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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 writes—"Good News": Rick Perry Celebrates HB2 Ruling That Will Close All But Six Clinics in Texas:

Burnt Orange Report
Rick Perry called the 5th Circuit decision yesterday that will close most abortion clinics in Texas "good news."

Perry released a statement about the decision that read in part, "Today's court decision is good news for Texas women and the unborn, and we will continue to fight for the protection of life and women's health in Texas."

This is only "good news" if the Governor wants to see Texans risk their lives, health, and well-being to end unwanted pregnancies when there are no safe, legal, accessible options available.

Today, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas sent an email to members emphasizing how badly this decision will hurt Texans who already struggle to access abortion.

At Calitics, Brian Leubitz writes—PPIC Poll shows Brown with huge lead, Donnelly in distant second:
Calitics logo
Who really wants to be the one to get steamrolled by Gov. Brown and his huge war chest come June/November? Well, there are a few folks vying for the privilege, but few show any sign of making any inroads. Barring a bizarre calamity, Brown seems a prohibitive favorite over the field. And that instinct is borne out in PPIC's poll:
When primary likely voters are asked how they would vote in the governor's race, 47 percent choose Brown and 10 percent choose Republican Tim Donnelly. Fewer support Republicans Andrew Blount (2%) or Neel Kashkari (2%)-the other candidates included in the survey-while 3 percent name someone else and 36 percent are undecided.(PPIC)
Now, Donnelly, who is a well known right wing extremist better known as a Minuteman vigilante than as a serious legislator. Not exactly the type of candidate a 21st century party is really looking for in a state with a minority majority. But while some party leaders are kind of rooting for Neel Kashkari, and his much more compelling, and modern, story, the grassroots of the party seems to prefer Donnelly's anti-immigrant right-wing platform.

Had Kashkari been able to keep up his initial strong fundraising, you would have to like his odds to pull out the number two spot. But with that fundraising rapidly slowing, Donnelly may be able to carry a right-wing base vote to the second line of the November ballot.  The other candidate, Andrew Blount, Mayor of Laguna Hills, says he is raising no money at all. Unless he plans to self-finance, Donnelly's slightly higher name ID would likely be enough to push him over the edge.

More excerpts from progressive state blogs can be found below the fold

At Eclectablog of Michigan, Eclectablog writes—AUDIO: Terri Lynn Land’s first press conference shows us exactly why Michigan Republicans wanted another candidate for Senate:

This explains EVERYTHING

This past week, Terri Lynn Land held her first conference since she announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat. Her entire campaign so far has relied on millions of dollars of ads being run by the Koch brothers-funded group Americans For Prosperity. Land herself has been doing private fundraisers and avoiding the press in an unprecedented way.

When Land got into the race, she was not endorsed by any major Republicans. In fact, it was quite clear that they were really not that into her from the start. Only after all of the major players declined to run, knowing full well that Gary Peters will be a formidable candidate in a blue state. Land didn’t care. With her millions in personal funds to contribute, she stayed the course until all other opponents dropped out, leaving her the last candidate standing.

After listening to this 12 minute press conference, it’s obvious WHY she was unsupported by her Republican colleagues: she’s a disaster in front of the press.

Land’s entire campaign at the moment is to run against Peters on the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the first part of press conference was a litany of people who claim they have been harmed by Obamacare in Michigan. She has nothing else. And this press conference was almost exclusively about that and it is a case study in how to avoid answering questions and how NOT to come across as thoughtful, intelligent, and informed on your key issue.

At Green Mountain Daily of Vermont, jvwalt writes—Firin' up the Bruce Lisman Conspiracy Engine:
So, one of the louder Republican voices in the Legislature is talking of a run for Governor. Heidi Scheuermann of Stowe is telling one and all that she is "considering" a candidacy.
Green Mountain Daily of Vermont
The Republicans could do tons worse. (See: Brock, Randy; or Vallee, Rodolphe.) Scheuermann is young, active, relatively moderate, and female, which is a pretty big deal for a party known as a refuge for bitter old white men. Also, she's putting forward the best possible mix of issues for a challenge to Governor Shumlin: economic growth, property tax relief/school funding reform, and Shumlin's plan for a single-payer health care system. She is wise, IMO, to de-emphasize the troubled rollout of Vermont Health Connect, and to forego any talk of repeal. VHC is likely to be an established and accepted fact by this fall, and a Republican candidate would be smart to turn that page.

All that being said... no. She's got no shot. Shumlin remains popular; he's got a million dollars in the bank and he's just getting started; it's awfully late for Scheuermann to begin a run; she has no statewide profile; and Vermonters hardly ever boot an incumbent anything. (See: Sorrell, Bill.) She'd also be saddled with a weak party structure that's years away from competing with the Democratic machine. [...]

Which begs the question: Why is she even thinking about a candidacy almost certain to fail? She'd seemingly be better off continuing to raise her profile in the Legislature. She's young enough to bide her time until Shumlin tires of being Governor and the VTGOP can fully regenerate. So why run now?

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell is the Hold Up on Medicaid Expansion:
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or have buried your head in the ideological sand, you should have noticed the newspaper editorials  calling for Medicaid Expansion in Virginia. You may not know that the majority of Virginians want to close the health insurance coverage gap.  Virginia hospitals, health insurance plans, physicians, consumer groups, Chambers of Commerce, and even Republicans and former appointees of Governor McDonnell SUPPORT closing the coverage gap.  It’s not very often when you see the Chamber of Commerce lobby for an issue alongside faith groups, nor is it common for the hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies to be playing well together. But expanding access to health insurance has brought together advocates for social justice and fiscal conservatives in this common cause.

Closing the coverage gap will extend health insurance to hundreds of thousands of our fellow Virginians, boost economic output for the entire state, make health insurance less expensive for those already insured, and return the taxpayer dollars already being paid by Virginians back to the Commonwealth.  

Seems a no brainer.  So what’s the hold up?

Speaker of the House of Delegates William “Bill” Howell is the hold up.  Rather than work with his fellow Republicans in the Virginia State Senate, he is going to local Boards of Supervisors and demanding they put forth resolutions to derail current negotiations over expansion.  With his almost 30 years in the General Assembly, he has amassed significant power in Richmond. He stacked the Medicaid Innovation Reform Commission (MIRC) with ideologues who have no intention of closing the coverage gap.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Abe writes—Kasich Et Al Flock To Adelson Wheel Of Fortune:
On Friday, I spent part of the day asking several friends whether they knew where our Governor John Kasich was spending the weekend.[...]
Plunderbund blog logo
Well, folks, if it is of any use,  the governor will be in Nevada with a bunch of other Republican mendicants  hoping  to impress one of the world’s richest men, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson (shown here), a billionaire who doubles as the supreme talent scout to enrich his gambling empire. (According to Forbes, he is one of the 10 wealthiest men in the world, and not a single Republican presidential candidate would dare demand  to see Adelson’s birth certificate to find out whether he is actually a foreign power.)

Adelson popped into the news during the last presidential campaign by spending $100 million to defeat Barack Obama. It didn’t work, but he’ll never miss the money. His favorite candidate was Newt Gingrich, whom we all remember as the perennial  pathetic loser who promised to put a permanent base on the moon during his first term. He also told us he would fire all school janitors to save money.

At Blue Oregon, Kari Chisholm writes—Wyden on CIA, NSA, FISA, electronic surveillance:
Last week, Senator Ron Wyden spoke to an audience of about 700 in downtown Portland on the current state of our national surveilliance and national security system.

Over the weekend, I finally found the time to listen to it -- and man, you should listen to his speech. It is both a high-level overview of everything that's going on, as well as a specific rundown of Wyden's concerns about the challenges posed to our civil liberties.

One of the most interesting items is his discussion of why he doesn't just go down to the Senate floor and reveal everything he knows. After all, the Constitution expressly prohibits any prosecution of a Member of Congress for anything they say on the floor.

Here's Wyden's answer:

People sometimes ask me, “Ron, if you knew what was going on, why didn’t you just tell everyone?” This is something I wrestled with over the years. The Constitution says that the executive branch can’t punish members of Congress for engaging in speech and debate, no matter what they say, but the Senate itself has chosen to adopt rules that require members to respect the secrecy of classified information.

Blue Oregon
As I say, I considered how to proceed and frequently thought about what Senator Morse would have done. I’m honestly not sure, and unfortunately Senator Morse is no longer around to give me his counsel.

In the end I made the judgment that I could do more for the cause of reform by working within the rules and being inside the room for closed-door intelligence debates and in the position to ask hard questions in both closed and open hearings. I can see why some would disagree with that judgment, but I was guided by the belief that in a free society like ours, the truth will always come out as long as people continue to ask the hard questions.

And I hope Senator Morse would have found that to be a reasonable judgment. I like to think that Senator Morse would have seen it that way also.

At Cottonmouth of Mississippi, writes—Speaker Philip Gunn, Child Abuse, and Irony:
Cottonmouth of Mississippi
Yesterday, House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) participated in a charity run to help victims of child abuse and human trafficking. Let the irony sink in for a moment.

This is the same Philip Gunn who back in 2011 led the task of hushing any discussion of alleged child abuse that took place at Gunn's Morrison Heights Baptist Church. This went so far as to discourage people from talking with the police about reports of criminal activity against a child.

To recap:

1. In 2011, Gunn claimed a secrecy provision to keep members of his church from talking to the police and county prosecutors about alleged child abuse.
2. Yesterday, Gunn has the nerve to participate in a race to help victims of crimes he once tried to ignore and silence.
3. For the next 22 months, he will be a top Republican leader in Mississippi as he serves as Speaker of the House while professing to uphold family values.

At Dirigo Blue of Maine, Gerald Weinand writes—LePage again wants to shift tax burden to towns, using the poor as political shield:
Gov. Paul LePage is once again trying to shift costs currently covered by the State to local towns and Maine’s tribes.

LD1844, An Act To Increase Local Responsibility for General Assistance, is a “Governor’s Bill” that would cut in half the amount the State reimburses towns and tribes for general assistance disbursements, from 100% to 50%. General assistance provides emergency, temporary cash payments to eligible residents of each town to help them meet their basic needs.

LD1844 would also eliminate State reimbursements for the costs incurred by towns and tribes for administering the program.

At Progress Illinois, Ellyn Fortino writes—Illinois Lawmakers Wage Fight Against Water-Polluting Agents In Cosmetic Products; BP Oil Spill Clean Up Continues:
state blogs, Progress Illinois
An extremely small plastic pollutant poses a big threat to the health of the Great Lakes and the state's environment. And some Illinois lawmakers are looking to take action against the problem.

At issue are the super-tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of personal cosmetic products like facial wash, body scrubs and even toothpaste. According to scientists, tens of millions of these little plastic particles have made their way into the Great Lakes.

The cosmetic microbeads, which are less than 5 millimeters in size and commonly used to help with exfoliation, often get washed down household drains. Because the plastic beads are so small, they are not captured during the water treatment process, allowing them to get into waterways.

"There's no way to recover those materials once they're out in open waters," said Olga Lyandres, research manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "Once they enter the environment, they stay there."

At Rural and Progressive of Georgia, Katherine Helms Cummings writes—Lewis requires no coach:
Rural and Progressive of Georgia
My Congressman, Rep Paul Broun, spent $33K of taxpayer dollars to hire a rhetoric coach. He didn’t do that because he isn’t making his opinions clear to voters. He made the hire because he knows he can’t get elected saying what he believes (you know, Big Bang Theory and Evolution are lies from the pits of Hell).

Another Georgia Congressman, John Lewis, honed his speaking skills as a young man fighting for civil rights. He never falters in speaking up for those who are discriminated against, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Maybe that’s why he has time to take the occasional dance break and get Happy.

At Blue Hampshire, NH Labor writes—NH-GOP GOV Candidate Walt Havenstein Has Major Eligibility Issues:
Blue Hampshire
Yesterday, a front-page Nashua Telegraph expose outlined how potential NHGOP gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein took Maryland property tax breaks that required his principal residence to be in that state, raising a host of questions and putting his potential candidacy in doubt. But this much is clear: Havenstein either is ineligible to run in New Hampshire or he committed tax fraud in Maryland.

New Hampshire’s Constitution requires candidates for Governor to “have been an inhabitant of this state for 7 years next preceding.” The Telegraph uncovered that Havenstein “saved $5,354 from 2008-11 by getting a homestead exemption from local property taxes in Bethesda, Md. He also paid a lower state property transfer tax while buying the property in that state. To get both, Havenstein had to acknowledge that his $1 million condominium was his ‘principal residence.’”

Under Maryland law, ”Principal residence” has been defined to mean the “one dwelling where the homeowner regularly resides and is the location designated by the owner for the legal purposes of voting, obtaining a driver’s license, and filing income tax returns.”

A Maryland law was enacted in 2007 that requires all homeowners to submit an application stating that they meet the principal residence requirements, under penalty of perjury. According to the Telegraph, “Havenstein said he didn’t recall signing that form.”

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