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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, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don't get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should know about. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Katherine Haenschen takes a poke at yet another member of the dynasty in George P. Bush Urges Fellow Republicans To Maybe Denounce Some of the Anti-Hispanic Rhetoric, OK?

Burnt Orange Report
It's hard out there for a George P.

Recently, the nephew of former President George W. Bush and Republican candidate for Land Commissioner chastised his party members for their predilection towards xenophobic, racist, anti-Latino rhetoric. Well, sort of.

As George P. told the Texas Tribune at a recent campaign stop (emphasis mine):

"If we're going to be successful and be considered credible in the Hispanic community, we've got to denounce some of the ignorant statements that are made about Hispanics and the contributions we make, whether it's to the military, our nation's economy or to the history of Texas."
Bush's comments come on the heels of Denton County Republican Party County Chair Dianne Edmonson sending an email warning about "the super women ticket of Abortion Barbie with Hispanic Sen Leticia Van De Putte as her running mate."

So George P. would like it if at least some—not necessarily all—of the anti-Hispanic rhetoric from the Republican Party would cease, you guys.

At Calitics, Brian Leubitz writes—Rep. George Miller to Retire:
Calitics logo
These days, it seems that some Congress members are being forced out at the end of their careers. (See Pete Stark...) George Miller probably had no reason to worry about that, as he had no competion and remains popular inside and outside of his district. But today, Rep. Miller decided that 2014 will be his last year in the House [...]
Miller was a player in the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as well as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 backed by then President George W. Bush and the future Speaker John Boehner. Miller helped write the last minimum wage increase with Sen. Kennedy in 2007, and through the years used his committees as a forum to highlight worker safety conditions in the coal, oil and apparel industries.

In the arena of Western lands and the environment, Miller could be as powerful for saying no as yes. He took pride in his role behind the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 impacting the distribution of fresh water supplies in California. But he will probably be remembered more nationally for tearing up the railroad track to impede Western Republicans, who took the gavel from him in the Resources Committee in 1995 and set about trying to undo environmental laws he had championed. (Politico)

The seat is a very Democratic one, and will likely lead to a frenzy in June, and a possible Dem-on-Dem general election in November depending how the candidate field shakes down.
At Eclectablog, Eclectablog writes—VIDEO: The REAL State of the State – Big Business benefits from billions in tax breaks at the expense of the middle class:
Eclectablog logo
Tonight Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to will give his final State of the State address of his first term in office. In it, we’re sure to hear many platitudes about his “relentless positive action” to create “more and better jobs” and ensure that Michigan remains “the Comeback State”. When it comes to marketing, our CEO governor is among the best and his pithy catch phrases have become something of a trademark.

What the catchy phrases won’t tell you is that our state has been given away to corporate interests. While record numbers of schools and municipalities have failed under Governor Snyder’s watch and our state’s unemployment rate still wallows in the mud of second worst in the country, our governor and his colleagues in the legislature have given massive tax breaks to corporations, privatized our schools to for-profit businesses, and given away contracts for public services to private businesses to extract profits from, as well. Meanwhile, they’ve raised taxes on over half of our state’s residents, slashed education, and eliminated most of the tax breaks that help Michigan’s working poor families.

THAT is the state of our state in 2014.

Our friends at, a project of Progress Michigan, have put together a video that spells out how things stand in Michigan right now under Rick Snyder’s “leadership.”

Below the fold are more excerpts from progressive state blogs.

At Green Mountain Daily of Vermont, Sue Prent writes—A pox on both your houses:

In the tradition of country feuds like the Hatfields and McCoys, officials of the City and Town of St. Albans have been trying to get the best of each other for decades, but can't even offer a credible explanation of what started the whole thing.

Since both municipalities are afflicted with galloping cronyism and opacity of process, it is doubtful that mystery will ever be adequately cleared up other than to say that the big dairying families that control the Town have a deep-seated suspicion of the big commerce and finance families who control the City; and vice-versa.  

As some intermarriage has occurred in the century since the two parted ways, there's an overlay of some complexity obscuring simple loyalties and leaving most of us relative newcomers completely in the dark.

Introduce to this  smoldering distrust the need to work closely in order to obtain and manage the most essential element for survival and development: water rights; and you've got yourself a situation that will serve nobody's best interests except those of the lawyers.

Green Mountain Daily of Vermont
At West Virginia Blue, wvblueguy writes—WV Senate and House React to the Chemical Spill:
According to the Republican Party they aren't responsible for anything... the simple answer is that it is "Obama's fault." The Republican Party wants everyone to think that the tough jobs required to be done by government agencies can be done without the proper manpower and without money. These guys are unbelievable.  Hopefully the people of West Virginia will start to understand that Republicans are not friends of 99% of our citizens.

Comment from

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Tuesday blamed the Obama administration for a disastrous coal industry chemical spill in West Virginia. He said at a news conference in D.C. that the country had enough environmental and health regulations, but they were not being properly enforced. "The issue is this, we have enough regulations on the books," Boehner remarked. "What the administration ought to be doing is actually doing their jobs. Why wasn't this plant inspected since 1991?" "I am entirely confident that there are ample regulations already on the books to protect the health and safety of the American people," Boehner added. "Somebody ought to be held accountable here." "What we try to do is look at those regulations that we think are cumbersome, are over-the-top and are costing our economy jobs. That's what our focus continues to be."
At OhioDaily, Anastasia Pantsios writes—Ed FitzGerald Names Sharen Neuhardt as Running Mate:
Some extraordinarily good news this morning as Ed FitzGerald names Sharen Neuhardt as his choice for running mate.

One thing that jumps out for many of us women is how historic this is. In the past, party slatemakers have cast around for that "token" woman to put on the ticket, for instance, Barbara Sykes in 2006 (alas, the only Democratic statewide candidate not to win that year). In 2010, we made progress—there were two (lieutenant governor candidate Yvette McGee Brown and secretary of state candidate Maryellen O'Shaughnessy).

With the addition of Sharen to the ticket, it's now split evenly between men and women. You know—like the WORLD.

Those of us who have gotten to know Sharen during her two runs for Congress know exactly how good this news is. Despite uphill runs in very Republican districts, she worked tirelessly and never gave up, never phoned it in, raising a considerable amount of money. Alas, in 2012, she faced the inexplicably popular long-time incumbent Mike "Who?" Turner, whose invisibility seems to work in his favor.

More recently, just this past October, Sharen was the speaker who introduced the program during the "We Won't Go Back" rally for women in Columbus at the Statehouse.

And in a little-known and now largely forgotten episode, in 2010, when the state Democratic Party was pushing the anti-choice, anti-gay Jennifer Garrison for secretary of state and telling women who complained to them that the party wasn't supporting anyone (suuuuuuuure) and that we should just go out and recruit our own candidate, Sharen answered our call to step up.

At BlueOregon, Jesse Cornett writes—"Hybrid" Liquor Proposal Still Favors Big Business:
Blue Oregon
Oregon’s liquor laws are likely to change in the coming year. Either the legislature will pass a measure next month or big business will buy a spot on the November ballot.

Today the Oregon Liquor Control Commission unveiled their “hybrid” proposal for modernizing liquor sales in Oregon. Unfortunately the proposal takes its cue from the big business sponsoring the potential ballot measure and excludes anyone with a store smaller than 10,000 square feet from carrying liquor. At 650 eligible stores in Oregon, liquor would be much more readily available under the hybrid proposal. But I just can’t help but think it is bad public policy to codify a system that we know benefits megastores and specifically excludes smaller, locally owned small businesses.

If the state fails to act, the Northwest Grocers Association (who represent Costco, Kroger and other supermarkets) will put the changes they want to make on the ballot. With Washington as the example, we know they are willing to spend endless millions of dollars to get the voters to pass a measure, and they’ve already shown they are willing to say anything.

At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes—Equality Victory:
Blue Oklahoma, state blogs
A judge's ruling invalidating the 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage here in Oklahoma is absolutely a stupendous victory for the state's gay community and so long overdue.

But those who don't support the judge's ruling, most notably state Rep. Sally Kern, continue to present fallacious arguments against it. [...]

State Rep. Kern, a controversial politician who once said homosexuality was a bigger threat than terrorism in this country, responded negatively and typically to the ruling with arguments steeped in religion and conservative rhetoric. In her statement, Kern argued: "Declaring homosexuality and same sex marriage (SSM) as a civil right is giving legitimacy to what God says is wrong." She also referred to the Ten Commandments and Thomas Jefferson to back up her claims. She said the ruling somehow rendered the "freedom" of those who initially voted for the same-sex marriage ban "unconstitutional." It was a hodge-podge of rambling, right-wing canards.

At Cottonmouth of Mississippi, writes—Sam Mims and Misplaced Priorities:
At the end of today's House session, House Public Health Committee Chairman and Tea Party champion Sam Mims (R-McComb), with the blessing of House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton), called up HB 49 and put it on track to be debated as early as tomorrow. This is a drug testing bill for recipients of TANF benefits. As a reminder, such testing was recently found to be unconstitutional in a federal court. It leads us to believe that something like the law won't get in Mims's way. Mims claims this bill is about helping people who may be on drugs, but that argument does not hold up considering that he has expressed no outrage that mental health services and drug courts are sustaining budget cuts and funding stagnation.

There is nothing mentioned in his bill discussing how much Mims is prepared to cost Mississippi taxpayers should a federal lawsuit be filed challenging the constitutionality of his legislation or a requirement that Governor Bryant also be subjected to a drug test even though he has offered to undergo the procedure. Unless the governor has something to hide, we are still waiting on his results.

The long list of health problems plaguing our state is staring Mims in the face, but this is how he sees appropriate to spend his committee's time.

At Blue in the Bluegrass of Kentucky, Yellow Dog writes—Rich White Man Goes to Prison for Money:
Blue in the Bluegrass
Not so long ago, Richie Farmer was an untouchable. A University of Kentucky basketball star, wealthy and popular, elected and re-elected to state office despite severe moral and intellectual handicaps, on the fast track to the Governor's Mansion, he was the epitome of white male privilege in the Commonwealth.

But he's going to prison on financial charges.

It gives me hope that Ja[mi]e Dimon may someday actually pay for his crimes.

At Dirigo Blue of Maine, Gerald Weinand writes—LePage lies about Press Herald reporter on national radio talk show:
During the gubernatorial campaign of 2010, the lies and gaffes of candidate Paul LePage became so numerous that a was created. These lies and gaffes continued after Lepage became governor, so much so that the Bangor Daily News created this greatest hits, some of which Amy Fried and Jim Melcher included in their book Tea Party Talk.

And LePage is still at it.

On Monday of this week, Gov. Paul LePage, as a guest on the Laura Ingraham Show, had this corker about Colin Woodard, a reporter for the Portland Press Herald. Ingraham asked LePage about a piece by Woodard about Maine’s governor that ran in Politico under the headline, How Did Mild-Mannered Maine Get America’s Craziest Governor? (the headline was not written by Woodard but by someone at Politico).

[LePage claims that Woodard had gone to Canada to interview the governor's ex-wife and children and gotten the door slammed in his face. But Woodard told Dirigo Blue]:

Nothing about the governor’s two statements here is true. I never went to Canada to interview his ex wife. I never sought to interview his chiIdren. I never had a door slammed in my face.
At Progress Illinois, Ellyn Fortino writes—State Report: Expiration Of Income Tax Hike Would Increase Budget Shortfalls, Bill Backlog:
state blogs, Progress Illinois
A recent forecast from Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office shows that Illinois could face significant revenue losses and budget deficits in the coming years if the temporary income tax hike phases out, as it is scheduled to do January 1, 2015.

If the 2011 tax increase expires, the personal income tax will change from its current 5 percent to 3.75 percent, and the corporate income tax will drop from 7 percent to 5.25 percent.

At the moment, the state is on track to having $458 million in unanticipated revenue by the close of the current fiscal year, ending June 30. The three-year forecast from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, however, estimates a $1.9 billion deficit in the state's operating fund by fiscal year 2015, ending June 30, 2015. That deficit is projected to skyrocket to $4.1 billion by fiscal year 2016 and $4.6 billion by fiscal year 2017. The temporary tax increase would expire halfway through the 2015 budget year.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And in Virginia.... (7+ / 0-)

    ...we've got a crucial election this Tuesday which will determine who controls the State Senate. Check out how misogynstic right wingers are attacking the Democrats' highly-accomplished, highly-qualified candidate, Jennifer Wexton (hint: it's exactly what we'd expect they'd do).

    P.S. Also, guess who's contributing big money to the anti-Semitic "joke" dude the Republicans nominated for this Senate seat?  Exactly who you'd think.

  •  George Miller (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, whaddaya, Puddytat

    has for a long time been the face that floats into my mind when I think what an ideal congressman should be like. George Miller and Barbara Mikulski when she was in the House. Now, I guess, I'll have to pay closer attention to the House to come up with my two ideal congresscritters. My own (Brad Sherman) won't be one of them

  •  Yeah, Snyder has been a disaster for Michigan. (6+ / 0-)

    Not quite as bad as Engler was, but that's not a goal to aim for.
    My husband and I were talking about this last night. Under Snyder and the GOP-dominated legislature, the state has lost ground in many different ways, including some major giveaways to businesses that cost regular taxpayers big-time. Now, in an election year, he can crow about having a budget surplus. But that's because so many important programs were cut. Out of the goodness of his heart, he can claim to be magnanimous and funnel new funds back to these programs. Trouble is, even after that the funding will not be back to the level it was at before it was cut!! To say nothing about the damage that has been done in the meantime.
    I'm not seeing any MSM coverage that gets into this nitty-gritty, alas. Instead, Snyder's BS is taken at face value. I'm grateful for Eclectablog's and others' efforts to stay on it in the blogosphere.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 10:19:29 AM PST

  •  Very nice work, MB ..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Eric Nelson, Meteor Blades

    ..... as per usual.

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 11:57:03 AM PST

  •  Rachel was correct. the same Koch funded.. (3+ / 0-)

    .."think tank" that came out with deceiving ads to frighten people out of signing up for health care coverage have been spreading their model "legislation" around the country to drug test TanF (and other program) recipients.

    So this weeks report from Cottonmouth is spot on:

    This is a drug testing bill for recipients of TANF benefits. As a reminder, such testing was recently found to be unconstitutional in a federal court.
    After all of these years being managed by Republicans and following what was supposed to be job-creating "tort reform," the record from Mississippi Republicans on economic development is a long blow of hot air.
     - emphasis added
    Florida's governor Rick (indicted billions dollars Medicare swindler by Kossak Armando | Tue Jul 03, 2012 ) Scott was right on board.

    The courts outlawed it in Florida though, and in other states when challenged.

    Now, if you want to know what these Koch brothers affiliated state  groups are working on, other than telling people not to get health  insurance, in Florida they, at least, have been promoting forced drug tests for people who are on welfare.

    Florida Republican governor Rick Scott loved this idea when he first ran for Florida governor in 2010. After he signed it into law in 2011, the Koch brothers connected Florida group helped champion and defend this  policy as well worth the money.

    That law ultimately led the state of Florida to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars proving that, as it turns
    out, welfare recipients appear to use drugs at roughly one-fourth the rate  of the general population.

    Florida`s drug test to the poor bill was initially proposed as a way that the state would save tons of money, but it ended up being a boondoggle, a hugely expensive way to discover almost no illegal drug use.

    And a series of court rulings has now found it to be wildly
    unconstitutional. A few months after the program was first implemented, a  federal court ruling blocked it, and the court ruling, the judge of the court ruling went out of her way to basically laugh at the state for having cited one particular Florida think tank for their evidence as to why the  law was such a good idea.

    Look at this -- this was from the ruling. You almost never see anything this blunt in a court order.

    "Thought the state offers, as evidence of the cost savings, a pamphlet from the Foundation for Government Accountability, the data contained in the pamphlet is not competent expert opinion nor is it offered as such, nor
    could it be reasonably be construed as such."
    That`s the Koch brothers group that has been promoting this idea,  right, the same Koch brothers group that has been telling people not to get  health insurance. They`re the ones that came up with the idea that it`s a great use of state funds. T

    he court laughed out loud at that in their

    So, that court ruling was from the fall of 2011. Just a few months before the Florida drug test the poor policy went into effect. The policy got blocked by the courts. The state was mocked for having tried to pretend that this Koch brothers affiliated group was some sort of expert
    think tank on the subject.

    But even after that, that same group, the Koch brothers affiliated group, they traveled around the country marketing Florida`s great policy success as something that all the Republican-controlled states should try
    to do.

    Look, here`s their press release about how they attended public hearings in Georgia to share Florida`s drug test the poor success story.

    Here`s the guy who was the author of that pamphlet that the court  laughed at in its court ruling. Here`s him being photographed at a Republican state senator from Wisconsin. We got to hear all about Florida`s awesome new drug test to the poor law, when this group presented
    it as a success story, that other states should emulate at a conference hosted by ALEC, the conservative corporate-funded policy group that markets  model legislation for state lawmakers.

    That process of taking a piece of legislation that Republicans managed to get passed somewhere and turning it into a national phenomenon, that is  one thing that the right does really, really, really well right now. And
    so, even as Florida`s policy, this drug test the poor policy, became a laughing stock in the state, even as it was declared unconstitutional as soon as they tried to put it into effect, even at it became a really obviously apparent boondoggle in the state that definitely wasn`t going to
    save any money, and that was going to cost a ton of money, and that was going to expose the opposite of the problem that it purported to solve, even as all of that was happening, in Florida, the place that came up with this law in the first place, these conservative groups, through networks like ALEC, right? They were able to convince other Republican-controlled states to try it as well.

     - emphasis and extra blockquoting by me

    The law traveled to around the country pushed by republicans:
    Quote, "In 2013, alone, at least 30 states proposed bills related to drug screening and testing, with some even extending it to federal benefits, such as unemployment insurance." That`s from the Minneapolis "Star Tribune," which wrote about this over the holiday break, wrote about the worries and the state of Minnesota over the implementation of that
    state`s version of the law.  
    Yep the Koch's, spreading bad ideas nationwide.
    But this tile alone from Yellowdog:  Rich White Man Goes to Prison for Money

    ..has got to take the cake; that it is so rare an occurence it makes for an actual headline

    Kind of sums up the "conservative" party and how laws that are stricken down by court after court doesn't stop the republicans from passing them anyway (no matter how low the tactics in doing so).

     Then, because our judicial system (judges) when in republicans control aren't even expected to uphold the laws for certain GOP criminals, when crimes being committed by "conservatives" and actual prison time follows an indictment make unexpected headlines.

     Laws & taxes are for the little people - is what "freedom" means for "conservatives"

     - imo way to long winded opinion

    Thx MB for this week progressive voices

    P.S. some good stuff too

  •  I "we're broke" Wisconsin (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, peregrine kate

    Governor Walker has suddenly "found" a budget surplus!  Yes, between stripping programs, big giveaways to business and the wealthy, and massive borrowing, there is a "surplus" just in time for him to propose tax cuts during his re-election campaign.

    Naturally, our corporate, Republican-loving media isn't asking any questions about this astounding "find".  Nope.  They're crediting Walkers budgetary genius.

    It's nauseating.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:04:54 PM PST

  •  And you have every right - the FREEDOM you love so (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    much to deny others to say this 24/7/365 - from your pulpit, in your church.  Even on TV.

    In her statement, Kern argued: "Declaring homosexuality and same sex marriage (SSM) as a civil right is giving legitimacy to what God says is wrong."
    But that's exactly where your rights and freedom with respect to this subject end, and where mine begin.  You can say whatever you want and I can choose to listen and heed what you say, to listen and dismiss, or to not listen at all.

    The sooner everyone understands this basic precept of democracy, the sooner we can put this issue behind us.

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 01:11:01 PM PST

    •  The simple problem there is, when one has created (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      some kind of "god" in his own image and likeness, YOU are supposed to no longer have any other "rights and freedoms", than those which that particular "god" permits.  That's the whole foundation of every form of religion racket in a nutshell.  

      The Jackass-in-the-Pulpit is, of course, the voice of whatever "god" he himself fantasizes himself to be.  YOUR freedom is that of believing and obeying.

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