Hawaii Session Roundup

A contentious atmosphere during the general session lingered into a special session as legislators overrode a record total 38 of 53 vetoed bills by Gov. Linda Lingle. Despite the budget shortfall of over $600 million (estimates differ) for 2010 and 2011, legislators were able to enact a number of highly progressive reforms including a majority signup bill, strengthening workers comp and family leave policies, requiring large parking lots to have dedicated electric vehicle spaces with charging stations,  and reviving basic universal health insurance for children.

New England Leads Fight for Marriage Equality

On Monday, March 23rd, the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly passed (26 to 4) a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, making the state the first in the nation to take legislative rather than judicial steps toward granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.  Although House Speaker Shap Smith was confident a majority of representatives would vote in favor of the "marriage equality" act, Governor Jim Douglas revealed in a press conference Wednesday that he would veto the bill, though he did say he would accept a legislative override.

Bills that Made a Difference in 2008

Even with many states having short sessions, the 2008 state legislative sessions have already had some impressive milestone victories for families and communities across the country.  This Dispatch covers a few of the key issue victories this year -- and points out that states are still taking the lead on issue after issue.  Most of the bills highlighted became law, while a few, falling short of final passage, were innovative enough and showed enough movement to promise greater things for 2009.

2008 Session Roundups: Hawaii

This session, the Hawaii state legislature made some substantial gains in labor rights, election reform, promoting renewable energy, health care, and a number of other areas, overriding four of the governor's 13 vetoes in the process.

Toxic Toys Update

Our Dispatch and conference call last week highlighted ways in which states can fight toxic toys.    In case you missed it, the audio of the call can be found here.  Within a few days, several  states came forward with additional bills protecting the health of our children, including:

Right-wing Ballot Scheme to Manipulate Presidential Votes in California

A new ballot measure in California would change the way that California's 55 presidential electoral votes would be allocated; not to make sure that every vote counted, but to make sure that any right-wing candidate for President could lop off a significant number of that state's electoral votes.

Hawaii Legislative Roundup

With a similar partisan divide between a Democratic legislature and Republican governor, Hawaii achieved solid progressive achievements with less rancor and friction.

An Agenda to Reduce Poverty

While the Bush Administration has reduced taxes on the wealthiest Americans and undermined social welfare programs over the past 6 years, 5 million more Americans have fallen into poverty, bringing the total to 37 million.  That means at least one in eight Americans are now living in poverty.