The New Yorker:
Although rates of gun ownership, like rates of violent crime, are falling, the power of the gun lobby is not. Since 1980, forty-four states have passed some form of law that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside their homes for personal protection. (Five additional states had these laws before 1980. Illinois is the sole holdout.) A federal ban on the possession, transfer, or manufacture of semiautomatic assault weapons, passed in 1994, was allowed to expire in 2004. In 2005, Florida passed the Stand Your Ground law, an extension of the so-called castle doctrine, exonerating from prosecution citizens who use deadly force when confronted by an assailant, even if they could have retreated safely; Stand Your Ground laws expand that protection outside the home to any place that an individual “has a right to be.” Twenty-four states have passed similar laws.
What happens if the individual mandate falls, in one chart.
For health insurers, the worst-case scenario is one where the court overturns the mandate but still leaves standing the requirement that health plans accept all applicants. As less healthy Americans enrolled, premiums would most likely spike. America’s Health Insurance Plans rounds up the research that health-care economists have done, so far, estimating what striking the mandate would mean for health-care coverage and cost.
The State Integrity Investigation is an unprecedented, data-driven analysis of transparency and accountability in all 50 state governments. The Center has partnered with Global Integrity and Public Radio International to assign each state a letter grade — based on 300 government integrity indicators. No state received an A, and eight states failed
Milwaukee Police Call for Concealed-Carry Changes
Milwaukee police are asking state lawmakers to make changes to Wisconsin’s concealed-carry law:
Police say they see three main problems with the existing law, which took effect in November and made Wisconsin the 49th state to allow concealed carry:
First, straw purchases - buying a firearm for someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm - are a misdemeanor on a state level, not a felony as they are on a federal level.
Second, the requirements for a gun permit ignore the reality of plea bargains. Many habitual criminals legally qualify for, and could obtain, a concealed-carry permit because they were never convicted of a felony for which they were charged. […]
The third problem, police say, is that regardless of how many times people carry concealed without a permit - illegally - the offense never rises above a misdemeanor.
It still amazes me that, within the past year, it has become legal to carry guns into the Capitol and illegal to bring in cameras.
University of Wisconsin Professors Explain ALEC's Expanding Role In Public Education
Julie Underwood, dean of UW’s School of Education, and Julie Mead, professor in the School of Education, studied education-related legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a conservative group that develops “model legislation” to be implemented at the state level. After noticing that nearly identical bills were being presented in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio (states with Republican Governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures), the professors decided to look further into the influence the group has over legislation related to public education.
ALEC’s interest in education is ambitious and multifaceted, and includes promoting dozens of model acts to its legislative members (Ladner, LeFevre, & Lips, 2010). Proposed bills seek to influence teacher certification, teacher evaluation, collective bargaining, curriculum, funding, special education, student assessment, and numerous other education and education-related issues. Common throughout the bills are proposals to decrease local control of schools by democratically elected school boards while increasing access to all facets of education by private entities and corporations.
Despite a growing number of studies showing that charter schools, financed with public money and operating in 40 states, are often worse than traditional schools, the state and local organizations that issue charters and oversee the schools are too hesitant to shut them down. That has to change if the movement is to maintain its credibility.
--The New York Times, Shuttering Bad Charter Schools
It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.
--The New York Times, The Big Money Behind State Laws
CFED’s tenth annual Assets & Opportunities Scorecard was produced after studying wealth, poverty, and financial security. States are scored in five categories: financial assets and income, businesses and jobs, housing and homeownership, health care, and education. The interactive map provides data for each state.
America is not, in fact, a corporation. Making good economic policy isn’t at all like maximizing corporate profits. And businessmen — even great businessmen — do not, in general, have any special insights into what it takes to achieve economic recovery.
--Paul Krugman, America Isn’t a Corporation.
Five Things You Might Not Know About Public Employees
1. Education is by far the largest category of state and local government employment.
2. Outside of education, the public workforce has shrunk as a share of the population over the last three decades.
3. Public-sector workers earn less than their private-sector counterparts. See chart.
4. Public-sector workers also earn less than their private-sector counterparts when one counts both wages and benefits.
5. Labor costs make up a significant share (about 44%) of state and local spending. This reflects the fact that providing services is the primary business of states as well as school districts, cities, counties, and other local governments.
Learn more here.