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2008 Session Roundups: Oklahoma

The Oklahoma State Legislature adjourned late Friday, May 23, a week earlier than constitutionally-mandated.  Lawmakers closed the session with an agreement on a $7.1 billion state budget for the next fiscal year.  Overall the short 16 week session led to a mix bag of results.

Voter Identification Laws: The Specter of Fraud Helps the Right Wing Shape the Electorate

Since the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) established the requirement that first time voters present some form of identification before voting in a federal election, voter identification requirements of all sorts have been enacted across the country.  Currently 26 states have laws that are more restrictive than the HAVA mandate, and 21 states require ID from voters every time they vote.  These laws have been passed by arguing they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, even though all evidence suggests that such fraud is extremely rare and poses no threat to the integrity of our voting systems.  Instead, these fraud arguments have merely been a partisan tool, used for decades, to suppress turnout among new groups entering the electorate in large numbers and threatening the power of those currently in charge, whether they be minorities, immigrants or students.

The Right-Wing Assault on University Campuses

Right-wing interests have been mounting a political assault on university professors they do not like, led by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), which is promoting so-called "Intellectual Diversity" (ID) Legislation in various states across the country. The concept was pioneered by right-wing activist David Horowitz (see this profile site for more on Horowitz).  

New Jersey Raises Standards for Hate Crimes and Safe Schools Laws

With only 10 dissenting votes, the New Jersey Legislature has made the state's hate crimes and anti-bullying laws two of the strongest in the country. S2975 is notable for its unequivocal inclusion of transgender people in the state's hate crimes law, becoming the 12th state to do so, and for stronger anti-bullying measures in its safe schools law. 

Promoting Affordable Housing through State Policy

The effects of the sub-prime lending disaster are still being felt as the stock market has been rocked in recent weeks and many families find themselves locked out of the mortgage market.  As we highlighted in the past, the subprime mortgage market was largely aimed at economically-strapped families trying to find some way to afford homes.  For low-income renters who never had the money to even be in the game, rising rents have increasingly priced them out of their homes. 

Oklahoma Legislative Roundup

 

With new right-wing dominance of the state legislature, the Oklahoma session was dominated by tax giveaways to business, extreme social legislation, threats to consumer rights and one of the most anti-immigrant laws in the country.

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.

Rightwing Fraud Derails Tax Revolt

The libertarian movement backed by a super-wealthy New York developer is proving why it hates the government so much: they appear constitutionally unable to follow the law. Howard Rich and his cronies have been behind efforts to clone Colorado's disastrous TABOR spending cap measure, various knock-off proposals based on Oregon's anti-land use planning law Measure 37, and various assaults on the judicial system.

OK: Justices Rule TABOR Signatures Gathered Illegally, Measure Off the Ballot

A unanimous order by Oklahoma's Supreme Court has knocked that state's proposed TABOR measure off the ballot. TABORs -- strict spending caps based on Colorado's disastrous Taxpayer's Bill of Rights -- have been advanced by the far-right in a number of states this year using a variety of shady tactics exposed by Progressive States and our allies across the country. This move is a significant victory. It indicates that the anti-government forces knowingly broke the law in Oklahoma.

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.