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Update: The States and Medicaid Expansion

A quick update on where the debate over Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act stands in some of the states still debating what should be a "no-brainer":

Setting Up Successful Health Insurance Marketplaces

This week, President Obama began a push to remind the public of the many provisions of the health care law that have either already taken effect or will soon, including the exchanges in October, as states continued to work on getting their exchanges set up while also engaging in their own efforts to educate the public:

Fast-Food Strikes Spread to Midwest as Anti-Worker Efforts Meet Strong Opposition

In recent months, unprecedented strikes by fast-food workers have taken place in both New York City and Chicago. This week, the action spread even further through the heart of the country, as workers in St. Louis and Detroit staged one-day work stoppages to demand higher wages and the right to organize. At the same time that such strikes are spreading, anti-worker legislative attacks that have already spread through many neighboring states in recent years are being met with strong opposition throughout the region as well. Workers in Missouri and states across the Midwest continued this week to stand up both in the streets and at statehouses to demand fair wages and respect on the job:

What States Stand to Gain from the Marketplace Fairness Act

This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would help states fill their coffers, fund critical programs, and avoid damaging cuts by an over two-to-one margin in a bipartisan vote. Difficult to believe in this era of austerity and obstruction? The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases, closing a loophole that currently gives online retailers a major advantage over in-state brick-and-mortar businesses. The bill has picked up support from some major retailers, including Amazon, as well as some conservatives, but is still expected to see strong opposition from anti-tax activists when it heads to the House. However, the bipartisan vote in the Senate this week may be one more indication of a slow-motion shift in the politics of taxation and spending underway in both D.C. and the states:

More Progressive Victories in Colorado

It wasn't so long ago that Colorado was considered a hotspot for ascendant conservative national movements, from the religious right to an anti-tax revolt to anti-immigrant extremism. But times (and demographics) are clearly changing, and quickly. With progressives empowered by recent elections, this session has seen Colorado's legislature advance, pass, and enact progressive legislation across a range of issue areas. And with the state's session drawing to a close in a matter of days, the wins are piling up. From voting rights to welcoming immigrants to enacting sensible gun laws and civil unions, the multiple progressive victories in Colorado this year provide a hopeful model and counter-example to the destructive agendas advanced by conservatives in statehouses across the nation in recent years. Here's how their session is finishing up:

Activists Protest North Carolina's Turn to Right-Wing Extremism

No state is seeing a bigger and more devastating deluge of right-wing legislation move this year than North Carolina, where a tea-party-controlled legislature has been advancing bills alternatively dangerous and absurd -- and sometimes both. A voter ID proposal is just the latest to gain national attention, as residents of all fifty states get a glimpse of what an unfettered conservative movement in a state actually looks like, and activists in North Carolina raise the temperature in protest:

Congress Acts to Help Frequent Fliers, Leaves States in Lurch

Late this week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation by unanimous consent that would give the Federal Aviation Administration the ability to end furloughs of air traffic controllers, hoping to end a week of delays at airports across the nation that resulted from the automatic budget cuts in sequestration. These kinds of impacts were the intentional purpose of the blunt and painful automatic cuts of sequestration, which were originally intended to be so frightening that the possibility of their enactment would force an alternative federal budget compromise. Yet while business travellers might be breathing a sigh of relief as they fly home this weekend, the intentionally painful cuts to other critical programs are still being felt by states, kids, students, seniors, and other victims of sequestration -- and the pain they are feeling may soon get worse:

Backlash Brews Against Corporate Education Reform

Recent scandals in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. that revealed coordinated efforts by teachers and administrators to manipulate student test scores are shining an even brighter spotlight on the failure of standardized test-centric policies in the states. A backlash is brewing in many states as more and more parents and legislators alike start asking questions about corporate education "reform":

Conservatives vs. Conservatives on Medicaid

With more and more sessions drawing to a close, the latest count shows 15 states that have rejected expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, 20 that have agreed to comply with the law and expand coverage, and the rest still debating expansion. In many states -- including Florida and Ohio -- that debate is playing out in a contentious intramural fight among conservatives themselves. Conservative governors supporting expansion are running into opposition from ideologically opposed lawmakers in their own party, as the political debate over Medicaid increasingly appears to be taking place entirely on one side of the aisle:

Colorado Senate Approves Bipartisan Resolution Calling for Path to Citizenship

A large bipartisan majority of state senators in Colorado approved a resolution Wednesday calling on Congress to pass federal immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. The passage of the resolution, by an overwhelming margin of 33-2, comes after similar resolutions have been introduced in many states in recent weeks.