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Pennsylvania

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.

PA: Recounts Concluded, Democrats Win the State House

Pennsylvania Democrats have taken a 102-101 majority in the state house following two recounts in races that showed narrow wins for Republicans. A recount showed that in one race, the Democrat was actually the victor. Control of the Montana House still is not final. Democrats currently have a 50-49-1 edge in the chamber, pending a recount in a race that was originally counted as a tie. That recount is occuring today.

Workers Protest Anti-Family Scheduling Policies by Wal-Mart

Nearly 200 Wal-Mart workers spontaneously walked off the job in Florida this week in response to new rules that even two department managers leading the walkout deemed "inhuman." Not only were hours cut for all full-time workers -- from 40 hours a week down to 32 hours, but employees were required to be available for any shift around the clock.

PA: Wal-Mart Workers Win Battle in State Court

Two former Wal-Mart employees won a major victory on behalf of 187,000 Wal-Mart workers in Pennsylvania state court today, with a jury finding that Wal-Mart violated state labor laws.
Lawyers for the ex-employees, Dolores Hummel and Michelle Braun, claimed Wal-Mart made workers skip more than 33 million rest breaks from 1998 to 2001 to boost productivity and curb labor costs. More than 70 similar wage-and-hour suits have been filed in the U.S.

Progress on the Minimum Wage

After years of stagnating wages for working Americans and inaction by Congress, legislators and activists across the country are taking the lead in securing higher minimum wages on a state by state basis. They are achieving some outstanding results. Here's where the minimum wage fight stands in a number of states:

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.

The Taxpayers' Bill of Goods

With the 2006 elections quickly approaching, a small group of highly energized right-wing activists are working hard to export a failed policy from Colorado to other states around the nation. The idea is known variously as the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR), the Stop OverSpending Amendment (SOS), or as Tax and Spending Control (TASC). Fundamentally, though, all of the amendments boil down to a single policy idea: arbitrarily capping increases in state spending based on only two factors -- population growth and the consumer price index.

The Success of State Venture Funds

Hawaii is the latest state moving in that direction with a proposed Hawaii Innovations Fund which could grow to $200 million in government funds over four years to invest in Hawaii's renewable energy, life science and technology companies.

FL: Leaving the Injured without Justice

The corporate lobby scored a big victory in Florida last week, as the Sun Sentinel detailed:

The Florida Senate gave final approval Thursday to a measure toppling a centuries-old principle of civil law that will make it harder for people to collect damages when they're injured in an accident.

 

Playing Games With Workers' Wages

An old rule of politics is to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. A new corrolary may be: Be wary of letting the good become the enemy of the perfect. In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, conservatives reading the polls are looking to defuse a ticking political time-bomb: the minimum wage.