session, the Iowa legislature broke a long standing stalemate
and added sexual orientation to its civil rights laws.
427 makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, public
accomodation, credit, housing and education based on a person's sexual
orientation or gender identity. In passing the bill, the Iowa
legislature simply extended the protections they offer to everyone else to gay
and transgender citizens. As House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy
"This was not some sort of liberal social agenda. This is just saying
that under housing and employment, people shouldn't be discriminated against
because of their real or perceived sexual orientation."
Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin. The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:
We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse. The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.
With debt collection for medical bills a lead cause of bankruptcy for families
without health insurance, Families USA, in a
brief, highlight a range of policies states have enacted in recent years
to protect the uninsured and underinsured.
This week, an Arkansas bill to ban gay adoption
collapsed in the
House, after passing the state Senate earlier this month. In New
Hampshire, the state House
passed a bill affirming the right of gay couples to jointly adopt
children. Earlier this month, the Colorado House
approved a similar
adoption" bill in a bipartisan vote.
Yesterday, the Maryland Senate
legislation that would grant Maryland's 10 Electoral College votes to the
Presidential candidate receiving the most votes nationally, rather than to the
winner of the state-- a system that would go into effect if enough other
states approve similar legislation to guarantee the Presidency to the
candidate winning the popular vote nationally.
As we first highlighted in our Dispatch
last December, renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) are a great
way to stimulate renewable energy development. By requiring that a
certain percentage of a state's electricity come from renewable energy,
RPS jump starts economic development and job creation.
Over a dozen groups have
filed protests against a plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to
open up the top of Colorado's Roan Plateau to leases for drilling,
which could be put up for bid as early as November. Oil and gas drilling already takes place on the plateau, but federal land managers have chosen to open the top
of the Roan Plateau for drilling without waiting until resources at the
bottom of the plateau are tapped. Oil in the undeveloped plateau could supply the U.S. with all of 5.8 hours worth
of its oil needs. Gas in the undeveloped Plateau could supply the U.S.
demand for a little over a month. All this in exchange for permanently
scarring the unique landscape and rendering it unfit for hunting and
recreation. And, more unsettling, is that the BLM recognizes the
ecological and recreational importance of the area. A recent BLM study found that
streams on the Plateau would meet the requirements to be designated as
part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System by Congress. The BLM Draft Management Plan recognizes that several areas within the Plateau met the criteria to be designated as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern.