This week the US Supreme Court ruled on the scope of the minority vote dilution component (section 2) of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In doing so the court interpreted the VRA to only protect the voting power of minority groups when they constitute a majority of the electorate in a legislative district. This ruling makes the requirements of section 2 significantly narrower then the defendant in the case, the chief elections official for the state of North Carolina, had believed it to be.
In a positive step forward for federal respect of state regulatory powers, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a previously denied waiver to allow California to set more stringent auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards than required by federal law. In a statement by the White House, President Obama said "the federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." The directive represents not only greater respect for state authority, but also a sharp break from the climate policies of President Obama's predecessor.
In the past few years states have become increasingly unwillingly torely on the chance that volatile global investment markets will chooseto invest in their local communities. Instead, states are choosing todirectly invest themselves in local emerging opportunities. The greatadvantage of direct investment, instead of simply raiding the statetreasury and giving away corporate welfare, is that by making directinvestment in local businesses, states create a financial stake infirms. If these businesses are successful, they will return equity tothe tax payers that can be reinvested in other projects. According to the National Association of Seed and Venture Fund, as of 2006, all but six states had state venture capital funds.