SEMA eNews Vol. 16, No. 1, January 3, 2013

Political Division More Apparent as State Legislatures Convene in the New Year

As state legislators and governors return to their respective capitols this year, many will find themselves among political allies as each state progressively inches further from the center. In other words, the red states are getting redder and the blue progressively bluer. The 2010 census prompted re-drawing of legislative district boundaries within each state under the direction of whichever party controlled the state’s government during the period from 2010 to 2011. States that had increased their urban population since the 2000 census tended to gain new districts favorable to democratic representatives, despite instances of urban districts being broken up. In other states dominated by conservative leadership, republicans were able to maintain control and benefit from the redistricting process. From Kansas to Texas, and from Florida up to Tennessee, republican supermajorities have taken hold. As the Deep South grows more conservative, the West Coast has filled its state houses with democratic leaders, with California’s State Legislature including twice as many democrats as republicans in both its House and Senate.

Ultimately, the 2012 elections in the states reflect the divisive nature of politics in the country and the increasing gulf between the ideology of the right and the left. Each party may find increases to their numbers benefit attempts to get measures through. While state budgets are seeing some relief from an uptick in revenue as the recession eases, the implementation of the new healthcare law will require new and complex systems to be put into place, such as state insurance exchanges and an expanded Medicaid for citizens unable to afford private insurance. The unbalanced composition of these state’s representatives will be important to keep in mind when watching each state’s policies unfold over the coming months.

For more information, contact Steve McDonald at stevem@sema.org.

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