Sneak Preview! The 50 State Project is Almost Here
Get ready folks! It’s almost time for the latest edition of the 50 State Project, our round up of the top five issues being debated in EVERY statehouse around the country.
For our spring 2016 version, we talked to more than 50 reporters across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and asked them to identify the top five issues facing their state this year. The result is a comprehensive report on the hottest policy issues around the nation.
We all know Congress is gridlocked, but the states certainly aren’t.
Can you guess the number of bills passed in statehouses versus on Capitol Hill this year so far?
Well, here’s the answer.
The States: 19,313
Staggering, isn’t it?
While last year issues like marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage and local elections were pressing concerns (and they still are in some states) legislatures, as you might imagine, are still spending a lot of time on budgeting, making it the number one issue in 13 states.
But energy and the environment have replaced education for the number two spot, with five states putting it squarely at the top of their priority list. Education is still on the hitlist for 30 states.
Those are just a couple of big-playing teasers that the states have been dealing with – pretty productively – in this session.
But then, there are the other issues, unique to certain geographies that pop up.
For instance, California is a tale of two states. The Golden State has some of the most wealthy and impoverished communities in the United States, with unemployment close to 20 percent in rural areas. Meanwhile, in prosperous communities such as the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s almost no affordable housing for middle class families. And the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, now provides coverage for an astounding one in three Californians.
Across the country, Delaware might not be the first place you think of as dealing with gun violence, but crime is its number one issue this year. Wilmington, the state’s largest city, has faced a surge in gun violence, with record numbers of shootings and deaths in the past few years. The city’s mayor and police department have faced mounting criticism from residents, not least of all because the city was the subject of a CDC study on gun violence, and has been nicknamed “Murdertown.” It could soon be the setting for a TV show, of the same name, incidentally.
In Florida, a rising tide might lift all boats, but it’s having a dire effect on Miami. Hence the reason energy and environment, and specifically flooding, is the number one issue in the state this year. No place in the country has as much at risk in the face of climate change as South Florida, where the threat of a sea level rise could devastate Miami’s economy.
In Connecticut, alcohol is on the mind, or at least a battle over it. The governor there wants to end liquor store price controls in the state’s 1,150 package stores. The store’s owners are in a standoff over the governor’s proposal to abolish the “minimum bottle” system, which establishes a pricing floor for liquor sales in Connecticut.
The governor says that the consumer-unfriendly minimums set by the stores mean Connecticut isn’t competitive with neighboring states. The package stores say that half of their mom-and-pop businesses are in danger of closing if the law is changed.
Then there are the grizzly bears in Wyoming, the aging demographic in Maine, and the earthquakes in Oklahoma, all just a few of the issues causing a rumble throughout the states.
But we don’t want to spoil it for you. Head on over to our state tracker’s blog right now, and sign up for the newsletter, so you don’t miss getting your very own FREE 80+ page report in your inbox next week!