the first time in modern history the two houses of the legislature were
controlled by different political parties, leading to gridlock on a
number of issues and resulting in a relatively unproductive legislative
session. In fact, the majority of time clocked by legislators this
year was in special session. The regular session has been over since
the middle of March, but lawmakers kept coming back to try to reach
agreements on crucial issues.
Voter suppression is growing rapidly in America today.Over half of states now have voter ID requirements more stringent than that required for first time voters in federal elections.Several states are clamping down on voter registration drives or are considering proof of citizenship requirements.
Showing the frustration over abusive lending practices by even many right-leaning legislators, the Ohio legislature has taken a huge step to protect its citizens against predatory lenders by passing HB 545.
The bill slashes the payday-lending interest rate from a sky-high 391
annual percentage rate to 28 percent. In real terms, instead of having
to pay $15 interest for every $100 loaned, borrowers will now pay no
more than $1.08 per $100 borrowed. The bill also limits borrowers to
four loans per year, requires that loan terms be at least 31 days
(instead of the current average of 14 days), and bans internet payday
lending. HB 545 is now before Governor Strickland, who is expected to
sign the bill into law.
Since the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) established the
requirement that first time voters present some form of identification
before voting in a federal election, voter identification requirements
of all sorts have been enacted across the country.Currently
26 states have laws that are more restrictive than the HAVA mandate,
and 21 states require ID from voters every time they vote.These laws have been passed by arguing they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, even though all evidence suggests that such fraud is extremely rare and poses no threat to the integrity of our voting systems.Instead, these fraud arguments have merely been a partisan tool, used for decades, to suppress turnout
among new groups entering the electorate in large numbers and
threatening the power of those currently in charge, whether they be
minorities, immigrants or students.
The Illinois legislature recently
the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to prohibit employers from enrolling
in the federal
Eligibility Verification System (E-Verify), a voluntary program
to supposedly identify the employment eligibility of new hires and verify
Social Security numbers. The problem is that the system has
error rates between 5% and 10% and does not detect identity fraud or
theft, inevitably leading to discrimination and unfair treatment
of employees misidentified as lacking proper
The effects of the sub-prime lending disaster are
being felt as the stock market has been rocked in
recent weeks and many families find themselves locked out of the
mortgage market. As we
in the past, the subprime mortgage market was largely aimed at
economically-strapped families trying to find some way to afford
homes. For low-income renters who never had the money to
even be in the game, rising rents have increasingly priced them
out of their homes.
Nearly 650,000 people are released
from state and federal prison every year, with larger numbers
reentering communities from local jails. Over 50 percent of those
released from incarceration are sent back to prison for a parole
violation or new crime within 3 years.
Well, the feds have done it again. They've stepped in
where states are doing good work and messed things up. In an effort
to prevent illegal immigrants from enrolling in Medicaid, new federal citizenship
are instead causing US citizens
to lose coverage and increasing state Medicaid administrative costs. Children are
the biggest losers.