As battle lines are drawn on Capitol Hill over the coming battle over
health care reform, Progressive States Network is putting state
legislators in the middle of the national debate. On Wednesday, PSN led
a delegation representing over 700 state legislators to Washington D.C.
to deliver a letter to the Obama Administration and Congress urging
them to pass comprehensive health care reform with a public insurance
option by the end of the year. The letter, which was signed by a
bipartisan group of over 700 legislators from 48 states, called for any
federal reform bill to include a public health insurance option, strong
affordability protections, and shared employer responsibility for
health care costs.
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed around 350 pieces of legislation
into law, but took few steps forward as budget debates consumed the
legislature. Some better bills included the nation's first mandatory
reporting of food contamination tests by food processors, enacted after
a Georgia plant released salmonella-laced peanuts. The passage of the
budget bill (HB 119) trimmed the state's spending by $3 billion rather than raise taxes.
Following Arizona's lead, Georgia has passed a law
requiring that all residents prove their citizenship before they can
register to vote. This is the most restrictive form of voter ID yet,
and it is far more restrictive than the photo ID requirements that have
been passed across the country. It has been enacted even though there
is no indication that non-citizen voting is a problem in the state; in
fact, Georgia election officials are confident that the current photo ID requirement is strict enough to prevent any problems from arising.
There have recently been a wave of rightwing resolutions asserting "state sovereignty," with Governor Rick Perry even evoking Civil War-era rhetoric about Texas having the right to secede from the United States.
Now more than ever, we need a rational and respectful dialogue about
how to fix our country’s broken immigration system. But comments like
Texas Representative Betty Brown’s recent assertion that legal Chinese
American immigrants should adopt Anglophone names that are “easier for
Americans to deal with” represents precisely the kind of divisive
rhetoric that will keep us from such a levelheaded debate.
Brown’s callous suggestion that Chinese American citizens are not
American is symptomatic of the veiled bigotry that underlies much of
the immigration debate across the nation. It also begs the question of
why state legislators across the country would want to associate with
the organization that Brown helped found to propagate racially divisive