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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Recent K-12 Curriculum Legislation

2016 October 20

State legislatures in the previous months have been passing bills to alter and add to their public school systems’ curriculums. Some states are creating new job training programs to boost their economy, while others are changing curriculum to make students increasingly well-rounded on many subjects. Though different pieces of legislation, the goal of these policies is to benefit the public school systems and increase the quality of education.

In New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan recently signed into law SB 369, a bipartisan bill that requires New Hampshire public schools to add drug and alcohol education to health education programs. Hassan said that to “help prevent addiction in the first place” the state must [educate] young people about the dangers of substance abuse.”

New Hampshire is one of the states with the largest heroin and opioid epidemics. Governor Hassan wants to “stem and reverse” the tide of the epidemic to save lives, and is using the public school system to advance this desire by incorporating drug and alcohol education to the curriculum.

In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 4493, which adds genocide education to curriculum in the Michigan public school system. The governor said that teaching about genocide is important because “we should remember and learn about these terrible events in our past while continuing to work toward creating a more tolerant society.” The genocides taught will include the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide.

However, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations is opposed to this bill, saying it paints Turkey in a bad light in ...

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The Clean Power Plan: Economic or Environmental?

2016 October 14

 On August 3, 2015, President Barack Obama introduced the highly controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to combat climate change.

Political Ignorance as a Preference

2016 October 07

 Voting smart can require enormous effort or minimal effort, but to vote smart takes effort.

Presidential Pardons in 2016

2016 October 05

 On Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016, President Obama granted clemency, forgiveness of a sentence, to 214 incarcerated individuals, 67 of which were serving life sentences in federal penitentiaries. This raises some questions about what clemency actually entails. Clemency, under the US Constitution, allows the President to grant pardons and commutations to federal prisoners.

Wait, Are Salamanders Voting?

2016 September 28

 The topic of redistricting elicits reactions from all sides because its effects are heavily felt in elections; no party wishes to be disadvantaged due to district lines. Conflicting interests continue to seek a balance between majority power, geography, and the concept of fair elections.

Ballot Access Laws

2016 September 20

How did these candidates get on the ballot? Why are they in particular on the ballot, while others who may have been running don’t appear? For that matter, how do the candidates of the two major parties get on the ballot? The answers to these questions depend on your state’s ballot access laws.

“Blue Lives Matter” Bills

2016 September 14

On May 26, 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law HB 953, or what media outlets are dubbing the “Blue Lives Matter” bill. The first of its kind, HB 953 prosecutes crimes against law enforcement and other first responders as hate crimes, increasing their penalties and punishments.

Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

2016 September 09

 Widely considered the most significant financial regulatory reform since the Great Depression, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) instantly became a debated political battle in Washington.

State Legislatures’ Reactions to Mass Shootings

2016 September 02

 Gun control will continue to be an emotionally charged topic as mass shootings are a major driver of the conversation.

Campaign Finance: Free Speech, or Another Platform for Corruption?

2016 August 31

 Each year, as billions of dollars are funneled into American elections, more and more questions continue to rise regarding not only the legality of these financial contributions, but also the true intentions behind them.

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