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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 Uppity Wisconsin, Man MKE writes—Ridiculous political argument of the month: Glenn Grothman Edition:

Uppity Wisconsin state blog
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.

At Ox Road South of Virginia, Chap Petersen writes—Ethics Reform Staggers Forward:
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.

You will find more excerpts from progressive state blogs below the twisted orange gerrymander.

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.

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.
Blue in the Bluegrass
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.

At LeftWingCracker of Tennessee, autoegocrat writes—At Long Last Senator, Have You No Dictionary?
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:

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.
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.
At MN Progressive Project, Grace Kelly writes—Raining Sulfuric Acid as a Climate Change Solution:
MN Progressive Project
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.

At Dirigo Blue of Maine, CEJESQ writes—Violets of Dawn – Waking Up to Paul LePage:
Sometimes we’re lulled to sleep by reassuring promises of better things to come.
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.

At Blog for Iowa, Tracy Leone writes—UAW, VW And The Southern Man:
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.
Blog for Iowa logo
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 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):
Daily Kingfish, state blogs
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 [...]

At 4&20 Blackbirds of Montana, lizard writes—How About Accountability for Downtown Missoula Bar Owners?:
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.

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:

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.
16-3-301(4)(b) MCA
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.
At Blue Jersey, Rosi Efthim writes—Freeheld, the feature film about NJ's Laurel Hester, is cast:
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.

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.

Scrutiny Hooligans
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.  

At Scrutiny Hooligans of North Carolina, Tom Sullivan writes—Moral March: Mainstream, Not The Fringe:
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.

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.

At South Dakota Madville Times, caheidelberger writes—More Gun Nuttery: Fearful Legislators Almost Allow Firearms in Capitol:
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.
Madville Times of South Dakota
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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Full disclosure may be an utter pain… (10+ / 0-)

    …but it's better than no disclosure.

  •  The GOP torture of a thousand cuts: dream up (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, NancyWH, rebel ga, Puddytat

    legisltaion to hinder, distort and nullify what you don't like.  They will always tactic this for it is the refuge of the thoughless, we propose nothing for our country other than our own aggandrizement, GOP barely breathing corpses.

  •  Ugh! Matt Miller to run for Waxman seat. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Puddytat

    That's all we need is another corporate Dem to replace a progressive Dem in congress.

    When I cannot sing my heart. I can only speak my mind.

    by Unbozo on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 09:18:24 AM PST

  •  I can see why the spectre of a UAW and a (5+ / 0-)

    works council terrifies the wingers.  The combined model would suggest equality of purpose and cooperation, things that seem just too much like socialism to the right.  Status and power are most important to them and must be preserved as at least a shadowy reminder of the plantation culture of the south.  Over 700 no votes suggest that the South will not rise again.

    After a year or so the VW workers may try to make another run at it based on hopes that the 700 just might want true involvement in their workplace.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 09:22:15 AM PST

  •  Not so much I oppose carrying a deadly weapon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Puddytat, Eric Nelson, StrayCat

    as I am totally against FORGETTING a deadly weapon and telling me oopsie.

    If they want the God-like power of deadly force as a constant companion, how dare they forget. How dare they pretend they are as carefree as I am.

    I wonder if the blog author meant frequently instead of flagrantly. Or maybe it's both.

    "Silly me, I forgot my gun. Everybody relax. You were safe then and I have the situation under control now."

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 09:34:22 AM PST

  •  PA gas well explosion, oil train derailment (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Eric Nelson, Puddytat, StrayCat

    Gas Well Fire Continues To Burn Days After Explosion

    One person was hospitalized after the initial explosion, and another has yet to be accounted for.
    Crude oil spill contained after 21 freight cars jump tracks
    DEP spokesman John Poister said three railcars had minor leaks of crude oil, but a fourth split open, losing several thousand gallons. "The saving grace for us was when the crude hit the snow, it congealed," he said.
  •  My county is on the path of the KY pipeline... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Eric Nelson, Puddytat

    ...well, proposed pipeline...and the explosion in Knifely has been THE topic of conversation around town.  Even staunch conservatives (remember, this area elected Andy Barr to Congress) are NOT pleased at the prospect of such a pipeline cutting through our county.

    This should prove interesting...

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 10:47:25 AM PST

  •  Speaking of natural gas pipelines. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Eric Nelson, Puddytat
    Fate Of NJ And NYC To Be Decided By Federal Appeals Court
    September 16 2012 Occupy Pipeline's new hit song,

    Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

    by rebel ga on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 10:47:33 AM PST

  •  I'm proud that the Milwaukee County Board (3+ / 0-)

    voted so strongly for a living wage ordinance.  It was a veto-proof majority so even though Chris Abele will veto the bill, they'll be able to overcome that veto.

    Those "local control" loving Republicans, though, only love local control when they're the ones in control.  They have already passed legislation to slash the salaries of the County Board members in Milwaukee and are about to take control of the Milwaukee County (i.e. taxpayer funded) Mental Health Complex out of their hands, too.

    Now they're marching in to stop Milwaukee Country from doing the right thing - insisting on a life-sustaining minimum wage.

    The hypocrisy is simply stunning.

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

    by Puddytat on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 12:09:44 PM PST

  •  Best new thing in the world - imo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, antirove

    Moral March: Mainstream, Not The Fringe By Tom Sullivan
     ♦ labor/unions

     ♦ education

     ♦ health care

     ♦ environmental justice

     ♦ awareness of inequality in the criminal justice system and solution sought

     ♦ voting rights defended and unlike 2010 word is out and it doesn't look like it's going away

    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.
    The South is rising; this time it's a very good thing :)

    And this too:  

    Sharon Leahy-Lind had pushed back against some very formidable pit-bull types concerning an allocation of money made by the CDC under what she has been alleging was a rigged award process. She’d refused to comply with instructions she’d been given by her DHHS supervisors to destroy the supporting documentation of the scheme.

    She became a “whistle-blower” and offered up as proof her assertion of the existence of a spreadsheet showing the history of the scoring by the CDC of twenty-seven potential recipients of funding for a program called “Healthy Maine Partnerships.” Ms. Leahy-Lind claims that the scoring had been deliberately altered to disadvantage one of the programs. When that document was formally requested, department officials claimed that it had been destroyed because “it was only a working document.”

    ..exposing the RWNJ LePage cronyism/patronage type hiring to further republican agenda of corruption

    It seems to me that the GOP attempt to halt their own unraveling hasn't worked..

    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.
    ..and is getting worse.

    Dems now have many issues to get behind and pointing out the truths about the hurtful republican agenda won't come across as partisan "negative campaigning" (the standard GOP accusation when cornered)

    The anti-worker agenda makes its own waves - just by telling the truth

     Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II; Sharon Leahy-Lind. People to pay attention to and emulate in action - imo - two different styles of activism. One quietly making a difference, the other broadcasting it far and wide

    Also too I may be naïve about the south but it seems to me that the latest close loss in Tennessee despite the millions spent by the RWNJ and Rove with his road signs, may also backfire on the GOP.

    The way this coordination between Labor & management is set up..

    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.
    This includes everything from bargaining a contract, holding labor management meetings and representing workers grievances.
    ..has exactly the kind of feel to it that southerners with anti-government-intervention leanings would applaud, And Corker's ignorance of union law and recent move is opposite of that kind of self governance the republicans espouse (falsely in this case and way too many other too) And good things to come and spread like maybe to BMW and if/when the Volkswagen SUV (?) is built

    All in all, with an out of control GOP under constant scrutiny, major backfires are coming on a whole range of issues.

     - imo

    Thx MB

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