By Brian Goldstein
Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice
On December 14, 2012 Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Six months later, this incident remains seared in the nation’s consciousness. The tragedy at Sandy Hook joined the unfortunate list of other school shootings, like those at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School.
As Americans struggled to make sense of the tragedy, advocacy groups and policymakers in all levels of government developed political solutions they thought necessary to prevent this from happening again.
By Amanda Reiman
Drug Policy Alliance
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Behind a veiled claim of protecting the public, collateral sanctions continue to be heaped upon those arrested for using drugs. While these policies may be well intentioned, they are creating an inter-generational chain reaction that unjustly impacts entire communities for decades to come.
By Robert Cruickshank
The Merced Sun-Star lays out the current state of high speed rail politics in Congress, which is the same as it’s been since January 2011 – Republicans hate HSR and are doing everything in their power to kill it. What’s new are not the specific ways they are trying to kill it, but the rhetoric they are using. Central Valley Republicans, stung by unusually strong criticism of their anti-HSR actions by Valley institutions and newspapers, are trying to shift the blame onto the HSR project.
By Martin J. Bennett
The New York Times recently characterized the economic recovery that officially began in 2009 as a "golden era for corporate profits." Indeed, corporate profits doubled between 2008 and 2011 and reached a record high.
However, these increased profits have fueled inequality and come at the expense of worker compensation. Profits are now a larger share of total national income, and wages and benefits are a smaller share than at any time since the 1960s.
Over the last four decades productivity gains have overwhelmingly accrued to business and not labor. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that between 1973-2011 productivity increased by 80 percent, but median hourly compensation by only 11 percent.
By Anthony Wright
Yesterday, calling it a "big day for school kids, and a big day for Californians who don't have health care," Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2013-14 state budget along with historic legislation to expand Medi-Cal to over one million Californians, as well as key budget trailer bills that restore many dental services to over three million Californians and other key improvements in Medi-Cal.
By Randy Shaw
The Supreme Court's striking down DOMA and Prop 8 sent a powerful message about the ongoing power of grassroots movements to bring about social change. These rulings could not have come a decade ago. Then, even campaigns for domestic partnerships and civil unions were politically controversial. But the broader activist struggle for marriage equality brought the courts along, just as the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's brought legal rulings to support that struggle.
By Steve Smith
When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Because of what's known as the "Walmart Loophole," large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart's army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company's costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care - while Walmart gets off scot-free.
By Sarah Rose
California League of Conservation Voters
Like many Californians, I watched President Obama's announcement yesterday of a comprehensive plan to fight climate change with a great deal of pride in his leadership and in our state for leading the way on climate solutions. President Obama's plan begins to meet our moral obligation to protect future generations from climate change. The President's decision to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants is particularly important and is inspired in part by California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).
Currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from our nation's power plants despite the fact that they are its number one source.
By Dr. Wesley Mizutani
Advances in modern medicine have precipitated a revolution in the treatment of chronic health conditions. Californians diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, are no longer given the expectation that the progressive disability will end in a wheelchair.
Californians will only reap the benefits of these scientific breakthroughs, however, if the state Senate takes common-sense action now to ensure that all patients can have access to the treatments their doctors think best.
By Zelda Bronstein
In recent weeks a broad array of progressives has rallied opposition to Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated proposal to reduce the region's carbon emissions and still accommodate massive increases in jobs and population by encouraging dense infill development close to transit, i.e. Smart Growth. Drafted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Plan Bay Area claims to "be taking equity into account." However, the plan's own assessment concedes that its implementation "could result in residential or business disruption or displacement of substantial numbers of existing population and housing," and that those who cannot pay the "higher prices resulting from increased demand" for new housing and commercial space will be forced out.