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Thu Dec 18, 2014, 06:51 PM

State Innovation Exchange-- New Hope For Grassroots Progressives?

A new progressive organization that aims to counter big-money conservative groups and move forward a proactive progressive agenda at state and local levels has just held its inaugural conference in Washington. There were more than 200 state legislators in attendance. The inaugural meeting of the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), featured addresses by Senior Administration officials, members of Congress and prominent progressive leaders including Sen. Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Saru Jayaraman and former White House s Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Van Jones.

Legislators were "surprisingly upbeat," despite last month’s election results. There’s "no tension between great progressive ideas and what voters want," said Adam Green to BloombergPolitics, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee and an adviser to SiX. His presentation highlighted the popularity of making college more affordable and expanding Social Security and Medicaid.

Other speakers pointed to widespread victories on ballot initiatives, including in traditionally "red" states, from minimum wage increases in Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska to closing (at least part ) of the gun show loophole in Washington state, to rejecting "personhood" amendments in Colorado and North Dakota. Nationwide, voters also passed ballot initiatives to impose limits on fracking, decriminalize marijuana and keep petty drug offenders out of prison.

The new group aims to provide a counterweight to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative group funded by the Koch brothers and other major corporations that gained attention as it helped Republican lawmakers pass the Stand Your Ground self-defense laws that became notorious following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida and voter ID restrictions scathingly described by Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals as "a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention."

See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2014/12/state-innovation-exchange-new-hope-for.html

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