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New Mexico

Corporate Influence on State Supreme Courts Show Need for Reform

Over the past decade, elections for state high court seats have gone from sleepy, mildly partisan affairs to major political battles with huge campaign spending, millions in independent special interest advertising, and misleading and negative attacks in the forefront.  TV advertising is now apart of virtually all (91%) contested state supreme court elections, up from about one in five elections in 2000.  And in 2006 business groups were the source of more than 90% of those ads.  Business groups are also the source of almost half of all campaign contributions in these races.

Families USA's State Reports Document Bush's Assault on State Economies and the Consequences of Being Uninsured

Absent a national health care policy, states have found ways to expand the reach of Medicaid by covering more low-income, senior and disabled people and expanding the list of covered services.  Because of state action, 58 million Americans now have health coverage they would not otherwise possess.  To push back on the states, the Bush Administration put forward several new Medicaid regulations last year that, if implemented, will shift the burden and costs to states.  This will result in reduced benefits for millions of Americans unless already cash-strapped states find some way to pick up the slack - to the tune of $50 billion over five years.

Washington House Passes Public Financing for Local Offices

In the wake of a bitter 2004 Governor's election and state Supreme Court races that took in more money from third-party groups than any other high court campaign in the country, Washington State's House took the first step toward public financing by passing HB 1551. Introduced by Senator Joe McDermott, HB 1551 allows cities, counties, and other jurisdictions to provide local candidates with government financing.  The bill only allows local taxes to be tapped for the public campaign accounts and the public funds cannot be used for campaigns for state offices or school boards.

Individual Health Care Mandates and the Problem of Affordability

Is an individual mandate to purchase health care insurance the solution to America's growing health insurance crisis? 

The Fight Against Global Warming: Another Way States Can Rein in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, recently released a report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the worst effects of global warming. 

States Make Single-Payer the Standard for Reform

The California legislature is again on the verge of passing universal single-payer health care. SB 840, the California Universal Healthcare Act, sponsored by State Senator Sheila Kuehl, was recently approved by the State Senate and is now before the Assembly, where it too is expected to pass. The legislation, which is often compared to a Medicare-for-all system, would provide comprehensive and seamless health care for all residents. Everyone - individuals, employers and government - would share responsibility for funding the program. Importantly, consumers would have complete freedom to choose their providers who would be paid according to actuarially-sound reimbursement.

Right Wing Lobbying Strategies in the States

Even as progressives are making major headway in this session on issues ranging from renewable energy to the minimum wage to voting reform, the corporate Right, led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its associated "research" front groups, is still out there in the states pushing their model bills and corporate-funded propaganda. 

Cracking Down on Wal-Mart's Favorite Tax Loopholes

At the beginning of February, we reported on an expose of special loopholes used by Wal-Mart to slash its state taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.  The scam involves Wal-Mart and other companies dividing themselves into separate subsidiaries, buying land and buildings, then deducting the rent paid to itself as a business expense.  But states are moving to eliminate the loophole and reclaim the lost revenue:

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) Advance in the States

As we first highlighted in our Dispatch last December, renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS) are a great way to stimulate renewable energy development.  By requiring that a certain percentage of a state's electricity come from renewable energy, RPS jump starts economic development and job creation.