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Rhode Island

Helping Poor and Working Families Build Financial Assets

By one estimate, the federal government spent over $367 billion in 2005 aloneon subsidizing Americans' retirement savings and tax breaks to build upother assets like buying a home.  Unfortunately, those subsidies gooverwhelmingly to those Americans who already have high-incomes; almostnone of it goes to the poorest Americans who need the most helpbuilding the financial assets that can lead to long-term economicopportunities and security.

States Still Leading Feds on Minimum Wage

With food and gas prices rising rapidly, low-wage workers can at least welcome an increase in the federal minium wage to $6.55 per hour scheduled to go into effect on July 24th.  Even better, a number of states will also be increasing their minimum wage rates even higher than the federal rate:

2008 Session Roundups: Rhode Island

The Rhode Island General Assembly adjourned after lawmakers reached agreement on a $6.9 billion state budget which, among other things, closes a $422 million deficit for the next fiscal year.   Overall the Rhode Island legislative session ended in mix results, with Governor Carcieri vetoing some important foreclosure and environmental legislation.  In fact, over a four-day period last week the Republican Governor vetoed 49 of the bills approved late last month before the Democrat-dominated Assembly adjourned. The legislature may, if they choose, hold a special session before January to rescue the swath of bills.

Rhode Island pushes to stem toxic toys crisis

Providence - Amidst the recent national uproar over lead in children’s toys, the Rhode Island legislature joined statehouses across the country in turning its attention to a new set of poisonous chemicals showing up in children's toys: phthalates and bisphenol-A.

Mapping and Deploying High-Speed Broadband

Despite claims by the Bush administration that most Americans now have access to affordable broadband, many people might disagree and would probably argue that their Internet access is to slow and to expensive.  Most analysts are nowhere near as optimistic as Bush's "Networked Nation: Broadband in America." These analysts highlight that the U.S. has fallen to 15th in world rankings for broadband connectivity and that Americans pay much higher fees for much slower speeds than most of the industrial nations in the world.  Misguided regulatory policies and substandard infrastructure have helped create a sub-parbroadband network in the United States.  

Toxic Toys Update

Our Dispatch and conference call last week highlighted ways in which states can fight toxic toys.    In case you missed it, the audio of the call can be found here.  Within a few days, several  states came forward with additional bills protecting the health of our children, including:

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. 

Wringing Costs Out of the Health Care System

We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse.  The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.

This Little Light of Mine: States Push Changing Light Bulbs for Energy Savings

What if we told you that you could save money, energy, and carbon dioxide emissions just by replacing your light bulbs?  Many states are pushing new policies to encourage or even require the replacement of traditional wasteful incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) as a key step to achieving energy independence.