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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:00pm
Tue Feb 23, 2016

Debate Heats Up Over Proposed Chicago Tobacco Ordinance

Some Chicago aldermen, small business owners and retail lobbyists want Mayor Rahm Emanuel to reconsider his tobacco tax proposal, saying the plan would adversely affect local businesses and neighborhoods, including those already impacted by black-market sales of "loosie" cigarettes.

But a coalition of health organizations is firing back, calling on the city council to "reject the tobacco industry's rhetoric and to pass a strong tobacco control ordinance."

Debate rages on over Emanuel's proposal to increase the smoking age in Chicago from 18 to 21 and impose a $6 million tax on non-cigarette tobacco products, with the revenue going in part toward Chicago Public Schools orientation programs. The plan is aimed at preventing "young people from picking up smoking, while investing in their education," according to the administration.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:48pm
Fri Oct 30, 2015

Experts: U.S. Should Look To High-Performing States Over Countries For Education Policy Lessons

In a new report, education and economic experts caution against using international test comparisons to judge and determine U.S. education policy. Progress Illinois takes a look at the research from the Economic Policy Institute. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:04pm
Thu Aug 6, 2015

Illinois Legislature Recognized For Passing Key Progressive Policies In 2015 (UPDATED)

Illinois got a nod in a new top 10 list of progressive policies passed during state legislative sessions this year.

The State Innovation Exchange (SiX), a group working with state legislators to advance progressive policies across the country, compiled the list. SiX was formed in an effort to counter the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that crafts and pushes conservative, corporate-friendly state legislation.

According to SiX's review, the top 10 state-level progressive measures approved thus far in 2015 involve the following: closing the wage gap for women and minorities; accommodating pregnant workers; implementing earned sick leave; expanding access to higher education; tackling the student debt crisis; reducing carbon emissions; modernizing voter registration; repealing the death penalty; increasing police accountability and public safety; and preventing abusers and stalkers from obtaining guns.

"We are convinced that progressives are right on the issues and the SiX review of the states bears that out. From advancing the economic security of working families to improving access to voting we saw that even in a map that is deeply red, progressives were able to achieve some important policy victories in 2015," SiX Executive Director Nick Rathod said in a statement. "I'm confident that as SiX grows and is able to better resource, train and organize legislators around the country, we can help to see that progressives are able to achieve more of the types of policy victories like those that made the list this year."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:23pm
Thu Apr 23, 2015

'Right-To-Work' Laws Could Pull Down Worker Wages By 3.1 Percent

Statewide "right-to-work" policies drive down worker wages for both union and nonunion members by 3.1 percent, finds a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C. think tank.

That means full-time, year-round workers living in right-to-work states earn, on average, $1,558 less annually than similar workers in states without such regulations, according to the report.

EPI researchers used demographic, cost-of-living and labor market controls in calculating their findings.

"It's abundantly clear that right-to-work laws are negatively correlated with workers' wages," report co-author and EPI senior economist Elise Gould said in a statement. "Our model uses widely-agreed upon variables, and holds up under a series of tests to ensure that the model is sound and not being skewed by the inclusion or exclusion or particular variables or estimate technique."

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