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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.

The Minimum Wage Debate

2016 August 01

Following years of political debate surrounding wealth inequality and poverty, consumers and business owners alike will soon be seeing the actual effect of a polarizing and lasting change in several state economies. Some legislators are beginning to act on the task of increasing the minimum wage, while others are actively trying to stop the increases.


States in all regions of the United States are now responding to the concerns voiced by movements like the Fight for 15, which started to gain traction and media coverage in 2013 and 2014 for demanding higher wages at work to combat poverty in working families. It is 2016, and bills are now being voted on to address the topic of wages.


Though SB 3 was introduced in the California Senate in December of 2014, the most recent version of the bill was only recently agreed on in a Senate concurrence vote in March of this year. If signed by Governor Jerry Brown, SB 3 will gradually increase the minimum wage from $10 to $15 over a span of seven years.


In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown recently signed into law SB 1532, which will increase the minimum wage in Oregon similarly to the California bill.


An effort to lift families out of poverty and distribute wealth more evenly, these bills intend to gradually change the economy without completely shaking it. This cautiousness, however, reveals a concern from opponents of increasing the minimum wage.


Opposition bills like Alabama HB 174 and Idaho H 463 operate on the idea that raising the ...

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Legislative Recap: Tobacco Restrictions

2016 July 28

In the past year and a half, several states have passed laws changing the age at which one can legally smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Potential Ramifications of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt & an Overview of Recent Abortion Legislation

2016 July 25

On June 27, the Supreme Court issued a 5-3 ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion, reversing and remanding two provisions of HB 2, which was passed by the Texas legislature during a special session in 2013.

Voting Rights for Convicted Felons

2016 July 22

2016 has seen several state legislators propose changes in the regulation of voting rights for individuals with felonies, and the timeframe for felons to receive the right to vote.

Marijuana, States and Presidential Nominees

2016 July 20

The legislative year of 2016 has seen a multitude of bills passed that authorizes the use of marijuana in many states.

The Native American Energy Act: Economic Prosperity or Traditional Tribal Values?

2016 July 13

 The state of American Indian land sovereignty, health, and welfare becomes more and more complex as the demand for American energy independence grows.........

Open Senate Seats: Nevada

2016 July 05

 In 2016, there are five Senators who are retiring: two Republicans and three Democrats. Flocks of candidates have put their bid in for the chance to become their state’s newest junior Senator.

Britain Exits the EU: What's Brext for the US?

2016 June 30

 This past week, the world watched as 30 million Brits took to the polls to vote on a referendum deciding Britain's future within the European Union. A referendum is a general vote by the constituency on a single political question.....................

Legislators’ Demonstrate to Spur Votes on Gun Control

2016 June 28

 On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, more than 170 House Democrats led by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a former leader in the Civil Rights movement, staged a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to try to spur votes..........

What is an Omnibus Bill?

2016 June 27

 Have you seen a recent headline about Congress passing an omnibus bill? Curious about what this obscure sounding piece of legislation is? Below we provide a non-partisan explanation of omnibus bills.....

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