Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a freelance journalist, and former staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer

Recent Articles

Private Prison Bill Dies in Florida

(Flickr/Tom Pearce, Los Gatos)
In Florida, a coalition of Democrats and a few moderate Republicans killed what could have been a major expansion of private prisons. The measure would have privatized 27 prisons and displaced more than 3,500 corrections officers . In the Florida Senate, nine Republicans voted against the measure, along with all 12 Democratic state senators. It was a rare victory for both Democrats and the labor unions that fought the bill. Proponents had argued the measure would save the state over $16 million in its first year, and the defeat may now lead to increased budget cuts in education and health care. Interestingly, much of the debate around the bill focused on the workers, like prison guards, who would lose jobs as a result of the privatization. With major pushes against public employee bargaining rights in Wisconsin and now in Arizona, state workers have largely been villified. This debate seems to have gone very differently. As the Tampa Bay Times reports: Senators debated privatization...

Virginia House Passes Personhood Bill

Republican delegate Bob Marshall says critics are overstating things when it comes to the personhood bill he is sponsoring in Virginia. Opponents of his bill have argued that not only does the measure grant legal protections to all fetuses beginning at conception, but it could also be construed to outlaw birth control. The bill is ostensibly less stringent than similar measures that came up in Colorado and Mississippi. As Marshall points out, it does not directly outlaw abortion, but would force the courts to include embryos in definitions of person. "I think I struck a middle ground," says Marshall. Try telling that to the bill's opponents, who fear the bill's consequences for women's health. The House rejected an amendment by Democratic delegate Virginia Watts that would have specifically protected birth-control access. Marshall called the amendment "a vehicle to entrap me," arguing it would have hurt the bill in court. By specifically allowing birth control, Marshall says, the...

Olympic Deja Vu?

Mitt Romney has me counting the days until the Olympics (164 as of Tuesday.) Since he's not always eager to talk about his largely-moderate record as Massachusetts governor, we've gotten to hear a lot about Mitt's role planning the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games. There was that lingering animosity between Romney and Rick Perry , supposedly because Romney didn't give the Boy Scouts enough of a role. Of course, most of it's been about the boring stuff, like how he turned around a potentially disastrous event and made it profitable. But, when he starts talking about it, I mainly just imagine people competing in sports I've usually forgotten exist. ( I'm looking at you, luge. ) Romney's got me not only hyped up for the summer games but nostalgic for winter—particularly 2002 Salt Lake City. So imagine my joy when I learned today that Salt Lake City has started an exploratory committee to consider hosting the games for a second time! Now, just to be clear, it's hardly a sure thing...

No Such Thing as an Arizona Free Lunch

Subsidized school lunches always seemed like a government program most people could get behind. The federal program gives food to low-income children. Giving food to children who live in poverty—hard to argue with that idea. In 2010, I was covering a state legislative race out in East Texas. A Tea Party candidate explained to me that free school lunches are bad for society, because were it not for the government program, parents would provide food for their kids on their own. If the kids still couldn't get food, then he believed churches and charities should pick up the slack, rather than the government. But sadly for my Tea Party friend, in Texas, free lunches may be one of the few federal programs that hasn't stirred up too much controversy. Nationally, however, there's been no shortage of criticism of the program, particularly last year as Congress considered a proposal that would make meals more nutritious. The legislative fight soon became about which agriculture sectors had the...

State of the Week

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: or on Twitter @RaRapoport. And this week's State of the Week is ... California Gay Rights Galore This weekend, gay rights advocates have two big victories to celebrate. In California, the Ninth Circuit Court threw out the same-sex marraige ban that California voters passed in 2008, known as Prop 8. As Garrett Epps explained , the decision was very specific to California, explaining that once a state grants a right, it cannot take that right away arbitrarily. The case will now likely go to the Supreme Court, where Epps says all eyes will be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. In the meantime, same-sex couples in Washington state are a step closer to being able to marry. A bill recognizing same-sex marriage passed through the state...