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Progressive Values Dominant-- But Need to Rebuild Trust in Effectiveness of Government Action

This Dispatch will outline these trends in public opinion, with special emphasis on the results of two wide-ranging surveys this year, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press report, Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2009 (hereafter "Pew"), and the Center for American Progress report, State of American Political Ideology, 2009: A National Study of Values and Beliefs (hereafter "CAP-beliefs").  Other reports will be touched on as well, but the core results are similar across all major surveys on these points.

On the Ballot: Defeating TABOR, Defending Relationship Equality Laws & A Roundup of Other Ballot Issues

Along with giving a roundup of the range of initiatives on the ballot in this off-year election, this Dispatch will give special focus to the campaigns against TABOR and defending relationship equality laws.

Restoring State Authority: An Agenda to Restrict Preemption of State Laws

For years, states have increasingly seen their hands tied by a federal government declaring that preemption voids state consumer, environmental and labor rights laws.  The Bush administration in particular used its regulatory authority aggressively to block state law after state law.   

The results have been catastrophic.  Despite the myth that "no one saw the subprime meltdown coming," the reality is that thirty states enacted laws to rein in abuses by predatory lenders.  However, the Bush administration used its regulatory authority over banks to shut down most of those predatory lending laws in the courts. This is just the most dramatic example of how preemption allowed the federal government to enforce its own inaction on state governments at the behest of corporate interests.

Texas House Dumps Rightwing Speaker in Favor of Bi-Partisan Reform Choice

When Progressive States Network (PSN) discussed gains in progressive power in legislative chambers around the country back in November, one of the question marks was what would happen in the Texas House. Earlier this week, that question was largely resolved when it was announced that rightwing Speaker Tom Craddick no longer had the votes to be reelected. Instead, a majority coalition, including most House Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, decided to support Republican Joe Straus from San Antonio as the new speaker. 

Policy Checklist for the New State Legislative Sessions

With legislative sessions getting underway around the country, this Dispatch provides a list of key bills and policies that we encourage legislators to consider introducing.  While not exhaustive of the range of needed reforms in states, they emphasize initiatives of strategic importance that are being considered in multiple states.  Working with our various partners, Progressive States Network is providing staff support for these policies and will work to use movement in multiple states to generate national media and attention.  This in turn will create greater momentum to assist individual states in pushing bills to passage.  The following is a quick checklist of key policies with links to model legislation and policy summaries.

Strengthening Progressive State Power Should Be Priority for D.C. Leaders

With conservatives losing the presidency and democrats controlling Congress, we are likely to see a significant redeployment of conservative political energy into the states.  There are still 33 state governments where Republicans control either a governorship or a legislative chamber, and other state political bodies are still controlled by conservative Democrats.  We are already seeing rightwing forces shift to state level policy campaigns.  In fact, multiple conservative commentators have begun to openly discuss that the states will be their key target in the next few years.

Changing Electorate Promises Bright Future for Progressive Politics

In last Tuesday's election, there was a dramatic demographic and geographic shift in who supported progressives all the way down the ballot.  These changes could lead to long-term electoral support for progressives if they deliver on the promises they made to voters.

New PSN Website and Reports Lay the Groundwork for 2009 State Action

With elections over and new progressive strength in many legislatures, voters will now be demanding that state leaders deliver, made all the more challenging given hard economic times and the laundry list of social problems we face.  

To assist in this task, Progressive States Network has launched an upgrade of its website to make it easier for legislators and advocates to find both past Dispatch information and additional resources we will be adding in coming months.  As well, we have new Policy Options reports that give more detailed analysis of policies that legislators may want to introduce in their states.

State Progressive Victories from November 2008's Election

Beyond federal victories for progressives, November 4th was in multiple ways a resounding victory for progressives at the state level.  First, with President-Elect Obama's experience as a state legislator, state leaders will hopefully have an ally in the White House who understands the challenges they face and the need for a federal partner to make state innovation effective.  Second, even after large gains in state legislatures for progressives in 2006 and 2007, Tuesday saw additional legislative gains, with new progressive leadership taking control of number of key state chambers. 

Ballot Initiatives 2008

This Dispatch is a roundup of what ballot initiatives will appear on state ballots across the country this November.  Whether it's workers rights, energy policy, education, transit, abortion or health care, ballot initiates give voters a chance to directly vote on an issue.

New PSN Report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed

Today, the Progressive States Network is releasing a new report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed: Positive Integration Policies by States Still Far Outweigh Punitive Policies Aimed at New Immigrants.   The Executive Summary is available online, as well as the full report in PDF and HTML format.

Conservativism and the Wrecking of Government as We Know It

This Wednesday, PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin sat down for a phone interview with Thomas Frank, author of the new best selling book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule.  Their conversation touched on a number of issues surrounding how conservatives have worked over the last decade to dismantle government as we know it in Washington D.C. and throughout the country.

Building a Progressive Majority in the States, 2008

On Monday, July 22nd, over one hundred and fifty state legislators, labor leaders, and advocates participated in "Building a Progressive Majority in the States," a joint annual meeting of the Progressive States Network and the National Labor Caucus.  Taking a cue from the opening plenary on progressive policies for an economic downturn, the conference focused on strategies for confronting the most important issues facing America's working families, including affordable health care, smart immigration policy, workers' rights, green jobs, clean energy, and tax and budget reform.  To address these issues in more depth, PSN policy experts joined state legislative leaders in smaller workshops that gave participants a chance to share best practices and model legislation while developinglegislative priorities and winning strategies for 2009.

Supreme Court and the States: Business Wins, Voting Rights Lose, and a Mixed Bag on Criminal Justice

As the Supreme Court marches to the Right, corporate interests continue to thrive at the expense of state regulatory powers.  "This has been a very successful year for the business community," said Miguel Estrada, a Washington appellate lawyer who represents many key corporate interests before courts in Washington, D.C."  This session at the U.S. Supreme Court, as this Dispatch will highlight, had an almost uniform tilt towards business versus state regulatory authority.  In other areas like election law, the tilt was against poor voters who faced restrictions on their right to vote, though the term was a more mixed bag on criminal justice and other issues before the Court.

Inside PSN: The 2008 Progressive States Network Annual Gala

Last Wednesday, the Progressive States Network played host to national luminaries and state leaders from all over the country to celebrate the many victories achieved by the organization and its allies in the most recent  legislative session, and to build momentum for new victories in the coming year.

Why States Matter

Conventional wisdom inside the D.C. Beltway holds that on major issues like health care or energy independence, it's fine for state legislators to play with their legislative toys in local sandboxes, but that it's really up to the "grown-ups" in the federal government to fix big problems. In national policy debates, state governments are usually treated as a tiny sideshow to the top billing of national legislation.

Public Opinion Supports Bold Progressive Leadership

With new leadership in state legislatures across the country, we are seeing impressive new progressive legislation, from environmental to voting rights to family leave to budget reform laws.