DISPATCH: Wins in Colorado, Craziness in North Carolina, and More

Stateside Dispatch
Saturday, May 4, 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:

More Progressive Victories in Colorado

It wasn't so long ago that Colorado was considered a hotspot for ascendant conservative national movements, from the religious right to an anti-tax revolt to anti-immigrant extremism. But times (and demographics) are clearly changing, and quickly. With progressives empowered by recent elections, this session has seen Colorado's legislature advance, pass, and enact progressive legislation across a range of issue areas. And with the state's session drawing to a close in a matter of days, the wins are piling up. From voting rights to welcoming immigrants to enacting sensible gun laws and civil unions, the multiple progressive victories in Colorado this year provide a hopeful model and counter-example to the destructive agendas advanced by conservatives in statehouses across the nation in recent years. Here's how their session is finishing up:

This week will mark the end of "one of the noisiest legislative sessions in decades." [Denver Post]

State Rep. Dan Pabon: "I think we've been listening to the people of Colorado and they've told us, 'We put you in charge and we want you to get something done." [Denver Post]

The Colorado legislature passed a package of legislation to modernize elections and expand access to voting this week, including vote-by-mail. [National Journal]

Ten years after it was first proposed, Colorado's ASSSET tuition equity bill was officially signed into law by Gov. Hickenlooper this week. [KUNC]

The governor also recently signed the "Community and Law Enforcement Trust Act" into law, making Colorado the first state in the nation to repeal a "show me your papers" requirement. [Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition]

A bill to create driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants in Colorado is also moving forward. [Denver Post]

A bill to create a state earned income tax credit also advanced this week. [Denver Post]

Colorado's legislature also acted to strengthen the state's renewable energy standard this week. [ClimateProgress]

And civil unions became legal in Colorado this week -- here are some photos of the first couples to participate in ceremonies. [Denver Post]

Legislators and legislative staff: Learn more about PSN legislator working groups here.

Activists Protest North Carolina's Turn to Right-Wing Extremism

No state is seeing a bigger and more devastating deluge of right-wing legislation move this year than North Carolina, where a tea-party-controlled legislature has been advancing bills alternatively dangerous and absurd -- and sometimes both. A voter ID proposal is just the latest to gain national attention, as residents of all fifty states get a glimpse of what an unfettered conservative movement in a state actually looks like, and activists in North Carolina raise the temperature in protest:

North Carolina's legislature, "a tragicomedy that seems to get more outrageous from week to week." [Charlotte Observer]

MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes went over some of the craziness to take place this session in a segment this week. [MSNBC]

A voter ID bill that would ban student IDs as well as other bills to restrict early voting and same day registration all appear headed toward passage. [News Observer]

North Carolina college students have been taking a lead role protesting voter suppression efforts. [Colorlines]

Five students were arrested and thrown in jail as part of an action on May Day protesting the slew of legislative attacks on working families and disenfranchised communities. [Student Power NC]

Seventeen activists and civil rights leaders were arrested in total at the protest. [WRAL]

North Carolina's legislature has also introduced a "series of bills that would curtail the ability of cities and urban counties to govern themselves." [BusinessWeek]

A look at the big corporate money behind the extreme conservative agenda in the Tar Heel State. [Center for Media and Democracy]

May 13th Webinar: How Legislative Decisions Can Make Health Exchanges a Success

Reserve your spot now! Progressive States Network is hosting a series of webinars in the coming weeks and months on the challenges and opportunities facing state legislators on health care. The webinar series is designed for legislators and legislative staff and supported by The Commonwealth Fund, a national, private foundation based in New York City that supports independent research on health care issues and makes grants to improve health care practice and policy. The next webinar is set for Monday, May 13th at 4pm ET, and will focus on setting up successful health insurance marketplaces under the ACA. Future topics will include health insurance marketplaces, what lawmakers need to know about the ACA before 2014, and improving health outcomes while saving state budgets. Register for the entire series here.

Also this week:

Rhode Island became the tenth state to enact marriage equality. [RI United]

Maryland became sixth state in as many years to abolish the death penalty. [AP]

Hawaii became the second state after New York to pass a domestic workers' bill of rights. [AP]

A resolution calling on Congress to pass immigration reform including a path to citizenship was passed overwhelmingly by the Nevada Assembly after the Senate unanimously approved the same measure last month. [AP]

The Minnesota Senate passed a measure to allow undocumented immigrant college students to pay in-state tuition rates and receive state financial aid. [Star Tribune]

California state lawmakers are pushing two measures to strengthen the rights of immigrant workers. [Sacramento Bee]

Maine's legislature passed two resolutions calling on Congress to both reverse Citizens United and pass immigration reform. [Bangor Daily News]

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case on Alabama's anti-immigrant law this week, leaving in place a ruling blocking the law from taking effect. [NY Times]

A bill being considered in Texas would protect immigrants from deportation, a positive shift from previous anti-immigrant bills. [ThinkProgress]

As we noted in last week's Dispatch, conservative governors are continuing to fight with conservative legislatures over Medicaid expansion as sessions draw to a close. [ThinkProgress]

West Virginia's governor announced his intent this week to expand Medicaid through a plan that will cover an estimated 91,500 currently uninsured residents. [AP]

An up to date chart on where states stand on Medicaid expansion. [Kaiser Family Foundation]

Advocates in Ohio are considering taking the issue of Medicaid expansion to the voters via a ballot initiative. [AP]

In Michigan, law enforcement officials are joining the push to expand Medicaid. [AP]

A new study showed that the states refusing to expand Medicaid could cost employers over $1 billion in fines. [Bloomberg News]

How some state lawmakers are looking to make abortion too expensive for low-income women. [ThinkProgress]

The full Minnesota House will consider legislation to allow for the unionization of in-home child care and personal care workers. [Minnesota Public Radio]

Conservatives in Ohio's Senate killed a "right-to-work" antidues proposal hours after it was introduced, concerned about potential backlash. []

Minnesota's House passed a bill to raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015. [Pioneer Press]

A bill to boost California's minimum wage for the first time since 2008 and adjust for inflation moving forward also advanced this week. [Calitics]

Florida's legislature gave final approval this week to a bill that prohibits local governments from passing paid sick days requirements, after stripping out a provision dealing with wages. [AP]

The Nation's Greg Kaufmann on the legislative "smackdown" handed to workers in Florida. [The Nation]

The Florida Senate, however, rejected a bill that would have kept state public service workers from enrolling in the state pension system. [AFSCME Blog]

And they rejected a corporate-backed "parent trigger" bill for the second year in a row. [Education Votes]

Sequestration is still devastating education programs in all 50 states. [ThinkProgress]

A growing push in Congress to allow states to collect sales taxes from online purchases is splitting conservatives. [NY Times]

The monthly jobs report released Friday showed stagnation in state and local government jobs continuing to provide a drag on the economy. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

A look at the states trying to make it a felony to enforce federal gun laws. [ProPublica]

Ohio's budget may disenfranchise college students. [Plunderbund]

Why online voter registration makes sense for DC. [DCist]

New York's Assembly passed early voting legislation, but it faces opposition in the Senate. [NY Times]

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation to expand early voting and allow same-day registration. [Huffington Post]

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett seems to think many workers in his state are unemployed because they are on drugs. [Wonkette]

And seersucker suits are under attack in Missouri. [Esquire]


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

Map of the Week

Map: State Immigration Proposals in 2013: Highlights

According to a survey of state laws by the Associated Press this week, three years after Arizona's SB1070 was signed into law, pro-immigrant measures are seeing much more momentum than enforcement proposals. View the full interactive map here.

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Research Roundup

Grading Places: What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us? [Good Jobs First]
"Prominent studies that purport to measure and rank the states’ “business climates” are actually politicized grab-bags of data. They contradict each other wildly, have no predictive value, and should not be used to inform public policies. This is only the third such analysis of pseudo-social science 'business climatology' in 27 years."

The State of Preschool 2012 [National Institute for Early Education Research]
"Twenty-eight percent of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded preschool program in the 2011-2012 school year, the same percentage as the year before. This stagnation in enrollment growth was compounded by an unprecedented funding drop of $500 million nationwide. The findings in this Yearbook raise serious concerns on the quality and availability of pre-K education for most of American young learners."

Federal Spending in Your State, 2012-2014 [National Priorities Project]
"Each year, as part of the president’s budget request, the White House Office of Management and Budget releases projected spending on grants to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is a reminder of the impact of federal spending on state budgets as well as on state residents, who receive assistance through programs funded by federal grants."

State-by-State Figures on Obama's Proposal to Limit Tax Expenditures [Citizens for Tax Justice]
"President Obama has proposed to limit the tax savings for high-income taxpayers from itemized deductions and certain other deductions and exclusions to 28 cents for each dollar deducted or excluded. This proposal would raise more than half a trillion dollars in revenue over the up­coming decade. Despite this large revenue gain, only 3.6 percent of Americans would receive a tax increase under the plan in 2014, and their average tax increase would equal just less than one percent of their income."

"Fix the Debt" CEOs Enjoy Taxpayer-Subsidized Pay [Institute for Policy Studies and Campaign for America's Future]
"Thanks to a 'performance pay' tax loophole, large corporations in the United States today are routinely deducting enormous executive payouts from their income taxes. In effect, these companies are exploiting the U.S. tax code to send taxpayers the bill for the huge rewards they’re doling out to their top executives. During the three-year period 2009-2011, the 90 publicly held corporate members of the austerity-focused “Fix the Debt” lobby group shoveled out $6.3 billion in pay to their CEOs and next three highest-paid executives. These 90 Fix the Debt member firms raked in at least $953 million -- and as much as $1.6 billion -- from the “performance pay” loophole between 2009-2011."

Oregon Medicaid Study Strengthens -- Not Weakens -- Case to Expand Medicaid [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
"The New England Journal of Medicine reported encouraging new findings yesterday from the Oregon Health Study, a landmark, ongoing study of the state’s Medicaid program.  Medicaid beneficiaries were more likely than the uninsured to access preventive care, such as mammograms for women, and they had far less financial hardship caused by health care spending.  In fact, Medicaid coverage 'almost completely eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.'"


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Quote of the Week

"This is about paying people enough to get by -- not a living wage, enough to get by."

-- Minnesota State Rep. Jason Metsa, who recently spent a week living on minimum wage, on a proposal that passed the state House on Friday to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2015.



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