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Progressive Ballot Issues For Turnout and Framing

There are few more potent tools for impacting the outcomes of elections than changing what appears on the ballot. And there are no more direct paths from public outcry to passed legislation than through ballot issues. For years, the rightwing has been advancing policy goals, shaping message, and marshalling voters through ballot issues (we've already highlighted many of their current-year endeavors in this very newsletter). Progressives increasingly are fighting back using ballot issues -- which shouldn't be surprising, since initiatives and referedenda were originally a progressive reform.

Takings In Your State

As far-right funders like Howard Rich work across the country, dumping literally millions simply into qualifying these atrocious measures for ballots, progressives have experienced some good news and some bad news. Here's where the campaign stands in various states:

How Rich: The Man Behind the Takings Initiatives

Diving into the world of campaign finance and investigating the funders of the takings initiatives quickly reveals a number of organizations involved: Americans for Limited Government, America at Its Best, the Fund for Democracy, and Montanans in Action. What is odd, though, is that with more digging, they all appear to be funded and controlled by the same individual: New York Developer Howard Rich.

NY: Child Care Workers Poised to Win Bargaining Rights

Despite a veto by the governor, the New York State legislature is poised to override and enact reforms to allow day care workers to form labor unions.   The bill, A10060, sponsored by Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat (a Progressive States board member) and Senator Nick Spano, would effect an estimated 52,000 day care workers in facilities subsidized by state funds, given them standing to negotiate with the state for wage increases, as well as benefits like health care, workers' compensation, paid vacation or sick days. 

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.

Beyond the Minimum Wage: New Policies to Raise Wages

The reality for working Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant for over three decades.   For many workers -- especially those without a college degree -- pay has actually gotten worse, meaning that this generation is the first one in American history which is not doing signficantly better than the previous one.  Part of the reason for these stagnant wages is that inflation was allowed to erode the federal minimum wage-- its inflation-adjusted value dropping from $9.12 per hour in 1968 down to just $5.15 per hour in 2005.  

Ohio: ALEC Says, "It Wasn't Me!"

The Cleveland Free Times takes a long, hard look at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) operating methods in Ohio. As usual, it ain't pretty. The right-wing, corporate-funded network of state legislators is exposed quite thoroughly.

Investing in Estate Tax Reform: How 18 Families are Working to Strip Billions From the States

What was once a brilliant line from a screenwriter is now a solid rule of politics: "Follow the money." And true to that adage, when the federal government scaled back the estate tax, eighteen billionaire families were behind it, as documented in a new report by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy. And that "billionaire club" assault means that thirty-two states that peg their estate taxes to federal law lose as much as $5 billion per year in revenues.

New Latino Voters May Change Political Map

"Today we march, tomorrow we vote!" - the chant at the recent immigration rights rallies -- may translate into a changed electoral landscape in many states across the country.

The Success of State Venture Funds

Hawaii is the latest state moving in that direction with a proposed Hawaii Innovations Fund which could grow to $200 million in government funds over four years to invest in Hawaii's renewable energy, life science and technology companies.