South Carolina's legislative session was marked
by a failure to pass major pieces of legislation such as healthcare and
payday-lending reforms, the passage of a regressive immigration bill,
and significant time spent on small, controversial measures such as
posting the ten commandments in public buildings, “I Believe”? license plates, and outlawing pants worn below the hips. Fixing budget deficits
and hiring much needed additional judges were two other important
issues that could not get resolved while less consequential legislation
was debated. In the end, lawmakers showed how important those small
measures were by overriding vetoes of bills like S 577, which increased penalties for attacking a coach in a sports league.
Missouri's legislative session was largely a repeat of last year
- the best that can be said is that some particularly bad bills failed
to pass. Unfortunately, others did. The state passed a particularly
regressive immigration bill, but failed to take action on voter ID
legislation. Beyond those issues the session mostly played out as a
The Union Advantage: Unionization raises the wages of the typical low-wage worker by 20.6 percent, according to a new report by the Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), which includes state-by-state data on gains from unionization for workers in all income brackets.
Costs of War: Highlighting the costs of the Iraq War, the Center for American Progress has developed an interactive map
that shows what each state is suffering in lost investments in jobs,
health care and clean energy. The projected cost of the war for
taxpayers in a large state like Texas are $54 billion, but even a state
like South Dakota is losing out on over $1 billion.
While the Mississippi Legislature adjourned its regular session in
April after approving a $5 billion budget, lawmakers will be back in
the Capitol soon for a special session to address unresolved
legislation, including Medicaid funding woes and keeping the Department
of Employment Security open. With a session dominated by attacks on
immigrants, multiple attempts to suppress voting, and giveaways to
state utility companies, the positive accomplishments of the
legislature during the short 2008 legislative session were limited.
Reframing the Immigration Debate: The Rockridge Institute has a new paper, To Respect and Protect: Expanding our Discourse on Immigration,
that emphasizes that progressives must change the "frame" on
immigration from one of conservative fears to one emphasizing the
global interdependence of working families in different countries and
how a more progressive immigration policy, including ending the
economic exploitation of "economic refugees" (the Rockridge term) will
benefit our whole society.
Rising Inequality: In a state-by-state analysis of rising income inequality, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
finds that since the late 1990s, incomes of the bottom fifth of
families has declined by 2.5% among the bottom fifth of families, even
as the top fifth has seen a 9.1% increase. In recent years,
Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico, Connecticut and Indiana have seen the
greatest increases in income inequality.