Milwaukee has a paid sick leave referendum
on the ballot for November that would allow employees to take leave for
medical treatment, preventive care, or diagnosis for themselves, as
well as to care for a close family member who is sick or who needs
diagnosis or preventive care. Additionally, employees would be allowed
to use the time to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault (for
example, using accrued time to flee to safety.) Employees at firms
with 10 workers or less could accumulate up to 40 hours, whereas larger
companies would have to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave.
By one estimate, the federal government spent over $367 billion in 2005 aloneon subsidizing Americans' retirement savings and tax breaks to build upother assets like buying a home. Unfortunately, those subsidies gooverwhelmingly to those Americans who already have high-incomes; almostnone of it goes to the poorest Americans who need the most helpbuilding the financial assets that can lead to long-term economicopportunities and security.
With food and gas prices rising rapidly, low-wage workers can at least
welcome an increase in the federal minium wage to $6.55 per hour
scheduled to go into effect on July 24th. Even better, a number of
states will also be increasing their minimum wage rates even higher than the federal rate:
The Rhode Island General Assembly adjourned after lawmakers reached agreement on a $6.9 billion state budget
which, among other things, closes a $422 million deficit for the next
fiscal year. Overall the Rhode Island legislative session ended in
mix results, with Governor Carcieri vetoing some important foreclosure
and environmental legislation. In fact, over a four-day period last
week the Republican Governor vetoed 49 of the bills
approved late last month before the Democrat-dominated Assembly
adjourned. The legislature may, if they choose, hold a special session
before January to rescue the swath of bills.
The Iowa Senate on Tuesday approved SF 2416,
a bill to sharply increase fines on employers violating Iowa state wage
laws, crack down on the practice of misclassifying employees as
"independent contractors" to evade those laws, and protect workers
reporting violations from retaliation.
Providence - Amidst the recent national uproar over lead in children’s toys, the
Rhode Island legislature joined statehouses across the country in
turning its attention to a new set of poisonous chemicals showing up in
children's toys: phthalates and bisphenol-A.
and conference call last week highlighted ways in which states can
fight toxic toys. In case you missed it, the audio of the call can
be found here. Within a few days, several states came forward with additional bills protecting the health of our children, including:
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.
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.