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
This week, Minnesota legislators launched Working America’s Minimum Wage Challenge in their state. They're not just talking about the minimum wage; they're putting themselves in their constituents' shoes to get first-hand experience. (Would you be able to live on the minimum wage? Check out this interactive tool to find out!) Reps. Ryan Winkler, Karen Clark, Frank Hornstein, John Lesch, Jason Metsa, and Shannon Savick are participating in the Minnesota challenge underway now.
In April, progressive state legislators nationwide will participate in similar minimum wage challenges and other activities during the National Week of Action for Real Prosperity Across America, sponsored by Progressive States. If you are interested in taking part, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In New York, Assembly Health Committee ChairRichard Gottfried and State Sen. Bill Perkinsannounced resounding support from advocacy organizations for their legislation to create a universal, single payer health coverage plan. Called "New York Health," the proposal has garnered the endorsements of state and national labor unions, doctors and nurses groups, and 91 state legislators.
The Washington House recently took a step forward on gun violence prevention when it unanimously passed legislation, HB 1840, to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of people currently under a domestic violence restraining order. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Roger Goodman, now faces action in the state Senate.
In Rhode Island, Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Maria Cimini are taking a practical approach to raising funds for the organizations working to prevent gun violence in the state: a small tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition. As Sen. Goldin noted, gun violence is a major problem but many organizations that work to prevent the problem remain underfunded.
Don't Miss It
Background Checks Save Lives. In a powerful new study, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research reported that the murder rate went up as a result of the 2007 repeal of a Missouri law that required background checks and licenses for all handgun owners. The report adds to the overwhelming research showing that common sense laws to prevent gun violence work, keeping guns out of dangerous hands and saving lives.
EXPOSED: America's Highest Paid "Government" Workers. Today, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released a new report showing that contrary to the claims by some politicians, the highest paid "government" workers in the country are corporate executives who pay themselves to profit off the predatory privatization of our public programs and services. That is, they're not the Americans routinely vilified and scapegoated by corporate lobbyists, such as teachers, nurses, and sanitation workers. For the full report, click here.
Eye On The Right
CBO Report On The Minimum Wage & Jobs. This week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would raise wages for 16.5 million workers, resulting in $31 billion more in higher earnings, and lift nearly 1 million Americans out of poverty.
Yet minimum wage opponents, from Republican lawmakers in Congress to their right-wing media allies, pounced on the report's flawed findings that a higher minimum wage could cost jobs -- a claim that runs counter to the economic consensus -- to go on the attack against an overwhelmingly proposal. Decades of economic research on the minimum wage, however, are clear: increasing the minimum wage poses no threat to employment. Expect the political debate to continue, especially as experts dissect and question the report's job loss conclusions, as well as the flawed "fine print" assumptions and methodology behind them.
Going Extreme In West Virginia. In West Virginia, the right-wing movement is pushing a bill that would take away a woman’s ability to make an extremely personal medical decision. Specifically, the legislation would prohibit abortion after twenty weeks only except when a woman has a medical emergency, making it one of the most extreme bans on abortion that West Virginia has seen in years. More information is available here.
Pulse Of The Community
Divestment. The Campaign To Unload, a coalition of more than 30 organizations advocating for divestment from the gun industry, welcomed a major victory this week when Occidental College announced that it is pledging to avoid investments in manufacturers of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The historical significance of the decision was heightened by the fact that Occidental College was also where President Obama made his first political speech in 1981 as part of a movement to persuade the school's Board of Trustees to divest the college of its investments in South Africa. Occidental's move to take a decisive stance on gun violence, which is likely the first of its kind for an American university, signals a broader shift as stakeholders increasingly focus on divestment strategies to advance gun violence prevention goals.