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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.

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.

2008 Session Roundups: Nebraska

In the last legislative session before term limits are implemented and many veteran legislators are pushed into retirement, the Nebraska legislature made solid, if relatively small progress, in a number of areas.

Toxic Toys Update

Our Dispatch and conference call last week highlighted ways in which states can fight toxic toys.    In case you missed it, the audio of the call can be found here.  Within a few days, several  states came forward with additional bills protecting the health of our children, including:

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.

 

What States Can Do for Darfur

Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men, women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.

One Eye on the Ballot

It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.