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Digging a little deeper into Labor Day

With the summer starting to wind down, that final weekend of parades and picnics celebrating Labor Day is around the corner. NPR posted an interesting interview with Jeff Cowie, an Associate Professor of Labor History at Cornell University, in which he discusses the history of the labor movement and what changes it has seen since the first time Labor Day was celebrated in 1882. Listen to the interview and view the transcript here.

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IOM recommends no cost sharing birth control

In a report out this week from the Institute of Medicine, "it has recommended all FDA-approved birth control methods and emergency contraception be covered by insurance companies with no cost-sharing." Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, has said that the department is reviewing the recommendations and should reach a decision on whether this extension of coverage should be required by August 1st.

"The report also recommends complete insurance coverage - without co-pays - for lactation counseling and equipment, domestic violence screening and counseling, screening for gestational diabetes, human papillomavirus testing as part of cervical cancer screening for women over 30, counseling on sexually transmitted infections, and counseling and screening for HIV."

Despite the effects this type of coverage would have on reducing unintended pregnancies, and in turn saving some government spending (unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers around $11 billion every year), pro-life advocates are against this type of coverage being rolled up into their health insurance policies. Those who oppose artificial birth control say there should be an option to opt-out of coverage that includes emergency contraceptives that have "chemically abortive properties." Emergency contraception does not cause abortion, but rather prevents fertilization in the first place said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood.

According to a national poll out this past May, 88% of voters support women's access to contraception, and adopting the Institute of Medicine's recommendations into insurance coverage would help those women achieve easier access to those services.

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Group You Should Know: American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

With conservatives taking over many state legislatures in 2011, the new majorities have wasted little time ramming through radical legislation on issues from choice to collective bargaining rights to voter ID.

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Joan Fitz-Gerald on the Mario Solis Marich Show (Colorado) about the Wisconsin Recalls

America Votes President Joan Fitz-Gerald was a guest on the Mario Solis Marich Show last night to talk about the Wisconsin recall elections and her latest piece in the Huffington Post.

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New Research on Female Political Candidates

Our friends at the The Barbara Lee Family Foundation have just published new research showing gains for women candidates in campaigns for executive office and pinpoints key areas for women to master. The research shows that in 2010:• Women candidates ran on a more level playing field;• Voters prioritized more gender-neutral traits than in past years;• Women candidates showed some distinct advantages over men;• Younger women are no longer a reliable voting bloc.

Turning Point: The Changing Landscape for Women Candidates is the latest addition to their landmark Governors Guidebook Series, Turning Point is designed to be accessible and relevant to citizens, students, campaign consultants, and candidates at all levels and across parties.

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Democrats take all 6 primaries in WI recall elections

After primaries for the recall election in Wisconsin were held yesterday, the six true Democrats all prevailed over the "fake" candidates

The Republican Party organized the plan of running "fake Democrats" to push back the general election another month, which will now take place for these six spots on August 9th. There are still three current Democrats who are up for recall under the excuse of them fleeing the state to stop the vote on Gov. Walker's collective bargaining law.

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Minnesota update: Legislatures accepting pay while state government remains shutdown

On Monday, the 11th day of the Minnesota government shutdown, the Minneapolis Star Tribune released a list of 138 legislatures who are still being paid while over 22,000 state workers are furloughed. Governor Mark Dayton along with 62 other legislatures have declined their pay until the budget talks are settled and the rest of the government gets back to work. Unfortunately, despite Dayton's efforts to push a compromise, the GOP in Minnesota is not budging from their plans for the budget. Dayton is now instead embarking on a road trip across the state to take "his case for the budget plan directly to the voters."

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Another state takes negative action against Planned Parenthood

Yet another state has taken action to impede Planned Parenthood from helping women obtain contraception and education on reproductive matters. In New Hampshire, the state's executive council rejected renewing a contract with Planned Parenthood with a 3-2 vote that will cut $1.8 million in funding.

These cuts have forced Planned Parenthood to start turning away women who can't afford contraception anywhere else, affecting an average of 120 low-income women every day. Cuts like these are just another push in a stream of anti-abortion attacks against the organization which by federal law would not use any government money to fund abortions.

"The Planned Parenthood contract, which accounts for about 20 percent of its annual New Hampshire budget, would have paid for education, distributing contraception, and the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. The organization's abortion practice is paid for by private donations, Trombley said, with audits ensuring no public money is used."

Last year alone in New Hampshire, Planned Parenthood provided contraception for 13,242 patients, performed 6,112 breast exams and 18,858 tests for sexually transmitted diseases. The organization also employs about 80 people in the state of New Hampshire, and with these cuts their jobs may be on the line along with patient care.

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Dayton is ready to resume budget talks in Minnesota

After five days of the shutdown in Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton is ready to sit down with the GOP in the state legislature to come to a compromise on the budget. During the shutdown, government workers have been furloughed and many programs have come to a halt. In the pending compromise Dayton speaks of, Politico reports that he "sounded resigned to an income tax hike for millionaires not being in the final package, but he said that both sides will need to find ways to increase state revenue."

Meanwhile, while public employees are out of work, Former Minnesota governor and Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty released an ad where he uses the shutdown of the government as a positive event, highlighting "his record of holding the line on spending in a liberal state, contrasting that with the approach of his successor."

 Pawlenty appears in the ad to be proud of the $5 billion deficit the state is now struggling with, which will hopefully be remedied soon when more talks on the budget resume.

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Minnesota Government Shuts Down After Budget Talks Fail

For the second time in six years, the Minnesota
Government is shutting down due to the inability for Governor Dayton and the
Republican legislature to agree on a budget to deal with the state’s $5 billion
deficit. Public employees will be out of work while the shut down continues,
and have instead flocked to the capitol to hold vigils until there is an
agreement reached. “I will continue — tonight, tomorrow, and however long it takes — to find a fair and
balance compromise,” Dayton said at the end of his speech at last night’s
vigil. “I welcome Republicans to join with me – my door is always open.

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