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Tracking the recession: Stimulus holds states accountable

“State leaders face real change, as promised by President Obama. States will need to collect data from agencies, from contractors, from subcontractors, that they have never collected before,” said Nathan Newman, interim executive director of the Progressive States Network, a research group based in New York whose members include many state policymakers.

Voter ID: The Landscape for 2009

As we noted in the Dispatch a couple weeks ago, despite a dearth of recent successes and mounting fiscal crises in most states, rightwing voter ID legislation designed to suppress voter turnout continues to be pressed around the country.  So far this year at least 17 states have seen bills introduced to institute or enhance ID requirements for voting or registration (AL, CO, GA, IN, MD, MN, MS, MO, NY, OK, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WY).  It appears we now know enough to predict the landscape of the voter ID battles in this legislative session.

Indexing Minimum Wage to Inflation Critical for Low-Income Working Families

Washington State minimum wage workers got a raise January 1st to $8.55 per hour -- now the highest minimum wage in the country.   Like nine other states, Washington automatically increases its minimum wage each year at the rate of inflation to make sure families don't face a de facto pay cut as rising costs eat into family budgets.  Because the federal minimum wage is not indexed to inflation in this way, we have seen a decline in its value from $9.34 in inflation-adjusted dollars down to just $6.55 per hour this past year.  This trend highlights why state efforts to index the minimum wage to keep up with inflation are so critical.

Battles Over Voter ID Requirements Loom Large in 2009 Sessions

Last year we saw the incredible wave of voter ID legislation promoted nationwide by rightwing activists seem to peter out. High profile campaigns for restrictive photo ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements, which limit the voting of many legal citizens (see here and here), were met with defeat. But the proponents of voter ID have apparently not been deterred. The good people at Project Vote, who have been monitoring voter ID legislation across the country, are finding that rightwing lawmakers in key states continue to place voter ID at the top of their to-do list. This is despite the passing of another election without any evidence of the type of fraud that voter ID requirements would help prevent - someone attempting to register and vote twice in the same state.