Alaska's 2009 legislative session was full of strife between lawmakersand Gov. Sarah Palin, but resulted in little legislative action otherthan passage of the state budget. Much of this session was spentdeliberating about what to do with the budget, the federal economicstimulus plan and funding.
While the financial crisis has received more of the headlines, there has been a growing unemployment crisis over the last year.
With unemployment at a five-year high, nearly 10 million Americans were
officially unemployed last month, with nearly 500,000 workers applying
for benefits each week. And the problem doesn't stop there, with
long-term joblessness rising:
Milwaukee has a paid sick leave referendum
on the ballot for November that would allow employees to take leave for
medical treatment, preventive care, or diagnosis for themselves, as
well as to care for a close family member who is sick or who needs
diagnosis or preventive care. Additionally, employees would be allowed
to use the time to deal with domestic violence or sexual assault (for
example, using accrued time to flee to safety.) Employees at firms
with 10 workers or less could accumulate up to 40 hours, whereas larger
companies would have to provide up to 72 hours of paid sick leave.
We may say as a country that we value families and mothers, but a rise in job
discrimination complaints by moms highlights how far most workplaces are from
that ideal. Yesterday, to help clarify the responsibilities of
employers, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) issued
guidelines on what kinds of discrimination against parents is
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
In Alaska, where lame duck Governor Frank Murkowski recently lost his primary challenge (possibly in part because he appointed his daughter to the U.S. Senate seat he vacated), another father-child pair is experiencing trouble. U.S. Senator Ted Stevens has been under fire in recent days for attempting to block common sense legislation to let the public track government spending.
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.
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.