Navigation

Legislative Session Roundups in Hawaii, Florida, and Texas

Legislative Session Roundups in Hawaii, Florida, and Texas

Thursday, July 30, 2009

PERMALINK: http://progressivestates.org/node/23332

Increasing-Democracy

By: Caroline Fan

Hawaii Session Roundup

A contentious atmosphere during the general session lingered into a special session as legislators overrode a record total 38 of 53 vetoed bills by Gov. Linda Lingle. Despite the budget shortfall of over $600 million (estimates differ) for 2010 and 2011, legislators were able to enact a number of highly progressive reforms including a majority signup bill, strengthening workers comp and family leave policies, requiring large parking lots to have dedicated electric vehicle spaces with charging stations,  and reviving basic universal health insurance for children.

Tax, budget and stimulus:  The state addressed its budget gap through over $800 million in budget cuts; using various government sources including non-general funds, penalties, enforcement and carryover balances; the one-time infusion of federal stimulus funds, and a progressive tax increase on high income earners.  

The main tax increase enacted applied to those earning more than $150,000 filing singly, $300,000 filing jointly, and $225,000 filing as head of household (HB1747). The legislature also raised taxes on hotel rooms from 7.25 percent to 9.25 percent (SB1111); those who are selling property over $2 million, and second homes and investment properties of any price (HB1741); and cigarette and tobacco sellers (HB1175 and HB895).  Gov. Lingle allowed a bill cutting back the state's high tech tax credit to become law without her signature -- which will save the state $120 to $150 million over the next two years. The Senate attempted to revive the Internet sales tax, but it didn't make it past the House. Of note, the Governor signed a bill that imposes a 5% pay cut and salary freezes for elected officials and top staff.

Stimulus funds were used for solar home heaters for low-income families, increased TANF funding (HB1264), and amended for greater access to unemployment insurance in line with ARRA requirements (SB 94).

Labor:  Overcoming repeated vetoes by the governor, the state legislature used overrides to enact a number of pro-labor bills this session:

  • Majority signup: HB952 (override) certifies entities as exclusive representatives without an election where no other representatives are certified as the exclusive bargaining representatives for employers with an annual gross revenue of $5 million or more.
  • HB1479 (override), referred to as the "Little Davis Bacon Act," requires the department of labor and industrial relations to include in certified payroll records a fringe benefit reporting form, on which contractors and subcontractors itemize the cost of fringe benefits paid to both union and non-union laborers who perform work for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings and public works. It allows for any certified form containing fringe benefit reporting requirements to be submitted in lieu of a form supplied by the department of labor and industrial relations.
  • HB1676 (override) requires that the collective bargaining agreement be submitted to the director of labor and industrial relations in order for the terms in the agreement to dictate the prevailing wages with regard to a project financed through the issuance of a special purpose revenue bond.
  • SB19 (override) requires a public works construction contract over $250,000 to prefer bidders who have an apprenticeship agreement registered with the department of labor and industrial relations.
  • Workers' comp: SB695 (override) requires the employer to continue medical services to an injured employee despite disputes over whether treatment should be continued, until the director of labor and industrial relations decides whether treatment should be continued.

Unfortunately, HB 643 was enacted, which authorizes the Contractors License Board to suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a contractor's license for employing a worker on a public work project who is ineligible under federal law to work in the United States.

Agriculture: HB 1471, which overcame the Governor's veto, establishes the Safe Food Certification pilot program to promote locally grown produce and facilitate purchasing agreements between Hawaii’s farmers and the visitor and hospitality industry.

Housing:  The state budget bill addresses the need for more affordable housing by providing $30 million for the Rental Housing Trust Fund and $20 million for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund to assist in the development of low-income rental units and housing projects.HB 200 approved money for the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to tackle the repair and maintenance backlog.   SB1218 (override) allows the commissioner of financial institutions to regulate, license, examine, and enforce laws regulating mortgage loan originators.

Health care:   A number of health care reforms were enacted over the vetoes of the Governor:

  • Universal health care: HB 989 (override) revives the Keiki Care pilot program, which the Governor terminated last year, to provide basic health insurance for children who are uninsured and do not qualify for other programs through 2012.   HB1504 (override) creates the Hawaii Health Authority to develop a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care in Hawaii.  SB423 (override) helps hospitals provide care to low-income patients by appropriated $12.3 million in order to qualify for $12.5 million of federal Medicaid allowance funds.  
  • Community HospitalsSB1673 restructures the statewide community hospital system and authorizes the transition of the system under certain circumstances.
  • Licensing: SB415 (override) requires the department of health to license home care agencies.
  • Sexuality education: SB777 (override) requires state-funded sexuality health education programs to provide comprehensive medically accurate sexuality education.
  • To address the critical shortage of doctors, the legislature passed two bills over the Governor's veto: HB343 develops a statewide rural primary health care training program and support for University of Hawaii family medicine residency program.  SB43 creates a special fund at the U of H School of Medicine and assesses a $60 fee for renewing physician and osteopathic physician licenses, with proceeds to be deposited to the special fund.

Education: SB1665 (override) enhances the workforce development capacity of Hawaii's community colleges by establishing a skilled worker and business development center to provide workforce training to meet the rapidly evolving needs of both employers and employees. Appropriates Reed Act funds.

Criminal justice:  SB539 (override) renames the intake service center division of DPS to the reentry intake service centers and directs the reentry intake service centers to work closely and collaborate with the furlough programs in each county, the Hawaii paroling authority, and the correction program services division to ensure that the reentry needs of inmates are being met. It also establishes an oversight committee and reentry commission.

  • HB 358 (override) authorizes the placement of certain offenders in secure drug treatment facilities.
  • HCR 27 was adopted to inquire into the disproportionate numbers of native Hawaiians in the criminal justice system. 

Energy and Environment:   In a significant move, the legislature enacted HB1464 which will require establishment of energy-efficient portfolio standards; implementing those standards in public buildings; electricity-cost disclosure in the sale of residential property; establishment of a “Building Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Program”; the use of renewable energy by electric utilities; and more assistance by government agencies in the development and permitting of renewable energy projects. Other key bills enacted include:

  • SB 1202 requires large parking facilities to provide dedicated parking spaces (complete with electric charging units) for electric vehicles.
  • HB 1270 allows the public utility commission to set a fair rate for renewable energy sources without being limited to the comparable cost of burning fossil fuels.
  • SB 266 creates a climate change taskforce to discuss alleviating and minimizing the consequences of climate change.

Missed opportunities:  A number of key bills just barely missed passage this session:

  • The Governor sustained a veto against a food safety bill, HB 1271, which would have increased the tax on oil barrels by a dollar to fund energy and food sustainability initiatives. The average cost to consumers would have been 2 cents on a gallon of gasoline.
  • SB 619, would have allowed incarcerated individuals to vote by absentee ballot, and was passed by the Senate and a House Committee but was not ultimately enacted.
  • Civil unions: HB 444 would have provided same-sex couples with the same rights and responsibilities that are provided to married couples. It was one of the  came
  • very close to being enacted and proved to be one of the most talked about issues this session.
  • The Legislature also did not override a veto of a campaign finance bill that good-government groups argued would result in less transparency and more special interest money.

More Resources

Tell a Friend About This

Increasing-Democracy

By: Julie Schwartz

Florida Session Roundup

Florida’s 2009 legislative session was dominated by extreme fiscal stress and a leadership crisis.  While May 1st marked the official end of the 60-day legislative session, lawmakers had to extend the regular session by a week  in order to reach an agreement on the budget.  

Budget: Despite an earlier pledge against raising taxes, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist recognized the extremity of the fiscal crisis and signed Florida's $66.5 billion budget, including more than $5.6 billion in stimulus dollars — including money for one-time expenditures, like road construction -- and  approximately $2 billion in higher taxes and fees.  Much of the new revenue comes from a $1-a-pack cigarette tax and higher fees on driving licenses and motor vehicle tags.   

Stimulus:  Unlike some other  Governors,  Gov. Crist expressed no reluctance to accept stimulus money.   However, he faced significant opposition from the state's Republican-controlled legislature. For example, while Gov. Crist supported accepting the unemployment insurance funds provided by the Recovery Act, the House and Senate failed to pass S.B.516 and H.B. 1333, the proposed unemployment insurance modernization legislation.  As a result, Florida will reject approximately $443 million that could have been added to the state's diminishing unemployment insurance trust fund, although the legislature did agree to SB 810, among other provisions, which creates temporary state extended benefits and will extend unemployment benefits for 250,000 Floridians. 

On July 15th,  Gov. Crist received an update from his stimulus working group. According to the group:

  • Florida’s share of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act is $15.3 billion.  $11 billion will flow through the state budget, $3.1 billion will go through state agencies, and $2.1 billion will be spent directly by cities and counties.  
  • Transportation:  Florida ranks 2nd out of 16 states reviewed by the feds for the percentage of highway dollars from the stimulus package that have been allocated.
  • Education:  26,000 school jobs in Florida were saved due to stimulus spending.  According to Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith, over 18,000 of those jobs were teaching positions, including 6,200 special education teachers and another 2,700 K-12 jobs were created.     

Election: Civic engagement groups spent much of the session trying to fight off attacks on voting rights and the state campaign finance reform system:

Health Care:  A number of reforms made moderate gains in access to health care in the state:

  • S.B. 918  makes many changes to the Florida KidCare Program aimed at providing better access to those children and families in need. One such change was the deletion of a provision that a child be previously uninsured in order to be eligible for the program. The bill will also remove certain administrative barriers to the program, such as decreasing the period of time that a child remains dropped from the program for nonpayment and reducing the waiting period for families that have voluntarily cancelled their employer-sponsored or private health insurance.  H.B. 807 requires Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to study the effectiveness of the outreach efforts of the Florida Kidcare program for uninsured children.
  • H.B. 675 the “Alonzo Mourning Access to Care Act,” places certain requirements on companies that offer Medicare supplement policies in Florida. It provides that insurers that offer Medicare supplement coverage must make coverage available on a guaranteed-issue basis to an individual younger than age 65 who is eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or end-stage renal disease. 
  • H.B. 1269 establishes a breast cancer early detection and treatment referral program within the Department of Health to promote referrals for the screening, detection, and treatment of breast cancer among unserved or underserved populations.
  • S.B. 162 creates the "Florida Electronic Health Records Exchange Act."  The Agency for Health Care Administration is required to develop  a universal patient authorization form to document patient authorization for the use or release of an identifiable health record.  

Labor:   HJR 1013  which would have amended the constitution to oppose majority sign-up in union elections and to maintain the secret ballot for elections for public office or ballot measures, only passed the House.  The legislation was introduced in opposition to the federal Employee Free Choice Act legislation.

Education:  Florida students suffered both setbacks and a few minor gains this session:

  • S.B. 762 allows individual Florida universities to raise tuition by up to 15% until the national average is reached, based on the needs of the university. To ensure the affordability of higher education, at least 30 percent of the differential tuition must be used for need-based student financial aid, or universities can waive the differential for financially needy students.  It is estimated that the total cost of attending a Florida university will increase an average of $400. 
  • S.B. 2682 implements some of the recommendations of the Florida College System Task Force and the State College Pilot Project. The biggest change requires Community College graduates to get priority over out-of-state applicants for transfer into an institution in the Florida College System for upper division programs.
  • H.B. 281  allows purchasers of prepaid tuition to be refunded the unused portion of the contract if the refund is used to purchase more prepaid scholarships.
  • H.B. 7121 establishes Florida Distance Learning Consortium to facilitate collaboration among public postsecondary educational institutions in the use of distance learning
  • There were attempts by Florida legislators to enact measures to increase educational standards and promote teacher quality in the state. H.B. 1293 would have, among other provisions, boost the requirements for math and science courses needed for graduation and added new levels of high school diplomas, such as college prep and career prep to ensure Florida’s students are prepared to enter the increasingly competitive global economic community.  The bill passed the House, but eventually died in the Senate.  SB 602  and HB 487, if enacted, would have required one teacher in every pre-K classroom to hold a bachelor's degree or higher in the field of early childhood education or development, by the 2013-14 school year.

Energy:  Much to the relief of environmentalist ,  H.B.1219  which was approved by the House, was not taken up by the Senate.   If enacted the bill would have lifted Florida's ban on off-shore drilling and given the governor and Cabinet authority to issue leases for drilling between 3 and 10.5 miles off the coast.  Lawmakers did enact H.B. 167 which enables the Florida Energy and Climate Commission (FECC) to develop and manage the Energy-efficient Appliance Rebate Program. The FECC estimates Florida will be eligible to receive at least $18 million in federal funds to implement the rebate program. The Florida Legislature also allocated $150,000 for Fiscal Year 2009-10 to the FECC for the purpose of administering the rebate program.

Broadband:  Lawmakers enacted S.B. 2626 which, among other things, authorizes the Florida Department of Management Services to engage in activities related to assessing the need for broadband Internet service in the state, planning for such service, and encouraging the statewide deployment of such service.  In a related note, Governor Crist vetoed H.B. 7093 which would have provided exemption from public records requirements for proprietary business information obtained from a telecommunications company or broadband company by the Department of Management Services.

Veteran Benefits:  Florida lawmakers enacted a handful of bills that benefit the states' veterans, including:

Miscelleneous:

  • S.B. 2276 provides a phase-in schedule whereby anyone arrested for specified felony offenses will be required to provide DNA samples to the Department of Law Enforcement.  The department is to develop and administer a statewide database.   According to Howard Simon, ACLU of Florida Executive Director, who opposed H.B. 2276, “[t]he government is going to expand Florida’s DNA database to include everyone arrested for a felony, even if they are innocent. This includes people for whom charges are never filed, for whom charges are dismissed or who are found not guilty."  
  • One of the most controversial pieces of legislation in Florida this year was S.B. 360, which makes sweeping changes in growth-management laws.  In a letter to Gov. Crist, Charles Pattison, president of the environmental group, 1000 Friends of Florida, argued the legislation would promote urban sprawl, cause traffic congestion and contribute to climate change.   A coalition of eight cities and counties led by the City of Weston filed a lawsuit July 8 against Gov. Charlie Crist and others, asking that S.B. 360 be declared unconstitutional. 
  • H.B. 903  removes the word “reasonable” from a provision in Florida’ Workers Compensation Act that was designed to allow attorneys representing injured workers to be paid a “reasonable fee” for securing benefits and instead places a cap on the fees an insurance company may have to pay to the injured workers attorney for wrongfully withholding benefits.  Many opponents of the legislation fear that the bill will prevent injured workers in Florid from finding an attorney willing to represent them in court. 
  • H.B. 483  adds protections for Securities investors.  The legislation gives additional power to the Office of Financial Regulation for prosecution of violations of the Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act.

More Resources

Tell a Friend About This

Increasing-Democracy

By: Christian Smith-Socaris

Texas Session Roundup

The Texas legislature only meets once every two years, and this year there was enough drama, both real and fabricated, to last until they reconvene in 2011.  The biggest story by the end of the session was the minority parties ability to kill voter ID legislation in the House by "chubbing" or running out the clock by meticulously debating non-controversial legislation.  The need to prevent the disenfranchising ID bill has the unfortunate consequence of killing much good legislation.  And the primary reason there was good legislation to pass in the House was the big intrigue from the beginning of the session - the election of a compromise speaker with minority party support, replacing long-time speaker and conservative stalwart Tom Craddick.

Fabricated drama came primarily came from the governor, who spent much of the session ginning up anti-government fervor with attempts to reject recovery act funding, complete with pandering statements about seceding from the Union.  Like other GOP presidential hopefuls, he blustered about not wanting the money while lawmakers admitted that without the help the state's budget would have been a mess. The other item that the governor and conservatives used to distract the public was another push for voter ID supported by false, and often racist, claims of voter fraud.  The final big drama of the legislative session was the need to come back for two special sessions because the voter ID fight in the House had left some executive agencies without authorization to conduct business.  In the end essential legislation on the agencies and a few other matters were passed relatively quickly.

Budget and Stimulus:  The state is slated to receive over $16 billion over two years in recovery act funds, and passed a two-year budget of over $180 billion.  And while recovery act money has prevented draconian cuts in essential services such as education, and fueled rapid spending on transportation infrastructure, Governor Perry has used the stimulus as a political football, making a show of refusing hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment insurance benefits for the people of his state.  Lawmakers made concerted efforts to override the governor's decision, but were unable to get a bill to force the issue out of both houses.

Using the recovery funds, the state pass a balanced budget, while being unwilling to tap the state's rainy-day fund of approximately $9 billion despite the economic crisis.  At the same time, the fiscal gains from the reviled stimulus was also used to expand the franchise tax exemption to 40,000 additional small businesses with revenue of up to $1 million.  Unfortunately, the state's business tax revenue is falling already and a structural deficit threatens to force severe budget cuts in the next biennium.

Privatization:  Private toll roads legislation died even as the governor personally pushed it to the very end of the special session.  While Gov. Perry has aggressively pushed privatization, in roads and elsewhere, for many years, serious scandal and misuse of public money has gone hand in hand with this expansion and undercut support in the legislature.

Healthcare
: The big story on healthcare this session is what didn't happen - expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) to 80,000 more kids.  Texas remains the nation's leader in uninsured kids with a quarter of the state's children lacking health coverage and one in six of every uninsured child in the country lives in Texas.  The CHIP expansion got held up by the voter ID debate, but lawmakers were in strong support of the measure and tried mightily to get the governor to include the legislation in the special session to no avail.  HB 3485, another important healthcare bill was vetoed by the governor.  The bill would have allowed hospitals in counties of 50,000 or less to employ physicians, helping to reverse the shortage of doctors in rural areas of the state.  On a more positive note, a smoking ban for all workplaces gained some traction in the legislature, garnering commitments of support from a majority of senators as well as the endorsement of the lieutenant governor.  And, importantly, none of the anti-choice bills put forth by conservatives were successful, including an ultrasound bill that was pushed strongly.

Primary and Secondary Education:  Teachers will see a one-time pay raise of $800 under the spending plan for recovery act dollars, and school districts are getting another $2 billion in funding.  This increase is not, however, sufficient to cover shortfalls built up after several years without an increase.  The legislature also passed a revision of the student accountability standards that retains the mandate that students pass standardized tests to advance to the next grade, but reduces the emphasis on the much-derided Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, as well as some other requirements such as the number of mandatory courses.

The Senate rejected the nomination of Don McLeroy to continue as State Board of Elections chairman due to his views on creationism and his lack of leadership.  This was a significant victory for science in a state where biology education is under attack.  Unfortunately, the governor is now likely to appoint someone as bad or worse to the post.  In other areas the new budget explicitly bars public funding for private school vouchers; school districts are now required to inform parents whether sex education classes provide any medically accurate information on responsible pregnancy and disease prevention.  Given that a large majority of parents want their children to receive comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, this bill should help achieve that goal in the long run.  Sadly, HB 130, a bill that would have made high quality, full day prekindergarten programs available to tens of thousands of eligible children, was vetoed despite strong bipartisan support. 

Higher Education: Texas is currently a lagger in its number of tier one research universities.  Newly passed legislation creates funding pools and incentives for emerging research universities to advance to nationally recognized tier one schools.  The guaranteed admission that the top 10 percent of state high school graduates to state colleges is being scaled back with colleges now required to give only three quarters of students based automatic admission.  The law will primarily affect Univ. of Texas' main campus, which projects that 86 percent of its fall 2009 freshman class will be admitted automatically because they were in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

Energy and Environment:  There was an unprecedented flurry of activity and bipartisan support around renewable energy legislation in this session.  Over 50 bills dealing with such matters were introduced and a couple bills, one on solar subsidies and one enhancing the renewable portfolio standard were viable until the very end of the session.  Were it not for the voter ID debate it is likely one or both of these bills would have passed.  This level of support is primarily the result of the state's current dominance in wind power and the positive impact that is having on the economy.  Yet, in spite of the setbacks, several good pieces of energy legislation did pass:

  • HB1937 allows local taxing authorities to offer financing for renewable energy installations with payment to be made through an add-on to the owner’s property taxes.
  • HB 1935, a workforce training bill, creates a green jobs training and development program that includes funding through a grant program.
  • HB 432 promotes low emissions and plug-in hybrid vehicles for fleets of major State Agencies.

Criminal Justice:  Generally Texas has been moving in a more progressive direction on criminal justice policies in the past few year, that trend continued at a measured pace this session.

  • Death Penalty: A statewide capital defense office is being created, here, in the capital of capital punishment.  This long-overdue reform will help resolve the egregious instances of incompetent counsel that have plagued capital defendants in the state for years.  Dedicated capital defenders are essential to ensuring basic fairness for those facing a possible death sentence and defendants in Texas will clearly benefit from this change.
  • Human Trafficking: The victims of human traffickers now are able to sue and seek punitive damages from the traffickers and the organizations involved.  Additionally, a task force was established to come up with policies for preventing and prosecuting human trafficking.
  • Guns: Both of the gun lobby's "right to carry" bills failed to pass.  The most notorious would require colleges to allow concealed handguns on campus; the other would have required that employers allow workers to store guns in their parked vehicles outside of work.

Voter ID:  The session started and ended with pitched battles over voter ID.  To begin the session the Senate voted to exempt voter ID from its rule that requires a 2/3rds vote to end debate.  Having unleashed the nuclear option, a photo ID bill quickly passed that chamber.  However, prospects were not clear in the closely divided House even though the bill had passed that chamber in recent sessions.  The committee chairman in charge spent much of the session trying to craft a compromise bill that Democrats would support.  In the end that failed and a bill requiring photo ID or two non-photo ID to vote was sent to the floor late in the session.  That is when the chubbing began, with minority party members debating every bill for the full ten minutes to wind down the clock.   In the end voter ID didn't come up for a vote.  But the insistence of the majority leadership of pressing on with the bill meant that perhaps hundreds of worthy bills didn't get a vote.  Hopefully they will get the message that the right to vote is fundamental to our freedom and prosperity and committed advocates within and outside the legislature will continue to fight to preserve it.  On another note, there was a solid election integrity bill passed into law that institutes common sense procedures for handling and testing electronic voting machines.

More Resources

Tell a Friend About This

Research Roundup

Doctors Speak Out for Health Reform - "Health Care Reform: 450,000 Doctors Can't be Wrong" - The American Academy of Family Physicians and Herndon Alliance have produced a video featuring family doctors speaking out for reform. The doctors’ voice for health care reform is an important one for the public to hear. In this video, doctors discuss the challenges they face in providing quality of care imposed by the status quo.  Doctors affirm that the reform being discussed is in the best interest of America's families and physicians: that it will help provide for quality care at affordable costs.

“I spend 40 percent of my time away from my patients doing paperwork and getting prior authorizations,” said Jim King, MD, a family physician in Selmer, Tenn. “We need to start taking the barriers that are between me and my patients away.”

 

Visit "Health Health Care Now" to learn more about and work with this campaign of more than 450,000 doctors advocating Congress to act on bold, comprehensive health reform - including a call-in effort to your congressperson - Heal Health Care Now.

New reports from Families USA on the health care reform bills moving through Congress:

Reports on the recovery plan and the fiscal crisis in the states:

Show Us the Stimulus: An Evaluation of State Government Recovery Act Websites - This Good Jobs First report, including Summary Scores and Rankings for each state, examines the quality and quantity of disclosure by official state websites on the many ways ARRA funding is flowing through state governments to communities, organizations and individuals.  Six states (MD, CO, WA, WV, NY and PA) scored 50 or better for their main ARRA site while the top states in reporting highway spending were MD, WA, CO and NE.

  • The Landscape of Recession: Unemployment and Safety Net Services Across Urban and Suburban America - In examining the impact of the current recession on the cities and suburbs of the country’s major metro areas, this Brookings Institution report reveals that, more so than the last recession, suburbs—particularly newer, lower-density exurbs—are feeling the negative effects of this downturn alongside cities.
  • New Fiscal Year Brings No Relief From Unprecedented State Budget Problems -  With an unusually high number of states still struggling to adopt budgets for fiscal year 2010, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities state have struggled to address shortfalls of $163 billion (24% of state budgets) and at least 33 states anticipate deficits for the 2011 fiscal year of $51 billion or 13 percent of budgets.  The report highlights individual state budget gaps and the mid-year gaps some now face.

Two new reports on the minimum wage:

  • Minimum wage workers: better educated, worse compensated - This Economic Policy Institute snapshot highlights how the inflation-adjusted value of the federal minimum wage has declined  substantially in the last thirty years, even as the percentage of minimum wage workers with a high school education has increased from 57.5% to 71.9%
  • Restoring the Minimum Wage for America's Tipped Workers - Even as many low-wage workers saw an increase in the federal minium wage this month, tipped workers didn't see the full increase, as outlined in this report by the National Employment Law Project.   The report outlines needed reforms including raising the tipped worker minimum wage, protecting such workers against "tip stealing" and protect higher minimum wages for tipped workers in the states that provide higher wages for tipped workers.

Health Care Premiums Run Amok: The Cost of Doing Nothing About the Health Care Crisis - Health care costs are expected to grow 71 percent over the next decade, finds the Center for American Progress in this study, which will in turn drive premium increases for health insurance, unless significant reform of our health care system is undertaken.

The Transportation Prescription: Bold New Ideas for Healthy, Equitable Transportation Reform in America -  Looking at the intersection of transportation, health and equity, this report by PolicyLink and the Prevention Institute argues that encouraging and funding healthy and environmentally responsible transportation options like buses, light rail, subways, biking, and walking in low-income communities and communities of color can expand health care access and lower health disparities.

Reshaping the Advocacy Direction on Poverty Reduction: Bridging Individual and Community Strategies - This study by the Child and Family Policy Center and the Northwest Area Foundation argues for state level policies combining enhancing job skills for low-income individuals with promoting economic development and revitalizing poor neighborhoods as the key to addressing poverty.

New Americans in the Buckeye State - The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research which shows that Ohio's immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are an integral part of the state's economy and tax base.  With 4% of the state's population, the purchasing power of Ohio's Asians totaled $7.1 billion and Latino buying power totaled $6.1 billion in 2008, while Asian-owned businesses in the state generated sales and receipts worth more than $5.1 billion annually and Latino-owned businesses generated $1.3 billion in 2002.

Defending Human Rights: Abortion Providers Facing Threats, Restrictions, and Harassment - This first installment of a video series by the Center for Reproductive Rights  documents the real stories of abortion providers, clinic employees and patients who have faced harassment and blockades at clinics, even as the threat of murder hangs over their heads in the wage of the killing of Dr George Tiller in Kansas.

Losing by Degrees: Rising Costs and Public Disinvestment in Higher Education - This Economic Opportunity Institute report highlights how cuts in state funding and corresponding tuition hikes in Washington State are likely to drive down applications from low-income and minority students despite increased financial aid; and middle-income graduates are taking on more debt to pay for school- harming the long-term economic competitiveness of the state.


Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org

Masthead

The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Executive Director
Caroline Fan, Immigration and Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Julie Schwartz, Broadband and Economic Development Policy Specialist
Christian Smith-Socaris, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Adam Thompson, Health Care Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Executive Administrator and Outreach Associate
Austin Guest, Communications Specialist
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Coordinator

Please shoot us an email at dispatch@progressivestates.org if you have feedback, tips, suggestions, criticisms, or nominations for any of our sidebar features.

Progressive States Network - 101 Avenue of the Americas - 3rd Floor - New York, NY 10013
To unsubscribe: Click here