State Legislatures in Transition

Archive Report

Resurgence of American Legislatures

Signs of Renewed Vitality in State Assemblies

That most scorned and neglected public institution, the state legislature, is showing new signs of vitality. Only a decade ago the legislatures were candidates for oblivion, their powers circumscribed by antiquated state constitutions and their efforts largely ignored by the public they were elected to serve. Yet in 1972, by tradition an off-year for legislative sessions, legislatures are scheduled to meet in three-fourths of the states,1 and their deliberations will have an impact on millions of American families.

The sources of legislative resurgence are twofold. First, the growing movement toward decentralization of governmental power, epitomized by revenue sharing, has contributed to a new recognition of the vital role of legislatures in the federal system. Second, the ...

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