OR: Universal Health Care Proposal Takes Shape

An Oregon State Senate commission has approved a framework to provide universal health care in the state and to control costs. State Senator Alan Bates, who co-chairs the Commission on Health Care Access and Affordability, called the agreement "the first step on a very, very long journey." While the Commission has broadly described the proposal, important details are unclear and questions remain.

One Eye on the Ballot

It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.

Onerous ID Laws Come Under Fire

Someday soon, we will all be experts in Ohio election law. The state's rules are under fire yet again. This time, a labor union and an advocacy organization for the homeless have teamed up to file suit regarding the state's new ID rules, which the plaintiffs say are being enforced differently county by county.

Voters in Oregon No Longer Fooled by Measure 37

Two years ago, Oregon voters were sold Measure 37 as a property rights issue. The measure, they were told, would close loopholes governments used to regulate homeowners and prevent unnecessary regulation. Backers downplayed other ramifications that are now coming to light, ramifications that other states will face if voters in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, or Washington approve initiatives modeled after Measure 37.

Free Health Care? Hospitals Look to Contain Long-Term Costs

A 2005 Families USA report estimated that uncompensated care, or bad debt and charity care, cost the US health care system $43 billion, resulting in an average increase of $922 in family health insurance policies through the year. A New York Times report discusses how some hospitals, in an effort to reduce their uncompensated care costs, are providing free primary care to uninsured patients with costly chronic conditions, recognizing that preventing emergencies that arise from untreated chronic conditions saves money and yields better health outcomes. Some patients involved have seen their costs reduced by half.

CA & WA: Breaking the Oil Addiction

By voting for Proposition 87, California voters have the opportunity to join a growing number of states in investing in clean energy. Backing the proposition are more than just environmental groups. Unions, civil rights organizations, health workers, and many others have joined in the fight for clean energy. The proposition would tax companies drilling for oil in California and set aside the money collected in a fund for loans, grants and subsides to promote alternative fuels and more energy-efficient vehicles. In addition to the environmental benefits, it will decrease dependence on foreign oil.

Workers Protest Anti-Family Scheduling Policies by Wal-Mart

Nearly 200 Wal-Mart workers spontaneously walked off the job in Florida this week in response to new rules that even two department managers leading the walkout deemed "inhuman." Not only were hours cut for all full-time workers -- from 40 hours a week down to 32 hours, but employees were required to be available for any shift around the clock.

State Legislative Models Brought to You by Progressive States and MomsRising

What would a policy that really values families look like?

Parents need real programs, not just rhetoric, that help them take care of their children or sick family members and supports the decent wages and health care all families need.

CA: Paid Sick Days on SF Ballot

In a ground breaking measure, San Francisco voters will be voting on a ballot proposal next month to guarantee workers paid sick days, up to nine days per year for full-time workers at large businesses with fewer days off for employees in small businesses or in part-time jobs. A broad coalition of unions, political leaders, and community organizations, led by the dynamic Young Workers United, put the issue on the ballot.

Court Denies Free Speech Right for Union Button

The Bill of Rights is a nice idea, but for most workers, it disappears when they punch the clock to begin work each day, even when the employer is the government.