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Bad Flu Season Amplifies Calls for Paid Sick Days

Out sick this week? You weren't alone. In the midst of one of the worst flu seasons in years, states and municipalities across the nation are seeing an increasing focus on workers' lack of access to paid sick time. Unfortunately, in some places, that has also meant conservatives focused on pre-empting and reversing existing protections, including taking away the rights of local municipalities to determine what's best for their communities:

No Letdown in the War on Women

For months, conservative strategists and pundits have publicly ruminated on the need to turn their focus away from "divisive" social issues — things like the war on women's health that dominated statehouses in 2011 and 2012, when states passed an astounding 135 restrictions on abortion. But if this is the national strategy, word has apparently not yet filtered down to the states just yet. Here's just some of the anti-women's health bills that have been proposed and passed in statehouses over the past week as the war on women continues unabated:

Multiple States Mull Raising Minimum Wage

Many states are already considering action on the minimum wage in new sessions — by legislation or by ballot initiative. Polls and studies released this week continued to show both the broad and deep popularity and the positive economic effects of raising the wage:

Bloomberg News: State Laws Boosting Insurer Cost Without Adding Customers Failed

A group of state legislators who support the health law have discussed what they could do to replace the insurance mandate, if the court strikes it down, said Karen Keiser, a Democratic state senator in Washington who chairs the group. Possibilities for replacing a federal mandate include the “politically difficult” route of passing state versions of the mandate, or replacing private insurers with government-run coverage in some states, Keiser said. “It’s much more likely that states would step in and take it on because it seems the Congress is really at impasse,” she said by phone. In states that choose not to act, she said, “a large number of Americans would be left out and left behind.”

New York Times: As Health Law Is Contested, Developing a Plan B

State officials and insurance executives are devising possible alternatives to the coming federal requirement that most Americans buy health insurance, even as the Supreme Court hears arguments about the constitutionality of the mandate.

With Economy in Mind, Governors and Legislative Sessions Focus on Broadband

Since state legislatures around the country have started their sessions in 2012, legislators and governors alike have been recognizing the importance of broadband (or high speed Internet) to growing state economies. Governors in states as diverse as Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, and Wyoming highlighted broadband initiatives in their state of the state speeches, as more and more of our leaders are realizing that without broadband, the U.S. economy is not going to produce jobs or the highly-skilled workers needed to compete in a global marketplace.

Washington State Proposal Would Make Taxpayer Money Work for the 99%

A proposal to create a state-owned bank is gaining momentum in Washington State, where a bill modeled after the successful Bank of North Dakota was introduced in January with 44 co-sponsors in the House. In a speech at the outset of the legislative session, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp called it one of the caucuses’ key priorities this year.