Happy June! It’s a new month and we have more good news.
Minnesota has passed an avalanche of progressive legislation, and Washington is proving that wealth taxes work. Plus, Illinois Democrats pass a budget, New York City gets its first pizza shop worker’s union, the National Labor Relations Board sets a precedent against non-compete clauses, and more.
Minnesota Progressives Are On A Roll
In terms of passing laws that make a difference, Minnesota’s lawmakers have been on a roll this year. They’re proving that progress is possible and demonstrating the effectiveness of a Democratic legislative trifecta (Illinois’ recent budget did the same). The legislators’ latest victory? Ending cannabis prohibition.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday, joining 22 other states with similar legislation. Growing, possessing, and using marijuana will be legal starting August 1st, but it’ll be another year before dispensaries are licensed. Notably, the bill includes provisions to give communities most harmed by prohibition opportunities in the newly legal industry.
Bans on marijuana are racist and ineffective, and only exacerbate America’s mass incarceration crisis –– nationally, half of all drug arrests are for marijuana, and Black people in Minnesota are more than five times likelier than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. At the signing ceremony, Gov. Walz said the state will begin the expungement process on marijuana charges, which could give thousands of Minnesotans greater access to jobs, housing, education and more.
Legalizing cannabis is only the latest in a historically productive legislative session for progressives: The state became the first in the nation to codify fundamental abortion rights, enabled automatic voter registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, expanded free two- and four-year state and community college to families earning less than $80,000, and committed to carbon-free public utilities by 2040. Lawmakers also ensured people are eligible for driver’s licenses regardless of citizenship status, provided free meals in schools, enacted two bills for stronger gun control, prohibited workplace discrimination against Black people’s natural hair, and so much more.
Plus, last week Minnesota passed minimum wage protections for Uber and Lyft drivers and the state is being lauded as the midwest frontrunner for an equitable transition to green energy. True to its name, the North Star State is showing the rest of us the way to the future!
Operation Avoid Oil Explosion Begins
The U.N. is working to avert a potentially disastrous oil explosion and spill by starting the cleanup process on a 1.1 million-barrel oil tanker abandoned off the coast of Yemen. A major spill in the Red Sea would be catastrophic, destroying coral reefs and fishing communities and exposing millions of people to severe pollution. Called an “ecological time bomb,” by industry experts, the tanker contains four times more oil than was leaked during the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989.