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Shutting the Courtroom Door: How the Corporate Right Mobilized in the States

When an impeccably pro-business outfit like Business Week declares victory for the business lobby in shutting the courtroom door to victims of corporate negligence, you know injured consumers and workers have been losing badly. But this week's cover story, How Business Trounced The Trial Lawyers, illustrates how the corporate right leveraged campaign contributions in the last decade to hijack state policy on civil justice.

Renewable Portfolio Standards Across the States

State governments are not waiting on D.C. to develop an energy independence policy for their states. Instead, almost half the states have taken the lead on promoting and utilizing renewable energy.

What States Can Do for Darfur

Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men, women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.

Court Denies Free Speech Right for Union Button

The Bill of Rights is a nice idea, but for most workers, it disappears when they punch the clock to begin work each day, even when the employer is the government.

Corruption Runs Amok in Colorado

Some conservatives in Colorado appear to think they are above the laws. In the past several weeks, Colorado's largest rightwing 527 has been caught in the middle of what appears to be a giant money laundering scheme and the Secretary of State has been called out for failing to enforce a new law stepping up lobbyist disclosure, even while trying to create new rules to hamstring unions and other large membership organizations.

TX: Lobbyist Turned Consultant Hooks Buddy Up With State Investment

The AP picked up an important story out of Texas, where it appears that the good ol' boy community thinks that corruption is a fine method of operating. The story goes like this: Bill Ceverha, a lobbyist, consultant, and member of the board of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, lobbied for an education privatization front group in 2005. One of his big donors was a man by the name of James Leininger. Leininger is also the founder of Kinetic Concepts.

Stopping Privatization Profiteering

A number of state leaders have been promoting what seems like a free lunch. Hand over control of government services to private industry and those companies promise better service at a lower price. Like most promises of a free lunch, privatization has mostly ended up being a deceptive boondoggle, a point the non-partisan news sourceStateline.org emphasized this past week:

Western Governors Demand Action on Global Warming

The Western Governors Association on Sunday acknowledged an inconvenient truth. The bipartisan group of Governors from West Coast, Rocky Mountain, and Great Plains states came together to unanimously pass a resolution (PDF) that says that global warming is real, at least partially human-caused, and that now is a time for action.

IN: Rushed Social Services Privatization Condemned

In Indiana, critics are condemning a rushed $1 billion privatization of the states' social services work -- despite the fact that the companies bidding on the contract have mismanaged similar contracts in other states and, more tellingly, no one even bothered to determine whether the companies could do the job cheaper than current state employees:

TX: Revolving Door Between Texas Leg and Tobacco Lobby

The Dallas Morning News reports this morning on the strength of Texas' tobacco lobby, which is running strong in its efforts to defeat a $1 per pack increase in tobacco taxes. Regardless of the policy, what caught my eye was this paragraph talking about their lobbying team:
Among those working for tobacco giants Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds are the intense and driven Mike Toomey, a former state representative and former chief of staff for Gov.