Each Friday—well at least most Fridays—I'm going to sum up the big news happening in states around the country. To make it more interesting I'm naming a State of the Week where the biggest news came from. See something that's missing? Tell me: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RaRapoport.
And this week's State of the Week is ... Wisconsin!
The effort to recall Wisconsin governor Scott Walker had a huge victory this week, when activists announced they'd collected over a million petitions, almost double what they needed to prompt a new election. The announcement came almost a year after Walker's efforts to dismantle collective-bargaining rights in the state prompted massive protests.
But the fight is far from over. The anti-Walker crowd has yet to settle on a candidate to put up against the incumbent governor, and in the meantime, Walker has been traveling the country raising money and attention to his cause. A state judge already ruled election officials must screen out fake or invalid petitions, so it will likely be a few months before any election occurs. For those who can't get enough recall action, check out the a web-cam of state workers processing the signatures.
As governors across the country give their state-of-the-state addresses, it's becoming evident that this will be a big year for implementing business reforms in public education. Maine's governor is looking to implement school choice, and while Louisiana's Bobby Jindal wants to expand vouchers. South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard is pushing for merit pay and an end to teacher tenure. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pushing for vouchers and tenure reform as well. And under pressure from the U.S. Department of Education, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed to implement teacher evaluations based on student test scores.
As best I can tell, California governor Jerry Brown is the only state executive arguing for a more collaborative approach to teacher evaluations, based on measures beyond standardized testing.
Going to Pot
The Colorado secretary of state has ordered a review of the 160,000 signatures gathered to petition the state to allow limited marijuana possession. The petition only needs 89,000 valid signatures, and if it's accepted, the measure will go on the ballot. Meanwhile, in Arizona, a judge ordered Jan Brewer to implement a law passed by voters to allow the sale of medical marijuana. In Vermont, marijuana dispensaries are likely to come as soon as this summer.
- As Indiana's battle over collective-bargaining rights rages on, labor advocates are flirting with the idea of striking during the Super Bowl. Without truck drivers or electricians, the effort to put on an event would be almost as bad as the Colts offensive line.
- Texas' redistricting saga continues after the Supreme Court tossed out one map drawn by a panel of federal judges.
- According to The News Tribune, the Washington state legislature appears to be within one vote of recognizing same sex marriage.
- The Deseret News reports that of all states, Utah has the number one economic outlook for the fourth year in a row.
- Lastly, South Dakota has replaced North Dakota as the top producer of sunflower seeds. Rearrange your weekend accordingly.