State Constitutional Reform

September 25, 1968

Report Outline
Efforts to Revise State Constitutions
Development of American Constitutions
State Government in a Federal System
Special Focus

Efforts to Revise State Constitutions

Urban and Business Pressures for Revision

Politicians and scholars alike say that one of the heaviest burdens on the states is their cumbersome, lengthy and antiquated constitution. Endless restrictions written into these basic laws have helped to make state government the least responsive of any in the federal system to the needs of the day. This condition has driven big-city mayors to Washington, rather than to their own state capitols, for help. It is often said, only half in jest, that three-level federalism leaves “the federal government with the money, local governments with the problems, and the states with the legal powers.”

Pressures of urban problems, together with court-ordered legislative apportionment, have spurred new interest in constitutional reform. Traditional “good government” groups like the National Municipal League and the League of Women Voters have been joined of late in this effort by national business leaders, as represented by the Committee for Economic Development and the United States Chamber of Commerce.

The C.E.D. issued a booklet-length report in July 1967, Modernization of State Government, advocating reforms that political scientists had urged for years—shortening of the ballot; strengthening of the power of governors to budget, to appoint and to reorganize; revamping of legislatures; and revision of judicial systems. Later last year, the Chamber of Commerce adopted a policy statement favoring many of the same ideas. And the National Association of Manufacturers began publishing in 1967 a newsletter on ways to improve state and local government. Many of the proposed reforms would require constitutional revision.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
State and Local Governments
Feb. 26, 2021  State Finances
Sep. 11, 2009  State Budget Crisis
Oct. 03, 2003  State Budget Crises
Dec. 24, 1971  State Legislatures in Transition
Sep. 25, 1968  State Constitutional Reform
Oct. 11, 1967  Local Government Modernization
Aug. 15, 1956  Metropolitan Government
May 25, 1939  Reorganization of City Government
Feb. 24, 1939  Reorganization of County Government
May 23, 1938  Reorganization of State Governments
Oct. 29, 1937  State Control of Local Government
Sep. 01, 1936  Consolidation of Local Governments
Jan. 03, 1933  Reorganization of Local Government
Jun. 02, 1930  Changes in American City Government
Oct. 30, 1924  Political Statistics of the States
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations
U.S. Constitution