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Michigan State University

Local and State Policy Innovations: Policy Innovations

Links to sites that compile examples of innovative policies or best practices for local and state government.


This research guide was developed by Terry Link on a topic dear to his heart.  Although retired from the library, he continues to send new items for inclusion for this guide.  He can still be contacted at Starting Now, LLC, 8767 Price Rd., Laingsburg, MI 48848; email:

Last update received : September 10, 2014.

Energy, Environment, Climate

Building Clean Energy Inndustries and Green Jobs - a 333 page report on innovative policies to support this emphasis from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Building Rating Policies  - policies from around the globe at local, state, and national levels for rating building energy use.

City and Local Renewable Energy Policies – compiled in a report by ICLEI

Clean Energy Policy Analyzes – from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reviews policies from local, state, and regional entities.

Energy Policy Innovation Council - from Arizona State University

Global Status Report on Local Renewable Energy Policies - This ICLEI report provides an in-depth summary of local renewable energy policies worldwide, discusses the importance of local renewable energy policies and provides basic information to help decision-makers understand the opportunities and possibilities for renewable energy in their communities.

Green Buildings for Cool Cities  - a short but useful guide from US Green Building Council.

Local Energy Efficiency Policies – compiled by the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy

Local Water Policy Innovation - a project of American Rivers

Municipal Policies for Managing Stormwater with Green Infrastructure   – US EPA 76 page report.

Sample Climate Friendly Purchasing Policy   - from California’s Institute of Local Government

Shining Cities 2018: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America - co-authored by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group.

State and Local Climate Actions and Policies  - focuses on plans and policies to address relationships between transportation and climate change.

State and Local Energy Efficiency Policy - from the Alliance to Save Energy - check the "resources" portion to get to actual policies.


State and Local School Pesticide Policies  – from the folks at Beyond Pesticides a geographic list of local policies. 

State and Local Policies and Incentives to Produce and Use Woody Biomass -  short report from the National Association of Conservation Districts



Complete Streets policies –Complete Streets means that  streets and roadways are designed and operated to be safe and accessible for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers -- all users, regardless of age or ability -  compiled by Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition from communities around the state.  

Innovative DOT  -  a 214 page Smart Growth America guide to state  transportation policies

Innovative Policy and Tools  - from the Center for Transit Oriented Development guide to sources

Michigan Complete Streets - guide to policies in play in Michigan communities.

Policies and Practices that Support Safe Pedestrian Environments – from research done at the Transportation Research Board.

Safe Routes to School Local Policy Guide  - compiled into a 100 page report by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

Local and State Policy Innovations Websites Search

Multiple Policy Areas

American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE) - a "web-based public library of progressive state and local laws.

American Legislative Exchange Council - focuses on policies and laws that support free markets and limited government.

Beautiful Solutions - The Beautiful Solutions Gallery and Lab is an interactive space for sharing the stories, solutions and big ideas needed to build new institutional power and point the way toward a just, resilient, and democratic future. Developed by Beautiful Solutions in partnership with This Changes Everything, this is an open-ended project that will continue to evolve based on the ideas you submit to the Lab, and the ongoing contributions of the thinkers and practitioners on the forefront of building alternatives.

Best Practices of City Governments - Search the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Best Practices database by keyword, year or practice collection

Brookings Institution - Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - a non-partisan think tank focused on social justice and environmental sustainability at both provincial and national levels of policy.

Center for Policy Innovation - from the Heritage Foundation, largely national policy but some state level.

Center for State Innovation - subtitled "Progressive Strategies for State Executives".

Innovations to Watch – a list compiled by Brookings Institution for local, county, and state policies.

Government Finance Officers Association Best Practices - covers, accounting, auditing, financial reporting, budgeting, debt management, economic development, retirement and benefits, investment policy.

Government Innovators Network  - from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard. See also their Innovation Award winners

Guide to Greening Cities - case studies of policies from across North America including transportation, neighborhood development, climate change, and solid waste.

Model County Program Database - The National Association of Counties highlight's a number of model programs identified through their annual achievement awards program that represent innovative and creative solutions to the problems local governments face. The database is searchable by year, category, state, and county or by keyword.

National Association of Counties - county commissioners and executives organization that has lists of Model Programs and sample codes and ordinances.

National Conference of State Legislatures - home of the association of legislators. Reports of best practices/innovations usually listed under "Issue Areas".

The National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices - The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) develops innovative solutions to today's most pressing public policy challenges. Browse the Center Divisions and Center Issues pages.

National League of Cities (NLC) City Practices - NLC’s city practice briefs and case studies provide city leaders with examples of innovative city practices on various topics to assist them as they face program planning and problem solving in their own communities. Each city practice brief provides brief summaries of city programs on a particular topic, along with contact information to facilitate networking. Case studies offer more in-depth analysis and lessons learned on a particular topic from a select group of cities where NLC has worked to provide resources and assistance.

New State and Local Policy Innovations – from the Democracy Collaborative policies that include taxes, wages, retail sales, health care, etc.

Pew Charitable Trust - Stateline does policy analysis and looks at innovations

Policies for Shareable Cities - a collection of alternative policies around affordable housing, food, transportation, and other elements of the economy. released September 2013.

Reliable Prosperity  - a portal into policies and practices that cover the gamut of concerns for susyainable and resilient communities.

Smart Growth America -  state and regional policy guide includes policies around agriculture, community development, education,  transportation, housing, health, energy, natural resources and environment.

State Fiscal Analysis Initiative - a network of non-profit organizations that share a commitment to rigorous policy analysis, responsible budget and tax policies, and a particular focus on the needs of low- and moderate-income families.

State Policy Network - a network of 'free-market' think tanks.

Sustainability Policies and Best Practices  - from the Sustainable Cities Network covers policies on buildings, food, water, energy, transportation, solid waste, etc.

Urban and Regional Policies for Social Innovation  and Community Greening   – from the German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

Community Development

Improving Access to Healthy Food  - from focuses on retail stores, urban agriculture, and farmers’ markets.

Independent Business Rules Institute for Local Self-Reliance offers examples of local, state, and federal policies that can:  eliminate tax loopholes and subsidies that give big businesses an unfair advantage in the market place, constrain the market power of large corporations, revitalize neighborhood commercial districts, and strengthen and rebuild independent businesses

Innovative State Policies to Reduce Poverty and Expand the Middle Class - a report from the Sodexho Foundation that lists 17 policies from different states.

Local Policy Advocacy  - policies that fight poverty and strengthen community development and expand financial security and opportunity.  

New State and Local Policy Innovations – from the Democracy Collaborative policies that include taxes, wages, retail sales, health care, etc.

Policy Change for Local Living Economies: Practical Strategies for Champions of Change.  The work of building a vibrant local economy requires up-to-date government policies and responsive government processes. This report offers suggestions for would-be change agents to identify the best initiatives and work with local governments on their implementation.   Advice from David Brodwin, American Sustainable Business Council, 2012.

Policy Guide on Housing  - from the folks at the American Planning Association

Food, Nutrition, Health

Healthy  Eating Active Living Cities Campaign  – covers ordinances used to help shape development and zoning. Includes land use, transportation,  gardening, healthy food access, workplace wellness…

Improving Access to Healthy Food  - from focuses on retail stores, urban agriculture, and farmers’ markets.

Innovative Local Government Policies and Plans to Build healthy Food Systems  - a 38 page guide compiled by folks at SUNY Buffalo.

Local Policy Database – from the Strategic Alliance for better health and nutrition covers policies that enhance good nutrition and physical activity at the local level.

Local School Wellness Policies  - from the School Nutrition Association  

Public Health Policies  - links to sites with policies and best practices compiled by American Public Health Association.

School Wellness Policies – compiled by the folks at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) covers food, nutrition, physical activity, and other wellness policies.

Subject Guide

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Julia Ezzo


Best Practices Reviews - In 2004, the Minnesota Legislature gave the Office of the State Auditor responsibility to conduct "best practice reviews" of local government services in Minnesota.

Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Best Practices and Advisories - GFOA’s collection of Best Practices and Advisories have been approved by the GFOA Executive Board after careful development by various standing committees. Each practice and advisory was developed drawing on the collective wisdom of more than 50 persons with extensive and diverse experience in public finance. The best practices are intended to identify enhanced techniques and provide information about effective strategies for state and local government practitioners.

Government Innovator's Network - This portal is produced by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, and is a marketplace of ideas and examples of government innovation. Browse or search to access news, documents, descriptions of award-winning programs, and information on events in your area related to innovation.

Green Procurement Policies – a wide array of policy examples from communities across California collected by the

International Green Purchasing Network  - gives policies, criteria, and guidelines from around the globe on green purchasing.

Municipal Finance and Budget Policies – a collection of policies from communities across the state of Washington

Sample Climate Friendly Purchasing Policy   - from California’s Institute of Local Government

State Budget Reform Toolkit  - from the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) policy suggestions to reduce the size and spending of government

Sustainable Procurement Resource Centre  – a global guide to policies and practices to enhance sustainable purchasing.