Introducing GovBeat: Politics beyond the Beltway

Protesters sing in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda on July 30, 2013. Gov. Scott Walker's anti-collective bargaining law set off a national debate on union rights. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

Protesters sing in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda on July 30, 2013. Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-collective bargaining law set off a national debate on union rights. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

In an era of poisonous partisan stalemate in Washington, the real action is increasingly taking place outside the Beltway, in state capitals, city halls and county offices across the nation. The next big idea that will reform pensions, raise or cut taxes, figure out the riddle of implementing new health care regulations or impact citizens’ right to vote won’t come from Washington — it will come from Sacramento or Des Moines or Montpelier or Tallahassee.

“It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country,” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in a 1932 dissent.

Every state, every city and every county has the potential to be the next laboratory. Thus, GovBeat.

Our mission here will be to find and report on those innovative policy solutions, and on the politics and people behind them. We’ll highlight the smartest new ideas, the best ways to package older concepts, and even the occasional wacky bill that finds its way to a committee hearing. We’ll bring together experts from different arenas and different states to give their takes on what’s next and what’s trending. And we’ll spotlight the sometimes surprising ways policy in Washington impacts the states.

GovBeat will be an interactive community — part blog, part conversation between stakeholders and policy experts, all housed within The Washington Post family. Your curators, Reid Wilson and Niraj Chokshi, have years of experience covering state politics and policy.

So join the conversation, and check back frequently as we catalogue the evolving state of the states, their legislatures and the policy they develop. Use the comments section to start your own conversation, or spotlight a policy innovation or a rising star in your state.

Beyond the Beltway, the business of legislating is actually happening. Our goal is to make GovBeat the place where you find out about what works, what doesn’t, and how to tell the difference.