States Get a Jump Start on SOTU Agenda

(This article originally appeared in the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's email roundup of the latest state policy news. Sign up to receive the Dispatch in your inbox here.)

On Tuesday night, President Obama laid out his second term agenda in a State of the Union address that detailed specific policy proposals across a range of issue areas. But even as national conversations around the minimum wage, immigration, gun violence prevention, and early education began to get louder in the wake of the President's speech this week, states were already getting a jump start on many of these issues. As Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom, Chair of the Board of PSN, said in a response to the State of the Union this week, "state legislators across the nation know they do not need to wait for Washington to act."

"Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour... let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on." - President Obama

Two days after the State of the Union, New York's Assembly leadership upped their minimum wage proposal to $9 to match President Obama's. [Albany Times-Union]

Minnesota's proposal to raise the wage to $9.50 and index to inflation also gained steam in the wake of the State of the Union this week. [Star Tribune]

Michigan legislators pushed this week to increase the state minimum wage to $10 by 2016. State Sen. Bert Johnson: "This is a conversation we need to have at both the state and national level." [MLive]

In Hawaii, a state Senate committee advanced a bill this week that would increase the state minimum wage to $9.25. [AP]

A proposal to increase New Jersey's minimum wage, vetoed by Gov. Christie last month, gained final approval to go before voters as a ballot initiative this fall. [AP]

New Mexico is also considering a minimum wage increase predicted to inject $67 million into the state economy. [AP]

A recent poll showed that 73% of voters support raising the minimum wage to $10 — but wealthy and corporate donors aren't as enthusiastic. [Demos]

A great roundup of some of the messaging on the minimum wage used by both President Obama and others in reaction to the State of the Union this week. [Topos Partnership]

A map of the current state of minimum wage laws in the states. [PSN]

"The time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform... Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship." - President Obama

A bipartisan resolution in favor of comprehensive immigration reform is taking shape in Texas' state legislature. [Austin American-Statesman]

Oregon's tuition equity proposal got a big boost this week from Gov. John Kitzhaber and business leaders in the state.

Tuition equity in Colorado passed another committee and will go before the full state Senate next week. [Hispanically Speaking News]

North Carolina announced this week that the state will join others in issuing driver's licenses to eligible DACA participants. [Charlotte Observer]

"At least a dozen" additional states may soon consider tuition bills — how states are showing the way on immigration reform. [Kansas City Star]

"Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote." - President Obama

Great photos from a rally for new gun violence prevention laws that took place outside the Connecticut state Capitol on Thursday, attended by over 5,000 people, including Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R). [CT News Junkie]

Washington state lawmakers may soon join other states acting on gun laws early in 2013 as indications are that a deal is near on universal background checks. [AP]

Vice President Biden took a break from his Colorado vacation to call state lawmakers and urge them to move forward on gun legislation. State Rep. Tony Exum: "He kept on calling me ‘chief'." [KWGN]

A New Jersey Assembly committee advanced a slate of gun violence prevention proposals this week, which will move on to the full Assembly next week. [New York Times]

Why the NRA and the gun lobby are "terrified" of new legislative proposals in California. [Mother Jones]

A former Connecticut Republican state legislator: "When you see words like 'threatening' and 'intimidation' used to refer to NRA tactics, this unfortunately is not an exaggeration, nor is it uncommon." [Greenwich Time]

Infographic: In states that have background checks, 38% fewer women are shot and killed by their intimate partners. [Demand A Plan]

"Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America." - President Obama

The White House released their detailed proposals for early childhood education after the SOTU, including a "state-federal partnership to guarantee pre-K to all 4-year-olds in families at or below 200 percent of the poverty line." [Washington Post]

"To be eligible for the program, the states would have to offer programs with well-trained teachers paid comparably to those teaching in kindergarten-through-12 classrooms, small classes and rigorous statewide standards for early learning." [New York Times]

President Obama highlighted Georgia's early childhood education program. [AP]

Sharon Lerner on how "rural, conservative, impoverished Oklahoma has built the nation’s brightest model for early education," also highlighted by President Obama on Tuesday. [The American Prospect]

Rick Perlstein says: Get ready for a right-wing backlash. [The Nation]

North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory's choice to head the state Division of Child Development and Early Education resigned after reports emerged that "she founded and headed an organization that advocated against publicly funded early childhood education programs." [WRAL]


Read the full Dispatch from February 17, 2013 here.