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Increasing Democracy

States' Victory Against Preemption - FDA Approval Does not Block State Tort Claims Against Drug Makers

In a much anticipated decision, Wyeth v. Levine, the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision upheld states' right to hold the drug industry accountable for not adequately warning consumers and prescribers of a drug's impact.  The pharmaceutical industry had argued that Federal Drug Administration approval of a drug's warning label pre-empts state claims of injury based on the failure by a company to warn of additional dangers not covered by the FDA-approved label.  The court rejected this argument.

Open Space for Campaign Reform Created by Former Illinois Governors' Woes

With one former Governor in jail for racketeering and another removed and indicted for selling political appointments for large campaign donations, now might just be the time that Illinois finally reforms its government.  The new governor, Pat Quinn, has formed the Illinois Reform Commission.  The Commission is tasked with making recommendations within 100 days on how to reform the government and finally stemming the corruption for which the state has long been famous.  The commission has already identified loose campaign finance regulations and the lack of transparency as the primary drivers of corruption in state government.  Now they are traveling around the state to hear from experts and citizens on what they think needs to be done.

New Mexico House Approves National Popular Vote - 23rd Legislative Chamber to Support NPV

Last Friday, the New Mexico House of Representatives approved the National Popular Vote bill by a vote of 42-27, becoming the 23rd legislative chamber in the country to support adopting a system where the candidate winning the most votes for President nationally would win the election.  The vote in the House reflected polls in the state showing 76% support for moving to national popular vote.

Universal Voter Registration: A New Initiative to Increase Electoral Participation and Reduce Voter Suppression

The elections of 2008 served as a critical test of the nation's election systems.  With changes in voting machines and procedures, coupled with expectations of record voter turnout, election administrators held their breath and hoped their system wouldn't fail. 

While the system didn't fail, voters faced serious obstacles in exercising their right to vote.  Voter registration ended up being the problem that affected the largest number of voters.  Even before the first votes were cast, it was apparent that our voter registration systems were woefully inadequate.  While in other nations 90% or more of the eligible voter population is registered to vote, in the United States less than 75% of eligible voters are registered.

We can do better.

Overview

Progressive States is committed to a society where all are equal under the law and where government and economic institutions are accountable to the public, including:

  • Media Reform should expand the diversity of voices involved in our public debatein place of the corporate control of much of current media.

Judicial Elections Public Financing: Balancing Independent Courts and Voter Choice

Once the sleepy backwater of electoral politics, judicial elections have recently become a battleground where right wing and corporate groups spend large sums to fill the courts with jurists who will support their interests.  This is perhaps the most troubling example of money corrupting our politics, because instead of pay-to-play politics it gives us pay-to-win justice.  The independence of the judiciary simply cannot be maintained in an environment where jurists are competing for votes in high-priced, bare-knuckle political brawls. 

Ballot Initiatives 2008

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 issue.