When I was calling people after the elections last month, trying to figure out what they meant for states, the point that was generally made was that there might be a new era of relations with Washington. Congressional Democrats, after all, were promising to act on several issues, including minimum wage and stem-cell research, that states have already moved on.

One person, speaking anonymously, made a subtler point about influence. He said that more state officials would be likely to testify before Congress. Rather than giving marching orders to the states, Washington would listen to state officials -- including some such as state attorneys general who have been virtually anathema during the era of Republican control. (At least the liberal ones.)

It's not surprising that a new group coming in will want to hear from a different set of like-minded advisors. Here's the first evidence I've seen of this happening. California Senator Barbara Boxer, the environmental panel's incoming chair, says she will invite Arnold Schwarzenegger and California state legislators to testify about the state's greenhouse gas bill, in hopes it may serve as a model for federal legislation.