This year, the national call for progress on immigration energized state fights for more inclusive immigration policy and, notably, stemmed the flow of anti-immigrant bills that seemed omnipresent just two short years ago. While the long-awaited federal package for immigration reform makes its way through the legislative process, here’s a recap of the action legislators took in states across the country.
State Senator Joe Bolkcom (Iowa), Chair of the Board of Progressive States Network, released a statement in reaction to the 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an Arizona law passed in 2004 requiring that voters prove their United States citizenship in order to register to vote. The Court ruled in a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Antonin Scalia that states could not impose additional requirements for registration beyond those included in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also called the "motor voter" law).
For the past four years, the focus of progressive state lawmakers has largely been on shaping, passing, implementing, and securing the very survival of the Affordable Care Act. But following last year’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law, that focus shifted in legislative sessions this year to preparing to implement the law fully and effectively before critical elements of the legislation take effect in 2014 — a focus made more urgent by the Court’s decision to leave the question of Medicaid expansion up to the states. At the same time, and despite the political consequences, conservatives continued to ramp up their War on Women in statehouses across the nation, attacking abortion rights and making it more difficult for women to receive much needed care.
Following last year’s devastating attacks on voters’ access to democracy, conservatives have held true to their mission to make voting harder in a number of states. Thankfully, in response to previous threats, progressive advocates and legislators came together this year to support a proactive, positive agenda for reform. As a result of coordinated campaigns, many states were successful in passing legislation that protects the right of eligible citizens to register and vote.
Progressive States Network is hosting a webinar this Monday, June 10th at 4pm ET on what lawmakers need to know about the Affordable Care Act before 2014. Learn about game-changing market reforms, how state legislative offices can assist constituents in enrolling in exchanges, and more.
From tax policies to public education funding to sick leave, health care, and housing, state policies can play a huge role in ensuring the economic security of families. Yet right now, none of the fifty states are making the grade. That's the conclusion of a new national scorecard from Wider Opportunities for Women, which looked at 85 different policies across all 50 states and sees much room for improvement on economic security policies.
This week saw the case for budget austerity at both the state and federal levels continue to rapidly fall apart. A new Congressional Budget Office report showed that the federal budget deficit problem may not actually be that much of a problem anymore, and debates over what to do with budget surpluses began to percolate in the states as treasuries started to count tax revenues that came in last month, even as the pain from sequestration cuts also continued to be felt in all fifty states:
This week, President Obama began a push to remind the public of the many provisions of the health care law that have either already taken effect or will soon, including the exchanges in October, as states continued to work on getting their exchanges set up while also engaging in their own efforts to educate the public:
This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would help states fill their coffers, fund critical programs, and avoid damaging cuts by an over two-to-one margin in a bipartisan vote. Difficult to believe in this era of austerity and obstruction? The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases, closing a loophole that currently gives online retailers a major advantage over in-state brick-and-mortar businesses. The bill has picked up support from some major retailers, including Amazon, as well as some conservatives, but is still expected to see strong opposition from anti-tax activists when it heads to the House. However, the bipartisan vote in the Senate this week may be one more indication of a slow-motion shift in the politics of taxation and spending underway in both D.C. and the states: