1.Explain why U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once called States “laboratories of democracy.” Should states serve as “laboratories of democracy”? Is it useful and/or practical that national policy often is initiated at the state level? Are there any potential problems to such experimentation? Should there be more regulation over public policy at the state level? Should states be given less discretionary authority?
2.Describe the four types of federalism discussed in the text. When each era of federalism is evaluated, is it possible to identify advantages and disadvantages to each? What is the future of federalism? What are some potential problems of ad hoc federalism?
3. What is the role of property taxes in financing local government operations, and why are they so contentious? Should the federal government intervene to equalize property taxes so as to reduce the gap between affluent and less affluent school districts? Would federal intervention improve the quality of education in less affluent districts or only serve to intrude on the lives of individuals within these districts who may have moved to the area for reasons unrelated to education?
4. What are some factors that contribute to factional splits within political parties? For instance, how has the nationwide tightening of state budgets affected the policy choices of statewide officeholders? Are officeholders less reluctant to buck the party line and abandon traditional policy values?
5.Describe the four basic purposes all state legislatures share. Since state legislatures represent the residents of their state and are more likely to affect the day-to-day activities of citizens, why does the public tend to have less knowledge of their state legislatures than of the U.S. Congress. Is this a problem for the political system? What can be done to increase knowledge and attention of state legislative activities?
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