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Georgia

Reports Find Election Administration in Swing States Not Significantly Improved

Common Cause and The Century Foundation have released the new version of their joint biennial report on election administration in 10 swing states and the findings are not very encouraging: while voters' desire to participate is growing, states have only made fitful progress improving the voting process, and in many instances things have moved backward since the last federal election in 2006.  Examining the most recent election experiences of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia the report details serious problems in every major aspect of the voting process, along with a handful of bright spots where individual states are moving important reforms.

Making College Affordable for All

The benefits of a post-secondary degree are plentiful.  For example, an employee with a four year college degree earns 60 percent more than a worker with only a high school diploma. Paying for college, however, has become a daunting task and strain for many American students and families.  The cost of higher education across the country is rapidly increasing, at almost double the rate of inflation, outpacing increases in financial aid and many families ability to pay.  The combination of these factors result in too many students being unable to earn or complete their degrees due to financial constraints.

A Worrisome Trend in State Health Care Reform

Instead of working to make good coverage available to all residents, Florida and Georgia are
leading a new wave of state proposals to push the uninsured and
low-income Americans into high deductible and limited benefit health
plans.  Backed by Newt Gingrich's Center for Health Transformation
and playing the tune of John McCain's health care plans, the Florida
and Georgia proposals are signs of what's to come from the Right in
future state and federal health care debates.

Voter Identification Laws: The Specter of Fraud Helps the Right Wing Shape the Electorate

Since the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) established the requirement that first time voters present some form of identification before voting in a federal election, voter identification requirements of all sorts have been enacted across the country.  Currently 26 states have laws that are more restrictive than the HAVA mandate, and 21 states require ID from voters every time they vote.  These laws have been passed by arguing they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, even though all evidence suggests that such fraud is extremely rare and poses no threat to the integrity of our voting systems.  Instead, these fraud arguments have merely been a partisan tool, used for decades, to suppress turnout among new groups entering the electorate in large numbers and threatening the power of those currently in charge, whether they be minorities, immigrants or students.

The Right-Wing Assault on University Campuses

Right-wing interests have been mounting a political assault on university professors they do not like, led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which is promoting so-called "Intellectual Diversity" (ID) Legislation in various states across the country. The concept was pioneered by right-wing activist David Horowitz (see this profile site for more on Horowitz).  

Right Wing Lobbying Strategies in the States

Even as progressives are making major headway in this session on issues ranging from renewable energy to the minimum wage to voting reform, the corporate Right, led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its associated "research" front groups, is still out there in the states pushing their model bills and corporate-funded propaganda. 

States Limit Mercury Emissions While the Feds Fail to Act

Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania sued the Bush Administration this week claiming they failed to adequately regulate emissions of mercury and other pollutants at older cement plant kilns.  Last December, the EPA announced new limits on mercury and hydrocarbon emissions from cement kilns built after December 2, 2005, but left weak rules in place for kilns from before that date.  The states argue that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to limit mercury from all kilns, not just new ones.

 

Strengthening Home Rule on Revenue Powers

If states won't raise the revenue needed for local needs, the least they can do is let those cities and towns tax themselves.  At least that's the proposal by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who this week proposed eliminating some of the restrictions that prevent Boston and other towns from raising local revenue through sales taxes, meals taxes or many other fees that comparable cities use.  This proposal joins a slew of other proposals for expanding local revenue options: