Living Wage Preemption Act

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

The governors of many states are boldly stepping forward these days to stop grassroots democracy.

Yes, noting that local citizens and officials have been passing local laws to govern themselves, a flock of right-wing governors are asserting an autocratic power called “state preemption” to overrule democratic decisions made by locals. Why do these governors hate democracy? Because their corporate funders don’t like some of the laws local people support – so democracy must go! This is not a matter of a rogue governor here or there, but a coordinated effort by corporate interests to get governors to usurp local authority.

The main coordinator of this power grab is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. For example, in 2014, when Fight for 15, and other activist groups began winning city campaigns for minimum wage hikes, ALEC responded by holding a corporate forum on how state officials can stop such local actions. ALEC circulated a model bill called the “Living Wage Preemption Act,” and sure enough, it’s already been passed by nearly half of our states.

Ohio was the latest. By a large margin, people in the Buckeye State favor raising the wage floor, and Cleveland enacted its own increase last year. But a small group of corporate profiteers howled in fury. So, last December, the state’s Republican leaders rushed to appease them by adopting the ALEC preemption bill and ramming it into law. It was a political mugging of the people’s will, retroactively negating Cleveland’s increase and outlawing increases by any other locality.

Used sparingly and properly, preemption can be a democracy-enhancing tool to serve the common good. But when governors pervert this power to use it as a cudgel against the people, We the People must rise up against the governors. To learn more visit MayorsInnovation.org.

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Reposted from The Hightower Lowdown.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jim Hightower

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work