Community of State: Where the Legislative Action Is

By Sarah Ruen Blanchard

The 112th Congress (2012-2013) is undeniably a do-little Congress. This is not news if you’ve been living on planet Earth. What is news are the understated, progressive actions that so many state governments have made to advance public policy in recent years in the absence of strong federal legislative leadership.

Just before President Obama initiated his 23 Executive Orders on gun control, and long before the U.S. Congress began to put pen to paper on this issue, New York State legislators passed the most comprehensive gun control legislation in the country.

In the absence of comprehensive national energy policy, nearly 34 states have enacted a renewable portfolio standard (or goal).

Governor after governor in their 2013 State of the State addresses have noted new funding for education reform after eleven years have lapsed since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed.

These state policies are mere examples of the ways in which states are eclipsing the federal government in implementing meaningful measures for the public benefit. Even under immense budgetary pressures, states are doing more with less and embodying the ‘efficient, effective’ government model.

While there is wide speculation that each of these important domestic issues will be addressed in the second term of Barak Obama’s presidency it remains to be seen when Congress will act, and what the real, or perceived, value in those actions will be to those outside the Beltway.

What examples of state legislative leadership and regional collaboration have you witnessed in recent years focused on shared national challenges? Let’s start a conversation. @sruenb #federalism.

Sarah Ruen Blanchard is a member of ASPA’s Colorado Chapter. She is the Policy Analysis Manager for BCS, a government consulting company, in Denver, Colorado. Prior to joining BCS, she served as an International Relations Specialist at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. She has a BA in Political Philosophy from Cornell College; and received her MPA, with an Award for Academic Merit, from the University of Miami in 2006. She also served as the Secretary for the South Florida Chapter of ASPA during 2005-06.


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