With comprehensive immigration reform continuing its arduous path through Congress, states continue to work on their own tracks, passing reasonable, humane, and economically beneficial immigration policies. In addition to measures like tuition equity, this includes bills that allow undocumented immigrants access to driver's licenses. This week, Connecticut became the latest state to pass such a bill, while California saw bipartisan support emerge for theirs -- yet more evidence of how the politics around immigration reform may be shifting:
This past week was saturated with crisis and tragedy following the events in Boston and Texas, but it also saw significant developments on two critical issues before the U.S. Senate that would likely have otherwise fully gripped the nation's attention. On guns, an already-weakened bipartisan compromise on universal background checks was blocked in the Senate by a minority of senators, ending for now the fight to pass any federal legislation in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. On immigration, the long-awaited full text of the so called "Gang of 8" immigration bill was released, drawing support from the White House, conditional praise from some advocates, and stoking opposition among anti-immigrant forces. With the ability of Congress to pass legislation on any major issue now perhaps even more in question, both issues also continued to play out on the state level this week as well:
From Missouri to Pennsylvania to D.C., anti-union "right-to-work" laws are still being proposed and debated. Michigan workers continue to fight their law in the courts weeks before it is set to take effect, while workers in nearby states remain prepared for similar legislation to emerge. Meanwhile, an "anti-right-to-work" bill moved forward in Vermont — legislation that would require all workers who receive benefits thanks to a union to pay their fair share.
With the long lines on Election Day still somewhat fresh in the minds of voters, and as the year kicks off with efforts to rig the electoral vote and lessen the impact of the votes of historically disenfranchised communities, lawmakers in some states are introducing proposals to expand and protect the vote:
Income disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom has been growing in Vermont for over two decades. As we showed in our report earlier this year on the plight of Vermont’s middle class, the share of income that went to the top 1 percent of Vermonters rose from 6 percent in 1981 to 19 percent in 2005. That threefold increase meant a decrease in income for the remaining 99 percent.
Last week at our fair trade event for children at the PJC we read stories about children in India and children who moved from India to the United States. We also talked about the importance of fair trade in India, and how it can affect the lives of farmers and artisans. Then we ate naan, a tradition Indian flat bread, and colored pictures of India. It was a fun AND educational morning! JOIN US THIS THURSDAY THE 9TH FOR OUR FAIR TRADE IN AFRICA EVENT!
By JACK HOFFMAN, VTDigger.org, July 30, 2012
The Shumlin administration just released the latest revenue figures, and it looks like Vermont finished fiscal 2012 at the end of June with about a $12 million General Fund surplus, which is earmarked for flood repairs at the Waterbury complex. Still, revenues were more than the regular spending approved by the Legislature. That’s good news, right?
Last week at our fair trade event for children we learned about the fair trade ingredients that are in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and what countries they were grown in! Thank you Ben & Jerry’s for the delicious donated fair trade pints!! We also read books about being different and accepting everyone for who they are!