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Progressive Values Dominant-- But Need to Rebuild Trust in Effectiveness of Government Action

This Dispatch will outline these trends in public opinion, with special emphasis on the results of two wide-ranging surveys this year, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press report, Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes: 1987-2009 (hereafter "Pew"), and the Center for American Progress report, State of American Political Ideology, 2009: A National Study of Values and Beliefs (hereafter "CAP-beliefs").  Other reports will be touched on as well, but the core results are similar across all major surveys on these points.

On the Ballot: Defeating TABOR, Defending Relationship Equality Laws & A Roundup of Other Ballot Issues

Along with giving a roundup of the range of initiatives on the ballot in this off-year election, this Dispatch will give special focus to the campaigns against TABOR and defending relationship equality laws.

Restoring State Authority: An Agenda to Restrict Preemption of State Laws

For years, states have increasingly seen their hands tied by a federal government declaring that preemption voids state consumer, environmental and labor rights laws.  The Bush administration in particular used its regulatory authority aggressively to block state law after state law.   

The results have been catastrophic.  Despite the myth that "no one saw the subprime meltdown coming," the reality is that thirty states enacted laws to rein in abuses by predatory lenders.  However, the Bush administration used its regulatory authority over banks to shut down most of those predatory lending laws in the courts. This is just the most dramatic example of how preemption allowed the federal government to enforce its own inaction on state governments at the behest of corporate interests.

Texas House Dumps Rightwing Speaker in Favor of Bi-Partisan Reform Choice

When Progressive States Network (PSN) discussed gains in progressive power in legislative chambers around the country back in November, one of the question marks was what would happen in the Texas House. Earlier this week, that question was largely resolved when it was announced that rightwing Speaker Tom Craddick no longer had the votes to be reelected. Instead, a majority coalition, including most House Democrats and a growing number of Republicans, decided to support Republican Joe Straus from San Antonio as the new speaker. 

Policy Checklist for the New State Legislative Sessions

With legislative sessions getting underway around the country, this Dispatch provides a list of key bills and policies that we encourage legislators to consider introducing.  While not exhaustive of the range of needed reforms in states, they emphasize initiatives of strategic importance that are being considered in multiple states.  Working with our various partners, Progressive States Network is providing staff support for these policies and will work to use movement in multiple states to generate national media and attention.  This in turn will create greater momentum to assist individual states in pushing bills to passage.  The following is a quick checklist of key policies with links to model legislation and policy summaries.

Strengthening Progressive State Power Should Be Priority for D.C. Leaders

With conservatives losing the presidency and democrats controlling Congress, we are likely to see a significant redeployment of conservative political energy into the states.  There are still 33 state governments where Republicans control either a governorship or a legislative chamber, and other state political bodies are still controlled by conservative Democrats.  We are already seeing rightwing forces shift to state level policy campaigns.  In fact, multiple conservative commentators have begun to openly discuss that the states will be their key target in the next few years.

Changing Electorate Promises Bright Future for Progressive Politics

In last Tuesday's election, there was a dramatic demographic and geographic shift in who supported progressives all the way down the ballot.  These changes could lead to long-term electoral support for progressives if they deliver on the promises they made to voters.

New PSN Website and Reports Lay the Groundwork for 2009 State Action

With elections over and new progressive strength in many legislatures, voters will now be demanding that state leaders deliver, made all the more challenging given hard economic times and the laundry list of social problems we face.  

To assist in this task, Progressive States Network has launched an upgrade of its website to make it easier for legislators and advocates to find both past Dispatch information and additional resources we will be adding in coming months.  As well, we have new Policy Options reports that give more detailed analysis of policies that legislators may want to introduce in their states.

State Progressive Victories from November 2008's Election

Beyond federal victories for progressives, November 4th was in multiple ways a resounding victory for progressives at the state level.  First, with President-Elect Obama's experience as a state legislator, state leaders will hopefully have an ally in the White House who understands the challenges they face and the need for a federal partner to make state innovation effective.  Second, even after large gains in state legislatures for progressives in 2006 and 2007, Tuesday saw additional legislative gains, with new progressive leadership taking control of number of key state chambers.