Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's weekly newsletter! Here is the latest on the news and developments worth knowing.
Spotlight On Progressive Leaders
In a glowing blog post by Diane Ravitch, Michigan State Rep.Ellen Cogen Lipton was lauded as a "hero of public education" for her efforts on behalf of Michigan's children to hold the state's Educational Achievement Authority accountable.
Rhode Island Rep. Teresa Tanzi grabbed headlines for her efforts to reform the state's controversial high-stakes testingpolicy, which spurred protests by local students declaring that their futures should not be subject to such experimentation. The issue was also addressed during a National Week of Action for Public Education event held by Rhode Island lawmakers, as described here.
In a surprising victory, the Washington State Senate passed the House-passed DREAM Act to help ensure that more families in the state can afford to send their children to college, no matter their wealth or immigration status. The tuition equity measure is expected to be signed into law. Also in Washington, State Rep. Gael Tarleton is proposing to require businesses to give their workers paid vacation time. If the bill becomes law, Washington would become the first such state.
New Hampshire could soon benefit from a strongerbackground checks law, with momentum for HB 1589 building after the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee passed the measure. However, NRA lobbyists are predictably spreading misinformation about the legislation andwhipping up opposition. Lead sponsors of the bill are State Rep. E. Elaine Andrews-Ahearn and State Sen. David Pierce.
In Maine, State Rep.Diane Russellmade waves when her vocal support for early voting policies prompted a gaffe by the Maine House GOP Leader, Rep. Ken Fredette, that lumped in women with convicted murderers.
It should be common sense that taxpayers shouldn't be stuck paying to keep private prisons full no matter the need for them -- and NebraskaSen. Amanda McGill has introduced legislationto make sure of it. According to the In The Public Interest, however, these kinds of "lock-up quotas" designed to guarantee corporate profits at taxpayers' expense are actually very common.
A coalition of lawmakers in Minnesota, including House Speaker Paul Thissen and House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, recently unveiled the Women's Economic Security Act -- a package of measures like pay equity legislation and an expansion of paid family & sick leave to make sure that women have a fair opportunity to succeed. The agenda is similar to proposals pending in other states, like Pennsylvania.
Note: If you are interested in legislation similar to the proposals discussed in this Dispatch for your state, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't Miss It
Corporate Giveaways. For state leaders looking for ways to free up state budgets, two must-see reports bring good news.Good Jobs First found that in 10 states considering cuts to their public workers' retirement incomes, corporate interests are receiving massive handouts in special tax breaks and subsidies. In a similar vein, U.S. PIRGreported on the outrageous gimmicks that corporations are exploiting to stash their U.S. earnings in offshore tax havens -- siphoning badly needed revenue away from both Uncle Sam and state governments.
The Hobby Lobby Case. Progressive States Network is proud to join an amicus brief filed by the National Women's Law Center and nearly 70 other organizations in support of the Affordable Care Act in the Hobby Lobby case, which challenges the law's contraception coverage provisions.
Wrongness Of "Right-To-Work." How would the states fare if a dozen rankings on various measures of quality of life were aggregated? Politico did just that, finding that 5 of the 5 worst states to live in the U.S. are "right-to-work" anti-worker states, whereas the 4 in 5 best are not.
Pulse Of The Community
Raise The Wage! Against the backdrop of the President's call in the State of the Union for raising the federal minimum wage, the states are already pressing forward. In more and more states, a minimum wage increase is on the table via legislation or a ballot box measure -- or has passed in the past year. For details, check out our "Map of the Week" featuring a ThinkProgress post on the issue.