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New York

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. 

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.  

New York Acts to Restrict Improper Influence of Student Loan Companies

 

We highlighted the problems of predatory lending industry a few weeks ago and now, problems are coming to light with the student loan industry.  In one of the more egregious examples, Student Loan Express, a student loan company that is a unit of CIT Group, Inc, is alleged to have paid more than $21,000 for Johns Hopkins University's director of student financial services to attend graduate school.  Coincidentally (or not), Student Loan Express happens to be on the preferred lender list at Johns Hopkins. 

Washington Poised to Be Second Paid Parental Leave State

 

This past week, the Washington State House voted to approve five weeks of paid leave for parents with a new born or adopted child, following earlier approval of a broader Senate measure, SB 5659, that would have also included paid leave to to take care of a seriously ill parent.  Another advantage of the law is that parents in employers with 25 or more employees would have their jobs protected while away, more job protection than under federal law which covers only employers with 50 or more employees.

Wringing Costs Out of the Health Care System

We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse.  The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.

Green Building: Energy Conservation from the Ground Up

A new United Nations report this week, backed by scientists around the world, confirms that not only is global warming real, but its effects are already here and getting worse.  And the hard fact is, the United States consumes far more energy than any other country, more than China and Russia combined.

Preventing Hospital Debt Among the Uninsured

With debt collection for medical bills a lead cause of bankruptcy for families without health insurance, Families USA, in a new brief, highlight a range of policies states have enacted in recent years to protect the uninsured and underinsured. 

Cracking Down on Wal-Mart's Favorite Tax Loopholes

At the beginning of February, we reported on an expose of special loopholes used by Wal-Mart to slash its state taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.  The scam involves Wal-Mart and other companies dividing themselves into separate subsidiaries, buying land and buildings, then deducting the rent paid to itself as a business expense.  But states are moving to eliminate the loophole and reclaim the lost revenue:

Ex-Prisoner Reentry and Reintegration

Nearly 650,000 people are released from state and federal prison every year, with larger numbers reentering communities from local jails. Over 50 percent of those released from incarceration are sent back to prison for a parole violation or new crime within 3 years.

Beating the drug industry at its own game

Pharmaceutical companies spend $11.4 billion each year on marketing.  Much of that is spent on salespeople, known as "detailers", who visit doctor's offices to pitch the latest drugs, in order to increase prescriptions for their company's products-- usually at the expense of older, cheaper, and often more effective drugs.