As conservative state Attorneys General prepare to take their efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act all the way to Supreme Court arguments this spring, an outpouring of support for the health law from state legislators last week made it clear that those seeking to scuttle health reform are not the only ones speaking for the states. Over 500 state legislators representing all 50 states signed on to an Amicus Brief backing the constitutionality of the mimimum coverage provision of the law that was submitted to the Supreme Court last week, a broad show of support for the ACA coming at the beginning of both a pivotal election year and new legislative sessions which will see many lawmakers address the implementation of state exchanges provided for under the law. In addition to the filing of the Amicus Brief, legislators in a number of states held press conferences last week to highlight why they are standing up for the health law. Here are some state-by-state highlights of the coverage of both the brief and of the events held in state capitals across the nation last week.
As states prepare for the worst and steel themselves against attacks on voting rights, a coalition of advocates in New Mexico celebrated a remarkable triumph just prior to the holidays. In response to a lawsuit filed by groups including Project Vote, Demos, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, claiming that New Mexico public assistance agencies were not offering clients the opportunity to register to vote as required under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera made history by issuing the first legal ruling on the issue of whether clients must “opt in” to receive voter registration materials.
The New Mexico counties of Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, northern Santa Fe
and five American Indian communities will receive $10.6 million in
stimulus grants to improve high-speed Internet infrastructure, according
to the U.S.
A crime wave has been sweeping Illinois, with surveys of low-wage workers in the Chicago area showing an average of 146,300 cases of wage theft each week -- resulting in about $7.3 million each week in unpaid wages, or $380 million stolen from workers each year. In order to crack down on this criminal wage theft, the Illinois General Assembly on May 3 nearly unanimously (56-0 in the Senate and 112-1 in the House) passed SB 3568, which will strengthen the state’s ability to enforce violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Act.
In the weeks following the signing of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act, lawsuits
challenging the constitutionality of health care reform were joined by
multiple, conservative Attorneys General from states across the nation,
despite widespread condemnation that such challenges were frivolous, wasteful, and
certain to fail in the courts. In early April, Secretary of Health
and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius commented
that she believed the lawsuits had "more to do with politics than
In spite of New Mexico’s brief one month session that focused
mainly on budget issues, a number of progressive reforms were passed. The legislature enacted new health insurance regulations to prevent
wasteful administrative costs by insurance companies and discrimination
based on gender. In addition the state expanded "medical homes" to
improve care and established a Health Care Reform Working Group to
implement federal reforms.