As the first month of the 2007 legislative session comes to a close,
expanding access to health care is clearly a top priority for governors
and legislative leaders across the country. From comprehensive health care for all in California and Pennsylvania to incremental cover all kids
in North Carolina and to targeted program expansions in New Mexico, the
proposals represent an unprecedented focus in states to address the
health care crisis that grips our families and businesses.
The past thirty years have seen a marked decline in job quality for a substantial portion of the U.S. workforce: stagnant wages, shrinking health benefits and less job security.
While a number of factors explain this decline, there is little
question that the decline in the strength of labor unions in the US has
played a major role.
One of the biggest challenges in raising voter turnout is address the
rate of voter registration. The vast majority of states have
registration deadlines weeks before Election Day. The schedule poses
problems for busy Americans who simply forget to register or
re-register and find themselves unable to vote on Election Day. During
the 2000 Presidential election alone, nearly 3 million voters were disenfranchised due to registration problems. Luckily, a simple solution is available: Election Day Registration (EDR).
The Millenials are with us. America's youth -- the biggest generation
since the Baby Boom -- are voting more frequently than Generation X and
are voting far more progressively than the Reagan-raised generation
that proceeded them. You have probably already heard one of the most
impressive stats: young voters
went for Democrats by a margin of 60%-38% according to exit polls and 2
million more turned out to the polls than in 2002 -- the last mid-term
In his first veto over 17 years as mayor, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has vetoed
the ordinance passed by the city council which would have required
large retail stores of at least 90,000 square feet to pay $10 an hour,
plus $3 in benefits, by July 2010.
In the groundbreaking film An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore makes an impressive case that it is now essential that the world act to prevent the potentially catastrophic implications of global warming. The film could not come at a more critical time. While the planet warms, Washington dawdles. The nation's political elite remains mired in a debate manipulated by powerful energy interests.
This week, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on
campaign contributions and expenditures by candidates. In a set of
fractured opinions in Randall v. Sorrell,
the Court did not put an end to all campaign finance limits but did put
a roadblock in the way of anything much more restrictive than most
present laws. So if there is going to be more serious reform to lessen
the power of special interest money in politics, the only real
remaining route to reform are systems of public financing of elections like Maine and Arizona.
The Western Governors Association on Sunday acknowledged an
inconvenient truth. The bipartisan group of Governors from West Coast,
Rocky Mountain, and Great Plains states came together to unanimously
pass a resolution (PDF) that says that global warming is real, at least partially human-caused, and that now is a time for action.
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.