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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 Eclectablog of Michigan, Eclectablog writes—“Pay to Pollute” pays off for Russian steel corporation, DEQ issues permit to pollute Detroit at higher levels:

Eclectablog logo
A Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permit has been issued to Russian steel corporation Severstal this week, allowing the company that DEQ once called “the most egregious facility in the state” to continuing spewing pollutants in Dearborn and Detroit at levels far in excess of state regulations. As I wrote about earlier this month, it’s one more clear example of “pay to play”, or in this case “pay to pollute” cronyism by the adminstration of Rick Snyder. The permit DEQ issued grandfathers in old, dramatically higher levels of pollutants and requires Severstal to do nothing but to keep emitting at the same outrageous levels that it always has.

There were plans to update their permit to bring them into compliance with current regulations but heavy lobbying of DEQ by Severstal and then involvement by Governor Rick Snyder’s Michigan Economic Development Corporation changed things considerably. [...]

So, times change, rules change, and our country becomes safer and cleaner as we learn more about our impact on the environment. Unless, that is, you are in Michigan and are pals with Rick Snyder or someone in his administration. If that’s the case, you can continue to pollute our fair state under rules that are nearly a decade old and that no longer apply to anyone else.

At Bleeding Heartland of Iowa, desmoinesdem writes—Cedar Rapids mayor won't give up casino dream:
Bleeding Heartland
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett will not pursue any alternative development plans for a downtown parcel of land where backers hope to build a casino. Rather, he will continue to pursue the casino project despite last month's 4 to 1 vote by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to reject a gambling license for Cedar Rapids.

Speaking to Rick Smith of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, onetime Iowa House Speaker Corbett said he hopes the Iowa legislature will approve a bill granting a license for a smoke-free casino to Iowa's second-largest city. Democratic State Senator Wally Horn already tried to add such language to a bill limiting greyhound racing, but his amendment was ruled not germane.

Independent research has repeatedly shown that the hidden economic costs of casinos "far exceed their benefits and that [casinos] are a poor use of precious downtown land." But even if that were not true, why waste years trying to persuade the Iowa legislature to pass this kind of bill? What are the chances lawmakers will go along with a special deal for Cedar Rapids, when many of them represent districts with casinos that stand to lose market share? Furthermore, current Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, who represents a suburban Cedar Rapids district, screwed up Iowa's chance to get passenger rail to Iowa City (and possibly later to Des Moines and Council Bluffs). [...]

The spin about a smoke-free casino being a "healthy" option for a "Blue Zone" community like Cedar Rapids is a sick joke. Casinos are no benefit to public health. On the contrary, problem gambling increases with accessibility and incurs major hidden health costs.

Below the fold are more excerpts from progressive state blogs.

At Hillbilly Report, Berry Craig writes—Beshear's lawyers claim gay marriage is bad for business:
 

“Dad, isn’t Steve Beshear a Democrat?” my college student son phoned home to ask me. “You know he is,” I said.  

“He sounds like a Republican,” my son replied.

He had just heard that Beshear’s lawyers have appealed a federal judge’s ruling that said Kentucky must recognize same sex marriages from other states.

In their appeal, the attorneys argue that the state’s gay marriage ban should be kept because only “man-woman" couples can procreate naturally and that Kentucky has an economic interest to make sure that they do, wrote Andrew Wolfson in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Kentucky’s largest paper.  

In other words, fewer babies means fewer buyers of products and services and that’s not good for the economy, according to the appeal.

At Progress Illinois, Ellyn Fortino writes—Illinois Residents, Environmental Groups Sound The Alarm On Coal Ash Dangers:
state blogs, Progress Illinois
Illinois environmental groups and residents say the state's draft rules for coal ash pits at power plant sites fall short when it comes to protecting the public from a "coal ash catastrophe."

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's (IEPA) proposed coal ash waste rules need to be strengthened to better safeguard the public against possible drinking water contamination and other threats posed by coal ash ponds, according to community members and leaders with the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Prairie Rivers Network.

There are 91 retention ponds in Illinois holding coal ash, a toxic byproduct of electricity generation discharged from coal-fired power plants. The coal ash pits in the state, many of which are unlined, are associated with Illinois' 22 coal-fired power plants. Traci Barkley, a water resources scientist with the Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network, said coal ash ponds require an "enormous" amount of water, which is why many of them are located close to rivers and other large bodies of water.

Each year, Illinois produces 4.4 million tons of coal ash, which contains heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic. Contaminates from coal ash have been recorded in the groundwater near every coal ash site in the state that has been studied by the IEPA.

At Blue Jersey, Bill Orr writes—Gov. Christie: The Arrogance of Power:
Blue Jersey, a state blog logo
Following an extraordinary vote on a legislative bill in which not a single Democrat nor Republican voted "no," Christie's arrogance of power reared its ugly head when he conditionally vetoed the bill (S1306) yesterday. He even managed to chop off  the bill's title—"The Sandy Bill of Rights." Apparently he owns the rights and the victims be damned.

Senate President Steve Sweeney said, "the governor's action lacks common sense. His administration continues to mismanage the Sandy recovery process and this veto may be one of the biggest blunders yet." Christie's cuts included more than 150 changes.

The legislature should waste no time in over-riding the veto. Sandy victims deserve no less.  

At HorseAss.org of Washington, Goldy writes—Collectivize Comcast!:
horsesAss blog, state blogs
During her successful campaign for Seattle City Council I pooh-poohed critics who denounced Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant as unelectable due to her party’s stance in favor of collectivizing the Fortune 500. She was running for city council, for chrissakes. It’s not like she was going to make collectivizing Boeing a councilmanic priority.

But the collectivization thing does rub a lot of people the wrong way, striking them as both un-American and impractical. And while I generally share that skepticism, that won’t stop me from making the following bold proposal: Collectivize Comcast.

Comcast is fast becoming a dangerously large corporation with the economic power, media might, and political influence to twist public policy contrary to the public good. [...]

 Besides, everybody hates Comcast. So let’s collectivize it.

And by “collectivize,” I don’t mean taking their assets by eminent domain or some extraordinary property grab. I mean collectivizing the American way: via a hostile takeover of a public company… but financed by US taxpayers rather than hedge fund managers or LBO conmen.

At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Katherine Haenschen writes—Lloyd Doggett: Pay For a Permanent Tax Credit That Incentivizes Necessary Research:
Burnt Orange Report
Incentivizing scientific research is one of the best things the federal government can do to promote economic growth with desirable outcomes, and support the development of knowledge that would be lost to humanity without it.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans are trying to pass corporate tax breaks for multinational companies to offshore government funds under the guise of supporting scientific research, while actual important scientific research goes unfunded and unfinished.

If our government is going to fund research, it should go to generating knowledge, not to helping rich corporations avoid paying their fair share.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett made a speech on the floor of the US House to call attention to this gross misuse of funds: "They are not about making it in America; they are about taking it from America."

At South Dakota Madville Times, caheidelberger writes—GOP Legislators Take 40% of Travel Budget for Partisan ALEC Trips:
Madville Times of South Dakota
To inform its discussion of the Legislature's travel policy, complete with ALEC subsidy, the Legislature's Executive Board Thursday got to review how much taxpayer money they've spent so far this year on out-of-state travel. [A list of all legislators' reimbursements follows].

82 trips, average $1,430 a pop... that's $117,260. That's not so bad... until you count up the $42,520 that was spent on the blatantly ideological ALEC trips. Add in average costs for the reimbursements still pending for Reps. Campbell, Qualm, and Stalzer and Senator Lederman, and those ALEC costs will constitute over 40% of the FY14 out-of-state Legislative travel bill.

At Green Mountain Daily of Vermont, Sue Prent writes—Standing up to Entergy and the NRC:
Green Mountain Daily of Vermont
It's nice to see Vermont standing up to Entergy, who, soon after Yankee cuts the power, would like to simply walk away from their obligation to provide emergency planning.

Senators Sanders and Boxer are co-sponsoring a bill that would not allow the NRC to exempt nuclear plant operators from safety requirements while spent fuel remained on site and unprotected by dry cask storage.

Politically  opposed to regulation of any kind, for any reason, Republicans would like things to remain exactly as they are, with a completely toothless NRC serving the interests of the industry first and local communities a distant second.

Senator Sessions (R), of Alabama, argues that the NRC is doing a fine job; then adds, tellingly, that he thinks closing nuclear plants will "drive up" the cost of energy.

"The NRC has a proven record of success in regulating these matters," said Sessions, a member of the committee. "We endanger a weak economy by driving up the cost of energy by closing up plants that could be productive for a decade or more."
Uh, Senator, it is the power companies themselves who are making the economic decision to close nuclear facilities, which are no longer cost-efficient to operate.  They are answering the call of capitalism, at whose altar you are usually only too happy to worship.
At Seminole Democrat, Vin Fl writes—Top Conservative Blogger Gloats to "Libs" That Nigerian Girls Have Probably Been Sold:
The Seminole Democrat state blog
Jim Hoft, (@gatewaypundit), is one of the top conservative bloggers and is often quoted by Fox News--which says a lot about them since his trademark is to write anything without verification or even proofreading. His track record of being wrong and his sheer incompetence has earned him the appropriate title of the dumbest man on the Internet.

And that was before today, when he showed that he is also a complete bastard:

#BringBackOurBalls ➙ Sorry Libs, The Schoolgirls Have Already Been Sold, Put on Canoes & Shipped to Chad

He went to mock Michelle Obama for tweeting the viral photo of her holding the same sign as the parents of the kidnapped children: #BringBackOurGirls. And then closed with this gem:

So good luck bringing “our girls” back. You’re too late.

Ha Ha... suck it Obama! Those 9 to 12 year old girls will be made into sex slaves! That'll show us "libs"! (and the quotes around "our girls"--nice touch.)

At 43rd State Blues of Idaho, TUBOB writes—It's Like if You Were Trying to Write a Good Haiku and All of a Sudden a Million Ghosts of Dead Haiku Masters Show Up and Laugh:
43rd State Blues
It was so easy for me to unleash thousands of words on my favorite topic: making fun of Idaho. Adjectives flowed like unicorn blooded water over precipices of crystalline squirrel bones ... oh fuck that ... I can't do it. It's gone.

Why? Because these hilarious motherfuckers at the debate. I watch these youtubes and roar with laughter until I am in tears. Tears of joy. It's the funniest shit ever. No way can these guys be satirized. They are satire-proof simply by being such douchebillies. Fucking Idaho.

When I first saw the photo of the four of these guys I thought "hey, two closeted guys in suits being introduced to a leather daddy and something really icky daddy convention, and one can hardly imagine the horror they would experience in the dungeon." But nah. Once I watched the video I realized there's no point in a spin or interpretation trying to be humorous. This is perfect art. This is the superabsurd. This is brilliant. Butch Otter, who I find as appealing as an old saddle shat upon by hundreds of diarrheac cowboys and now boiled into shitty leather jerky, was tactically (if not strategically) possessed of a certain type of genius to insist these crackpots be front and center on the stage with Fulcher. Butch comes out looking like a circus ringmaster.

So, I think I'm done here and anywhere else where I once soaked myself in the blood of squirrels, sister-wives, mutant inbred children with single eyes in the middle of their foreheads capable of staring deep into your soul to find your most hidden place of shameful despair, as well as psycho-conflagrate many combustibles with nothing more than a mad thought, old Subaru Brats (the official Car-Truck of North Idaho) and so many more stereotypes of a backasswards frontier state.

At The Left Hook of California, Patricia Gardner writes—San Jose Must Address Girls in Gangs:
The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN) wants to alert our community to a critical issue in the City of San Jose- Girls and Gangs. Teenage girl involvement in gangs typically stems from their role as the girlfriend of a gang member. Even though girls may not consider themselves a part of the gang, their lives are affected by it as they participate through supportive roles.[...]

Locally, girls connected with gang activity has increased from about 3% to as much as 15% in the last decade. Santa Clara County’s arrest & Juvenile Probation data indicates that female juveniles are well represented in the juvenile arrests with 30% in County and 27% in Juvenile Probation. In Santa Clara County, Latina girls comprise 70% of the County female jail ward population but represent just 27% of the female population of Santa Clara County. Latina girls involved with gangs suffer a high rate of dropping out of high school, poverty, and unemployment.

There are other consequences for these young girls. Girlfriends of gang members tend to have children at a young age. These girls are the primary parent for their children. When these girls drop out of school they lack education and are trapped in a cycle of poverty and that puts their children at risk.

The San Jose Mayor’s Gang Task force needs to provide female specific programming so the girls are able to talk freely about breaking cycles of male abuse and female health concerns. When you uplift the girls you can uplift the whole family and impact future generations.

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