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States and the Census: Expanding Outreach, Maximizing Federal Funding and Assuring Equal Representation

This Dispatch will outline strategies that include crafting outreach and education initiatives that integrate city and state government agencies with grassroots organizations and local media to ensure 'Hard-to-Count' residents are included in the Census; enacting state legislation that mandates prisoners are counted in their home districts rather than in that of their prisons, and proactively considering principles for redistricting legislative districts that move beyond uniquely partisan concerns to addressing the needs of district residents.  This Dispatch will also aim to provide some of these best practices and highlight resources, all with a view toward preparing states to engage effectively with the 2010 and — looking forward — 2020 Census.

Accounting for jobs in the stimulus cash

In order to comply with new transparency requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state governments across the country are scrambling to report to the public how they spend recovery dollars. Unfortunately, no existing state government Web sites that are accounting for the recovery funds report the number of jobs created by private contractors. Without such data, the sites are close to meaningless.

Fortunately, Oregon is leading an effort to require contractors to report the number of jobs they create, as well as the hours worked and wages received by their employees. These proposed requirements would ensure Oregonians' tax money actually goes toward creating quality jobs.

Concerns raised about black access to stimulus funding

President Barack Obama's $787 billion federal stimulus package, now known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, is designed to jumpstart the nation's failing economy not only through grants and middle-class tax cuts, but by funding state ''shovel-ready'' construction projects that will hopefully produce thousands of jobs and small business opportunities, especially in the black community.

Just last week, Pres. Obama unveiled new proposals to allow small businesses easier access to loans and capital through the US Small Business Administration in an effort to empower them to take better advantage of stimulus package opportunities.

But even before North Carolina fully determines how to distribute its $6.1 billion in federal stimulus funding, questions are being raised as to how African-Americans can best access their share of the opportunity pot.

Democrats propose oversight processes for stimulus, TARP funds

PORTLAND, Ore. (NNPA) - Rep. Chip Shields (D-Portland) this week introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide oversight of how state-chartered banks are spending money disbursed through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

The move comes at the same time another new bill would create a statewide “stimulus czar” to oversee the influx of money expected from President Barack Obama’s economic plan.

If passed, Shields’ House Bill 2784 would convene a bipartisan group of Oregon state senators and representatives, as well as members of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services and representatives of the financial industry, to provide oversight and evaluate the need for regulation of operations of financial institutions licensed, certified or chartered in this state that receive funds from the TARP program.

OR's Big Idea: Protect Stimulus Dollars with Contractor Reform


Salem, OR - Representatives of some national "good government" groups will be in Salem today for the first hearing on two bills that would tighten requirements for who gets government contracts and how they use the money. The Oregon legislation could be used by other states that are looking for ways to track job creation and increase accountability.

In fact, Oregon has some ideas that other states may soon be anxious to copy. This morning, a House committee in Salem discusses two bills that propose turning up the heat on government contractors by setting quality standards and tracking their progress. With billions of dollars of federal stimulus money at stake — and a president who says it must be used to create jobs — states are scrambling to figure out how to meet federal requirements.