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Department of Justice to States: Don’t Sue Polluters

In a blow to states’ leadership over clean energy, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that states cannot sue power plant operators that generate pollution. The Justice Department alleges that: (1) the Environmental Protection Agency has already started to regulate greenhouse emissions; and (2) states lack standing to assert a federal nuisance claim.

Private Tax Filing Firm Lobbying to Scrap Successful State Tax Preparation Services

Intuit, a private firm that manufactures TurboTax, has pushed California lawmakers to eliminate the popular, successful, and cost-effective public tax filing services, ReadyReturn and CalFile. These two programs offer millions of low- and middle-income Californians a free and reliable method to calculate and file taxes.

CA:Schwarzenegger: Lower the state's sales tax rate and apply it to services now untaxed

The Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday the state should lower its sales tax rate and apply it to "all services" that now go untaxed.


Tax Limitation Rules Costing States Big Bucks in Downgraded Bond Ratings

When state governments make it nearly impossible to raise taxes to pay their bills, their creditors apparently get very nervous and increase their costs to borrow money. Both Arizona and California have seen their bond ratings downgraded -- and their borrowing costs likely increasing -- with analysts citing both states' tax limitation rules that require a two-thirds vote of their legislatures to raise taxes as one reason.

Bills on Single-Payer and Health Reform Implementation Move Forward in California

California lawmakers worked feverishly at the end of June to move forward significant health reform legislation, including implementing new Medicaid rules for the next five years, setting a framework for establishing health insurance exchanges, and moving the state towards a single-payer health care system.

CA: Governor puts 200,000 state workers on minimum wage

The Sacramento Bee:

Roughly 200,000 state workers will receive minimum wage paychecks next month under terms of an order issued Thursday by the Schwarzenegger administration.

CA: Don't expect budget resolution any time soon

The Sacramento Bee:

With the ballyhooed July 1 milepost having come and gone, expect slow going on the budget for a while.

 

CA: Budget appropriation offers clue to Capitol's true values

The Sacramento Bee:

Members of the two-house legislative committee working on the state budget — especially its dominant Democrats — have spent much of the week lamenting that they don't have enough money to satisfy all demands, including their own.

 

Wage Law Enforcement State Trend: Illinois Becomes Most Recent State to Crack Down on Wage Theft

A crime wave has been sweeping Illinois, with surveys of low-wage workers in the Chicago area showing an average of 146,300 cases of wage theft each week -- resulting in about $7.3 million each week in unpaid wages, or $380 million stolen from workers each year.  In order to crack down on this criminal wage theft, the Illinois General Assembly on May 3 nearly unanimously (56-0 in the Senate and 112-1 in the House) passed SB 3568, which will strengthen the state’s ability to enforce violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Payday Lending Abuses Reined In, As Colorado Joins Other States in Reform

The payday lending trap has been shorting working families to the tune of nearly $5 billion per year ever since the industry exploded onto the scene in the 1990’s.  The number of payday lending institutions has jumped exponentially from 500 in 1990 to about 22,000 today (compared with 14,000 McDonald's), mainly targeting low-income African American and Latino communities.