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Charles Monaco on June 7, 2012 - 11:12am
How have progressives been fighting back against the right-wing onslaught in statehouses in 2012? How can legislators, organizations, and activists work together to advance a positive vision in the states in 2013 and beyond? What can we all learn from policy battles this year going forward? Those are just some of the questions on the agenda for Netroots Nation, taking place this weekend in Providence, RI.
Progressive States Network (along with our partner Progressive States Action) will be at Netroots Nation this year - if you see us, stop by and say hi!
On Saturday June 9th at 10:30am, PSN's Suman Raghunathan will be moderating a panel on progressive legislative caucuses at the state and local level. Suman and the panel - New York City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Progress Ohio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg, and Rhode Island State Representative Chris Blazejewski - will talk about the growing importance of progressive caucuses to advancing state and local policies, winning messaging wars and influencing the debate in their respective states and cities. They'll share their experiences about how state and local progressive caucuses can best work with allies to define progressive values in the states and grow the national progressive movement.
The panel will be livestreamed here on Saturday morning, so click back here then.
Here's a roundup of some other sessions at this year's Netroots Nation which will feature a discussion of the importance of state policy. Visit NetrootsNation.org for more, including livestreams of many of the below panels, and follow @PSNwire on Twitter for the latest news on state policy at #NN12 this weekend.
Thursday, June 7:
Friday, June 8:
Saturday, June 9:
Tim Judson on June 7, 2012 - 9:00am
(Co-authored with Cristina Francisco-McGuire.)
(Cross-posted at Huffington Post.)
This week, we authored a report grading states on how well they protect a fundamental workplace right: getting paid what you are legally owed. This right is so basic and common-sense that most people are still unaware of how commonly it is violated.
Wage theft, or the illegal underpayment of workers, has become so widespread, it affects millions of workers across the country and is nearly ubiquitous in certain industries: retail, restaurants, hospitality, day-labor, warehousing, child care, and construction. That’s a lot of people – already not getting paid enough – whose bosses illegally make their paychecks even lighter.
The last time a detailed, multi-state survey was done, the findings were shocking. Researchers in three of our nation’s largest cities interviewed thousands of workers who earned at or near the minimum wage, and found a wide array of workplace violations. Here are just the basic facts:
Added up across the nation, this amounts to billions of dollars in earnings stolen from people who can least afford to lose it. In New York State alone, workers’ losses are estimated at $3 billion per year, and wage theft costs the state $427 million per year in uncollected revenues. By depressing the consumer spending needed to fuel economic growth and by defrauding states and taxpayers to the tune of millions of dollars, this is a problem that affects all of us.
State laws and labor departments play a crucial role in prosecuting wage theft, filling in where enforcement of the federal minimum wage law is either lacking or not applicable. Even after the U.S. Department of Labor hired 250 more investigators in 2009, there is still only one investigator for every 141,000 workers — nearly ten times fewer than there were seventy years ago, after the federal minimum wage was first enacted.
Our new report, Where Theft is Legal, shows that, if “cracking down on wage theft” were a class, 44 out of 50 states would fail one of the major tests: enacting strong laws against the crime. At the same time, several states have begun to move in the right direction. As we highlighted in another recent report, New York passed a law in 2010 that is now the strongest in the country. Illinois, California, and Massachusetts have also developed strong and innovative policies to help workers reclaim their wages and convince employers to abandon wage theft. But far too many states have done little to nothing at all.
So what would strong wage theft laws look like? The state laws and policies being advanced by worker advocates and forward-thinking policymakers are setting the new standard for cracking down on wage theft. In Where Theft is Legal, we pulled together the best of these policies into a comprehensive standard, and measured states’ existing laws against it. These policies fall into three major categories that, together, comprise a strong wage theft policy:
Accessing Justice – The most basic provisions of wage theft laws are among the most important: which workers are protected, and whether the law gives them the tools to recover stolen wages. An often overlooked issue is the problem of employer retaliation against workers challenging wage theft. Unless employees have strong legal protections, the risk and impact of losing a job can be greater than the possible benefit of taking on one’s employer.
Transparency & Accountability – Good recordkeeping laws help workers and their employers stay on the same page regarding wage rates, paydays, work hours, and payroll deductions. Not only do laws like payday notification and paystubs create a paper trail that makes it easier to process wage claims, they ensure that employers who play by the rules have nothing to fear.
Securing Justice: In order to clamp down on wage theft effectively, the law must incentivize workers to pursue claims, as well as deter employers from violating the law. This third major component of strong wage theft laws policies addressing those two imperatives: the amount in damages workers are able to recover through filing a wage claim, and the civil and/or criminal penalties for employers for violations.
Without any one of these policies, we lack the essential protections and tools to change the way unethical employers do business. Yet, our report shows that New York is the only state that receives a passing grade in all of these categories — and even it only earns a C+ overall.
This week, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first state minimum wage law – a landmark achieved more than a quarter century before the federal government set a national standard. Today, forty-five states have their own minimum wage laws, and eighteen have set them higher than the national $7.25. It is up to states to lead the way on wage theft, just as they did in establishing the minimum wage.
The consequences of inaction are dire. Not just last week’s alarming unemployment report, but the whole economic landscape shows signs of a tectonic shift away from our nation’s vision of itself as a land of opportunity. Most of the jobs being created since the end of the Great Recession are in lower-wage industries where wage theft is rampant. As a result, millions of the people considered “lucky” enough to find work these days are not only landing in jobs earning less than a livable wage, but in workplaces where their pay is eroded even further by illegal deductions and underpayments.
If we do not crack the wage theft problem, the very notion of economic security will be a relic of our past. The already-weakened economy could weaken even further, meaning that even those of us fortunate enough to have jobs where we don’t suffer wage theft could end up having to take one where we do, as millions already have.
Charles Monaco on May 23, 2012 - 7:52pm
A state that asks everyone, including the luckiest few, to pay their fair share during a time of historic inequality. A state with a minimum wage above the federal floor that helps boost consumer spending and power the economy. A state that has been able to avoid economically devastating budget cuts and public sector job losses by seeking responsible budget solutions.
What one word might best describe a state that has adopted policies like the above to rebuild their economy? The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has one in mind: “poor.”
For the fifth edition of their annual Rich States, Poor States report, the increasingly controversial corporate-backed group has once again partnered with notorious supply-side economist Arthur Laffer to rank the 50 states based on their “economic outlook.” To do so, ALEC once again uses a set of criteria intended, the authors write, to “highlight the policies that contribute to economic well-being in the 50 states.”
Yet one look at some of the criteria used to generate this survey reveals that ALEC largely values the “well-being” not of families or state economies, but of the very same corporate interests that fund ALEC.
While national attention has recently focused on ALEC’s non-economic initiatives such as “shoot first” and voter suppression bills, the ideological bent of their yearly state economic rankings should come as little surprise. As the group pursues an announced “refocus” on economic issues under increasing pressure, and as more becomes apparent about the ways in which corporations wield influence in statehouses, the results of ALEC’s annual Rich State, Poor States rankings should not just be taken with a grain of salt by observers – they should be explored to reveal the depths of the misguided and economically destructive priorities they promote.
PSN on April 18, 2012 - 1:49pm
One year after New York State took a major step to simultaneously plug its budget deficit and improve millions of families’ economic security by enacting the Wage Theft Prevention Act, a new report by Progressive States Network is naming New York state as a leader in wage theft prevention among the 50 states.
The report, Cracking Down on Wage Theft: State Strategies for Protecting Workers and Recovering Revenues, highlights New York’s law which went into effect April 9, 2011 and should help the state recover up to $427 million each year in lost revenue from underpayment of wages – amounting to $1.5 billion per year for workers in New York City alone. The report argues that the revenue so recovered would more than make up for the state’s projected $350 million budget gap, an important signal to other states that have not begun to address this problem.
Wage theft is the nonpayment or underpayment by employers of wages legally owed to employees. In recent years it has become nearly ubiquitous in certain industries, particularly those where low-wage work is most prevalent. In 2008, a survey of over 4,000 low-wage workers in three of the nation’s largest cities shocking found that:
Wage theft has a devastating impact on these working people, for whom this amounts to losing 15% of their annual earnings through employers shorting them on their paychecks. This happens is all too many ways: hours are shorted, tips are stolen, minimum wage and overtime laws are broken, people are forced to work off the clock. Many employers miscategorize employees as independent contractors, simultaneously dodging wage laws, Social Security, and employment taxes. And sometimes workers are simply not paid at all.
The prevalence of wage theft has far-reaching effects, undermining communities where low-wage workers live and where they would spend those wages. Honest businesses are hurt too, when they have to compete with employers who cheat their workers and dodge taxes. And it’s important to highlight, especially as taxpayers file their state taxes this week, that states lose millions of dollars in revenue due to wage theft, through unpaid income and sales taxes. Important safety net programs like unemployment insurance and workers compensation are shorted, as well.
New York State provides one of the best examples. The 2008 survey found that over 500,000 workers in New York City alone experience wage theft, to the tune of $1.5 billion each year in unpaid wages. Statewide, it is estimated that those rise to nearly 1 million workers and close to $3 billion each year. The state loses over $400 million in revenue each year thanks to wage theft – more than the $350 million state budget gap for 2012.
And this is happening in a state which already had relatively strong wage payment laws compared to other states.
The problem may much worse nationwide. Excellent research has already been done showing that, where wage laws are concerned, there are essentially no cops on the beat. Federal enforcement capacity is down over 90% from where it was decades ago; state enforcement is similarly inadequate to the scope of the problem -- uneven at best, and declining along with state revenues in many states.
In recent years, states have begun to modernize their wage theft laws to crack down on the problem. In our survey, we have evaluated state’s existing laws against a set of model policies, standards and best practices that worker advocates, legislators, and policy groups are promoting. These best practives include:
Full Resources from this Article
Alvin Melathe on April 9, 2012 - 3:01pm
Legislators in Mississippi refused to bring up HB 488 for a committee vote last Tuesday — effectively killing the anti-immigrant measure modeled off of Arizona and Alabama’s controversial and economically devastating laws.
In an unprecedented public rebuke of the anti-immigrant “self-deportation” scheme pushed by hard-right conservative groups, the state’s biggest agricultural and law enforcement associations sent letters to every member of Mississippi’s State Legislature, beating back a bill that had the full-throated support of Governor Phil Bryant.
Their letters cap off a legislative session in which increasing attention is being paid to the unfolding economic and humanitarian crisis in neighboring Alabama which has seen its crops rot in the field for lack of workers, its economy and tax base shrink rapidly, and its reputation tarnished — all while there is massive confusion amongst local law enforcement and businesses about how to comply with the law and damning constitutional challenges to its provisions.
While advocates for a sane, practical, and inclusive immigration policy should celebrate this development, there is still a distinct chance that anti-immigrant legislators will try to roll provisions from HB 488 into other bills. These provisions, including one which bars immigrants from starting businesses and another which enshrines racial profiling into Mississippi’s State Constitution, would do increasing damage to a state that clearly has bigger fish to fry: Mississippi boasts a $634 million structural deficit while hosting one of the smallest immigrant populations in the country.
In the overwhelming majority of statehouses thus far in 2012 legislative sessions, the surreal rhetoric that fuels anti-immigrant politics has been been met with a sobering dose of economic realism and growing momentum behind common-sense immigration policies that focus less on distractive scapegoating and more on practical solutions that build livable communities and a sustainable economy.
Alvin Melathe on March 22, 2012 - 5:02pm
As we approach the middle of the legislative session in many statehouses across the country, it’s clear that state legislators are continuing to abandon the unconstitutional, anti-immigrant approach modeled off of Arizona and Alabama’s economically disastrous laws. Legislators, responding to changing demographics and politics, have instead started to focus on plausible and inclusive strategies aimed at broadening prosperity and increasing opportunities for all – regardless of immigration status.
The hangover from harsh anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’s SB 1070, in addition to the fresh and potent backlash of Alabama’s economically devastating HB 56, have had serious legal and political ramifications across the country. The 11th Circuit has enjoined two of the more outlandish provisions of HB 56, while a federal judge ruled that a provision of SB 1070 did not pass constitutional muster – a fate that may await the entire law when it heads to the Supreme Court later this term.
The political ramifications have also been stark. Kris Kobach, the Kansas Attorney General who has spent a troubling amount of time concocting anti-immigrant schemes across the country, has seen his approval rating drop to 34%. Meanwhile, the virulently anti-immigrant State Senator Scott Beason -- a primary sponsor of Alabama’s HB 56 -- lost his Congressional primary bid by a whopping 32%. These developments have confirmed that being anti-immigrant is not only destructive from a policy perspective – it’s also just plain bad politics.
That important conclusion has come just as the enormous and emergent political power of Latinos has come into full focus. State Legislators from across the country have begun to notice this sea change and have responded by moving proposals that attempt to marry principles of inclusion with efforts to develop the significant human capital that immigrants bring to the table.
One such policy concept, Tuition Equity, has built significant momentum this session – with promising bills introduced in Hawaii (HB 1457 SD 1), Colorado (SB 15), and New York (S 4179). Developments thus far in the 2012 session on Tuition Equity also reflect a growing consensus -- twelve states already have laws on the books. State laws are also putting pressure on the passage of a Federal DREAM Act, a proposal that enjoys broad support from the Latino community and a growing number of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who understand that wasting the precious minds of talented immigrant children is not only tragic – but also terrible for America’s chances to stay competitive in an increasingly global economy.
Full Resources from this Article
Cristina Francisco-McGuire on March 8, 2012 - 5:08pm
If 2011 was “The Year of Voter ID,” then 2012 is shaping up to be “The Year of Voter ID Challenges.” In addition to the Department of Justice’s decision in December to deny preclearance to a voter ID law in South Carolina – a requirement under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, under which the state still qualifies – Wisconsin Circuit Judge David Flanagan issued a temporary injunction this week against his state’s new voter ID law. The order bars Governor Scott Walker and the Government Accountability Board from enforcing or implementing the law until a second trial in mid-April can be held to consider a permanent injunction.
Calling the impact of voter ID “extremely broad and largely needless,” Judge Flanagan found the law in violation of Wisconsin’s Constitution. He stated:
Without an injunction, continued Judge Flanagan, “irreparable harm is likely to occur,” as well as “a clearly improper impairment of a most vital element of our society.”
The injunction allows voters to participate in the April 3 presidential primary and local general elections without having to present a photo ID at their polling place.
The lawsuit prompting the injunction was filed by the NAACP’s Milwaukee branch and Voces de la Frontera. A second lawsuit spearheaded by The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which challenges the voter ID law based on the state constitution’s equal protection clause, is scheduled to be heard this Friday.
Full Resources from this Article
Cheryl Leanza on February 29, 2012 - 4:53pm
Should the phone company be required to offer basic phone service to a state’s rural residents? That’s the question currently being considered by a committee in Kentucky’s State Senate.
The National Rural Assembly released a letter this week expressing concerns about the bill, SB 135, arguing that it “threatens access to what most consider a basic lifeline, including 911-emergency service, for Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens.”
The bill, currently being considered by Kentucky’s Standing Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor, would eliminate so-called “carrier of last resort” (COLR) rules, which would mean telephone companies could stop offering voice telephone service if theyfound it to be too expensive or technically difficult. But without access to telephone service, individuals do not have access to emergency services like 911, let alone the opportunity to run a business, get a job, or get an education. There are no substitutes: wireless services are still not adequately deployed in rural America, and high speed broadband Internet is not deployed where traditional landline telephone service is lacking.
These proposals have been rejected on a national level. Major telephone companies asked the Federal Communications Commission to exempt them from these regulations last November, and the FCC declined. In particular, the FCC noted that these companies receive state and federal subsidies to provide service in rural areas. Kentucky received over $100 million in federal rural universal service dollars in 2010, and AT&T received almost $500 million nationwide, while Windstream received over $100 million nationwide, according to the most recent FCC data. In the state of Kentucky, according to FCC data, these companies received the following federal dollars subsidizing rural telephone service in 2011 alone:
Almost 50 counties in Kentucky rely on AT&T and more than 25 rely on Windstream to provide telephone service. Removing the Public Service Commission’s authority over these companies would leave Kentuckians with no guarantees for access to a basic, and essential, utility.
For more updates on this issue, follow PSN’s broadband Twitter feed at @BroadbandPSN.
Suman Raghunathan on February 10, 2012 - 6:35pm
(Alvin Melathe contributed to this article.)
While federal efforts to fix our broken immigration system remain on hold, support is growing among state lawmakers for common-sense, proactive approaches that welcome immigrants and expand opportunity for all, both immigrant and native-born. Across the country, a growing and diverse number of forward-thinking state legislators are turning away from unconstitutional, divisive, and economically devastating approaches taken by states such as Arizona and Alabama. Instead they are advancing inventive policies that make economic sense for states’ bottom lines and uphold their reputations. One such approach, tuition equity, continues to gain political and popular support and build momentum in statehouses across the country.
Under current federal law, states have the option to enact laws that grant the same access to higher education for undocumented students as their U.S. citizen and legal permanent resident classmates. Fourteen states have already enacted such laws with several more poised to move this year. Only a month into the 2012 session, pro-active legislators have already introduced bills to increase access to higher education in five states:
Tuition equity laws expand educational access for undocumented and non-resident students but, importantly, also increase the revenue stream for state university systems—expanding the resources available for all students at a time when budget crunches loom. In Colorado, for example, proposed tuition equity bills will bring in over $2.8 million in additional revenues within the state university systems next year.
Proposals like tuition equity are especially important now, as our nation faces a serious shortage of college educated workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two-thirds of the occupations or industries projected to see the highest growth by 2018 will require a college degree. As the fundamentals of the global economy shift to favor highly-educated workers needed to power high-tech industries, America’s future prosperity depends on retaining and educating qualified and talented undocumented students.
Globally competitive firms have also registered their need for more highly skilled labor; perhaps most famously, the late Steve Jobs remarked to President Obama that Apple moved its operations overseas because the U.S. lacked the 30,000 qualified engineers necessary to run its factory. An unlikely, but potent, coalition of business leaders, immigration activists, and education officials, from principals to guidance counselors, is joining state legislators to move tuition equity legislation in statehouses all over the country.
These legislators are at the forefront of a growing consensus surrounding the political reality on immigration: Americans want a fair, practical, and humane approach that makes economic sense and expands opportunity for all, immigrant and native born. An overwhelming 70% of Americans favored federal DREAM Act proposals in a June 2010 poll—up 12% from a similar poll taken in 2004.
Smart policymakers realize that the purchasing power of immigrants—combined with their contributions—to state revenue streams will help revive a sluggish economy and alleviate budget pressures in the short term. In the long term, they also know that integrating immigrant populations into the broader economy will multiply that effect at the local and national level.
In fact, immigrant entrepreneurs have had an enormous effect on the economy at large—especially in Silicon Valley where they’ve helped create half a million jobs and generated over $50 billion in revenue. In particular, immigrant women’s entrepreneurship rates have exploded in the last ten years—solidifying their role as dynamic participants in the American economy and community.
Integrating undocumented immigrants into American life is a humane and economically viable goal. It acknowledges that America is a nation borne of the dreams and tenacity of immigrants, and that the vision of a prosperous America involves the most talented young people powering an economy that can meet the needs of the 21st century—regardless of immigration status. The budding momentum of the tuition equity movement is a step in the right direction for the country—a step that Congress can and should follow.
Charles Monaco on January 17, 2012 - 9:07am
As conservative state Attorneys General prepare to take their efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act all the way to Supreme Court arguments this spring, an outpouring of support for the health law from state legislators last week made it clear that those seeking to scuttle health reform are not the only ones speaking for the states. Over 500 state legislators representing all 50 states signed on to an Amicus Brief backing the constitutionality of the mimimum coverage provision of the law that was submitted to the Supreme Court last week, a broad show of support for the ACA coming at the beginning of both a pivotal election year and new legislative sessions which will see many lawmakers address the implementation of state exchanges provided for under the law.
In addition to the filing of the Amicus Brief, legislators in a number of states held press conferences last week to highlight why they are standing up for the health law.
Here are some state-by-state highlights of the coverage of both the brief and of the events held in state capitals across the nation last week:
"Forty-three Connecticut lawmakers joined a group of more than 500 legislators in various states who support federal health reform as it faces a legal challenge that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in March... 'We cannot afford to lose the progress already made by giving in to political pressures that in the end will only hurt working families, small businesses and seniors,' said co-chair of the legislature's Public Health Committee, state Rep. Besty Ritter." - Hartford Courant, 1/12
"Georgia Democrats say they will propose a bill creating a healthcare exchange if Republican lawmakers don’t... They also say they’ve filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting Pres. Obama’s healthcare reform law. At a press conference at the state Capitol, Rep. Pat Gardner of Atlanta says Georgia can’t wait for the High Court’s decision. 'We’ll be at the back of the line in terms of applying for federal funds to help set up the exchange,' Gardner said." - Georgia Public Broadcasting News, 1/13
"[Iowa] Legislators criticized Gov. Terry Branstad today for supporting a lawsuit against the national health-reform effort. Sen. Jack Hatch noted that the governor has vowed to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, and has accepted millions of dollars of federal grants from the health-reform program. 'He’s sending kind of a two-sided message' Hatch said at a Statehouse press conference attended by about a dozen legislators. 'He wants Iowa to be the healthiest state in America, but then he wants the law that will help us become the healthiest state in America repealed.'" - Des Moines Register, 1/12
"[Maine] State Rep. Sharon Treat says she's joining 50 other Maine Democrats and hundreds of legislators across the country in filing a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the national health care law. The amicus brief supporting the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is to be filed Friday. Treat, of Hallowell, says she and other lawmakers are joining the lawsuit because they know thousands of people will benefit from the new health law." - Associated Press, 1/13
"More than two dozen Maryland state lawmakers have signed an amicus brief that will be filed in U.S. Supreme Court Thursday in support of President Barack Obama’s health care law. The advisory brief, which also includes signatures from state lawmakers across the country, comes weeks before the high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the national Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged on several fronts. All of the Maryland lawmakers in support of the law are Democrats. “People are going to be at our emergency room doors in Maryland if they don’t have the coverage that they would have under the federal law,” said Baltimore Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, who signed the brief." - Baltimore Sun, 1/12
"More than 50 [Minnesota] lawmakers have signed on to an advisory brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the federal health care law. DFLers say the law's provisions are already baked into state policy and finances. Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said $125 million of the surplus in the November state budget forecast is due to policy changes from the federal health care overhaul. 'The tenuous budget balancing act that we've got going on right now is going to be upended if we don't proceed with the implementation,' she said." - Minnesota Public Radio News, 1/12
"Three dozen Missouri House Democrats have joined state lawmakers from around the country urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Obama administration's health insurance law. The Missourians are among 518 state legislators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who submitted a brief on Thursday arguing that mandating health insurance for all Americans is within the power of Congress. 'Stated simply, the framers of our founding charter came to the drafting table with the aim of giving the federal government power to provide national solutions to national problems,' their advisory brief read." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/13
"A group of 10 New Mexico lawmakers has joined 480 state legislators from 50 states in signing a friend of the court brief supporting the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The brief is being filed as the Supreme Court prepares to consider a constitutional challenge to the controversial health law. Sen. DeDe Feldman says the state has received more than $136 million to support health care in New Mexico as a result of the law." - Associated Press, 1/12
"More than 20 New York state legislators have joined about 450 state legislators from across the country to sign a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act. 'The challenge to the Affordable Care Act now before the Supreme Court has a lot more to do with politics than with the Constitution,' said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried. 'The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by judges from across the ideological spectrum, and it is working for families across the country.'" - Daily Gazette, 1/11
"Greensboro Reps. Alma Adams and Pricey Harrison are two of the 30 North Carolina legislative Democrats who have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the Affordable Care Act in a suit that is before the U.S. Supreme Court... According to Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat who rounded up the North Carolina signatures, 452 state lawmakers from 48 states have signed onto the brief. The brief was organized by the Progressive States Network and Constitutional Accountability Center, Insko said." - News & Record, 1/11
"Two North Dakota Democratic lawmakers have added their names to a court filing with the U.S. Supreme Court to support the new federal health care law. The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments about whether the law violates the U.S. Constitution. Fargo state Sen. Mathern and Grand Forks state Rep. Eliot Glassheim have signed a brief that argues the health care law is constitutional. Mathern says the brief will be filed with the Supreme Court on Friday. Mathern says the law is one of many examples of federal and state cooperation in health care. He says it has already helped people with medical problems get, and keep, insurance coverage." - Associated Press, 1/11
"Ohio's governor, attorney general and most state Republican elected officials have deep problems with the Affordable Care Act, especially its mandate that nearly all Americans must get health insurance by 2014. Ohio Democrats feel otherwise -- and at least 11 of them are expected to be signatories to a friend-of-the-court brief being filed today at the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief, to be signed by nearly 500 state lawmakers nationwide, according to The Hill, will ask the high court to uphold the federal law." - Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 1/12
"Texas, via its Republican leadership, has already joined the two-dozen other states challenging the constitutionality of federal health care reform before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, 27 Democratic Texas lawmakers have signed on to try to defend it. They join some 480 state lawmakers from across the country who are filing briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the measure, which tey believe will expand access to health insurance in places like Texas, where there are currently more than 6 million people without coverage, many of them children. 'My colleagues and I are filing these briefs with the Supreme Court to make sure that we speak up on behalf of our constituents, so that their needs don't fall victim to partisan attempts to knock down this law,' state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said in an email." - Texas Tribune, 1/12
"[Utah] Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck was the lone Utah Democrat to sign a legal document in defense of President Barack Obama’s signature health overhaul. More than 500 lawmakers from all 50 states signed a “friend-of-the-court” brief backing the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged by 26 states in a case now resting with the U.S. Supreme Court. The brief, filed Thursday, was prepared by the Progressive States Network and Constitutional Accountability Center. 'The majority of my constituents support the Affordable Care Act,' said Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City. 'It’s not a black and white issue. There’s work to be done to allow states some autonomy to partner with the federal government in implementing the law... But I find it nerve-wracking that we continue to challenge its most basic elements." - Salt Lake Tribune, 1/12
"A group of Democratic lawmakers in Washington state asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. About 30 members of the Legislature filed a legal brief, joining other lawmakers from around the country... Sen. Karen Keiser said the individual mandate was a key component of the law. It is designed to prevent people who lack insurance from passing along the costs of their care to others. Democrats also said other parts of the law are important for state residents, such as rules allowing young adults to stay on their insurance and rules that prohibit insurers from denying coverage to people with existing medical conditions or increase their premiums." - Associated Press, 1/13
From the Dispatch
In The News
Research Roundup 6/8: The Cost of Rejecting Medicaid Expansion, Closing the Wage Gap for Women, A Guide to the Senate Immigration Bill, and More06/08/13
Research Roundup 5/31: Sharia Law Bans, Federal Funding to States and Sequestration, The Success of the National Voter Registration Act, and More05/31/13
Research Roundup 5/17: Wage Theft and Fast Food Workers, Continuing Effects of Sequestration, How the Wall Street Crash Stalled the Economy, and More05/17/13