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
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.