The Best States to Work Index: A Guide to Labor Policy in U.S. States

Source: Oxfam America, 2018

From the press release:
The new index, which assesses labor laws and worker protections in all states in the country, puts Washington, DC at the top and Virginia at the bottom

The District of Columbia leads the way in a new ranking of state labor laws and worker protections released by Oxfam America today, while neighboring Virginia comes in last. Washington, California, and Massachusetts also ranked at the top of the first ever Best States to Work Index; Pennsylvania, Montana and Indiana rank in the middle; while Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi are also at the bottom.

The Best States to Work Index looks at 11 policy areas in three dimensions: wage policies to ensure workers earn as close to a living wage as possible; worker protections so workers can take time off for sickness or pregnancy and have legal protections against sexual harassment; and right to organize policies to protect the rights of workers to find a voice through organizing and sustaining a trade union if they desire.

Trump Tax Cut Truths

Source: Americans for Tax Fairness, 2018

Claims that corporations are sharing a big slice of their huge Trump tax cuts with employees through bonuses and wage hikes are mostly hype, the “Trump Tax Cut Truths” website of Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) shows.

The data on this website primarily covers Fortune 500 companies, whose revenues are two-thirds of the entire U.S. economy (GDP). But the universe is all Fortune 1000 corporations and businesses not on the Fortune 1000 that are included in the List of Tax Reform Good News maintained by Americans for Tax Reform.

Data estimates are based on information from corporations, the media, independent analysts or ATF research and cover activities since the tax law was passed on December 20, 2017. Sources for the data below can be found here or on the separate spreadsheets found here. See the Methodology explanation for more details.

Here’s How Much Time You’ll Waste Commuting in Your Lifetime (by City)

Source: Alex Lauderdale, EducatedDriver.org, August 29, 2018

Commuting is the most stressful part of the day for many people. It’s like a recurring nightmare — day after day, week after week, year after year spent sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, stuck behind the wheel instead of spending time with family and friends doing the things you love. It takes a serious toll on the mind and body and on relationships. Not to mention, it can be seriously damaging to your health, leading to headaches, backaches, sleep problems, fatigue, mental health problems, and more.

The worst part? Commute times are only getting worse all across the country. In the US, the average worker spends 52.2 minutes a day commuting to and from work, but in many parts of the country, things are even worse. Over the course of just a week, that’s 4.35 hours a week spent commuting.

That got us thinking — how many days does the average person spend commuting to and from work over the course of their life?

We did the math for nearly 1,000 US cities. The average American loses 408 days of their life commuting, and in many areas, the toll is even higher.

Using the interactive map below, you can see how many days of your life you can expect to spend to commuting in the city where you live. Caution: the answer might depress you.

Socialism in America

Source: The Economist, August 30, 2018

The increasing popularity of socialism is more about stiffening Democrats’ spines than revolution. ….

…. Looking past the label, however, American socialists are more progressive Democrats than Castros in waiting—and their rise poses more of a challenge to the Democratic Party than to capitalism.

Still, socialism is having a moment in America unlike any since, perhaps, 1912, when Eugene Debs, the socialist candidate, won 6% of the popular vote. Between the DSA’s founding in 1982 and the election of 2016, its membership hovered at a relatively constant 6,000—the same people, says Maurice Isserman, a professor at Hamilton College and charter DSA member, “just getting greyer”. Since President Donald Trump’s election, however, its membership has risen more than eightfold, and may soon exceed 50,000 (see chart). DSA members have lost nearly all of the primaries they have contested, but two will almost certainly be elected to the next Congress: Ms Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, from Detroit. A recent Gallup poll showed that 57% of Democrats have positive views about socialism.

But the poll never defined “socialism”, so precisely what people were expressing support for remains unclear. For decades, the cold war defined it, at least for most Americans. They were capitalist and free, while socialism was a step removed, at best, from Soviet communism. Americans under 30 have no memory of the cold war. To them, socialism may be little more than a slur they have heard Republicans hurl at Democrats—particularly Barack Obama. They may well have reckoned that if supporting universal health care, more money for public education and policies to combat climate change are all socialist, then they are happy to be socialist too……

Low-Wage Jobs Held Primarily By Women Will Grow the Most Over the Next Decade

Source: National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, August 13, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that personal care aides, combined food preparation and serving workers (including fast food workers), registered nurses, home health aides, and software applications developers will be the five occupations with the most job growth between 2016 and 2026. Among these five occupations, all except software applications developers are female-dominated, with workforces that are at least 60 percent women—and personal care aides, home health aides, and combined food preparation and serving workers have median wages of less than $11.50 per hour. Women of color—especially Black women—are particularly overrepresented in these three low-wage, high-growth jobs, which often also lack benefits and pose particular challenges for women with caregiving responsibilities. View our fact sheet to learn more.

Women and Men in the Low-Wage Workforce, State by State

Source: National Women’s Law Center, July 20, 2018

Nationwide, women are nearly two-thirds of the nearly 24 million workers in low-wage jobs that typically pay $11.50 per hour or less—and women outnumber men in the low-wage workforce in every state and the District of Columbia. In all but one state (Nevada), women make up at least 60 percent of the low-wage workforce, and women are more than two-thirds of the low-wage workforce in 29 states. View our interactive map to compare women’s and men’s representation in the low-wage workforce in your state.

Women and the Minimum Wage, State by State

Source: National Women’s Law Center, August 23, 2018

Women represent more than six in ten minimum wage workers in the U.S., and close to three-quarters of minimum wage workers in some states. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 per hour, but in most states, the minimum wage still leaves a full-time worker with two children near or below the poverty level. See our interactive map to view the share of minimum wage workers in your state who are women.

Records, Papers, Decisions: Kavanaugh Records and the Presidential Records Act

Source: Meghan M. Stuessy, Congressional Research Service, CRS Insight, IN10959, August 27, 2018

Since Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court was received on July 10, papers detailing his activities in the George W. Bush Administration and the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr have been the subject of ongoing congressional interest. Specifically, many Members of Congress have discussed the public release of Judge Kavanaugh’s records and whether the scope and volume of records released is similar to the records of previous Supreme Court nominees.

The release and maintenance of records pertaining to Judge Kavanaugh’s tenure in these offices is governed by the interaction of the Federal Records Act, the Presidential Records Act (PRA), and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While the Federal Records Act applies to all federal records, such as Judge Kavanaugh’s attorney work files from his tenure with the Office of Independent Counsel, the PRA applies only to records created on behalf of a president, such as records created during the George W. Bush Administration….

Judicial Fact-Finding and Criminal Sentencing: Current Practice and Potential Change

Source: Michael A. Foster, Congressional Research Service, CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10191, August 24, 2018

Central to the calculation of a federal criminal defendant’s sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (Guidelines) is the defendant’s “relevant conduct.” That term, while encompassing conduct found by a jury or admitted by the defendant, can also include conduct that was not charged, as well as the conduct underlying charges of which the defendant was acquitted. The lower federal courts have almost uniformly approved of the use of acquitted or uncharged conduct at sentencing, so long as a judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the conduct occurred. The Supreme Court has also held that the use of acquitted conduct pursuant to the Guidelines presents no double jeopardy issue under the Constitution. Judicial fact-finding at sentencing has not been without its critics, however; legal commentators and multiple Justices have expressed misgivings about the continued judicial reliance on such conduct to increase sentencing ranges under the Guidelines, largely focusing on the constitutional right to a jury trial. In fact, both of President Trump’s nominees to the Supreme Court— Justice Gorsuch and, most recently, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit— have suggested during their tenures as Circuit judges that they may view judicial fact-finding at sentencing to be constitutionally problematic. Two bills have also recently been introduced in the House of Representatives that would alter the practice legislatively. Given the possibility of judicial or legislative changes in this area of criminal sentencing law, this Sidebar provides an overview of the issue by briefly describing the use of relevant conduct under the Guidelines and tracing the Supreme Court case law that has informed the practice, before addressing judicial commentary and recently proposed legislation regarding the use of acquitted or uncharged conduct at sentencing….