At Uppity Wisconsin, Man MKE writes—Ridiculous political argument of the month: Glenn Grothman Edition:
At Ox Road South of Virginia, Chap Petersen writes—Ethics Reform Staggers Forward:Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is at it again. The exurb legislator introduced a bill to prohibit municipalities from enforcing locally higher minimum wage laws when any state money is used to pay workers. This will create needed "uniformity" in minimum wage structures across the state, according to Kapenga and the business lobbyists who help shape his views. Yeah, Wisconsin minimum wages will be uniform all right—uniformly crappy.
The immediate result of the bill, if it passes (and why wouldn't today's breed of heartless Republicans not pass it?) will be this: Thousands of private-sector workers in Milwaukee and Madison, cities which for 15 years have had living-wage ordinances, will suddenly face pay cuts of up to several dollars per hour.
Thanks, GOP, for "fixing" our economy by overcoming urban poverty -- or, actually, making it worse.
You will find more excerpts from progressive state blogs below the twisted orange gerrymander.Today, the Senate passed out its omnibus ethics bill, SB 649, on a 39-1 vote. Despite the widespread voting endorsement, there is little enthusiasm for the legislation—which is both too strict and too lenient at the same time.
Too Strict: The bill requires that lawmakers disclose every gift over $50 received by a family member from someone who “transacts business” with the state, state agency or locality. I actually filed an amendment to better clarify this test and the knowledge required. Regardless, it is very broad standard, especially for someone with a wife and four kids. Effectively, I have to question my own family every December to find out if one of them has received gifts over $50—and, if so, from whom (and whether that person “transacts business” with any public entity in Virginia). That applies even if the donor’s gift has nothing to do with me or my position.
Too Lenient: The reform totally failed to limit gifts, except those tangible gifts over $250 (and who the heck is getting these anyway?) We failed to limit intangible gifts, like free meals, entertainment, or travel, which are at the heart of the “free stuff” culture. Critically, the Senate rejected amendments by Senator Ebbin which would have required “free trips” over $1,000 to be approved by the “independent” ethics commission that we’re forming. As it stands now, PAC’s and lobbyists can spring for expensive trips, even if they are unrelated to official business. That’s not right.
At Blue in the Bluegrass, Yellow Dog writes—One of Those Safe Pipelines Explodes in Kentucky, Destroying Homes:
In the reality-based world, this would be the end of the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. But we're living in fossil-fuel-worshipping, corporate-cocksucking, who-cares-about-a-buncha-hillbillies world.At LeftWingCracker of Tennessee, autoegocrat writes—At Long Last Senator, Have You No Dictionary?
Mark Boxley at the Courier:
Two homes were destroyed, 20 residences were evacuated and two people received non-life threatening injuries early Thursday in Adair County after a natural gas transportation line exploded, leaving a 60-foot crater near Highway 76 in Knifley.Republican state senators who have been lobbied by constituents to oppose the Bluegrass Pipeline of toxic fracking waste have been skirting the issue by opposing eminent domain for private corporations that are not utilities, but emphasizing that they do not oppose pipelines per se.
Really, assholes? Guess there aren't enough voters in Knifley to worry about.
Bob Corker really, really doesn't like unions, and he's been on quite a tear lately to tell everyone who will listen just how much he wishes they would stop all the complaining about workers' rights and fair pay and just go away. I was probably as surprised as anyone to learn this morning that Senator Bob Corker claimed to have a secret plan to end the Vietnam War inside information about Volkswagen's plans for its Chattanooga plant, but that did not prepare me for the nearly electric shock I experienced when I read that he'd said this:At MN Progressive Project, Grace Kelly writes—Raining Sulfuric Acid as a Climate Change Solution:
I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that this statement alone demonstrates that Bob Corker has no idea how a union works, what unions are for, or why someone would want to join one.
Our concern is not with the works council and never has been, and Volkswagen knows that very well. U.S. labor relations and German relations are very different. There's some question as to how a works council can be set up in the U.S., and there are various opinions on both sides of the spectrum, one says you have to have a union, one says you don't. But we in no way have been negative relative to the works council. It's really been the fact that the UAW would be the implementing entity. We've even told Volkswagen that, 'why don't you guys create your own union within the plant, if you feel like that is something that is necessary to fully implement this in a way you see fit.' I will say that BMW has implemented its works council without the UAW.
At Dirigo Blue of Maine, CEJESQ writes—Violets of Dawn – Waking Up to Paul LePage:David Keith, a professor at Harvard and a proponent of geo-engineering is actually proposing “raining sulfuric acid” as a climate change solution. You can watch him on the Stephen Colbert Show. Never mind that ocean acidification is already a major problem. Never mind that it is only a temporary solution.
Heh, I have the perfect solution—one nuclear war. It brings a nuclear winter solution to climate change. It solves our over population problem. The few people who are left will have so many other problems that climate problems will be the least of their worries. It puts climate change in perspective.
Sometimes we’re lulled to sleep by reassuring promises of better things to come.At Blog for Iowa, Tracy Leone writes—UAW, VW And The Southern Man:
A smaller, more “people friendly” government is wonderfully appealing and so is the soft suggestion that meticulous restraint in spending can provide better public services and improve quality at the same time.
But while speaking these words may soothe a troubled mind, in the dim light of dawn here in Maine specters have begun to appear.
When Republican Paul LePage assumed the governorship in 2010, he immediately replaced the head of the largest, most significant state department (Health and Human Services) with an individual having no experience in public health administration, personnel management or budgetary finance.
Yet his pick for the commissioner’s seat, Mary Mayhew, was a Democrat. Nevertheless, she’d received praise for essentially one thing: she had been a tenacious lobbyist for the Maine Hospital Association, advocating with great success against government restraints on private hospitals.
On February 12-14, the men and women who assemble the Volkswagen Passat at a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will get to vote on whether or not they want the UAW to represent them and implement a Work Council. Work Councils exists at every other Volkswagen plant in the world except for those in China and the one in Chattanooga.At The Daily Kingfish of Louisiana, Lamar White Jr. writes—Why I Will Vote For Representative John Bel Edwards (After He Clarified His Position On The War On Drugs):
This election is meaningful on so many levels, not the least of which is that there hasn’t been a major organizing drive at a plant in the south since UFCW organized Smithfield in 2009 after a 16 year struggle there. But it would also be fascinating to see how the Work Council will work in the U.S. Though Work Councils are common in Germany, if the UAW/Volkswagen election succeeds, it would be the first Work Council established in the U.S.
Work Councils operate differently than how the majority of unions are organized in the U.S. A typical industrial or public sector union in the U.S. exists after workers democratically vote for a union to represent them. They elect the president and local officers, and the local unions’ delegates elect the International or council officers who then hire business managers who work with local leadership on the day to day business of unionism. This includes everything from bargaining a contract, holding labor management meetings and representing workers grievances.
The union (local workers with union staff) will then negotiate with management to establish a contract that covers wages, benefits and conditions of employment. They do not get to make decisions typically decided as management’s decisions, and most contracts usually start with a “Management’s Rights” clause laying out management’s rights to hire and make other decisions about how the plant/office will run. [...]
In Germany, worker representatives serve in equal number as management on a council to make mutual decisions about how the plant will operate. This goes well beyond the U.S. model and may include such discussions previously categorized as “Management Rights” like what cars will be manufactured at what plants.
At 4&20 Blackbirds of Montana, lizard writes—How About Accountability for Downtown Missoula Bar Owners?:I think we should fundamentally rethink the regime we have established with regard to illegal drugs and that there is a simple and obvious way to neuter these drug dealers without needing to pass ever-increasing Draconian laws about sentencing, laws that seem to only benefit the balance sheets of private prisons. I also expressed to Representative Edwards my concerns about the statutory construction of the term “possession with intent to distribute,” because I believe that it has less to do with “intent,” as we generally understand the word, and more to do with quantity. Because of this, we regularly charge and sentence people who struggle with drug addiction as if they are drug dealers, which seems antithetical to the widely-held belief that prison for addicts should be focused on rehabilitation, while prison for dealers should perhaps be more concerned with retributive justice. Representative Edwards assured me he would look into the possibility of strengthening the statutory definition of “possession with the intent to distribute,” and I appreciated his candor and his consideration; this would be huge. If a conviction on “intent to distribute” requires more than a measurement of quantity and also requires a showing of actual “intent” or mens rea, it would go a long way in ensuring that our laws are more fairly and equally applied.
Finally, I think it’s worth noting, to his credit, that Representative Edwards supports changing existing law in order to ensure that second and third offense possession of marijuana are treated as misdemeanors, not as felonies. This actually makes him one of the most progressive elected officials on this issue in the entire State, and it’s not a minor issue.
Again, we may disagree on the efficacy of mandatory minimums for heroin dealers; I still would prefer a different schematic. But I don’t fault his ultimate intention and his commitment, as expressed to me, to ensure that any law like this would target opportunistic black-market drug dealers who earn their living selling deadly drugs that, for the most part, are grown and sold in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan [...]
The owners of the Badlander and the Rhino support the Mayor’s version of the panhandling ordinances because they want to protect their paying customers from “solicitors”, the new euphemism for the chronically homeless. This term reflects the messaging from the business community that these ordinances are all about behavior and won’t selectively target specific groups of people, like those without homes. That’s bullshit, but let’s stick with the “behavior” thinking for a minute.At Blue Jersey, Rosi Efthim writes—Freeheld, the feature film about NJ's Laurel Hester, is cast:
Another word batted around is accountability. The ordinances, it is claimed, are suppose to be tools of accountability for law enforcement. The overreach that undermines this claim is the inclusion of just sitting, sleeping, or lying on the sidewalk as excluded behavior.
Putting that aside, let’s apply the concept of accountability to downtown bar owners and their employees. I took a quick look at the Responsible Alcohol Sales and Training Program (PDF) and under “key laws” I found the Montana statute regarding selling alcohol to intoxicated people:
If downtown bars were fined every time they violated this statute, they would go bankrupt. But I guarantee Missoula would be a safer place if bar owners were held more accountable for the rampant binge-drinking they profit from, damn the personal consequences and costs.
It is unlawful for any licensee, a licensee’s employee, or any other person to sell, deliver, or give away or cause or permit to be sold, delivered, or given away any alcoholic beverage to any intoxicated person or any person actually, apparently, or obviously intoxicated.
Blue Jersey was born on Wednesday, Sep 28, 2005 at 8:39pm, when its founder Juan Melli created his account at the blog he built on a new platform called soapblox.At Scrutiny Hooligans of North Carolina, Tom Sullivan writes—Moral March: Mainstream, Not The Fringe:
But Blue Jersey became what it is when we joined the fight for marriage equality in New Jersey, becoming a kind of unofficial communications arm of Garden State Equality. And what knitted so many of us together was the fight for her rights of a dying Ocean County police officer named Laurel Hester who wanted the benefits she earned go to her partner, Stacie. First she fought alone, then her best friend—a male officer who hadn't known she was gay—fought with her. That lady had guts. Then Garden State Equality showed up for her, again and again. As Laurel's lung cancer made it harder to breathe, GSE and its Steven Goldstein became a voice for her.Before she died, Laurel Hester's determination gave life to a movement in a state that now recognizes the rights of its Laurels and Stacies to marry, so they get treated the way they deserve to be. Laurel was GSE's test of fire, and it was our privilege to help where we could and help GSE tell her story. An Academy Award-winning short documentary, Freeheld was made and premiered in New Jersey, with and for GSE.
And now Laurel's story - and Garden State Equality's - will be a feature film. Here is the cast, according to Hollywood Reporter:
Laurel Hester: Julianne Moore
Stacie Andree: Ellen Page
Steven Goldstein: Zach Galifianakis
Peter Sollett will direct, from a screenplay by Ron Nyswaner, who wrote Philadelphia.
I'm thinking of so many people I'm proud of right now. I can't wait to see this.
Led by NC NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the Forward Together movement may be indigenous to North Carolina, but Saturday’s mass rally showed that its influence is expanding. Moral Monday protests are starting in Georgia and South Carolina. Over two dozen states sent marchers to Raleigh on Saturday—from neighboring southern states to New York, Florida and Missouri.At South Dakota Madville Times, caheidelberger writes—More Gun Nuttery: Fearful Legislators Almost Allow Firearms in Capitol:
Not just a coalition of single-issue groups, this fusion movement recognizes that their varied interests are connected in their struggle against the “extremism” of North Carolina’s General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory. Forward Together set five demands for 2014:
• Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability;
• Provide well-funded, quality public education for all;
• Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice;
• Address inequalities in the criminal justice system;
• Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
Gooney McBuckshot continues to dominate debate in the South Dakota Legislature. Our legislators again worked themselves into a lather yesterday over the simple question of whether they ought to allow themselves and other gun-fetishists the pleasure of carrying their pistols in the Capitol.
Rep. Betty Olson has already admitted that she flagrantly forgets to check her concealed weapon before she comes to work. She brought HB 1228 so she apparently wouldn't have to work so hard to remember she's carrying a deadly weapon, and so she could spring to Annie Oakley the next armed marauders attack her and her fellow legislators in Pierre (something that has happened never).[...]
Those of us who oppose carrying guns in the Capitol (and courthouses, and schools) are not trembling cowards compared to his manly gun-handling chums (that's Kopp's subtext). Kopp is the coward for lacking faith in civil society and in the state he legislates to use force judiciously and provide all citizens due protection. Kopp, Olson, and the others who support making the Capitol a free-fire zone would overturn basic security rules to assuage their own raging insecurities.
The debate was so fearful that it apparently scared the poop out of Rep. Stace Nelson (no small feat!). Even without his presence, HB 1228 failed on a far too narrow vote.