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This Dispatch is a roundup of what ballot initiatives will
appear on state ballots across the country this November. Whether it's
workers rights, energy policy, education, transit, abortion or health
care, ballot initiates give voters a chance to directly vote on an
According to The Wall Street Journal, "Fed and Treasury
officials have identified the disease. It's called de-leveraging, or
the unwinding of debt. During the credit boom, financial institutions
and American households took on too much debt." But let's not buy into a false equivalence of "financial
institutions" and those "American households" borrowing beyond their
Wednesday, PSN Executive Director Joel Barkin sat down for a phone interview
with Thomas Frank, author of the new best selling book, The Wrecking Crew:
How Conservatives Rule. Their conversation touched on a number of
issues surrounding how conservatives have worked over the last decade to
dismantle government as we know it in Washington D.C. and throughout the
On Monday, July 22nd, over one hundred and fifty
state legislators, labor leaders, and advocates participated in "Building
a Progressive Majority in the States," a joint annual meeting of the
Progressive States Network and the National Labor Caucus. Taking a cue from the opening plenary
policies for an economic downturn,
the conference focused on strategies for confronting the most
important issues facing America's working families, including
affordable health care, smart immigration policy, workers' rights,
green jobs, clean energy, and tax and budget reform. To address these
issues in more depth, PSN policy experts joined state legislative
leaders in smaller workshops that gave participants a chance to share
best practices and model legislation while developinglegislative
and winning strategies for 2009.
As the Supreme Court marches to the Right, corporate interests continue
to thrive at the expense of state regulatory powers. "This has been a
very successful year for the business community," said Miguel Estrada,
a Washington appellate lawyer who represents many key corporate
interests before courts in Washington, D.C." This session at the U.S.
Supreme Court, as this Dispatch will highlight, had an almost
uniform tilt towards business versus state regulatory authority. In
other areas like election law, the tilt was against poor voters who
faced restrictions on their right to vote, though the term was a more
mixed bag on criminal justice and other issues before the Court.
Wednesday, the Progressive States Network played host to national
luminaries and state leaders from all over the country to celebrate the
many victories achieved by the organization and its allies in the most
recent legislative session, and to build momentum for new victories in
the coming year.
Conventional wisdom inside the D.C. Beltway holds that on major issues like
health care or energy independence, it's fine for state legislators to play
with their legislative toys in local sandboxes, but that it's really up to the
"grown-ups" in the federal government to fix big problems. In national policy
debates, state governments are usually treated as a tiny sideshow to the top
billing of national legislation.