This Dispatch is a roundup of what ballot initiatives will
appear on state ballots across the country this November. Whether it's
workers rights, energy policy, education, transit, abortion or health
care, ballot initiates give voters a chance to directly vote on an
Even with many states having short sessions, the 2008 state legislative
sessions have already had some impressive milestone victories for
families and communities across the country. This Dispatch
covers a few of the key issue victories this year -- and points out
that states are still taking the lead on issue after issue. Most of
the bills highlighted became law, while a few, falling short of final
passage, were innovative enough and showed enough movement to promise
greater things for 2009.
While the session started with larger ambitions, a diminished budget
surplus and political deadlock led to less dramatic results -- a good
thing in the case of a proposed $100 million tax cut which was
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.
Despite over two and a half weeks of rescue efforts, six coal miners
remain trapped in Utah in a tragedy
that has also claimed the lives of three rescuers. The
conditions apparent at the mine, as well as the treacherous rescue
into question the quality of federal Mine Safety and Health Administration
(MSHA) procedures. MSHA approved the mine operation plan in June, just months
after serious structural problems forced the operators to abandon work in an
area that was only 900 feet from where the miners are trapped.
This week, an Arkansas bill to ban gay adoption
collapsed in the
House, after passing the state Senate earlier this month. In New
Hampshire, the state House
passed a bill affirming the right of gay couples to jointly adopt
children. Earlier this month, the Colorado House
approved a similar
adoption" bill in a bipartisan vote.
In states across the country, progressive leaders are stepping up to
discuss how to achieve universal coverage for health care. At the same
time, many on the Right are trying to define "health care coverage" to
mean bare-bones care with often unaffordable cost-sharing for
individuals and families.
While some politicians express angst about sounding moderate on the
immigration issue by eschewing xenophobic measures, a Utah primary
election last week shows just how weak the hard-line anti-immigrant
stance is with real voters.
While some politicians express angst about sounding moderate on the immigration issue by eschewing xenophobic measures, a Utah primary election last week shows just how weak the hard-line anti-immigrant stance is with real voters.
The race turned almost entirely on the issue of immigration. The incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon faced a primary challenge from someone whose profile largely matched his -- conservative and a member of the LDS church.