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Virginia

Ohio Passes Strong Payday Lending Protection

Showing the frustration over abusive lending practices by even many right-leaning legislators, the Ohio legislature has taken a huge step to protect its citizens against predatory lenders by passing HB 545.  The bill slashes the payday-lending interest rate from a sky-high 391 annual percentage rate to 28 percent.  In real terms, instead of having to pay $15 interest for every $100 loaned, borrowers will now pay no more than $1.08 per $100 borrowed. The bill also limits borrowers to four loans per year, requires that loan terms be at least 31 days (instead of the current average of 14 days), and bans internet payday lending.  HB 545 is now before Governor Strickland, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Voter Identification Laws: The Specter of Fraud Helps the Right Wing Shape the Electorate

Since the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) established the requirement that first time voters present some form of identification before voting in a federal election, voter identification requirements of all sorts have been enacted across the country.  Currently 26 states have laws that are more restrictive than the HAVA mandate, and 21 states require ID from voters every time they vote.  These laws have been passed by arguing they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, even though all evidence suggests that such fraud is extremely rare and poses no threat to the integrity of our voting systems.  Instead, these fraud arguments have merely been a partisan tool, used for decades, to suppress turnout among new groups entering the electorate in large numbers and threatening the power of those currently in charge, whether they be minorities, immigrants or students.

The Right-Wing Assault on University Campuses

Right-wing interests have been mounting a political assault on university professors they do not like, led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which is promoting so-called "Intellectual Diversity" (ID) Legislation in various states across the country. The concept was pioneered by right-wing activist David Horowitz (see this profile site for more on Horowitz).  

States Rejecting Bad Immigration Policies

The Illinois legislature recently amended the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to prohibit employers from enrolling in the federal Employment Eligibility Verification System (E-Verify), a voluntary program to supposedly identify the employment eligibility of new hires and verify Social Security numbers. The problem is that the system has estimated error rates between 5% and 10% and does not detect identity fraud or theft, inevitably leading to discrimination and unfair treatment of employees misidentified as lacking proper documentation.   

Promoting Affordable Housing through State Policy

The effects of the sub-prime lending disaster are still being felt as the stock market has been rocked in recent weeks and many families find themselves locked out of the mortgage market.  As we highlighted in the past, the subprime mortgage market was largely aimed at economically-strapped families trying to find some way to afford homes.  For low-income renters who never had the money to even be in the game, rising rents have increasingly priced them out of their homes. 

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.

Kids are collateral damage in immigration witch hunt

Well, the feds have done it again.  They've stepped in where states are doing good work and messed things up.  In an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from enrolling in Medicaid, new federal citizenship identification requirements are instead causing US citizens to lose coverage and increasing state Medicaid administrative costs.  Children are the biggest losers.

Arlington County Greens It Up

Taking the lead in Northern Virginia on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Arlington County announced yesterday that it will buy more wind-generated electricity, give tax breaks for hybrid cars, require green certification for new public buildings and hand out energy-efficient light bulbs to residents. In total, the county aims for a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the next five years.

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.