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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 Blog for Arizona, Pamela Powers Hannley writes—Sunshine Is Best Disinfectant: AZ Legislature Delays Voter Suppression Discussion:

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee of the Arizona House of Representatives was scheduled to discuss repealing last year’s omnibus voter suppression bill (HB2305). Since thousands of Arizona citizens had signed petitions to stop implementation of HB2305 and put voter suppression on the 2014 ballot, sneaky legislators had devised a plan to do an end-run around voters by repealing the destined-to-fail-at-the-polls bill and replace it with several individual voter suppression bills. (After all, we can’t let citizens decide issues as important as who gets to vote or how measures are put on the ballot.)

Thanks to a widely distributed press release from the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee, news of Republican legislators’ Voter Suppression Plan B flew out across the blogosphere on Wednesday, resulting in much citizen– and news media– interest.

Overnight, hundreds of concerned Arizona voters called and wrote to members of the committee urging them to respect the will of the voters and let them have their say on HB2305 in November. Dozens of people showed up to speak at the hearing as well as three television news crews. Judiciary Chairman Eddie Farnsworth then told the amassed crowd that he was holding his repeal bill (HB2196). He has since rescheduled the hearing on his bill for next week.
Proving once again that sunshine is the best disinfectant and voter suppression is a topic best discussed in the dead of night with no witnesses, Farnsworth decided not to open discussions with TV cameras rolling and citizens watching.
At The Orange Juice Blog of California, Ryan Cantor writes—Don’t Let Stupidity Hijack Justice:
I will never understand the stupidity that so often accompanies selfishness.

There were thousands of horns “excessively horning” and hundreds of people who stood, yelled, and sang in solidarity in downtown Fullerton on Saturday.  I’m grateful for that.  Saturday’s protest in Fullerton was covered by nearly two dozen local and micro media outlets.  In every single one of them, the main discussion focused on protesters turning violent, the number of arrests, or the PD’s response to what can only be labeled as intense stupidity on behalf of a few abnoxious a-holes who ruined it for everyone.

Not one outlet focused on what’s next for Fullerton.  No discussion on Civilian Oversight, no discussion on a permanent year-round multi-service homeless shelter, no discussion on reforming POBRA . . . nothing discussing exactly what’s changed since July 5, 2011, what’s working, what isn’t working, and what’s left to be changed.  Just lots of pictures of idiots in masks.  One even throwing a chair.

There were a million opportunities to influence through the media by the time Sunday morning rolled around.  Instead of seizing it, we squandered it.  What’s worse is that those in the community who oppose any sort of effort to affect change got what they needed most: Empathy, and a whole lot of it.

Additional excerpts from progressive state blogs can be found below the gerrymandered squiggle.

At Delaware Liberal, Delaware Dem writes in the Friday Open Thread:

Delaware Liberal
It’s been a bad week for conservatives and indictments and subpoenas. Violent Conservative Dinesh D’Souza has been indicted for campaign finance fraud. He allegedly funneled contributions to Wendy Long, the 2012 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat and then reimbursed the donors, which is illegal. Governor Christie’s campaign team has been subpoenaed. And former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife will be appearing in Court this morning after being indicted for fraud, corruption, making false statements and obstruction.

And now Mike Huckabee wants to talk about women and their reproductive choices again, despite all the evidence that Republican men have a very difficult time hiding their completely 1650′s attitude about women and their rights.

At Nebraska Appleseed, Jeff Sheldon writes—ACA In Nebraska: New policies help Nebraskans receive mental health care:
One of the most beneficial pieces of the Affordable Care Act that is often overlooked is the importance the ACA gives to mental health.  Mental health coverage is
Nebraska Appleseed blog
one of the 10 essential health benefits that new insurance policies must cover according to the ACA.

That provision already is helping Nebraskans.  Last weekend, Cathryn Reed of St. Edward, Neb., wrote a letter to the Omaha World-Herald explaining the stigma given to people who seek mental health care, which previous health insurance policies did nothing to alleviate.

At Show Me Progress of Missouri, WillyK writes—Ed Martin gives us the GOP line on ethics reform in Jefferson City:
A press release from the Missouri Republican Party Chair, Ed Martin, has given us the GOP response to HB1340, the ethics reform bill sponsored by state Rep. Kevin McManus (D-036) which was written in collaboration with Secretary of State Jason Kander, also a Democrat. Martin's take, which will presumably inform his fellow partisan's talking points, is akin to Jesus' dicta  that only those who are without sin should cast stones (John 8:7). Sadly, Martin is confused not only about what constitutes political sin, but about the distinction between punitive action - the analogue to the Pharisees effort to stone the woman taken in adultery - and proposals for reform that will benefit every honest actor in government - with the emphasis on honest.

First, a little background: It helps to know that Missouri is a wide-open state when it comes to pay-to-play politics; regulation is so minimal it is non-existent for all practical purposes, and, as a consequence, the home of Missouri political life, Jefferson City, has begun to give off a mighty foul stench. If you're interested in the particulars, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has detailed some of the abuses in two recent editorials (here and here). Efforts to rectify the situation have been repeatedly stymied, presumably by the gangsters politicians who don't want to give up the good thing they've got going. The Post-Dispatch summed up the process recently, noting that while members of both parties in the legislature are willing  talk a good game when it comes to ethics reform, so far a majority hasn't been willing to play it out.

Show Me Progress
At the MN Progressive Project, The Big E writes—Steve Drazkowski proposes big government intervention to stop safe driving classes:
MN Progressive Project
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) will briefly halt his single-minded assault on big government. The cause? Local governments making money from traffic scofflaws through safe driving classes which keep the scofflaws record clean.

Throughout Minnesota, if you get pulled over for a minor traffic violation, you can keep your record clean and help fill the coffers of your local government. You just have to pay for and take a class on safe driving.

But not if The Draz gets his way:

“We have a small handful of renegade counties with rogue county attorneys and sheriffs that continue to operate in violation of the law,” he said.

Drazkowski announced Tuesday during a Minnesota Capitol press conference that he plans to introduce a bill to shut down these programs. In an interview, he said these programs amount to corruption because all of the money collected from these classes goes straight into the cities and counties’ coffers.

At Bleeding Heartland of Iowa, black desert nomad writes—Corn ethanol under attack, or is it?:
Bleeding Heartland
Later this week state and regional agribusiness leaders will gather at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates to cheerlead for corn ethanol.  The agenda for this “Hearing in the Heartland” is to rail against a proposed update to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bipartisan entrenchment against the update suggests corn ethanol is being somehow threatened, but despite the fanfare it really isn’t.

The EPA’s update to the 2007 law deals mostly with 2nd and 3rd generation biofuels. The proposed volume requirements don't hinder corn ethanol; the grain mandates shifts a few percent as business models tend to do when they are updated after 7 years.  The long-term prospects for next generation biofuels also remain strong. So why an update?  Projections for next generation biofuel have not panned out, yet. Simply put: science & engineering need to catch up to ambitious policy.

Corn ethanol was always meant as a stepping stone to “advanced” biofuels. The RFS update only seriously impedes corn if convoluted math is done to figure corn as the stop-gap filler for our old overestimates for next generation biofuels. Vested interests want to double-down on endless growth in corn ethanol, but they have lost sight of the long game amidst a tangled web of conflict-of-interest.  

At Something Like the Truth of Louisiana, Robert Mann writes—Jindal's Budget-Cutting Folly:
Say what you like about Gov. Bobby Jindal, but don’t say he lacks passion for budget cuts and privatizing government services. It only makes sense, therefore, that he would find a way to privatize budget cutting.

Jindal’s administration recently signed a $4.2 million contract with Alvarez & Marsal, a management consultant that Jindal expects to find $500 million in annual budget savings.

This contract was puzzling on several fronts. First, while Jindal’s aides touted the arrangement by insisting the firm was obliged to produce the $500 million in cuts, the contract they signed had no budget-cutting targets. Through a spokesperson, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols argued the arrangement was binding because the desired savings were discussed in a cover letter.

That undoubtedly sent the lawyers scrambling to find chapters on cover letters in their contract-law books. Turns out such chapters don’t exist because these agreements are enforced with actual contracts, not squishy cover letters. Jindal’s aides knew that all along, of course, and quickly renegotiated the deal to include a legally binding figure.

At the Kansas Free Press, Diane Wahto writes—Will Sam Ever Understand Women?
Kansas Free Press
Gov. Foot in Mouth Disease, otherwise known as Sam Brownback, did it again, this time in his Jan. 15, 2014, State of the State address. It seems he still has no clue about women and reproductive choice.

During a speech at Butler Community College in April 1999, Brownback, then a senator, said, "You can see a real impact in the abortion policy we've had in this country. We have a lot fewer people out here. You can see we have a lot fewer workers coming on board."

I was at that speech, during which he also exhorted the high school students in attendance to have a lot of children. (Do we really want teenagers to be thinking along those lines before they've finished their education and found a way to support themselves and a family?) I asked Brownback why he was putting the problems of Social Security of the backs of women. He said he wasn't blaming women. However, he didn't make that comment at any other stops on his Congressional tour.

At Blue Mass Group, charley-on-the-mta writes—Hey you Whitehouse:
One of the great heroes of climate change does his usual excellent work in the Senate: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. [...]
Blue Mass Group
I’m preaching to the choir here, I know. There is hope, since Whitehouse has been joined by the new Senate climate caucus, whose immediate job is to raise awareness and play defense for the administration’s efforts to close up dirty power plants like Brayton Point.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve done our job at the level of sending good folks to DC, and need to continue to do so. Furthermore we can support initiatives like green bonds and green banks, RGGI, conservation measures and so forth. This saves us money and helps our economy, as well as prepares us for the (now-inevitable, I think) changeover to cleaner energy.

At ColoradoPols, ColoradoPols writes—Tancredo, Hill Both Bypassing GOP Caucuses:
Colorado Pols logo
This is the first word we've seen that U.S. Senate candidate Owen Hill intends to bypass the state Colorado Republican Party caucus process, and go directly to the primary ballot by collecting petition signatures. We had heard the possibility that Tom Tancredo might bypass the caucuses with a petition drive, and this announcement would appear to confirm that rumor as well. The story infers that the petition gatherers in question, fresh off the petition campaign to recall Evie Hudak, aren't being paid, but we haven't confirmed that.

With one of Hill's U.S. Senate primary opponents, Amy Stephens, also ditching the caucuses to petition directly to the ballot, the GOP's formerly important assembly selection process appears less meaningful than ever in 2014. This illustrates a difference between former GOP chairman Dick Wadhams, who zealously defended the caucuses and penalized candidates who didn't participate, and current GOP chairman Ryan Call, who sheepishy says both means of getting on the ballot are "legitimate." The truth is, Call would probably be closer to Wadhams' position if he had the power to enforce it. But Call isn't Wadhams, and today's GOP isn't what it was even four years ago.

As for the legitimacy of Hill and Tancredo personally…that really doesn't matter right now.

At The Prairie Blog, Jim Fuglie writes—Here’s The Map North Dakota Leaders Didn’t Want You to See:
state blogs
Well, I don’t want to always be the bearer of bad tidings, but it is good to know what is going on in the world around us. In the words of British philosopher Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power.” The Dakota Resource Council has brought us some knowledge this week about bad things happening around us, namely oil industry spills.

The DRC has helped to publicize a map that leaders in North Dakota state government didn’t want you to see.

It is a map of all the oil, saltwater and other hazardous materials spills in North Dakota’s oilfield since 2000. It is ugly. It makes me sad. You can look at it here. It is an interactive map. You can zoom in and out, and click on any of the thousands of little dots that denote a spill and it will take you to a link with the North Dakota Health Department’s oil incident report for that spill. See a dot next to the farm you grew up on? Click on it and find out what happened. It’s that easy.

What you get from this map that you don’t get from the Health Department’s  hazardous material spill website is a sense of the magnitude of the problem and a look at “hotspots” where so many spills have occurred in a small area that it is obvious there is a problem that needs to be addressed by environmental authorities.

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