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More Progressive Victories in Colorado

It wasn't so long ago that Colorado was considered a hotspot for ascendant conservative national movements, from the religious right to an anti-tax revolt to anti-immigrant extremism. But times (and demographics) are clearly changing, and quickly. With progressives empowered by recent elections, this session has seen Colorado's legislature advance, pass, and enact progressive legislation across a range of issue areas. And with the state's session drawing to a close in a matter of days, the wins are piling up. From voting rights to welcoming immigrants to enacting sensible gun laws and civil unions, the multiple progressive victories in Colorado this year provide a hopeful model and counter-example to the destructive agendas advanced by conservatives in statehouses across the nation in recent years. Here's how their session is finishing up:

Activists Protest North Carolina's Turn to Right-Wing Extremism

No state is seeing a bigger and more devastating deluge of right-wing legislation move this year than North Carolina, where a tea-party-controlled legislature has been advancing bills alternatively dangerous and absurd -- and sometimes both. A voter ID proposal is just the latest to gain national attention, as residents of all fifty states get a glimpse of what an unfettered conservative movement in a state actually looks like, and activists in North Carolina raise the temperature in protest:

Congress Acts to Help Frequent Fliers, Leaves States in Lurch

Late this week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation by unanimous consent that would give the Federal Aviation Administration the ability to end furloughs of air traffic controllers, hoping to end a week of delays at airports across the nation that resulted from the automatic budget cuts in sequestration. These kinds of impacts were the intentional purpose of the blunt and painful automatic cuts of sequestration, which were originally intended to be so frightening that the possibility of their enactment would force an alternative federal budget compromise. Yet while business travellers might be breathing a sigh of relief as they fly home this weekend, the intentionally painful cuts to other critical programs are still being felt by states, kids, students, seniors, and other victims of sequestration -- and the pain they are feeling may soon get worse:

Backlash Brews Against Corporate Education Reform

Recent scandals in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. that revealed coordinated efforts by teachers and administrators to manipulate student test scores are shining an even brighter spotlight on the failure of standardized test-centric policies in the states. A backlash is brewing in many states as more and more parents and legislators alike start asking questions about corporate education "reform":

Conservatives vs. Conservatives on Medicaid

With more and more sessions drawing to a close, the latest count shows 15 states that have rejected expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, 20 that have agreed to comply with the law and expand coverage, and the rest still debating expansion. In many states -- including Florida and Ohio -- that debate is playing out in a contentious intramural fight among conservatives themselves. Conservative governors supporting expansion are running into opposition from ideologically opposed lawmakers in their own party, as the political debate over Medicaid increasingly appears to be taking place entirely on one side of the aisle:

Colorado Senate Approves Bipartisan Resolution Calling for Path to Citizenship

A large bipartisan majority of state senators in Colorado approved a resolution Wednesday calling on Congress to pass federal immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. The passage of the resolution, by an overwhelming margin of 33-2, comes after similar resolutions have been introduced in many states in recent weeks.

With Congress a Morass, States Continue to Look at Gun Violence and Immigration

This past week was saturated with crisis and tragedy following the events in Boston and Texas, but it also saw significant developments on two critical issues before the U.S. Senate that would likely have otherwise fully gripped the nation's attention. On guns, an already-weakened bipartisan compromise on universal background checks was blocked in the Senate by a minority of senators, ending for now the fight to pass any federal legislation in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. On immigration, the long-awaited full text of the so called "Gang of 8" immigration bill was released, drawing support from the White House, conditional praise from some advocates, and stoking opposition among anti-immigrant forces. With the ability of Congress to pass legislation on any major issue now perhaps even more in question, both issues also continued to play out on the state level this week as well:

More Positive Signs for Voting Rights Laws

After a year that started off with a wave of efforts to suppress the vote - many of which continue - more and more states are now looking at enacting significant reforms to modernize voter registration and protect and expand voting rights. Here's a roundup of recent developments:

Radical Right-Wing Tax Plans Run Into Trouble

Taxes are on the minds of many this week as April 15th approaches. They're also on the minds of many conservative governors -- in states such as Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Nebraska -- who have seen their radical tax proposals to further enrich corporations and the wealthy run into major resistance from voters, businesses, and even conservative lawmakers. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who this week withdrew his regressive plan that would have eliminated the state income tax while raising the sales tax, has seen his standing drop sharply in the polls. In the run up to Tax Day, increasing attention is being focused on how tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations increase burdens on the middle class.

Three Years After SB1070, A Dramatic Shift on Immigration in the States

Three years ago this month, Arizona's SB1070 was enacted, setting off a wave of copycat anti-immigrant state bills despite the increasingly dubious constitutionality of such laws and an increasing consensus about their destructive economic consequences for states that adopted them.