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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 Left in Alabama, countrycat writes—Young People Must Run To The Polls:

Left in Alabama logo
We should be the first ones at the polls because we will be left with the tab for every unfunded mandate that has been passed over the past four years. We cannot afford to stay home for these midterm elections.

This election cycle, young voters do not have the choice not to vote. With important rights being stripped away, like college affordability, reproductive rights, public education, healthcare, and job security, we have to exercise our right to vote.

Fights that have already been won are being picked again.  [...]

Last year, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and more than a dozen states had voter photo ID laws on standby crafted for the purpose of restricting voting access to people of color, women, and young people also the elderly. Simply put anyone that is not a white man in Alabama.

At the same time, state legislatures have taken up the mantle on attacking women and the working poor.

Deciding not to vote in mid-term elections will have serious consequences. We shouldn’t take our rights being threatened lightly. These restrictions were made to prevent us from voting. Voting is a right people died, were beaten, jailed to gain so that right should always be exercised.

At BlueNC, James writes—Guilty:
My day in court was an uneventful one. As expected, a weary judge found me and four other defendants guilty of trespassing in the General Assembly last June at the Mega Moral Monday event. Having made up her mind hundreds of times before, Judge Hamilton made quick work of our cases. No, a blogger who fails to disperse when ordered does not have the same privileges as a "real" journalist who fails to disperse. Similarly, a former legislator who was arrested does not really have permanent floor privileges. We were guilty, case closed.

After what happened this week in Raleigh, it's more clear than ever that charges against Moral Monday protesters were entirely discretionary, trumped up by Phil Berger, Thom Tillis, in collusion with the Capitol Police. The legislature has rewritten the rules so they can more easily restrict citizens exercising their rights. They have free rein to turn their political opponents into criminals. And they have a judge in their side pocket who will help them do just that. Judge Hamilton says she's sympathetic to the plight of arrestees, but that sympathy doesn't extend to not-guilty verdicts.

We have come to a dangerous place in our state’s history. It is a place where those who rule have given themselves the right to arrest and detain political opponents, using whatever discretion they wish.

I do not agree that the Capitol police acted lawfully to arrest and detain me. Theirs was an act of political oppression, pure and simple.

Excerpts from more progressive state blogs can be found beneath the orange gerrymander.

At Calitics, Brian Leubitz writes—Has the California Fracking Debate Been Mooted?

Calitics logo
Many in government were expecting there to be something of a North Dakota style oil boom in California. Perhaps we best not rely on that for all of our future revenues:
Federal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California's vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national "black gold mine" of petroleum.

Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation's oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually. (LA Times)

Now, this doesn't mean that there aren't billions of barrels of oil under California, but it is simply too difficult to access, even using the latest technologies. Some will certainly continue to explore here, and maybe with future technologies more will be unlocked. However, for the time being, the boom won't be coming.
At Blue Mass Group, david writes—Like it or not, casinos are the big issue in this year's Democratic primaries:
Blue Mass Group
I know, I’ve seemed a bit obsessed with the casino issue lately.  In part, that’s because (disclosure alert) I spent a lot of time working on Repeal The Casino Deal’s ballot question case that is currently under consideration at the Supreme Judicial Court.

But in more important part, it’s because the casino issue one of the few that is drawing sharp contrasts between the candidates in a variety of races, while major differences on other big issues are proving hard to find.  Yes, Don Berwick’s support for single-payer health care sets him apart from the other Democrats running for Governor.  But even if Berwick wins, single-payer is years away at best.  Casinos are coming much sooner than that.

If the SJC doesn’t allow the question on the ballot, the issue will likely fade somewhat.  But if the question does make the ballot, it will be a huge topic right up through primary day.  And I think that’s a good thing.

At Ohio Daily, Anastasia Pantsios writes—Looking Backward:
Our Ohio elected Republicans in Columbus are continuing their drive to pull Ohio back into the past. Virtually all of Governor Kasich's policy priorities — the things he's trotting out to make his case for reelection — would be embarrassing setbacks for the state, things that would hamper our competitiveness, compared to other states.

At the top of the list of SB 310, the repeal of Ohio's clean energy standards. This is a real "up is down" campaign coming from Republicans. Of course, they're claiming that moving into the rapidly growing future of clean energy, which is not only providing sustainable energy sources and cleaning up the environment but also creating thousands of jobs, is a job-killer. Sure, it kills specific jobs such as coal-mining, which are shrinking in number of other reasons. But it replaces them with many more jobs sustainable over the long run.

They are also claiming that somehow, clean energy standards are a drag on the economy, that they raise costs.

You know who they are a drag on? The wealth big coal and gas special interests who own the Ohio Republican Party.

At Blog for Arizona, AZ BlueMeanie writes—Last night was not the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ against the Tea Party:
The media villagers and Beltway bloviators have a media narrative that they want to sell you—their “conventional wisdom” is that the GOP establishment is defeating the crazies of the Tea Party in GOP primaries, which gives the GOP a better than even chance of taking control of the Senate, and ending the presidency of the secret Muslim socialist from Kenya a couple of years ahead of schedule.

Here is Jonathan Martin of The New York Times: McConnell Win Leads Night of Victories for G.O.P. Establishment. Here are Philip Rucker and Robert Costa of The Washington Post: GOP’s hope of taking Senate gets a boost in primaries. And here is Alexander Burns of Tiger Beat on the Potomac: Payback: GOP incumbents learn how to win. You get the idea.

The media narrative is, of course, complete and total bullshit. The Tea Party won by losing. How can this be? By moving the goal posts completely off the far-right edge of the flat Earth in which they reside, the Tea Party has forced conservative Republicans to move far to the right in order to win, hanging on to the edge of that flat Earth by their fingernails to avoid falling off.

At ColoradoPols, Colorado Pols writes—Log Cabin Republican Tokenism Gets Kind Of Gross:
Colorado Pols state blog
We ignored the first round of this–but as the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports, the Log Cabin Republicans, which bills itself as "the nation’s original and largest organization representing gay conservatives and allies who support fairness, freedom, and equality," is once again attacking Rep. Jared Polis for his support of Colorado ballot measures to increase local control over oil and gas drilling. [...]

Certainly, the Log Cabin Republicans are entitled to spend their money any legal way they wish. But we did some checking on LCR's website, and we can't find any instance of this group singling out anyone, Republican or Democrat, for attacks on oil and gas issues. Looking back through LCR's press releases for the last several years, the attack on Polis over these local control ballot measures seems oddly out of place from the rest of the organization's stated agenda–which, as you can read above, focuses on LGBT civil rights and equality.

And then were remembered something obvious: Rep. Jared Polis is a gay man.

In these attacks over oil and gas drilling, it appears the Log Cabin Republicans are taking part only because Rep. Jared Polis is gay. Without a doubt, the Log Cabin Republicans won't be the only group attacking Polis should any of these measures reach the ballot, but Polis' sexuality is the only connection to the Log Cabin Republicans that makes sense. Whether the Log Cabin Republicans came up with the idea to attack Polis on their own, or were asked to attack Polis by straight Republicans is irrelevant: it's an unseemly abuse of the Log Cabin Republican brand. At the very best, it looks shallow and catty, and at worst this is the kind of rank tokenism that should give even the most insensitive conservative pause.

At Blogging Whilte Blue of Georgia, bloggingwhileblue writes—Boggs Nomination Rightfully Under Fire:
Blogging White Blue state blog
On Tuesday, one of the federal judicial nominees expected to come up in the Senate is Georgia state Court of Appeals judge Michael Boggs. Boggs’ controversial and fringe ideologies include his vote while in the state legislature to reinstate a revision of the Confederate flag, his anti-choice vote and his opposition to same-sex marriage. Many critics argue that he intentionally left out some of these details originally and wrote an apology to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately apologizing for omitting the information and actually believing in discriminatory and divisive principles are two entirely different offenses.

In what has been widely circulated as an agreement between the White House and Georgia Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, Boggs was nominated as a judicial candidate. There is a lot of procedural discussion about holding up vacancies and the blue-slip rule but a lifetime appointment for someone with such insidious opposition to human rights is a dangerous choice.

This has not been missed by Georgia Democrat US Representative David Scott who has voiced his opposition to the Boggs nomination. [...]

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) has also publicly opposed the Boggs nomination, “I think the president was given bad advice, and I suppose he’s still proceeding on that bad advice.” Johnson said he will actively work against the nomination by contacting Democratic Senators and encouraging them to vote against Boggs.

At Indy Democrat Blog of Indiana, Jon Easter writes—New BlueIndy Program Deserves Praise:
Indy Democrat Blog
From the credit where credit is due file, Indy's new electric car sharing program is pretty awesome.

The BlueIndy program is now set to serve Indy citizens.  It was rolled out formally yesterday in a ceremony with Mayor Greg Ballard and the Bollore Group executives on hand.  

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Ballore Group's had success in international markets like Paris, but this is their first foray into the American market.  The cars will drive for a limited distance before needing to be recharged, but it would be enough to go to work or to the store.  Indy residents can now buy a membership and won't need to perhaps own a car or two.  Looks like most of the kiosks will be downtown, but there's one set to be at the Indianapolis International Airport.

Depending on cost, this could revolutionize the way people live and work downtown though I'm very interested to see how everything works with insurance and things.  I'm also interested to talk to people who use the cars.

There are some devils in the details. We don't know how much rates will go up to pay for the new program nor do we know how it will be funded.

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Jim Webb for...President?!?:
Blue Virginia
It's amazing, no matter how long you are involved in politics, it's still possible to be surprised. For instance, check this out:
Former Virginia Sen. James H. Webb Jr. refused Monday to rule out a run for president, saying he is weighing his options.

"My wife and I are just thinking about what to do next. I care a lot about where the country is, and we will be sorting that out," Mr. Webb, a Democrat, said during an appearance on the the Diane Rehm Show, on which he was promoting his new book "I Heard My Country Calling." "It takes me a while to decide things. I am not going to say one way or the other."

Yeah, I didn't see that one coming. Of course, I didn't see Jim Webb saying in October 2005 that he'd be interested in running for U.S. Senate from Virginia as a Democrat either! Ha. Just a few quick thoughts on this.
First, if Webb DOES run, I can see him focusing on the three themes he ran on in 2006:

1. Re-orienting America's Foreign and National Security Policies
2. Promoting Social Justice and Economic Fairness
3. Government Accountability and Balance of Powers

I could also see Webb really stressing Jacksonian Democracy and economic inequality issues (e.g., the space Elizabeth Warren has staked out in the Democratic Party in recent years), especially given that things have only gotten worse on that front since the Great Recession of 2008/2009. And I could see Webb talking about reining in the national security state, including the NSA; civil liberties; criminal justice reform (possibly including legalization of marijuana?); and of course veterans issues (particularly healthcare given the situation/scandal at the Veterans Administration).

At Appalachian Voices, Roy Blumenfeld writes—We’re Back: Moral Mondays Return To Raleigh:
Appalachian Voice state blog
As the North Carolina General Assembly convenes for the 2014 short session, so too have the Moral Monday protests aimed at holding the legislature accountable for its regressive agenda.

Continuing in the tradition of the protests that took place during the 2013 session, North Carolinians traveled from all ends of the state on Monday to voice their concerns about the path the state is being lead down. A crowd of thousands gathered on the Bicentennial Mall between the Legislative Building and the Capitol.

Rather than attack Governor McCrory, Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger or their colleagues, the rallying call was for them to “repeal, repent, and reinstate.” Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, promised not to engage in any more civil disobedience without first giving the state leaders a chance to change their ways. The NAACP has organized a People’s Lobby Day on May 27 and plan to see how legislators respond before deciding how to proceed for the rest of the legislative session.

One issue that was front and center at the protest was the environment and the growing angst among North Carolinians was on full display. Signs about fracking, coal ash, and Duke Energy were seen throughout the crowd.

At Michigan Liberal, Eric B. writes—Detroit News rolls out Stock Editorial #1 in opposition to higher wages:
Sober adults have looked at the minimum wage. We're fond here of citing the Congressional Budget Office report on it, because the rightwng media was fond of citing it, except that it didn't actually say what they were representing it as saying because rather than bringing down ruination upon us all the report said that the more you raise the minimum wage the more people you help and the more you did to help them. [...]

Today, the Detroit News editorializes against raising the minimum wage at all. Their reasoning: It sounds like a bad idea.

But by artificially increasing the annual cost of labor, without corresponding raises in productivity or prices, the impact of this legislation could crush small- and mid-sized businesses, and eliminate jobs at larger ones. It also would take away the ability of employers to freeze wages in an economically stressful year, leaving layoffs as the only option to control payroll costs.
This is the Detroit News, arguing that stagnating wages is a good thing. Their evidence? None.
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Comment Preferences

  •  What's with all the casino legislation recently? (3+ / 0-)

    New York just had (and sadly, passed thanks in large part to millionaire lackey/Turd Wayer Andrew Cuomo) a casino ballot initiative last year.  I believe I've read other states that don't allow casinos have also considered them in recent years.

    Are casinos a new pet cause of ALEC or something?  Surely this push cannot be coincidence.

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:11:17 AM PDT

    •  Easy money (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9, tlsmith

      Big states are still floundering in debt.  And, you can only tax cigarettes and booze so high.  So, they are ever searching for new revenue streams.

      •  Legalize Pot (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RepresentUsPlease, LinSea

        All you need to do is look at Colorado and Washington to see how much additional revenue there is in that.

        This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

        by DisNoir36 on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:43:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not so sure.. (0+ / 0-)

          They had to develop an entirely new bureaucracy to regulate, police and manage the legal selling of pot.

          I would like to see the numbers at the end of the year...

          I think gambling is still an easier way to get new revenues.

      •  I don't see it as a debt problem in NY. (0+ / 0-)

        Cuomo sold it as a way to raise revenues, however, this being New York and all, there are plenty of other ways to raise revenues without sucking even more from the working class (who will largely be the patrons in the casinos).  Bottom line - we're one of the richest states in the nation.  We are far from broke, even if state government likes to scream it's impoverished under the current millionaire-centric administration.

        As one example - we have a stock transfer tax already on the books - which we have refunded in full to Wall Street every year since 1979.  It is so minimal that it is barely noticeable - 0.05% per traded share to a maximum of $350 - but because the volume traded on Wall Street is so large, it represents $16B in revenue each year.  Cuomo tried to repeal it outright this year, but luckily, he failed.

        If we stopped refunding this tax, there would be no need for casinos to raise revenues.  It is not only more than enough to cover any and all predicted state budget deficits, but it is enough for the state to use to provide serious relief on property taxes throughout the state.  Property taxes - for the average person in New York - are the number 1 reason why New York has a "high tax state" reputation.  A family making the states median income likely pays more in property taxes to their municipality than they do to the state in income taxes - especially downstate in the counties surrounding NYC.  For example, Westchester has the highest property taxes in the nation.

        The $16B we refund to Wall Street every year could make a serious dent in this problem.  Add in a much more progressive income tax structure (our income tax brackets are practically flat), and fix completely messed up business taxes, and we'd have no issues whatsoever and the tax burden on working people would go down tremendously.  All without the gimmick of casinos.

        It is disappointing that even in a state as blue as New York, most voters here don't get this and took the bait on the casino nonsense.

        "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

        by Darth Stateworker on Sat May 24, 2014 at 09:22:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not as outrageous as other weeks (4+ / 0-)

    So I guess I'll focus on the Log Cabin Republicans going after Jared Polis because he doesn't think the way they do. Yes, this is ONLY because he's gay.

    BUT. Shallow? Catty? Rank tokenism? Once again, that's not something WE'd do, but IOKIYAR.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat May 24, 2014 at 08:25:13 AM PDT

    •  Frankly, I am confused by this analysis (0+ / 0-)

      Apparently Polis is supporting a bill that would give municipalities more control over drilling.  Isn't that bill designed for the communities/counties that want to ban fracking and other drilling?

      If so, isn't that a very non-conservative point of view?

      Surely the blogger could look a little deeper than "he's gay" for an answer.

  •  Not from a blog but a pretty radical Florida (5+ / 0-)

    opinion piece from a newspaper where a couple of Florida's elected officials bravely point out that climate change is real and is going to destroy Florida.  Furthermore, they dare to demand that Gov. Rick Scott take action.

    Hey, Rick Scott! Climate change is hurting Florida! It's your job to deal with it!

  •  Many thanks for the weekly round up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Eric Nelson

    It's not only the national elections that count.  2010 should have taught us that lesson.

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

    by Puddytat on Sat May 24, 2014 at 10:41:38 AM PDT

  •  I thought most of us in Mass opposed casinos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    still don't know why we are spending so much time and money to entice corporate gambling here.  The casinos have poured money into wining local ballot measures which either just barely pass or go down in defeat, esp out here in Western Mass.

    We need real economic development and the opportunities for small businesses (the engine of American enterprise) to grow and succeed.  We don't even have DSL in parts of Western Mass and rely on phone dial up, or on paying for our own satellite systems.  We would like to remain rural and attract young farmers and entrepreneurs to join us old ones, and do business - market and sell our products via the internet, and study and share and learn new ideas without having to waste gas to drive down into the valleys or the big cities.

    I don't gamble on the traditional things.  Don't scratch off tickets or play the numbers or bet on horses.  I gamble on whether the rain will produce hail and hurt the crops or whether the clouds will water the fields.   I don't need a set of blinking neon lights with an arrow pointing at a slot machine (do they still do this?  I remember this from the early 1960s when I passed through Reno, NV.)

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Sat May 24, 2014 at 12:08:53 PM PDT

  •  I see an appeal coming in North Carolina (0+ / 0-)

    James in NC should certainly appeal to another judge.  Not doing so gives the opposition a win.

  •  Kassich's face has "throwback" written all over it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    I never knew what people saw in him. His answer for everything is just to try the same old thing that we've already tried in the past. I don't get how Republicans think they are acting so wise and prudent by always suggesting we go back to the same policies that failed in the past and hoping for a different result this time around.

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Sat May 24, 2014 at 04:28:31 PM PDT

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