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Each Saturday, this feature links and excerpts commentary and reporting from a dozen progressive state blogs in the past seven days around the nation. The idea is not only to spotlight specific issues but to give readers who may not know their state has a progressive blog or two a place to become regularly informed about doings in their back yard. Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view and inside information we don't get from the traditional media. Those blogs deserve a larger audience. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite you think I should know about. Standard disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.
At BlueNC, MsSpentYouth writes—Moral Monday #6: 84 arrested; 388 arrests so far:
Hundreds of supporters crowded the third-story balcony above the 84 participants in civil disobedience plus media covering the prohibited peaceful gathering at the NCGA on June 10, 2013.

The start to yesterday's Moral Monday at the N.C. General Assembly in Raleigh was delayed a bit because of tornado warnings and a sudden spate of harsh weather, but pouring rain didn't dampen the spirits of the many hundreds of protesters who gathered at the Halifax Mall behind the General Assembly building to speak out against the raft of odious bills being pushed through the state legislature by the Republican supermajority.

The total number of arrests in six waves of what the NAACP-North Carolina has dubbed "Moral Monday" was brought to 388 by the 84 people (myself and a couple other Kossacks, including the fantastic joank, who was also celebrating her birthday through civil disobedience) who entered the General Assembly to sing songs of resistance, to pray in front of the doors of the second-story N.C. House chambers, and to hold up protest signs (which are prohibited in the building) and refusing to disperse.

This week, however, an 85th arrest was made: Charlotte Observer religion reporter Tim Funk was handcuffed and detained by G.A. and Raleigh police officers for "failure for disperse." Funk was visibly wearing media credentials and was interviewing Charlotte-area clergy attending the protest and arrests.

BlueNC logo

At Blue Jersey, vmars writes—Moving the State Forward:

So Union City Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack endorsed Christie.  Here's what he had to say:

No matter the issue, we know Governor Christie will take on the fights that need to be had to get things done and work with whoever is willing - Republicans, Democrats or Independents - to move our state forward," said Stack.
So delaying medical marijuana for cancer patients was moving the state forward?

Backing out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was moving the state forward?

Cutting funding to women's health programs was moving the state forward?

Pulling out of the ARC tunnel to New York City was moving the state forward?

Presiding over the worst employment growth in the region is moving the state forward?

Giving local schools districts $1 more than last year and calling it an "increase" is moving the state forward?

Screaming at people on the boardwalk, insulting teachers, abusing veterans, insulting anyone who disagrees is moving the state forward?

BlueJersey logo

At Blue Oregon,  Carla Axtman writes—OR Lege: It's all about the budget:
The shiny star of the week is the fact that Oregon has the third strongest economic growth in the nation from 2012. In 2012, the private sector in our state grew at 3.9%. This is a much faster growth than a whole bunch of the rest of the country is seeing.
But what about government in Oregon? It actually shrank in 2012 due to budget cuts and the sequester. If there's a drag on the economy at all, it's the fact that government is shrinking and there are fewer jobs there to be had. The private sector is humming along nicely in Oregon.

To get things going on the state budget, one of the first things that needs to happen is for Republicans to quit holding the most sick and vulnerable Oregonians hostage.

Below the fold, you can see more links and excerpts to progressive state blogs.

At Plunderbund, Luke Brockmeier writes—Regulatory barriers shut clinic doors as GOP praises regulatory freedom:

The Toledo Blade reports that the Center for Choice has closed in Toledo. The clinic was unable to get a transfer agreement from ProMedica, Mercy, or University of Toledo hospitals.
Plunderbund blog logo
As I said earlier, transfer agreements are a requirement for ambulatory surgery centers. They’re redundant because of federal law, but the Ohio Department of Health is using them as a pretext to shut down abortion providers.

In Bowling Green, Kasich was asked by a UTMC medical student if he would veto the line item in the state budget that would close most of the state’s abortion providers by exploiting this loophole.

According to the Blade, Kasich demurred by saying he’s “pro-life”. If that’s the case, why not veto the parts of the budget that will increase the infant mortality rate in Ohio?

At Progress Now New Mexico, Joey Peters writes—Wow. A standing room only crowd:
Just after 9:00 am this morning, we asked you to help us in a last minute push to pack the City Council's committee room to stop Councilor Don Harris from canceling voting days in upcoming city elections.
Progress Now New Mexico
With less than 8 hours to go we weren't sure if we could organize in time.

But the news was all over it and two of the mayoral candidates came out against it right away.  From KOB-TV:

Harris is a Republican, like Mayor Richard Berry, who is running for re-election, and like retired police sergeant Paul Heh who is also running in the three-way race.

“Why would he want to change it from 20 days to 7 days?” Heh  wondered. “ I smell politics all over this thing. I think it would absolutely benefit the mayor in some way or another.”

Retired Safe City Strike Force chief Pete Dinelli, a  Democrat, is the third candidate in the race.

“It’s changing the rules in the middle of an election cycle,” said the longtime prosecutor. “ This is clearly an effort by the Republicans to have voter suppression and it will favor the incumbents.

By the time the meeting started at 5:00 tonight it was standing room only - and they were all against the ordinance!

Councilor Harris and his friends trying to make it harder to vote didn't know what had happened.  Harris quickly backed off of supporting his own bill and the committee voted not to pass the bill!

At LeftinAlabama, DrAbston writes—Alabama Medicaid: A Sandcastle by the Pink Pony Pub:
Left in Alabama logo
In a little over 6 months, adults in most states who qualify for Medicaid under the ACA Expansion will suddenly have Medicaid cards.  We’ve made no moves towards that in Alabama.  We’ve said to our minimum wage workers, “What’s in your wallet?  Oops, nothing! Hate it for you.”  If you’ve listened to Governor Bentley closely, he has been mighty careful with his phrasing—instead of saying an absolute no, he says he will not agree to expand Medicaid as it is currently structured.

The legislation to do that was passed and signed, but it will not be fully in effect until October 1, 2016.   However, with the Expansion fully funded by federal money for the first 3 years, the timeline for restructuring would allow Alabama to have the new program in place before we have to foot any of the bill for newly covered persons.  That means we should jump right in at the earliest possible time for the Expansion.  Don’t let Governor Bentley off the hook—he is getting what he asked for.

At SquareState, Jason Salzman writes—Now You Have Another Reason Not to Hit a Pregnant Women, but Personhood USA Sees Hidden Agenda:
SquareState logo
As expected, Gov. Hickenlooper signed a bill Wed. making it a crime to commit cause the death of a fetus due to a reckless acts against a women (like a drunk driver hitting a pregnant woman).

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains issued a statement praising the bill's sponsors, Reps. Mike Foote and Claire Levy, and Sen. Pat Steadman, and stating that the new law "empowers district attorneys and other members of law enforcement to hold criminals accountable for crimes against a pregnant woman which result in the loss of her pregnancy. [...]

Some Republicans, as well as Personhood USA, opposed the bill, which GOP Sen. Scott Renfroe, referred to as the "Let's-Go-on-Killing-Babies" bill, because it didn't give legal rights to zygotes (fertilized eggs) or other forms of human development. The law  specifically does not "confer the status of 'person' on any human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth."

At Prairie State Progressive, Willinois writes—Bill Daley squanders potential downstate support in campaign launch:
Prairie State Blue state blog
Bill Daley announced yesterday that he's running for Governor of Illinois. If he wins, Illinois will have a governor and a mayor of its largest city who were both chief-of-staff to President Obama. His campaign has many Illinoisans asking if someone with a name so famously associated with the city of Chicago can bridge the state's regional divide well enough to win a statewide election. Speaking as a downstater with many campaigns under my belt, I believe he can, but he's off to a bad start. [...]

The best thing working in Daley's favor is that Governor Pat Quinn would lose downstate in a landslide to a potted plant, both in the Democratic primary and general election. I don't think most Chicago politicians and pundits appreciate the intensity of anger over the attack on public employee pensions, and how much state facility closures hurt small communities.

[...] Daley's introductory video doesn't sound like someone who plans to campaign outside Chicago and the suburbs. Like Quinn, he pits pensions against school children, which will be viewed as an inflammatory personal attack on state workers. There are many pro-gun Democrats and independents in rural Illinois, so his mention of gun control isn't helpful either. I have trouble thinking of two worse issues to raise if he wants to show he'll be a statewide governor rather than a Chicago governor.

At MN Progressive Project, THE BIG E writes—McCollum wants to end CIA drone war:
MN Progressive Project
Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) proposed a novel amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would probably go a long way to improving America’s reputation around the world. She proposes ending the CIA’s drone program.

If there is one thing inflaming Muslim anger across the globe, it’s the indiscriminate US drone strikes that take out terrorists and hundreds of innocent men, women and children who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The CIA often doesn’t know for sure if they’re bombing an actual terrorist or a “terrorist profile” (see link at bottom for details). And there is no oversight of their bombing campaign.

“It is no surprise the White House opposes this amendment,” McCollumn explained. “The executive branch wants to maintain its CIA drone program and its target list without congressional oversight, without transparency or accountability. Right now the CIA is running an assassination program and the world is watching. Soon China, Russia and Iran will have the same capability and will use the CIA’s standard of killing anyone profiled as an enemy.”

Unsurprisingly, Republicans and the White House blocked her amendment from getting a vote.

At Nebraska, Joe Jordan writes—Tea partiers to Omaha’s new GOP mayor: Make bold budget cuts, big changes:
OMAHA—Ads on fire hydrants, firefighters working longer shifts, paperwork only in English, and no more city tax money for the homeless, the food bank, the zoo, community centers, anti-truancy programs and the holiday lights celebration.

Advertising on fire hydrants? It's just one of many changes a Tea Party group would like to see in Mayor-elect Jean Stothert's first budget.

Those are just a handful of changes an anti-tax and spend Tea Party group wants to see in Republican Mayor-elect Jean Stothert’s first budget, the 2014 budget, which is due out in July. [...]

Take the Fire Department where three dozen line saving items include an end to the current four-days on four-days off schedule which is “excessively expensive,” according to [Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom]. They’d like to replace 12-hour shifts with three 8-hour shifts arguing that some firefighters use the time off to “enjoy lucrative outside employment.”

Public Works would do less lawn mowing, tree cutting and street sweeping. In addition some street lights—it doesn’t say which ones—would be left dark at night.

At Blue Hampshire, Matt Murray writes—The H-1B Worker Program Is Creating Modern Day Indentured Servants:
This week the US Senate has started to debate immigration reform. This bill is large and very controversial. Everyone seems to agree, including me, that we need to create a real pathway to citizenship.  We need to welcome immigrants to spur our economy, not to mention the additional tax revenues. Earlier this week I penned a post about some of the possible issues I found in the immigration reform process.  One of the things I found issue with is the H-1B visa program, which allows people to live and work in the United States on a temporary basis.  My problem is that the guest worker program is a lot like indentured slavery. Starting in the early 1700's, immigrants have come to the United States to chase the American Dream.  Often there were huge fees upfront for passage to the US; and in many cases, immigrants were required to work off their debt as "indentured servants" once they got here.  Of course that was ancient history, right? WRONG! This type of action is happening every single day here in the United States.  The only difference is that these are not just low-wage workers or migrant farm workers.  These are highly educated, highly skilled workers.
At Burnt Orange Report, Katherine Haenschen writes—Is Rick Perry Breaking the Law By Threatening PIU Funding Veto Unless Lehmberg Resigns?:
Yesterday, Rick Perry threatened to line-item veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit, which has statewide prosecutorial authority over fraud and corruption, if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg does not resign.
Burnt Orange Report
The PIU is expected to receive $7.5 million from the state over the biennium to support its ongoing prosecutions in more than 400 cases, ranging from insurance fraud to public corruption investigations, according to Assistant Travis County District Attorney Gregg Cox, who runs the unit.

I've previously argued that Lehmberg needs to stay to prevent Perry from getting his dirty hands on the PIU, among many other reasons. Now, it appears that Perry's motives may be even more self-serving.

As Progress Texas noted yesterday, Perry may be trying to shut down the PIU to stop the investigation of the [Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas] and his alleged efforts to divert state cancer research funds to his donors and cronies.

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