Stateline Story

State Leaders Gather In Richmond

  • December 05, 2002
  • By Tiffany Shackelford
State officials and business leaders from throughout the nation meet in Richmond Dec. 5-9 to discuss critical policy trends and issues likely to face state government in 2003.

The theme of the annual conference of the Council of State Governments (CSG), a Lexington, Ky.-based organization which facilitates the exchange of ideas among state policy makers, is "Preparing States for Tomorrow, Today."

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D), CSG's current president who returns to private life in January, will deliver the keynote address and guide a plenary session on quality-of-life issues relating to smart growth initiatives.

Another highlight of the meeting is a session Saturday on political trends. It will feature analyst Ted Halstead, founder and president of the New America Foundation and co-author of the acclaimed book on American politics, The Radical Center.

The premise of the book is that the technological revolution will transform American politics in fundamental ways. "Our nation's politics are dominated by two feuding dinosaurs that have outlived the world in which they evolved," Halstead and co-author Michael Lind write.

Halsted and a panel that includes Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) will examine driving forces in the electoral environment, including changes in the role of political parties, the state/federal relationship and power shifts in the states. The session will be moderated by Stateline.org Managing Editor Gene Gibbons.

The recent mid-term election strengthened Republican power in the states. It left the GOP in control of 21 state legislatures, a net gain of four. The Democrats control 16 legislatures and 12 are divided politically. Nebraska has a nominally non-partisan, GOP-dominated unicameral legislature.

Twenty six states will have Republican governors in 2003.

In a series of workshops, CSG task forces and committees will identify emerging issues in agriculture and rural policy, public safety and justice, the environment and health capacity.

Other sessions will focus on international exchanges between states and foreign governments; governmental efficiency in a tough budgetary climate; heath care issues, including Medicaid; major demographic trends in the United States; e-governance; innovative state and private approaches to restoring corporate credibility; issues surrounding the controversial national driver's license; and electric-industry restructuring.

The five-day meeting will take place at the Richmond Convention Center. Its theme underlines CSG's emphasis on emerging policy trends.

Press is welcome. Check in with the Press Office upon arrival.