Session Review

2010 Legislative Roundup: Colorado

2010 was an impressive year for Colorado’s legislature, which passed several hallmark bills that cemented the state’s reputation as a leader in renewable energy and health care reform.  Despite careful cutting and compromising in order to end the year in the black as required by state law, the session was relatively bipartisan overall and ensured that outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter ended his tenure on a high note.

2010 Legislative Roundup: Minnesota

This year marked another contentious legislative session for Minnesota, marked by gubernatorial vetoes and tough negotiations over the budget and healthcare.  In the end, Gov. Pawlenty vetoed twenty bills, bringing his eight-year total to 96. This year's vetoes included a wide range of measures, from a bill enabling same-sex partners to make end-of-life decisions, to a medical marijuana bill, to a bill that would have supported local government and non-profit innovation efforts.  Painful budget cuts and cost deferrals left the state's financial picture for 2012 and beyond uncertain, but legislators did manage to move important measures on broadband, energy conservation, and consumer protection, as well as a billion-dollar bonding measure that will create some jobs to cushion losses in other areas.

2010 Legislative Roundup: Vermont

The Vermont legislature was able to compromise on next year’s budget somewhat expeditiously. For fiscal year 2011, beginning in July, the state will face a $154 million budget gap and will have to borrow about $71 million. Many successes took place in the realms of health care, job creation, broadband coverage, criminal justice, and environmental issues, including a successful stop to the re-licensing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Tennessee

Tennessee’s much-publicized educational reforms overshadowed the fact that the state’s policy decisions during the 2010 legislative session took a sharp rightward turn.  Immigration and abortion were big targets, but public health and safety were also negatively affected by legislation that defied common sense.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Illinois

Despite a crippling budget crisis — which has proven so divisive that adjournment of the legislature was postponed in order to reach a consensus on the 2011 budget — Illinois managed to pass a few truly progressive pieces of legislation.  But gains by low-wage workers, nursing home residents, low-income communities, and renewable energy producers were offset by atrocious pension reforms impacting teachers and other state employees, as well as a state budget that hardly solves any problems.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Missouri

Missouri lawmakers left Jefferson City on May 14 following a session defined by extreme budget cuts, partisan posturing, and the upcoming midterm elections.  Some lawmakers criticized the session as failing to address crucial issues.  Rep. Shalonn Curls stated, "[i]t's unfortunate we couldn't pass more meaningful legislation this year.  We spent a lot of time on meaningless resolutions denouncing the federal health care plan, when we could've been creating more opportunities for economic growth and stability for our constituents."

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Georgia

The longest legislative session in Georgia’s history adjourned on April 29th.  Dominated by budget reductions, tax and revenue policy debates, and education and transportation issues, it was a difficult and mostly painful session for progressive change as extensive cuts were made targeting education, health and social service programs. After nearly a week of negotiations in the House and Senate Budget Conference Committee, an agreement was reached on the $17.8 billion state budget just hours before the legislative session was scheduled to adjourn.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Mississippi

Despite a brief three-month session, the Mississippi State Legislature still managed to pass some progressive legislation -- and progressives managed to head off most anti-immigrant and anti-worker proposals along with a veritable host of bills that sought to encourage religious worship in public and in the workplace.

2010 Legislative Session Roundup: Hawaii

Like the rest of the nation, the Hawaiian legislature made needed reforms in order to balance the state’s $1.2 billion budget deficit.  The Democrat-led legislature used innovative ways to deal with the crisis - such as raising the taxes on petroleum products, a measure that lessens Hawaii’s dependence on foreign oil and reinvests in renewable energy sources, and voting to reroute sitting monies from the Hurricane Relief Fund terminate teacher furloughs and ensure that students remain more days in the classrooms. Notably, the legislature had to override 11 out of 14 vetoes by their Governor.