PT's Federalism Roundtable: Part I

Capitol building against the sky

Top State Legislators Weigh In
In a "time of creative tension" between the states and Washington, signs of a breakdown in the federal partnership are widespread. "Our legislature met more days last year than the U.S. Congress," says the President of the Kansas State Senate. "To me, that says a lot."

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The State of State Government


Overshadowed by their Washington counterparts, the men and women of the nation's 50 state legislatures have quietly grown into a league of their own.

When Wyoming State Representative Debbie Hammons travels to the grocery store, she routinely budgets at least an hour of her day. While she may not need an hour to buy milk and eggs, her position as a state legislator requires the extra time. Ultimately, time spent with constituents is time on the job. And Hammons wouldn't have it any other way. To her, it comes with the territory of serving as a citizen legislator.

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States Make the Tough Choices


As Washington hits the campaign trail, the states are making choices that will translate policy into action.

During his visit to America in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville noted "that equality of condition is the fundamental fact from which all others seem to be derived."   The principle of an "equalitarian society" lies at the heart of American politics and the social fabric of our society.  The recently announced intentions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are proof positive that "anyone can grow up to be President." 

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Q&A: NCSL's William Pound

Headshot of a man

PT talks with William Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, about the role of federalism in our contemporary political structure.

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Federalism Reloaded

Policy Today magazine cover
November 2, 2005

Along with much of the Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina may have blown away long-standing orthodoxies of state's rights and state sovereignty

Its popularity in judicial opinions and campaign oratory aside, "sovereignty" is a medieval concept expressing "the absolute power to make laws without the consent of the governed." It was designed for kings and caliphs, not a democracy dedicated to individuals' inalienable rights and political structures built on separation of powers and federalism.

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2007 - Federalism in the Balance


Every 100 years, the states have risen to change the course of American history. Are we overdue?

Every 100 years, Americans have risen up through governments "close to home" to rescue a republic under siege. In 1787, they sent delegates to Philadelphia to dissolve the Continental Congress and create "a more perfect union." In 1860, their regiments marched to Antietam and Gettysburg to test that union and whether a house divided between the "land of the free" and black slavery could endure.

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Are All Politics Still Local?

Policy Today magazine cover
August 9, 2006

Are today's parties driven purely by ideology, or do local interests still have a place on the agenda?

You're outraged, and you're not going to take it anymore. But to whom do you take your complaints about a deteriorating health care system, potholes on Main Street or failing schools in your community? The traditional mantra of "Call your congressman!" seems quaint in an age when the agenda seems ultimately driven by ideology and party interests. Still, experts and legislators alike insist that all politics are, and will remain, local.

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Laboratories of Democracy

Heated ballot battles have emerged in several states, including Colorado, Arizona, Florida, California and Ohio, over issues ranging from the minimum wage to vote-by-mail.

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