Pages tagged "abortion"


Abortion Rights Strategy, Government Accounting Rule, Corporations Hoarding Cash and More


The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. To join, click here.

Women’s Right to the Pill Act: Women seeking contraception, especially emergency contraception, continue to face refusals when they go to the pharmacy. The anti-abortion movement, in some states, has become the anti-contraception movement as well. The Women’s Right to the Pill Act solves the problem by requiring all pharmacies to fill lawful contraceptive prescriptions and stock emergency contraception for purchase over-the-counter.

New Abortion Rights Strategy in States and Localities: How can the abortion rights movement rebound from recent defeats in the states? By introducing and fighting for our own proactive state and local legislation. Proactive legislation grabs public and media attention, provides a series of hard news hooks, facilitates grassroots organizing, demonstrates political strength, and widens the political battlefield. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Top Ten Model Bills for Abortion Rights: Wednesday, January 27 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. The best way to defend against anti-abortion attacks is by going on the offensive, reframing the debate with proactive legislation, and putting the right wingers in a difficult political position. Join this webinar for ten good ideas how to do it.

New government accounting rule takes effect: State and local governments will now have to disclose how much revenue they lose to corporate tax breaks given in the name of economic development. Wonky but very important—the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 77.

Why are corporations hoarding trillions in cash? New York Times columnist Adam Davidson discusses an issue that’s crucial for all policymakers: corporations are holding onto cash at an unprecedented level instead of investing it in business expansion. This stunts the economy and blocks the growth of jobs. How can governments dissuade rich companies from standing still?

A Playbook for Abortion Rights: With 27 model bills and 2 model resolutions, our new Playbook for Abortion Rights is a unique resource for state and local policymakers. Click here to read a summary of the bills or to download the whole book.


New Abortion Rights Strategy in States and Localities

The battle over abortion rights legislation is being fought almost entirely at the state level, with skirmishes in localities. This will most likely continue to be true for years to come.

The anti-abortion forces understand this dynamic, have focused their resources on state legislation, and over the past five years have enacted more than 300 new abortion restrictions in the states.

How can the abortion rights movement reverse the trend? By introducing and fighting for our own proactive state and local legislation. (Spoiler alert: that legislation is right here.)

Read more

Abortion Rights, Financial Protection, Drug Offenders and More

Newer_PLI_banner.png


The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. To join, click here.

Rape Survivor Information Act: Emergency contraception (EC) is exceptionally effective in preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. Any woman who reports to law enforcement or college authorities that she has been sexually assaulted ought to be informed about ECs. State and local lawmakers can require it with the Rape Survivor Information Act.

California cracked down on fraudulent Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), shouldn’t you? CPCs are offices that purport to offer women comprehensive and unbiased reproductive health care information and services, but their mission is to say anything—whether truthful or not—to prevent women from obtaining abortions. There are three ways that lawmakers can address CPC fraud. Read about them on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Top Ten Model Bills for Abortion Rights: Wednesday, January 13 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. The best way to defend against anti-abortion attacks is by going on the offensive, reframing the debate with proactive legislation, and putting the right wingers in a difficult political position. Join this webinar for ten good ideas how to do it.

States are lifting restriction on SNAP and TANF for drug offenders: A 1996 federal law lets states decide whether to include ex-drug offenders in food stamp and welfare programs. A story from Pew notes that states are realizing, if the goal is to help ex-offenders go straight, it makes no sense to impoverish and starve them.

Protections from abuses in the credit and collections industries: The National Consumer Law Center has a great new model bill, the Family Financial Protection Act. It levels the playing field between consumers and debt collectors, among other important consumer reforms.

A Playbook for Abortion Rights: With 27 model bills and 2 model resolutions, our new Playbook for Abortion Rights is a one-of-a-kind resource for state and local policymakers. Click here to read a summary of the bills and download the whole book.


California cracked down on fraudulent Crisis Pregnancy Centers, shouldn’t your jurisdiction?

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are facilities that purport to offer women comprehensive and unbiased reproductive health care information and services, but their mission is to say whatever it takes to prevent women from obtaining abortions.

“CPCs are generally staffed by volunteers committed to [their interpretation of] Christian beliefs but who lack medical training,” explains an article in the Cardozo Law Review. Nevertheless, CPC staff and volunteers, sometimes dressed like doctors and nurses, counsel and serve women as if they were medical professionals.

There are about 2,500 Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the United States, and in some parts of the country, CPCs outnumber legitimate abortion clinics by far. For example, while 95 percent of Minnesota counties do not have an abortion provider, there are over 90 CPCs in the state; crisis pregnancy centers outnumber abortion providers by almost 15 to 1. In North Carolina, CPCs outnumber abortion providers by 4 to 1. Many CPCs are intentionally located near actual abortion providers, display misleading signage, and use false advertising to deceive women about their mission.

Read more

Reproductive Rights Messaging

 

Anti-choice activists prefer to frame the entire reproductive health debate around abortion because it helps cloak their real agenda, which is to not only ban abortion, but birth control and other reproductive health options as well. In fact, the vast majority of Americans support commonsense reproductive health policies, especially those that reduce unintended pregnancy, and they would prefer a broader discussion on the issue.

A broader view of reproductive health, one that goes beyond abortion, is also consistent with what it means to be pro-choice, which is to support everyone’s right to safely and effectively prevent a pregnancy, end a pregnancy, have a healthy child, or place a child for adoption.

Much of this section relies heavily on and in some cases comes verbatim from the Moving Forwardproject, a collaboration of the Women Donors Network and the Communications Consortium Media Center. 

Say . . .

I believe people need to make their own important life decisions for themselves and their families. These include decisions about whether and when to become a parent. To make these decisions responsibly, individuals need access to medically accurate information, birth control, and, when necessary, abortion. All Americans should have the freedom and the opportunity to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

Why . . .

Research indicates that important life decisions is a very effective frame to use with persuadable voters. It is broad enough to allow you to transition the discussion beyond just abortion to the full range of reproductive health options. Talking about decisions instead of choice lends the appropriate level of seriousness to the issue and conveys that women and their families are deliberate and thoughtful when making potentially life-altering personal decisions. 

Too often, progressives use pro-choice and anti-choice as shorthand jargon to capture the full set of reproductive health issues. That’s okay when talking to progressive base voters. But when regular voters, especially persuadable voters, hear these terms they do not assign the same meaning to them as we do. They hear them as political terms in a debate they’ve heard over and over. They think they already know what you’re trying to say and essentially stop listening. Use language that helps persuadable voters understand that the issue has changed and reproductive health matters they thought were long past debate are under continuous attack

The core message above incorporates four values elements that you should also employ separately.

(1) Personal responsibility and a responsible government:

Say . . .

People need information and options so they can have the opportunity to make responsible life decisions. But we also need responsible government to provide safe, affordable and readily available options. 

(2) Protection, planning and prevention: 

Say . . .

People should have the ability to plan when they want to start a family, protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, and prevent serious problems in the future. These are important life decisions that everyone should make for themselves. 

(3) Respect: 

Say . . .

We need to respect people’s ability to make their own life decisions and not impose our beliefs upon others. We should each appreciate and respect our individual opinions. Sometimes, we just have to agree to disagree. 

(4) Individual decision making: 

Say . . .

Individuals should be able to have the freedom and opportunity to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

Why . . .

Each of these statements demonstrates that you empathize with most people’s views that important life decisions are complex matters. They also embody four key values that should be communicated during any discussion on reproductive health: responsibility, opportunity, respect and freedom.

Here’s another way to talk about responsibility

Say . . .

A responsible government would focus on reducing the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting women who choose adoption and making childbirth safer. 

Why . . .

Polls demonstrate that Americans want to help prevent unintended pregnancies, making abortion less necessary. Here is another way to address the value of respect

Say . . .

I appreciate that this is a complex issue. In fact, there are many medical reasons why women might need abortions, including high-risk pregnancies that endanger a woman’s life, and miscarriages. We need to respect the difficult life decisions that can only be made by a woman and her doctor. 

Why . . .

Some voters don’t think about the circumstances that might make abortion the best medical decision. This version reminds them. 

Don’t say . . .

Say . . .

Choice

Prevention (by itself)

Unplanned pregnancy

Preventing abortion 

Personal responsibility (by itself)

Emergency contraception (by itself)

Who decides?

Conscience clause

Pro-life, Right-to-Life, Anti-abortion

Important life decisions, choices (implies broader frame)

Protection, planning and prevention

Unintended, unwanted pregnancy

Preventing unintended, unwanted pregnancy

Personal responsibility, responsible government

Birth control options, including emergency birth control

Personal decision-making

Refusal clause 

Why . . .

Above all, don’t limit the conversation to abortion. When Americans hear the word choice, they don’t necessarily associate it with right wing attempts to limit access to birth control and unbiased information about reproductive health. And voters very strongly support access to birth control and unbiased information. Use language—like important life decisions—that broadens the conversation to include the full range of reproductive health options that go beyond abortion and the fact that our anti-choice opponents are also cutting services and programs that would actually prevent unintended pregnancy.

In 2012, federal rules re-confirmed that churches would not be required to offer insurance coverage for birth control to church employees. But corporations that run hospitals and universities, including those affiliated with a church, would have to make insurance-covered birth control available so female employees will have the choice whether or not to use it as their method of family planning. 

Say . . .

I strongly support freedom of religion. Sometimes churches control corporations that run gigantic hospitals and universities, employing thousands of people of all faiths. Federal law, now being challenged in court, says those corporations are not allowed to discriminate when it comes to individual employees’ access to birth control. I agree with that rule because it is female employees of different faiths, not their corporate employers, who should have the religious freedom to make personal decisions about their private use of birth control. We need to respect people’s ability to make their own life decisions and not impose our views on others. Sometimes, we just have to agree to disagree. 

Why . . .

Anti-choice advocates like to call the idea of denying coverage a conscience clause, which in this case refers to the conscience of the corporation that runs the hospital or university. You should use a more accurate term—it is a refusal clause. Also keep in mind that birth control polls a little better thancontraception.

Conservatives control the majority of state legislatures and, as a result, have pursued a very aggressive strategy to restrict women’s reproductive health, including attempts to ban abortion outright. The rest of this section focuses on the most common anti-choice efforts, and how you can use the values and messages described above to answer the right wing’s many arguments.

Right wing strategy: Children don’t need sex ed in schools, they need parents for that: 

Say . . .

Young people deserve complete, medically accurate information about sexuality so they can make responsible decisions. Schools can do a good job, probably better than most parents, of providing comprehensive sex education—on the biological, medical and scientific facts. But it’s still the parents’ job to provide kids with moral and ethical guidance. Comprehensive sex ed doesn’t take away from that. We need to do both. 

Right wing strategy: Emergency contraception causes an abortion and should be banned: 

Say . . .

Emergency contraception, also called Plan B or the morning after pill, is birth control women can use up to five days after unprotected sex. It does not cause an abortion. People should be able to plan when they’re ready to start or expand a family. And when that plan doesn’t work, they should be free to make the decision to use safe, tested options, such as emergency birth control, to prevent pregnancy. 

Right wing strategy: We should ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy (or earlier): 

Say . . .

People need to make their own important life decisions for themselves and their families. This legislation is part of an effort to ban all abortions under all circumstances, something that Americans overwhelmingly oppose. There is no medical or scientific evidence to support the arguments behind this proposal. Rather, this legislation would hurt women and families who are facing heart-wrenching loss and unimaginable pregnancy complications. We need to respect people’s ability to make their own life decisions and not impose our beliefs on others. They should have the freedom and opportunity to make the difficult decisions for themselves. 

Right wing strategy: We should enact “personhood” and “fetal pain” laws (that would give a fertilized egg the same legal rights as a person):                                                                  

Say . . .

We need responsible government to provide safe, affordable and readily available options. This proposal is irresponsible and even dangerous for women and families. It would ban abortions even for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest. But it wouldn’t stop there—if passed, you wouldn’t have access to the range of birth control you have now. Emergency birth control wouldn’t be available. Women who suffer miscarriage could be under investigation. And, the government would be able to interfere in a family’s personal decisions about fertility treatment. To make important life decisions, people need access to accurate information and appropriate medical care—not overreaching laws. 

Right wing strategy: We should enact Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws: 

Say . . .

People should have the ability to plan when they want to start a family, protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, and prevent serious problems in the future. These TRAP laws are designed to take away the opportunity for protection, planning and prevention. They single out women’s health centers and doctors who provide abortion services, placing severe requirements on them for the purpose of forcing them to close. That means women lose the opportunity to protect their own health and doctors lose the freedom to provide essential health services—we all lose. People need information and options so they can make responsible decisions. But we also need responsible government to make sure people can access safe, affordable and readily available services. 

Right wing strategy: We should enact waiting periods for abortion: 

Say . . .

We need to respect people’s ability to make their own life decisions and not impose our beliefs upon others. Waiting periods are nothing more than an effort to harass and shame women who have already made the difficult decision to end a pregnancy. They put emotional and financial strain on women and families, often requiring them to pay more for travel, hotel and childcare, and to take more time off from work. And they don’t cause women to change their minds about their decision. We need to respect the fact that women are capable of carefully considering and making decisions about important life events. What we don’t need is irresponsible government action that puts roadblocks in the way of people’s ability to plan for when they want to start or expand a family. 

Right wing strategy: We should require “rape insurance”: 

Say . . .

People need information and options so they can have the opportunity to make responsible life decisions. We also need responsible government to provide safe, affordable and readily available options. This legislation is completely irresponsible—it would ban health insurance plans from covering abortion and, instead, require women to purchase additional insurance riders to cover abortion care if they face an unintended pregnancy. [Most of] these laws do not provide anyexceptions for women who become pregnant as the result of rape or incest—meaning women must anticipate that they might be victims of abuse. In most cases, insurance riders are simply not available—you can’t buy them. This is nothing more than a ploy to deny women the freedom and opportunity to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

Right wing strategy: We should impose ultrasound/sonogram requirements: 

Say . . .

People need to make their own important life decisions for themselves and their families, including decisions about whether and when to become a parent. Mandating that a woman have a forced ultrasound/sonogram after she’s already made the difficult decision to end a pregnancy is invasive to the extreme. This proposal would do nothing to change a woman’s mind about ending her pregnancy. It would instead force an unnecessary medical procedure and drive up the cost of care. I believe we need responsible government leaders who will work to prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. But once a woman is faced with an unwanted pregnancy and has made the decision to end it, we need to respect her ability to make her own important life decisions. 

Right wing strategy: We should cut family planning programs:

Say . . .

People should have the ability to plan when they want to start a family, protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, and prevent serious problems in the future. This proposal would make planning, protections and prevention much harder. Clinics that provide family planning services do more than dispense birth control—they provide many women with primary care, including vital health screenings and other basic services. There is a cost to every individual who cannot prevent an unintended pregnancy or get an early cancer diagnosis. And there is a cost to our state’s taxpayers, who will have to pay for unplanned births and the medical expenses for cancer and other diseases caught too late. Planning and intervention are important for improving lives and preventing serious problems in the future.

Right wing strategy: We should require parental involvement in abortion decisions:

Say . . .

Young people need information and options so they can have the opportunity to make responsible life decisions. We hope they can get their information from caring, responsible parents who will help them prevent unintended pregnancy, or help them navigate the range of decisions they will have to make if they do get pregnant unintentionally. However, we live in the real world, where every parent is not caring and responsible. When that’s the case, the government needs to be the responsible one and make sure young people can seek the advice of trained medical professionals who can help them navigate the full set of potentially life-altering decisions they’ll have to consider.

Right wing strategy: We should ban Medicaid funding for abortions:

Say . . .

We need to respect the ability of women to carefully consider and thoughtfully make their own life decisions. We should not impose our beliefs on others—certainly not by imposing funding restrictions for reproductive care on families that face constant financial burden. We expect everyone to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions. That means government must be responsible too and provide safe, affordable and readily available options. 

Right-wing argument: There are too many abortions, and that’s why we need to end it. 

Say . . .

We need to focus on reducing the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancies, supporting women who choose adoption, and making childbirth safer. And in fact, because our country has increased access to birth control and improved the health curriculum in schools, the abortion rate is now the lowest it’s been in 40 years. I believe that individuals and families have to make the important life decision when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. They’ll make their decision based on their individual circumstances—their responsibilities, relationship, economic status, and many other factors. It is the government’s responsibility to put programs in place that help prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. If that fails, we need to ensure that people can make deeply personal choices, whether that is to end a pregnancy, to have a child, or to have a child and place it for adoption.

Why . . .

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011 the U.S. reached its lowest abortion rate since 1973. The right wing argument is designed to frame the discussion around abortion in the abstract. The response brings it back to the individuals involved and the role and responsibility we all have in the decision-making process.


Reproductive Rights Policy

Our Progressive Vision: People need to make their own important life decisions for themselves and their families. These include decisions about whether and when to become a parent. To make these decisions responsibly, individuals need access to: (1) complete and medically accurate information; (2) birth control; (3) constitutionally protected abortion services; and (4) reasonable accommodations on the job to avoid discrimination based on a woman’s pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or childbirth.

In sum, all Americans should have the freedom and opportunity to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

Medically accurate information

Americans deserve medically accurate information about reproductive health so they can make responsible decisions. But anti-abortion advocates rely on falsehoods. Abortion does not cause cancer. Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion. Women’s ability to conceive does not shut down as the result of rape. States and cities should guarantee medically accurate information to women at hospitals and health care centers, and prevent consumer fraud, misrepresentation and outright lies from “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” It’s also important to provide comprehensive sex education to schoolchildren, since they may not have access to accurate information anywhere else.

Birth control

In recent years it has become clear that the anti-abortion agenda is as hostile to birth control as it is to abortion. But Americans overwhelmingly support access to birth control. States can and should guarantee emergency contraceptives to survivors of sexual assault, require pharmacies to stock emergency contraception, prohibit health care workers from refusing to issue or fill prescriptions for contraceptives, and provide greater access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), like IUDs and implants.

Access to abortion

The U.S. Constitution guarantees women the right to safe and legal abortion services without interference from politicians. And yet, there has been an onslaught of political efforts to erase this constitutional right. States should protect access to clinics that provide abortion services, eliminate restrictions that violate principles of informed consent, guarantee there are no double standards that hinder abortion clinics, allow all qualified providers to perform abortions or prescribe the abortion pill, mandate equity in abortion insurance coverage, and respect women’s abortion decisions.

No discrimination

Whether a woman carries a pregnancy to term, miscarries, or has an abortion, she should not be subject to any type of harassment or discrimination. Pregnant workers have been denied reasonable accommodations from their employers and forced to leave their jobs. Nursing mothers who need to express breast milk during the work day have been denied accommodations and been forced to choose between breast feeding and employment. None of this should be permitted which is why states and localities should adopt the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

 

FEATURED POLICIES

Truth in medicine

It is a prime tactic of the anti-abortion movement to deceive women and misrepresent medical facts about abortion. Most of the 2,500 “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs) across the United States are in business to deceive women who are seeking all-options medical care. Although all Americans have a First Amendment right to say what they want, truthful or not, states can and should enact legislation to prevent CPCs from lying about medical facts, misrepresenting themselves as licensed medical professionals, or committing consumer fraud in advertising.

Prevent anti-abortion violence and harassment

Clinics that offer reproductive health are continually subjected to violence, threats of violence and harassment. There have been 37 murders or attempted murders due to anti-abortion violence over the past four decades, as well as hundreds of bombings and arson attacks. Abortion providers, clinic workers and patients are, quite reasonably, afraid for their personal safety. That’s why states and localities should pass laws to comprehensively protect abortion clinics.

Increase the number of abortion providers

Both aspiration abortions and the abortion pill are extremely safe and simple. Aspiration abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the nation while medication abortion is safer than Tylenol, aspirin or Viagra. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends allowing advanced practice clinicians (APCs)—nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants—to perform aspiration abortions and supervise medication abortions. States should permit both.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that the state’s teen birth rate was nearly cut in half during the first five years of its Family Planning Initiative, which increases access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (IUDs and implants). Both the birth rate and abortion rate for women ages 15-19 fell 48 percent from 2009 through 2014. LARCs are 20 times more effective in preventing pregnancy than the pill, contraceptive patch, or vaginal ring, yet only 7.2 percent of women use LARCs. Every state and city should adopt policies to increase access to LARCs.

Fairness to pregnant workers

Federal law is supposed to prevent discrimination by employers against their pregnant employees. But loopholes and adverse court decisions mean that pregnancy discrimination continues. That’s why several states and localities have enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, commonsense legislation that allows pregnant women to continue working with limited accommodations, if warranted, as long as they don’t pose an undue hardship on businesses. Accommodations may mean use of a different chair, more frequent breaks, assistance with manual labor, temporary transfers to less hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth, or appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.


Keep Bosses Out, Ten Policy Myths, Take On Hate and More


The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. To join, click here.

Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act: Employees should be judged by their performance at work, without regard to their personal, private health care decisions. Yet, in recent years there have been a number of bosses retaliating against employees for their reproductive health care decisions. The Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act would prohibit employers from taking an adverse action against an employee based on the employee’s reproductive health decisions.

Can we talk about Assault Weapons? We all know that some guns should be banned or severely restricted. What about assault weapons like the AR-15 used to murder 14 in San Bernardino? There is more reason to ban this weapon than almost any other. Read why on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Ten myths that drive the enactment of failed policies, and how to separate fact from fiction: Wednesday, December 16 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. State and local governments are often trumpeted for policy innovation and expertise. Yet the reality is that, more often than not, they repeatedly enact failed policies that past research shows do not work. Professor David Schultz of Hamline University and the Minnesota School of Law will describe ten myths that have driven the enactment of failed policies and explain how to separate fact from fiction. Register for the webinar here.

“Take On Hate” Pledge: Welcoming Michigan and Take On Hate have launched a pledge campaign to show support for the state’s diversity, stand up for the values of equality and dignity, welcome refugees and immigrants, and condemn threats against them. You might consider this strategy in your own jurisdiction.

COMING VERY SOON—A Playbook for Abortion Rights! With 27 model bills and 2 model resolutions, our new Playbook for Abortion Rights will be a unique resource for both state and local policymakers. Click here for the Table of Contents with bill descriptions.

Latest Compendium of State and Local Legislation in 2015: What’s happened in 2015? Read about it in our Compendium. If you have additions to suggest, please contact mweiss@publicleadershipinstitute.org.


Job Piracy, Populist Platform, the Supreme Court and More


The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. To join, click here.

Job Piracy Cease Fire Act: Neighboring jurisdictions are continuously trying to steal jobs from one another by bribing employers to move. This is a horrible use of taxpayer funds and unfairly tilts the economic playing field to favor some companies over others. The Act prohibits a jurisdiction from offering subsidies to companies from jurisdictions that have enacted their own Job Piracy Cease Fire Act.

A Populist Platform for 2016: Want a policy platform to suggest to a lawmaker, candidate or advocacy organization? A simple one-page statement reflects American values and includes economic policies that are all wildly popular. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

How a new Supreme Court case impacts the abortion rights debate: Thursday, December 3 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Texas’ strict anti-abortion law and that case will have a major impact on abortion legislation everywhere. It could also affect the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. David Brown, an attorney working on this case for the Center for Reproductive Rights, will explain the case, its timeline, messaging, and will take all your questions. Register for the webinar here.

Podcasts from SSN: The Scholars Strategy Network has just launched its podcast, No Jargon. You can find it on iTunesStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. For example, check out Episode 6: Planned Parenthood, Abortion, and Birth Control.

Party affiliation determines position on Syrian refugees: There is huge split between Democrats (63% yes) and Republicans (68% no) on the question of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States. PollingReport provides the topline on this and related questions.

Latest Compendium of State and Local Legislation in 2015: What’s happened so far in 2015? Read about it in our Compendium. If you have additions to suggest, please contact mweiss@publicleadershipinstitute.org.


Worst state and local defeats so far this year

Our last blog listed some really great progressive victories in the states and localities so far this year. Now it’s time to face some grim music.

The fact is, state legislatures were more conservative in 2015 than they were in 2014, and far more conservative than they were in 2010. The 2010 and 2014 elections strengthened the right wing, and their leaders decided to take advantage of their new-found power.

Here are some particularly painful examples:

Guns—Progressives were pretty thoroughly out-gunned in state legislatures this year. Texas passed a law to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns on college campuses and then legalized “open carry.” Kansas allowed residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit or any training. Wisconsin eliminated its long-standing 48 hour waiting period for purchasing guns and allowed off-duty and retired police to carry concealed weapons in public schools. Louisiana enacted legislation to allow the National Rifle Association’s “gun safety” program to be taught in elementary schools. Georgia allowed carrying of concealed weapons in government buildings. Mississippi directed that anyone can transport a loaded pistol without any permit if it’s in a purse, handbag, briefcase or satchel. Maine permitted residents aged 21 or older to carry a concealed weapons without any license. There’s more, but let’s turn to the good side of the issue: Oregon enacted a law requiring universal background checks covering nearly all gun transfers, the sixth state to do so over the past two years.

Discrimination against LGBT people—Despite the historic victory for marriage in the Supreme Court and fine victories in some legislatures, most state LGBT legislation enacted this year promotes discrimination. Yes, Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was watered down following nationwide protests, but the final version—like another law passed in Arkansas—still encourages individuals and businesses to discriminate. New legislation in Michigan allows taxpayer-funded “faith based” adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples. The North Carolina legislature overrode the Governor’s veto to assure court officials that they can refuse to participate in same-sex marriages. Oklahoma, Texas and Utah enacted measures asserting that religious and nonprofit organizations can refuse services for same-sex marriages. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback rescinded rules that had protected state employees from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. And Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order asserting that companies, individuals and nonprofits can discriminate against same-sex married couples.

Privatization of public education—The worst education law this year is Nevada’s creation of the broadest school voucher scheme in the country, giving any student’s family about $5,000 toward private school tuition or even home schooling. Nevada also enacted a tuition tax credit bill that allows corporations to offset state taxes with donations to private school scholarship funds. Arizona passed a measure that will give all children living on Indian reservations access to private school vouchers. Montana’s legislature a bill, without the Governor’s signature, to provide tuition tax credits for donations to private education. And the Ohio budget increases the amounts of taxpayer dollars that voucher programs will pay to private schools.

Social services—Kansas enacted cruel limits on TANF recipients, reducing cash withdrawals and banning TANF funds for a long list of uses, including some absurd items like cruises, swimming pools and tattoos. The Missouri legislature overrode a governor’s veto to ratchet down the length of time that a family can have social services benefits and ramp up the requirements for low-income parents to get job training, do volunteer work or complete high school and vocational education. Similarly, Arizona, as part of their budget, reduced the lifetime limit for TANF recipients to the shortest window in the nation—twelve months.

“Right to Work” and Prevailing Wage—Wisconsin a so called “right-to-work” bill, making Wisconsin the 25th state with such a regressive law in place. (A “right-to-work bill passed by the Missouri legislature was killed with veto.) Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner launched an effort to create “right-to-work” zones that would let employees opt out of paying “fair share” fees, although the state Attorney General has said this plan is illegal. The Indiana Legislature repealed the state's 80-year-old prevailing wage law, becoming the first legislature to do so in 27 years. Nevada enacted a law suspending the state's prevailing wage rules on school construction projects. And West Virginia eliminated prevailing wage requirements for construction of public improvements.

Reproductive Rights—From January to June, states enacted no fewer than 51 abortion restrictions—some are being challenged in court. Kansas and Oklahoma became the first and second in the nation to ban the dilation and evacuation procedure that is used for most second-trimester abortions (legislation that is almost certainly unconstitutional). Arkansas and Arizona passed legislation that requires doctors to lie to their patients, telling them that they could potentially reverse the effects of a medication abortion, even though there is no scientific merit to that assertion. Oklahoma and North Carolina required a 72 hour waiting period before a woman could obtain an abortion, while Arkansas and Tennessee imposed 48 hour waiting periods. Arizona passed legislation that bars women on the federal health care exchange from receiving coverage for abortions and adds new reporting requirements for clinics that perform abortions. The West Virginia legislature overrode the governor’s veto to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.


LGBT Fairness, Minimum Wage, Confederate Symbols and More


The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

LGBT Fairness Act: Even though same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, in most of the U.S. it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT people. Both states and localities should enact the LGBT Fairness Act to prohibit discrimination in employment and housing.

This year’s top progressive victories in states and localities: While conservatives have had a very successful year in state legislatures, let’s focus on progressive victories and what we can learn from them. Read about the top progressive state and local victories of 2015 on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

Effective Messaging for Minimum Wage Campaigns: Thursday, July 16 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, noon Pacific. The National Employment Law Project is sponsoring a webinar featuring two of the nation’s top messaging strategists, Richard Kirsch of the Roosevelt Institute and Margy Waller of Topos Partnership. Register here.

What has happened in reproductive rights this year? The Guttmacher Institute regularly updates this list of Major Developments in 2015. It’s also a great place to get fact sheets about abortion, contraception and more.

Time to reconsider Confederate symbols in your own jurisdiction: Many states still allow the Confederate flag on license plates. Many places, not just in the South, have monuments to Confederate soldiers. Many schools and streets are named for Confederate, and even KKK, leaders. Isn’t it time to begin a conversation about whether it is appropriate for any U.S. government to symbolically honor them?

Going to the National Conference of State Legislatures, August 3-6 in Seattle? The Public Leadership Institute will passing out copies of the Progressive Agenda and Voicing Our Values in the Exhibition Hall, booth 1205. Come visit with us! 


1  2  Next →

Download Books