At the same time that a new study out of Massachusetts
reveals that tobacco companies are steadily increasing nicotine levels
in cigarettes, the fight to limit the health impacts of tobacco is
gaining new steam. Ballot measures will be considered in eight states this fall regarding tobacco. And in Virginia, where tobacco is king, Governor Tim Kaine is considering a ban on smoking in state buildings.
In the groundbreaking film An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore makes an impressive case that it is now essential that the world act to prevent the potentially catastrophic implications of global warming. The film could not come at a more critical time. While the planet warms, Washington dawdles. The nation's political elite remains mired in a debate manipulated by powerful energy interests.
As we detailed a few weeks ago, rightwing developers are using the cover of "fixing" eminent domain to push radical anti-environment initiatives on ballots across the country. Opponents ranging from outdoor sports organizations to labor unions have been mobilizing in response.
After years of stagnating wages for working Americans and inaction by
Congress, legislators and activists across the country are taking the
lead in securing higher minimum wages on a state by state basis. They
are achieving some outstanding results. Here's where the minimum wage
fight stands in a number of states:
As far-right funders like Howard Rich work across the country, dumping
literally millions simply into qualifying these atrocious measures for
ballots, progressives have experienced some good news and some bad
news. Here's where the campaign stands in various states:
Diving into the world of campaign finance and investigating the funders of the takings initiatives quickly reveals a number of organizations involved: Americans for Limited Government, America at Its Best, the Fund for Democracy, and Montanans in Action. What is odd, though, is that with more digging, they all appear to be funded and controlled by the same individual: New York Developer Howard Rich.
This week, the Supreme Court struck down Vermont's strict limits on
campaign contributions and expenditures by candidates. In a set of
fractured opinions in Randall v. Sorrell,
the Court did not put an end to all campaign finance limits but did put
a roadblock in the way of anything much more restrictive than most
present laws. So if there is going to be more serious reform to lessen
the power of special interest money in politics, the only real
remaining route to reform are systems of public financing of elections like Maine and Arizona.
The Western Governors Association on Sunday acknowledged an
inconvenient truth. The bipartisan group of Governors from West Coast,
Rocky Mountain, and Great Plains states came together to unanimously
pass a resolution (PDF) that says that global warming is real, at least partially human-caused, and that now is a time for action.
An Arizona diarist at Daily Kos points out how critical veto power is. The point is well-taken, especially in states with legislatures as reactionary as Arizona's.
The Arizona Democratic Party (note: partisan source, treat it accordingly) has a list of some of the bills that Arizona's Janet Napolitano has vetoed. It's quite an amazing list. And it's a healthy reminder that the veto can be a very useful tool in the hands of a savvy executive.
The Cleveland Free Times takes a long, hard look at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) operating methods in Ohio. As usual, it ain't pretty. The right-wing, corporate-funded network of state legislators is exposed quite thoroughly.