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.
Don't ask for Colorado Governor Bill Owens to fulfill the state's duties under open records laws. He'll get lawyers funded by private political committees to threaten you in response.
Owens, named earlier this year as one of America's worst Governors, is being questioned about his connections to a 527 named the Trailhead Group.
After years of stagnating wages for working Americans and inaction by
Congress, legislators and activists across the country are taking the
lead in securing higher minimum wages on a state by state basis. They
are achieving some outstanding results. Here's where the minimum wage
fight stands in a number of states:
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:
A new poll in Mainereveals the uphill
battle progressives face in educating the public about the dangers of
TABOR-style spending caps. The poll reports that nearly three in four
voters say they would vote for TABOR if the option was put in front of
With the 2006 elections quickly approaching, a small group of highly energized right-wing activists are working hard to export a failed policy from Colorado to other states around the nation. The idea is known variously as the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR), the Stop OverSpending Amendment (SOS), or as Tax and Spending Control (TASC). Fundamentally, though, all of the amendments boil down to a single policy idea: arbitrarily capping increases in state spending based on only two factors -- population growth and the consumer price index.
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.
As voters grow increasingly fed up with corruption in public office, a
number of courageous legislators are taking the lead on issues like
voter-owned elections and lobbying reform. In Colorado, the forces of reform just landed a major victory.
What political observer is not interested in changes in Ohio's
political landscape? The state has a tendency to be decisive in
Presidential elections and is gripped by high-profile races for
Governor and Senator this year. So it is very interesting that
conservatives appear to be edging away from a radical Constitutional
spending cap modeled on Colorado's failed TABOR law.
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.