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Montana

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.

Voting Rights 2008: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Fallout from Montana Voter Challenge Plan Continues:  Last week we highlighted the tremendous job that Forward Montana and other local advocates did in bringing a massive attempt to challenge voters in Montana to a stop.  In just a few days the plan was abandoned amid serious public backlash.  This week there has been additional fallout as the executive director of the state GOP has stepped down.  Clearly trying to keep people like deployed soldiers from voting wasn't a popular activity in the big sky state.

Voter Suppression Update

A couple of weeks ago, we outlined the rash of voter suppression activities cropping up, like clockwork, around the nation. This week we cover the new suppression efforts that have come to light since.

Left in the Cold — Utility Shut-Offs and State Responses

Working families struggling to make utility payments are feeling the chill as companies shut off their gas and electricity. Shut-offs are up across dozens of states, particularly Michigan where unemployment is high, with a 22 percent increase in the number of families left without heat or electricity. The state's Heating and Warmth Fund, which helps those in need pay delinquent heating bills, has seen a record 42 percent increase in people applying for heating payment assistance.

Ballot Initiatives 2008

This Dispatch is a roundup of what ballot initiatives will appear on state ballots across the country this November.  Whether it's workers rights, energy policy, education, transit, abortion or health care, ballot initiates give voters a chance to directly vote on an issue.

Should Your Employer Have to Provide a Reason to Fire You?

This November Coloradans will have a chance to vote on a simple proposition:  Should employers have to provide a legitimate reason before they fire an employee? 

Virtually all states already prohibit firings on the basis of race, gender, age or religion and many other criteria; Colorado's Ballot Amendment 55 would merely boil employer responsibility down to a simple requirement that they provide a "just cause" reason for terminating any employee.

Iowa Enacts Election Day Registration - EDR Moving Nationwide

On April 3rd, Iowa Governor Chet Culver signed into law HF 653, which provides Iowans with the opportunity to register and vote on Election Day. Governor Culver stated,

Here in Iowa , we want to make it as easy as possible for Iowans to be involved in the democratic process. This bill achieves this goal. I strongly believe getting more people to vote is good for democracy and good for the future of this state.

Preventing Trade Deals from Undermining State Power

When the Montana State Senate voted overwhelmingly two weeks ago to oppose approval of reauthorization of "Fast Track" Trade Promotion authority for new trade deals, it sent a powerful message that the American people and state governments are tiring of misguided trade deals.