DECATUR, Ga.: Labor backs McKinney for Congress

“Cynthia McKinney has a long record in the Congress as 100 percent for labor as well as other working issues,” said Georgia AFL-CIO President Richard Ray June 10. He was announcing the 200,000-member labor federation’s endorsement of McKinney in the July 20 Democratic primary.

McKinney represented the 4th District of suburban Atlanta from 1992 until 2002. In the wake of 9/11, Republicans, with the help of some state Democrats, unleashed one of the nastiest campaigns in the modern era to help Denise Majette defeat McKinney. More than 40,000 Republicans participated in the “open” Democratic primary, which contributed to McKinney’s defeat.

McKinney faces a full field of six Democratic opponents, five women and one man, including two state senators and the president of the Atlanta City Council.

Meanwhile, Majette is seeking the Democratic nomination for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Zell Miller. There are seven other Democrats in the primary race, including Jim Boyd who is running as a “Bush Must Go” candidate.

LANSING, Mich.: Legislature denies women’s rights

In an emotional debate sprinkled with graphic pictures of an abortion procedure not even performed in this state, Republicans and their anti-women’s-rights advocates were successful in passing the most repressive reproductive rights legislation in the country. The Legal Birth Definition Act passed the state Senate 23-12 and the House 74-28.

The measure resulted from a petition campaign that garnered over 400,000 signatures. The little-used legislative procedure does not require the governor’s signature to become law. Last year Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a similar bill.

“By using an obscure political process to pass this draconian law, Michigan is forcing a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade – a challenge that could succeed if President Bush is able to add just two new anti-choice judges to the Supreme Court,” said National Abortion Rights Action League Interim President Elizabeth Cavendish. “This bill’s passage underscores yet again the importance of electing a president who will protect a woman’s right to choose.”

The law is expected to go before the state Supreme Court, which has struck down two similar bills.

CINCINNATI: Underground Railroad center to open

Spencer Crew had a dream to honor Americans who fought for freedom and to continue research into the hidden history of struggle in the United States. His vision becomes a reality Aug. 23 with the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center here.

Costing $110 million in public and private money, the center is expected to be a major attraction in downtown Cincinnati, drawing 260,000 visitors a year. Crew says the center is unique, focusing on freedom and not just slavery in the U.S. “You will see a wide variety of people highlighted and discussed here,” he said. “It’s not just for the African American community.”

CARSON CITY, Nev.: State ends privatization of prison

Since the Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility opened in 1997, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private company, ran it with state money. The prison was expected to return to state control June 16 when the Legislature’s Finance Committee voted to accept a recommendation from the prison board, which concluded that the “experiment” was not working.

Jackie Crawford, director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, said that although it will cost the state about $1 million more than the contract with the private corporation, it is worth it. Medical care provided by CCA was not comparable with care provided to male inmates and the state faced serious legal challenges. She added that CCA cut services to meet the bottom line, a problem a state-run facility does not have. Plus having the state back in charge means inmates will be able to participate in more prison work programs in the Las Vegas community.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards ( Jeanne Clark, Julia Lutsky and Susan Wheeler also contributed this week.