Author Archives: afscme

Will the Supreme Court Be Left Behind on Gay Marriage?

Source: Nan Hunter, Nation, March 4, 2013

In case you haven’t noticed, the biggest question facing the Supreme Court when it decides the gay marriage cases this spring has become whether it can rise to the level of LGBT rights ferocity already achieved by American business leaders, moderate Republicans and the Obama administration. By the end of last week, when all the amicus briefs in support of striking down California’s Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had been filed, support for marriage equality seemed to have been transformed into the new normal—at least outside the confines of the Court.

In fact, judging from the press coverage of the briefs, if the justices don’t rule in favor of gay marriage, it is the Court that will look bad. This perception is an incredible achievement, a brilliant exercise in political framing by the lawyers and legal organizations behind the two cases, who mobilized the amicus show of force. The business brief and the Republican brief, especially, are clearly designed to provide political cover for the Court’s five conservative Justices.

While nothing is certain, there is virtually unanimous agreement among lawyers and law professors that the tougher case for gay rights groups is the challenge to Prop 8 rather than the one to DOMA. The Prop 8 case raises the question of whether all of the forty other state laws banning gay marriage are constitutional, while DOMA implicates only a federal recognition policy that leaves variance in state laws intact….
The Same-Sex Marriage Cases: A Primer
Source: Erica Ryan, NPR, March 25, 2013

Special Feature: Same-Sex Marriage

Source: SCOTUSblog, 2013

Friend-of-the-Court Briefs Submitted by Williams Institute Scholars in Two Marriage-Related Cases Pending Before the U.S. Supreme Court

Source: Williams Institute, March 2013

Marriage for Same-Sex Couples
Source: ACLU, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage: A Selective Bibliography of the Legal Literature
Source: Paul Axel-Lute, Rutgers Law Library, originally published September 2002, last updated October 19, 2012

Inside the Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Supreme Court Case: Recordings of Oral Arguments, Plaintiffs
Source: Democracy Now, March 27, 2013

Listen to Full Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Read Transcript of Supreme Court Oral Arguments

2013 PA Recidivism Report

Source: Nicolette Bell, Kristofer Bret Bucklen, Kiminori Nakamura, Joseph Tomkiel, Angelo Santore, Lorraine Russell, Robert Orth, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Recidivism Report, 2013

One in 200 adult Pennsylvanians is currently incarcerated in a Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution. Ninety percent of the inmates currently in a Pennsylvania state prison will eventually be released. According to findings in this report, a large proportion of those released will return to some sort of offending behavior. This report presents recidivism statistics for offenders released from the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Recidivism is measured by three different methods in this report: rearrest, reincarceration, and overall recidivism …

▪ Approximately 6 in 10 released inmates recidivate (are rearrested or reincarcerated) within three years of release from prison.
▪ Overall recidivism rates have been stable over the last ten years.
▪ Rearrest rates have been slowly increasing over the last ten years.
▪ Reincarceration rates peaked around 2005 and began to decline in the most recent years.
▪ Despite a drop starting in 2005, reincarceration rates were slightly higher in the most recent years than they were in 1990.
▪ Offenders returning to urban areas are more likely to be rearrested, however those returning
to rural areas are more likely to be reincarcerated.
▪ Dauphin County reports the highest overall recidivism rates.
▪ Released inmates do not appear to heavily specialize in the same crime type when they reoffend. The most specialized type of recidivist is the property offender. The least specialized type of recidivist is the violent offender.
▪ Released inmates are more likely to be reincarcerated (mostly for technical parole violations) than rearrested during the first 18 months after release from prison, and thereafter are significantly more likely to be rearrested….
▪ Inmates who are released under parole supervision are more likely to be reincarcerated, however, less likely to be rearrested for a new offense than their counterparts who complete their maximum sentence (max outs).
▪ Nearly two-thirds of all reincarcerations within three years of release from prison are for technical parole violations.
▪ Those released inmates who are paroled after failing parole at least once in the past have a recidivism rate of about 12 percentage points higher than those who are released onto parole for the first time.
▪ PA DOC can save approximately $44.7 million annually by reducing its 1-year reincarceration rate by 10 percentage points.
▪ PA DOC can save approximately $16.5 million annually by reducing admissions to state prison who are recidivists by 10 percentage points….
▪ Overall recidivism rates for released inmates who transition through a Community Corrections Center (CCC) have generally declined since 2005.
▪ In most recent years, the rearrest rates for released offenders who are paroled to a Center are lower than for those who are paroled directly home (“to the street”), whereas reincarceration rates and overall recidivism rates are higher for those who are paroled to a Center compared to those who are paroled directly home (“to the street”).
▪ After accounting for other important differences which may affect whether a released inmate is paroled to a Center versus paroled directly home, those paroled to a Center still demonstrate a higher overall recidivism rate than those paroled directly home (65.7% vs. 61.2% respectively, for the most recent 3-year overall recidivism rates).
▪ Among those released offenders who survived at least six months in the community without recidivating, those who spent their first 3 to 6 months in a Center had a significantly lower 1-year overall recidivism rate than those who were paroled directly home (15% vs. 18%).

Union Health Plans Will Suffer under Obamacare

Source: James McGee, Labor Notes, March 18, 2013

…That model is “multiemployer health care plans,” bargained by unions and jointly administered with employers, that provide continuous coverage even for part-time and seasonal workers through periods of unemployment (see box below). Yet what should have been a model for health care reform now faces an uncertain future. Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tilts the playing field to disadvantage multiemployer plans, this decades-old gain of the labor movement may be irreparably damaged. …

In Wisconsin, When Bargaining Is Illegal, We Bargain ‘Informally’

Source: Dawn Tefft, Labor Notes, March 20, 2013

…Many state employee locals in Wisconsin have chosen not to bother with recertification. Locals in the American Federation of Teachers are adopting informal bargaining tactics for items that are off the table.

Employers agree to informal “consent bargaining” outside of contracts—through verbal agreements, memorandums of understanding, or changes in policy—when faced with strong locals. In Wisconsin, where dues check-off and even “fair share” are prohibited, strong locals are those that understand organizing at the grassroots level….

Earned Income Tax Credits in the States: Recent Developments, Good and Bad

Source: Citizens for Tax Justice, March 18, 2013

Note to Readers: This is the last in a six part series on tax reform in the states. Over the past several weeks CTJ’s partner organization, The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has highlighted tax reform proposals and looked at the policy trends that are gaining momentum in states across the country.

Lawmakers in at least six states have proposed effectively cutting taxes for moderate- and low-income working families through expanding, restoring or enacting new state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) (PDF). Unfortunately, state EITCs are also under attack in a handful of states where lawmakers are looking to reduce their benefit or even eliminate the credit altogether.

The federal EITC is widely recognized by experts and lawmakers across the political spectrum as an effective anti-poverty strategy. It was introduced in 1975 to provide targeted tax reductions to low-income workers and supplement low wages. Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia provide EITCs modeled on the federal credit. At the state level, EITCs play an important role in offsetting the regressive effects of state and local tax systems.

Federal Tax Reform: Effects on State and Local Governments

Source: Matthew Gardner, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, United States Senate for Hearing: “Tax Reform: What It Means for State and Local Tax and Fiscal Policy”, March 19, 2013

…Federal tax reform can affect state and local taxes in several ways. The federal government can create, repeal or change tax expenditures in a way that is passed on to the states because virtually every state has tax rules linked to the federal rules. The federal government can subsidize state and local governments’ ability to raise taxes and can subsidize their ability to borrow funds to finance capital investments. Finally, the federal government can regulate state and local governments’ ability to raise taxes in a way that coordinates and harmonizes their tax rules or in a way restricts their taxing power and makes their tax systems more complex.

My testimony makes four points.
1. Federal tax reform can provide state governments an opportunity to improve their finances by repealing or reducing tax expenditures.
2. The federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes is indeed a tax expenditure that reduces the amount of revenue collected by the federal personal income tax, but in many ways is more justified than many other tax expenditures.
3. The federal government’s practice of not taxing the interest income on state and local bonds is an inefficient way to subsidize state and local governments, and the President’s proposal to extend Build America Bonds would mitigate this problem.
4. When lawmakers consider legislation intended to coordinate tax rules among the states, they must distinguish proposals that will truly achieve this result (like the Marketplace Fairness Act) from those that simply restrict states’ taxing powers at the behest of corporate interests (like the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act). …

Preview of the 2013 Comprehensive Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts: Changes in Definitions and Presentations

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Survey of Current Business, Volume 93 Number 3, March 2013

As part of the 14th comprehensive revision of the NIPAs, to be released in July, a variety of changes will update the accounts to more accurately portray the evolving U.S. economy.

Projections of the Long-Term Growth of the Registered Nurse Workforce: A Regional Analysis

Source: Peter I. Buerhaus, Ulrike Muench, David I. Auerbach, Douglas O. Staiger, Nursing Economics, Vol. 31 no. 1, January-February 2013

From the summary:
– Providing regional projections of the RN workforce will allow underlying differences in the age structure of the RN workforce to become more visible.
– By providing regional-level projections, it will also be possible to identify those regions whose RN workforce is expected to grow at a slower rate relative to other regions.
– States in the South and Midwest have a greater supply of younger-aged RNs available to replace fewer numbers of older-age RNs compared to other regions.
– In contrast, the Northeast and West have fewer younger RNs currently in their workforce yet a relatively larger number of older age RNs to replace.
– These differences in age structure may be partly due to differences in nursing school enrollment and expansion in nursing education capacity across regions.
– This information can help guide national and state health work-force planners, employers, educators, and others in developing policies and initiatives that may impact nursing supply in their states.

Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care

Source: National Patient Safety Foundation, Lucian Leape Institute, 2013

From the abstract:
Workplace safety is inextricably linked to patient safety. Unless caregivers are given the protection, respect, and support they need, they are more likely to make errors, fail to follow safe practices, and not work well in teams.

This report looks at the current state of health care as a workplace, highlights vulnerabilities common in health care organizations, discusses the costs of inaction, and outlines what a healthy and safe workplace would look like. The report concludes with seven recommendations for actions that organizations need to pursue to effect real change.
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Executive Summary
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