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Dispatch: Valuing American Workers Across The States

 

Stateside Dispatch

Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's weekly newsletter! Here is the latest on the news and developments worth knowing. 

Note: if you are interested in introducing legislation featured in this Dispatch for your state, please contact koh@progressivestates.org or smottet@progressivestates.org.  


Spotlight On Progressive Leaders

In every state, all residents bear the burden when corporations that do well don't do right by the state -- despite businesses' reliance on shared investments and public programs and services provided by the state, such as the local transportation infrastructure and safety net programs, in order to succeed. Consistent with this reality, Connecticut lawmakers on the Labor and Public Employees Committee have introduced legislation, H.B. 5069, that would require large corporations to pay a quarterly fee back to the state if they are stiffing their workers with excessively low wages.

In Tennessee, Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of Tennessee’s House Democratic Caucus, is among the state leaders pushing back on Republican lawmakers' attempts to scuttle a historic effort to organize the workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant. As he noted, "this is an outrageous and unprecedented effort by state officials to violate the rights of employers and workers."

Good news for the people of New Hampshire: Democratic and Republican state lawmakers recently announced a tentative deal for the state to accept federal funding to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. As Senate Leader Sylvia Larsen noted, the agreement was the product of much hard work by legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Congratulations to Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who has been named one of five Latinas to watch nationwide this year by LatinasRepresent. Among her legislative achievements is Nevada's new law, also sponsored by Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, to help victims of domestic or sexual violence break leases without penalty so they can make a safe getaway and start anew.

As of this week, twelve states now have legislation pending to rein in the predatory and reckless privatization of public programs and services, such as our schools and public roads, by for-profit corporations. For example, Oklahoma State Sen. Connie Johnson has introduced three measures to increase transparency and accountability in outsourcing deals while in Georgia, Reps. David Wilkerson, Dewey McClain, Scott Holcomb, Brian Prince, James Beverly, and Wayne Howard all have introduced various bills to do the same.

This week, the Ohio House unanimously passed the state's Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, whose sponsors include State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), would ensure that Ohio comes into compliance with the federal VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2013.

In Virginia, State Senator Adam Ebbin's legislation to establish an Office of Immigrant Assistance recently took a step forward when it cleared a committee vote.

Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams joined Chris Hayes on his show All In recently to discuss the open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Rep. Abrams was also among the "who's who" attending the White House State Dinner on Tuesday.  

 

Don't Miss It

Minimum Wage Victory! Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10/hour for federal contract workers -- and Progressive States was on hand to witness it at the White House.    

Public-Private Partnerships. "Public-private partnerships" are increasingly popular ways of financing infrastructure projects. For lawmakers and stakeholders working on state proposals, the In The Public Interest has released a brief with recommendations to ensure that they reflect the public's best interest, communities are truly served by an infrastructure project, and private investment is leveraged the right way, for the right goals.

 


Are you a state lawmaker who's interested in education policy? Be sure to sign up for our Public Education "Weekender" for analysis & updates. Contact: tadams@progressivestates.org.

 

Joining PSN's Public Education Working Group as a lawmaker is just as easy; the sign-up process begins online here.

 

Climate Change Conference. On April 24-25, the Center for Public Scholarship at the New School for Social Research is hosting "Climate Change Demands We Change. Why Aren't We?" For more information on this conference, which is designed to explore the psychological factors, money and politics, and infrastructures that are impeding progress, click here


Eye On The Right

In Tennessee, the state's Republican officials, from state legislators to Governor Bill Haslam and its federal delegation, are fuming over a historic effort to organize the workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant. Volkswagen itself has remained neutral on whether its workers should join the union. If successful, it would make the Volkswagen factory the first foreign-owned auto assembly plant to be unionized in the South.

In Arizona, State Rep. Carl Seel (R-Phoenix) has drawn nationwide outrage for proposing legislation that would criminalize children simply for going to public school and parents for using public roads. In stark contrast, many other states are taking action to bring in immigrants already living in our communities more into the fold and embrace the renewal and contributions they already offer to our society. Even in South Dakota, a House committee recently passed a neonatal coverage bill by 11-1.

Never mind that a hunter or sportsman typically won't get off a 2nd or3rd shot at a deer, let alone a 9th or 32nd. In Colorado, during a hearing on high-capacity magazines, Sen. Bernie Herpin (R-Colorado Springs) claimed that it might have been "a good thing" that the Aurora shooter had a 100-round magazine when he opened fire and killed 12 people.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who also believes child labor laws are holding back the economy, vetoed a bill to require schools in impoverished communities to run summer nutrition programs for students who qualify for free or reduced lunches. The state Senate has overridden this veto.

ALEC & Education. The shadowy right-wing organization American Legislative Exchange Council has long pushed for policies damaging to public education. A Fact Sheet is available at http://standuptoalec.org, as are these pics for sharing on social media.
 

  


Pulse Of The Community

Moral March On Raleigh. Over the past weekend, approximately 80,000 to 100,000 people from across the states turned out to protest North Carolina's increasingly infamous right-wing overreach. Organized by Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) and the North Carolina NAACP, the themes heard at the "Moral March on Raleigh" were familiar to those following the weekly Moral Mondays held in North Carolina since 2013. 

Smart Capitalists. Raising the minimum wage isn't just a hugely popular, common sense idea that's good for ordinary Americans who work for a living. It's good for business, according to scores of company owners and executives. Count these immensely successful investors, company presidents, and business leaders as "smart capitalists" -- who agree that high standards for workers, including wages that reward hard work, boost the American economy, respects taxpayers, and advances America's leadership around the world.

Mass Surveillance. On February 11, activists held world-wide and web-wide protests under the banner "The Day We Fight Back" against mass surveillance, with over 100,000 people signing an international petition within a few hours of its launch and nearly 120,000 people contacting Congress. Despite the federal nature of many of the surrounding issues, the states are increasingly tackling them -- for example, in Maryland, California, Arizona, and Indiana

That's a wrap! As always, if you have any feedback or suggestions, please contact us at staff@progressivestates.org.

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