Several states have seen lawmakers take a cynical and economically-damaging approach to revenue shortfalls by slashing unemployment insurance (UI) for those hit hardest by the downturn. Driven by flawed right-wing ideology, Florida legislators recently approved an extreme measure that not only undermines the economic security of Floridians, but also threatens recovery in a state that is already deeply affected by the lasting impacts of the recession and currently has an unemployment rate that is hovering around 11 percent, the third highest in the nation.
On Tuesday, President Obama reiterated his hope for comprehensive immigration reform in a speech delivered in El Paso, Texas. Yet while federal reform remains stalled, many states have continued to push forward with advancing common sense approaches to immigration policy. In just the last few days alone, there has been a flurry of positive activity as states reject the destructive politics of scapegoating and division exemplified by Arizona’s SB1070 in favor of pragmatic solutions that will grow their economies and keep their communities safe.
Last week, Governor Rick Scott and the other members of the Florida Board of Executive Clemency voted unanimously to roll back rules that had made it easier for nonviolent felons to regain their voting and other civil rights upon completion of their sentences. Under the new requirements - which are among the strictest in the country - nonviolent offenders would have to wait five years upon their release from prison to even apply for the chance to have their rights restored without a hearing.