State Legislatures

This magazine covers policy and politics through articles on trends, legislative in the United States, best practices, the legislative process and institution and leadership and federal initiatives that affect the states.

Articles from Vol. 25, No. 7, July-August

Back - but Not at the Old Stand
This former legislator, now a doorman, is in but no longer of the Minnesota House. The old saying, "you can't go home again," means nothing to former Minnesota Representative Bob Haukoos, who might add that the return visit can be even sweeter than...
Enter the New Breed
Every legislature has always had them. Newcomers with special agendas, who buck the process, irritate the leadership and stir up the members. But technology, term limits and a shrinking world may be giving rise to a different kind of "newcomer"and...
Organ Donations: Keep That Liver at Home
It's a quiet civil war - but lives may hang in the balance. The question is: How best can human organs be distributed to those who need them to survive? Today, more than 57,000 Americans wait for hearts, livers, lungs or kidneys that could save...
Seasons of Spending
In the past 25 years, some budget categories have grown, others have declined, and the technology has improved. But the main ingredients are just the same as they always were. State budget recipes use pretty basic stuff - mostly meat and potatoes,...
Staff Section Stories: A History
Staff, an important part of any legislature, are also an important part of NCSL. Legislative staff have been an essential part of the establishment, growth and direction of NCSL. Many legislative staff worked with the National Legislative Conference...
The Good Legislature
Beyond the intuition that says "I know one when I see one," how do you go about measuring the effectiveness of any given legislature? What do we want our state legislatures of the 21st century to be? Of course we want them to be effective, to be...
The History of Us
NCSL was founded in the conviction that legislative service is one of democracy's worthiest pursuits. In 25 years it has grown to be the preeminent organization dedicated to serving state lawmakers and staffs. "If NCSL didn't exist, we would have...
The Modern Legislature
State legislature have changed dramatically over the last 25 years and will continue to do so in the new century ahead, adapting and evolving to meet our country's shifting needs. Each one is unique, yet they are all strikingly similar. Each has...
Then and Now
For 25 years NCSL has served the states. Some things have changed, others haven't. In some ways it was a different world in 1975 when NCSL was founded. America was in a terrible recession. Unemployment reached an average national high of 9.2 percent....
The Next Generation of Legislatures
Bombarded by rapidly advancing technology and sure to be affected by coming shifts in demographics, legislators and the public may find 21st century legislatures considerably changed. State legislatures begin the new century with a somewhat uncertain...
The State-Federal Tug of War
The balance of power between the states and federal government is constantly shifting. It's the federalism equivalent of "The Twilight Zone." You go to the attic, determined to clean it up. You start with the old New Yorkers, Field and Streams and...
Wearing Two Hats: Legislator and Parent
Being a legislator is hard on family life. Here are a few solutions to the problem of gap-filling. It's easy to find Minnesota Representative Mary Ellen Otremba's office in the state office building. It's the one with a Sheryl Crow tune blaring...
When Public Service Tests Family Ties
For state lawmakers, balancing work in the Capitol with home life can be a strain when home is hundreds of miles away. Consider the plight of the political spouse. While legislators frequently enjoy royal treatment and the heady sense of charting...
Whom Do You Trust?
Once upon a time, legislatures operated on mutual respect and trust. Those qualities seem to be slipping away. Can they be retrieved? How many times have you heard this? You're talking with a group of veteran legislators and one of them says, half...