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Oregon Aims to Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 75%

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oregon Aims to Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 75%

Strengthening Communities

By J. Mijin Cha

Oregon Aims to Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 75%

Last week, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a bill into law that establishes one of the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals in the country.  HB 3543, introduced by Representative Jackie Dingfelder and Senator Brad Avakian, will aim to stop the increase of emissions by 2010, reduce emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and ultimately reduce emissions to 75% below 1990 levels by 2050. 

This session, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Washington all passed greenhouse gas emission targets.  Minnesota, as part of their Next Generation Energy Act, passed a greenhouse gas reduction target of 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  Maine, which calls for 75-80% below 2003 levels long-term, was the first state to pass a statewide target in 2003.  Since that time, seventeen states have enacted reduction targets, either through the legislature or through an executive order from the governor.  California has the highest target of 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

Greenhouse gas emission reduction is just another way that states are taking the lead.  Tired of waiting for the Feds, states are taking bold steps to fight climate change.  With strong renewable energy mandates, energy efficiency standards, and greenhouse gas emission reductions, states are blowing past the federal government in the fight against climate change.

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Strengthening Communities

By Adam Thompson

Bush Administration Shirking Responsibility to Troops and Their Families - States Step Up

The stakes for our troops at home are becoming more dire and the Bush Administration seems uninterested in doing anything about it.  Following revelations of the deplorable conditions provided for injured troops at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and today's news that the rate of army suicide is at its highest in 26 years, the latest Bush Administration insult to our troops and their families is lax enforcement of job-protection laws.

Feds: No Job Security for Deployed Troops
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA) is supposed to protect deployed members of the National Guard and Reserves from losing their jobs, being demoted, or losing seniority or benefits when they return from active duty.  But the burden of proof is on the troops to prove improper treatment by an employer and, on top of this bureaucratic barrier, troops are waiting an average 619 days for complaints to be resolved. 

According to the Government Accountability Office, 16,000 reservist complaints were filed between 2004 and 2006, but this only represents 30% of reservists who experience USERRA violations.  Making matters worse, the Pentagon is concealing from public review the reemployment difficulties reservists are having. 

Massachusetts National Guard members, frustrated with the lack of compensation for losses incurred from insufficient body armor and costs they and their families suffered while answering the call of duty have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking $73 million in claims. 

States Step Up to Support Troops
As we profiled in May, states are concerned about the federal government's maltreatment of our troops and their families as well as National Guard readiness to respond to natural disasters here at home.  Accordingly, states have stepped up over the past several years to support our troops and their families.  States are providing life insurance and survivors' compensation, protecting them from discrimination in hiring and reemployment practices, establishing military assistance funds, and making unemployment benefits available to military spouses.

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Valuing Families

By Adam Thompson

Allowing Young Adults to Stay on Their Parents' Insurance

At least 8 states in 2007 took the simple and relatively low-cost step to expand access to health insurance by requiring insurance companies to allow adult children to remain on their parents insurance well into their 20's.  Of the 45 million uninsured in the U.S., 13.7 million, or 31%, are between the ages of 19 and 29.  In most states, children are no longer eligible for their parents' coverage once they turn 18 or graduate from college.  But, as young adults are typically healthier and have fewer health problems than older adults, they are relatively cheap to insure.

Young adults face significant barriers to accessing health coverage, not the least of which is affordability.  Almost three-quarters of uninsured young adults have incomes below 200% of the poverty line, or $20,420 for a single adult, making the cost of both employer-offered coverage and individual insurance prohibitive.  While Medicaid coverage for pregnant women is required up to 133% of poverty (42 states have higher eligibility levels for pregnant women), states are not required to cover childless adults.  

Some limitations withstanding, at least 14 states have expanded coverage for dependents up to ages: 30 in New Jersey; 26 in New Hampshire and Utah; 25 in Maine, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and West Virginia; and 24 in Delaware, Indiana, and South Dakota.

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Research Roundup

Research Roundup

A new report from Partnership for Prevention, Preventive Care: A National Profile on Use, Disparities, and Health Benefits, shows that more than 100,000 lives in the U.S. could be saved each year if residents increased their use of five low-cost preventive services, including: regular use of low-dose aspirin to ward off heart disease; smoking cessation programs; annual influenza immunizations for adults over age 50; cholesterol screenings; and various cancer screenings.  Of significance for health equity in the U.S., the report finds that use of these and other preventive services are disproportionately lower among people of color than whites -- a disparity that will not be addressed by increasing access to health care alone, but with concerted efforts to improve outreach and education to communities of color and improve the cultural competence of the fragmented U.S. health care system.

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund, Value-Driven Health Care Purchasing: Four States That Are Ahead of the Curve, shows that states can achieve millions in health care savings through "value-based purchasing."  The report highlights public/private partnerships in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin that have built into their purchasing contracts requirements for data collection, evidence-based medicine, performance incentives, and new information technology.

The National Priorities Project just released a study that found that half of all low-income people do not receive food stamps to which they are entitled.  The study found that 11.9% of American households are food insecure, including 12.4 million children.  The study also found that each person received around $3 per day for food, making it difficult to procure a nutritious diet.

Following up on our affordable housing Dispatch, a new report released by the Urban Institute finds that mixed-income redevelopment of typically distressed public housing projects can save the public more than $20 million over 20 years.

Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org.

Resources

Oregon Aims to Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 75%

Hawaii, HB 226

New Jersey, AB 3301

Washington, SB 6001

Minnesota, SF 145

Maine, HP 622

Pew Center for Global Climate Change, A Look at Emissions Targets

Bush Administration Shirking Responsibility to Troops and Their Families - States Step Up

Progressive States Network - National Guard Readiness: Iraq, Kansas, and Future Disasters

NCSL - Military and National Guard: State Legislation

NewStatesman - Long-term health care costs to care for troops will amount to $2.5 trillion


Allowing Young Adults to Stay on Their Parents' Insurance

Academy Healthy, State Coverage Initiatives - Dependent Coverage

NCSL - The Changing Definition of "Dependent": Who is Insured and For How Long

3 Steps Forward

1. NC: Lawmakers commit $50 million annually to new cancer center

2. CA: Inclusionary zoning laws increase affordable housing stock

3. U.S.: Democratic mid-term gains affecting policy

2 Steps Back

1. UT: Mine collapse shows danger of newer generation of deeper mines

2. U.S.: Spending up, enforcement down for drug ads

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Masthead

The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Policy Director
J. Mijin Cha, Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Policy Specialist
John Bacino, Communications Associate

Suggestions

Please shoot me an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms, or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

John Bacino
Editor, Stateside Dispatch

Progressive States Network

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