DISPATCH: Austerity vs. Economic Stability, Revisiting Stand Your Ground, and More

Stateside Dispatch
Saturday, July 20, 2013

Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's roundup of the latest state policy news. As more and more state legislative sessions draw to a close, here's the latest in our series of PSN roundups of the action this year, as well as a look at what else has been happening in the states this week:

PSN 2013 Tax Fairness Roundup: Austerity vs. Economic Stability

Earlier this year, the conservative theory of austerity was thoroughly debunked, with leading economic experts concluding that there is not “even a shred of evidence” that austerity promotes growth and that it instead worsens economic downturns. Despite the conclusions of empirical research, state policymakers have proposed widely divergent ideas about how best to collect and invest taxpayer dollars in 2013. Some states raised revenue to help stimulate a robust economy over the long term by investing in education and other infrastructure. Other states bought the conservative snake oil and refused to fund critical programs and services that contribute to a prosperous and sustainable economy.

Here are some highlights and significant trends we saw in state tax policy over 2013 legislative sessions: Read the full 2013 Tax Fairness Roundup here.

States Revisit "Stand Your Ground" Laws in Wake of Trayvon Martin Case

On Friday afternoon, after a week of emotionally charged protest and national debate over a not guilty verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, President Obama expanded on his previous comments on the case in remarks to the White House press corps, outlining what he saw as some potential positive steps forward for the nation. Among those steps: asking states to revisit so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws. Read the full post here.

EVENT: Join PSN in Atlanta at NCSL 2013

With enrollment in health insurance marketplaces set to begin in October, Progressive States Network and The Commonwealth Fund will be hosting a timely forum on Tuesday, August 13th at 5pm in Atlanta, GA on what all legislators need to know to make Obamacare a success. We'll dive deep on the timetable for states in the coming months, how legislators can help state marketplaces succeed, what states should consider when deciding whether or not to adopt a basic health plan, and much more. All legislators -- even those who don't work directly on health care issues -- are welcome. For more information, and to RSVP, click here.

(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.)

Map of the Week: Targeting the Jobless

Map: Targeting the Unemployed

A map of the current maximum duration of unemployment benefits for jobseekers, state-by-state. North Carolina enacted drastic restrictions earlier this month, and nine other states (including Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Missouri) have reduced the maximum length of time that individuals are allowed to receive benefits. [Graphic via Wall Street Journal]

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President Touts Benefits of Obamacare as 2014 Approaches

PSN Executive Director Ann Pratt was in attendance at the White House this week as President Obama held an event spotlighting recent positive news about the Affordable Care Act. The President announced that the law is already resulting in rebates to Americans whose insurance providers are not spending the required minimum on medical care rather than administrative costs -- with over 8.5 million rebates in all 50 states being sent out this summer alone at an average of about $100 each.

The event came the same day that the Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that in 11 states, proposed health insurance premiums for 2014 will be almost 20 percent lower than previously projected. Read more from the White House on how ACA implementation is already having an effect here.

Also This Week: Wins on Family Leave and Living Wage, Attacks on Voting Rights and Reproductive Rights

New Yorkers who buy health insurance on the individual market are expected to see premium costs drop by at least 50% next year thanks to the ACA. [New York Times]

A simple message from OB-GYNs to legislators in states like North Carolina that have passed extreme restrictions on abortion: "get out of our exam rooms." [ThinkProgress]

Two maps that show the impact of Texas' new anti-abortion laws. [ThinkProgress]

A look at what "TRAP" bills actually do. [In These Times]

The University of Michigan will allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates following a Board of Regents vote this week. []

There may be some movement in the U.S. House on immigration reform after all. [Washington Post]

Rhode Island became the third state to provide workers with paid family leave, allowing workers time off to care for a child or sick family member. [AP]

Another Ocean State victory: childcare providers can now unionize. [Providence Journal]

The D.C. Council approved a living wage bill for large retailers over Wal-Mart's protests, which now goes to Mayor Vincent Gray. [Washington Post]

States -- mostly across the South -- are still rushing to enact voter suppression laws just weeks after the Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. [New York Times]

In Pennsylvania, an expert testifying in a case on the state's voter ID law estimated that the measure would have prevented a half-million people from voting. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

The U.S. Senate held hearings this week on the Voting Rights Act, with lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-GA) speaking out about the need for Congress to ensure its survival. [AP]

Some of the "ominous" national implications of the radical tax bill that passed in North Carolina this week. [CBPP]

A look at the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, and why progressives in other states should be paying attention. [The Nation]

Rhode Island became the tenth state to stop the practice of asking potential state employees about prior criminal convictions on most job applications. [NELP]

Oregon's Legislature gave initial approval to develop an innovative plan that would allow students to attend state colleges debt-free. [EOI]

And a conservative Utah state lawmaker wants to put an end to compulsory education altogether. [Deseret News]


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

Research Roundup: The Economic Contributions of Immigrants, Correcting for Inaction on Tipped Minimum Wage, and More

Undocumented Immigrants' State and Local Tax Contributions [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]
"In the public debates over federal immigration reform, much has been made of the argument that undocumented immigrants would be a drain on federal, state and local government resources if granted legal status under reform. But it is also true that the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States are already taxpayers, and that their local, state and federal tax contributions would increase under reform. This report provides state-by-state estimates on the state and local tax contributions of the 11.2 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States."

The Third Shift: Child Care Needs and Access for Working Mothers in Restaurants [Restaurant Opportunities Centers United]
"The restaurant industry employs over ten million workers, making it one of the largest segments of the U.S. economy. The industry has also experienced one of the largest growth rates both during the Great Recession and the current economic recovery. 2013 marks the 14th consecutive year that the industry has created jobs at a higher rate than the overall economy. In May of 2013 alone, restaurants added 38,100 jobs.... This research report tries to answer two key questions: How do mothers who work in restaurants currently access child care? What are the child care needs and concerns of mothers who work in restaurants? What strategies would help these mothers address their child care challenges?"

Some States Correcting for Federal Inaction on Tipped Workers [Center for Economic and Policy Research]
"While four years have passed since the last increase in the federal minimum wage (July 24, 2009), tipped workers (for example, restaurant servers, hair stylists, manicurists, car washers and casino workers) are looking at 21 years at the same mandated federal minimum."

Email us at with research roundup suggestions.

Quote of the Week

"We can't survive like this."

—  Florida maintenance worker Marc Gattereau on the state's $7.79 per hour minimum wage. Gattereau is helping Florida State Senator Dwight Bullard and Broward County Commissioner Martin Kiar budget as they live off a minimum wage income for a week. [NBC Miami]


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