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Unemployment Insurance Extension Filibuster Worsens Economic Pain

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Unemployment Insurance Extension Filibuster Worsens Economic Pain

Unemployment and Retraining
The country is still reeling from the effects of the downturn.  Though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has undoubtedly benefited the economy, there are still 15 million Americans out of work.  And right-wing obstruction in the US Senate has blocked the extension of extended federal unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who have exhausted state benefits.

Delaware Becomes Second State to End Prison-Based Gerrymandering

Clean and Fair Elections
Last week, Delaware became the second state in the country to pass legislation that would adjust US Census data to count incarcerated people as residents of their home addresses for redistricting purposes.

Green Economy Roundtable Law Enacted in Rhode Island

Smart Growth and Green Jobs
Rhode Island’s HB 7407 creates a Green Economy Roundtable to advise and assist the Governor and General Assembly in advancing Rhode Island’s green energy economy by developing a statewide action plan. 

Project to Get Veterans VA Benefits Expands Access, Saves State Medicaid Funds

Healthcare for All
Based on an innovative model from Washington state, states have the opportunity to help veterans improve their benefits and save millions of dollars for their own budgets.  Since 2003, Washington state has shaved $18 million from their Medicaid budget by qualifying over 5,600 veterans and their families for Veterans Affairs or Defense Department coverage. 

Bills on Single-Payer and Health Reform Implementation Move Forward in California

Healthcare for All
California lawmakers worked feverishly at the end of June to move forward significant health reform legislation, including implementing new Medicaid rules for the next five years, setting a framework for establishing health insurance exchanges, and moving the state towards a single-payer health care system.
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Unemployment Insurance Extension Filibuster Worsens Economic Pain

Unemployment and Retraining   * ALTAF RAHAMATULLA

The country is still reeling from the effects of the downturn.  Though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has undoubtedly benefited the economy, there are still 15 million Americans out of work.

Unfortunately, due to right-wing obstructionism in the US Senate, Congress was unable to extend unemployment insurance (UI) resulting in 1.7 million Americans losing their benefits on July 3.  The Department of Labor released state-by-state breakdowns of Americans who lost UI earlier this month. 

Follow this link to view a chart of the Estimated Number of Claimants Losing Unemployment Benefits by July 3, 2010if Congress Fails to Continue Federal UI Programs.

If Congressional inaction continues, a total of 3.2 million workers will lose their umemployment benefits by the end of July.  Furthermore, as the Center for American Progress notes, "[t]he lapse in congressional reauthorization forces 23 states and the District of Columbia to stop distributing extended benefits at a time when additional unemployment insurance benefits are needed most."

Not only is unemployment insurance critical for the long-term unemployed, but federal inaction on UI extension  threatens economic recovery.  Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com and former adviser to Senator John McCain, finds that extending unemployment insurance (UI) provides a significant fiscal bang for the buck in fueling economic recovery by maintaining consumer spending in hard-hit communities.  In fact, every $1 in federal spending on extending UI generates $1.61 in market activity.

As Zandi states, "[t]he odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even.  But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high."  Congress needs to move swiftly and boldly on enacting further job creation to boost the ailing economy.  If you are a state lawmaker, please sign onto a letter calling on the President and Congress to enact a comprehensive jobs plan, including fiscal relief to states and local governments to foster economic growth and create and maintain jobs.

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Delaware Becomes Second State to End Prison-Based Gerrymandering

Clean and Fair Elections   * CRISTINA FRANCISCO-MCGUIRE

Last week, Delaware became the second state in the country to pass legislation that would adjust US Census data to count incarcerated people as residents of their home addresses for redistricting purposes.  It is currently waiting for Gov. Jack Markell’s signature.

The Census currently counts incarcerated people as residents of their prison location, artificially inflating the local population.  As states use census tallies to redraw legislative districts, districts with a prison benefit from the resulting increased representation, while the home districts of incarcerated persons are short-changed.  Twelve percent of one state house district in Texas is comprised of prisoners, while fiftteen percent of one Montana state house district consists of prisoners.

Prison-based gerrymandering is increasingly becoming a problem — the 2010 Census is expected to find five times as many people in prison as it did just three decades ago.  Fortunately, states are moving to correct the problem.  Maryland enacted the first law (SB 400/HB 496) to count incarcerated persons at their home address in April, and similar legislation is pending in New York.

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Green Economy Roundtable Law Enacted in Rhode Island

Smart Growth and Green Jobs   * FABIOLA CARRION

Rhode Island’s HB 7407, now Public Law No. 2010-203, creates the Green Economy Roundtable to advise and assist the Governor and General Assembly in advancing Rhode Island’s green energy economy by developing a statewide action plan.

The bill redefines the composition of Rhode Island’s Green Economy Roundtable in order to ensure a balanced representation of government efforts in advancing the green economy.  Roundtable members will ensure that green economy decisions originate from the community as well as from business perspectives so that prosperity is shared by all residents of Rhode Island.

Similar to parts of Progressive States Network’s Green Building model legislation, such a roundtable ensures that community-based leaders, including union organizers, work in conjunction with representatives from the business sector in a task force that will promote, create and retain sustainable green jobs.

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Project to Get Veterans VA Benefits Expands Access, Saves State Medicaid Funds

Healthcare for All   * ENZO PASTORE

Based on an innovative model from Washington state, states have the opportunity to help veterans improve their benefits and save millions of dollars for their own budgets.

Using a US Department of Health and Human Services national database called PARIS, Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has launched a program that identifies veterans on Medicaid.  If those veterans are found eligible for health coverage, long-term care benefits or pensions through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or Department of Defense, they can be taken off the state’s Medicaid rolls.  Since 2003, Washington state has shaved $18 million from their Medicaid budget by qualifying over 5,600 veterans and their families for VA or Defense Department coverage.  The program in Washington is designed to ensure that until clients qualify for a VA monthly cash benefit that makes them financially ineligible for state public assistance, they maintain existing state benefits. 

The Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS) was originally designed to weed out people who were cheating state benefit systems by receiving benefits from more than one state.  But in realizing how effective the database can be in not only providing veterans with more comprehensive health and related benefits and trimming state spending in the process, no less than 20 other states have expressed interest in following Washington's example.

For example, Montana implemented the system in 2007 and has saved almost $900,000 in Medicaid costs.  Since last November, Colorado has identified about 1,600 potentially eligible individuals or families that could save the state up to $8 million a year.  California began a 2009 pilot program of the system in three counties.  According to California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state could save $25 million per year if only 10% of its veteran population switched from enrollment in Medicaid to health coverage through the VA.

The program  of course doesn't reduce medical costs overall, but by shifting spending from the states to the federal government, it both eases state budget deficits and ensures that veterans, who have earned the right to access the full range of VA benefits, are informed of their eligibility so they can exercise that right.

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Bills on Single-Payer and Health Reform Implementation Move Forward in California

Healthcare for All   * ENZO PASTORE

California lawmakers worked feverishly at the end of June to move forward significant health reform legislation, including implementing new Medicaid rules for the next five years, setting a framework for establishing health insurance exchanges, and moving the state towards a single-payer health care system.

The challenge of getting the bills through the Assembly Health Committee was daunting because it was deadline week in the state legislature, the final days for policy committees to act on bills.  But in the end, all three bills prevailed and now move on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  All three bills previously passed the Senate. 

The three major bills approved by the Assembly Health Committee include:

Medi-Cal Waiver:  As one of two vehicles for renewing and implementing a new Medicaid waiver, SB 208 sets rules for the state's Medi-Cal program for the next five years.  The new waiver is presented as a bridge between the existing Medi-Cal program and the full access expansion that will happen in 2014 as a result of federal health reform.

Health Insurance Exchange:  SB 900 would establish the state insurance exchange pursuant to provisions in the federal health reform law.  Passage of this bill in this session will allow the state the time necessary to plan how their exchange will operate beginning in 2014.  Ideally, the exchange will provide expanded access for health consumers by eliminating adverse selection, creating a seamless process for enrollment and subsidies and providing an array of standardized plans and products for informed decision making.  This bill also moves on to the Appropriations Committee.  Its Assembly companion bill, AB 1602, was also passed this week by the Senate Health Committee.

Single-Payer Health Reform:  SB 810 would create a single-payer health care system that would cover all California residents.  The legislation is a policy bill that would allow a single-payer system to be established. It does not address how the system would be financed.

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Research Roundup

Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences - An Urban Institute study finds that 49 percent of American babies born into poverty will be poor at least half of their childhood and are more likely to drop out of high school, have teen births out of wedlock, be poor between the ages of 25 and 30 and have more difficulty with employment, as compared to those not born into poverty.

Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K: State Policies that Bolster Student Success - This Pre-K Now report identifies policies that can enhance family engagement in state pre-kindergarten and highlights examples from states that are leading the way.  By involving parents, grandparents and other caregivers, pre-k programs can build essential relationships that enhance children’s learning at home and at school as well as promote supportive, effective parenting and build a lifelong partnership between families and the education system.

Opening Doors: How to Make the Workforce Investment Act Work for Women - Because the federal Workforce Investment Act emphasizes quick job placement over building skills or attaining education, the system is not set up to recognize and prevent unequal results of women or other participants, according to this Center for American Progress report.  The report outlines way WIA can be improved to take a proactive approach to gender equity, promote career development, improve financial assistance mechanisms, and use better performance measures.

Libraries Connect Communities: Public Library Funding & Technology Access Study 2009-2010 - Two-thirds of U.S. public libraries report that they are the only free public Internet connection point in their communities according to this American Library Association report.  Close to one-quarter of all libraries improved Internet connec­tion speeds last year, often aided by E-Rate discounts.  Eighty-eight percent of libraries provide free access to job databases and other job opportunity resources.  Another vital service area is ensuring access to government information and services — from tax forms to un­employment benefits to Medicare information.

Childless Adults Who Become Eligible for Medicaid in 2014 Should Receive Standard Benefits Package - While the new federal health reform law allows states to provide newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries either with the regular Medicaid benefits package or with a less comprehensive package, this Center on Budget Policy Priorities report highlight how the health needs of uninsured childess adults should encourage states to provide a comprehensive package of benefits.

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

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Steps Forward

US: States, Federal Government Move Forward With High-Risk Pools”Ž

AZ: Obama Administration Sues to Block Arizona Immigration Law

NY: Legislature Delivers for Midwives


Steps Back

CA: Governor Puts 200,000 State Workers on Minimum Wage

HI: Governor Vetoes Same-Sex Unions

US: FEC Finds Citizens United Group Free from Disclosure Rule

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Full Resources from this Dispatch

Unemployment Insurance Extension Filibuster Worsens Economic Pain

Center for American Progress - Today's Unemployment Crisis by the Numbers
House Ways and Means Committee - Estimated Number of Claimants Losing Unemployment Benefits by July 3, 2010if Congress Fails to Continue Federal UI Programs
The Huffington Post - Congress Should Quit Its Deficit Dithering Unless It Wants Another Recession
Mark Zandi - The Impact of the Recovery Act on Economic Growth
Progressive States Network - Saving Jobs: More Federal Action Needed on State Fiscal Relief

Delaware Becomes 2nd State to End Prison-Based Gerrymandering

Prison Policy Initiative - Delaware Passes Law to Count Incarcerated Persons at their Home Addresses for Redistricting
Demos - Maryland Enacts Law to Count Incarcerated People at Their Home Addresses
Delaware - HB 384
Maryland - The “No Representation Without Population Act,” SB 400/HB 49

Green Economy Roundtable Law Enacted in Rhode Island

Progressive States Network - Green Building Model Legislation
Rhode Island - Green Economy Roundtable (HB 7407/Public Law No. 2010-203)

Project to Get Veterans VA Benefits Expands Access, Saves State Medicaid Funds

CMS letter to State Medicaid Directors: Background of PARIS (June 21, 2010) 
Washington State Department of Social & Health Services - Interface between PARIS and the Veteran Benefit Enhancement Project
Washington State Department of Social & Health Services - DSHS Veterans Project
CA Legislative Analyst Office - Analysis of Veterans’ Benefits
USA Today - States try to link up vets with federal government benefits
The Bellingham Herald - Benefits Program Helps Veterans and State Taxpayers.

Bills on Single-Payer and Health Reform Implementation Move Forward in California

Health Access - Health Reform 3 Month Status Report: Californians Begin to See the Benefits; Much More to Do to Fulfill Its Promise
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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 Carrion, 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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