Monday, April 18, 2011

AP: GOP wave reshapes nation's agenda state by state

A tug to the right was in the cards ever since voters put the GOP in charge of 25 legislatures and 29 governors' offices in the 2010 elections. That is turning out to be every bit as key to shaping the nation's ideological direction as anything happening in Washington.

A close-up review of the first wave of legislative action by Associated Press statehouse reporters shows the striking degree to which the GOP has been able to break through gridlock and achieve improbable ends. The historic and wildly contentious curbs on public sector bargaining in Wisconsin, quickly followed by similar action in Ohio, were but a signal that the status quo is being challenged on multiple fronts in many places.

The realignment in Florida has produced a law imposing more accountability on teachers, along with 18 proposed abortion restrictions, some bound to become law. Immigration controls are motivating lawmakers far from borders, constitutional amendments against gay marriage are picking up steam, Michigan is shortening the period people can get jobless benefits and Indiana may soon have the broadest school voucher program in the U.S.

At least 20 states are going after public-sector benefits, pay or bargaining rights.