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Under Cover of Anti-Labor Proposals, Other Radical Measures May Sneak Through


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A Note from PSN

 

All of us at Progressive States Network remain deeply affected by the events of this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all affected by this tragedy.

As we continue our work in the states, we do so with a keen awareness of the impact this horrific incident — one that took place at an event and setting that defines American democratic traditions — has had on all elected officials, including so many state legislators and other public figures. In an increasingly volatile political atmosphere, we also do so with a shared sense of renewed determination to move forward with the important work of advancing positive solutions for families and ensuring the continued health and vitality of our democracy.

 

Under Cover of Anti-Labor Proposals, Other Radical Measures May Sneak Through

Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom * Tim Judson

 

As we reported last week, legislators and advocates in several states are gearing up to oppose legislation that would roll back long-accepted labor standards and weaken prospects for a meaningful economic recovery. Proponents of those measures are polarizing the political climate by vilifying unions and public sector workers. While, in most of these cases, the subject legislation may never be enacted, there is a danger that under cover of such divisiveness, other major anti-labor initiatives could quietly squeak through by being packaged more moderately.

 

As Federal Job Creation Measures Stall, Census Numbers Show Recovery Act’s Positive Impact

Economic Opportunity and Anti-Poverty Programs * Altaf Rahamatulla

 

Recent Census figures show that the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009 had a substantial impact on low-income families across the country. Provisions of the Recovery Act, including extension of unemployment insurance, assistance programs for low-income Americans, and tax credits for working families, kept 4.5 million people out of poverty that same year.

 

Landmark Decision on Voter Registration in New Mexico a Win for Democracy

Clean and Fair Elections * Cristina Francisco-McGuire

 

As states prepare for the worst and steel themselves against attacks on voting rights, a coalition of advocates in New Mexico celebrated a remarkable triumph just prior to the holidays. In response to a lawsuit filed by groups including Project Vote, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, claiming that New Mexico public assistance agencies were not offering clients the opportunity to register to vote as required under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera made history by issuing the first legal ruling on the issue of whether clients must “opt in” to receive voter registration materials.

 

Study Suggests States Must Do More to Modernize Internet Connections in Schools, Libraries

Broadband Buildout and Technology Investments * Fabiola Carrion

 

A report commissioned by the Federal Communications Commission underscores that, while most libraries and schools have some sort of Internet connection, many are not at a level that meet their needs. About 80 percent of the libraries and schools that receive funding through “e-rate” programs said that slow connections hamper their ability to access e-mail and view online reference materials, both essential for students and library patrons.

 

Upcoming Events

 

Conference Call - Fighting Back Against Misguided Voter ID Legislation: On Wednesday, January 19th at 3pm EST, Progressive States Network is hosting a call to provide advocates and legislators with resources and effective messaging strategies for fighting back against efforts to pass voter identification legislation. While these laws are touted as a catch-all way to prevent voter fraud, in reality they only address voter impersonation, an extremely rare form of fraud. More importantly they will cost states money that could be better spent in these difficult economic times and serve primarily to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.

To RSVP for this call, please click HERE.

On Friday, January 21st, in Washington D.C., the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices (NLARx) is hosting a meeting on drug pricing and affordability. The meeting will run from 9:30am - 3pm at the Washington College of Law at American University, and is only $25 for legislators and staff. The NLARx Winter Meeting will focus almost exclusively on prescription drug pricing and rebate issues, and changes in funding and rebates under the Affordable Care Act.

To register for this conference, please email Tina Duffany at tduffany@reducedrugprices.org or by clicking here.

 

Research Roundup

 

Public-Private Power Grab: The Risks in Privatizing State Economic Development Agencies - Recently, several right-wing governors have proposed privatizing state economic development agencies. A new report by Good Jobs First assesses the problems these misguided policies, and finds that, in states that have undertaken this effort, “the track record is filled with examples of misuse of taxpayer funds, political interference, questionable subsidy awards, and conflicts of interest.”

A Capital Idea: Repealing State Tax Breaks for Capital Gains Would Ease Budget Woes and Improve Budget Fairness - A recent policy brief from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) examines capital gains and how they are taxed. ITEP finds that states can alleviate fiscal pressure by repealing the huge tax breaks provided for income from capital gains, and that eight states alone in 2010 lost almost $500 million in tax revenue due to these “costly, inequitable, and ineffective” breaks.

Controlling Risk Without Gimmicks: New York’s Infrastructure Crisis and Public-Private Partnerships - The Office of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently released this analysis of the use of privatization to address the state’s significant infrastructure needs. The report identifies four major risks to undertaking such efforts: underestimation of the value of public assets and the likelihood of short-changing the public; the potential to place unwarranted expenses on the backs of taxpayers; poorly drafted agreements; and budget gimmickry.

Holding Steady, Looking Ahead: Annual Findings Of A 50-State Survey Of Eligibility Rules, Enrollment and Renewal Procedures, And Cost Sharing Practices in Medicaid and CHIP, 2010-2011 - This annual 50-state survey from Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that, despite plummeting revenues leading to budget crises in many states, almost all “maintained or made targeted expansions or improvements.” The analysis credits the stability in state Medicaid and children’s health insurance programs in large part to funds provided by the Recovery Act in 2009 that were tied requirements to maintain Medicaid coverage. Only one state cut health insurance for children in 2010 (Arizona), while only two (Arizona and New Jersey) cut health services for low-income residents.

Constructing Buildings and Building Careers: How Local Governments in Los Angeles are Creating Real Career Pathways for Local Residents - This report by the Partnership for Working Families looks at three case studies in the Los Angeles area that show that effective implementation of community workforce agreements — negotiated, legally binding agreements signed by a local government unit, unions, and the general contractor — creates career opportunities for low income workers. The agreements, binding as well across sub-contractors, provide for prevailing wages, benefits and training access for workers on the job, conflict and dispute resolution mechanisms, workplace safety, and outlines of hiring practices. The study found that they put a significant number of local residents to work, have a proven record of retaining those workers, and lifted up wages for those workers, creating middle-class career paths.

Smart Cities Prevail- This new web resource provides messaging and aggregates a variety of resources on the benefits of prevailing wage standards for public construction and contracting projects. It also puts a human face to the issue by showcasing personal stories of workers, contractors, and elected officials that illustrate how prevailing wages change lives, strengthen families, generate high-quality construction standards, and bolster local economies.

44 Million U.S. Workers Lacked Paid Sick Days in 2010 - This fact sheet from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows that 42% of private sector workers lack access to paid sick leave – 4.2 million more workers than previously estimated – and fully 77% of food service workers lack access to a single paid sick day. IWPR corrected original estimates by taking into account workers who are not eligible to access sick leave benefits because they haven’t worked for their employer long enough.

 

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

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Steps Forward

 

IL: Legislature passes income tax increase, avoiding massive service cuts

MI: State on track to meet goal of generating 10% of electricity from renewable resources

CT: Report: State public option would save $355M in health care costs in 2014

 


Steps Back

 

TX: Cuts to schools, health care, environment loom over state as new session begins

US: More right-wing state AGs join lawsuit seeking to overturn health law

 

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Fabiola Carrion, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist
Ben Secord, Outreach Associate

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

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