Anti-Tobacco Efforts Gain Steam

At the same time that a new study out of Massachusetts reveals that tobacco companies are steadily increasing nicotine levels in cigarettes, the fight to limit the health impacts of tobacco is gaining new steam. Ballot measures will be considered in eight states this fall regarding tobacco. And in Virginia, where tobacco is king, Governor Tim Kaine is considering a ban on smoking in state buildings.

FL: What the People Really Want -- A Progressive Agenda

A conservative leader in Florida's legislature hit upon a novel idea -- ask the people for ideas for better public policy. They got ideas, but the press may now want to follow-up to find out whether the leaders will actually move on the progressive agenda the people are petitioning for. Rep. Marco Rubio came upon the idea with two colleagues and set up a website called to solicit ideas from the public and use the "best" to write a book called 100 Ideas.

Illinois Joins Pre-School for All Movement

This past week, Illinois Governor Blagojevich signed the first law in the nation that establishes the goal of universally-available public preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds in that state.

Beyond the Minimum Wage: New Policies to Raise Wages

The reality for working Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant for over three decades.   For many workers -- especially those without a college degree -- pay has actually gotten worse, meaning that this generation is the first one in American history which is not doing signficantly better than the previous one.  Part of the reason for these stagnant wages is that inflation was allowed to erode the federal minimum wage-- its inflation-adjusted value dropping from $9.12 per hour in 1968 down to just $5.15 per hour in 2005.  

Defining Down Decent Health Care

Some politicians have a simple way to deal with the challenge of providing health care to the uninsured: cut the funding for those currently receiving care and deliver half-rate care to more people. West Virgina and Kentucky legislatures both voted recently to cut benefits for existing Medicaid recipients, taking advantage of a new federal law that allows states to selectively cut benefits for different populations.

New Latino Voters May Change Political Map

"Today we march, tomorrow we vote!" - the chant at the recent immigration rights rallies -- may translate into a changed electoral landscape in many states across the country.

FL: Leaving the Injured without Justice

The corporate lobby scored a big victory in Florida last week, as the Sun Sentinel detailed:

The Florida Senate gave final approval Thursday to a measure toppling a centuries-old principle of civil law that will make it harder for people to collect damages when they're injured in an accident.


FL: A Theocratic Gated Community

In what may be an unprecedented mingling of business, government, and religion, the founder and former CEO of Domino's Pizza is building a city that will be governed strictly by conservative Catholic rules, the AP reports.

FL: Juvenile Boot Camps See Third Death in Three Years

Fourteen-year-old Martin Lee Anderson died one day after being sent to a "boot camp" juvenile justice facility and reports have emerged of a videotape of guards beating the boy. Anderson's death is the third in three years. As the Associated Press reports the story, the NAACP and Florida's black legislators are demanding answers. All three of the young men who have died in these camps were black. But that raises an awfully good question.