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Peter Harkness  |  Founder, Publisher Emeritus

Email : pharkness@governing.com

Peter Harkness, founder and publisher emeritus of GOVERNING, now serves as a co-writer of the Potomac Chronicle column. He launched GOVERNING in 1987 after serving as editor and deputy publisher of the Congressional Quarterly news service. Peter currently also is a senior policy adviser to the Pew Center on the States.

Washington Watch

America's Demographic Destiny Can't Be Ignored

The birth rate is at an all-time low. That’s going to have a major impact on public services.

July 10, 2019
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Washington Watch

Signs of Hope for the Media Industry

Its problems didn't start with Trump, but he ironically may be helping to turn some of them around.

May 1, 2019
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Washington Watch

Why I'm Optimistic About America's Economic Outlook

Another recession is in the forecast. This time, states seem ready to weather it.

March 20, 2019
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Washington Watch

Hope for Fixing the Heart of America's Voting Problems

The system is broken. But the midterms laid the foundation for reforming it.

November 26, 2018
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Washington Watch

A Crisis in Motion: America's Transportation Dilemma

Federal policy, and other factors, are disrupting efforts to improve transit and forcing urban planners to make tough choices.

November 19, 2018
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Washington Watch

On Water Problems, Governments Actually Work Together

When it comes to dirty lakes and rivers, governments have learned how to cooperate.

September 7, 2018
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Washington Watch

Federalism Is Broken. Can It Be Fixed?

Our federal system is tied up in knots. We have to try to untie them.

July 12, 2018
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Washington Watch

It’s Time for Governments to Try Federalism Again

Our toughest problems can’t be solved unless we learn to work together.

May 21, 2018
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Commentary

Hope for Car-Haters

Cities are beginning to rethink their relationship with automobiles.

March 21, 2018
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Commentary

These 2 Men Made Careers Out of Fighting for Federalism

One of them, Paul Posner, who recently died, spent decades advocating for a stronger relationship between federal, state and local governments.

January 10, 2018
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Washington Watch

First He Reinvented Government. Now He Wants to Reinvent Schools.

In his new book, David Osborne argues the best way to fix the education system is to increase charter schools and create a survival-of-the-fittest system.

November 16, 2017
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Washington Watch

The Fractured State of Federalism

It's hard to tell who's in charge of what in American government these days.

September 1, 2017
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Washington Watch

Let's Give the Stimulus Its Due

It saved the economy, but that isn't always acknowledged.

July 13, 2017
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Washington Watch

Trump-Watching From City Hall

His policy choices will challenge places from Manhattan to Mobile, Ala.

May 9, 2017
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Washington Watch

Outposts of Rationality in Our Great Partisan Divide

U.S. politics isn't all poisonous. You just have to leave Washington to realize that.

March 1, 2017
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Washington Watch

Conjectures From the Swamp

D.C. may be an object of Republican disdain, but it’s now at the center of governmental change.

January 9, 2017
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Washington Watch

The Upside of Police Chiefs' Recent Departures

They’re stepping down in cities across the country, opening up opportunities for major change.

November 28, 2016
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Washington Watch

Doubts About Pension Debt

We can’t be sure how much states and localities owe.

September 14, 2016
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Washington Watch

Millennials and Homeownership

The uncertainty of where they'll live is creating new challenges.

July 26, 2016
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Washington Watch

Washington, D.C.’s Monumental Decay

In D.C., above and below ground, historic and vital infrastructure is in bad shape. There’s plenty of blame to spread around for that.

May 3, 2016
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Washington Watch

Confronting Climate Change’s Biggest Deniers

Some of the skeptics are also the people with the most power to make a difference. Ignoring or denying the issue isn’t an option.

March 1, 2016
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Washington Watch

Detroit and New Orleans Have More in Common Than Most Think

Most important, their prospects for survival can teach us about the resiliency of urban areas everywhere.

January 1, 2016
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Washington Watch

Plan B for Ending the Gun Epidemic

Federal firearm laws are unlikely to change, so it’s up to states and localities to lead a societal effort.

November 1, 2015
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Washington Watch

State and Local Governments' Ticking Debt Bomb

The U.S. may not be the next Greece, but it must face up to some hard decisions.

September 9, 2015
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Washington Watch

Public Universities Have Forgotten Their Mission

As public education becomes less public, what new economic model will emerge?

July 1, 2015
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Washington Watch

Washington’s Education Stalemate

Why improving our schools looks hopeless on Capitol Hill.

May 1, 2015
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Infrastructure & Environment

Utah’s Secret Weapon for Long-Range Planning

Most governments don’t plan for population growth well. But Utah’s grassroots, nonideological, research-based approach has become a model for other states and localities.

March 1, 2015
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Washington Watch

The ‘CEO-Mayors’ Who Care About Cities Instead of Profits

Dan Gilbert of Detroit is just one example of what a CEO determined to help their communities can accomplish.

March 1, 2015
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Washington Watch

Washington’s Media Myopia

With practically no legislation moving through Congress, the Washington press corps is beginning to focus on action in states and localities.

January 1, 2015
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Washington Watch

Crazy Quilt Federalism

Innovation is happening in a lot of places, just in different ways.

November 1, 2014
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Washington Watch

Are Governments Neglecting Planes and Trains?

Even though airports and public transportation systems are in need of upgrades, all anyone ever talks about is roads and bridges.

September 1, 2014
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Washington Watch

The Great Water Paradox

With far too little water in some places and far too much in others, U.S. governments can no longer ignore climate change.

July 1, 2014
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Washington Watch

How Big Cities Push Big New Ideas

As urban populations have grown, cities have become centers of innovation.

May 1, 2014
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Washington Watch

Poverty Won't Be Solved by Congress

Since Congress has trouble tying its shoes, states and localities must take the lead reversing the dangerous trends of rising inequality and stagnant mobility.

March 1, 2014
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Washington Watch

America Risks Wasting Fracking’s Potential

Hydraulic fracking holds so much promise for generating inexpensive, relatively clean energy. But first, we need to figure out how to regulate it.

January 1, 2014
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Washington Watch

What (Not) to Expect from Congress This Session

Congress is back, but don’t expect the players in this sad comedy to know or care much about how any pieces of legislation they pass will affect our states, regions or metros.

September 1, 2013
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Washington Watch

Federalism from the Bottom Up

More than ever, the feds need states and local regions to take the lead in crafting promising new programs.

February 28, 2013
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Columns

Who Pays for Superstorm Sandy?

States don’t just want money to rebuild -- they want money to make far-reaching changes to infrastructure too.

December 28, 2012
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Washington Watch

It's Time for States, Localities to Think Boldly

Elections and governance have become so intertwined that it’s hard to know when campaigns begin or end. We do know we need big ideas.

October 31, 2012
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Washington Watch

Washington, D.C.’s Other 1-Percent Problem

The nation’s capital is more about what you own these days than what you do.

August 31, 2012
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Washington Watch

The Politics of Rising Tuition Costs

Obama blames the states, but the problem is more complicated.

June 29, 2012
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Education

Public Universities Reach a Tipping Point

Severe funding cuts and the record-high numbers of people going to college are forcing state university systems to make tough decisions about financial aid, curriculums, research and more.

May 31, 2012
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Washington Watch

The Affordable Care Act: A Case Study for Cooperative Federalism?

If the health reform law is upheld, the flexibility it will give states on health insurance exchanges could be a model for healthy federal-state relations.

April 30, 2012
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Washington Watch

Despite Corruption Concerns, D.C. Improves Services

Amid several ethics scandals, the city government has dramatically improved its delivery of services -- even as demand has increased.

February 29, 2012
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Washington Watch

What Brand of Federalism Is Next?

Obama’s mixed approach of coercion and collaboration seems to be working, but that may not last.

January 1, 2012
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Washington Watch

Column: Housing Policy Deserves a Demotion

GOVERNING Publisher Emeritus Peter Harkness says it may be time for government to get out of the business of promoting homeownership.

October 31, 2011
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Washington Watch

Severe Budget Cuts Ahead

With stimulus funding gone, a misinformed citizenry is unprepared for the funding cuts on the horizon.

August 31, 2011
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Washington Watch

Cities Must Find the Economy's Fix

With Washington paralyzed by its debt and states facing deficits, the pressure is on local governments to raise more revenue or make significant structural changes to reduce costs.

June 30, 2011
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Washington Watch

The Truth about Bankruptcy

Exaggerating problems is more about politics than budget balancing.

April 29, 2011
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Washington Watch

Public Servants as Public Enemy #1

At all levels, denigration of public service is a legacy of the recession.

February 28, 2011
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Washington Watch

The Nation's Outlook on Trains

Bullet trains may be sidetracked, but not commuter rail.

January 1, 2011
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Washington Watch

Finding a Leader With Answers

As problems cry out for solutions, we need more Richard Daleys.

November 1, 2010
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Finance

Low-Flow Revenue Stream

When some labor unions in Rockford, Ill., came out in support of an increase in the local sales tax last month, it wasn't big news....

March 31, 2007
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Education

Test, but Verify

Almost two years ago, this space discussed George W. Bush's centerpiece education program in a column that started off this way: "There is a rebellion...

March 25, 2007
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