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MA: Romney Vetoes Good Portions of Health Care Bill

Looks like it's a bad idea to play "Let's Make a Deal" with Mitt Romney. The Massachusetts Governor vetoed the employer assessment yesterday, a move that was expected to happen, but is still deeply disappointing. What makes it even more distressing is that the employer assessment -- a charge for medium and large businesses that choose to not provide insurance coverage to workers -- is that at $295 per employee, it was rather small, especially in comparison to the $1000 fine for individuals who "choose" to not have insurance, often because it is not affordable.

Cleaning Up Corruption in the Statehouses

At the core of many voters' frustrations with government is the sense that, too often, politics is for sale. High-priced lobbyists offering "gifts" to lawmakers swarm state legislatures; companies looking for public contracts get too cozy with those handing out public money; and corporate campaign contributions grease the wheels as public policy is auctioned to the highest corporate bidder.

States Condemn Federal Undermining of Local Laws

At their Spring national gathering, leaders of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) condemned increasing federal regulatory and legal restrictions on state authority in areas ranging from consumer protection to criminal law:
"Federal regulatory preemption is nothing more than a backdoor, underhanded means by which unelected federal bureaucrats impose their will on the states," [said] New York state Sen.

The Massachusetts Health Care Model: Expanded Coverage with a Heavy Burden on Working Families

Every Massachusetts resident will be required to have health insurance by July 2007 -- with a combination of governments subsidies, employer assessments and individual fines used to achieve that result under legislation which was approved by the Massachusetts House and Senate on Tuesday.

FL: Leaving the Injured without Justice

The corporate lobby scored a big victory in Florida last week, as the Sun Sentinel detailed:

The Florida Senate gave final approval Thursday to a measure toppling a centuries-old principle of civil law that will make it harder for people to collect damages when they're injured in an accident.

 

Anti-TABOR Forces Get Boost From Maine Court

In states across the country, the far-right is pushing "TABOR" measures based on Colorado's now infamous spending cap. The Colorado model that capped spending increases at a rate equal to population growth plus inflation and that ratcheted down spending in recession years, is now being largely eschewed by the right following voter rescindment of the awful legislation in Colorado.

Clean Power Alternatives for Energy Independence

The public is fed up. They know that every barrel of oil we import from the Middle East helps regimes who don't share America's interest. Every gallon of gas burned on America's roadways contributes to asthma for children. And every time we import our energy, we're creating jobs abroad instead of here at home. There are alternatives to America's current dependence on foreign energy supplies. But don't look to the federal government to solve them. Their response to America's energy crisis is to give tax breaks to multinational energy companies raking in record profits -- a solution that is as short-sighted as it is unhelpful.

Global Trade Negotiations Threaten State Powers

Every state and local official should be paying more attention to the global trade talks at the World Trade Organization, since local power to regulate services such as health care, mass transit and a range of other public services are on the chopping block.

Fighting Predatory Lending

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle is hinting interest in signing legislation to deregulate the rent-to-own industry. The bill passed Wisconsin's conservative legislature and is now awaiting the signature of Doyle, who as Attorney General opposed similar bills.

Rethinking the Ways We Vote

The 2000 election sparked an interest in electoral reform. Paired with a rising tendency among voters toward self-declared independence from the two major parties and a new wave of reforms have started growing in popularity across the country. In statehouses and in voting booths, reforms are moving forward to give Americans more real options at the polls.