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Progressive Ballot Issues For Turnout and Framing

There are few more potent tools for impacting the outcomes of elections than changing what appears on the ballot. And there are no more direct paths from public outcry to passed legislation than through ballot issues. For years, the rightwing has been advancing policy goals, shaping message, and marshalling voters through ballot issues (we've already highlighted many of their current-year endeavors in this very newsletter). Progressives increasingly are fighting back using ballot issues -- which shouldn't be surprising, since initiatives and referedenda were originally a progressive reform.

Illinois Joins Pre-School for All Movement

This past week, Illinois Governor Blagojevich signed the first law in the nation that establishes the goal of universally-available public preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds in that state.

Good News on the Minimum Wage

Working Americans get some good news today out of three states -- Montana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania -- where progress is being made on the minimum wage. In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell signed a staggered, two-dollar increase into law. In Montana, signature gatherers succeeded in qualifying for the ballot an initiative to increase the minimum wage and tie the minimum to inflation.

Beyond the Minimum Wage: New Policies to Raise Wages

The reality for working Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant for over three decades.   For many workers -- especially those without a college degree -- pay has actually gotten worse, meaning that this generation is the first one in American history which is not doing signficantly better than the previous one.  Part of the reason for these stagnant wages is that inflation was allowed to erode the federal minimum wage-- its inflation-adjusted value dropping from $9.12 per hour in 1968 down to just $5.15 per hour in 2005.  

New Latino Voters May Change Political Map

"Today we march, tomorrow we vote!" - the chant at the recent immigration rights rallies -- may translate into a changed electoral landscape in many states across the country.

NJ: Legislators Consider Mimicking Mass's Health Care Move

Does it take two to tangle? Two New Jersey legislators are embarking on a six-month project to evaluate whether New Jersey can copy Massachusetts' recently adopted plan. Before they start hustling around the state, they ought to take a look at whether the Massachusetts plan is even going to work in Massachusetts and also think hard about whether it should be the starting point for negotiations.

NJ: Legislators Consider Copying Mass's Health Care Move

Does it take two to tangle? Two New Jersey legislators are embarking on a six-month project to evaluate whether New Jersey can copy Massachusetts' recently adopted plan.

NJ: Fear the Anonymous Blog

Apparently we anonymous bloggers scare some legislators. New Jersey Assemblyman Peter J. Biondi (R-Somerville) is scared of defamation by anonymous folks posting on blogger and thinks it high time that anonymous blogging be banned. He even has a bill, A1327, that would require operators of websites to keep a list of legal names and addresses of anyone who has the temerity to write something on the website. I wonder what's next?

Smart Growth to Protect Rural America

After winning the Governor's seat in New Jersey, Jon Corzine decided to keep a Republican in the position of Agriculture Secretary. It was a good move. Charlie Kuperus has held the position in 2002 and has won broad support from both parties for his support of a number of measures in support of rural New Jersey.

NJ: State Suing Over Port Transfer

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has announced plans to sue the federal government over the transfer of six ports in New Jersey and elsewhere to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. The lawsuit comes on the heels of claims by the Administration that neither President Bush nor Defense Secretary Rumsfeld claimed to be briefed on the move before it was m