Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's weekly newsletter! Here is the latest roundup of news and developments worth knowing.
Spotlight On Progressive Leaders
2013 Legislative Leaders Retreat This year's PSN Legislative Leadership Retreat was a smashing success! Held from October 23 to 26 in Washington, DC, the conference convened legislators from across the states to collaborate, strategize, and prepare for the year ahead.
Featured presenters included PSN Board Chair Sen. Joe Bolkcom (IA); Working Group ChairsSen. Joyce Elliott (AR), Rep. Jay Kaufman (MA), Sen. Karen Keiser (WA), Sen. Jeremy Nordquist (NE); and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Washington House Majority Leader Frank Chopp, Minnesota House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, and Montana Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso. Headlining speakers included Lee Saunders of AFSCME, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Mike Fishman of SEIU, Dennis Van Roekel of NEA, and Gara LaMarche of Democracy Alliance. Nationally recognized media trainer John Neffinger, co-author of Compelling People, and renowned pollster Celinda Lake presented as well.
Take it from the rave reviews of the lawmakers who participated: "This was the best PSN conference I have attended." "I leave this conference inspired, grateful and focused." "Fantastic opportunity to learn, connect, be motivated & inspired toward a more progressive future." "Why did it take me so long to discover PSN?"
If you are a state legislator new to PSN, no need to wait further; you can sign up with us right here: http://progressivestates.org/policy/wg. If you were a participant in this year's Retreat, please watch for follow-up communications in the coming days and weeks, including the Save the Date for next year's conference.
Don't Miss It
November 5 is Election Day! States holding major elections include Virginia, where state House seats are being contested, and New Jersey, where seats in both chambers are in play. Voters will be selecting a Governor in both states, as well as a Lt. Governor and Attorney General in Virginia. In Colorado, Amendment 66, designed to raise funds for public education priorities, is on the ballot, while in Texas, families in the Fort Worth Independent School District will be voting on a $500 million bond package for education.
By December 13, Congressional lawmakers negotiating over the federal budget are expected to announce the result of their work. The deadline was included in the deal that temporarily ended the federal government shutdown and averted a global financial crisis due to default on the national debt. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid may become flashpoints as groups like the AFL-CIO warn against any benefit cuts to the programs.
Pulse Of The Community
Obamacare. Right-wing opponents of the Affordable Care Act at all levels of government and across the states are continuing their sabotage of the health care law's implementation, including attempting to encourage uninsured young people to stay vulnerable to financial ruin and spreading misinformation about the law. In Arkansas, the Arkansas Health Connector website cannot even be updated while legislators refuse to release federal funding already set aside for the work.
In their latest line of attack, opponents are seizing on health plan transition notices sent by insurers in the deeply flawed individual health insurance market, which is being overhauled by the health care law as intended, and framing them as proof of a broken promise by the law's supporters. Available pushback are here, here, here, and here; detailed background information on "grandfathered" plans can be found here. It should also be noted that similarly, there is a reason why we don't let private companies sell defective fire alarms or build shoddy bridges -- the danger may not be known until it's too late, with disastrous results for everyone.
Shoot First. As the states grapple with the dangerous consequences of Shoot First laws, also known as Stand Your Ground, the U.S. Senate held a hearing this week during which Trayvon Martin's mother urged for an end to the state policies. It's an issue that has drawn advocates like the Dream Defenders and Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard into the debate. They are advocating for Trayvon's Law, which was the centerpiece in a recent event held during the National Week of Action for Public Education.
That's a wrap! As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions, please send us a note at email@example.com.