Legislative Session Roundups in UT, WY and KY- and Recovery Plan Resources Update

Legislative Session Roundups in UT, WY and KY-- and Recovery Plan Resources Update

Thursday, April 2, 2009



Legislative Session Roundups in UT, WY and KY- and Recovery Plan Resources Update

A few legislative sessions have already come to an end this year, so this Dispatch will highlight positive gains, legislative defeats and unfinished business for Utah, Wyoming and Kentucky, along with a section showing new resources to add to PSN's overall Resource Guide for Implementing the Recovery Plan.



Utah Session Roundup

Lawmakers adjourned Utah's 45-day regular session, having spent most of their time balancing the state's nearly $10.9 billion budget .  In order to keep Utah out of the red in 2009 and 2010, legislatures  had to cut state programs across the board and utilize $561 million from the Federal stimulus package.  Despite budget woes the legislature did find time to pass hundreds of pieces of legislation, including the most sweeping changes to the state's liquor laws in 40 years, which eliminated a much criticized system under which customers were required to fill out an application and pay a fee before being allowed to enter a bar.   All in all the 2009 legislative session in Utah produced mixed results.  Some bills produced small steps forward, but on the whole, the session fell short of creating necessary reform.

Clean Energy and the EnvironmentThis year, Utah legislators introduced a mix of good and bad legislation when it came to environmental protections and clean energy.  In the end, the most movement came in the area of renewable energy legislation.

  • H.B. 430, which passed, provides tax incentives for renewable energy generation and manufacturing.  Unfortunately, on the last day of the session, the bill was amended to include nuclear power as a renewable energy resource.  
  • Also enacted was S.B. 76, which addresses the renewable energy transmission barrier by creating a political subdivision of the state tasked with the development of a master plan for renewable energy production and transmission infrastructure.  This subdivision will have the ability to apply for and seek out federal grants, as well as bonding authority to pay for transmission lines for renewable energy.

In addition, three non-binding resolutions send strong messages to local governments and utilities that the legislature encourages and wants to remove barriers to renewable energy and energy efficiency across all sectors:     

  • Senate Joint Resolution 1 urges the Utah State Energy Program and municipal governments and to collaborate on the development of model renewable energy ordinances to streamline the development process at the local government level.
  • Recognizing the need to train the growing clean energy workforce, Senate Joint Resolution 10 supports the establishment of an Alternative Energy Training Center in Beaver County - an area with high concentration of existing, upcoming and potential renewable energy development. 
  • On the energy efficiency side, House Joint Resolution 9 recognizes energy efficiency as a priority resource and urges state and local governments and utilities companies to promote and encourage all available cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation.

Health Care: In what state advocates see as a good first step to reform health care in Utah, legislators passed H.B. 188.  The Utah Health Policy Project viewed the legislation as falling short of comprehensive reform, but characterized it as laying a foundation for broader reforms in the future.  The bill, among other things, increases transparency around insurers and brokers, creates limited benefit and 'mandate-lite' packages (COBRA alternative option), increases reporting requirements so that the impact of such changes can be monitored, expands the portal to include defined contribution, and creates a risk adjuster board that will develop a plan for a new risk adjustment mechanism in the defined contribution market and a methodology for implementing the defined contribution market.  Some experts have concerns with the limited benefit / high deductible and mandate-free health care plan that is created under the bill, since it leaves the people most unable to pay for medical care or comprehensive insurance with poor coverage.  Additionally, H.B. 178 , passed on the last day of the session will add new, local provisions for laid off Utah workers to enroll in COBRA, the federal regulation that allows laid-off workers to keep their workplace-based medical insurance coverage going by paying the entire premium.

Although it did not pass, S.B. 225, which would have removed the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrant children from enrolling in Medicaid or CHIP, had strong legislative support

Immigration:  Advocates and legislators failed in delaying the implementation of S.B. 81, an omnibus immigration bill passed last year which would force local law enforcement officials to serve as federal immigration authorities, and which mandates usage of E-verify by state agencies and contractors. S.B. 81 which is set to take take effect in July will cost $1.7 million to implement, not including the cost of potential lawsuits. Additionally, H.B. 64 passed, which will create a joint federal-state strike force to focus on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, as did a resolution in support of a state-run guest worker program.

On a more positive note, H.B. 208, which would have prevented undocumented students who receive in-state tuition rates from working during college, failed.  Other anti-immigrant bills which failed including removing the driving privilege cards issued to undocumented drivers, and denying business licenses to applicants without citizenship documents.  

Voting Rights: This session, progressive lawmakers in Utah proposed various bills that would mitigate barriers to voting — including legislation which focused on same day voter registration and advocating for a non-partisan commission to create fair legislative boundaries that are not gerrymandered.  Unfortunately, the initiatives actually enacted mostly attacked voting rights, often creating problems where none existed before.

  • Voter ID:  H.B. 126 requires state-issued photo ID at the polls, making this one of the most onerous laws in the country.  Additionally, in order for an indigent person to obtain a free ID, they have to authorize the state to examine their tax records to verify that they earn less than the federal poverty line.
  • Early Voting: S.B. 24 repealed a requirement that counties of the first class provide at least one early voting polling place within each Utah State Senate district in the county and that at least one of those early voting polling places be open on each day that early voting is offered. This measure is likely to make it more difficult for people in certain areas to vote early. 

However,  one bright note was the passage of  S.B. 25 which allows the lieutenant governor to create an online system for voter registration.

Miscellaneous:  Legislation was introduced to provide housing relief, ethics reforms and equal rights for members of the LGBT communities.  Unfortunately, some of these key reforms were not passed and the legislation that was enacted failed to deliver the comprehensive reform needed.

Housing: S.B. 260, the Housing Relief Restricted Special Revenue Fund, disburses $10 million for the Home Run program which can be used to purchase newly built homes, as well as a more meager $1.8 million culled from the federal stimulus package to go toward counseling services for residents facing foreclosure. Some affordable housing advocates are crying foul, saying that while the grants will assist 1,600 homebuyers, nearly 10 times that number of people—15,000 in Utah—currently face foreclosure, according to a recent study from the University of Utah.

Ethics: S.B. 162 prohibits retiring or defeated politicians from using leftover campaign cash for personal expenses. In the past, vague Utah laws have mandated that a candidate may keep any leftover campaign money as a kind of parting gift. Some observers worry that S.B. 162 still may leave loopholes for politicians looking to cash in on their hard-campaigned-for dollars.  S.B. 156 requires disclosure of gifts over $10 and meals of more than $25, with the exception of events in which an entire caucus, task force, committee or legislative body is invited to dine. "This is a good disclosure bill," said Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City. "However, I don't think we're going far enough in terms of what the public wants" -- namely a gift ban.  Similarly, H.B. 345 which many thought would prevent former Utah lawmakers from returning to the legislature as a paid lobbyist for one year is now being interpreted by the Lieutenant Governor's office as saying that former lawmakers are allowed to return to the state house if they do so on behalf of themselves or for a business with which they are associated, unless the "primary activity" of the business is lobbying or governmental relations.  This loophole has frustrated the bill's sponsors and advocates.  Additionally, the state failed to pass a bill that would have established an independent ethics commission to monitor state-level public officials. 

Equality: Despite citizen support, far right lawmakers voted down a package of bills, entitled the Common Ground Initiatives introduced into the legislature with the goal of offering certain equal rights to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

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Wyoming Session Roundup

Despite a budget surplus of $257 million, Wyoming lawmakers failed to act substantively on big issues like health care reform, prison reform, and development of a coordinated energy policy, as reports in its end of session recap.  Still, progressives made important gains in workers' compensation, health insurance regulation, and beat back an anti-gay "defense of marriage act", a voter ID initiative, and an anti-choice measure.  However, lawmakers failed to expand health care for kids and, most regrettably, passed laws making it easier for people convicted of domestic violence to regain their gun ownership. 

Notable Gains:  

  • Workers' Compensation: Workers achieved a key success when the legislature acted to strengthen the state's workers' compensation program with HB 54.  As explains, the win was shepherded by the AFL-CIO and the Equality State Policy Center and resulted in a medley of increased benefits for injured workers and a cost-of-living increase for people on permanent disability.  The legislature failed, however, to include mental health benefits for emergency workers. 
  • Health Insurance Regulation: The Coalition for Wyoming Insurance Solutions in Healthcare successfully introduced and pushed two bills to close loopholes that allow insurers to deny coverage for medical procedures "just because".  SF 95 defines when a treatment qualifies as medically necessary and creates a timely external review process for patients who are denied coverage for a procedure.  And SF62 prohibits the use discretionary clauses in insurance contracts that allow insurers to arbitrarily deny coverage for treatments.
  • Corporate Taxes: Lawmakers closed a corporate tax loophole by taxing the production of helium gas, which is relatively abundant in parts of Wyoming.  While the federal government owns the underground helium, under the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act, it leases out the production of the gas.  The sale of the commercial helium produced was previously untaxed by the state, a loophole that Exxon-Mobile had been taking advantage of.
  • Mental Health Services: The state increased funding for mental health crisis stabilization programs in certain regions.
  • Telemedicine: Lawmakers passed HB 281, directing state health agencies to collaborate in the development of a statewide telehealth/telemedicine network, a potentially significant initiative in a vast and rural state like Wyoming.
  • Energy Policy: Although bigger decisions were put off, lawmakers passed HB 295 to direct and finance the Western States Energy and Environment Symposium.  To be held prior to November 1, 2010, the symposium will bring together academics, lawmakers and other experts in energy and environment policy from neighboring states to "develop a high level cost/benefit analysis assessing the challenges of energy development, production, marketing, use and environmental impact within the western states."
  • Nursing/Teacher Shortages: To help address workforce shortages, lawmakers passed SF 23 to assist nursing students in acquiring their degree, providing $25,000/year/student in financial aidand requiring participants to practice in Wyoming for at least two years upon graduation.  Similarly, lawmakers passed HB 173 to expand the state's loan repayment program to include teachers who teach reading or English as a second language in Wyoming's schools upon graduation.
  • Voter Registration: Lawmakers enacted SF 26 which will allow voter registration up to 14-days prior to an election.  The previous time period was 30-days prior.

Steps Back and Opportunities Missed: 

  • Domestic Violence: In what can only be seen as an affront to survivors of domestic violence, lawmakers weakened statutes designed to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted or accused of domestic violence.  Under new state law, people convicted of domestic violence will be able to apply to the courts to expunge their record and regain their gun ownership rights. They must wait five years from their conviction and are limited to one expungement.  Additionally, a new law requires judges to warn people accused of domestic violence that they stand to lose their gun rights if they plead guilty.  These laws will make it more difficult for survivors of domestic violence to seek justice and ensure their own safety through the legal system.
  • Kids Health Care: A senate bill failed to pass that would have increased eligibility for the state's SCHIP program to kids in families with incomes up to 300% of the poverty line.  The current cutoff is 200% of poverty, or $21,200 for a family of four.  
  • Public Smoking Ban: A house bill died that would have banned smoking in public places, including bars.  Scientific studies show that public smoking bans have no negative impact on local economies and in many cases increase economic activity and job growth.
  • Predatory Lending: A bill to limit interest rates and other predatory lending practices died in committee. 
  • Healthy Food: A bill creating the Wyoming Healthy Food Initiative to ensure healthy food is served in schools and state institutions did not make it to a full floor vote.
  • Immigration: A bipartisan resolution calling for comprehensive federal immigration reform and expedited and increased numbers of visas. The bill was mixed, and also contained guest worker measures while discussing easing reunification with family members, but it was a missed opportunity for dialogue.

Bad Bills Defeated:

  • Reproductive Rights: Lawmakers beat back a proposal to require doctors to show a pregnant woman a sonogram of the fetus prior to an abortion.
  • Attacks on Gay Rights: The so-called "Defense of Marriage Act", which died in committee, would have amended the state constitution by specifying that a marriage between a man and a woman would be the only union legally valid or recognized in Wyoming.
  • Attacks on Civil Justice: Legislation capping medical malpractice awards of non-economic damages was defeated.
  • Election Integrity: Proposals to increase campaign contribution limits and create a Voter ID requirement were defeated.

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Kentucky Session Roundup

This year was Kentucky's short session lasting only 30 days.  Like most states, patching a budget shortfall consumed much of the session.  Lawmakers were able to agree to a set of spending cuts and revenue increases that will fix the budget in the first year of their biennial spending plan.  The expectation is that the governor will call the legislature back in for a special session this summer to work out year two. While recent sessions have been marked by partisan acrimony and end of session chaos, both problems moderated significantly this year allowing more work to get done.  The result was that lawmakers generally gave the session good reviews, though many key issues still failed to be resolved.

Taxes and Budget - Kentucky has dealt for years with a structural mismatch between spending and revenues.  This year the state was facing a deficit of almost half a billion dollars.  These current budget woes are expected to get even worse as the state's revenue continues to deteriorate.  The growing fiscal problems have brought the state's tax problems to the fore and at least two tax overhaul plans are being proposed by lawmakers from both parties, to possibly be taken up during a special session.  Proposals to increase gambling through video lottery terminals are also gaining traction after years of defeat in the legislature.  In the regular session an essentially stop-gap measure was passed that combined modest, across-the-board budget cuts [4 percent cuts to state agencies and 2 percent to universities] with increased consumption taxes.  Increased taxes on tobacco and alcohol will raise over $150 million per year.

  • Cigarette Tax Doubled from 30 to 60 Cents:  Many state are turning to tobacco tax increases to fill budget holes and Kentucky is one.  The doubling of the state tax also coincides with an even greater increase in the federal tax.  These price increases should further reduce levels of smoking and related health costs in the state.
  • Exemption from Sales Tax for Beer and Liquor Ended:  Despite vigorous protests by beer and liquor distributors, lawmakers ended the exemption of alcoholic beverages from the state's 6% sales tax. 
  • Stop Planned Reduction in Gas Tax:  Lawmakers froze the gasoline tax when current law had it set to drop 4 cents.  This was tied to the road and bridge plan that passed simultaneously.
  • Sales Tax on Digital Products:  Kentucky has explicitly included digital products such as software and cell phone ring tones as taxable when sold in the state [HB 347].  Adopting the change was part of complying with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement which is an initiative to collect sales taxes on internet and catalog sales through multi-state cooperation.
  • $3.7 million Road and Bridge Plan:  The major stimulus initiative for this year was a transportation infrastructure plan that combined about $420 million in federal stimulus dollars with other federal and state funds, including the revenue from the gas tax freeze.

Education - Having undertaken significant education reform almost 20 years ago, the state enacted the first major revision of the policies adopted then.  The major assessment test is being revamped and brought more into line with new teaching standards [SB 1, summary].  The tests will also be shorter, more focused, and designed not just for aggregate data collection, but actual tracking of individual student development.  The plan had the strong support of the Kentucky Education Association and was hailed by the governor as an important first step in a top-to-bottom review of education in the state. Criminal Justice - Kentucky has one of the highest prison growth rates in the country, having risen just under 40% between 2000 and 2008.  This year the state prison budget is approaching half a billion dollars.  However, the state is responding on several fronts with smart changes to sentencing and corrections policy, and there appears to be more on the way from both the governor and the legislature.  Unfortunately things could deteriorate into chaos if money isn't found to fill a $4.7 million gap in the state public defender office budget.

  • Pre-trial Diversion to Treatment for Addicted Drug Felons: Seeking to end the cycle of recidivism that catches up so many drug addicts and drives prison growth, SB 4 allows the pre-trial diversion of both first-time and repeat drug felons to drug treatment.  Successful completion of the program can result in charges being dropped, while program failure results in a trial on the original charges.
  • Parole Credit Toward Sentence: In order to reduce prison populations without reducing public safety HB 372 makes a change in the way it counts time served.  Now, if a parolee is returned to prison for a technical violation of their parole, the time on parole is counted toward completion of their sentence.  If a parolee commits another crime while on parole, the time between release on parolee and committing the second crime is still not counted toward their sentence.
  • Public Defender Funding Unresolved - The director of public advocacy has warned that the department will run out of funds to pay for its operations in May.  $4.7 million will be needed to cover this years expenses through the end of the fiscal year.  The department is constitutionally mandated to provide counsel to indigent defendants and they cannot refuse to provide counsel when ordered by a judge to do so [as are all states, though many are failing].  Legislative leaders claim the governor has the authority to make up the deficit using rainy day funds, but the governor has not yet announced a resolution.

Other Significant Legislation Passed

  • Payday Lending: The payday lending industry hired a gaggle of lobbyist and significantly watered down HB 444, a bill that would have capped annual loan fees at 36%, equal to the fee imposed by the federal government for military personnel.  What Kentucky workers got was a database to help check cashing companies comply with limits already in place on multiple loans and total amounts loaned, and a promise from the governor to pursue the cap next year.  The bill also placed a moratorium on new payday lending businesses for a decade, a provision the governor speculates is unconstitutional.
  • Brownfields Redevelopment Grants: A grant program [SB 27] was established to fund government agencies to assess and remediate toxic brownfields.  However, no appropriation has been made to the fund so far.

 Defeated Legislation

  • Bills to Relax Mine Safety Died:  Three bills [SB 64, SB 170, HB 119] backed by the coal industry were defeated that would have gutted landmark mine safety legislation passed two years ago.  This was a major victory for mine workers, 16 of whom died in 2006, prompting the safety reforms the following year.
  • Energy Legislation Killed:  The governor's energy legislation [HB 537], described as "an anemic measure at a time when bold initiative is needed" by the Kentucky Resources Council, was killed when amendments were added that would have ended a moratorium on nuclear plant permits and allowed oil and gas drilling on state land including parks and universities.
  • Adoption Ban for Unmarried Partners Died:  This bill would have prevented people who are living with a partner to whom they are not married from being a foster parent or from adopting a child.  The bill, plainly aimed at preventing same-sex headed families, would have closed off loving homes to children in need.

  Major Initiatives Unfinished 

  • Business Development Tax Incentives: Lawmakers continue to argue after the session about why millions in tax breaks for expanding a raceway to attract a nascar event, upgrading a horse track, subsidizing movie production, and other questionable "business development" incentives were not passed.  Given the political will to help business in times of rising unemployment, no matter how misguided, this package will probably be taken up in a special session.
  • Financing Authority for Major Ohio River Bridges:  Funding for three major Ohio River bridges is in limbo after the two houses failed to agree on an authority to direct the spending.  The project is a joint initiative with Indiana, were Kentucky's indecision is causing lawmakers to postpone their own legislation.

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Recovery Plan Resources Update

The following are additional resources that expand the ongoing resources listed in PSN's Resource Guide for Implementing the Recovery Plan, including new resources on education, health care, clean energy and transportion, broadband, unemployment and training, expanding the safety net, and criminal justice.


NCSL has a summary on the extent of Legislative Authority over Recovery Funds:
Part I:
Part II: 

ProPublica has charts showing how How Stimulus Spending and Unemployment Match Up and how Stimulus Infrastructure Funding Short-Changes States With High Unemployment. 


A few new key sites help track state transparency on recovery funds:


The U.S. Department of Education provides a number of key  resources:

Health Care

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has a website outlining the Medicaid Grant Award Process for approximately $15 billion in grant money, along with a map to look up Medicaid funding on a state-by-state basis. The Department of Labor outlines changes to COBRA Continuation Assistance under ARRA.

Families USA has a detailed policy brief on implementing the new CHIP reauthorization bill, including using the new funding, the rules requiring states to spend those funds within three years or lose them,  performance bonuses available to states that effectively cover the lowest-income children in their states, grants for outreach and translation services, along with other program details.

Clean Energy and Transportation Investments

The Department of Energy has a Funding Opportunity Guidance Document for energy efficiency and conservation block grants and guidelines for state energy program funds, while the EPA has a Brownfield Job Training Assistance Grants Requests for Applications.  See also the Federal Highway Administration ARRA Information, including implementing grant guidance, apportionment tables, and Q&A and the Department of Transportation Overviw on ARRA.

The Apollo Alliance highlights principles for implementing the Recovery Plan in ways that move America towards a sustainable economy and shared prosperity, including the Apollo Alliance statement of principles highlighting the need for energy security, job creation and job training opportunities, as well as statements by the New York City Apollo Alliance and the California Green Stimulus Coalition.   This powerful article by the Apollo Alliance's President, Jerome Ringo, explains how state leaders can use federal recovery funds to spur green economic growth with quality jobs that spread benefits throughout all levels of society, while ensuring contractor accontability and a growth plan that is sustainable at increasing scales.

With $50 billion available for rebuilding roads, bridges, railways and ports, a report by PolicyLink and the TEN Network  highlights how communities can invest those dollars to revitalize distressed areas, improve health outcomes, promote job growth and access for disadvantaged communities, and assure that all stakeholders participate in decisions.  It includes key Recovery Act provisions and funding streams and provides access to online tools for further information.

Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) is part of a broad coalition effort by Environmental Justice advocates which has a statement on environmental justice and the stimulus and resources related to greening the  recovery process.


The Department of Commerce has an Overview of ARRA, including broadband provisions

Unemployment and Training

DOL provides:

Safety Net

USDA provides a Summary on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Provisions and Guidance on SNAP Allotments.

HUD has information ARRA housing provisions and funds available.

A report by the Direct Care Alliance outlines ways to use Recovery Plan funds to make long-term investments in upgrading direct care jobs through improved wages, education and funding innovations such as wellness funds and research to improve care for consumers.  A related PHI fact sheet emphasizes how improving direct care jobs drives economic growth.

Criminal Justice

Office of Justice Programs has an  ARRA Summary of criminal justice programs and  a Map of  Justice Assistance Grant Allocations on a state-by-state basis.  

Research Roundup

The Phantom Recovery - For many families, hard times did not begin with the current financial and economic crisis but, as this report by the Pew Research Center details, is rooted in the fact that inflation-adjusted median household income has remained below its 1999 peak during the whole "recovery" of the early part of this decade. 

Three  useful reports on transit and energy issues facing the states:

  • Public Roads, Private Costs: The Facts About Toll Road Privatization and How to Protect the Public -  This U.S. PIRG report examines 15 completed private road projects and 79 others that are proposed or underway and finds that they typically impose higher toll hikes than would be required without privatization, deny the public control of future transportation planning capacity, lack adequate public disclosure, have little capacity by states to enforce commitments contained in the contracts, and extend so far into the future that the long term costs outweigh any short-term financial gains.
  • Big Oil Misers - This Center for American Progress analysis finds that the big five oil companies have invested just 4 percent of their soaring 2008 profits in alternative energy ventures -- a glaring contrast to ads that promote their commitment to low-carbon alternatives.
  • Make It In America:  The Apollo Green Manufacturing Plan highlights how clean energy investments are key to rebuilding a manufacturing sector that is in crisis across the nation.  It's not enough just to use clean energy technology; the report highlights that we as a nation need to invest in the manufacturing capacity to assure that American workers are building the wind turbines, solar cells and other components of a clean energy future.

A few health care reports:

  • Rules of the Road: How an Insurance Exchange can Pool Risk and Protect Enrollees - This Center for Budget and Policy Priorities report outlines key features of any "insurance exchange" reform, including having plans compete on the basis of price and quality, not on which can attract healthier enrollees and deter taking sicker ones, assuring that less-healthy individuals do not pay higher premiums, and that consumers have access to information needed to make informed decisions.
  • Have health insurance? Think you're well protected? Think Again! - This Families USA fact sheet highlights how even many families with health insurance face crises, including 50.7 million insured families spending more than one-tenth of their income on health care, many going without care due to the costs, others being turned away from needed treatment by their insurance companies, and others facing bankruptcy due to costs.

Two key reports on the 2008 election, covering who voted and what they experienced.

  • 2008 Survey of the Performance of American Elections - A team of researchers from many universities present the definitive analysis of how the 2008 election was conducted.  Based on tens of thousands of interviews the report uncovers millions of voters disenfranchised due to errors in voter registration and other election administration problems.
  • America Goes to the Polls - The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network released their analysis of voter turnout in 2008, which offers the best description of the demographic shifts that drove increases in turnout last year.  It also highlights election trends such as the continued focus on battleground states, and successful reforms like election day registration and early voting.

Washington’s Working Women: Not equal yet - This Economic Opportunity Institute report details how women's average monthly earnings have become more unequal since 1990, workplace standards still fail to accomondate working parents, and the need for legislation like paid family leave, paid sick days, and affordable childcare to help women achieve equality in the workplace.

New Jersey's Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Integration - A panel of New Jersey civic, business, and academic leaders issued comprehensive policy recommendations for New Jersey on how to more successfully integrate immigrants into the state including strategies on language access, in-state tuition, worker protections, New Americans initiatives, and public safety. The groundbreaking report is the first time that a New Jersey entity has been charged with examining state issues relating to immigration.

Community Colleges: A Route to Upward Economic Mobility - This report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis finds that community colleges open up opportunities for many students who would never have attended a traditional four-year institution.  But there are long-term negative effects on earnings for those who start out at a two-year community college versus those who start at a four-year school. 


Please email us leads on good research at



The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Interim Executive Director
Caroline Fan, Immigration and Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Julie Schwartz, Broadband and Economic Development Policy Specialist
Christian Smith-Socaris, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Health Care Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Executive Administrator and Outreach Associate
Austin Guest, Communications Specialist
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Coordinator

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