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 biggest news coming out of Wisconsin this year may be the retirement
of the Green Bay Packers' beloved quarterback, Brett Favre, but
lawmakers were largely able to keep to the task at hand and pass a budget before the end of the shortened 2008 session. However, they may find themselves back in Madison to deal with a worsening
budget situation. Despite leaving some key issues on the table due to
partisan divisions, lawmakers laid a solid foundation for future
success in 2009.
Madison, WI - Healthy Wisconsin, a legislative package that
would guarantee affordable health care to all Wisconsinites, is gaining
steam as a national model for state health care reform. As the revised
Healthy Wisconsin bill (SB 562) had its public hearing today before the
Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the Washington State
Legislature neared final passage of legislation authorizing a detailed
study of a proposal modeled after Healthy Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is righting a wrong that many state governments are complicit
in perpetrating, but is largely due to federal policy. As the New York Times
recently reported, child-support payments for children on welfare are
being used in almost every state to recoup state and federal welfare
expenses. When Congress created the child-support system 30 years ago,
recouping welfare costs by siphoning off collected child-support
payments was an explicit goal. Yet close to half the states pass along none
of the collected child-support while most others pay only $50 per
child, even when a non-custodial parent pays several hundred more. Research
and experience shows that the policy of withholding payments to recoup
state costs discourages non-custodial parents from paying child-support
and makes families more dependent on aid.
On April 3rd, Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed into law HF 653, which provides
Iowans with the opportunity to register and vote on Election Day. Governor
Here in Iowa , we want to make it as easy as possible for Iowans to be
involved in the democratic process. This bill achieves this goal. I strongly
believe getting more people to vote is good for democracy and good for the
future of this state.
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.