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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 be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Uppity Wisconsin, Man MKE writes—In crazy Florida, news media and maybe voters are still more level-headed than in Walkersconsin:

Uppity Wisconsin state blog
Go to the URL in the links below and read a new editorial in the Tampa Bay Times that forcefully and without mercy lays out a withering case against Flordia's Republican governor, Rick Scott. What does this pulls-no-punches editorial in the Sunshine State have to do with Wisconsin? Precisely this:

Scott is built very much in the mold of Wisconsin's own GOP governor, Scott Walker. A fellow tea party hack, Scott has made many of the same foolish, politically self-aggrandizing moves that Walker made here in the Badger state -- ill-advised and mean-spirited stuff like refusing hundreds of millions of dollars to create jobs by creating a new high-speed Amtrak rail link, refusing to assist state residents in obtaining affordable health care coverage, or expanding Medicaid despite an almost total federal subsidy, gutting environmental protections, signing laws that make it harder for non-Republicans to vote, ramming through fiscally tightwad policies that's gutted state support for public education, dissing public employees, and much more.

But there is one important difference. Read the Tampa Bay Times editorial and try to imagine any newspaper in this state (with the possible exception of the Madison Capital Times) ever writing something equally stark and shaming about Walker, who in addition to following the Scott prescription for social chaos has also been implicated in two wide-ranging criminal investigations involving his top aides and violations of campaign spending violatiions and misconduct in public office.

Even without a comparable scandal, the Tampa Bay newspaper nevertheless found plenty of harsh words for Florida's governor. The editorial was entitled, "If Gov. Rick Scott only had a heart

At of Washington, Goldy writes—A Simpler Way to Target Min Wage Relief at Small Business: Math!:
horsesAss blog, state blogs
There is a lot to hate about the minimum wage proposals leaking out of the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee, not the least of which being that they are fundamentally dishonest. A $15 an hour minimum wage that takes up to seven years to phase in for some workers before annual cost of living adjustments (COLAs) kick in, is not $15 an hour—it’ll be about $13.25 in 2014 dollars. So let’s not pat ourselves on the backs for doing something we’re not doing.

But the compromise under discussion is also overly complicated, reportedly requiring four different phase-in schedules depending on the size of the business and whether or not the employee earns tips or health care benefits. That’s just crazy. It will be difficult to implement, difficult to comply with, and difficult to enforce. It creates an economic incentive for businesses at or near the full-time equivalent employee (FTE) threshold to reduce employment (or just plain lie about it) in order to qualify for a more favorable schedule. And imagine the regulatory complexity for dealing with businesses that straddle the FTE threshold (some months more, some months less) and that hire both part-time and full-time tipped and untipped workers!

You can read excerpts from more progressive state blogs below the orange gerrymander.

At Green Mountain Daily of Vermont, jvwalt writes—The conservative grifter's game:

Green Mountain Daily of Vermont
Monday's Washington Post delivered a devastating account of scandalous behavior by self-proclaimed leaders of the Tea Party movement. Basically, they are raising millions of dollars from True Believers and spending it, almost entirely, on themselves and their expensive fundraising operations. Little or nothing is going to Tea Party candidates.

The poster child for Tea Party grift is one Jenny Beth Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, who is on track to earn roughly $450,000 this year. Her group's Super PAC has spent $7.4 million since January 2013; a mere $185,000 has gone to support like-minded candidates.

And, as the Post reports, "The dearth of election spending has left many favored tea party candidates exposed before a series of pivotal GOP primaries next month." Such as Matt Bevin, the formerly red-hot challenger to Mitch McConnell. In fundraising appeals the Patriots named Bevin as a top priority, but they've spent only $56,000 on his behalf.

So why am I writing about this in a Vermont political blog? Because our state's conservative movement is weighed down by some notable grifters of its own -- small-time though they may be, compared to the likes of Jenny Beth Martin.

At KnoxViews of Tennessee, Andy Axel writes—If They'll Do It FOR You, They'll Do It TO You:
KnoxViews logo
The state of Tennessee recently passed a law that would outlaw the disclosure of pharmaceuticals and their sourcing for the conduct of executions. What could possibly go wrong?

By way of an instructive tale: Constitutional officer Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma, asserted the authority to dismiss the ruling of the Oklahoma Supreme Court that a stay of execution should be granted to Clayton Lockett, a man on Oklahoma's death row for homicide [...]

The madding crowd is apparently OK with this conduct out of its state officials, saying that Mr. Lockett actually deserved worse treatment than he received.

Unfortunately for these want-wits, and as abhorrent as his conduct was, the fact remains that a criminal is not bound by Constitutional prohibitions on inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on human beings. Governor Fallin is so bound.

Supposedly the death penalty was being imposed here because the state wanted to demonstrate its healthy respect for the Rule Of Law. However, in the conduct ofz literally torturing a citizen to death last night, the governor of the state and her enablers have demonstrated nothing but contempt for our Constitutional systems.

At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Joe Deshotel writes—Open Carry Texas Members Publish Woman's Phone Number To Retaliate Against Her Complaints:
Burnt Orange Report
A new tactic in the battle over "open carry" of firearms has some gun safety advocates feeling intimidated and local police concerned. I regularly receive information in my inbox updating me on the latest public demonstrations by Open Carry Texas, but now it appears that some of their members are targeting those who report their activities to authorities by publishing their contact information.

After one woman phoned 9-11 upon seeing individuals crossing a bridge bearing assault-style rifles, her phone number was published by the group on YouTube. Her number has now been disconnected.

Arlington Police Lieutenant Chris Cook told WFAA in Dallas that residents should not feel too intimidated to report people carrying guns in public places.

Pro-tip: If your organization's mission statement is to make the sight of guns more common and less intimidating, harassing individuals who you may have scared is not going to get you there.

At Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, M. Larson writes—Noem and Narcissism:
state blog Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota
It seems that everyone has a burning desire to talk about Representative Kristi Noem's selfie from the Far East with a fellow Republican representative.  The picture was taken while on a trade junket to the East.  A great time to hang out, see the sights, and cozy up with Eric Cantor.  Did she accomplish anything else?  That seems very unclear and unlikely. If Noem secured some trade partnerships, I would have thought she would have twitted about that instead.  

I am old enough that I have not gotten into this constant selfie thing.  I have had several students do some speeches about the craze and the potential dangers surrounding it.  More and more scientists are connecting the use of the selfie to narcissism. [...]

Maybe Noem and her fellow representative should have paid attention to this reminder from Dr. David Houghton in The Daily Lounge:

"People, other than very close friends and relatives, don't seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves," said Dr. David Houghton, a professor at Birmingham Business School and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. "It’s worth remembering that the information we post to our ‘friends’ on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people: partners; friends; family; colleagues and acquaintances; and each group seems to take a different view of the information shared."
At Keystone Politics of Pennsylvania, John Geeting writes—The Environmentalist Case for Philly Wage and Business Tax Reform:
Keystone politics
Here is a crucial point for Philadelphians who consider themselves environmentalists.

The fact that almost 40% (!) of Philadelphians leave the city limits for work every day, mostly via solo-driving, is an absolute disaster for the climate. The more people who can both live and work near Center City, the lower our region’s carbon footprint is going to be. We need to pull more of the region’s office jobs to Center City. Here’s the key passage from my write-up of this year’s State of Center City report:

The core Center City area has a lower carbon footprint than extended Center City, both have a lower carbon footprint than Philadelphia as a whole, and Philadelphia has a lower carbon footprint than its suburbs. Interestingly, the Philly burbs have a higher carbon footprint than Pennsylvania on average.

It isn’t because Philadelphians are some virtuous granola-munching hippies. When people live in an attached home that takes up a modest amount of land area and occupies most of the lot, and they walk, bike, or take transit two miles or less to their jobs, they end up with a pretty low carbon footprint.

But when we send almost 40% of our people out of the city every day to drive to one of the highest emitting areas of the state, their carbon footprints go way up when they are there. They buy gas, they solo-drive to work, they park on a big surface parking lot, they use energy in a big land-hungry suburban office park building with a less efficient HVAC system than any skyscraper, they drive to an environmentally deadly Big Box shopping center for lunch and back, and then they solo-drive home.

A tax reform package that brought most of the region’s office jobs to Center City would slash the region’s carbon emissions if it meant that more residents could live and work in the city.

The point isn’t to present this as a trade-off between equity and the environment. The people who see an equity trade-off with a tax reform package that shifts the tax burden off of wage and business taxes and onto land are simply mistaken.
At Miscellany: Blue of New Hampshire, William Tucker writes—Rationalizing pay inequality: ‘Men are more motivated by money than women are’:
Miscellany Blue
State House Rep. Will Infantine (R-Manchester) made national headlines for his comments on the House floor yesterday opposing pay equity legislation.

"Men, by and large, make more because of some of the things they do," he said. "Their jobs are, by and large, riskier. They don’t mind working nights and weekends. They don’t mind working overtime, or outdoors in the elements."

"Men are more motivated by money than women are," Infantine claimed.

Infantine was attempting to explain why it is that on average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. His explanation was inartful and offensive, but his message was one frequently repeated by Republicans opposing legislation to strengthen pay discrimination laws.

The numbers geeks at FiveThirtyEight offer a more thoughtful and dispassionate analysis of the 77-cents figure

At Grumpy Abe of Ohio, Grumpy Abe writes—A frustrated LaTourette passes baton to Joyce:
Grumpy Abe, state blogs
When former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette  arrived in Akron recently for a luncheon talk sponsored by the Akron Press Club and Bliss Instititute he recounted his frustration with trying to get anything done against the right-wing Tea Party fringe contrrolling the fate of most legislation.

They represent 40  or more House members  who come to the office each day, vote no, and go home praising themselves for a job well done.  It was left to  the memory of Groucho Marx to describe such heinous resistance:   "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

LaTourette faulted the Republican Party for failing to invite minorities, women, gays and others to come aboard. And as a reputed moderate Republican from Lake County, he decided to  give up his seat in 2012 after 18 years in the House.  He is now pacing a group, Main Street Partnership, which is supporting GOP moderates against the sweep of Tea Party insanity.  While a noble cause, it does seem to be an attempt to build a sand castle in a windstorm.

LaTourette has also had nice things to say about his Republican successor, Rep. David Joyce, who is being challenged in the GOP primary. Here, we have shadings of where moderation ends and the ancient GOP texts arise again. For example, Joyce has put out campaign ads saying he wants to cut taxes and repeal Obamacare. And ,of course, he  wants the voters to know that he opposes abortion while favoring family, guns and prayers. the Plain Dealer noted in endorsing him.

At The Prairie Blog of North Dakota, Jim Fuglie writes—Next: Planting Potatoes:
state blogs
I’m pissed off about so many things this week I don’t know where to start. That’s what I get for taking a few weeks off to play. Things pile up. I’m about to go on a rant that will surely get me another admonishment from my friend Wayne Tanous: “Jim, lighten up. It’s spring.” Okay. So I’m going to get all this off my chest. And then lighten up and plant potatoes.

First, I’m pissed off at Conoco-Phillips, WPX Energy, Whiting Petroleum, Continental Resources, and the North Dakota Petroleum Council. They’re the ones whining about the discussion of restricting their ability to flare natural gas instead of capturing it. Most North Dakota daily papers reported on it this week. Oil companies are threatening to pull out of North Dakota and take their drilling rigs elsewhere if we try to regulate them. Cripes sake, western North Dakota is lit up like a centenarian’s birthday cake—from space it looks like New York City. Everyone in North Dakota knows we need to stop flaring a third of all the natural gas we’re taking out of the ground. Everyone except those who are putting the match to the flare spouts—the oil companies.

According to a story in yesterday’s Forum chain of newspapers, “Industry officials resisted the idea of curtailing production, cautioning that it could discourage oil and gas development and result in less tax revenue for North Dakota, which has collected billions from the industry on its way to becoming the No. 2 oil-producing state behind Texas . . . Imposing broad limits on drilling permits and production as a means to curb flaring is unnecessary and could force oil companies and third-party investors to think twice about doing business in North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks oil formations.” [...]

Well, here’s my response: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of the state, boys. Just pick up your toys and go home.

At Scrutiny Hooligans of North Carolina, Tom Sullivan writes—Republic, If You Can Keep It Undemocratic:
Scrutiny Hooligans
There are a lot of self-described patriots in this country who really don’t much like this country. (I mean the real one, not their imaginary one.) Jon Stewart pointed out how the gun-toting militiamen surrounding Cliven “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing” Bundy could at least have created their own flag instead of waving the flag of the government they don’t recognize.

North Carolina Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Dr. Greg Brannon, may or may not be a self-described patriot, but he’s endorsed by Tea Party Patriots (of the Bundy kind?). He’s quoted as saying this about discussing guns after the Sandy Hook shootings:
“Senator Hagan says we got to have a nice debate and discussion (about gun control) about what to do. See that’s called a democracy which is actually socialism which is called majority rule.”

Perhaps Brannon napped through civics class? He doesn’t seem to approve of democracy, of majority rule, yet he’s hoping to be elected to the United States Senate by a majority. Because that’s how elections work in the real America. How they work in the Tea Party’s fantasy one is anybody’s guess.

At CenLamar of Louisiana, Lamar White, Jr. writes—Is Big Oil Secretly Negotiating A Settlement To Pay For Coastal Damages?:
state blogs, CenLamar
A few weeks ago, I spoke with John Barry, a former member of the [Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E)] who is widely considered one of the world’s preeminent experts in the history and the causes of coastal erosion. While on the SLFPA-E, Mr. Barry, the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, helped to spearhead the largest and most significant environmental lawsuit in Louisiana history, asking 97 different oil and gas companies to, in Mr. Barry’s words, “restore the part of the coast they damaged.” Make no mistake: No one can credibly deny that oil and gas companies are not, at least, partially responsible for the destruction and degradation of the Louisiana Gulf Coast, and no one, including Senator Robert Adley, can credibly assert that these companies were really “complying with the law.”

For decades, oil and gas companies have extracted trillions of dollars worth of natural resources from Louisiana’s coast, and Louisiana’s shared natural resources have helped a small handful of multinational corporations and out-of-state businessmen accumulate more wealth than anyone before in human history. It’s an astonishing arrangement: Foreign oil and gas companies have pillaged and polluted Louisiana’s coast; they’ve made the state’s already vulnerable ecosystem even more vulnerable by dredging canals wherever and whenever they see fit. The wealthiest industry in the world has convinced one of the poorest, sickest, and most uneducated states in America that they’re doing it a favor by extracting its natural resources, shipping off the profits, destroying its environment, buying off its state government, and hiring so-called academics to remind everyone how great the industry is for the state’s economy.

This, of course, is not to suggest, at all, that Louisiana’s oil and gas industry is inherently terrible; like most industries, it’s just inherently amoral. And for far too many years, the industry has been allowed to act with impunity. When John Barry and the SLFPA-E announced their historic lawsuit against Big Oil, both the state and national media praised their bold action. This was about Louisiana finally, seriously holding oil and gas companies accountable. This wasn’t about finding money for Governor Bobby Jindal to build more sand castles; it was about securing reasonable compensation from these companies to actually fix the damage they inflicted.

And while the media and almost anyone who has ever read about the urgency of coastal restoration praised the SLFPA-E’s landmark lawsuit, Governor Jindal decided to take the side of Big Oil and to blame, rather pathetically, the lawyers who signed on to the case.

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