Growing Group Of 330+ State Legislators from 49 States Stands In Solidarity With Wisconsin Senators
Last week, Progressive States Network released a letter signed by a bipartisan group of hundreds of state legislators from across the nation voicing their solidarity with the “Wisconsin Fourteen” state senators and urging them to stand firm in their fight against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to ban collective bargaining for public employees. This still-growing group of state lawmakers representing vastly different constituencies in every corner of the nation has joined together to stand up for the middle class as a national right-wing assault against workers’ rights threatens to spread to statehouses across the nation.
While a few states (notably South Carolina) are coming perilously close to passing proposals based on Arizona’s now-infamous anti-immigrant SB 1070, a growing number have shifted gears in 2011 toward a more measured, practical, and progressive approach to state immigration policy. These states are reconsidering the wisdom of entertaining, let alone enacting, anti-immigrant bills that will only increase costs for cash-strapped states at a time when they are confronting historic budget deficits and painful decisions on how to trim -- not expand -- their state budgets.
A new opportunity has arrived for states to take charge of America’s green economy. After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave states the green light in 2010 to authorize contracts securing investment in renewable energy, progressive legislators have taken swift action to accelerate the production of renewable energy, consequently spurring economic growth, creating jobs, and lessening our dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
During a press conference on Monday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted unveiled a wish list of election reforms, one of which was an online voter registration system. Husted, a Republican, noted that permitting Ohioans to register to vote or update their registrations online would reduce the number of provisional ballots cast at the polls -- a system that can prove costly and time-consuming to process. Indeed, records show that voters who had moved but had not updated their addresses were responsible for about half of the 105,000 provisional ballots cast during the midterm elections. Though the enactment of online registration is critical to helping reduce the barriers to voting, it can also save states sorely needed funds, and has won support from both sides of the aisle.
Despite a year of sustained attacks from the opposition, almost all states continue to move forward with implementation of the health care law. Even as the right continues to spew rhetoric attempting to strike down the law, over 20 states are moving forward with active exchange legislation. As the time remaining for states to implement effective exchanges grows shorter, and as an effort to give states more freedom to design their own systems gained White House support this week, progressive models are emerging for building state-based marketplaces that ensure the health security of families.
As the U.S. Congress gears up to make decisions on the Korea free trade agreement, state legislators are urging Congress to consider the repercussions of another NAFTA-style agreement for states. The Korea agreement is anticipated as the first in a bevvy of bad trade agreements to come before Conress this year, with similar Colombia and Panama FTAs to follow. A bipartisan coalition of state legislators is asking fellow lawmakers from all 50 states to join them in sending a message to Congress.
From the Digital Divide to Digital Excellence: This report from the New America Foundation addresses the fact that United States remains largely disconnected from high speed internet, and recommends the consideration of alternative models of ownership, technology, economic development, and social inclusion. One of these models includes community and municipal wireless networks. While each community’s network presents its own unique circumstances, these networks involve ownership models that emphasize: shared responsibility among stakeholders; the wealth of innovation in flexible interoperable and open technologies; and strategies that leverage these models and technologies for economic development and social inclusion through truly holistic and locally oriented processes.
Does ‘right-to-work’ create jobs? Answers from Oklahoma: This report published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) challenges the central argument behind so-called “right-to-work” laws, which are being pushed in upwards of twenty states this year. RTW laws bar employers from entering into collective bargaining agreements with clauses that require employees to become union members and that require all workers covered by the contract to pay their fair share of the expenses for negotiating and enforcing it. Backers of RTW argue that the measure evinces a “pro-business climate” that attracts business and creates jobs. Researchers analyzed employment trends in the state to adopt RTW most recently and found not only that the policy did not prove to be a job-creator – overall, it has contributed to job losses and negative employment effects.
A Year of Unbalanced Growth: Industries, Wages and the First 12 Months of Job Growth After the Great Recession: This report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) finds that job creation in the country’s anemic economic recovery is concentrated in low-wage industries. Overall, job-creation trends in the twelve months since the Great Recession officially ended show a marked trend away from high-wage employment toward low-wage jobs: while higher wage industries accounted for 40% of job losses in the recession, they represent only 14% of jobs created since then; on the other hand, 23% of jobs lost in the recession were in lower-wage industries, but they are responsible for 49% of new jobs. Those rates were nearly equal in mid-wage industries (36% of losses, and 37% of new jobs), making the downward shift in wage standards all the more apparent.
Transparent Elections After Citizens United: A new report from the Brennan Center examines what the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling means for state-based laws, as well as the Constitutional interests that states have in providing public disclosure of the sources of money in politics. The report also offers a primer on campaign finance laws and policy recommendations that will help states account for the new ways in which electioneering can be conducted.
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