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Obama Allows California to Adopt Car Emission Standards - New Day for State Regulatory Authority

In a positive step forward for federal respect of state regulatory powers, President Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider a previously denied waiver to allow California to set more stringent auto emissions and fuel efficiency standards than required by federal law.  In a statement by the White House, President Obama said "the federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."  The directive represents not only greater respect for state authority, but also a sharp break from the climate policies of President Obama's predecessor. 

A Simple Approach for Expanding Eligibility to Health Insurance

In New York State, 31% of uninsured residents are young adults between the ages 19 and 29. To help this population and reduce the state's uninsured rolls, Governor Paterson wants to require private employers to offer health insurance to workers' dependents who are between the ages 19 and 29.  The proposal would expand eligibility to some 800,000 uninsured New Yorkers and the Governor's Office projects about 80,000 would take advantage of the new rule. According to the New York Times, business groups appear to be supportive of the idea, which would not require employers to help pay for coverage, merely to make it available.

Policy Checklist for the New State Legislative Sessions

With legislative sessions getting underway around the country, this Dispatch provides a list of key bills and policies that we encourage legislators to consider introducing.  While not exhaustive of the range of needed reforms in states, they emphasize initiatives of strategic importance that are being considered in multiple states.  Working with our various partners, Progressive States Network is providing staff support for these policies and will work to use movement in multiple states to generate national media and attention.  This in turn will create greater momentum to assist individual states in pushing bills to passage.  The following is a quick checklist of key policies with links to model legislation and policy summaries.

Toxics Disclosure: Challenges and Victories in the States

Recently, in New Jersey, Governor Jon Corzine's administration proposed rule changes that threaten to prevent the public from accessing key environmental information about potential hazardous facilities in the state.  Advocates say the environmental information that would be withheld would block public access to information that estimates the number of people who would be put at risk "if a toxic chemical disaster occurred at any of the state regulated 12 sites or any of the 85 state sites under federal oversight."

Privatization Update: Recent News from across the Country

As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer.  As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.