Alan Greenblatt

Alan Greenblatt has been covering politics and government in Washington and around the country for 20 years. He came to NPR as a digital reporter in 2010, writing about a wide range of topics, including elections, housing economics, natural disasters and same-sex marriage.

He was previously a reporter with Governing, a magazine that covers state and local government issues. Alan wrote about education, budgets, economic development and legislative behavior, among other topics. He is the coauthor, with Kevin Smith, of Governing States and Localities, a college-level textbook that is now in its fourth edition.

As a reporter for Congressional Quarterly, he was the inaugural winner of the National Press Club's Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, which is given to outstanding reporters under the age of 35. Sadly, he no longer meets that requirement.

Along the way, Alan has contributed articles about politics and culture for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He is happy to be working for an outlet where he has been able to write about everything from revolutions in the Middle East to antique jazz recordings.

Alan is a graduate of San Francisco State University and holds a master's degree from the University of Virginia.

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The Two-Way
3:16 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

House Votes To End Full-Fare Rule For Airline Tickets

A family checks in for an American Airlines flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 4:25 pm

The House voted Monday to allow airlines to advertise lower prices for their routes.

The Transparent Airfares Act, which was approved with minimal debate, would overturn a 2012 rule that requires airlines to post the full price of tickets, including taxes and fees.

Shoppers are smart enough to figure out the price of an airline ticket without federal regulation, said Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, a bill co-sponsor.

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Science
9:52 am
Sun July 27, 2014

How Our Story About A Child's Science Experiment Sparked Controversy

A story that ran last Sunday on All Things Considered about a sixth-grader's science fair project has elicited not just criticism but controversy.

Since the student's project built on the work of scientists, she's been accused this week of being a "plagiarist" who "ripped off" earlier work.

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U.S.
1:38 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Are Opponents Of The Death Penalty Contributing To Its Problems?

A fence surrounds the state prison in Florence, Ariz., where Joseph Rudolph Wood was put to death on Wednesday. The execution process took nearly two hours.
AP

Kevin Cooper was convicted of murdering a married couple and two children, and was sentenced to die.

That was back in 1985. Cooper is still awaiting execution on California's death row.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, who is handling the case, blames the long delay on Cooper's multiple appeals in state and federal courts.

"This is all a big strategic plan to really manipulate the system to attack capital punishment, not just in California, but in the United States," Ramos says.

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U.S.
3:06 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Deal In Detroit Could Signal Cuts To Pensions Elsewhere

Retirees Mike Shane (left) and William Davis protest near the federal courthouse in Detroit on July 3. Workers and retirees approved pension cuts in Detroit's bankruptcy by a landslide, the city reported Monday.
Paul Sancya AP

It used to be that if you were a public employee, you knew your pension benefits could not be touched.

That's no longer the case.

Pensions have been under political attack in recent years, with some politicians arguing they can't afford to fund generous retirements at the same time they're cutting services. Numerous states and cities have trimmed the type of pension plans they're offering employees — mostly new employees.

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Business
4:19 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Congress' Latest Death Match Involves A Bank You've Never Heard Of

A worker stacks traffic safety poles at Pexco's manufacturing center in Fife, Wash. The small company ships products all over the world, with the help of federal insurance from the Export-Import Bank.
Drew Perine MCT/Landov

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 12:39 pm

It sits in an imposing building just across Lafayette Square from the White House. Yet the Export-Import Bank, which has been offering credit to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods for 80 years, could start shutting down operations within a matter of weeks.

"There's about a 50-50 chance," says Dan Ikenson, who directs a trade policy center at the Cato Institute.

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Politics
9:54 am
Wed July 9, 2014

What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer

Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other while being separated by police officers on July 4, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 6:28 pm

It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.

Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.

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U.S.
12:50 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Federal Highway Program Could Run Out Of Money Next Month

The White House has warned that without more money for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which helps states pay for road and infrastructure projects, construction delays will put thousands out of work.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 2:35 pm

Congress has yet another problem it can't solve.

For years, the main federal transportation program has been spending more money than it takes in. This year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Transportation Department will disburse $45 billion while collecting only $33 billion for its Highway Trust Fund.

As a result, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned states on Tuesday that they will start seeing cuts of 28 percent in federal funding for roads and bridges next month unless Congress comes up with some extra money.

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Business
12:19 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Unions Fear High Court's Ruling Opens Door To More Trouble

The Supreme Court decision held that health care workers could not be forced to pay fees to the union recognized by the state of Illinois, because the state is not their direct employer. Some fear this will lead to further erosion of unions.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 12:39 pm

It wasn't the worst possible outcome for public sector unions. But that could still happen.

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Business
11:16 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Illinois Declares Truce In Cupcake War

Chloe Stirling presents cupcakes to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in his office last month.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 2:27 pm

No one really thinks 12-year-old Chloe Stirling presents a menace to public health.

The Illinois girl has a knack for baking cupcakes and has done pretty well selling them. So well, in fact, that her local newspaper published a story about her earlier this year. That drew the attention of the county health department — which shut her down for selling baked goods without a license or a state-certified kitchen.

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NPR Ed
12:03 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

New Orleans District Moves To An All-Charter System

The drill team of Sophie B. Wright, a charter school in the New Orleans Recovery School District. The city's all-charter system is the first in the U.S.
Skooksie Flickr

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 3:57 pm

The nation's largest experiment with charter schools is expanding.

The Recovery School District, a state control board that runs most schools in New Orleans, shut down the last of its five traditional public schools this week, making it the first all-charter system in the nation.

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Around the Nation
10:46 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Supporters Keep Up Their Winning Streak

Christopher DiCapua, left, and Oscar Cabrera kiss after saying their wedding vows on Friday at City Hall in Philadelphia. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania became the final northeastern state and the 19th in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage.
Matt Rourke AP

Same-sex marriage supporters continued to enjoy considerable legal momentum this week.

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The Two-Way
11:49 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Official: More Than 200 Dead In Turkish Mine Explosion

A rescued miner is carried away after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, on Tuesday.
AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 4:59 am

Updated at 6:00 a.m. ET. Wednesday:

Authorities in Turkey say at least 205 workers have been killed after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in the western part of the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared three days of national mourning.

Update at 11:19 p.m. ET. More Than 200 Dead:

The sad count of fatalities continues to climb as AP reports at least 201 dead and more than 200 are still trapped underground after a fire and explosion in a coal mine south of Istanbul.

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Business
7:32 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Advocates Back Paid Sick Leave, But Opponents Won't Cough It Up

Activists hold signs during a rally on Jan. 18, 2013, at New York's City Hall to call for immediate action on paid sick days legislation in light of the continued spread of the flu. Last month, New York City began requiring employers to provide paid sick days, joining the ranks of other cities such as Washington, Seattle and San Francisco.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 1:03 pm

If you've ever seen your waiter sneeze, you may have asked for a different server. If you've seen one sneeze repeatedly, you might wonder why he's still at work, serving tainted food.

See, most restaurant workers don't get paid when they stay home sick. But, some go to work anyway, when they've got the sniffles or worse, because they need the paycheck.

For labor advocates, that's a problem.

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Around the Nation
3:54 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Abortion Opponents Find Winning Strategy In Ohio

In Ohio, four of the state's 14 abortion clinics have shut down over the past year, with three more in legal peril.
Alan Greenblatt NPR

The old abortion rights slogan — "safe, legal and rare" — has been turned on its head.

By imposing greater safety requirements on clinics, abortion opponents have succeeded in putting many of them out of business.

The goal of this strategy is not to ban abortion — "there are things that are banned that occur every day," says Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life — but to end it.

"Abortion is legal, so you must have incremental legislation to save as many babies as we can," Gonidakis.

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U.S.
5:23 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

States Struggle To Find An Execution Method That Works

The gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary is pictured in McAlester, Okla., in 2008. Legal pressures and concerns from European manufacturers have made traditional execution drugs unavailable to states.
AP

States have always struggled to find humane ways to carry out the death penalty. For a generation, they have favored lethal injection, but that method has become increasingly problematic.

It's coming under increased scrutiny following the death of Clayton Lockett, who died Tuesday of a heart attack after writhing visibly during an execution attempt in Oklahoma.

The execution "fell short" of humane standards, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday.

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