DISPATCH: New Year Brings New Electoral Vote Schemes, Opposition to Obamacare Weakens, and More

Stateside Dispatch
Saturday, January 26, 2013

Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's roundup of the latest state policy news. Here's what happened in the states this week:

New Year Brings New Voter Suppression and Electoral Vote Schemes

Virginia's Senate leadership chose the occasion of Martin Luther King Day on Monday to push through a partisan redistricting bill, taking advantage of the absence of a legislator attending President Obama's inauguration. A separate effort in Virginia to change the way the state awards electoral votes in presidential elections ran into bipartisan opposition, even as lawmakers in other states were considering doing the same:

The backstory on the "secret plan" by Virginia conservatives to push through a partisan redistricting measure on Monday. [Washington Post]

Bipartisan opposition emerged in Virginia to an effort to reapportion the state's electoral votes. [AP]

States from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania may be considering similar legislation to change the way electoral votes are awarded. [AP]

A proposed Pennsylvania bill would "completely transform the role of Pennsylvania’s representation in the Electoral College." [The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Proponents say they want to see a slew of similar state electoral vote bills nationwide in order to lessen the impact of "urban" voters. [The Atlantic]

An analysis showed that over 200,000 Floridians might have given up on voting on Election Day in November due to long lines. [Orlando Sentinel]

Minnesota is looking at enacting early voting. [Minnesota Star-Tribune]


Opposition to Obamacare Shows Signs of Weakening

With a Supreme Court decision and a presidential election now come and gone, conservatives in many states seem to be having second thoughts about their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, progressive lawmakers in Iowa and Michigan signaled they were set to introduce legislation on Medicaid expansion:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer recently joined conservative counterparts in New Mexico, Nevada, and North Dakota in expressing her support for expanding Medicaid. [New York Times]

A "growing split" is emerging among opponents of Obamacare in Mississippi as state officials debate implementing exchanges. [Kaiser Health News]

Forty-seven of the fifty states have already received or applied for federal funds to modernize Medicaid enrollment systems. [The Hill]

A new poll showed majorities of voters in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Texas favor expanding Medicaid. [ACS CAN]

Ohio faith leaders are pressuring Gov. John Kasich to expand Medicaid. [ThinkProgress]

Michigan State Rep. Andy Schor introduced a resolution calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to expand Medicaid. [Eclectablog]

Iowa State Sen. Jack Hatch signaled a bill would be introduced next week to direct his state to expand Medicaid. [Des Moines Register]


"Anti-Tax" Conservatives Propose Shifting Tax Burden to Middle Class, Low-Income Families

Governors and lawmakers who call themselves "anti-tax" are kicking off new state legislative sessions by proposing drastic cuts or even the elimination of state income taxes — offset by increases in sales taxes that would hit the middle class and low-income families and which would do nothing to boost state economies: 

States with unified conservative control are looking at 2013 as an opportunity to "test" out ideas like eliminating income taxes and relying on sales taxes. [Reuters]

Proposed plans in Louisiana and North Carolina would "offset lost revenue by increasing the states’ flat sales taxes, shifting the burden to the poor." [Stateline]

In Kansas, even some conservatives are questioning Gov. Sam Brownback's "extreme" proposed tax cuts. [New York Times]

And Nebraskans aren't too sure about Gov. Dave Heineman's proposal to eliminate state and corporate income taxes, with some asking "where's the money coming from?" [KCAU]

Kentucky seniors may find themselves a new target for tax increases. [Stateline]

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on why replacing state income taxes with increased sales taxes makes no sense. [Off The Charts]


States Enter Post-Newtown Debate on Guns, Some Look to Nullification

PSN rounded up recent movement on state gun proposals following President Obama's announcement of support for the most wide-ranging federal action on gun violence prevention in decades:

New York State became the first state to act post-Newtown by swiftly introducing, debating, and passing the "NY SAFE Act. [Huffington Post]

In Connecticut, a bipartisan legislative committee considering new laws in the wake of the Newtown shootings held their first meeting. [CT News Junkie]

Other states looking to advance gun violence prevention laws early in new legislative sessions include California, Illinois, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Colorado. [PSN]

A Virginia legislative subcommittee is considering a proposal to require schoolteachers and/or staff to be armed with weapons. [AP]

Some Mississippi legislators apparently upset with being a part of the United States are considering creating a "Joint Legislative Committee on the Neutralization of Federal Law." [Talking Points Memo]

Nullification bills are being pushed in Michigan, Oklahoma, and elsewhere. [ThinkProgress]

The New York Times published a strong editorial on why state gun laws matter, noting a study showing that "of the 10 states with the most restrictive laws, seven also have the lowest gun death rates." [New York Times]

Recent shootings also have some states rethinking the deep cuts they have made to mental health in recent years. [AP]

A great interactive on gun laws in the US, state by state. [The Guardian]

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Also this week:

PSN Executive Director Ann Pratt on President Obama's inaugural address and why "progressives in the states should be emboldened." [PSN]

A big win for workers in Chicago on wage theft. [Salon]

A bipartisan majority of the Colorado Senate Education Committee advanced a tuition equity bill. [KWGN]

A conservative lawmaker in Pennsylvania introduced legislation to give all immigrant students in-state tuition rates. [Lancaster Online]

New federal guidance shows why states should let DREAMers have driver's licenses. [ACLU]

Marriage equality passed the Rhode Island House 51-19, moving the state one step closer to becoming the final state in New England to legalize same-sex marriage. [Providence Journal]

Also set to consider same sex marriage this year: Illinois, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Delaware. [The American Prospect]

Minnesota may consider penalizing companies who engage in lockouts of workers. [Minnesota Star-Tribune]

More than a dozen states are looking at ways to raise revenue to pay for infrastructure and transit projects. [USA Today]

Conservatives in Kansas are now looking to mandate drug tests for the jobless and poor — no word on whether CEOs of companies receiving corporate welfare will be affected. [Huffington Post]

New statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week showed union membership continuing to decline in many states, including those who have passed anti-worker legislation in recent years. [Stateline]

Forty years after Roe v. Wade, a look at how states have been regulating away abortion. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

The bad flu season is drawing increasing attention to the lack of paid sick days laws in the states. [AP]

Follow @PSNwire on Twitter for the latest state policy news.


Research Roundup:

In this week's roundup: recent reports on state electoral vote schemes, corporate subsidies and job creation, state tax reform prospects, the decline of union membership in the states, seniors and credit card debt, the effects of "stand your ground" laws, and more:

Grand Theft Election: How Republicans Plan to Rig the Electoral College [Center for American Progress Action Fund]

The Job-Creation Shell Game: Ending the Wasteful Practice of Subsidizing Companies that Move Jobs from One State to Another [Good Jobs First]

State Tax Reform Prospects in 2013 [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

2013 Is a Good Year to Repair (if Not Replenish) State Rainy Day Funds [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

State Union Membership, 2012 [Center for Economic and Policy Research]

Raising the Social Security Payroll Tax Cap: How Many Workers Would Pay More? [Center for Economic and Policy Research]

In the Red: Older Americans and Credit Card Debt [Demos]

Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? Evidence from Castle Doctrine [Texas A&M economist Mark Hoekstra]

Email us at with research roundup suggestions.



Quote of the Week

“It’s beyond extremely conservative because no one else is doing it.” — Kansas State Rep. Barbara Bollier (R) on Gov. Sam Brownback's proposal to phase eventually eliminate the state income tax.




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