On Wednesday night, the Connecticut House passed
a simple, yet far-reaching bill to offer small businesses and
municipalities better, more affordable health insurance. The
Connecticut Healthcare Partnership, HB 5536,
allows small businesses and municipalities to join the state employee
health insurance plan. This is significant because small employers,
towns, employees and their families will be able to join forces with
and benefit from the bargaining power of the 200,000 member-strong
state employee pool.
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 U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this
year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al
Gore, recently released a
report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from
climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths
from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious
diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report
warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the
worst effects of global warming.
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
We spend more than twice on health care than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet we don't have universal access and our outcomes are worse. The reason we don't have universal access to quality health care is that too much of our health care spending -- our premiums, co-pays, prescriptions -- is wasted on profits, CEO bonuses and inefficient health care.
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.
Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania sued the Bush Administration
this week claiming they failed to adequately regulate emissions of
mercury and other pollutants at older cement plant kilns. Last
December, the EPA announced
new limits on mercury and hydrocarbon emissions from cement kilns built
after December 2, 2005, but left weak rules in place for kilns from
before that date. The states argue that the Clean Air Act requires the
EPA to limit mercury from all kilns, not just new ones.
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.
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:
The 2000 election sparked an interest in electoral reform. Paired with
a rising tendency among voters toward self-declared independence from
the two major parties and a new wave of reforms have started growing in
popularity across the country. In statehouses and in voting booths,
reforms are moving forward to give Americans more real options at the