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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:

Individual Health Care Mandates and the Problem of Affordability

Is an individual mandate to purchase health care insurance the solution to America's growing health insurance crisis? 

The Fight Against Global Warming: Another Way States Can Rein in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, recently released a report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the worst effects of global warming. 

Illinois Legislative Recap: Progress Amidst Intraparty Warfare

Illinois' session was marked by an ugly showdown between Governor Blagojevich and the legislature that delayed funding for schools and jeopardized federal transportation money, with the Governor even suing his fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan over the scheduling of special sessions.

States Rejecting Bad Immigration Policies

The Illinois legislature recently amended the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to prohibit employers from enrolling in the federal Employment Eligibility Verification System (E-Verify), a voluntary program to supposedly identify the employment eligibility of new hires and verify Social Security numbers. The problem is that the system has estimated error rates between 5% and 10% and does not detect identity fraud or theft, inevitably leading to discrimination and unfair treatment of employees misidentified as lacking proper documentation.   

Obesity Rates Continue Their Steady Climb

A new report from The Trust for America's Health concerning America's worsening obesity epidemic has received lots of press coverage, and little of the report's news is positive. Even in the leanest state, Colorado, where 17.6% of residents are now considered obese, an increase of just under one percentage point, a majority of residents are either obese or overweight. America's unhealthy weight gain is not slowing.

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.

Illinois Limits School Subcontracting to Protect Employees

 

Illinois legislators have taken a stand against using subcontracting to undermine benefits for school support workers by passing HB 1347, a bill that will establish guidelines for school subcontracting across the state.

Overcoming Racial Discrimination

Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin.  The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:

Greening Urban Areas: City Mayors Make Bold Moves Towards Going Green

On Earth Day, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed his plan to create the "first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city," and integrate an estimated population growth of 1 million people by 2030. PlaNYC is comprised of 127 proposals for environmental improvements in six areas: land, water, air quality, transportation, energy, and climate change. The proposals range from reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% to improving transit connections to planting 1 million new trees.