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Tennessee

Voter ID: The Landscape for 2009

As we noted in the Dispatch a couple weeks ago, despite a dearth of recent successes and mounting fiscal crises in most states, rightwing voter ID legislation designed to suppress voter turnout continues to be pressed around the country.  So far this year at least 17 states have seen bills introduced to institute or enhance ID requirements for voting or registration (AL, CO, GA, IN, MD, MN, MS, MO, NY, OK, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WY).  It appears we now know enough to predict the landscape of the voter ID battles in this legislative session.

Privatization Update: Recent News from across the Country

As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer.  As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.

Statewide Video Franchising Legislation: Bad Bills in Tennessee & Louisiana, and an Innovative Approach in Minnesota

Legislatorsin both Tennessee and Louisiana have heavily promoted statewide videofranchising legislation this session.  Just this past week the Tennessee House approved HB 1421, the "Competitive Cable and Video Services Act," while Louisiana legislators have introduced multiple statewide franchising bills, with SB 807 having the most momentum.  The common thread between each Louisiana bill is that they are all bad for consumers.  

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.  

In Health Care, 2007 May Be the Year of the Child

To little fanfare, the New York General Assembly and Governor Eliot Spitzer enacted a budget in early April that includes health care for essentially all children.  The budget increased SCHIP eligibility for children in families with incomes up to 400% of poverty ($80,000 for a family of four) and allows families above 400% without other options to purchase the SCHIP coverage at full-cost, which is still cheaper and likely more comprehensive than private options.  Premiums for families below 400% of poverty will be set at $20, $30 and $40 per child depending on income. 

Cleaning up Election Day Disasters

Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.