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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 Ohio Daily, Anastasia Pantsios writes—Hey, Ohioans, THIS Is Who Is in Your State Legislature:

Remember Andrew Brenner? The state representative from blood-red Delaware County, also home to Kris "Wife Beater" Jordan? Brenner is the guy who recently said that all public education is "socialism," and that its assets should be sold off to private interests and public education be abolished. It's clear education was abolished in his case, whether public or otherwise.

He's also married to infamous rightwing blogger/radio personality Sara Marie "Palin" Brenner, whose resemblance to a certain former half-term Alaska governor is probably not accidental.

http://saramariebrenner.com/

Since you probably don't want to go down the rabbit hole of his personal blog, here's a DailyKos article about what he has allowed to be posted there:

http://www.dailykos.com/....

Right. He's giving a forum to a wackjob fringe wingnut who thinks the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was all a setup so the government could come TAKE THE GUNS. Never mind that the gun sellers/manufacturers lobby aka the NRA has managed to block even modest, rational gun control laws supported by a huge majority of Americans. And that nobody has made any move whatsoever to take their guns.

This person is apparently someone this elected "public servant" trusts enough to allow him to post whatever on his personal blog.

Now of course Brenner is all bent out of shape that he's being associated with a crazy idea (LOL).

At Left in Alabama, countrycat writes—"Have You No Sense of Decency?" Why Alabama Republicans Need A History Lesson:
Left in Alabama, state blogs
It takes a special kind of doofus to defend the late, red-baiting, list-waving Senator Joseph McCarthy - & Alabama has at least two of them working on our state's education policy. State Senator (and US House Candidate) Scott Beason & Talladega County Republican Party Chairman Danny Hubbard are either deliberately whitewashing history, totally clueless - or both.

Speaking to the Anniston Star recently, they had this to say:

McCarthy was right about most of the people he accused, Beason claims.

"So we're comparing the McCarthy investigations of the 1950s, in which he turned out to be right, with the Salem witch hunts," Beason said.
[...]
Hubbard put some of the flags in Beason's textbook. He said he didn't flag "The Crucible," but he thinks Beason was right to do so. Joe McCarthy, he said, was right.

"Now that all the records are out, it's clear that McCarthy didn't go far enough," he said.

[...] It's no surprise that this McCarthy rehab effort is part of the right wing's fight against Common Core standards.  The wing nuts are the worst enemy of standards opponents - many of whom have quite valid concerns about the high-stakes testing and corporate involvement in education.
More excerpts from progressive state blogs can be found below the fold.

At ColoradoPols, Colorado Pols writes—Coffman’s Multicultural Discovery: “Wow, Ethiopians!”

QUID HAS HEARD that Aurora’s own congressman Mike Coffman discovered Aurora’s large Ethiopian, Ghanaian, Eritrean, Sudanese and every other African countries’ immigrant population right here in Aurora and he’s eager to spread the good news. In a story written by the Associated Press, Coffman said he visited an Ethiopian church this year (or as we call it, “a church”) in Aurora to celebrate our diversity. Never mind, that he “didn’t understand any of what they were doing … “ according to a recorded conversation posted on the Internet. Hats off to Coffman for making the rounds in his district. Only took him 3 years and a bitter re-election fight to find out Aurora has tens of thousands of African immigrants. Or as his challenger Andrew Romanoff likes to call them, “voters.”
Colorado Pols logo
We've spent a lot of time discussing Coffman's shifting (some might say shifty) views on immigration reform as he attempts to hold his newly competitive seat in Congress. But for today, let's talk about Coffman's visit last month to an Ethiopian Christian church in Aurora. The Denver metro area, with high concentrations in Aurora, has a large community of expatriates from Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea. One Denver Post story last year pegged the size of the Ethiopian/Eritrean immigrant community in the Denver metro area at 30,000 people.

Coffman is evidently very proud of having visited this Ethiopian church, having told the AP's Riccardi the story as evidence of his having "spent time in his district’s numerous other immigrant communities." But based on this clip of unscripted audio of the same Mike Coffman talking about the same visit to the same Ethiopian church, we have to wonder how illuminating his visit really was.

At MN Progressive Project, Eric Ferguson writes—Rep. Mike Beard suddenly finds need to spend more time with family:
MN Progressive Project
State Rep. Mike Beard, R-55A, just announced he won’t run for reelection this year. If you’re wondering about “Minnesota’s Most Distinguished House Member”, that announcement comes from his county GOP. He’s leaving and his local party says something nice about him on the way out, so, fine. A bit more striking was this bit, “As a ‘Citizen Legislator’ in the Minnesota House, Beard’s decision not to seek another term was quite simple. He wants to devote more time to his wife, Karen, his children, and to his growing family of grandchildren.”

It’s a cliche that politicians retiring or resigning cite a desire to spend more time with family, whatever the real cause. When it’s sudden, at a weird time, usually something bad is going on. That’s more obvious when bad news has broken already. “What about that recording of you taking a bribe?” “Can’t take questions now, just want to announce that I’m stepping down to spend more time with family, much of which will be devoted to avoiding discussion of bribery allegations.” Not to say it’s never real, but the real ones usually have a detail, like a family member has a debilitating condition and the politician is going to be a full-time caregiver. So Beard’s grandchildren suddenly need him to leave the legislature? He can finish the term, but then the need for babysitting becomes that urgent? Um, OK, sure. But how weird Beard announced it now, when the 55A endorsing convention was Feb. 22nd. Didn’t Beard already have grandchildren when he knew the caucuses and convention were coming up? When the Scott County GOP got done sending out the announcement, I imagine they engaged in some fully justified cursing.

At The Orange Juice Blog of California, Inge writes—Thousands Protest Fracking at State Capitol:
Orange Juice Blog state blog
Governor Jerry Browns claims to care about what climate change is doing to our planet, so why does he refuse to stand up to big oil right here in California? He knows California is in the midst of the worst drought ever yet he signed SB-4 last September, a bill that took effect this year. The passage of SB-4 means there will be no moratorium against fracking and gas and oil companies can do as they please as long as they have a permit from the state.

Thousands of Californians came from all over the state on Saturday, some driving five hours from Los Angeles to tell Gov. Brown they had enough of his lies! But I never saw any local news stations in Orange County reporting about this event. Did you?

Years ago news stations didn’t report certain events because they didn’t want to offend their sponsors. These days those sponsors OWN our media so of course we won’t hear about Californians protesting Gov. Brown’s decision. The good thing is that we now have social media and it seems that a lot more people get their information online than they do from local news sources.

At Bleeding Heartland of Iowa, desmoinesdem writes—Bipartisan push underway to increase Iowa REAP funding:
Bleeding Heartland
Iowa's Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP) celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Among the most successful conservation initiatives in Iowa history, REAP has cumulatively distributed about $300 million to thousands of projects across the state. It is mostly funded through gaming revenues that go into the state's Environment First Fund. In theory, REAP "is authorized to receive $20 million per year until 2021," but the state legislature has never fully funded REAP to the authorized level. This year's budget included $16 million for REAP, and Governor Terry Branstad kept that item at the same level in his draft budget for fiscal year 2015.

Today about three dozen non-profit organizations gathered at the State Capitol for the annual Environmental Lobby Day organized by the Iowa Environmental Council. I attended the event because I'm active in the IEC and in several of its member organizations. At a press conference organized by the IEC, four speakers emphasized the need to increase conservation funding: Republican State Senator David Johnson, Democratic State Senator Bob Dvorsky, Iowa Natural Resource Commission Chair Margo Underwood, and Rod Marlatt, executive director of the Fayette County Conservation Board. Dvorsky particularly emphasized his goal to secure $25 million in funding for REAP in the coming fiscal year, in honor of the program's 25th anniversary.

Because REAP-supported projects are often popular locally, the program has mostly escaped the partisan divisions that have led to the demise of some state initiatives. Today the Iowa House approved a resolution celebrating the 25th anniversary of REAP.

Remarkably, 96 of the 100 state representatives co-sponsored this resolution, which House Democrat Chuck Isenhart proposed. Now that they're on record agreeing, "Iowans strongly believe that the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program is a successful venture worthy of the continued support of the General Assembly," let's hope they will put a lot of money where their mouths are. The $25 million in REAP funding has an excellent chance of clearing the Iowa Senate, since Dvorsky chairs the Appropriations Committee. Will the Iowa House go along? The many state lawmakers who spoke with Environmental Lobby Day exhibitors today included House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and several members of the House Appropriations Committee.

After the jump I've posted background on the REAP program from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website, including a map showing how much REAP funding has gone to each of Iowa's 99 counties.

At Delaware Liberal, El Sonambulo writes—General Assembly Post-Game Wrap-Up/Pre-Game Show: Thursday, March 20, 2014:
I was heartened to see legislators expressing skepticism on a proposal to give $20 million this year to ease financial burdens on casinos. As Rep. Dennis E. Williams pointed out, the casinos will keep coming back year after year. Which raises the question, why should taxpayers bail out a wheeler dealer like Denis McGlynn for making bad business decisions:

Delaware Liberal
Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Downs Gaming and Entertainment and Dover Motorsports Inc., said not receiving any money from the state would spell disaster for casinos, leading to potential layoffs, shutdowns of certain operations and a cutback on marketing.

Layoffs, loss of gaming options and a cutback in marketing ultimately would cost the state much more in lost revenue than what they would be shelling out in the current proposal, he said.

The casino’s bank loan expires on June 17, and the bank is watching the state’s decision, he said. If the bank loan is not renewed, McGlynn said they’d have to shop around with other banks, something that probably won’t work out in the casino’s favor given its finances, he said.

We gave McGlynn and his, wait for it, ilk, every break in the book. And now we’ve gotta bail his ass out because his loan is under water? Hey, Denis, how about moving some of your other assets around to cover this? The Delaware General Assembly should simply stop giving away money to these blackmailers. Which is what and who they are.  
At Blogging While Blue of Georgia, bloggingwhileblue writes—Works Not Words Offer the Best Solution to Poverty:
Blogging White Blue state blog
Last week on Bill Bennett’s radio program, House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) made some comments that can only be described as uninformed and insulting regarding the issue of poverty in American cities. He said, “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”

Ryan was addressing a report on poverty that he released earlier which detailed his version how federal spending was impacting our nation’s poor. The reaction was swift from journalists, political pundits, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the Congressional Black Caucus. Ryan’s views on poverty are neither new nor surprising but the recurring attack on race and class in this country under the guise of the federal budget and big government is disingenuous and ridiculous rhetoric. The Lyndon B. Johnson war on poverty 50 years ago did not end poverty but his political response to a policy issue  cannot be understated or denied. The LBJ administration responded to poverty with action not rhetoric. The government raised the minimum wage; created programs to train and educate Americans for better jobs, provided rent subsidies and student loans as well as enacted Medicaid and Medicaid for those who could not afford healthcare.

The Congressional Black Caucus has invited Rep. Paul D. Ryan to a CBC meeting where a more robust and thoughtful conversation on poverty might be possible. CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio has said that she thinks it could be a teachable moment, let’s hope so.

At CenLamar of Louisiana, Lamar White, Jr. writes—Hilariously, Bobby Jindal Attempts To Use “Science” To Defend His Failed School Voucher Program:
On Monday, Governor Bobby Jindal- Louisiana’s Sarah Palin- published an opinion piece for The New York Post, a once-venerable American institution founded by Alexander Hamilton and now owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian entrepreneur who also owns The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and a majority stake in the Republican Party.
State blogs, CenLamar
Despite the fact that Jindal is now in the middle of a busy legislative session, which, as anyone from Louisiana can tell you, consumes almost every second of the Governor’s schedule, he somehow managed to find time for the good people of New York City. He may live in Baton Rouge, but he can see Manhattan from his house mansion. And as he explains in his editorial, he is deeply concerned that their new Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is actually doing what voters elected him, in a landslide, to do. Mayor de Blasio, audaciously, ran and was elected on a platform of saving and reinvesting in the public school system and holding charter school operators accountable.

If you know anything about Bobby Jindal, you know he doesn’t have any faith in the public school system that provided him with the education he needed to get into an Ivy League university and become a Rhodes Scholar, and you know he believes the only way to reform education is by imposing stringent and absurdly unrealistic benchmarks on struggling public schools in order to justify the subsidization of unaccountable private schools. This, apparently, makes him an expert in school reform and imminently qualified to opine on Mayor de Blasio’s shocking decision to require a woman named Eva Moskowitz to pay the public for the public buildings she’s using to run her charter school empire.

Jindal wants the people of New York to know that he can relate to the plight of Eva Moskowitz. He too has been persecuted by a “petulant tyrant.”

At Michigan Liberal, Eric B. writes—How to turn November's ballot into a memoriable clusterfuck:
I've said it before, I'll say it again ... Democracy simply doesn't work.


It looks like a referendum on the controversial issue of wolf-hunting is headed to the November ballot -- again. This will be the second hunting-related ballot question (and, possibly, not the last) voters will decide in a little less than eight months.
This actually makes me feel embarrassment to be from Michigan. Our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect passed the original wolf hunt, and people felt that they thought that should be put to a vote because they didn't like the idea. That's entirely reasonable.
Then, before the vote was held, our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect passed a new law designed specifically to abrogate the ballot question ... before anyone was allowed to cast a vote. They not only passed a new law, but they changed how decisions are made ... not because the way decisions were made failed, but because they didn't like the prospect for how one decision would turn out.

This was a miscarriage of democracy that should have made anyone who understands how it works feel deep shame. So, the people behind the first ballot proposal, which by way is still on the ballot, decided they didn't like having their democratic rights trampled in such vulgar fashion and circulated petitions to undo the second law ... the one intended to render moot the existing ballot question. They got their signatures, and there is now a second wolf hunt question on the November ballot.

Now the same people who passed the first law that was challenged by petition drive, and who passed a second law to undo said petition drive, are themselves circulating petitions to further change how decisions are made ... to undo the second petition drive that was intended to address our ongoing experiment in the Dunning-Kruger effect's tampering with democracy.

This isn't just a gross abuse of the democratic process, it's a sign that the people who currently run our government don't understand the democratic process enough to appreciate how badly they are abusing it. It's also a pretty clear sign that they possess not a whit of shame when it comes to things they want.

At Cowgirl Blog of Montana, Cowgirl writes—Daines caught pretending to support Meals on Wheels while voting to end the program:
This is what I call an online two timing double talking phony.

Congressman Daines’ hypocrisy reached his Facebook page yesterday when posted a staged Meals on Wheels photo op on Facebook to imply he supports the program. In reality, Daines voted to cut anti-hunger programs that would have left mostly children, seniors and veterans without food.

Cowgirl of Montana logo
If you are looking for someone who epitomizes hypocrisy, look no further than TEA Party poster boy Steve Daines. Montana’s lone Congressman voted against the bill to restore funding for the Meals on Wheels program. It would have provided an added $41 million for elderly nutrition programs, including the Meals on Wheels. He also voted for the Paul Ryan budget that cut (non-defense) spending by $900 billion which hurt ”the ability of federally assisted programs such as Meals on Wheels to continue serving populations.”

But its not just cuts Daines’ has tried to pass. He also supported an earlier TEA Party budget that would essentially eliminate the Meals on Wheels program altogether by cutting grants that fund it. As the MT dems report, he “voted to cut nearly $40 billion from anti-hunger programs that would have left low-income families – mostly children, seniors and veterans – without food.” What a gem.

Unfortunately, a few reporters fell for his publicity stunt. Perhaps next time they’ll check his voting record before giving him thousands of dollars worth of free air time to pretend to support something he tried to eliminate.

At Nebraska Appleseed, Becky Gould writes—Please thank the senators who fought for hard-working, uninsured Nebraskans:
Nebraska Appleseed blog
As you may have seen this morning, LB 887, the Wellness in Nebraska Act, that would have provided a path to affordable health insurance for at least 54,000 uninsured Nebraskans, was filibustered this morning. The vote to end debate was 27-21, with 33 votes necessary to end debate.

While this is a disappointing outcome, we will continue to work with our state senators in the future to ensure that eventually all Nebraskans can have access to affordable health care.

The senators who supported the Wellness In Nebraska Act fought hard, and we offer our most sincere thanks and appreciation for their leadership and passion.

It is really important that the supportive senators hear our thanks.

Please take a moment to thank these senators for supporting LB 887 and the tens of thousands of uninsured, working Nebraskans who need affordable health coverage.

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