Election Day Registration Bills Advance Nationwide

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Increasing Democracy

by J. Mijin Cha

Election Day Registration Bills Advance Nationwide

Last week saw big advances in the movement to make registering to vote easier, as multiple chambers around the country approved Election Day Registration (EDR) bills:

  • On March 13rd, the Washington Senate approved SB 5561
  • On March 14th, the Hawaii House approved HB 1133
  • And on March 20th, the Iowa House approved HSB 204

Just yesterday, a North Carolina House Committee approved registration during the early voting period up to the Saturday before election day.  Our friends at Demos have an updated chart (current as of 3-19) on what EDR bills have been introduced around the country and how they are progressing in committee.

"Democracy in our county depends on the ability of all of our citizens to participate in free and open elections," said Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, vice-chairwoman of the committee on state government, in praising the Iowa bill's goals. 

With Election Day Registration documented to be one of the best ways to expand voter participation, these legislative advances are an encouraging sign that states across the country are making voter participation a priority.

More Resources

Valuing Families

by Adam Thompson

Big PhRMA and Marketing Prescription Drugs

Marketing experts will tell you that a doctor is one of the most trusted professionals when it comes to public credibility in advertising.  This holds true for their peers as well.

As reported in yesterday's New York Times, the darling strategy of PhRMA-marketing campaigns is hiring doctors as "consultants" to promote a drug to their peers, most often at expensive dinners or conferences hosted by drug companies.  Marketing sunshine laws in Minnesota and Vermont are shedding light on the extraordinary investments by drug companies to influence the prescribing habits of doctors and other medical professionals.

According to ABC News, 90% of the drug industry's $21 billion marketing budget is spent on doctors. PhRMA will tell you that hiring doctors is all in the interest of education, but former drug company sales reps told the Times that doctors were hired to influence their prescribing habits.  Critics, many of whom are doctors themselves, argue that these relationships adversely impact prescribing habits.  As a result, doctors often prescribe more, newer and pricier drugs over cheaper existing drugs or generics that are just as or more effective.  A former sales rep for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson said to the Times, "the vast majority of the time that we did any sort of paid relationship with a physician, they increased the use of our drug."

This is reason enough to get tougher on drug company marketing tactics and pricing. 

  • Following Minnesota and Vermont, legislators in Maine, West Virginia, California and the District of Columbia have enacted marketing sunshine, or disclosure laws.  But, these laws may need to be strengthened to help the public understand how doctors may be influenced by drug company payments.  Drug companies in Minnesota reported $57 million in payments from 1997 to 2005, but as the Journal of the American Medical Association recently found, the information is not easily accessible and loopholes allow companies to hide many payments as "trade secrets".  

  • As the Stateside Dispatch profiled recently, states are sending out their own experts, called academic detailers, to doctors' offices armed with unbiased and scientific clinical data about the effectiveness of new, old and generic drugs to counter sales pitches from PhRMA sales reps.

  • New Hampshire, became the first state in 2006 to enact prescription data confidentiality.  This law prohibits drug companies from using doctors' prescription information for commercial purposes.

If drug companes have this much money to push their products behind exam room doors, in addition to the fact that US drug prices are drastically higher than international averages, government at all levels can do more to regulate drug prices and the practices of the big PhRMAceuticals. 

An Expert Among Us
State Representative Sharon Treat, D-ME, and Executive Director of the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices, a member organization of state legislators that we encourage legislators to join, is a national leader and expert on state efforts to regulate the hugely-profitable and bullying drug industry.  She has compiled detailed analyses of state advertising and marketing legislation and has written model legislation for restricting and disclosing pharmaceutical marketing practices.

More Resources

Research Roundup

Research Roundup

Treating teenagers like adults in the criminal justice system, especially for youth charged with non-violent crimes, is a recipe for crippling young lives without increasing public safety.  This is the conclusion of a wide-ranging report by The Campaign for Youth Justice, which also highlights which states promote the best and worst practices in dealing with teenage offenders.

Want to make sure that tax dollars for businesses deliver good jobs?  There's a new handbook, The Ideal Deal: How Local Governments Can Get More for Their Economic Development Dollar, produced by Good Jobs First and the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which outlines step-by-step how to design economic development contracts to maximize returns to our communities.

While making sure fathers provide child support is a critical goal, CLASP argues in this issue brief that ex-prisoners often end up with accumulated child support debt that drives them back into the illegal economy, so government needs to focus on policies that encourage legitimate work matched with child support levels taking into account the financial means of ex-prisoners.

The Commonwealth Fund has done an analysis of Congressional health care reform proposals in recent years-- a useful blueprint for states looking for how federal policy may impact state health care plans.

More Resources


Election Day Registration Bills Advance Nationwide

Progressive States, Election Day Registration

Demos, Election Day Registration  

Demos, Election Day Registration legislation state legislatures - 2007 

EDR Bills: WA SB 5561, HI HB 1133, IA HSB 204

Big PhRMA and Marketing Prescription Drugs

Journal of the American Medical Association - Pharmaceutical Company Payments to Physicians: Early Experience with Disclosure Laws in Vermont and Minnesota

National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices - PhRMA Watch and Advertising and Marketing

Prescription Policy Choices' Best Practices

Progressive States Network - Beating the drug industry at its own game

Progressive States Network, Reining in Prescription Drug Costs 

NCSL - 2006 Prescription Drug State Legislation

Families USA - Prescription Drugs: The Industry and Drug Pricing

NCSL ”“ 2007 Prescription Drug State Legislation

Eye on the Right

Lobbyists in Florida have attacked a bill that would that would ask voters to approve an amendment to their constitution banning offshore oil drilling within 250 miles of the coast. However, the Associated Industries of Florida apparently doesn't think the voters should should make the call. Nevermind the fact that one accident could cripple tourism, the largest sector of the state's economy, for decades. This one just seems obvious. Let the voters decide, and don't gamble with your largest industry.

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Policy Director
Mijin Cha, Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Policy Specialist
John Bacino, Communications Associate


Please shoot me an email at if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms, or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

John Bacino
Editor, Stateside Dispatch


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