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Paid Sick Days Legislation has Overwhelming Support, Polling Shows

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Paid Sick Days Legislation has Overwhelming Support, Polling Shows

Balancing Work & Family

86% of the public favors legislation that would mandate seven paid sick days per year for all employers, according to study sponsored by the Public Welfare Fund in collaboration with the National Partnership of Women and Families.  Even when the public is asked about mandating nine paid sick days per year, 71% still support the proposed legislation.  The study found that paid sick days legislation enjoys deep public support across all demographics and political leanings, including large majorities of Republicans as well as Democrats.

New Jersey Voters Reject Privatization

Tax & Budget Reform

On June 15, voters in Trenton, New Jersey, soundly rejected a proposal to sell a majority of Trenton Water Works' infrastructure, including pipes, water towers, and tanks, to a private company. For several years, Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer argued that water privatization would generate immediate revenue for the cash-strapped city and end its obligation to maintain aging infrastructure in surrounding townships.  Community activists, unions, and the Stop the Sale campaign, successfully challenged the Mayor's plan. In the weeks leading up to the vote, polling indicated that 95 percent of city residents disapproved of the initiative.

Landline Phone Deregulation to Deny Protection to Illinois Consumers

Consumer Protection & Corporate Accountability

Illinois has enacted a law that will take away a necessary protection for landline phone consumers. SB 107 strips away the authority of the Illinois Commerce Commission to ensure that landline phone users ”“ residing in 78 percent of households in the state - receive reliable and affordable phone service.  Under the law, Internet-based phone services would be completely unregulated.  The ICC has been instrumental in promoting universal access to telecommunications services in the state, as mandated by the state’s Telecommunications Act that was last updated in 2001. It required a service provider to offer high-speed Internet access to at least 90 percent of homes outside of the Chicago Metropolitan area. This newly enacted law eliminates such requirement and the ability of Illinoisans to access affordable High-Speed Internet services. Consequently, the law threatens to reduce investment in broadband that could make the state more competitive in the global market.

New Health Insurance Rules Hailed as Patient's Bill of Rights

Health Care for All
Marking the 90 day anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama used the occasion to announce the implementation of a Patient’s Bill of Rights. After meeting privately with health insurance CEOs and state insurance commissioners, the White House sent a signal to insurers and to the public that the President intends to monitor how the insurance industry responds to the law’s implementation. In warning industry executives to refrain from using the law as an opportunity to boost unjustifiable rate increases, the Administration unveiled new regulations that will govern how new consumer protection provisions are implemented.
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Paid Sick Days Legislation has Overwhelming Support, Polling Shows

Balancing Work & Family   * Tim Judson

86% of the public favors legislation that would mandate seven paid sick days per year for all employers, according to study sponsored by the Public Welfare Fund in collaboration with the National Partnership of Women and Families (full results here).  Even when the public is asked about mandating nine paid sick days per year, 71% still support the proposed legislation.  The study found that paid sick days legislation enjoys deep public support across all demographics and political leanings, including large majorities of Republicans as well as Democrats.

In response to the statement, “Paid sick days is a basic worker right, just like being paid a decent wage,” not only did 75% of public agree, but on a scale of 1 to 10 signifying agreement, 43% rated the statement a 10 and 64% agreed strongly (rating it an 8 or higher). 

The issue strongly colors how voters view elected officials, with 47% saying they would favor a candidate who supports paid sick days, while only 14% said they would not support that candidate. 

Job Losses Suffered Due to Need for Sick Days Drives Opinion:  Driving the poll numbers is the reality that too many workers have lost a job or been threatened with losing a job because they needed to take a sick day for themselves or to care for a family member.  One out of every six people (16%) has lost their job for missing work due to illness, and one in four (25%) has been told they would either lose their job or be suspended or punished.  And while 64% of workers are “eligible” for paid sick leave, the real picture is much more dire:

  • Less than half of the workforce (47%) can take a paid sick day to care for a sick child or family member, meaning most parents either have to risk their job to care for their children or send them to school sick.
  • Most workers (58%) whose employers offer only generic “paid time off” get a total of 10 days or less per year to cover vacation, personal, and sick leave.
  • 55% of people without paid sick days have had to go to work sick, compared to 37% of workers who can take a paid sick day.
  • 24% of those without paid sick days have had to send a sick child to school because they couldn't get the day off, while only 14% of those with paid sick days had to do so.

Public Does Not Believe Paid Sick Days Hurts Business Bottom Line: While paid sick days legislation has faced vigorous opposition from some in the business community, in most of the 23 states where it has been introduced, the public overwhelmingly rejects the typical arguments that paid sick days will harm jobs or individual businesses. The research indicates that their messages are not persuasive to voters:

  • 54% of those polled find "very convincing" the argument that "Requiring paid sick days doesn't hurt employers' bottom line" because paid sick days increases worker productivity.
  • By contrast, only 26% of those polled found the opposition argument "very convincing" that "Given the economic downturn we are now in, businesses can't afford to add new benefits like paid sick leave."

In fact, while almost all of the arguments in favor of paid sick days were viewed by majorities as "very convincing," no arguments by opponents were considered "very convincing" and only four of seven opposing arguments were seen as even "somewhat convincing" by more than half of those surveyed.

Reinforcing the polling numbers is the reality that where paid sick days have actually been implemented, such as the City of San Francisco, even original opponents of the policy, are now applauding its success.  In a recent Business Week article, the such as the Golden Gate Restaurant Association stated that paid sick days has been “the best public policy for the least cost" since the policy was enacted.

New Jersey Voters Reject Privatization

Tax & Budget Reform   * Altaf Rahamatulla

On June 15, voters in Trenton, New Jersey, soundly rejected a proposal to sell a majority of Trenton Water Works' infrastructure, including pipes, water towers, and tanks, to a private company.  For several years, Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer argued that water privatization would generate immediate revenue for the cash-strapped city and end its obligation to maintain aging infrastructure in surrounding townships.  Community activists, unions, and the Stop the Sale campaign, successfully challenged the Mayor's plan.  In the weeks leading up to the vote, polling indicated that 95 percent of city residents disapproved of the initiative.

Opponents of the sale found that selling the city's "most valuable asset" to a private corporation would have resulted in an approximate loss of $25 million annually, a cumulative decline of $400 million in revenue over the next 20 years, an inevitable increase in local taxes, and higher water rates.  

History of Consumer Losses in Other Cities: Though water privatization is not as common as other contracted services, there are several problems associated with the effort.  For example, following a $38 million fine for pollution resulting from inadequate maintenance of the city's sewer and water systems, the Atlanta City Council signed a 20-year, $428 million contract with the private firm, United Water. The deal led to massive layoffs, a 12 percent rise in sewer bill rates, incidence of slow repairs, and substantial revenue loss due to poor water metering.  The City Council voted to rescind the contract in 2002, a move that saved Atlanta millions of dollars per year.

NJ Gov. Christie Pushing Privatization: Even in light of overwhelming public opposition to privatization and the significant pitfalls of these actions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie established a privatization panel by executive order in early April, seeking to identify $50 million in savings.  As part of this initiative, the Governor has proposed privatizing functions of the New Jersey Network (NJN), the only non-partisan public television and radio news source that exclusively covers the state. Not only would privatization threaten news coverage in the state, but it would also risk the loss of state assets, such as broadcast licenses, towers, studios, and media equipment.

Several organizations are working diligently to protect the state's assets and resist privatization, including the Communication Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO, and Free Press.  Progressive lawmakers are intent on restoring funding to the network and pushing back against the effort to privatize. Asm. John Wisniewskihas introduced A 2949, which establishes the New Jersey Public Media Corporation, allowing NJN to operate as a state agency with more autonomy in the areas of hiring, procurement of equipment, leasing of assets, and labor relations.  As Progressive States Network has previously detailed, legislative action to limit privatization is necessary to safeguard against the loss of accountability and public revenue that these misguided schemes often produce.

Landline Phone Deregulation to Deny Protection to Illinois Consumers

Consumer Protection & Corporate Accountability *   Fabiola CarriÓn

Illinois has enacted a law that will take away a necessary protection for landline phone consumers. SB 107 strips away the authority of the Illinois Commerce Commission to ensure that landline phone users — residing in 78 percent of households in the state - receive reliable and affordable phone service.

Under the law, Internet-based phone services would be completely unregulated.  The ICC has been instrumental in promoting universal access to telecommunications services in the state, as mandated by the state’s Telecommunications Act that was last updated in 2001. It required a service provider to offer high-speed Internet access to at least 90 percent of homes outside of the Chicago Metropolitan area. This newly enacted law eliminates such requirement and the ability of Illinoisans to access affordable High-Speed Internet services. Consequently, the law threatens to reduce investment in broadband that could make the state more competitive in the global market.

Supporters of the law say that it will create competition and profits that will in turn translate into the creation of new jobs and services. However, a review of the bill reveals that employment generation is nowhere in its contents. Labor representatives in other states have confirmed that deregulation of telephony has driven down employment in the industry.

Moreover, a decrease in oversight is likely to result in higher costs for phone usage.  Even supporters have acknowledged that prices for services could increase. Quality will also be affected by the law. Instead of requiring repair of landline service within 24 hours, the waiting window will be extended to 30 hours. Further, consumers will be unable to lawfully demand service quality standards from telecommunications companies.

Other Deregulation Attempts Blocked in Colorado and Wisconsin:  A similar bill in Colorado, which was thankfully vetoed by the Governor, threatened to deregulate basic telephone service and negatively affect pricing and service quality. HB 1281 would have removed all authority from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to regulate phone services. The bill would have also stripped away price and service-quality guarantees overseen by the Colorado PUC. In Wisconsin, SB 469 was introduced to also deregulate landline telephone business and leave residents, especially from rural areas, without adequate service.  Consumer groups in Wisconsin have also voiced their concern that less regulation could lead to less investments in broadband infrastructure.

Massive Rate Hikes in California Following Deregulation: After abandoning oversight of the telecommunications, California consumers experienced hikes ranging from 50 to 276 percent in the following features: select custom calling services, local directory assistance, fees for returned checks, local toll rates, fees for having an unlisted numbers, and fees for late payments.  And the promise to a competitive playing field that would create jobs and increase customer choices has not occurred.

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New Health Insurance Rules Hailed as Patient's Bill of Rights

Health Care for All   * Enzo Pastore

Marking the 90 day anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama used the occasion to announce the implementation of a Patient’s Bill of Rights. After meeting privately with health insurance CEOs and state insurance commissioners, the White House sent a signal to insurers and to the public that the President intends to monitor how the insurance industry responds to the law’s implementation. In warning industry executives to refrain from using the law as an opportunity to boost unjustifiable rate increases, the Administration unveiled new regulations that will govern how new consumer protection provisions are implemented.

The Patient’s Bill of Rights rules are designed to clamp down on some of the most notorious practices of the insurance industry. After September 23rd,

  • Insurers are prohibited from denying coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions.
  • Certain annual and all lifetime limits on benefits would be prohibited.
  • Insurers would no longer be allowed to drop coverage when policy holders get sick.

The rules also ensure the ability choose a primary care doctor or pediatrician, lift the requirement of needing a referral to see an OB-GYN and dismiss the need for prior approval if out of network emergency care is needed.

While the new law does not grant the federal government authority to regulate premiums, Obama pointed to states such as Maine, Pennsylvania and New York that are investigating sudden spikes in health insurance rates. Pennsylvania is investigating the state's nine largest health insurers over rate increases that Governor Ed Rendellcalls exorbitant. California officials have investigated WellPoint's proposed 39% increases that the insurer later called a mistake.

The 196 pages of new regulations were simultaneously released by the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services and come on the heels of findings from a Kaiser Foundation survey that premiums for the policies most recently bought by individuals have increased by an average of 20 percent.

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Research Roundup

Implementing Health Reform and Gains to the Public

  • Delivering on the Promise: A State Guide to the Next Steps for Health Care Reform - To help states design state programs to implement health reform, this U.S. PIRG guide has been written to assist state policymakers and advocates as they engage with the numerous issues and opportunities presented by the new federal law. The report includes recommendations on implement state health exchanges, lowering costs and improving quality, consumer protections and moving beyond federal minimum requirements to address additional issues such as encouraging group bargaining with providers and creating a state-level public option.
  • Medicaid Expansion in Health Reform Not Likely to “Crowd Out” Private Insurance -  Contrary to claims by some critics, this report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that the Medicaid expansion in the new health reform law will overwhelmingly provide coverage to people who otherwise would be uninsured, rather than shift people who already have private coverage to Medicaid.
  • Health Reform Helps Millions with Chronic Conditions -- This interactive map by the Center on American Progress shows state-by-state prevalence of asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, highlighting the group of Americans who will now be assured under the new federal health reform law that they cannot be denied coverage.

State of America’s Cities Survey on Jobs and the Economy -  Despite upticks in some measures of national economic recovery, new data from the National League of Cities indicates that declining fiscal and economic conditions persist in America’s cities.  More than six in 10 (63%) city officials report that poverty has worsened over the past year.  Even as employment drops in the private sector,  seven in ten city officials report having to make cuts to personnel (71%) and delaying or cancelling capital projects (68%).

Funding Career Pathways and Career Pathway Bridges: A Federal Policy Toolkit for States - As an alternative to education and training programs that often do little to help low-skilled, low-income adults and youth, many states, however, are adopting a career pathways approach—a combination of education and training services—to enable students to advance over time to higher levels of education and employment. This toolkit by the Center for Law and Social Policy helps states identify federal resources to design and develop career pathway approaches.

Clean Energy and Job Creation

  • China's Clean Energy Push: Evaluating the Implications for American Competitiveness - Based on site visits by Center for American Progress staff and U.S. Senate staff members, this fact sheet summarizes their evaluation of China’s gains in  clean energy economic development strategy and the need for the U.S. and American states to move aggressively to articulate our own clean energy strategy.  The report finds China is instituting long-term targets for clean energy market creation, investing in needed infrastructure, providing the financial and human capital to fuel industry growth and promoting innovation through expanded R&D investments.
  • The Impact of Coal on the West Virginia State Budget - The coal industry costs the state of West Virginia more than it provides in taxes due to taxpayer subsidy of road repair and other costs, according to a new report released today by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, Downstream Strategies and the Sierra Club.  The report responds to repeated arguments that the state depends on the coal industry for revenue, but instead argues that the state should conduct a comprehensive discussion on how to work toward a more sustainable economy.
  • A Pathway to Clean Jobs and Prosperity: State Policies For Helping Low-Income Working Families Build Clean Energy Careers -  This policy brief from The Working Poor Families Project examines how the "clean energy" economy has the potential to bring renewed prosperity to working families and create high quality, middle-skill jobs. It also outlines how targeted state government policies can increase opportunities for skill development, raise wages and ensure employer commitment to hiring low-income, disadvantaged workers.

Public Opinion and the Power of Money is Politics

  • Protecting Democracy From Unlimited Corporate Spending - This new polling by People For the American Way shows that Americans of every political stripe resoundingly reject the Roberts Court's dangerous decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened the floodgates of unlimited corporate cash in our elections. Three-quarters of voters said that they support a constitutional amendment to limit the amount that corporations can spend in elections. A similar supermajority are more inclined to support a candidate who has spoken out in favor of such an amendment.  The anti-corporate sentiment in the poll is underlined by the fact that 85% of voters say that corporations have too much influence over the political system today while 93% say that average citizens have too little influence.
  • The Efficacy of Self-Funding a Political Campaign - This report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics finds that self-funded candidates were elected at a much lower rate than candidates who raised money from other sources. Examining the 6,171 candidates who provided most of their own campaign contributions during the years 2000 through 2009 -- comprising 8 percent of all candidates --  the report found these candidates contributed $700 million dollars to their own campaigns, a significant portion of the $849.4 million total they raised.  Yet these candidates were elected 55 percent of the time--a significantly lower rate than the 87 percent success rate for the top-fundraising candidates who were not significantly self-financed.

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

Steps Forward

MO: Lawsuit challenges Missouri health care referendum

NY: New York hikes cigarette taxes

OH: Health-care repeal won't be on Ohio ballot, but farm-animal amendment remains on track


Steps Back

 US: States face new pinch as stimulus ebbs

Gulf states fear long-term fiscal effects of oil disaster

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Full Resources from this Dispatch

Paid Sick Days Legislation has Overwhelming Support, Polling Shows

Public Welfare Fund - Paid Sick Days: Attitudes and Experiences

New Jersey Voters Reject Privatization

AFL-CIO - Trenton Voters Say 'No' To Private to Water
Blue Jersey - Can NJN and NJ News Survive Twin Threats?
Communication Workers of America - NJN Budget,Privatization, Assets, News, and Alternative Structure
Progressive States Network - Critics Resisting New Jersey Governor's Push for Further Privatization
Progressive States Network - State House Reporting and Public Broadcasting on the Chopping Block
The Star Ledger - Trenton Water Works to Settle Divisive Issue
Stop the Sale - The Facts about the Water Deal

Landline Phone Deregulation to Deny Protection to Illinois Consumers

Citizens Utility Board - Talking points on rewriting Illinois’ Telecommunications Act
Chicago Tribune - New Illinois Law Relaxes Phone Regulations
Denver Post - Consumer Group Fears Bill May Spur Phone-Service Deregulation
Public News Service - AARP Blasts “Future of Phone Service” Deregulation Bill on Gov’s Desk
Utility Consumers' Action Network - California's Telco Deregulation Fiasco: Finding Alternative Phone Service in a Competitive Wasteland
Stop the Cap! - Wisconsin Deregulation Follies: AT&T Wants State to Make the Same Mistake All Over Again

New Health Insurance Rules Hailed as Patient's Bill of Rights

Health Care for America Now (HCAN) - Insurance Industry Inflates Rates While Falsely Blaming New Health Care Law
The White House - Background and Fact Sheet on the New Patient's Bill of Rights
Kaiser Family Foundation - Survey of People Who Purchase Their Own Insurance
New York Times - Obama Says Health Law Shouldn't Be Excuse to Raise Rates
Reuters - Obama warns health insurers not to hike rates
Federal Register - Interim Final Rules - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Preexisting Condition Exclusions, Lifetime and Annual Limits, Rescissions, and Patient Protections

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Executive Director
Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Fabiola Carrión, Broadband and Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Cristina Francisco-McGuire, Election Reform Policy Specialist
Tim Judson, Workers' Rights Policy Specialist
Enzo Pastore, Health Care Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigration Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax and Budget Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Outreach and Administrative Specialist
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager
Charles Monaco, Press and New Media Specialist

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

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