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
By one estimate, the federal government spent over $367 billion in 2005 aloneon subsidizing Americans' retirement savings and tax breaks to build upother assets like buying a home. Unfortunately, those subsidies gooverwhelmingly to those Americans who already have high-incomes; almostnone of it goes to the poorest Americans who need the most helpbuilding the financial assets that can lead to long-term economicopportunities and security.
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.
Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin. The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:
While the Bush Administration has reduced taxes on the wealthiest Americans
and undermined social welfare programs over the past 6 years, 5 million
more Americans have fallen into poverty, bringing the total to 37
million. That means at least one in eight Americans are now living in
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.
Yesterday, the Maryland Senate
legislation that would grant Maryland's 10 Electoral College votes to the
Presidential candidate receiving the most votes nationally, rather than to the
winner of the state-- a system that would go into effect if enough other
states approve similar legislation to guarantee the Presidency to the
candidate winning the popular vote nationally.
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.
It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no
President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot
issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.