A Pew Charitable Trusts project, Stateline, is releasing its annual State of the States series this week. The report looks at issues or trends that will top agendas in state legislatures and upcoming elections in 2014.
This year could bring big changes to states, but experts say there is no clear party advantage nationally. We'll look at the major issues highlighted by the series:
All told, 36 states will choose their governors this year, while 46 will elect state legislators. Four incumbent governors are term-limited and prevented from running again. Three others have announced they are not seeking reelection.
The elections could also determine whether single-party control remains the rule in state capitols. In 23 states, Republicans hold both the governor's office and both chambers of the legislature. Democrats control both the executive and legislative branches in 13 states.
Only 15 states and the District of Columbia have recovered all the jobs they lost during the recession, according to the latest report from the Joint Economic Committee, which was created by Congress to review economic policy. The 15 are Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.
The coming year will bring new gay marriage fights. In Indiana, Republican state lawmakers may push a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which would appear on state ballots this fall. Meanwhile, gay marriage supporters in Oregon plan to seek legalization via the ballot box. In many other legislatures, lawmakers will debate the tax treatment of same-sex marriages and whether to recognize marriages performed out of state.
Elected officials in half the states are still trying to decide whether to accept the federal government's time-limited offer to cover their poorest residents, or to decline Medicaid expansion because they are philosophically opposed to "Obamacare."
Election-year politics will further complicate the health care debate, as 36 governors and a majority of state lawmakers will be up for reelection in November.