Following Chicago's lead, DC Councilman Phill Mendelson has introduced a bill to require
large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco to pay employees a living
wage of $11 an hour plus health benefits worth at least $3 a hour. The
bill also would give labor groups and the public access to public areas
of a firm to communicate with employees about their rights. As we
detailed in last week's Dispatch, a major committee and a majority of Chicago City Council members have endorsed a similar bill for that city.
This week, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on
campaign contributions and expenditures by candidates. In a set of
fractured opinions in Randall v. Sorrell,
the Court did not put an end to all campaign finance limits but did put
a roadblock in the way of anything much more restrictive than most
present laws. So if there is going to be more serious reform to lessen
the power of special interest money in politics, the only real
remaining route to reform are systems of public financing of elections like Maine and Arizona.
Back in April, the Stateside Dispatch profiled successful job creation programs
where states not only invest in dynamic high-tech and inner-city
startup companies, but make money for the taxpayer from many of their
We already knew that clean elections were good policy. In fact, we brought together over 100 policymakers and activists in New Hampshire to spread the word on clean elections (see the resulting Resource Sheet). Now, new polling data shows that clean elections are also good politics.
Polling undertaken for Public Campaign Action Fund and Common Cause
shows that Americans overwhelmingly (74%) support public financing.
Recently, in our Stateside Dispatch
highlighting alternative strategies to raise wages around the country,
we highlighted a proposed ordinance with widespread support in Chicago.
That proposal -- which raises the bar on wages for large retailers --
has now passed through the city's finance committee and is moving closer to a vote of the full council.
The City of San Francisco is taking steps to provide health care to all
of its 82,000 uninsured residents, paid for by a combination of public
money and assessments on employers that do not provide health care for
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.
Companies are required to calculate the risks to their businesses based
on a range of potential threats to their business models, but there is
currently no requirement that they calculate the potentially
catastrophic costs of climate change. A few U.S. companies do so
voluntarily, but most do not.
The Washington Post details some of the changes states are making in the Medicaid program, party based on federal waivers and partly due to a new federal law passed last December that allows states to offer unequal benefits to different Medicaid recipients.