The NCSL Blog


By Kevin Frazzini

What is the state of federalism today?

That question anchors the cover story in the current issue of NCSL’s State Legislatures magazine.

With an unpredictable, still-fresh administration at the helm in Washington, D.C., and a Congress that, for now, appears gridlocked, some see the state-federal pendulum swinging back toward the “laboratories of democracy,” as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis dubbed the states in 1932.

And, because the courts can play such an important role in affecting the balance of powers, we also examine a recent pivotal Supreme Court decision.

But there’s so much more in this special double issue, including a brand-new digital edition of the magazine.


Independent Vermont Representative Kent AckleyA Team of Their Own

“Something tells me this is how politics used to be done, perhaps how it’s supposed to be done—focusing on building personal relationships with people with whom you have a difference.”

—Vermont Representative Kent Ackley (Common Sense Independent) on the impact third-party legislators are having nationwide

Democratic Maryland House Speaker Mike BuschFinding Common Ground

“The most important job we have as legislators is to ensure the safety of our children and our communities.”

—Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch (D) on the ways lawmakers are working across the aisle to keep students and staff safe at school

California Senate Journal Clerk Neva ParkerPathway to Public Service

“My internship morphed into a job opportunity. I’ve been here ever since. I learned everything I needed to build a good career.”

—California Senate Journal Clerk Neva Parker on the way legislative internships have launched many on their political journeys

Wendy Madsen, special projects manager for the Wyoming LegislatureStatehouse Surprise

“How awe-inspiring that chamber is to stand in when you think of its pivotal role in women’s suffrage in the state, nation and the world.”

—Wendy Madsen, special projects manager for the Wyoming Legislature, on the restoration of the Capitol’s historic territorial assembly chamber

New York Deputy Senate Majority Whip Joseph GriffoPower in the Bank

“It is important to embrace a diversity of clean energy fuel sources and technologies.”

—New York Deputy Senate Majority Whip Joseph Griffo (R) on his state’s interest in energy storage technology

Washington Representative Terry Nealey (R)Technology Tests Transparency

“There has been an explosion of electronic public records requests for free, including from ‘vexatious requestors’—people who have little or no legitimate interest in the records themselves, other than to force agencies to spend precious time and limited resources trying to fulfill the requests.”

—Washington Representative Terry Nealey (R) on the challenge of handling requests that sometimes are automatically generated by computer programs

California Assembly Speaker Anthony RendonThe Final Word: Meet California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon

“I believe in empowering my colleagues to pursue issue areas they are passionate about. … Giving power to my colleagues gave us a historically successful session last year.”

Read the full July/August issue here.

State Legislatures will soon be getting a new look. Do you read the magazine? If yes, what do you like? Is there anything you wish we'd do differently? If you don't read it, why not? What would make it useful to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop us a line at

Kevin Frazzini is assistant editor of State Legislatures magazine.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.