Home / Politics / This week at progressive state blogs: Dark money in Ohio; progressivism doesn't hurt Calif. economy

This week at progressive state blogs: Dark money in Ohio; progressivism doesn't hurt Calif. economy

Cory Allen Heidelberger at Dakota Free Press writes—SB 59: Tourism Department Wants to Sell Ads at Rest Areas:

When the Governor says the state is short on money, what does a smart state agency do? Propose a way to get more money!

Enter the Department of Tourism, which proposes Senate Bill 59 to open up our Interstate rest stops to advertising. SB 59 authorizes Tourism to contract for ads “exhibited solely within the information center… not legible from the main traveled way.” SB 59 requires that Tourism spend that ad revenue on the rest area exhibits.

Dakota Free Press

I suspect any argument that we preserve rest areas as places where we can rest from our corporate overlords’ constant invasion of our mindspace will fall on cranked earbuds. The rest areas are already festooned with flyers for Wall Drug and Deadwood casinos. The trucks outside and the tourists milling about are all plastered with brand names and logos. Charging advertisers for placement of their ads inside the rest areas might actually recoup a little more of the indirect subsidy advertisers get for the billboards with which they blight our highway vistas.

Besides, South Dakota will do anything for an ever-elusive buck. So let’s go whole hog: where else besides the rest areas could South Dakota sell ads?

  • How about commercial decals on our Highway Patrol cars? “This sobriety checkpoint brought to you by Budweiser. Drink responsibly… or else!”
  • Amend our campaign finance laws to allow top donors to add their logos to their favorite legislators’ badges.
  • Let corporate lobbyists buy enhanced and gold registration badges: $40 still gets them their regular lobbyist badge, but for $80 they can wear enhanced badges with their corporate logo, and for $160 a pop they can get gold badges to stick on each legislator whose vote they get!

Senate Bill 59 will likely sail through our cash-strapped Legislature. Next up: naming rights for the rest areas.

BP at Green Mountain Daily of Vermont writes—Sec. of State Condos: good riddance to vote fraud commission:

Good riddance to the Advisory Commission on Election Fraud, but in the age of Trump and his GOP thugs, VT Sec. of State Condos says:We must be vigilant and focused on preserving our democracy.”

Green Mountain Daily of Vermont

The presidential advisory group launched last May by the Trump administration to root out imaginary voter fraud has been disbanded. The White House announced a week ago that the Department of Homeland Security would take over commission’s unfinished “work.”

From day one the so-called “Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and managed by vice chair Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was widely seen as a vehicle to purge voter rolls and suppress voters’ right to vote. In his position as Kansas Sec. of State Kobach advocated proof-of-citizenship requirements. He wholeheartedly endorsed Tump’s false assertion that if thousands had not voted illegally for president in New Hampshire he would have won the election’s popular vote. And let’s not forget to give proper credit to  New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) for animating that lie for the GOP early in the campaign, which, like a zombie, still shuffles around Trumpland.

lowkell at Blue Virginia writes—Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Requests Virginia Exemption from Trump Administration’s Offshore Drilling Plan:

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Governor-elect Ralph Northam today requested that Virginia be excluded from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s plans to expand offshore drilling off of all U.S. waters. The request follows Secretary Zinke’s announcement that Florida will be exempted from the plan.

Blue Virginia blog

“I grew up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and can tell you firsthand that the Chesapeake Bay and the Commonwealth’s ocean and coastal resources are every bit as ecologically and economically valuable as those of Florida, a state that was recently exempted from the leasing plan,” Governor-elect Northam writes. “I am encouraged by the decision to exempt Florida from the plan, and respectfully ask that the same exemption be made for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The governor-elect also calls on the agency to allow Virginians to participate in a series of hearings that will include the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore before the public comment period ending on March 9. Currently, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has proposed a single public meeting to take place in Richmond, nearly 100 miles from the coastal communities that will feel the impacts of the plan most.

Governor-elect Northam released a statement condemning the Trump administration’s plan earlier this month. In it, he noted the threats offshore drilling pose to Virginia’s major economic drivers including tourism, fishing, aquaculture, and our military installations.

Claire Zachary at NC Policy Watch writes—Trump administration pushes for wasteful, ineffective work requirements in Medicaid:

Yesterday, health care advocates in North Carolina and across the U.S. were officially alerted to yet another fight to ensure that people retain health coverage and access to care. While officials in the Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) are framing their new “Dear State Medicaid Director letter” as “new policy guidance for states to test community engagement for able-bodied adults,” the real purpose is to create work requirements and other barriers for people seeking to enroll in and keep their Medicaid coverage.


As North Carolina has not expanded Medicaid, the only adults who are eligible for coverage are pregnant women with incomes of up to 196 percent of the federal poverty level, parents and/or caretakers with incomes up to 44 percent of the federal poverty level, and the aged, blind and disabled.

However, North Carolina currently has a pending Section 1115 Waiver proposal before federal officials that would transform Medicaid. The amended waiver application has language referencing Carolina Caresor HB 662, which would increase access to Medicaid to adults up to 138 percent federal poverty. While Carolina Cares is awaiting legislative action from the General Assembly, it should be noted that Carolina Cares has language to impose work requirements if it should be enacted.

While perhaps superficially appealing at some level, the idea of formal, bureaucratic work requirements for Medicaid recipients has been shown time and again to be of no real value. Indeed, there is significant research from another safety net program (TANF) that debunks the CMS claim that work requirements somehow lift people out of poverty.

Sharayah Bower at Raging Chicken Press of Pennsylvania writes—A Snowflake’s Lament:

Has every generation that preceded mine felt as attacked and betrayed by their government as I’m feeling now? I’m sure in many ways they have…when they were forced to go to war. When their country told them to kill innocent people. When their banks didn’t give them their hard earned money back. When their country did not have enough jobs.  When their leaders were exposed as corrupt people.  When unfair laws were passed and used to oppress its people. Or when it took so long for good laws to be voiced and proposed—to be written—to be voted on—to be signed—to be respected—to be practiced. But these injustices were not overcome by brave people to make room for more injustices!


To no one’s surprise, Donald Trump recently signed a tax bill created to primarily benefit the wealthy.

Raging Chicken Press

Here is a brief summary of the injustices hidden in this tax bill that we will be fighting against in the years to come:

“The bill is expected to add around $1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, which Republicans plan to address by formally destroying the social safety net via “welfare reform” and a crackdown on what they like to call “health care entitlements.” The tax bill also opens the Arctic Wildlife Refuge up to oil and gas drilling and repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate, which means that a decade from now, 13 million fewer people will have health insurance. “[Jezebel]

Clearly, the consensus (at least from reputable news sources) is that this tax bill doesn’t look good for the majority of us. […]

Larry Buhl at Capital & Main of California writes—Study: California Economy Unhurt by Progressive Policies:

stateblogs, Capital & Main, CapitalandMain

In a direct rebuke to anyone using the term “job-killing regulations,” a recent study shows that a group of progressive policies enacted since 2011 have had no negative impact on the California economy. If anything, the report, “California is Working: The Effects of California’s Public Policy on Jobs and the Economy since 2011,” shows that California has done better than several states that have lower taxes and fewer regulations.

The report’s author, University of California, Berkeley Labor Center researcher Ian Perry, examined 51 progressive policy measures – including environment, safety net, taxation, infrastructure and housing – that Perry coins the “California Policy Model,” or CPM. These policies include laws that provide a path to a higher minimum wage, expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, raise taxes on corporations and promote California’s comprehensive and ambitious climate policy.

Perry chose 2011 as a starting point because that’s when Democrats captured majorities in the legislature as well as the governor’s office. Also that year, Proposition 25, which let Democrats approve a state budget with a simple majority vote rather than a two-thirds requirement, went into effect. That opened the floodgates to a wave of progressive policies that have been scorned by conservative politicians, pundits and think tanks. […]

Perry compared wage growth and employment growth in California with statistics from 19 Republican-controlled states. But he also had to create a legitimate control group to weight factors like California’s tech boom, which might have skewed economic results, or a Republican-controlled state’s downturn, which may not have been due to conservative policies. To combat an apples-to-avocados comparison, Perry used a “synthetic control” method to weight data from Republican states to create an alternate California (or alt-California) in which CPM had not been enacted.

Perry found that California – the real California with its CPM – enjoyed higher total employment, private sector employment and GDP than the 19 Republican states and alt-California. […]

Yellow Dog at Blue in the Bluegrass of Kentucky writes—Bevin to Quadriplegics: Get Up and Get to Work, You Lazy Takers!

No, I am not kidding.

Bevin’s supposed to make a “major healthcare announcement” at – though he’s unlikely to have much of an audience as Frankfort is supposed to get hit with an ice storm plus four inches of snow by then.

Blue in the Bluegrass

Governor I Got Mine Fuck You is eager to be the first governor to take advantage of new rules from the Orange Loser forcing everyone off Medicaid and into the salt mines, no exceptions.

In a letter to state Medicaid directors Thursday morning, the Trump administration announced that it would allow states to require Medicaid recipients to participate in a work program or other form of approved “community engagement” in order to retain their health benefits. While there will supposedly be exceptions for disabled people, allowing states to implement the work requirement is a terrible idea. As a disability lawyer and disabled person myself, I know this policy change will be disastrous for my community in a number of important ways. […]

And what about hundreds of thousands of bedridden seniors in nursing homes? Medicaid pays 80 percent of nursing home bills in this country. Maybe those oldsters could push brooms from their beds.

Also half of all childbirth costs.  Maybe the most efficient path there is not to expect newborns to actually haul coal, but just turn them into cold cuts for starving disabled miners to eat.

Cutting Medicaid – and that’s what this is, a massive cut in the health plan that supports children, the elderly and the disabled – is eating our seed corn.

A staffer at Colorado Pols writes—Walker Stapleton Captures Many Straws

The Mesa County Republican Party held a gubernatorial forum on Thursday night in Grand Junction that attracted every major Republican candidate to town.

Colorado Pols

At some point during Thursday’s event, the Mesa County Republicans held a “straw poll” vote to express their preference among the GOP candidates for Governor. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton apparently won the most straws, and his campaign was quick to pound its chest in an email announcement:

Last night we attended the Mesa County GOP Governors Straw poll. I’m so humbled by all of the support our campaign received and really enjoyed the opportunity we had to share our campaign’s vision for renewing and inspiring strength in Colorado.

The results of the straw poll were overwhelming: We won the straw poll with a sweeping majority! [Pols emphasis] Here were the totals:

Walker Stapleton      35
Greg Lopez                 16
Tom Tancredo            9
Vic Mitchell                 8
Doug Robinson          5
Cynthia Coffman       3
Steve Barlock             2

First off, it is a bit embarrassing for Colorado’s frigging STATE TREASURER to call this straw poll win a “sweeping majority.” Stapleton received 35 votes out of a total of 78, which works out to a little less than 45%. This is not a “sweeping majority” or even a regular plain-old “majority,” which can only occur when you receive more than half of the total votes cast. Stapleton’s margin here is what people who are supposed to be familiar with numbers — you know, like State Treasurers — would call a “plurality.” What we have here is some Donald Trump inauguration crowd math.

tomaswell at Louisiana Voice writes—John Neely Kennedy takes marching orders from the NRA, opposes stronger background checks for firearm ownership:

So, now Sen. John Kennedy is officially opposed to strengthening firearms fBACKGROUND CHECKS.

Louisiana Voices state blog

His newest proclamation (which really isn’t new at all) raises the obvious question of whether there is any level to which he will not stoop to kiss the ring of Donald Trump and the rest of the NRA-purchased Republicans who insist that it is never the time to discuss ways to curb the number of MASS SHOOTINGS that have plagued this country for the past 35 years.

Apparently, it wasn’t enough for Sen. John Kennedy to join fellow Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy in voting for the so-called tax “reform” bill that is so heavily weighted in favor of the very rich but now he has underscored that Gawd-awful CAMPAIGN AD in which he said, “…love is the answer but you oughta own a hand gun, just in case.”

He even repeated the phrase during a Senate committee hearing, saying it was an old saying from back in Louisiana though, to be honest, I don’t ever recall anyonebut Kennedy uttering such an inane statement.

So, obviously, while it is never the time to discuss a solution, it’s always the time to ensure that the mentally ill will have unfettered access to weapons.

Dave Bradley at Blog for Iowa writes—And Now The Bad News: Iowa Legislature Returns

Winter winds blow chillin’ cold. What blows even colder is the hearts of Iowa’s Republican Party. Next week they start part two of emptying out the state coffers – filled by taxes from you and I –  and handing it off to their donors.

Blog for Iowa logo

Next week they once more do nothing about the insane privatized Medicaid system that is now dedicated to enriching the management companies rather than helping the disabled and poor.

Next week they once more take a shot at taking away workers’ rights, lowering their pay and turning their retirement funds into a casino.

Next week Republicans in the Iowa legislature will once more try to take away the right to vote from valid voters in Iowa.

Next week Republicans will once more lower taxes for the rich in an attempt to emulate the smashingly successful economy in Kansas where they can’t even keep the schools open.

Once more Republicans in our legislature will cut spending for public schools in their continuing effort to privatize our education system.

And of course once more Republicans in the Iowa legislature will totally ignore the outbreak of public protests that will accompany their government for the oligarchs. If you didn’t notice, democracy died in Iowa many years back.

James Rowen at The Political Environment of Wisconsin writes—Ryan whitewashes Trump’s racism; Walker silent:

As I said yesterday, Paul Ryan is one of Trump’s leading GOP apologists and enablers, and today Ryan further degraded the office of House Speaker which puts him two heartbeats away from the Presidency by summoning up zero courage confronting our racist President’s destructive, ugly language.

state blogs, The Political Environment

“Very unfortunate…unhelpful…” is what Ryan could come up with. Those worthless adjectives cribbed from an online Thesaurus better cover a soaked newspaper or forgotten doctor’s appointment.

It’s how a teacher might talk to a parent at conference time if a six-year-old was taunting a classmate on the playground.

I also see nothing in response on either of Scott Walker’s Twitter feeds. I guess the brain trust’s polling isn’t done yet.

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