Ideas for progressive state legislation

Posted on September 15, 2016

Here are just a few examples from the latest edition of the Progressive Agenda for States & Localities, including hyperlinks to model bills:

Demilitarize the police

More than 8,000 state and local police forces have received more than $5 billion in military equipment from the federal government. It’s dangerous, it’s expensive to store and maintain, and it’s useless in nearly all circumstances.

Disclosure of corporate taxes paid

Corporations, using arcane tax avoidance schemes, are contributing far less in state revenues than ever before. Transparency is the first step to fix the broken tax system.

Electronic recording of interrogations

Innocent people are often jailed and the guilty go free because of false confessions made during custodial interrogations. Electronic recording of these interrogations very effectively addresses this problem by protecting innocent people and preventing law enforcement abuse.

Employment fairness to pregnant women

Several states have enacted a pregnant workers’ fairness act to allow pregnant women to continue working with limited accommodations. Accommodations may mean use of a different chair, more frequent breaks, assistance with manual labor, or less hazardous work.

Hire tax investigators

Many wealthy individuals and corporations evade taxes. One study indicated that people who make between $500,000 and $1 million per year underreport their incomes by more than 20 percent. More tax enforcers will pay for themselves.

LGBT fairness

Too many states still don’t protect LGBT residents from employment and housing discrimination, but there is a growing movement in support of LGBT fairness.

Limit inquiries into immigration status

Immigrants often choose not to report crimes because they fear harassment or deportation and this can put the public at risk. To alleviate this fear, law enforcement and other government agents must be prohibited from inquiring into the immigration status of victims and witnesses of crimes in order to encourage cooperation and increase public safety.

Limit payday lending

Payday lending employs unfairly high interest rates, all but ensuring borrowers’ inability to repay loans, and trapping low-income Americans in a cycle of debt.

Minimum standards for public money

The Minimum Standards for Subsidized Jobs Act requires companies that receive economic development subsidies to pay their employees a minimum wage that is at least one dollar higher than the federal/state minimum wage. These companies are also required to provide their employees with health insurance benefits.

Pollinator protection

Bees are dying off at an alarming rate. The state of Maryland enacted this law to limit the use of bee-killing pesticides.

Prohibit profiling

The Racial Profiling Prevention Act prevents citizens and residents from being subjected to discriminatory policing practices. The act prohibits law enforcement officers from the stopping, detainment, and searching of any person based on their actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age or gender. It also requires data collection and transmission of the number of people stopped, as well as their characteristics, the nature of the stop, as well as the outcome.

Protect voters from intimidation

Too many Americans are prevented from exercising their right to vote because of voter intimidation or suppression, or by mistakes by election officials. Legislation can prevent these problems through three avenues.

Stop privatization

States can and should analyze the true costs of privatization and identify where outsourcing does not really serve the public interest.

Tax expenditure sunset

This bill would ensure that public funds are used efficiently, by leveling scrutiny at companies that receive expenditure subsidies. It provides for tax commissioners to review and appraise tax expenditures, as well as report on them. It also provides for the creation of a tax expenditure sunset review commission.

Transparency in school spending

With the rise of standardized testing, pre-packaged lessons, and charter schools, there has been a noticeable decline in public awareness of how education funds are spent.

Zombie debt

Third-party debt collectors are flooding courts with lawsuits attempting to trick consumers into paying charged-off debt, resulting in unfair and often erroneous default judgments.

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20 Progressive Ordinances for Cities, Towns & Counties

Posted on September 1, 2016

For the moment, most state legislatures are controlled by conservatives and there’s not a lot that progressives can enact in those states. But most large cities, towns and counties are controlled by moderates or...

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Coming soon to your state—voter harassment and intimidation

Posted on August 17, 2016

Last Friday (August 12), Donald Trump told a nearly all-white crowd in Altoona, Pennsylvania that he was concerned about voter fraud in their state. In dog-whistle language he said he’d “heard some stories about...

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Notwithstanding Hillary, why aren’t more women in public office?

Posted on August 3, 2016

by Alexandra Didenko, PLI Policy Intern Nowadays we get used to hearing that women can do or be anything. In fact, that’s true only in theory. Certainly, the role of women has increased in...

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Texas can’t get enough of harassing women over abortion

Posted on July 16, 2016

by Gloria Totten and Aimee Arrambide, Op-Ed in the Austin American-Statesman After last month’s milestone decision by the Supreme Court to strike down anti-abortion laws in Texas, there was a communal sigh of relief...

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Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution

Posted on July 3, 2016

by Aimee Z. Arrambide, JD Program Manager & Reproductive Rights Policy Specialist My father was an obstetrician-gynecologist in Texas. Shortly after Roe v. Wade, until he passed away ten years ago, my father performed...

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Group identification, rather than policy, explains the 2016 election

Posted on June 22, 2016

Political activists have a notion that there is something beyond logic and self-interest that drives the choices of average voters. We know that low-income Whites often vote against their own economic interests. We know...

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IdeaLog

Posted on June 7, 2016

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American Culture is Threatened by Hate Speech

Posted on June 5, 2016

America is not really a nation of laws. Our legislative system governs only the most egregious behavior. The way Americans treat each other day-to-day—attitude and etiquette, willingness or wariness, prejudice or tolerance—is driven mostly...

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Now more than ever, we need to give voice to our progressive values

Posted on May 25, 2016

Americans who avoid politics are far more likely to pay attention in a presidential election year. This is our chance to persuade. I suspect you may want to talk about single-payer health insurance, a...

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