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States Revisit "Stand Your Ground" Laws in Wake of Trayvon Martin Case

On Friday afternoon, after a week of emotionally charged protest and national debate over a not guilty verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, President Obama expanded on his previous comments on the case in remarks to the White House press corps, outlining what he saw as some potential positive steps forward for the nation. Among those steps: asking states to revisit so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws.

PSN 2013 Tax Fairness Roundup: State Budgets Reflect Divergent Priorities: Austerity vs. Economic Sustainability

With 2013 legislative sessions largely adjourned in statehouses across the nation, this is the fourth in a series of issue-specific session roundups from Progressive States Network highlighting trends in different policy areas across the fifty states.

Earlier this year, the conservative theory of austerity was thoroughly debunked, with leading economic experts concluding that there is not “even a shred of evidence” that austerity promotes growth and that it instead worsens economic downturns. Despite the conclusions of empirical research, state policymakers have proposed widely divergent ideas about how best to collect and invest taxpayer dollars in 2013. Some states raised revenue to help stimulate a robust economy over the long term by investing in education and other infrastructure. Other states bought the conservative snake oil and refused to fund critical programs and services that contribute to a prosperous and sustainable economy. Below are some highlights and significant trends we saw in state tax policy over 2013 legislative sessions.

Sneak Attacks on Women's Health Stir a Movement Across State Lines

The last few years have seen a wave of proposed and enacted restrictions on abortion rights. 2013 began no differently, with the first three months of the new year seeing legislators in 14 states introduce bans, including 10 proposals that would ban nearly all abortions. But recently, from Texas to Ohio to North Carolina, the pace and intensity of these attacks has picked up even more, drawing local protests, national attention, and displays of solidarity from state lawmakers across the country.

PSN 2013 Immigration Roundup: Big State Wins for Immigrants in a Year Focused on Federal Reform

This year, the national call for progress on immigration energized state fights for more inclusive immigration policy and, notably, stemmed the flow of anti-immigrant bills that seemed omnipresent just two short years ago. While the long-awaited federal package for immigration reform makes its way through the legislative process, here’s a recap of the action legislators took in states across the country.

Victory for Voters as Supreme Court Rejects Arizona Law

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an Arizona law passed in 2004 requiring that voters prove their United States citizenship in order to register to vote. The Court ruled in a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Antonin Scalia that states could not impose additional requirements for registration beyond those included in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also called the "motor voter" law).

PSN 2013 Health Care Session Roundup: Getting Ready for the ACA, Fighting Back Against the War on Women

For the past four years, the focus of progressive state lawmakers has largely been on shaping, passing, implementing, and securing the very survival of the Affordable Care Act. But following last year’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the law, that focus shifted in legislative sessions this year to preparing to implement the law fully and effectively before critical elements of the legislation take effect in 2014 — a focus made more urgent by the Court’s decision to leave the question of Medicaid expansion up to the states. At the same time, and despite the political consequences, conservatives continued to ramp up their War on Women in statehouses across the nation, attacking abortion rights and making it more difficult for women to receive much needed care.

PSN 2013 Election Reform Roundup: Wins and Losses in the Fight for Democracy

Following last year’s devastating attacks on voters’ access to democracy, conservatives have held true to their mission to make voting harder in a number of states. Thankfully, in response to previous threats, progressive advocates and legislators came together this year to support a proactive, positive agenda for reform. As a result of coordinated campaigns, many states were successful in passing legislation that protects the right of eligible citizens to register and vote.

What State Legislators Need to Know About the ACA Before 2014

Progressive States Network is hosting a webinar this Monday, June 10th at 4pm ET on what lawmakers need to know about the Affordable Care Act before 2014. Learn about game-changing market reforms, how state legislative offices can assist constituents in enrolling in exchanges, and more.

Budget Debates Heat Up as Sessions Wind Down

As of this week, more than half of the fifty states had already seen their 2013 legislative sessions adjourn. In many of those that are still going, budget debates are front and center as lawmakers race to the finish line. In some states, issues that had previously been pushed to the backburner are back on the front one, in others, major provisions are being inserted into the budget at the midnight hour, and everywhere, final showdowns are shaping up as sessions wind down.

Protests Against Conservative Agenda Gain Steam in North Carolina

Echoing the protests that took place in state capitals in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere in 2011, the last few weeks have seen a drumbeat of resistance to the actions of a conservative legislature in a different region of the nation. North Carolina's General Assembly this spring has been the site of growing weekly rallies against the extreme agenda advanced by conservatives this session.