Your weekly progress report. I’ll be adding to this list throughout the day, so check back …
• Maryland has passed the nation’s first social media privacy protection bill.
• The California State Teacher’s pension plan, which owns 5.3 million shares of Wal-Mart stock, has sued the company for breach of fiduciary duty over the Mexican bribery scandal.
• Georgia Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood’s dream of a 3rd Infantry Division Highway (Interstate 3) through rural Southern Appalachia has died after seven years. Critics cited the controversial project’s $5 billion pricetag and devastating impact on the Appalachian mountains and rural communities.
• New EEOC rules extend workplace protections to transgendered and ex-offenders.
• Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusettes is seeking information from wireless carriers about their warrantless surveillance assistance to local police departments. Last month it was revealed that local law enforcement was routinely getting private information from cell phone carriers — so much so, in fact, that some carriers were marketing this service to law enforcement, and charging “surveillance fees.”
• The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled a fetal personhood bill unconstitutional.
• Despite attempts by conservatives to flog their phony “war on religion,” President Obama enjoys the same level of support among Catholic voters that he always did, according to a new Gallup poll.
• Missouri’s “don’t-day-gay” bill (isn’t it weird how all of these states are getting the same legislation at the same time? Coinky-dinky?) has prompted a gay Republican state senator to come out. Rep. Zach Wyatt called the legislation bigoted and said he had been bullied in school. The legislation made him realize he needed to “step up and lead.”
Let me say: I honestly do not understand why there are gay Republicans. I understand gay people who like the idea of fiscal conservatism or small government or whatever, but these people need to understand they will never, ever be accepted by the modern Republican Party. I mean, for crying out loud: before he was forced out of his job, Mitt Romney’s openly gay spokesman Richard Grenell was told to keep his yap shut on a conference call with reporters. A spokesman who can’t speak? What’s the point.
• The New York City Council has approved a living wage bill for projects receiving city funding. Explained Council Speaker Christine Quinn:
“If you take city subsidies, which you’re not required to take, then you have to meet a standard of pay,” Quinn said. “If you don’t want to meet that standard of pay, then you don’t have to take the city’s money.”
Yeah makes sense! Cue the whining: Mayor Bloomberg has promised to veto the legislation, but there are enough votes to override his veto. However, Bloomberg said he’d sue to block the legislation if they did so. So, grab the popcorn, this could get interesting. On a side note, the story says just 600 workers would be affected by the legislation. Seems like a lawsuit is a tad … wasteful?
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• Gov. Haslam found his veto pen and said he will strike down legislation targeting Vanderbilt University’s “all comers” rule. If you want to know what this was really all about, Aunt B. did a good post on it last week. This is important because not only is it the governor’s first veto, but as Aunt B. notes: “… [Haslam's] never faced a bill that so clearly had implications for the types of people who fund re-election campaigns.”
• On a related note, our General Assembly has called it quits for the year and not a moment too soon. Despite all of the horrid legislation that made it through, a few of their more craptacular ideas failed. Tom Humphrey gives us a round-up of the key legislation which failed. Let me add: not all of them were bad. The Democratic-sponsored Model Legislation item requiring disclosure of the groups behind boilerplate bills was a damn good idea. But ALEC’s defenders wouldn’t hear of it.
• Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has installed a 400 kW solar array on its downtown offices and warehouses, which is expected to generate $100,000 annually for the not-for-profit.