DISPATCH: Countdown to Exchange Liftoff, Fast-Food Strikes Spread, Marketplace Fairness Act, and More

Stateside Dispatch
Saturday, May 11, 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:

Webinar: Setting Up Successful Health Insurance Marketplaces

With less than five months to go until state health insurance marketplaces are set to begin enrollment, Progressive States Network is hosting a webinar for legislators and legislative staff on how to set up successful health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act this Monday, May 13th at 4pm ET. Monday's webinar is part of a series that Progressive States Network is hosting in the coming months on the challenges and opportunities facing state legislators on health care. Future topics will include what lawmakers need to know about the ACA before 2014 and improving health outcomes while saving state budgets. (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.) Register for Monday's webinar here.

This week, President Obama began a push to remind the public of the many provisions of the health care law that have either already taken effect or will soon, including the exchanges in October, as states continued to work on getting their exchanges set up while also engaging in their own efforts to educate the public:

Colorado became the first state to kick off a public awareness campaign for a state exchange with a $2 million ad campaign. [ThinkProgress]

Other states, including Oregon and Kentucky, are expected to kick off marketing efforts next month. [Kaiser Health News]

Community health centers are poised to get $150 million to increase enrollment in exchanges. [Kaiser Health News]

The White House launched a new effort this week to increase awareness of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act including the exchanges, targeting women and young people. [AP]

Others in the federal government are sending signals that the exchanges will be up and ready to go starting October 1st. [USA Today]

The Department of Health and Human Services approved a model requested by the governor of Utah that will see the state and federal government divide responsibilities for the exchange. [AP]

Idaho has until May 20th to decide which parts of the federal exchange it plans to use. [Politico]

Visit this page for more information on Monday's webinar and future health care webinars.

Fast-Food Strikes Spread to Midwest as Anti-Worker Efforts Meet Strong Opposition

In recent months, unprecedented strikes by fast-food workers have taken place in both New York City and Chicago. This week, the action spread even further through the heart of the country, as workers in St. Louis and Detroit staged one-day work stoppages to demand higher wages and the right to organize. At the same time that such strikes are spreading, anti-worker legislative attacks that have already spread through many neighboring states in recent years are being met with strong opposition throughout the region as well. Workers in Missouri and states across the Midwest continued this week to stand up both in the streets and at statehouses to demand fair wages and respect on the job:

Like their counterparts in other cities, the more than 100 workers in St. Louis who went on strike this week were demanding a wage of $15 per hour. [Salon]

“I just feel that if we don’t stand up now, it’s never going to happen... They’re making billions off of us making little to nothing. So they can afford to share a little bit more,” said Tomecka Wilson, a striking worker in St. Louis. [The Nation]

On Friday, as many as 400 workers in 60 fast-food restaurants walked off the job in the Detroit metropolitan area, in the largest such action yet. [MSNBC]

“The growth of this entire thing has been quite organic... People are upset that their wages are low and their working conditions are bad," said Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network. [Washington Post]

Michigan became the first state with a "right-to-work" antidues law to see such an action. [Huffington Post]

Missouri's legislature sent a bill to Gov. Jay Nixon that would roll back prevailing wage legislation and lower wages for workers. [AP]

Anti-labor "paycheck protection" bills are also set to be voted on in both houses of Missouri's legislature. [PR Watch]

How the attacks in Missouri are part of a national right-wing effort targeting workers and the middle class. [Huffington Post]

State legislators: Join PSN's Economic Security Working Group for more on how progressives are fighting back in the war on workers.

What States Stand to Gain from the Marketplace Fairness Act

This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would help states fill their coffers, fund critical programs, and avoid damaging cuts by an over two-to-one margin in a bipartisan vote. Difficult to believe in this era of austerity and obstruction? The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases, closing a loophole that currently gives online retailers a major advantage over in-state brick-and-mortar businesses. The bill has picked up support from some major retailers, including Amazon, as well as some conservatives, but is still expected to see strong opposition from anti-tax activists when it heads to the House. However, the bipartisan vote in the Senate this week may be one more indication of a slow-motion shift in the politics of taxation and spending underway in both D.C. and the states:

The Marketplace Fairness Act passed the Senate 69-27 this week, and would apply to all retailers with sales over $1 million per year. [ThinkProgress]

The proposal would "untie states' hands in the fight against online sales tax evasion," opening up an additional $23 billion a year in currently uncollected sales taxes. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

A battle is expected over the bill in the U.S. House as some online merchants and anti-tax activists gear up to oppose it. [Reuters]

A state like Washington stands to collect $845 million every two years if the bill is enacted. [Seattle Times]

Colorado is already preparing by passing legislation that will put the state in position to participate in the Marketplace Fairness Act. [Colorado Statesman]

An interactive map of what each state stands to lose in revenue without passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act. [NCSL]

Sign up to join PSN's Working Group of State Legislators for Tax Fairness for more information on taking full advantage of the Marketplace Fairness Act and other progressive tax policies.

Also this week:

A new proposal from unions engaged in collective bargaining with states looking to close budget gaps: make the banks pay up. [The American Prospect]

A tax overhaul proposed by conservatives in North Carolina would shift the tax burden and hit low-income families. [Citizens for Tax Justice]

A look at some of the North Carolina protesters who have been willing to risk arrest to highlight their concerns about the direction their state is taking. [News Observer]

A roundup of Colorado's very productive legislative session. [Coloradoan]

A look at some of the major victories for immigrants in the states this year. [Stateline]

That includes Maryland, Oregon, and Colorado, which all passed new laws expanding driver's licenses to all residents. [ACLU]

Vermont's House also approved an immigrant driver's license bill this week. [Burlington Free Press]

A much-heralded study by the Heritage Foundation intended to dampen support for comprehensive immigration reform ran into major problems after its launch this week. [Washington Post]

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced his support for Medicaid expansion. [Huffington Post]

A look at how a much-discussed recent study shows Medicaid expansion to be a success in Oregon. [Demos]

Medicaid expansion may be headed to the ballot in Oregon. [Columbus Dispatch]

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer may halt funding for Planned Parenthood in exchange for getting needed lawmakers' votes to pass Medicaid expansion. [East Valley Tribune]

Other states are considering "Arkansas-style" expansions of private health insurance in place of Medicaid expansion. [Stateline]

More out of North Carolina: a bill there would force teens to get parental consent before getting STD tests. [ThinkProgress]

Texas lawmakers are working to restore some funding to women's health services. [Texas Tribune]

Oregon's House approved a bill providing workplace protections for domestic workers, including "eight hours of uninterrupted sleep" per 24 hours for in-home workers. [The Oregonian]

Some lessons from San Francisco for New York City after a landmark paid sick leave bill was officially passed by the New York City Council this week. [WNYC]

A roundup of how the sequester is hitting federal unemployment benefits in state after state. [NELP]

Even more out of North Carolina: the state is cutting pre-K, and businesses are not happy. [News Observer]

A Michigan town has laid off all their teachers and shut down all three schools due to a budget crisis. [MSNBC]

Same-sex marriage passed in Delaware on Tuesday. [AP]

And passed the Minnesota House on Thursday. [AP]

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is pushing for a vote on marriage in his state. [ThinkProgress]

Praise for California's recently enacted gun violence prevention laws. [New York Times]

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed expansive voting legislation into law that will make it easier to register and vote, including election day registration and vote by mail. [Brennan Center]

In Connecticut, no-fault absentee voting may go to a referendum in 2014. [CT Mirror]

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to allow early voting. [Star-Ledger]

Iowa's Senate rejected a voter ID bill. [Des Moines Register]

The Missouri legislature voted to nullify federal gun laws, prevent Sharia law, and stop invasion by U.N. troops this week. [Show Me Progress]

And Nevada may make it legal for motorcyclists to drive between lanes. []

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

Map of the Week

Map: African-American Voter Turnout Rates, 2012

According to new Census Data released this week, African-American voters turned out at a higher rate than white voters in 2012 for the first time, with 66.2% of eligible black voters casting a ballot compared to 64.1% of eligible white voters. The Atlantic Wire published this map of the state-by-state numbers, with Wisconsin, Mississippi, and North Carolina leading the way (states shaded white have African-American populations too small for the Census Bureau to calculate turnout.)

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Research Roundup

Adding it Up: Accurately Gauging the Economic Impact of Immigration Reform [Immigration Policy Center]
"More and more research demonstrates the economic benefits of immigration reform. The last few years have witnessed a burst in economic research showing the strongly positive net impacts of immigration in general and comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) in particular. Broad agreement has emerged as to not only the net economic and fiscal benefits of immigration and CIR, but the acceleration of those benefits over time."

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect [AFL-CIO]
"Today, 150 people will likely be killed on the job or die from job-related illnesses and disease. That deadly toll will continue tomorrow and the next day and the next until the nation 'renews the commitment to protect workers from injury, disease and death,' and makes it a high priority, says the 2013 edition of the AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect."

Meet The Show-Me Institute [Progress Missouri]
"Progress Missouri released a new report exposing direct ties between the Show‐Me Institute (SMI) and the Koch Brothers-funded State Policy Network (SPN), a national network of like‐minded 'think tanks' that promotes disinformation and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) agendas in state Capitols. The Show‐Me Institute has also received significant funding from the Donors Capital Fund, which is also connected to the notorious Koch Brothers, and other out‐of‐state right‐wing organizations such as the Roe Foundation and the Cato Institute."

Revealing Tax Subsidies 2013 [OSPIRG Foundation]
"In 2011 and 2012, through a bipartisan effort, the Oregon State Legislature adopted new measures (ORS 184.484) intended to shine the spotlight of transparency on eighteen economic development tax expenditure programs estimated to cost Oregon taxpayers over $665 million in the 2013-15 biennium. This study examines the first two years of annual reports made available by the law on the Oregon Transparency Website. It evaluates how well the law is being followed, and the degree to which the new information helps the public determine the value of these programs."

Employers Not Filling Gap in Need for Paid Parental Leave in U.S. [Institute for Women's Policy Research]
"This Mother’s Day, the United States is still behind all other high-income industrialized nations when it comes to providing paid leave to parents. And, according to a new analysis released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), employers are not filling the gap—despite many providing paid leave benefits beyond legal requirements."

Measuring Up: Aspirations for Economic Security in the 21st Century [Insight Center for Community Economic Development]
This report "analyzes the ways in which the U.S. government and others frame, measure and shape the public conversation about what it takes for people to be economically secure. Specifically, the report looks at multiple indicators including income and assets, and it highlights groups that too often are excluded from the public debate, such as people of color, women, older adults, immigrants, and multi-generational households."

Email us at with research roundup suggestions.

Quote of the Week

"We basically decided, we’re not messing around.... We would rather be criticized for tackling too many of Colorado’s problems than not enough."

— Colorado Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll on the far-reaching progressive legislative agenda passed by Colorado lawmakers in their just-concluded session this year, which included in-state tuition for immigrants, civil unions, gun violence prevention, making it easier to vote, and more.


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