Today's News and Commentary – November 4
President Obama called on the Senate to pass legislation prohibiting employment discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgender people in a message written for huffingtonpost.com, writes the Washington Post. In support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the President wrote: “millions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs — not because of anything they’ve done, but simply because of who they are. It’s offensive. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.”
On Tuesday, New Jersey voters will vote on a ballot question that proposes to raise the state minimum wage by a dollar to $8.25 and allow annual increases tied to inflation, reports the Wall Street Journal. The measure would add the minimum-wage increase to the state’s constitution. State polls show that likely New Jersey voters overwhelmingly support increasing the minimum wage, even across party lines.
A new group of Republican politicians led by Utah senator Mike Lee is rethinking the GOP economic agenda, according to the Weekly Standard . These “labor Republicans” advocate for a renewed focus on the economic needs of working middle-class families.
Politico reports on a heated battle for a local school board election in Douglas County School District, located in a wealthy suburb south of Denver. The election is being heavily influenced by outside spending, most prominently through the Koch Brothers’ political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. According to Politico, the Douglas County School District has become a model for conservative educational reform efforts around the country after the conservatives who currently control the Board abolished teacher tenure, refused to negotiate a collective contract with the teacher’s union, established a voucher program to subsidize parochial and private school tuition, encouraged competition between elementary schools for students, and imposed a novel pay scale that values teachers by the subjects they teach.
In the Washington Post, a government-appointed panel in Bangladesh voted Monday to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment workers to about $66 a month, still the lowest in the world and well below what workers have been seeking. The current minimum wage is around $38 per month, while garment workers have been demanding $100 a month. Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment manufacturing country after China.