DISPATCH: What You Need To Know About the ACA, Budget Fights Heat Up, and Much More

Stateside Dispatch
Saturday, June 8, 2013

Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's roundup of the latest state policy news. Here's what happened in the states this week:

What State Legislators Need to Know About the ACA Before 2014

Save your spot! Progressive States Network is hosting a webinar this Monday, June 10th at 4pm ET on what lawmakers need to know about the Affordable Care Act before 2014. Learn about game-changing market reforms, how state legislative offices can assist constituents in enrolling in exchanges, and more. This webinar is part of a series of webinars on the challenges and opportunities facing state legislators on health care, designed for legislators and legislative staff and supported by The Commonwealth Fund, a national, private foundation based in New York City that supports independent research on health care issues and makes grants to improve health care practice and policy. Register for Monday's webinar here.

This week saw President Obama tout the benefits of the ACA in California while conservatives in other states continued their quixotic attempts at nullification and repeal:

How the Affordable Care Act is helping Californians. [White House]

The medical-loss provision in the ACA saved consumers $2.1 billion last year, according to a new report. [Kaiser Family Foundation]

"In states that are working hard to implement this law properly, it's working for people," said President Obama. [TPM]

Washington state's insurance commissioner debunked some persistent myths about Obamacare in a meeting with business owners. [The Olympian]

New Hampshire's legislature is still debating, and negotiating, over setting up its own exchange. [Union Leader]

South Carolina's session ended with nullification legislation failing. "It brings us enormous liability and quite honestly in my opinion a big waste of time," said State Sen. Joel Lourie. [WLTX]

How conservatives' "obsession" with the repealing the ACA instead of accepting it may lead them to political disaster. [The New Republic

Join the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform for resources on the ACA, Medicaid expansion, and much more.

Budget Debates Heat Up as Sessions Wind Down

As of this week, more than half of the fifty states had already seen their 2013 legislative sessions adjourn. In many of those that are still going, budget debates are front and center as lawmakers race to the finish line. In some states, issues that had previously been pushed to the backburner are back on the front one, in others, major provisions are being inserted into the budget at the midnight hour, and everywhere, final showdowns are shaping up as sessions wind down. Here's a look at some of the legislative sausage-making taking place this week in the states:

In New Hampshire, the Senate passed a budget this week that blocks Medicaid expansion and includes across-the-board austerity cuts that could eliminate up to 700 state jobs, setting up a showdown with both the House and Gov. Maggie Hassan. [Concord Monitor]

In Maine, late night negotiations resulted in unanimous approval by the legislature's Appropriations Committee of a budget that would increase some taxes, restore some of Gov. Paul LePage's cuts to critical programs, and give raises to state employees, which now goes to the full legislature. [Bangor Daily News]

In Michigan, conservatives passed an omnibus budget bill that excluded $1.4 billion for road repairs and Medicaid expansion for 470,000 state residents, both supported by Gov. Rick Snyder. [Detroit News]

In Washington state, the state House approved a budget plan without Senate support but which would exclude a proposed business tax extension. [AP]

Ohio's Senate approved a budget along party lines that would expand funding for public schools (as well as voucher programs), and which also includes a number of anti-abortion provisions and tax cuts for businesses. [Columbus Dispatch]

And Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee made last-minute insertions into their budget without debate that included controversial measures such as school vouchers, tax deductions for private school tuition, and a pilot program for bail bondsmen. [Post Crescent

Connect with PSN to receive our annual issue-specific roundups of state legislative sessions in your inbox the coming weeks!

Also this week:

Protests against the conservative agenda in North Carolina continued to gain steam, as 1,600 attended the latest "Moral Monday" protest. [PSN]

NYT: "On Medicaid, education and many other issues, the map of the United States is becoming a patchwork of conscience and callousness." [New York Times]

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an immigrant driver's license bill into law, following the passage of similar bills in Oregon, Nevada, and Connecticut. [AP]

Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a driver's license bill that had passed the legislature almost unanimously. [National Journal]

Connecticut's State Senate passed the TRUST Act, a bill that will aims to provide greater trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities. [ThinkProgress]

The state of play on immigration reform in Congress, and what we can expect over the next few weeks. [America's Voice]

Michigan voters are still unhappy about the anti-dues "right-to-work" bill passed in December, and it is taking a toll on Gov. Rick Snyder. [PPP]

Cuts to education and social services and support for Voter ID may be taking their own toll on Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania. [MaddowBlog]

NYC Mayor Bloomberg vetoed paid sick days legislation, but the City Council is expected to override. [Wall St. Journal]

Oregon's legislature punted on paid sick days, setting up an interim committee to study the bill and killing it for the year. [Portland Business Journal]

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy signed a minimum wage increase into law that will raise the wage to $9 by 2015. [CT News Junkie]

A turning point? Some states are shoring up spending on pre-K this year. [Stateline]

Michigan is set to significantly expand funding for preschool, backed by a conservative governor and broad support from lawmakers and businesses. [ThinkProgress]

Resistance to the implementation of Common Core standards is "spreading across the nation like a summer wildfire." [Education Opportunity Network]

New study: The states rejecting Medicaid expansion will not only deny health coverage to residents and miss out on federal funds, they will also see their spending on the uninsured increase by about $1 billion. [Huffington Post]

Arizona's House Speaker gave up on his effort to prevent Medicaid expansion, clearing the way for an expansion proposal put forward by Gov. Jan Brewer. [East Valley Tribune]

Michigan Gov. Snyder continues to push lawmakers in his own party to expand Medicaid, calling it a top priority before the legislature adjourns for the summer. [Detroit News

How the rejection of Medicaid expansion in Texas may be like the passage of California's Prop. 187 in 1994. [Washington Post]

New York Gov. Cuomo finally unveiled the language of his 10-point Women's Equality Act this week. [WKBW]

State Rep. Jay Kaufman (MA), Chair of PSN's Tax Fairness Working Group: "It is past time for Washington to allow states to pursue uncollected revenue and move our economy and tax system into the 21st century." [Boston Globe]

Why over a dozen states have enacted or are seriously considering increasing revenues, in one chart. [CBPP]

Sequestration cuts to Head Start programs across the country are having a serious impact. [Marketplace]

A new poll shows North Carolinians strongly support early voting, including 77 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of independents. [The Carolina Mercury]

A proposal to force disclosure of "dark money" groups spending in state elections may make its way to the ballot in Montana, supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. [Billings Gazette]

The Supreme Court is set to rule on whether to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in the coming days and weeks. [NBC Latino]

Ari Berman on how the current redistricting fight in Texas shows why the VRA is still needed. [The Nation

Connecticut became the first state to pass a bill mandating labels on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. [CT News Junkie]

Seventeen states have now decriminalized marijuana possession; Vermont became the latest to do so on Thursday. [ThinkProgress]

A bill to reduce penalties for marijuana possession continues to advance in Louisiana. [NOLA]

And bad news for turophiles as raw milk won't be for sale in Nevada anytime soon thanks to a veto by Gov. Brian Sandoval. [RGJ]

Follow @PSNwire on Twitter for the latest state policy news as it happens.

Map of the Week

Map: Impact of Federal Budget Cuts

The states losing out the most in federal grants in 2013 compared to 2012, thanks to recent federal budget cuts including sequestration. [Graphic via Economic Policy Institute]
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Research Roundup

For States That Opt Out Of Medicaid Expansion: 3.6 Million Fewer Insured And $8.4 Billion Less In Federal Payments [Rand Corp.]
"The US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act in 2012 allowed states to opt out of the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion. Since that ruling, fourteen governors have announced that their states will not expand their Medicaid programs.... With fourteen states opting out, we estimate that 3.6 million fewer people would be insured, federal transfer payments to those states could fall by $8.4 billion, and state spending on uncompensated care could increase by $1 billion in 2016, compared to what would be expected if all states participated in the expansion. These effects were only partially mitigated by alternative options we considered. We conclude that in terms of coverage, cost, and federal payments, states would do best to expand Medicaid."

Closing the Wage Gap: How Raising the Minimum Wage Promotes Fair Pay for Women [National Women's Law Center]
"Women working full time, year round typically make only 77 percent of what their male counterparts make -- leaving a wage gap of 23 cents on the dollar. One reason for this gap is that women are concentrated in low-wage jobs: two-thirds of minimum wage workers and workers in tipped occupations are women, disproportionately women of color.  Raising the minimum wage would help close this gap by increasing wages for workers at the bottom of the spectrum.  Raising the minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage are important steps towards fair pay for women -- especially women of color."

State Policies in Brief: An Overview of Abortion Laws [Guttmacher Institute]
"Since the Supreme Court handed down its 1973 decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, states have constructed a lattice work of abortion law, codifying, regulating and limiting whether, when and under what circumstances a woman may obtain an abortion. The following table highlights the major provisions of these state laws. More detailed information can be found by selecting the table column headings in blue. Except where noted, the laws are in effect, although they may not always be enforced. (As of June 1, 2013)"

A Guide to S.744: Understanding the 2013 Senate Immigration Bill [Immigration Policy Center]
"The Immigration Policy Center has written this guide to provide policymakers, the media, and the public with an easy-to-understand guide to the main components of S. 744 and the purpose behind them. The guide follows the structure of the bill, with a separate section addressing the cost-benefit analysis of S. 744, a resources page, and a glossary."

Email us at with research roundup suggestions.

Quote of the Week

"Things have gotten way too extreme and out of hand, and when we start taking important policy issues about whether or not we're going to have bounty hunters in Wisconsin and throwing them in -- in the middle of the night -- without any transparency, public discussion, or analysis, I think we have a problem."

- Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R) on his own leadership's late night negotiations this week that resulted in the passage of a budget that introduced a pilot program for bail bondsmen and attacked a non-profit investigative journalism center, tactics he described as the type "you would expect from Vladmir Putin." [Huffington Post]


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