Interstate Compacts 101
By Crady deGolian, Director of CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts
Medical licensing, health care, resource management, education, energy and public safety are all policy areas that have recently used or are currently using interstate compacts to address cross-border challenges. With so many different and unique fields working to develop new interstate compacts, it is important for state policymakers and interested stakeholders to better understand how compacts function and why they are being used with such frequency.
“I’ve consulted with CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts for approximately 10 years and I cannot recall a time when so many diverse groups were considering interstate compacts to resolve multi-state policy challenges,” said Rick Masters, who serves as special counsel to the compacts center. “That is a testament to the strength of the compact mechanism, but it also creates a need for education and awareness on the part of legislators, legislative staff and policymakers.”
Compacts—which were first referenced in the U.S. Constitution—are the only legally recognized tool afforded to state policymakers to address cross-border challenges. More than 200 interstate compacts are active today.
“The instrument is not new or unfamiliar to legislatures,” Masters said. “Compacts provide state policymakers a legally recognized and time-tested means to take collective action on a host of policy challenges. They allow states to develop and implement regional or national policy solutions without the need for a federally mandated solution.”
CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts on Thursday, March 6, will hold the first in a newly launched webinar series highlighting the evolving use of interstate compacts. The webinar will focus on the background, history and modern use of interstate compacts. Additional webinars will focus on topics such as rulemaking authority, compact commission structures and some of the key benefits of interstate compacts.
During the initial webinar, Masters will provide a historical overview of interstate compacts and will touch on topics such as the contractual nature of compacts, congressional consent, their primary uses and modern regulatory compacts.
CSG has an extensive history helping states to foster and develop new interstate compacts. CSG’s National Center for Interstate Compacts, the only organization of its kind, combines policy research with best practices. It also functions as a membership association, serving the unique needs of compact administrators, compact commissions and the state agencies in which interstate compacts are located.
The center’s mission is to serve as an information clearinghouse, a provider of training and technical assistance, and a primary facilitator in assisting states in the review, revision and creation of new interstate compacts as solutions to multi-state problems or alternatives to federal pre-emption.