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2014 Immigration Session Roundup

President Barack Obama kicked off 2014 with a strong statement of support for immigration reform, declaring, “It is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system.” In the months since the State of the Union Address, the frustrating stagnation in Congress has led many to become disheartened with the prospect of federal reform. Though a great deal of focus on immigration reform has been at the federal level, states have continued to make progress while the matter is considered by Congress

Fast-Food Strikes Spread to Midwest as Anti-Worker Efforts Meet Strong Opposition

In recent months, unprecedented strikes by fast-food workers have taken place in both New York City and Chicago. This week, the action spread even further through the heart of the country, as workers in St. Louis and Detroit staged one-day work stoppages to demand higher wages and the right to organize. At the same time that such strikes are spreading, anti-worker legislative attacks that have already spread through many neighboring states in recent years are being met with strong opposition throughout the region as well. Workers in Missouri and states across the Midwest continued this week to stand up both in the streets and at statehouses to demand fair wages and respect on the job:

Radical Right-Wing Tax Plans Run Into Trouble

Taxes are on the minds of many this week as April 15th approaches. They're also on the minds of many conservative governors -- in states such as Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Nebraska -- who have seen their radical tax proposals to further enrich corporations and the wealthy run into major resistance from voters, businesses, and even conservative lawmakers. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who this week withdrew his regressive plan that would have eliminated the state income tax while raising the sales tax, has seen his standing drop sharply in the polls. In the run up to Tax Day, increasing attention is being focused on how tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations increase burdens on the middle class.

Anti-Union Bills Still Percolating in Midwest

From Missouri to Pennsylvania to D.C., anti-union "right-to-work" laws are still being proposed and debated. Michigan workers continue to fight their law in the courts weeks before it is set to take effect, while workers in nearby states remain prepared for similar legislation to emerge. Meanwhile, an "anti-right-to-work" bill moved forward in Vermont — legislation that would require all workers who receive benefits thanks to a union to pay their fair share.

Voter Suppression Campaigns Hit Roadblocks

As “The Year of Voter ID” continues, pushback from outraged voters in a number of venues is leading to a growing realization that these supposed efforts to maintain election integrity are actually intended to suppress the vote this November. As a result, backers of voter suppression measures are facing unexpected obstacles at both the state and federal level in their efforts to tilt the electoral scales.

This Week in the War on Women in the States

As the world marks the 101st International Women’s Day, more and more American women are finding their own health under rhetorical and legislative attack in the halls of Congress, on radio airwaves, and in state after state. From attempts to defund organizations providing women with basic health services, to placing intrusive and often humiliating obstacles before women exercising the right to choose, to retricting access to contraception, the past few weeks have seen a range of attacks on women in the states – and a growing movement of progressive state lawmakers standing up and fighting back.

With Economy in Mind, Governors and Legislative Sessions Focus on Broadband

Since state legislatures around the country have started their sessions in 2012, legislators and governors alike have been recognizing the importance of broadband (or high speed Internet) to growing state economies. Governors in states as diverse as Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, and Wyoming highlighted broadband initiatives in their state of the state speeches, as more and more of our leaders are realizing that without broadband, the U.S. economy is not going to produce jobs or the highly-skilled workers needed to compete in a global marketplace.

As National Debate Flares, Surveying Contraceptive Coverage In the States

In the furor surrounding the Obama Administration’s decision this month that contraceptive coverage be provided to women by their employer or insurer, the leadership provided by states in the debate about women’s health has often been overlooked. States have been on the forefront of the fight to ensure that women have access to contraceptives, with 28 states having laws on the books requiring access.