Why the “Rich States, Poor States” Report Is An Enormous Joke: Punching In

Busting economic myths

Long-term joblessness is up among all education levels.

ALEC’s “Rich States, Poor States” report is an enormous joke.

Key Quote: “Obviously ALEC is ranking states based on each state’s level of deregulation and awarding the most deregulated states, but the outcomes seem to have very little bearing in where companies actually want to launch and do business.

Lily Ledbetter says politicians who oppose paycheck fairness are “out of touch with reality.”

Prominent conservative: Women need to be paid less than men so they can find husbands.

More than one way to be a governor

Nevada’s Republican governor Brian Sandoval urges Speaker Boehner to pass unemployment insurance extension.

Mother Jones on New Mexico’s Gov. Martinez: “nasty, juvenile, vindictive…ignorant about basic policy issues.”

Organizing across the country

Postal workers fight against USPS-Staples partnership: “a big step toward privatization.”

Northwestern football union outcome could be unknown for months.

Baltimore hospital workers strike for more-than-poverty wages.

Retired municipal workers in Detroit reach deal on pensions.

Finally: How was your tax day?

Don’t let these zombie tax breaks come back to life.

How You Can Pretend the Gender Pay Gap Doesn’t Exist: Punching In

Raising the wage coast to coast

After successful minimum wage increases in New Mexico’s Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties, Las Cruces is up next.

Republicans in Alaska maneuvering to subvert the minimum wage ballot initiative.

Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota say they have the power to cancel the minimum wage increase.

The right wing at work

Super-lobbyist Grover Norquist is still trying to ram through “right to work” in Missouri.

Speaker Boehner punts on unemployment insurance extension, says it’s White House’s fault.

How the right-wing uses statistics to pretend the gender pay gap doesn’t exist.

Automotive drama

GM auto workers vote to allow strike in Kentucky.

Gov. Haslam and Sen. Corker subpoenaed by UAW lawyers.

Key Quote: “The subpoenas call for them to testify before an NLRB hearing later this month, where the UAW is challenging a vote that it narrowly lost at the VW plant. It asks those officials to bring all documents relating to economic incentives offered to Volkswagen.”

Finally: Let’s make this switch

Why we need fewer unpaid internships and more paid apprenticeships.

Failure to Expand Medicaid Could Mean Defeat for GOP Governors in 2014: Punching In

Changing of the guard at Health and Human Services

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will step down.

Her legacy: one troubled website, millions of newly insured Americans.

And her biggest achievement, says Igor Volsky, is getting some GOP govs to expand Medicaid.

The new HHS Secretary is former OMB Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell. Here’s what she has ahead of her.

The more they know, the less they like the Ryan Budget

House Republicans pass Ryan budget, but 12 Republicans vote against it.

Justice for Detroit retirees

New deal reached on pensions for Detroit municipal retirees.

But an editorial asks: is it good enough?

This just in! 2014 election to be determined by number of voters

Why voting rights is Democrats’ most important project in 2014.

Key Quote: “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? Un-American,” [President Obama] told the potential donors. “How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.”

Senate map giving Democrats incentive to heavily organize black voters in the South.

Medicaid expansion shaping up to be a crucial issue in 2014 governors’ races.

Finally: What. Have. You. Done.

Republicans in Michigan may have inadvertently triggered a constitutional convention.

Bill, Marty, and The Rise of the Progressive City: Punching In

Executive decision

Why Obama’s executive order on salary transparency among federal contractors is a big deal.

The county strikes back

In the long fight over voting rights in Ohio, Cuyahoga County asserts itself.

And Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald wants a federal investigation into voter suppression in Ohio.

While Republicans in Congress stall…

The rise of the progressive city: while Congress stalls, mayors like de Blasio and Walsh go to work.

Will Gov. Paul LePage step up on multinational corporations that ship jobs away from Maine?

House Democrats offer alternative to Paul Ryan’s austerity budget.

Student-athletes or employees?

Jake Simpson of The Atlantic: Of course student-athletes are employees.

Key Quote: “The explicit terms of the tender signed by all scholarship college athletes—indeed, the tender’s very existence as a required part of the pre-acceptance process—separates them from other college students, even those who are significantly involved in an extracurricular activity.”

Finally: Pharma exposed

Sneaky. Big Pharma lobbyists pretended to support Obamacare while funding its opposition.

Pat McCrory Is the Reason 500,000 in NC Don’t Have Health Insurance: Punching In

Wildcat union

Northwestern players want a union, but their coach doesn’t.

So Pat McCrory can feel tough…

Without Medicaid expansion, 500,000 people in North Carolina don’t have health insurance.

Key Quote: “They’re always very shocked that they won’t qualify for anything…You’re going to have more and more people realizing that this was a state-level decision to deny them access to health insurance.”

Show Me union-busting

Missouri House could take up so-called “right to work” bill this week.

Gov. Nixon: “They know what will happen if Right to Work lands on my desk.” (Spoiler Alert: he’ll veto it.)

Standing up to ALEC

ALEC gets more exposure than they’d like in Arizona.

Real talk on the editorial page

New York Times: Republican Party still systematically restricting minority voting.

Minimum wage bonanza!

In California, two major cities look to raise the wage past the state minimum: Richmond and Berkeley.

Hawaii legislators near a deal on a minimum wage increase.

Maryland Senate advances minimum wage increase over the weekend.

Increase to $10.50 approved by Massachusetts House.

Finally: The legacy of April 4

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on the workers’ rights legacy of MLK.

Turns Out the Ryan’s “Koch Budget” Was Not An April Fools Joke: Punching In

Paul Ryan’s terrible no good budget

Oh. Paul Ryan’s budget, released on April Fools Day, is an actual proposal.

Key Quote: “This is Ryan’s fourth budget. Like an aging vaudeville act, the show has gotten tired. The patter is dated. The punch lines are retreads. The big lies no longer convince. The magic asterisks – details to come later – no longer seem clever.”

Ryan’s budget would slash $5 trillion in the next decade, repeal the ACA, cut taxes for the top.

“This is the definition of class warfare,” says Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

“We might as well call it the Koch budget because that’s what they’re doing, protecting the Koch brothers,” says Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).

Raise the wage comes before the Senate

President Obama pushes Harkin-Miller minimum wage bill ahead of Senate vote.

Some Republicans want to block minimum wage as retribution for Reid’s actions during UI debate. Which makes sense.

Meanwhile, in the states…

Ohio: Ed Fitzgerald’s voting rights bill for Cuyahoga County moves forward.

Michigan: Federal judge upholds part of state’s “right to work” law.

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker was in Las Vegas over the weekend to talk to super rich conservative donor. Not sure how this creates jobs in Wisconsin.

Finally: Smoking gun in Tennessee

Documents show Tennesee governor offered economic incentives to VW not to unionize.

Every Time Anti-Union Bills Come Up in Missouri, More Republicans Vote Against Them

Last night, the Missouri House of Representatives approved a bill that would make it harder for union workers to make their voices heard in the political process. Known as “paycheck deception,” House Bill 1617 places unnecessary restrictions on how union workers’ paycheck deductions can be used. Like many other anti-worker bills introduced around the country, House Bill 1617 is based on an ALEC model bill.

Does this story seem familiar? It should. The Republican-controlled Missouri House passed an almost identical bill almost exactly one year ago.

Again, the bill was introduced (SB 29 last time, HB 1617 this time). Again, there was enormous outcry from labor unions, community members, and the faith community. Again, debate on the floor revealed that the bill’s sponsors were unfamiliar with current paycheck deduction laws, which render “paycheck deception” laws redundant. Again, they didn’t care, because ALEC wrote the bill anyway, and because hurting labor unions is in their political interest. Again, it passed.

If ALEC did a remake of the movie Groundhog Day, it would look a lot like this.

But in this version, there were two major changes.

First, this version refers the issue to the 2014 ballot. This is because last year’s attempt at paycheck deception was vetoed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, and despite controlling twin supermajorities in the legislature, the bill’s proponents were unable to get enough Republican votes to override.

Second, this year the bill lost even more Republican votes, a tight 83-70.

This mimics a trend in the Missouri Senate. While SB 29 passed the Senate on a near party-line vote last spring, two conservative Republicans opposed it when it came back around for an override attempt in the fall: Senator Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) voted no, while Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington) “took a walk” and was absent (a tactic often used to express passive opposition).

So why is this happening? It seems that for a number of Republican lawmakers, and for even more of their constituents, the ALEC-backed anti-worker agenda is getting tired. As the economy continues to struggle, the continued pushing of narrow, corporate-backed policies at the expense of job-creation policies–like Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage–is making less and less sense.

“A lot of Republicans don’t want anything to do with these bills, because they’re afraid the issue will come back to bite them in the end,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Jacob Hummel, “They’re right.”

“There’s more and more of us on the Republican side who realize that labor is not the enemy,” said Republican Representative Anne Zerr. Rep. Zerr has opposed both paycheck deception and “right to work” in her caucus, and spoke at a rally opposing “right to work” last week. A former utility worker, Rep. Zerr stressed that she is doing her best to turn her caucus in a different direction. “We are educating our own,” she told the crowd.

But for now, HB 1617 moves next to the Missouri Senate. If the trend continues, that might be where it stops.

Learn more about “paycheck deception” bills.

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Open Enrollment Ends Today! #GetCovered: Punching In

Long lines as people across the country get help getting covered in the ACA health exchanges.

Seattle Times: Obamacare may have already brought the biggest increase in health coverage we’ve seen in decades.

Key Quote: “We didn’t expect an expansion anywhere near that magnitude,” said Nathan Johnson, policy director at the state health authority. “It’s been a good surprise. A lot of these folks have gone their entire lives without medical coverage.”

Sheesh. Right-wing activists steal blogger’s picture, claims she opposes Obamacare.

San Diego will begin process to raise the city minimum wage above the state minimum (and index to inflation).

Will Maryland’s minimum wage increase leave tipped workers behind?

Bill to raise tipped minimum wage advances in New Jersey.

Interns are now protected from sexual harassment in New York City.

Missouri’s faith community speaks with one voice: no on “right to work.”

Poll: Only 48 percent of Americans know who the Koch Brothers are.

Finally: Did you know that there are three kinds of tax subsidies for private planes? Oh, and there’s more.

Connecticut Jumps Ahead of the Pack, Will Raise Minimum Wage to $10.10 by 2017

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More than 227,000 Connecticut workers will see raises in the next 3 years, thanks to a bill signed into law by Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday.

Connecticut legislators passed a bill by wide margins raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017. In many respects, the bill mirrors federal legislation introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (I-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 over a similar period and indexing it to inflation.

President Obama, who supports the Harkin-Miller proposal, praised the Nutmeg State:

“I hope members of Congress, governors, state legislators and business leaders across our country will follow Connecticut’s lead,” Mr. Obama said in a statement on Wednesday, “to help ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the chance to get ahead.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that if implemented nationally, Harkin-Miller would lift 5 million Americans out of poverty and reduce spending on public assistance programs by tens of billions of dollars.

This year, 29 states are considering either legislation or a ballot measure aimed at raising the minimum wage.

Image by Raise the Minimum Wage on Facebook

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New Hampshire Ends Cruel Denial of Medicaid Expansion, Maine May Follow

New Hampshire officially expanded its Medicaid program this week, enabling about 50,000 more people in the Granite State to afford health coverage.

Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan signed the bill into law on Thursday, enacting a bipartisan compromise plan that would use federal Medicaid funds to buy private coverage for adults making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, rather than providing state-funded health insurance.

When the Supreme Court declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional in July 2012, they left the option open for states to reject the federal funds that would be used to expand their Medicaid programs. As of now, 25 states and the District of Columbia have accepted the expansion in full. 21 states, all with Republican governors or Republican-controlled legislatures, have formally rejected Medicaid expansion.

New Hampshire was one of six states where the final call had not yet been made on Medicaid expansion.

On the same day, legislators in Maine granted final passage to a bill that would expand Medicaid to about 70,000 low-income Mainers. The bill now goes to Republican Governor Paul LePage for his signature or veto.

LePage has expressed opposition to Medicaid in the past, calling it “sinful” just a few weeks ago. But many of his fellow Republicans don’t share this view:

Despite the references to different numbers and analyses, many lawmakers have conceded that support or opposition of the bill is as ideological as it is pragmatic.

The bill approved by the Legislature was crafted by moderate Republican Sens. Roger Katz of Augusta and Tom Saviello of Wilton as a compromise, designed to bring more Republicans on board.

Assistant State Majority Leader Anne Haskell (D-Portland) also pointed out that 10 other Republican governors, including Govs. John Kasich (R-OH) and Jan Brewer (R-AZ) have accepted expansion.

The last time a Medicaid expansion bill hit Gov. LePage’s desk in July 2013, he vetoed. Now, with more Republicans on board, we hope he makes a different choice.

Send a message: Tell Gov. LePage to accept federal Medicaid funds.

Photo by Governor Maggie Hassan on Facebook

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