PORTLAND, Ore. (NNPA) - Rep. Chip Shields (D-Portland) this week
introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide oversight of how
state-chartered banks are spending money disbursed through the Troubled
Assets Relief Program (TARP).
The move comes at the same time another new bill would create a
statewide “stimulus czar” to oversee the influx of money expected from
President Barack Obama’s economic plan.
If passed, Shields’ House Bill 2784 would convene a bipartisan
group of Oregon state senators and representatives, as well as members
of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services and
representatives of the financial industry, to provide oversight and
evaluate the need for regulation of operations of financial
institutions licensed, certified or chartered in this state that
receive funds from the TARP program.
Ever since Steve Watson had his first job at age 16 picking
asparagus, he's paid his taxes. And he's always wanted to ensure the
government spends his money wisely.
So naturally, when the 53-year-old heard that President Barack
Obama pledged a new era of transparency with his 3-week-old $787
billion stimulus package, Watson was glad he could log online and check
how every dollar was spent.
“State leaders face real change, as promised by President Obama.
States will need to collect data from agencies, from contractors, from
subcontractors, that they have never collected before,” said Nathan
Newman, interim executive director of the Progressive States Network, a
research group based in New York whose members include many state
President Obama's pick for secretary of labor, Rep. Hilda Solis, could
help shape a new approach to immigration control that emphasizes the
robust enforcement of labor laws.
Where the Bush administration stepped up workplace immigration
enforcement, sweeping up migrant workers and not always going after the
employers who illegally hire them, the Obama administration is expected
to take a different tack.
Immigrant advocates hope that strengthening compliance with
workplace health and safety laws and wage and hour standards - which
Solis promised in her hearing before the labor committee in January -
will protect workers in general and could reduce the likelihood that
some employers will seek to profit by hiring undocumented workers.
Alex Aronson is hard to pin down for an interview. He's on a bus
when I finally reach him by phone, and he is returning from an
excursion to Oregon's state Capitol. "What are you up to?" I ask.
"Well," he says, "I'm covered in gold body paint and shiny gold
clothing." The only thing missing from his homage to the golden pioneer
perched atop Oregon's Capitol is an ax. Aronson explains that his was
confiscated when he went into the house chamber to watch the
swearing-in of the state legislators--among them, founder and president
of the Oregon-based Bus Project, Jefferson Smith.
News item #1: As of Nov. 30, 13 states had enacted 19 employment laws
related to immigrants since Jan. 1, 2008, according to a December
report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The
laws covered hiring unauthorized workers, employment verification,
unemployment benefits and so forth.
The states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland,
Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
and, of course, Mississippi.
LUDDEN: Nathan Newman(ph) is with the Progressive States Network which supports immigrant-friendly legislation. He points out that in 2006 a number of Congressional candidates who ran on a hard line anti-immigration platform lost. The same thing happened in the Republican presidential primaries. And Newman says states which have past immigration crackdowns have had mixed results. That may explain why for all the immigration bills considered by state legislators in recent years few have actually passed.
Mr. NEWMAN: There's been a message that this wasn't going to be the magic wedge issue that some political opportunists on the conservative side had hoped for. I think that meant that both the money and volunteer time to try to support new ballot initiatives just wasn't there in these states.
A handful of conservative states with a recent influx of immigrantshave drawn national attention for passing "punitive" immigration laws,but the reality is most state legislatures are quietly welcomingnewcomers, according to a new report released Thursday.
As families in Iowa struggle to make ends meet, they are justified in feeling threatened when they see what were once good jobs turned into low-wage, sweatshop labor.
In industries across the country, workers are not receiving the wages owed them under minimum-wage and overtime laws. Earlier this decade, a U.S. Department of Labor report found that 60 percent of U.S. nursing homes routinely violated overtime, minimum-wage or child-labor laws. Other studies have found similar levels of violations in the garment and restaurant industries.
In Iowa, the minimum-wage and overtime laws have some of the weakest enforcement provisions of any state in the country. Penalties usually amount to no more than telling employers to pay what they originally owed their workers. Because legal action is so expensive and so likely to produce meager returns, few employees can afford to pursue claims. Because civil fines are so low, the state doesn't collect enough for strong, ongoing enforcement.