After major victories at the ballot box this week, leading progressive state legislators from every corner of the nation gathered at a national conference Thursday, November 11th to plan how to turn the tide in 2012 by advancing policies that support the 99%.
Two days after voters soundly rejected many high-profile right-wing ballot initiatives, a group of progressive state legislators are meeting in Baltimore, Md., to share success stories and figure out how to move forward in 2012. More than 60 state legislators are gathering for the invite-only leadership retreat hosted by the Progressive States Network, a group providing research, networking, policy and messaging support to progressive lawmakers at the state level.
Preventing exceedingly rare voter fraud is not worth the very real consequences to electoral participation among the elderly, youth, and communities of color. That's the message being sent by state legislative leaders across the nation, three of whom - State Del. Jon Cardin (MD), State Rep. Joe Miklosi (CO), and State Rep. Ben Cannon (OR) - co-wrote an op-ed published in the Baltimore Sun this week.
It has been more than 90 years since women fought their way to suffrage. In that period of time, we’ve experienced the Year of the Woman – when a record number of women ran and/or won congressional races in 1992 – and voter turnout rates for women that have consistently exceeded voter turnout rates for men since 1980. The gender gap that often gives Democrats the edge among female voters (except in 2010) and proved to be Ronald Reagan’s “woman problem” has forced all candidates to acknowledge the power of the female vote. Despite this growing clout, 2011 saw a barrage of state legislation that effectively moves women’s suffrage back in time and impedes access to the polls for millions of us.
Beginning almost immediately with the gaveling-in of sessions in January, newly empowered conservatives unleashed a torrent of attacks aimed directly at workers, women, children, immigrants, historically disenfranchised populations, and the very existence of the middle class. Coordinated multi-state efforts like the assault on collective bargaining, extremist restrictions on reproductive rights, broad Arizona-style attacks on immigrants, and attempts to institute new barriers to voting through Voter ID requirements all repeatedly made national news.
From a non-stop assault on the rights of workers, immigrants, and women, to power grabs making it easier for corporations to influence the political process and harder for historically disenfranchised populations to vote, to balancing state budgets on the backs of children and the vulnerable by cutting schools and health care in order to give millionaires and CEOs even bigger tax cuts, the measures that grabbed headlines in the states this year have been almost uniformly bad news for the economic security of the vast majority of Americans. But dig just a little beneath the headlines, and some glimmers of hope are clearly visible.
On February 25, 2011, a bipartisan group of over 270 state legislators representing 44 states voicing their solidarity with the “Wisconsin Fourteen” state senators and urging them to stand firm in their fight.
Dealing with the aftermath of the steepest economic contraction since
the Great Depression, including declining tax revenues and massive
fiscal gaps, states cannot afford to hand out enormous subsidies,
wasteful tax credits or lavish contracts with little to show in return.
In response, states across the country have embraced corporate
transparency to assure taxpayers are getting value for their money.
Like most states, Delaware was plagued with budget difficulties that
found legislators and Governor Markell taking drastic steps to fill the
hole, including enacting a sports lottery bill that legalizes single-game betting. It becomes the only state other than Nevada to do so. Fortunately, the stimulus pumped $1.2 billion into the state coffers.
The state made solid reforms this session, tapping some new revenue to
address the budget crisis, making needed reforms in health care, and
notably becoming another state to approve gay marriage legislation.