With comprehensive immigration reform continuing its arduous path through Congress, states continue to work on their own tracks, passing reasonable, humane, and economically beneficial immigration policies. In addition to measures like tuition equity, this includes bills that allow undocumented immigrants access to driver's licenses. This week, Connecticut became the latest state to pass such a bill, while California saw bipartisan support emerge for theirs -- yet more evidence of how the politics around immigration reform may be shifting:
Taxes are on the minds of many this week as April 15th approaches. They're also on the minds of many conservative governors -- in states such as Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Nebraska -- who have seen their radical tax proposals to further enrich corporations and the wealthy run into major resistance from voters, businesses, and even conservative lawmakers. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who this week withdrew his regressive plan that would have eliminated the state income tax while raising the sales tax, has seen his standing drop sharply in the polls. In the run up to Tax Day, increasing attention is being focused on how tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations increase burdens on the middle class.
With a Supreme Court decision and a presidential election now come and gone, conservatives in many states seem to be having second thoughts about their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, progressive lawmakers in Iowa and Michigan signaled they were set to introduce legislation on Medicaid expansion:
During 2011 legislative sessions, most states chose to close severe budget gaps without revenue increases, instead opting for further damaging and deep cuts to critical education, health care, and social service programs. However, now that most sessions have ended, lawmakers, business leaders, and community groups in a number of states appear to be increasingly interested in taking revenue increases to voters as an alternative.
We've detailed in the past the way new international trade deals empower corporations to undermine local regulations. A recent case highlights just how byzantine and dangerous the process is getting: A Canadian mining company is using a recently established Nevada subsidiary to use the federal Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) to try and overturn mining regulations in El Salvador. Earlier this month, a tribunal under CAFTA ruled against the US government’s objections to the mining company's lawsuit and allowed the case to proceed.
As this Dispatch will detail, after considerable media hype about Arizona-style bills sweeping across the nation, the reality is that from from Nevada to Arkansas to Massachusetts to Kansas and Rhode Island,
anti-immigrant bills and ballot initiatives largely didn't move or
failed to make this fall's ballot. A key reason: most state leaders
and police chiefs recognize that requiring local governments to assume
immigration enforcement responsibilities from the federal government
will distract them from fighting violent crime and undermine trust with
local residents that are essential to successful community policing.