DISPATCH: Why State Gun Laws Matter, Parents Trigger Defeat of Parent Trigger Bills, and More

Stateside Dispatch
Saturday, April 6, 2013

Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's roundup of the latest state policy news. Here's what happened in the states this week:

State Gun Laws: Why They Matter

This week, President Obama traveled to Colorado to continue to press Congress to pass legislation on gun violence prevention. Next week, he is set to travel to Connecticut to do the same. Both are states that have witnessed horrific mass shootings over the past year, and both have since seen their legislatures act to pass bipartisan gun violence prevention bills. Connecticut's new law, passed and signed into law this week, strengthens a ban on assault weapons, limits magazine sizes, and creates the nation's first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry. Maryland also saw strong gun legislation pass their legislature this week, likely to be signed into law next week. All of this movement comes the same week that a new report was released showing that state gun laws likely do have a significant impact on levels of gun violence.

"Eight of the 10 states with the weakest gun-control laws, including Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana and Oklahoma, are among the 25 with the highest rates of violence," according to a new Center for American Progress report. [Bloomberg]

The report is the second in recent weeks to link gun deaths and state laws. [New York Times]

Some of the backstory on how Connecticut's law was shaped. [Frontline]

How Connecticut's bill compares to the new laws in New York and Colorado. [AP]

Legislation passed both legislative chambers in Maryland this week that would ban assault weapons, limit magazines, and require potential buyers to submit fingerprints. [AP]

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley indicated he would sign the bill into law on Monday. [Baltimore Sun]

An updated interactive feature on how gun laws vary from state to state. [AP]

A roundup of the gun laws that states have passed post-Newtown. [National Journal]

"While Congress remains paralyzed by the grasp of the NRA, various state legislatures have made moves to strengthen their own gun laws." [The American Prospect]

At the same time that some states are strengthening gun laws, other states are weakening them. [ABC News]

A shocking number of states have seen legislation introduced that would put more guns in schools. [Sunlight Foundation]

Parents Trigger Defeat of "Parent Trigger" Bills

For-profit charter school companies and their allies were hoping to push so-called "parent trigger" bills this year in over a dozen states -- bills which purport to "empower" parents of poor-performing schools by allowing them to vote to turn over their neighborhood schools to private companies. But in state after state, parents themselves have been pushing back. 

Georgia's legislative session came to a close last week, after a parent trigger bill ran into strong opposition earlier in the session and was withdrawn. [AP]

More on the defeat of the Georgia bill. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Parents are pushing to defeat bills in Colorado and Oklahoma as well. [Education Votes]

After contentious debate, Florida's House this week voted to advance a parent trigger bill which is similar to a bill that passed last year but died in the Senate. [News Herald]

"We already have a voice... When the trigger is pulled, the only people with a voice are the private-management companies." - State Rep. Mark Danish, who voted against the bill. [Orlando Sentinel]

Jeff Bryant on the damage being caused by the charter school "movement" in North Carolina, Ohio, and elsewhere. [Education Opportunity Network]

State legislators: For resources on school safety, attacks on public education, and more, sign up to join PSN's National Working Group on Public Education.

Map of the Week:

Map: State Gun Violence Rankings

The ten states with the weakest gun laws collectively have a level of gun violence more than twice as high as the ten states with the strongest gun laws. [Graphic: Center for American Progress]

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Also this week:

How New York and Washington state are both bucking the national trend by looking at protecting and expanding reproductive rights. [Pew Research Center]

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a landmark tuition equity bill into law. [The Oregonian]

Some colleges are offering in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants before state lawmakers get around to doing so. [Governing]

Oregon's legislature held hearings on a statewide paid sick days law this week. [Statesman Journal]

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed a paid sick days bill this week that is one vote short of a veto-proof majority in the city council. [CBS Philly]

Florida's House passed a bill this week that would prohibit local paid sick days and living wage laws. [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting]

How the Florida bill, and others, are tied to ALEC. [Huffington Post]

Conservatives in Washington state have also tried to repeal Seattle's paid sick days ordinance. [Washington Policy Watch]

Arizona is latest state to consider preempting local wage and benefit laws. [East Valley Tribune]

Why such preemption laws are a "growing, calculated threat to democracy." [National Partnership for Women and Families]

A committee in North Dakota's state Senate approved a Medicaid expansion bill. [Bismarck Tribune]

Medicaid expansion efforts are still alive in Montana after a bipartisan state Senate vote. [Missoulian]

A new poll shows that the public is still largely uninformed about how their states are (or aren't) implementing Obamacare. [NPR]

Alabama joined at least six other states this week in passing legislation "specifically designed to shut down abortion clinics." [Daily Kos]

A voter ID bill was sent to the governor in North Dakota this week. [Grand Forks Herald]

Arkansas legislators overrode a veto to enact a restrictive voter ID bill. [ThinkProgress]

Some good election reform news: there's positive (and bipartisan) momentum in the states behind online voter registration. [Politico]

Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein round up 100 local stories over the past week showing how the cuts in the sequester are beginning to hit cities and states hard. [Huffington Post]

Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients thanks to the sequester. [Washington Post]

A Missouri lawmaker wants to tie welfare benefits to public school attendance. [Huffington Post]

Some Tennessee lawmakers want to tie welfare benefits to kids' school grades. [MSNBC]

And a Kansas bill that would tie welfare benefits to drug tests is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback's desk. [Kansas City Star]

Fast food workers in New York City went on a one-day strike Thursday demanding higher wages and the ability to organize without facing retaliation. [Salon]

@DickGottfried: This morning I'm joining fast food workers to demand fair pay and better working conditions! #fastfoodforward #nyc 

Follow @PSNwire on Twitter for the latest state policy news.


Good Jobs Green Jobs 2013: April 16-18

Progressive States Network is proud to be a convener of this year's Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference, taking place from April 16-18 in Washington, D.C. The conference will bring labor union members, environmentalists, business owners, community leaders and elected officials from across the country together in one place for the country’s largest dialogue on how to build a cleaner, more efficient American economy. Register here.


Research Roundup

Quality Employment for Women in the Green Economy: Industry, Occupation, and State-by-State Job Estimates [Institute for Women's Policy Research]
"This report provides the first-ever estimates of women’s employment in the green economy, state-by-state, by industry, and by occupation."

Scarring Effects: Demographics of the Long-Term Unemployed and the Danger of Ignoring the Jobs Deficit [National Employment Law Project]
"This report explores who the long-term unemployed are and how their ongoing estrangement from the labor force hurts the entire economy. We suggest that the diversity of this population means it will take a variety of job creation measures to reattach them to the workforce, and that the longer we wait in the name of austerity to implement these programs, the more intractable the problem of long-term unemployment will become."

Stuck: Young America's Persistent Jobs Crisis [Demos]
"Demos investigated the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for young adults in 2012 in order to see how the experience of young people today affects their prospects for tomorrow. We found that last year passed with no significant gains for young people, who continue to endure a jobs crisis even as the economy recovers. The latest numbers from 2013 reveal no significant change in the trend."

Election 2013: Voting Laws Roundup [Brennan Center]
"In 2013, state legislators continue to push laws that would make it harder for eligible American citizens to vote. At the same time, others are pressing measures to improve elections. Below you will find a regularly-updated, comprehensive roundup of where restrictive laws were introduced, where they are pending, where they are active, and where they have passed thus far."

Email us at with research roundup suggestions.

Quote of the Week

"Unfortunately this is not an April Fools joke -- I wish it was -- a woman’s access to reproductive health care is no laughing matter."
-- State Senator Karen Keiser (D-WA), Chair of the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform, on the refusal of a committee in Washington's state Senate to advance the Reproductive Parity Act, legislation to expand access to reproductive health care, which had majority support in the full Senate.

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