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Minnesota Governor Pawlenty Vetoes Bill to Help Stop Foreclosures

Giving into corporate efforts to protect banking interests, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed SF 3396, which would have put a temporary hold on foreclosures while still requiring borrowers to make payments on their loans.  The bill would have required homeowners with a sub-prime or negative amortization loan to pay either 65 percent of the payment owed when the loan defaulted, or the minimum monthly payment when the mortgage was first created, whichever is less, for a one-year foreclosure deferment period.  The bill passed both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature with a wide margin, only to be vetoed (part of Pawlenty's record number of vetoes for a single session).  In the meantime, home foreclosures are projected to increase 39 percent this year in Minnesota, with one out of every 31 Minnesota households experiencing a foreclosure between 2005 and the end of this year.

The New Voter Suppression and the Progressive Response

Voter suppression is growing rapidly in America today.  Over half of states now have voter ID requirements more stringent than that required for first time voters in federal elections.  Several states are clamping down on voter registration drives or are considering proof of citizenship requirements.

Eliminating Health Disparities, Achieving Equity

In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US health care system 37th in the world despite spending more than any other country.  In 2007, according to the US Census Bureau, the US ranked 42nd in life expectancy. If you are a person of color, a low-wage worker, non-English speaking, or live in a low-income community, the picture is much worse.  For instance, the life expectancy for African-Americans is 73.3 years, five years shorter than it is for whites.  For African-American men, it is 69.8 years, just above averages in Iran and Syria, but below Nicaragua and Morocco.

Statewide Video Franchising Legislation: Bad Bills in Tennessee & Louisiana, and an Innovative Approach in Minnesota

Legislatorsin both Tennessee and Louisiana have heavily promoted statewide videofranchising legislation this session.  Just this past week the Tennessee House approved HB 1421, the "Competitive Cable and Video Services Act," while Louisiana legislators have introduced multiple statewide franchising bills, with SB 807 having the most momentum.  The common thread between each Louisiana bill is that they are all bad for consumers.  

Voter Registration: Steps States Can Take to Help Voters Register and Keep Them Registered

Maintaining accurate voter rolls and ensuring that all eligible voters who register to vote actually make it onto voting rolls are two of the most important functions of election administration.  If an eligible voter cannot vote because his name doesn't appear on the voter roll used in an election, the problem will not be addressed by the federal guarantee of a provisional ballot.  Such a ballot cannot register a person to vote, it can only preserve a ballot in the case the voter rolls at the precinct are mistaken or the

Focus on Prescription Drug Reform

$287 billion -- that is how much the U.S. spent on pharmaceuticals in 2007, representing a significant driver of health care costs.  While spending on hospital and physician care surpass spending on prescriptions, drugs still account for 14% of all health care expenditures. Combine this with polls that show 70% of Americans believe the drug industry puts profits ahead of people, and it's no wonder that in 2008, at least 540 bills and resolutions are being considered by states across the country to reduce prescription drug prices, ensure the quality of medications covered by public and private health plans, and reduce the undue influence of pharmaceutical industry marketing - which itself tops out at $30 billion each year.

States Criminalizing Immigrant Workers through State "Identity Theft" Legislation

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).  

The Minnesota Transit Programs That Weren't

 

As we detailed in a LegAlert last Friday, the Minnesota bridge collapse tragedy highlights the more general failure of states to invest in infrastructure maintenance.  Most state legislatures have failed to muster the political will to vote for the revenues needed to maintain the transit infrastructure across the country.