Much of the national media debate and political activism in our country focuses almost exclusively on Congress and the federal government, but as a brand new report from the Progressive States Network shows, progressives used state legislatures this year to make major gains on the entire panoply of economic, social and even national security issues. This interim report on the 2007 state legislative sessions will be the subject of a forum in Washington, D.C. this Thursday being sponsored by Progressive States and the Center for American Progress.
The event, which is open to the public, will go from 9am to 11am on Thursday, June 14th at the Center for American Progress's offices at 1333 H St., NW (10th floor). If you are in DC on Thursday and would like to attend, just RSVP for the event here. Speakers include State Senator Joe Bolkcom (Iowa-39), State Senator Karen Keiser (Washington-33); State Delegate Heather Mizeur (Maryland-20); Joel Barkin, Executive Director of the Progressive States Network; and Diallo Brooks, Director of Legislator Relations, Center for Policy Alternatives.
These legislators represent states that have done some really incredible things in 2007, as you can see from Progressive States' new report. For instance, Maryland passed the nation's first ever statewide living wage law. In Washington, the legislature passed a bill expanding health care for up to 38,000 children, and made the state only the second to offer paid family leave. Iowa passed legislation calling for the state to have renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel meet 25 percent of in-state fuel needs by 2020.
For too long, the conservative movement has dominated the state legislative arena - in part because the national progressive movement has focused its energies almost exclusively on Congress. But as progress in Washington, D.C. is stymied by partisan conflict and special interests, organizations like the Progressive States Network are joining with courageous state lawmakers to fight back - and notch real wins for the progressive movement and America at large. Download the new report here - and if you are in DC on Thursday, come to the event.
DISCLOSURE: I am a founder and co-chair of the board of the Progressive States Network. I helped start the organization out of my belief that the progressive movement needs to focus far more of its energies on the state legislative arena.