President Barack Obama kicked off 2014 with a strong statement of support for immigration reform, declaring, “It is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.” In the months since the State of the Union Address, the frustrating stagnation in Congress has led many to become disheartened with the prospect of federal reform. Though a great deal of focus on immigration reform has been at the federal level, states have continued to make progress while the matter is considered by Congress
As state legislatures across the country wrap up their deliberative sessions it’s a good time to review what they accomplished on behalf of working families and small businesses. From Minnesota to Hawaii, states considered and passed minimum wage increases. States also looked at providing seniors with a more secure retirement and low-income workers with the safety of paid leave for illness or family care. These policies represent our vision for the economy, one that is pro-worker and pro-business and makes our workplaces healthier, drives more customers to local businesses, secures a future of prosperity for workers of all ages, and grows our country’s economy.
Minnesota joined Oregon and Hawaii as states that have advanced legislation this session to protect the rights of domestic workers, a sign of progress for efforts to protect workers who often earn less than the minimum wage and face exploitation and abuse:
Takumi decided to work on a Hawaii domestic workers’ bill of rights four years ago, after hearing National Domestic Workers’ Alliance director Ai-jen Poo speak at a Progressive States Network conference about how domestic workers have historically been excluded from all major labor protections, leaving them vulnerable to wage theft and exploitation.
After a year that started off with a wave of efforts to suppress the vote - many of which continue - more and more states are now looking at enacting significant reforms to modernize voter registration and protect and expand voting rights. Here's a roundup of recent developments:
Eight years ago, progressives were recovering from an Election Day that saw a full 11 states ban same-sex marriage at the polls. The environment in early 2013 could not be more different. Coming off of historic successes at the polls in four states in November, momentum behind marriage equality efforts continues to grow in state after state in advance of what is likely to be a landmark Supreme Court decision on the issue this term:
As we approach the middle of the legislative session in many statehouses across the country, it’s clear that state legislators are continuing to abandon the unconstitutional, anti-immigrant approach modeled off of Arizona and Alabama’s economically disastrous laws. Legislators, responding to changing demographics and politics, have instead started to focus on plausible and inclusive strategies aimed at broadening prosperity and increasing opportunities for all – regardless of immigration status.
Since state legislatures around the country have started their sessions in 2012, legislators and governors alike have been recognizing the importance of broadband (or high speed Internet) to growing state economies. Governors in states as diverse as Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, and Wyoming highlighted broadband initiatives in their state of the state speeches, as more and more of our leaders are realizing that without broadband, the U.S. economy is not going to produce jobs or the highly-skilled workers needed to compete in a global marketplace.