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State Gun Laws: Why They Matter

This week, President Obama traveled to Colorado to continue to press Congress to pass legislation on gun violence prevention. Next week, he is set to travel to Connecticut to do the same. Both are states that have witnessed horrific mass shootings over the past year, and both have since seen their legislatures act to pass bipartisan gun violence prevention bills. Connecticut's new law, passed and signed into law this week, strengthens a ban on assault weapons, limits magazine sizes, and creates the nation's first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry. Maryland also saw strong gun legislation pass their legislature this week, likely to be signed into law next week. All of this movement comes the same week that a new report was released showing that state gun laws likely do have a significant impact on levels of gun violence.

Parents Trigger Defeat of "Parent Trigger" Bills

For-profit charter school companies and their allies were hoping to push so-called "parent trigger" bills this year in over a dozen states -- bills which purport to "empower" parents of poor-performing schools by allowing them to vote to turn over their neighborhood schools to private companies. But in state after state, parents themselves have been pushing back.

Map of the Week: Upward Mobility, State-by-State

Map: Relative Upward Mobility, State-by-State

Of the 15 states whose residents have less upward mobility than the national average, 14 are so-called "right-to-work" states

One Million New Yorkers Set to Benefit from Paid Sick Leave

After years of debate and delay, paid sick days may soon become a reality for approximately one million New Yorkers who do not currently have access to them.

Chart of the Week: Deep Cuts to Higher Education

A chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing the drastic cuts to higher education over the past five years, state-by-state.

Another New Frontrunner in the Race to Restrict Reproductive Rights

Not to be outdone by Arkansas or any of the record number of other states advancing restrictions on abortion in recent years, North Dakota this week passed anti-choice legislation so draconian it is alienating even self-described "pro-life" lawmakers. Legislatures in states including Texas and Kansas also tried to keep up in the race to be the most backward state on reproductive rights this week, passing legislation that would shut down clinics and endanger women's health. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told lawmakers back in December that his goal was to "make abortion, at any stage, a thing of the past" in his state -- and it looks like lawmakers in other states have also set that as a key priority for legislative sessions this year:

The End of the "No New Taxes" Era?

Following a national debate over the Bush tax cuts that saw federal income tax rates go up on the wealthiest Americans this January, state legislatures continue to diverge sharply on their approach toward taxes in the first few months of 2013. Anti-tax conservatives in some states, looking to hold fast to a Norquistian vision of tax cuts for the wealthy, are running into opposition. Meanwhile, other states are moving in the opposite direction on revenue for the first time in years. Reports this week show this divergence continuing, even as new research revealed the inefficacy of personal income tax cuts as a strategy for economic growth:

The Costs of Refusing Medicaid Expansion

The pressure to fully implement the Affordable Care Act continued to build in state capitals this week as new reports showed the extent of the financial pain that both business and hospitals will feel if their states refuse to participate in the expansion of Medicaid (since the pain felt by the millions of people who would find themselves uninsured in those states was clearly not enough to win conservative support). In some states where previously opposed governors have already agreed to support expansion, conservative legislators are putting up a fight.

Amid Calls for Austerity, a Progressive and Pro-Growth Budget Vision

It's already March, but it felt a bit like Groundhog Day this week as U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled — for the third straight year — a conservative House budget proposal steeped in austerity, divorced from reality, and as unpopular as ever. But another budget proposal was released this week that actually does redirect the debate away from austerity and toward job creation.

Spotlight on: Minnesota and Colorado

In contrast to the conservative policies we've seen move in the states over the past two years, 2013 has so far seen at least a handful of states where progressive policies are being introduced and enacted across a range of issue areas. With legislative sessions about midway through, here's a roundup of the policies moving in a couple of those states -- Minnesota and Colorado: