting to find out – they’ve taken the lead on these domestic issues.
Want to Buy the Brooklyn Bridge?
It’s not for sale yet, but in the latest trend of revenue generating strategies, states have taken to selling off, leasing out and cashing in on some of their most valuable assets, primarily toll roads. Several big deals were consummated in 2006, including a $3.8 billion deal in Indiana to lease a state toll road to a private Australian-Spanish consortium.
Are You a Citizen? Prove It
Worries about voter fraud, terrorism and illegal immigration are driving a surge in stiff new identification requirements. To weed out those who aren’t citizens, all Americans increasingly need a paper trail to qualify for some of the perks of citizenship — from driver’s licenses to Medicaid help.
States Step Ahead on Health Care Reform
Massachusetts has accomplished the improbable: It got Democrats and Republicans to agree on how to provide nearly every resident with health insurance. And it did so without boosting taxes or pushing aside private health plans. Other states – from Vermont to California — are also trying to close the uninsured gap.
Surpluses, Social Issues Mark 2006
Statehouses awash in surpluses ventured into new projects in 2006, from first-in-the-nation preschool for all 3-year-olds in Illinois to a space pad in New Mexico plus advances on such issues as health care, immigration, the minimum wage and global warming that stymied Congress.
Governors spiced up their annual greeting cards with a mix of sacred and secular themes, personalizing holiday messages with family recipes, Bible verses and even some original artwork.
Democrats Score in Statehouses and Governors’ Mansions
For the first time since 1994, Democrats won control of a majority of the nation’s governors’ mansions, wresting away five Republican seats with unofficial results of the Nov. 7 election putting Democrats in charge in 28 states. Democratic gains also vastly outnumbered Republican gains in the nation’s state legislatures, enough to take control of legislative chambers in at least six states — including the New Hampshire House for the first time since at least 1922.
Election ’06 – GOP Edge at Stake
Heading into Election Day, at least a dozen governors’ races and 14 of the most competitive statehouses are still up in the air, as Democrats aim to overturn the edge Republicans gained at the state level in 1994.