headshot of a womanwoman speaking into handheld microphone

If state legislators want to reclaim their place in the federal partnership, they'll have to find a rally point and band together in the effort. Just ask State Senators Leticia Van De Putte and Libby Mitchell.

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Woman speaking into a microphone

Libby Mitchell is the Maine Senate Majority Leader. In 1980 she made history as Maine's first female House Majority Leader. She also serves on the Board of Maine General Health and Jobs for Maine's Graduates.

Leticia Van de Putte is the President of the National Conference of State Legislators and a member of the Texas State Senate. She also chairs the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is the former chair of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus.

On issues that might bring state leaders together in a cohesive, concerted effort to fix the cracks in the federal model…

I don't understand why we can't coalesce around the invasion of privacy, in the form of an unfunded mandate, represented by REAL ID. I don't understand why we wouldn't.

It'll take courage in more than one state. If state leaders—both the executives and the legislators—want to do anything to rebalance the federal equation, we're going to have to work together.

On what it will it take to change things on the ground…

When people ask you what's going on in Washington, you're going to have to tell them what's going on.

The biggest obstacle we'll have to overcome is fear. We have to get past our fear of repercussions from the federal government in terms of appropriations.

On the political "tipping point" represented by issues like REAL ID, NCLB and immigration…

This is what the Boston Tea Party was about. Enough is enough; we're the ones who have to do it. I don't think our citizens can do it. I think we are in the position of responsibility and privilege and our voices can make a difference.

If we don't see immigration and REAL ID dealt with appropriately very soon, I think we'll reach a breaking point in the system. These involve basic tenets of the Constitution, and they represent real problems in the states.