Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's weekly newsletter! Here's the latest on the news and developments worth knowing.
Spotlight On Progressive Leaders
Nebraska State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist joined Chris Hayes on his show All In last night to discuss the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the right-wing organization finding itself increasingly on the ropes and growing more toxic by the week. Iowa House Democratic Leader Mark Smith also denounced the organization after it was caught claiming that all members of the Iowa Legislature are ALEC members -- a claim that does not square with the records.
Pennsylvania Rep. Dan Frankel, the Founder and Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Women's Health Caucus, is our Guest Blogger this week. His post on the Pennsylvania Women's Health Agenda and its special significance on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as well as a link to video, is up on our blog here.In Rhode Island, Sen. Juan Pichardo and Rep. Larry Valencia were among the progressive opinion-makers who gave their reactions to Gov. Lincoln Chafee's State of the State speech.
In Rhode Island, Sen. Juan Pichardo and Rep. Larry Valencia were among the progressive opinion-makers who gave their reactions to Gov. Lincoln Chafee's State of the State speech.
In a victory for working families in New Jersey, the state has enactedState Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg's pregnancy anti-discrimination bill (S.2995/A.4486). It will prevent pregnant workers from being fired (and losing their health insurance when they need it most) when they need workplace accommodations as a result of their pregnancy -- such as when they need to sit on a stool instead of standing for long hours. Thanks to this new law, women will not have to choose between their health and the health of their pregnancy and their ability to keep their job and their health insurance. If you are interested in similar legislation for your state, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In North Carolina, where right-wing overreach sparked the Moral Mondays backlash, Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt and House Democratic Leader Larry Hall were quick to respondto the vision laid out by Gov. Pat McCrory in a press conference and to expose his irresponsible agenda, especially on public education.
Given the uncertain prospects for federal immigration reform, the states are taking the leadin enacting inclusive policy to bring immigrants into the fold. Proposals to give all young people who reside in a state, regardless of immigrant status, access to in-state tuition rates are especially on the rise. In Florida, Sen. Dwight Bullard recently helda press conference on legislationpending in the statehouse; in Virginia,Del. Alfonso Lopez has filed similar legislation.
The advocacy movement to reduce gun violence continues across the states. In Oregon,Senator Floyd Prozanski has introduced common sense legislation to close the private sale loophole, so that a background check is required for every gun sale.
In Maine, House Speaker Mark Eves has introduced a "compromise" Medicaid expansion bill at the same time that cracks seem to be appearing in the wall of opposition. Meanwhile, State Sen. Rebecca Millett amplified the call for expanding Medicaid, noting the overwhelming "moral and economic imperatives" to do so. In Louisiana, State Sen. Ben Nevers is proposing another way to achieve Medicaid expansion: amend the state constitution.
Finally, congratulations to Jennifer Wexton for winningthe Virginia special election for former Sen. Mark Herring's seat!
Don't Miss It
Are you a state lawmaker who's interested in education policy? Be sure to sign up for our Public Education "Weekender" to get the latest updates; just let us know of your interest by emailing email@example.com.
On January 29, which is the fifth anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Act, the National Partnership for Women & Families and allies are hosting a National Tele-Townhall to expand the nationwide conversation on fair pay, paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and child care. Progressive States Network is proud to be a co-sponsor of this event; to RSVP, please click here.
Pulse Of The Community
Voting Rights. Leading members of Congress recently unveiled legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act in the wake of last year's flawed Supreme Court ruling. Meanwhile, a state judge in Pennsylvania struck down the state's controversial 2012 voter ID law that makes it harder for ordinary people to exercise their right to vote.
These are especially timely steps forward in light of troubling new researchshowing that the more people of color and lower-income people in a state voted, the more likely anti-voting restrictions were to be proposed. Moreover, the more people of color actually turned out to vote, the research showed that the more anti-voting laws were likely to be enacted.
Martin Luther King, Jr. More than fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. captivated the nation with his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. His words signaled that the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom would continue, just as his life and work continue to inspire Americans from all walks of life.
This Monday, we joined the nation in celebrating Dr. King's extraordinary legacy and renewed the commitment to continuing the march on behalf of all Americans.