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
New Idea On Iowa's Minimum Wage
In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad recently sought an $11,000 raise for himself while 216,000 working poor Iowans scrape by without a raise in years. (Paying workers well, as part of a Good Jobs strategy, also pays off for businesses trying to outperform their competitors.) In response, Sen. Chuck Isenhart has introduced a bill that would tie increases to state-level elected officials' pay with increases in the minimum wage.
Child Care In Iowa
Working parents got a boost when the Iowa Senate passed a bill on a 48-0 vote to expand access to child care for lower-income families. As State Sen. Liz Mathis noted, the proposal would provide flexibility and enhance employment opportunities for Iowans whether they continue to go to school or work. This step forward comes at a time when assistance for affordable childcare is at a decade low.
Innovation & Progress On Voting Rights
In a move cheered by voting rights advocates, the Iowa Senate unanimously passed legislation to create a system for online voter registration. Meanwhile, an Illinois law that allows 17 year olds to vote in primary elections, as in 11 other states, was featured in this profile; the bill sponsors included StateRep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills.
Oregon's "Aspiration To College" Bill
Building on the state's reputation as an innovator in college affordability and access, the Oregon House of Representatives recently passed the "Aspiration to College" bill. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Gallegos, the measure would develop scholarship programs and support services to help more Oregonians enroll in community colleges.
Discrimination Against Pregnant Women in West Virginia
After the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act's passage in the House of Delegates and the Senate Labor Committee, West Virginia could soon enjoy new protections for pregnant workers on the job when they need reasonable accommodations as a result of their pregnancy -- such as when they need to sit on a stool instead of standing for long hours.
If you are interested in this legislation or another policy idea featured in the Stateside Dispatch for your state, please contact email@example.com.
Don't Miss It
State Corporate Subsidies. Good Jobs First has created the first national search engine for the special breaks and subsidies that corporations get from states. Be sure to check out this subsidy tracker here.
Cashing In On Kids. In a new tool for education policymakers, In the Public Interest and the American Federation of Teachers have created a new one-stop shop for the facts about for-profit education in America: http://cashinginonkids.com.
In April, progressive state legislators nationwide are planning to take part in Progressive States' National Week of Action for Real Prosperity Across America. If you are a lawmaker interested in participating, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background Checks Work. The Brady Campaign recently released a report analyzing 20 years of background checks. The verdict? No surprise: background checks work, effectively keeping dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands. Since 1994, the Brady law has blocked more than 2.1 million gun purchases, including more than one million attempted purchases by felons and nearly 300,000 attempts by domestic abusers.
Eye On The Right
Mythopedia. With the Conservative Political Action Conference right around the corner, today Media Matters launched "Mythopedia": a compendium of truths and lies peddled by right-wing figures. Check out the entries here.
Predatory Privatization In Florida. After outrage over the deaths of children in Florida's privatized child welfare system, even State Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) is calling for greater accountability. As he said, "If everything was working, we wouldn't have 400 children slipping through the cracks of the system and dying." The situation in Florida is a sobering reminder that when public services and programs are privatized and handed over to corporations, lives may well be on the line.
Anti-Choice Legislation in Arizona. That was quick. On the heels of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of the controversial right-to-hate, anti-gay bill, Arizona's House of Representatives soon turned to another divisive, extreme proposal -- this time, to undermine access to abortion clinics in the state, which are already heavily regulated.
North Carolina's Experiment. The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted a key reason why North Carolina's unemployment rate has dropped: after the state cut off long-term unemployment benefits, unemployed people gave up searching and dropped out of the workforce -- and thus stopped being counted as part of the unemployment rate. It's a real-life experiment that foreshadows the national one playing out right now as some members of Congress continue to block an extension in emergency jobless benefits.
Ohio's Anti-Voting Restrictions. In a troubling move, the Ohio legislature passed and Gov. John Kasich recently signed three anti-voting measures into law. These new restrictions cut early voting opportunities and absentee ballot options, as well as make absentee voting a bigger hassle.
Pulse Of The Community
Medicaid. Adding to the pressure on states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, MoveOn is rolling out billboards in six states - Virginia, Florida, Nebraska, Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin - that resemble state tourism campaigns and call out the states' elected officials. Check them out here.
Minimum Wage Stories. Do you or someone you know have a story to tell about why America should increase the minimum wage? Have you struggled with poverty? Has the safety net helped you make ends meet when you fell on hard times? The Half in Ten Campaign and 9to5 want to hear it; stories can be submitted here.