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This week, President Obama began a push to remind the public of the many provisions of the health care law that have either already taken effect or will soon, including the exchanges in October, as states continued to work on getting their exchanges set up while also engaging in their own efforts to educate the public:
This week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would help states fill their coffers, fund critical programs, and avoid damaging cuts by an over two-to-one margin in a bipartisan vote. Difficult to believe in this era of austerity and obstruction? The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases, closing a loophole that currently gives online retailers a major advantage over in-state brick-and-mortar businesses. The bill has picked up support from some major retailers, including Amazon, as well as some conservatives, but is still expected to see strong opposition from anti-tax activists when it heads to the House. However, the bipartisan vote in the Senate this week may be one more indication of a slow-motion shift in the politics of taxation and spending underway in both D.C. and the states:
Late this week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation by unanimous consent that would give the Federal Aviation Administration the ability to end furloughs of air traffic controllers, hoping to end a week of delays at airports across the nation that resulted from the automatic budget cuts in sequestration. These kinds of impacts were the intentional purpose of the blunt and painful automatic cuts of sequestration, which were originally intended to be so frightening that the possibility of their enactment would force an alternative federal budget compromise. Yet while business travellers might be breathing a sigh of relief as they fly home this weekend, the intentionally painful cuts to other critical programs are still being felt by states, kids, students, seniors, and other victims of sequestration -- and the pain they are feeling may soon get worse:
In this week’s Research Roundup: Reports and resources from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, AFL-CIO, National Employment Law Project, Demos, Institute for Women's Policy Research, and Texas Legislative Study Group.
Three years ago this month, Arizona's SB1070 was enacted, setting off a wave of copycat anti-immigrant state bills despite the increasingly dubious constitutionality of such laws and an increasing consensus about their destructive economic consequences for states that adopted them.
Three years after Arizona passed the anti-immigrant SB1070, and as Congress is set to take on immigration reform, a growing number of resolutions being introduced in state legislatures is providing further evidence of just how far the debate on immigration in the states has shifted from just a few years ago. Today, a leading national group of pro-immigrant state legislators announced that state lawmakers from a total of 16 states have either introduced or plan to introduce resolutions or memorials to Congress in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
This week, President Obama traveled to Colorado to continue to press Congress to pass legislation on gun violence prevention. Next week, he is set to travel to Connecticut to do the same. Both are states that have witnessed horrific mass shootings over the past year, and both have since seen their legislatures act to pass bipartisan gun violence prevention bills. Connecticut's new law, passed and signed into law this week, strengthens a ban on assault weapons, limits magazine sizes, and creates the nation's first statewide dangerous weapon offender registry. Maryland also saw strong gun legislation pass their legislature this week, likely to be signed into law next week. All of this movement comes the same week that a new report was released showing that state gun laws likely do have a significant impact on levels of gun violence.
Not to be outdone by Arkansas or any of the record number of other states advancing restrictions on abortion in recent years, North Dakota this week passed anti-choice legislation so draconian it is alienating even self-described "pro-life" lawmakers. Legislatures in states including Texas and Kansas also tried to keep up in the race to be the most backward state on reproductive rights this week, passing legislation that would shut down clinics and endanger women's health. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told lawmakers back in December that his goal was to "make abortion, at any stage, a thing of the past" in his state -- and it looks like lawmakers in other states have also set that as a key priority for legislative sessions this year: