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California Upholds Free Speech Access to Malls for Labor Boycotts

On December 24th, the California Supreme Court gave a major Christmas present for labor rights, affirming that under California law, union members in a mall could distribute handbills calling for a consumer boycott of one of the mall's tenants. The decision, Fashion Valley Mall v. NLRB, built on an earlier state high court decision in 1980 that deemed malls to be a "public forum" where the public had free speech rights. The recent decision extended that principle to active labor boycotts -- a critical tool for labor to get its message out to consumers.

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. 

Tired of Waiting, States Sue EPA to Allow Tougher Emission Rules

California's attorney general is planning to file suit in federal court against the EPA for stalling on a decision about whether California and 11 other states can implement rules requiring car makers to produce cleaner cars. Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington also plan to join the suit against the EPA. The suit was to be filed this week, but has been postponed due to the wildfires raging in Southern California.

Utah Mine Disaster Shows Flaws in Federal Oversight

Despite over two and a half weeks of rescue efforts, six coal miners still remain trapped in Utah in a tragedy that has also claimed the lives of three rescuers. The dangerous conditions apparent at the mine, as well as the treacherous rescue plan, call into question the quality of federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) procedures. MSHA approved the mine operation plan in June, just months after serious structural problems forced the operators to abandon work in an area that was only 900 feet from where the miners are trapped. 

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.

Protecting Parents from Workplace Discrimination

 

We may say as a country that we value families and mothers, but a rise in job discrimination complaints by moms highlights how far most workplaces are from that ideal.  Yesterday, to help clarify the responsibilities of employers, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidelines on what kinds of discrimination against parents is illegal. 

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.

Universal Health Care's Next Steps - PA & IL Plans

Illinois gained headlines in 2005 for its first-in-the-nation plan to provide health care for all children in the state, called AllKids.  Pennsylvania followed suit in 2006 with its own Cover All Kids plan.  Now the Governors of each state have proposed comprehensive health care reform packages with the goal of universal access to health care.  The plans build on reforms in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, but go further in key areas of affordability and system reform.

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: