Category Archives: Laws/Legislation

A Better Affirmative Action: State Universities That Created Alternatives to Racial Preferences

Source: Richard D. Kahlenberg, Halley Potter, Century Foundation, October 3, 2012

From the summary:
The U.S. Supreme Court case Fisher v. Texas could dramatically alter or eliminate race-based admissions policies at colleges and universities. In a new report, A Better Affirmative Action, Senior Fellow Richard Kahlenberg and Policy Associate Halley Potter look at alternatives to racial preferences in Affirmative Action.

An Overview of the Local Control Funding Formula

Source: Mac Taylor, Legislative Analyst’s Office, July 29, 2013

Chapter 47, Statutes of 2013 (AB 97, Committee on Budget)—enacted as part of the 2013‑14 budget package—made major changes both to the way the state allocates funding to school districts and the way the state supports and intervenes in underperforming districts. The legislation was the culmination of more than a decade of research and policy work on California’s K‑12 funding system. This report describes the major components of the legislation, with the first half of the report describing the state’s new funding formula and the second half describing the state’s new system of district support and intervention. Throughout the report, we focus primarily on how the legislation affects school districts, but we also mention some of the main effects on charter schools. (This report does not cover the new funding formula for county offices of education [COEs], which differs in significant ways from the new district formula.) The report answers many of the questions that have been raised in the aftermath of passage regarding the final decisions made by the Legislature and the Governor in crafting new K‑12 funding and accountability systems for California.

Are Shrinking Unions Making Workers Poorer?

Source: Emma Green, Atlantic, July 24 2013

Growing income inequality is a fact, but its cause is unclear…. The causal chain is so tempting: As unions get smaller, collective bargaining gets weaker, worker wages go down, and evil profiteers cackle…. But other factors muddy the issue. Some experts argue that growing workforce automation, the global reach of the economy, and the need for high-skill labor has diminished the power of collective bargaining and cut into workers’ wages. If there’s cheap labor available in Bangladesh, why would an American company pay workers significantly more to do the same work? In the face of a cheap global labor pool, unions have less ammunition against employers, and U.S. workers also get paid less, regardless….

…Still, the fact remains that full-time workers who belong to unions make more money than those who don’t: On average, union members make about $200 more per week than their counterparts. This figure is influenced by lots of factors, including differences in average salary in regions with low levels of unionization. But even bearing that in mind, research shows that in “right to work” states, where employees cannot be required to pay union dues as a condition of their employment, workers get paid less than the rest of the country. That was true even when business grew in “right to work” states, indicating that weakening unions might help business owners, but it doesn’t do much for workers. (This Washington Post article gives a great overview of the economic effects of “right to work” legislation). …

State Regulatory Oversight of Certified Nursing Assistants and Resident Outcomes

Source: Alison M. Trinkoff, Meg Johantgen, Nancy Lerner, Carla L. Storr, Kihye Han, Kathleen McElroy, Journal of Nursing Regulation, Vol. 3 No. 4, January 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study aimed to describe state regulatory certified nursing assistant (CNA) oversight in two domains—use of registry or licensing for credentialing and initial CNA training and continuing education (CE) requirements—and to evaluate whether CNA oversight is associated with resident outcomes in nursing homes. This cross-sectional secondary analysis combined 2004 data on state-level regulatory requirements for CNA oversight, training, and CE with nursing home resident outcomes data collected in 2004 from 16,125 U.S. facilities in 49 states. Though 26 states required CNAs to have more initial training hours than the federal requirement of 75 hours, only four states required additional yearly CE hours to maintain CNA certification. The combination of increased initial training and annual CE hours was significantly associated with nursing homes reporting lower antidepressant and antipsychotic use and lower average medication use. Use of a registry or licensing board for credentialing was significantly related to lower catheter use, and CNA licensure was significantly associated with lower odds of falls. Findings suggest that regulatory modifications could be beneficial to improve resident care outcomes in nursing homes.

A Progressive Alternative to Austerity

Source: Fred Glass, In These Times, July 23, 2013

Passing steeper taxes on the rich isn’t as hard as you’d think…

….So how did Proposition 30 succeed? This measure, passed by California voters last November, raises $6 billion a year for schools and services—and in a supposedly “anti-tax” state. The money comes mostly through an income tax hike on rich people, along with a tiny sales tax increase of 0.25 percent. The story should be better known, because with the right preparation, you could make it happen in your state, too….

Capitalism on Trial: Explorations in the Tradition of Thomas E. Weisskopf

Source: Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin (eds.), Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), July 2013
(purchase required)

From the abstract:
In Capitalism on Trial, edited by Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Robert Pollin twenty-nine economists reflect on and explore the range of Thomas Weisskopf’s research. Chapters cover the economics of developing countries, U.S. imperialism, Marxian crisis theory, contemporary economic history and institutional development, affirmative action, and the potential of socialism as an alternative to capitalism. In addition, the book includes a chapter by Weisskopf in which he reflects on his career in economics and the state of the U.S. and global economies.
See also:
Download the working papers from the Weisskopf Festschrift Conference

Working papers include:
Social Structures of Accumulation, the Rate of Profit, and Economic Crises (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – David M. Kotz
How Big Is Too Big? On the Social Efficiency of the Financial Sector in the United States (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Gerald Epstein and James Crotty
Confronting Those Affirmative Action Grumbles (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – William Darity
Screening for Honesty and Motivation in the Workplace: What Can Affirmative Action Do? (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Elaine McCrate
A Stimulus for Affirmative Action? (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Jeannette Wicks-Lim
The Rising Strength of Management, High Unemployment and Slow Growth: Revisiting Okun’s Law (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Michael Reich
Reducing Growth to Achieve Environmental Sustainability: The Role of Work Hours (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Kyle Knight, Eugene A. Rosa, Juliet Schor
The Wealth-Power Connection (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Arthur MacEwan
The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Capitalism (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Nancy Folbre
Economic Growth: The Great Slowdown (1980-2000) and Recovery (2000-2010) (Thomas Weisskopf Festschrift Conference Paper) – Mark Weisbrot

Caring for Aging Parents: Should There Be a Law?

Source: Francine Russo, Time, Health and Family, July 22, 2013

…Much closer to home, laws in 20 U.S. states require family members, for the most part adult children, to support their financially needy relatives, which can include elderly parents who no longer have an income or disabled adult children who are unable to support themselves. Most of these statutes, which are among the original laws of the states, have not been in active use since the Great Depression. In fact, most states repealed them from the 1950s through ’70s when older people began reaping the benefits of Social Security and Medicare…. The social revolutions of the 20th century changed this social landscape in the U.S. and in much of the world. Parents live much longer, often with chronic conditions for which they need medical care. Women as well as men are in the workplace, and adult children may live hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their parents. That’s what prompted the law in China; with so many of the younger generation seeking better employment and financial opportunities away from home, elderly parents are increasingly left behind to fend for themselves….

Delay in Implementation of Potential Employer Penalties Under ACA

Source: Janemarie Mulvey, Bernadette Fernandez, Annie L. Mach, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report for Congress, R43150, July 16, 2013

…On July 2, 2013, the Obama Administration announced that it is going to delay, until 2015, enforcement and associated reporting requirements relating to potential employer penalties under ACA. On July 11, 2013, the IRS released Notice 2013-45, which provided more detailed information on this transitional relief. According to the IRS notice, this transition relief will provide additional time for input from employers and other reporting entities in an effort to simplify information reporting consistent with effective implementation of the law.

This delay may have implications for an individual’s health insurance coverage and eligibility for tax assistance provided through the exchanges. One potential impact of a delay in the enforcement of potential employer penalties may be a lower than projected number of “large” employers offering health insurance coverage. This may result in a larger than projected increase in the number of workers eligible for premium tax credits in the exchanges in 2014 and an increase in the number of uninsured. However, while measurement of the magnitude of this effect is beyond the scope of this paper, one recent study found that a delay may not have a significant effect on the employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have not yet completed an analysis of the impact that the Administration’s announcement and other recently issued final rules will have on spending and revenues under current law…

Whistleblower Paradox: Laws Improve As Prosecutions Mount – Major Expansion of Federal Safeguards While States Steadily Strengthen Statutes

Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Press Release, July 18, 2013

As the U.S government pursues Edward Snowden around the globe, back home U.S. whistleblower protection laws are significantly expanding, according to a review by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In the past year alone, federal civil servants won enhanced whistleblower sanctions while employees of federal contractors received powerful new safeguards. And at the state level, several states toughened laws shielding public employees and contract workers in 2013…. In its detailed analysis (displayed on its website) of each state’s law, PEER ranks each on 32 factors affecting the scope of coverage, usefulness and strength of remedies. By these measures, California, the District of Columbia and Tennessee have the strongest whistleblower laws while Georgia, Indiana and South Dakota have the weakest….
See which states have the strongest and weakest whistleblower laws
Look at breakdown of whistleblower protection provisions among states
Find out about the whistleblower law in your state (click on the map)
Scan state whistleblower changes from 2012
See summary of federal Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
Read the new federal contractor employee law