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Map showing the partisan composition of the state legislatures.
There are opportunities out there to pass better laws.
One of the ways the nation's laws keep getting ratcheted backward is that every time Republicans take over a legislative body, they immediately go to work voting through a predictable, awful package of laws—laws restricting women's reproductive freedom, taking aim at unions, cutting corporate taxes, privatizing education, allowing guns in schools, weakening equal pay and workplace safety protections. When Democrats take over a legislative body, their actions are comparatively weak tea. There are a lot of reasons for that. Republicans have ALEC to provide them with pre-written bills, of course. They have far-right billionaires pushing them with promises of big donations and threats of primaries. We recently found out about another reason in the study finding that Republican legislators think their constituents are far, far more conservative than they actually are, while Democratic legislators think their constituents are slightly more conservative than they actually are. So we understand there are reasons for this divergence between how aggressively Republicans push their agenda when in power and how aggressively Democrats do. But the divergence is so extreme it's hard to even say what laws Democrats should be pushing when they gain a majority in a state legislature. And that's the question: What could that agenda look like?

Obviously where Republicans get into office and immediately lower taxes for big corporations and wealthy people, it would be good if Democrats would close tax loopholes or raise taxes, making corporations and the wealthy pay something closer to their fair share. California voters actually did part of that last November, with Prop 30. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is also pushing a major tax overhaul to make the tax system simpler and more progressive while raising revenue to invest in education and transportation. And, indeed, when you raise revenue, there are tons of investments that suddenly become possible: education from pre-kindergarten through college, clean energy, public transit, roads and bridges, bike paths, sewer systems and clean water, increased oversight of the environmental and workplace protections you have—so many things that Republicans ignore or say we can't afford or flat-out hate.

Raising revenue and using it to invest in the future is the first and most important thing Democrats could do. But it's not the only thing. Just as Republicans pass bills attacking choice and unions in addition to cutting taxes at the top, there's plenty Democrats could do that's not about taxes but would (unlike all those Republican laws) make people's lives better, as we'll discuss below the fold.

Raise the minimum wage: Raising the minimum wage is a popular policy that's the right thing to do, raising working people out of poverty.  

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have increased the minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25, with 10 having tied it to inflation so that minimum-wage workers get a raise every year if prices are going up. While it's obvious that states that are stuck with the federal rate at $7.25 should do something about that, plenty of the states that have a higher minimum wage are nowhere near high enough, and while Michigan, at $7.40 an hour, isn't likely to improve given its hard-right current government, Rhode Island should be able to do better than $7.40. Massachusetts and California should be able to do better than $8.00.

Pass paid sick leave: Right now, Connecticut is the only state that has mandated paid sick leave, a stark contrast with the fact that the United States is one of very few nations that don't require any paid sick leave. San Francisco, Seattle, and the District of Columbia have also passed sick leave laws. But again, there should be more Democratic-controlled state and local governments willing to step up and pass such an important policy for workers and for public health. In New York City, a sick leave law is being blocked by council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, despite strong council and popular support for it.

As with raising the minimum wage, low-wage employers make a lot of scary claims about likely negative impacts on hiring and on small businesses, but the facts don't bear them out.

Strengthen penalties for wage theft and misclassification of workers: It's already illegal to pay workers less than the minimum wage, or to fail to pay overtime to overtime-eligible workers, or to just plain not pay workers what you owe them. Misclassifying workers as independent contractors is also illegal, and robs the government as well as workers. But it doesn't really help for things to be illegal if the penalties don't scare anyone away from doing them. Ideally, states would also increase budgets for enforcement. But even with enforcement budgets at current levels, increasing the penalties on employers caught stealing wages, as Chicago recently did, or, as California has done, on employers misclassifying workers, would serve as some kind of deterrent.

Pass marriage equality: This one's obviously gathering steam, with nine states and the District of Columbia having passed marriage equality, whether through the courts, the legislatures, or at the polls. Already there's an effort to get it on the ballot in Oregon for 2014 (to which you can give here). But especially as polling shifts toward equality and voters are following through on that on election day, state legislatures should start taking action, at least where there aren't anti-equality laws passed by voters in the past that need to be overturned first.

Offer new parents the job protections they need: A lot of laws fall under this umbrella, and too few states offer any of them. We're talking about paid family and medical leave, job-protected family and medical leave, job-protected medical leave for pregnancy disability, flexible use of leave time, and nursing mothers' rights—all laws California has and several of which Connecticut has. This is another area where the U.S. lags behind virtually every other nation.

Make it easier, not harder, to vote: Just as Republicans have a lot of ways to make it harder to vote, Democrats should be passing ways to make it easier. That could include same-day registration, added days of early voting, vote by mail, and much more. Again, the models are out there—it's just a matter of applying them to more states.

None of these are remotely radical suggestions. They're already the law of states or cities or other nations. And if Democrats were as aggressive as Republicans, we'd have long since moved past things as basic as full-time work shouldn't leave you in poverty and sick people should be able to stay home from work. But wouldn't it be nice if we could rely on Democrats to make a real drive for policies like these, the way Republicans do for all their awfulness?

There's so much more out there to be done, too. Tougher environmental regulations. Laws to protect choice as a reality, not just a theory. Democratic legislators need to start catching up with their Republican counterparts and implementing a real agenda.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 04:55 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I suppose they already know there are (7+ / 0-)

    borders missing on the map between Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri?

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:04:36 PM PDT

  •  Minnesota is pushing a minimum wage bump (21+ / 0-)

    to 10.55 an hour. Hoping it gets through, though Dayton's proposal indicates he'd prefer a little less (9.00 to 9.50). Either one would be much better than the 5.75 that's currently in law (though since the federal wage is 7.25, that's what most places pay anyway).

  •  Where's our ALEC? (30+ / 0-)

    Would be nice if the above were already written up, in ready-to-submit language.

    “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

    by Positronicus on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:07:07 PM PDT

    •  There Are No Billionaires Fighting to Make the US (13+ / 0-)

      a liberal nation. There are a number who donate to liberal causes but nobody to fight for it.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:29:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know why it has to be expensive (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zinman, rbird, Chi

        to draft candidate laws, in excruciating correct legal language, and forward them to sympathetic progressive legislators in various states. Yes, it would cost lawyer-time to get the language right, and some amount of time and effort communicating. But it shouldn't cost billions, or even millions.

        Maybe I'm not getting what ALEC really does.

        “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

        by Positronicus on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:06:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Totally agree (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Positronicus, ModerateJosh, RUNDOWN

          Could we step up the game by making the progressive ALEC cheaper and more effective?  Open online access, volunteer legal aid....hell, do it here with a group and diaries.

          We don't need no stinking billionaires.  We can do it ourselves.

          Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

          by rbird on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:03:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The ALEC strategy (0+ / 0-)

          like most right wing strategies play upon greed, hate and fear - of government, labor strength, and a changing society.

          Another "arm" being groups like the NRA.

          Hate and fear are negative aspects progressives tend to shy away from.

          Not to mention are about a lot more than legislation, but a concerted effort in local politics that has been ongoing for decades.

          In a capitalist democracy - every dollar is a "vote" ... spend wisely ...

          by RUNDOWN on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 08:44:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  We don't have corporate money to pump into an (17+ / 0-)

      ALEC. We may want to think about alternative organizing strategies but they will be labor intensive and subject to sabotage. It's much easier to derail community-based movements and much easier to sway state legislators with money. We can do it but the cards are not stacked in our favor. It's going to take a tremendous amount of dedication and effort sustained across generations.

      Just electing a president isn't enough. There is much, much more work to do.

      And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

      by TheFatLadySings on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:31:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Add this to the list (11+ / 0-)

      State legislatures should have a central legislative staff to draft, research, and review bills. Overseen by a panel from state law schools, who hire the director. Sort of a legal CBO.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:03:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, good thought! More specifically like the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Urban Owl, DSPS owl, Positronicus

        Congressional Research Service, described thus by Wikipedia: "...Its staff of approximately 600 employees includes lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists...."

        •  Exactly! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Positronicus, gfv6800

          I think most legislature have something, but they are not independent enough or staffed well enough, or maybe that's just here in Texas.

          For a state that is primarily urban and therefore fairly Blue, we sure have a state government right out of the 1950's, it's embarrassing.

          We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

          by Urban Owl on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:22:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Also Add... (0+ / 0-)

        We also need to add the undoing of the 2010 representative district gerrymandering in so many states that allowed republican members of Congress to receive fewer votes overall than Democratic members, yet retain a substantial majority in the House.

        Furthermore, beyond fair redistricting, we need to amend state Constitutions to prevent future gerrymanders, or else it will happen all over again in 10 years or less.

    •  Our ALEC (3+ / 0-)

      without the creepy secrecy and the corporate agenda, is the Progressive States Network.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:04:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's it! Thanks for the tip! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David Kaib

        Not sure why I didn't know about it.

        This is the right idea.

        Wednesday, February 13, 2013


        New York, NY — Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom, Chair of the Board of Progressive States Network, made the following comments in response to President Obama's State of the Union address:

        President Obama laid out an inspiring and ambitious agenda of investment for the nation in his State of the Union address. While federal solutions to the many national challenges outlined last night are absolutely necessary, state legislators across the nation know they do not need to wait for Washington to act. In fact, progressive lawmakers are already leading on many of the issues highlighted by the President last night in statehouses across the country.

        Nineteen states have raised their minimum wages since the last time Congress raised the federal rate in 2007, providing a boost to their economies and helping to ensure that more families can afford the basic necessities. Twelve states have passed tuition equity laws in recent years, helping keep more talented immigrant students in state and contributing to state economies. Early in 2013 sessions, states are already advancing policies to strengthen gun violence prevention laws, increase revenues to avoid even more damaging budget cuts, modernize voter registration systems, and expand health care coverage to more families.

        Progressive state lawmakers stand ready to partner with the President on the initiatives he proposed last night, including passing comprehensive immigration reform that includes a clear path to citizenship for all aspiring citizens, innovating to increase energy efficiency in our buildings and create green jobs, and making high-quality preschool available to every child in all of the fifty states. All of us must work together to achieve the goal of building "stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger America," as President Obama proposed last night — and that work starts by building stronger states.

        “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

        by Positronicus on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:16:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah. (18+ / 0-)

    As much as I despise the Republican Party and what it stands for, I have to admit that they're really good about pushing an agenda.  I wish that Democrats on all levels of government would be so bold.

  •  NB: The WA legislature is actually split, (10+ / 0-)

    with DINO Rodney Tom caucusing with Republicans and becoming Majority Leader. Sucks big time.

    On December 10, 2012, Tom announced that he would caucus with the Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC). Tom is now the new senate majority leader.
    On February 4, 2013, both Tom and Tim Sheldon, another Democratic senator who joined Republicans to form the MCC, were censured by the state Democratic Party for "gross disloyalty" and "perfidious behavior," cutting off their future access to party funds and mailing lists. This followed separate votes to censure Tom by the 5th and 43rd District Democratic organizations, Democrats in Tom's own 48th District, and the Pierce County Democrats. Amid the censures, state Republicans urged support of Tom.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:10:58 PM PDT

  •  End Gerrymandering--we should develop model (25+ / 0-)

    legislation to end the gerrymander.  This would particularly effective for states whose legislatures swing between the two parties (think PA, OH, MI, WI).  

    Obama carried all four of these states, yet PA is sending 13/18 GOP House members to Washington, Ohio 12/16, Michigan 9/14 and Wisconsin 5/8.  End the gerrymander and we pick up a bunch of seats (maybe 10?) from these states alone.

    If we could take California's legislation setting up their redistricting commission and either try to get it passed through the legislatures or by ballot measure, we can go a long way towards making elections and the House in general more fair and balanced....


    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:11:09 PM PDT

  •  Ugh. (3+ / 0-)

    Being color blind, it took me a moment to see the green.  It is green, right?

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:13:13 PM PDT

  •  How about card check? (27+ / 0-)

    I'd love to see unionization get easier, rather than always harder.  If unions are going to ever get stronger again, it should start in Democratic-run states, where they could begin to rebuild their power and demonstrate the lies of the anti-union right.

    Citizens United defeated by citizens, united.

    by Dallasdoc on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:14:55 PM PDT

  •  A Homeowner's Bill of Rights law. (10+ / 0-)

    Similar to the one passed in California, but stronger.

  •  Free or very reduced tuition at state (6+ / 0-)


  •  If it weren't for Dino Cuomo (11+ / 0-)

    NY State would be a candidate.  Not only did he contribute to endorsing a republican't State Senate he has avoided implementing numerous sane programs because he wants to be seen as a middle of the road presidential candidate.  

    He would love to implement fracking (cause they would contribute heavily to him), he has danced around raising the minimum wage and other reasonable democratic issues.
    He's afraid of NY being seen as a completely blue state for fear it would hurt his potential candidacy.  Hope he never gets the nomination 'cause he's a Dem in name only. He's nothing like his father.

    Don't believe everything you think.

    by BrianParker14 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:28:22 PM PDT

    •  The Tappan Zee without transit is awful (3+ / 0-)

      Not even planning for transit someday!

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:09:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't worry, Prince Andrew will never be president (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He's shown his true colors to the Democratic base, so he'll never break out in the primaries.

      Even if he somehow did manage to become the Democratic nominee, he's going to get killed in the general election.  He's not charismatic enough to appeal to low information voters. And, all the Republicans need to do to kill his chances in the swing states is chant the mantra "New York Liberal" ad infinitum.

      •  Hope your correct. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        He seems to be backed by huge amounts of conservative business money.  He regularly has ads run for him by business pacs which is really unusual here in upstate NY.

        Don't believe everything you think.

        by BrianParker14 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:02:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And if Hillary runs (0+ / 0-)

        That would mean he couldn't run and he knows better than to get in her way.  Additionally, he wouldn't be remotely considered for V.P. since he comes from the same state as Hillary and the V.P. and Presidential candidates can't come from the same state.  Therefore, Andrew is not able to run until Hillary's either out of office or (God forbid) does not get elected.

        As for fracking, there is a 2 year suspension in a decision being made about francking.  Cuomo wants to get re-elected in 2014 so I imagine that this is why.

        Additionally, the gerrymandering backfired on the Republicons.  They added an additionally Senate district up in the Albany area but the seat was won by a Democrat who got something like 19 (or 29, I can't remember) votes more than her Republicon challenger.    

        Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

        by Rosalie907 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:26:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And his pushing casinos is a travesty! (0+ / 0-)
      •  There was a minor revelation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        shortly after he was elected about how a (or more) casino owner (s) made huge contributions to a PAC supporting him.  In essence they bought their way into the state.

        And, IIRC there is a one vote republican't majority in the State Senate which Cuomo encouraged which allows him to show faux support for some issues (like minimum wage increase, mandatory sick leave etc ) which he knows won't get through the legislature.  He is creepy.

        Don't believe everything you think.

        by BrianParker14 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:14:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New Mexico's legislature is blue but it is also (6+ / 0-)

    deeply, deeply corrupt. Corporations run the place. I find it hard to advocate for causes I believe in at the Roundhouse because I become incensed by the bold hypocrisy of the lobbyists and the corruption of too many legislators.

    I used to spend a lot of time organizing rather spectacular protests that pushed some of our issues into the network news, NY Times, etc. But nowadays, news entities don't consider even dramatic walks to be news. I've found ways to push issues into the front pages of national papers via the blogosphere.

    We'll never have democratic agendas in states unless we find a way to combat the influence of corruption. I have a strategy for doing this here in my community, but I won't be free to write about it for a few weeks.

    And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

    by TheFatLadySings on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:28:28 PM PDT

    •  welcome to new jersey (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fabucat, offgrid

      Our local democratic machine is so corrupt and slimy...well.
      How do you think Christie won in such a blue state?
      The NJ state house is a joke and has screwed voters in this state as much as the GOP.
      My city is the worst.
      Sixty minutes did a half hour on us we're that bad.
      Newspapers runs series on the corruption here.
      And we are all run by Dems with zero R opposition in any seats.
      We had one progressive young mayor who was a Democrat and the city unions made sure he lost his second term by calling him racist names and homophobic slurs.
      It tore me up and I cried for a long time.
      I'm still horrified by what they did.
      Not all city unions are good or decent.
      Power corrupts everyone.
      And this city, my home, is a democratic embarrassment.
      I was on our local democratic committee seats for six years.
      When I supported the progressive mayor, and ran under his name, we lost with him.
      I could care less as the whole experience was not healthy.
      Seeing corruption in your face? Not good.

      We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear. Robert Louis Stevenson

      by Christin on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:48:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Infrastructure, education, infrastructure.... (12+ / 0-)

    and more education.  Did I mention infrastructure?  Better roads, sturdier power distribution, maybe the encouragement of municipal power systems, local solar and wind initiatives.  Let's see...disaster preparedness.  Beefing up the state university system, making the state universities more affordable.  Beefing up state-funded votech schools.  Beefing up the academic side of local high schools.  Lower class sizes.

    Then there's health and safety.  Better libraries.  Municipal wireless internet initiatives.  Local health clinics.

    One-stop voter registration/voting.  Vote by mail, vote by internet.

    Support for women's health care.  More support for pregnant mothers and children.

    I could go on like this all day.  Most of us here could.

    According to the comments I've read here over the years, about half of all DK members are either lawyers, teach law, or are married to lawyers.  Well, we need boilerplate for all these progressive causes - why not right here, right now, on Daily Kos.  Set up a group, publish boilerplate state legislation for progressive initiatives as diaries.  We know for a fact that democratic politicians visit DK.  What better place for it?

    Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:30:28 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I like hyperbole... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fabucat, cocinero

      ...but there really are a lot of lawyers on Daily Kos...or people who claim to be lawyers.  :)

      Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

      by rbird on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:33:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anecdotal evidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cocinero, Chi

      Our roads are constantly ripped up.  That's probably a function of it being 10 F in the winter and 100 F in the summer here.

      We're opening a new light rail line through a Democratic neighborhood.

      The community college campus next to where I work has lots of solar panels on it.

      There are International Baccalaureate programs in our high schools (that our Wingnuts tried to end)>

      TL;DR  Some of what you mention is in Republican states, too.

      •  Europe spends 5%... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        offgrid, Chi

        ...of its GDP on infrastructure, China spends 9%, while we spend 2.4%.

        This is an interesting read:

        It's cheaper to maintain infrastructure than build infrastructure, something else that Europe does better than we do.  Why not take care of a bridge instead of waiting for it to fall down and replacing it?

        As to solar power, Republicans have been doing their best to legislate it away to the benefit of big oil.  Shouldn't we as progressives give a little push-back to that by supplying the legislation on the state level to encourage solar and wind power?

        Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

        by rbird on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:57:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Transit! Walkable communities too (6+ / 0-)

      Building more auto-dominant developments and infrastructure is not efficient. Most places have more road capacity than can be reasonably maintained, and more than is needed.

      We are very far behind on building other modes.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:12:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not better roads; better transportation systems (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gfv6800, rbird

      better planning. Reduce the need to drive.

      •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But the roads and bridges and railway lines do need to be repaired and maintained as well.

        Tell me what to write. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

        by rbird on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:43:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New York is blue but (10+ / 0-)

    In the Senate 5 "independent" dems have formed a coalition with the repubs, so in the ability to enact a progressive agenda is limited. Plus, Cuomo is progressive on some social issues but much less so on labor/economic issues. Dems everywhere are misreading the national trend to the left, and are still thinking they have to run to the center right. People are thirsty for someone, besides Elizabeth Warren, to actually fight for the middle class and working poor.

  •  Nice, but you miss the point. (14+ / 0-)

    I contend that the real problem here is Republican Gerrymandering.  2010 brought on the map above and those Republican Controlled legislatures immediately gerrymandered Congressional districts to favor themselves.  It's going to take something like a super majority of over 60% of the vote to regain the House.  

    If you really want to move a progressive agenda, labor would be wise to back a impartial Citizens Redistricting Commission like California's.  Charged with drawing impartial Congressional districts.  

    After a few bumps, and some ugly Dem v Dem races, California has their conservatives where they belong, and representing a proportionate population (you know, that 30%).  

    I'm tired and weary of fighting the same old battles only to have to re-fight them when Republicans retake the State legislatures every ten years.  

    Redistricting would fix that, as a plus, use the current Republican mantra of 'Prevent Voter Fraud'  to  help eliminate corruption and get a popular vote to pass a citizens redistricting commission.  

    I would prefer that Labor back initiative movements for Citizens Redistricting Commissions in states like Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin,  Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania rather than battle back to power in 6 to 7 years in these states, pass some progressive legislation, only to see those gains vaporized in the next redistricting election that the Republicans win.  

    Democrats have been woefully inadequate about long term planning, It's time we start and pick some good long term targets to get sustainable progressive results.  

    ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

    by NevDem on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:36:25 PM PDT

    •  It is more complicated than that (0+ / 0-)

      You just can't unpack enough Democrats in poor urban areas.

      •  True, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        what the Citizen's redistricting did in California was to make the boundaries more contiguous and reasonable.

        Instead of packing a bunch of the Democrats or Republicans into one or two districts, and then by elimination have five or six districts that are overwhelmingly in favor of the other party, they are spread out so that each district is more competitive, without the giant lean in one direction or another with small pockets of resistance, or long arms reaching out to supporters.  

        Yes there still are strongholds of conservatism from the redistricting that happily vote conservative, but there were a lot of gerrymandered red districts that became very purple with redistricting.  The Result, Democrats now control two thirds of both legislative houses, and things are moving forward.  

        Using the California plan, I'm sure that a lot of new districts will turn purple or blue next cycle.  

        My point is that we need to work on a long term plan now, this effort started in California over ten years ago.

        ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

        by NevDem on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 09:48:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Time for Democrats to stop being ashamed... (10+ / 0-)

    of standing up for working people.

    To stop being ashamed of being Democrats.

  •  Legalize It (7+ / 0-)

        Certainly decriminalization of possession of marijuana, at the very least and as a first step toward legalization. In addition to being the right thing to do, this would solidify the party's appeal among younger voters.

  •  Cut and pasted (6+ / 0-)
    Do our favorite causes include a 90% income tax on income over $5,000,000, a .025% transaction tax on stocks and bonds, free education from pre-pre-K through grad school for those who have the ability to do academic work at that level, living wages for all employed people, federal investment in modern public transportation, federal investment in early childhood education, federal investment in utility infrastructure, complete separation of investment and consumer banking, government provided hostles, group homes and retirement villages for those who would otherwise be homeless, equity vesting for long term renters, nationalizing the extractive industries, government supported employment for anyone who can't find a job in the private sector, a 99% estate tax on bequests over $5,000,000, single payer medical care provided in part by the government (a la military health care), fully funded retirement for anyone working 20, 30 or 40 years full time (with a floor at the minimum living wage), a patrimony grant of $100,000 to all citizens upon reaching their age of emancipation, some form of universal service of a couple of years between the age of 18 and 28 and massive federal investment to mitigate the effects of catastrophic climate change?

    Just wondering...

    from here...

    I was thinking federal when I wrote it, some of the items could be implemented state by state.

    CharlieHipHop added

    A health care system that covers everyone from cradle to grave, a pubic health-oriented approach to the drug epidemic, legalization of soft drugs, de-emphasis on military hard power in favor of an intense focus on education and the promotion of creative solutions to problems, with sublime works of pure pleasure as a bi-product?
    in the replies

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:51:25 PM PDT

  •  renewable energy standards (9+ / 0-)

    are proven job-creators. Only 30 states have them, and many state laws are weak, calling for 10% - 15% of a state's electricity to be generated by renewable energy by 2020 or so.  

    A model RES would call for a RES of 25% or more, by 2020 or sooner.  It would have some room for state flexibility - Kansas has more interest in wind, Arizona has more room for solar. It would emphasize both use of existing technology (solar and wind) and some investment into less mature technology, but it would avoid the biomass morass that may have hurt Michigan's 25 x 25 measure last year. And it would reward in-state businesses.

    Do the math. #unfrackCal. @RL_Miller

    by RLMiller on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:52:03 PM PDT

  •  you've already identified the problem. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, Stude Dude, DSPS owl

    You've identified lots of nice issues, but over and over again the Democratic Party agenda is: Republicanism, just 15% less bad.  

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 05:52:13 PM PDT

  •  Very opportune article, Laura (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, DSPS owl
  •  might want to paint NV a different color (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fabucat, nancyjones

    The dems in the NV legislature are so busy being wined and dined by the casino and mining lobbyists that the ALEC zombies in the legislature just run amok introducing bills that cause you to wonder if you somehow landed on the Mississippi legislative website rather than Nevada's.

  •  City of Portland is trying to implement (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    foresterbob, fabucat, Odysseus, DSPS owl

    mandatory sick leave.  Moving slowly, with plenty of push back, but I think it will happen this year.  Then it will move to the state level.  Harder there, but eventually.  

  •  National level, these guys (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fabucat, Eric Nelson, Zinman

    Congressional Progressive Caucus,

    Maybe they have drafts?


    We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

    by Urban Owl on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:17:38 PM PDT

  •  Never has the expression... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All politics are local been more apt.

    Winning nation wide elections means nothing when you are controlled by the people amongst you.



    "Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." Marianne Williamson

    by Canadian Green Card Alien on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:22:20 PM PDT

  •  Texas (7+ / 0-)

    Please don't forget about Texas.  It will be Blue again.  We are a Purple People, just Gerrymandered to Hell Red.

    Houston has an openly Gay Mayor.  Texas is becoming very, very diverse with people who do expect good Governance and protection of the people's basic needs, such as food, clothing, healthcare, etc.  And come on... Austin?????

    Attack Texas with Democratic ideals (i.e. educate them on what they are) starting in the border counties and cities and work up and out from there.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:24:04 PM PDT

  •  Here are some items (8+ / 0-)

    Constitutionalizing the right to collective bargaining in every state constitution.

    State labor standards that exceed federal standards.  Working hours, overtime, vacation and sick leave, family leave, maternity leave, and so on.

    Ending the bribing of companies to relocate.

    Constitutionalizing public schools and not just requirements for education

    Constitutionalizing state responsibility for health care - right to health care

    Highly progressive state income tax

    Indexing gasoline taxes to CO2 levels.

    Elimination of meaningless fees

    Elimination of sales taxes

    Financial transaction tax

    Progressive real estate transaction tax exemptin most homeowner transactions

    Homestead tax exemption for elderly indexed to inflation

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:28:13 PM PDT

    •  Cap the elderly exemptions, please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Homestead exemptions for elderly without caps shift the tax burden to renters, businesses, etc.

      I would prefer to see income-based caps, or a zero-interest loan for all or part of the tax, to be repaid when then house changes hands, since the problem is not an elderly problem, but a low-income problem.

      We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had too much. JK Galbraith, 1991

      by Urban Owl on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:37:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Caps are fine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude, offgrid long as they are indexed.  The cap in NC right now is $25K, which is much too low but is that way because it was not indexed.

        There is no reason that a capped homestead exemption could not be combined with a zero-interest tax loan.  That essentially functions as a lien with whatever other liens are on the property.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:23:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Caps are a bad idea (0+ / 0-)

      we need a massive restructuring of local government to improve efficiency. Caps are a bandaid on a hemmorrhage. Why does Westchester County, NY need 48 independent school districts? The entire state of Maryland gets along perfectly well with just 24?

      •  Bandaid on a hemmorrhage (0+ / 0-)

        Yes.  Excellent point.  It's not the number of school districts that is the problem.  Consolidation creates a money-mindedness that often sacrifices students for supposed efficiency in spending.  And local government is more than schools, even though that currently is the largest expenditure.

        The orginal school districts were boards for a single school and no administrators.  The principal teacher of the school supervised the other teachers and taught as well.  High schools had separate districts from elementary schools.  And then there was an elected county superintendent who supervised the finances and allocated budgets to each school.

        No need for expensive school superintendents because the administrative complications were not that great.

        Another thing to consider in restructuring local government is given local governments responsibility for health care once again.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 08:52:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We can't afford that local model. (0+ / 0-)

          Property taxes in much of the northeast are at confiscatory levels. Our side has been losing suburban elections that we should be winning because the voters can't afford them.

          •  You are assuming that property taxes (0+ / 0-)

            need be the only way to finance local government.  I think that is up for debate.  And one of the items that needs to be discussed in relation to property taxes is all the tax incentives businesses get in offsets to property taxes for relocation.  It is very interesting to me that local governments could afford good services in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s but cannot now.  My impression is that individual homeowners are paying a greater share of property taxes now that they did then.

            The other issue is the balkanization of the tax base that sticks some communities with high-cost facilities that benefit other communities that do not pay their fair share.

            To my mind a highly progressive real estate transaction tax could be a good supplement to property taxes.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 02:47:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Several things have happened since the 70s (0+ / 0-)

              First, salaries of local government employees have increased enormously. That is a good thing, but you have to pay the bills.

              Second, most local governments did not put aside enough money to pay the promised pensions of those same local government employees. Those bills are coming due now.

              Third, local government has grown in part due to many more regulations -- school systems need more administrators than they needed 40 years ago, to deal with special education and curriculum mandates and the like. These are often good things, but the cost money.

              Individual homeowners are paying a higher share in places like California (the "Welcome, Stranger" provision of Prop 13), and in rust belt areas where industry has died.

              You are right about the Balkanization of the tax base; communities with nothing but residential development pay a fortune. But the large number of small jurisdictions for tax purposes also encourages suburban sprawl. One reason we have such low property taxes in NYC is that the Manhattan skyscrapers are taxed to the hilt, paying for the education of the children in the outer boroughs that are mostly residential.

              A real estate transaction tax would be a disastrous idea. It is difficult enough to save up to buy a home today if you don't have inherited wealth, and a transfer tax -- especially one that is progressive -- would make that situation even worse.

              •  A progressive real estate transaction tax (0+ / 0-)

                ...would increase the tax rate the larger the transaction.  There are already real estate transaction taxes imposed as fees.  Those could be eliminated.  So that the net effect would be to lower the taxes paid on transactions of, say, under $1 million and increase them on transactions over say $50 milllion.   What it does is increases the cost of property flipping that can create bubbles.

                The transaction tax comes when the property is sold.  And if it is indexed to inflation, it would be against the current real value of the property, which for most residential properties would be relatively unchanged unless there was dramatic improvement in a neighborhood.

                50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                by TarheelDem on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 11:18:39 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Re: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, cocinero

    It's amazing that we can manage our checking and savings accounts from my phone, but we still have to either wait in line or mail an absentee ballot in order to vote, and we still can't audit our contribution to the tally to ensure our votes were properly recorded.

    When God gives you lemons, you find a new god.

    by Patrick Costighan on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:38:25 PM PDT

  •  States race to the bottom for corporate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    favor is only increasing pressure on expansion of the federal government.

  •  You can make Jersey Blue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But you can't  turn   Chris Christie's veto power blue.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 06:44:23 PM PDT

  •  Another area of concern is the judiciary top to.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, Stude Dude

    ..bottom ( Fed to state iow's) that the GOP has focused on and where the Dems need to drive hard:
    Maddow Blog - By Steve Benen - Wed Mar 6, 2013 12:43 PM EST

    So, how's that agreement to limit filibusters and prevent mindless Republican obstructionism working out?
    Senate Republicans on Tuesday filibustered the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, blocking a nominee tapped last year by President Obama to serve on one of the country's most powerful courts.

    Tuesday's final roll call vote on cutting off debate was 54 to 45. One Republican -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) -- joined all 53 members of the Democratic caucus in voting to move ahead with Halligan's nomination, leaving the former New York state solicitor general six votes short of the 60 votes necessary for ending debate.

    The broken process is becoming increasingly ridiculous. Halligan was clearly qualified, and Republicans spent the last decade insisting that to deny judicial nominees up-or-down votes is to tear at the fabric of American democracy.

    And yet, here we are. Republicans said Halligan's work on a New York case against gun manufacturers and her membership on a Bar Association panel that criticized Bush administration detainee policy necessarily meant Halligan does not deserve -- and cannot have -- a simple vote.

    Since the republicans are losing it as a national party they are taking it to the states ("sovereignty") by securing as many right wing judgeships as possible.

    Dems need to hit back imo.

    Time to revisit rule 22 and alter it Tom Harkins suggested:

    “That is why I developed my plan to amend the Standing Rules to permit a decreasing majority of Senators, over a period of days, to invoke cloture on a given matter."
  •  How about repealing right to work? n/t (4+ / 0-)

    "If you can't lower heaven, raise hell!" - Mother Jones

    by al ajnabee on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:00:34 PM PDT

  •  We do have organizations (4+ / 0-)

    that are developing a progressive agenda at the state level. The most important is the Progressive States Network.  It's unfortunate how little attention they get.

    A few thoughts:

    -A living wage for any business that makes it money from government - like contractors.

    -Requiring labor neutrality for contractors

    -Expanded labor rights (like card check, and a civil rights claim for violations of the right to unionize) for those employees not covered by federal labor law.

    -State banks

    -Ending state participation in the drug war

    -Higher penalties for mortgage companies who try to foreclose without proper documentation.

    -Expansion of abortion rights

    -Just cause employment

    -Workplace protections on the basis of LGBT status

    -Marriage equality

    -Public funding of elections

    -Rolling back neoliberal education deform, putting money into public schools

    -Increased taxation on the wealthy

    -Ending the death penalty and solitary confinement

    -Limits on the discretion of prosecutors

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

    by David Kaib on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:02:05 PM PDT

  •  A very depressing map. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    How did we Dems let so much real estate slip away?

  •  GOP agenda (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The question that needs to be asked is, "Where is the GOP nirvana?"  I'd like to pin the Republicans down and force them to give us examples of places where they think their medieval policies have produced a good outcome.  I can't think of one.

    How can we have a third party when we don't even have a second party?

    by Eagleye on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:06:12 PM PDT

  •  West Coast Bullet Train & Trade System (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DSPS owl

    We need faster long distance transit systems.  Ours are really antiquated.  It would be so practical to have high speed rail from Los Angeles to Seattle.  We have Amtrak but it is slow and hardly ever on time.  Please get us out of cars.

    Also we need better solutions for homelessness.  A trading system with municipalities or something like it where doing good work for a city results in a warm place to stay and food.  The homeless situation is completely out of control and we need to come up with solutions because it is about to get worse.  Homeless people should not feel invisible.  

  •  all electric high speed regional rail? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if the all blue states invested hard into high speed electric freight and passenger rail. from Norfolk to boston

    and SD - Seattle.

    and a regional green electric power grid.

    if these states were to say "No Coal Power, No Oil " wind, PV
    and storage.

  •  VA, NY, and AK are the wrong color (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude

    Rethugs have control of both houses of the VA legislature thanks to the Lt. Governor's tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

    And Rethugs also have control of the NY Senate thanks to dissident Democrats.

    However, in AK, Democrats control the Senate thanks to dissident Republicans. These things work both ways.  

  •  Corporations: (0+ / 0-)

    As long as campaign finance laws lets corporations funnel money hand over fist to candidates, none of these policy changes will occur.

    Even Democrats are beholden to the money brokers and lobbyists.

    The Republican agenda is just much more business oriented than the Democrats.

    Why do you think E-Verify isn't law? Neither side wants it. Dems and Republicans both want cheap illegal immigrant labor for their business supporters.

    •  This isn't true (0+ / 0-)

      and thank goodness. If it was, it would mean nothing would ever change, that there was literally nothing that could be done.

      Of course business gets a lot of what it wants, but it doesn't get everything.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 07:57:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Income tax reform... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib states that have an income tax is an item that should be at the top of the list.

    And what do I mean by reform?  I mean that in many states the income tax system is far from progressive.  An example that I recently saw here on DKos was mention that the top tax bracket in one state (Michigan?) kicks in at an annual income of around $16k.  Presumably, that isn't adjusted for inflation, which means that it just keeps on getting worse and worse and worse.

    So why don't Democrats in states that have a state income tax whose top bracket is insanely low campaign on this isue:  a tax cut for those in the lower middle and middle classes, and a tax increase on the wealthy.  It's a winning issue nationally, and it could be at the state level, as well.

    And then index the damn things for inflation.

    Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

    by TexasTom on Sun Mar 10, 2013 at 08:00:04 PM PDT

  •  The stuff that dreams are made of (0+ / 0-)

    With legislatures we know (Illinois!), as well as that map above, this article's headline might well have been Dream On.

    •  That's how establishment Republicans thought (0+ / 0-)

      before conservatives showed them that when you challenge what seems unassailable, it shifts what is possible.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 04:13:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That map should be population adjusted: (0+ / 0-)

    If I was a low information voter who wanted to be part of the "cool kid crowd" and saw that map, I'd definitely align with the Republicans.

    Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. -Abraham Lincoln

    by jexter on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 02:21:23 AM PDT

  •  a Progressive state agenda? (0+ / 0-)
    there's plenty Democrats could do that's not about taxes but would (unlike all those Republican laws) make people's lives better, as we'll discuss below the fold.
    The very first item in your list of republicans "awful package of laws" was "laws restricting women's reproductive freedom", yet in your list below the fold, a response to that was nowhere to be found!

    This one topic is illustrative of the one of Democrats main problems - not forcefully taking a stand and making our case. There is too much of the Harry Reid style wimpyness in the party, too much willingness to compromise. If the problem is 2+2=?, and the republicans say the answer is 5, the democrats are too willing to say, ok we know the answer is 4, but we'll never convince them, so we'll agree to say it is 4.5. BULLSHIT! Stand up and make your case!

    Now back to abortion rights - It is one of their central social conservative issues and they are dead wrong on it. And when combined with the broader reproductive freedom issue encompassing contraceptives and sex education, they are triple wrong. Taking the fully enlightened, educated and legal approach to the overall issue, as many northern European nations have, has proven to drastically reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortion rates, and to improve the social and economic health of the people.

    There is no other issue that the Republicans, at the state level, have been steamrolling out more forcefully, and no other more important or powerful issue with which to break the back of their conservative movement with.

    Now is the time to fight this issue.
    Now is the time to repeal the Hyde amendment.
    Now is the time to make all abortions legal.
    Now is the time to make comprehensive sex ed mandatory.
    Now is the time to make all contraceptives legal and available.

    Now is the time for the Democratic party to stand up and fight for what it knows is right!

  •  Democrats do not want to help us (0+ / 0-)

    I have been lurking on this site for a long time. When are people here going to wake up to the fact the democrats are different from the republicans in appearance only (in fact I find the republicans at least truthful -- they tell you they are going to screw you and do, the democrats tell you they will help and then screw you). Go back to the Clinton years (NAFTA, welfare "reform, repeal of Glass-Steigal) and the democrats have actually been worse then the republicans in all important things. Obama talks nice but then does nothing to prevent the republicans from doing what they want -- which is what the corporations want. Wake up America.

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