Commentary: Truly honoring our veterans   

Imagine a scenario in which a candidate for U.S. Senate urges people to boycott the largest city in his or her state. That’s what retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Maness, who twice lost races for the Senate, did last week by suggesting in a radio interview that American veterans avoid New Orleans in response to the removal of four Confederate-
era statues.

Speaking on the syndicated Lars Larson Show, Maness said veterans should stay away from New Orleans, including those set to attend the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ (VFW) 118th annual convention here next month.…
          6/30 Leland Live Hour 3   
In this hour, Leland discusses the Senate's possible option to repeal Obamacare, the Oliver Robinson-Luther Strange case, and CNN's vendetta against President Trump
          House may stall Senate’s Russia sanctions even after technical issue resolved   
Preview New sanctions drawn up against Russia in the US Senate are no longer snagged by a technical matter, but the bill may still be in limbo, as it faces opposition in the House of Representatives.
Read Full Article at RT.com
          US senators propose $558mn more for Israeli missile defense   
Preview A Senate committee markup of the 2018 Pentagon funding bill would give $705 million to Israeli “cooperative” missile defense programs, a $588 million increase from the budget request made by President Donald Trump.
Read Full Article at RT.com
          $700bn Pentagon bill funds US presence in E. Europe & weapons for Ukraine   
Preview A Senate committee proposal for the 2018 military budget would further boost Pentagon spending on troops and equipment, make the US presence in Eastern Europe a persistent feature, and supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, among other things.
Read Full Article at RT.com
          HIV advocate reflects on arrest while protesting Senate health care bill   

On Wednesday, June 28, Eric Sawyer and about 10 other HIV activists were arrested while engaging in civil disobedience in protest of the Republican-led Senate’s version of a health care reform bill that they say will be devastating to those living with HIV. It’s not a new experience for Sawyer, who is the vice president […]

The post HIV advocate reflects on arrest while protesting Senate health care bill appeared first on Metro Weekly.


          U.S. Senate introduces resolution recognizing June as “LGBTQ Pride Month”   

Resolution recognizes LGBTQ contributions and vows to push for greater equality measures

The post U.S. Senate introduces resolution recognizing June as “LGBTQ Pride Month” appeared first on Metro Weekly.


          $700 billion Senate NDAA has fewer troops than House, focuses on cyber war   

The Senate defense authorization bill increases the Army's active duty end strength by 5,000. It also creates a policy for responding to cyber attacks.

The post $700 billion Senate NDAA has fewer troops than House, focuses on cyber war appeared first on FederalNewsRadio.com.


          John Ballantyne Approved by New Jersey State Senate for Position on Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield's Board of Directors   

https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/529801/NRCC_John_Ballantyne.jpg?p=captionEDISON, N.J., June 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC) announced today that John Ballantyne, the Council's Executive Secretary-Treasurer (EST) has been approved by the New Jersey State Senate to join Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield's...



          Trump Administration Proposes LOWEST Bid to Extend H-1B Outsourcing Permanently   

IEEE-USA Logo (PRNewsFoto/IEEE-USA) (PRNewsFoto/IEEE-USA)WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Trump administration representative has made an astonishing proposal to Congress that would break the President's repeated promises to end H-1B outsourcing, in a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,...



          What the Senate's Obamacare Replacement would mean for Mental-Health Treatment (Pacific Standard)   

By Francie Diep

June 26, 2017

See Original Post

When Obamacare repeal was but a twinkle in Republicans' eyes, Pacific

Standard wrote about how the disappearance of the Affordable Care Act might

affect Americans who need mental-health care, including addiction treatment.

At the time, we didn't ...

Read more

          Trump: Afskaf Obamacare nu og find på noget bedre senere   
Præsident Donald Trump skriver på Twitter, at republikanerne i Senatet øjeblikkeligt skal afskaffe Obamacare. Så kan de senere beslutte sig for en ny sundhedsreform. - Hvis republikansk ...
          Why Obamacare is here to stay   
Senate Republicans continue to work to repeal and repeal Obamacare, but even if they succeed, it has become clear this week that the law has fundamentally shifted expectations surrounding health care in the country.

          Prostitutes: Senate health care bill will devastate us   
Adding a voice to the chorus against the Republican-led American Health Care Act is a group not usually heard on protest frontlines: prostitutes.

          Ranked Choice Voting Remains the Law of the Land in Maine   

A bill to repeal Maine’s first-in-the-nation adoption of ranked choice voting for all state races died in the state’s legislature on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017. This means that ranked choice voting, which voters adopted via a ballot question in November of 2016, will remain the law of the land  as the state’s 2018 elections for state and federal offices approach. Maine voters passed ranked choice voting by a margin of 52% to 48% in November with nearly 400,000 voters approving, making the referendum victory the second largest in the history of Maine. 

In May, the Maine Supreme Court issued a non-binding advisory opinion that the law passed by voters did not comply with the state’s constitution when applied to some state offices. The opinion is merely advice to the state senate; it is not binding on any court, and the Maine Supreme Court may come out differently after a lawsuit with all of its associated briefings. The opinion also only applied to state general elections. Ranked choice voting is without question constitutional for state primaries and all federal elections. Members of the Maine legislature tried to use the ruling by the Supreme Court as an excuse to repeal ranked choice voting in its entirety and overturn the will of voters, but those efforts failed this week.

“Supporters of election reform across Maine will remain vigilant over the coming weeks, months, and years to defend Maine’s voter-approved Ranked Choice Voting law,” said Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. Dick Woodbury, chair of the Committee, added that “It’s time to move forward with implementation.”

The failed repeal effort is a win for voters in Maine, who spoke loud and clear on Election Day in November to adopt ranked choice voting as a means to strengthen their democracy. Those same voters had their voices heard in the months leading up to the legislature’s repeal effort, and their tireless efforts to preserve a stronger voice and greater choice in Maine elections paid off. With Maine’s 2018 elections on the horizon, FairVote looks forward to being a resource as the state moves forward with implementation and prepares voters for a new, better way to vote.

 


          1/550 RMS Titanic   
1/550 RMS TitanicThis is a plastic model kit, which comes unassembled and unpainted. So glue, model paints and other basic modelling tools are additionally required.


Model Dimension: Length: 482mm, Width: 48.5mm

The kit consists of 93 parts in plastic Stand & Nameplate included.

TITANIC lost in the depths for 73 years, its discovery in 1985 and subsequent exploration have made Titanic the best-known ship of all time. The many events relating to the Titanic have made it a legend. It was the subject of Watergate-type investigation in the U.S. The present safety standards applied to shipping are attributed to this event. Harland and Wolfe, builders of the Titanic and its sister ship, the Olympic, were unable to provide drawings, which were destroyed during WWII, or their model which disappeared during the Senate investigations in 1912. The model was, however, constructed from original drawings, photographs taken by survivors and other technical journals, many of which war provided by the Titanic Historical Society resulting in a model indistinguishable from the original ship

Buy Now
          Poor People Don’t Need Blue Cross Insurance, They Only Need True Cross Insurance   

As the Senate prepares to repeal ObamaCare and insure 22 million people don’t ‘run up the bill’ trying to take care of their ‘ailments’, America is in a unique position to remind poor people of the nation of one simple fact:  you don’t need Medicaid, Medicare or even Blue Cross, you only need True Cross. The science is simple:  prayer is a more powerful and affordable health insurance for poor people than any commercial insurance plans in the market place. […]

The post Poor People Don’t Need Blue Cross Insurance, They Only Need True Cross Insurance appeared first on ChristWire.


          GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   

President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

The influential Koch network, backed...


          Trump: Kill Obamacare now, replace later   

(Reuters) – President Donald Trump urged Republican senators today to repeal Obamacare immediately if they cannot agree on a new healthcare plan to replace it, potentially sowing confusion as congressional leaders struggle for a consensus on healthcare legislation. Senate Republican leaders had set today as the target for rewriting legislation that would repeal extensive parts […]

The post Trump: Kill Obamacare now, replace later appeared first on MassDevice.


          US Senators want Kaspersky shut out of military contracts   

Russia 'won't rule out' retaliation

Russia has hinted at retaliation if the US adopts a Senate committee recommendation to ban Kaspersky from American military contracts.…


          Pa. Senate reveals budget spending bill, but no revenue plan in sight   
Lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf appear to have come to an agreement on a $32 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts at midnight Friday. That doesn’t mean the budget is done. A revenue package to balance it still isn’t ready, and there are significant disagreements standing in the way of passing it. Still, politicians on both sides of the aisle lauded the spending plan, which passed a late-night Senate appropriations committee meeting with three dissenting votes. The House and Senate…

          Michigan will not have an anti-abortion license plate, thanks to Gov. Snyder   
Governor Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have created a state-issued “Choose Life” fundraising license plate, with proceeds going to the Choose Life Fund.

Snyder said in a statement that he was concerned that “The ‘Choose Life’ license plate is a political message that has the potential to bitterly divide millions of Michiganders." In his view, it is "not appropriate for a state-issued license plate.”

House Republicans approved the bill in May on a near party-line vote, according to the Free Press. Reps. Robert Kosowski of Westland and Brian Elder of Bay City were the only Democrats who supported the legislation.…
          What Jon Stewart Means To Me   
August 2006, I wrapped up my life in India and moved to the United States for a PhD in Marketing.

I left the country I really knew and moved to a strange new land, with its strange new customs, and strange people, and strange grocery aisles! I had a tough time fitting in!

Okay, no I didn't.

The thing is, I moved when I was 26 years old, as opposed to most other Indian grad students who move here right out of college, having not seen any of the "real world". Thanks to blogs and internet forums and American TV shows and second hand stories from close friends who moved there four years before, I more or less knew what to expect from America. To me, almost everything ranging from grocery aisles to the way the people talked and behaved to the local "customs" seemed familiar.

The one thing that wasn't as familiar was the news cycle. I have always been a huge news junkie, especially interested in politics. Although I followed the basics of American politics even when I lived in India, I did not really "know" the scene too well. Sure, I had followed the 2004 primaries, seen Howard Dean's howl, slept through John Kerry's speeches, and more or less knew why Florida or Ohio are so much more crucial in the Presidential race than Tennessee or Indiana.

And I knew America's comedy scene well enough, having been a big fan of Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, and of course, George Carlin.

And yes, I was vaguely aware of this funny guy called Jon Stewart who combined politics and comedy. When I was in India, CNN used to air a half hour compilation of the best bits of his show once a week. Not quite the "Daily" show but whenever I came across it on TV, I watched it and chuckled. To me, it seemed like a funny enough show with a political context.

And then in August 2006, I moved to America. I fit in quite easily in most ways, ranging from food to socializing to academics to day to day chores. One aspect where I felt lost was the politics. I realized that I knew about American politics only peripherally. So I started reading more blogs, watching the big three cable news channels, reading newspapers, etc.

The first time I watched The Daily Show was due to jet lag a couple of days after I arrived. I had slept through most of the afternoon and evening and in the wee hours of the night, I found myself as alert as a watchdog. While my roommates slept, I plonked myself in front of the TV and started flipping channels. And I came across the slightly familiar face of Jon Stewart. It was 1 or 2 AM so obviously, it was the repeat telecast.

As I watched, I found myself drawn in instantly, maybe because of the Indian connection. The segment was about how Republican senate candidate George Allen had referred to an Indian-American staffer of his opponent Jim Webb as "macaca". What I loved about that segment was that it combined facts, opinion, and humor perfectly without taking cheap shots at anyone. I made a mental note to watch the show again the next night.

And I loved the show again. And then I watched it again. And I kept watching every night. It taught me about aspects of the US "midterm" elections that I had never really fully understood sitting in India. It contextualized the red-v-blue battle in terms more nuanced and pithy than I had ever read on any blog. And of course, it made me laugh, especially with the hilariously quirky George W Bush impression.

I still remember that hilarious song about the midterms

"So just remember this November that your vote will count,
A very very very very very small amount!"

Jon Stewart helped me seamlessly blend into the American political discourse the way thousands of hours of reading blogs and news sites never had. He has that uncanny ability to zero in on the most consequential news items of the day and in 22 short minutes....14 if you omit the interview...present a perfect blend of analysis and irony.

Within a few days, the 11 PM time slot on my daily calendar....or at least Monday-Thursday calendar was earmarked for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He chuckled, he made faces, he did impressions, but above all, he managed to be that guy inside us all who is just utterly baffled with the absurdity and sometimes cruelty of the world around us, but tries to cope with it using humor.

Jon Stewart helped me through American political milestones from the 2006 midterms to the 2014 midterms, not ignoring other events worldwide. One of his and his show's greatest qualities has been the ability to strike the right balance in expressing resentment about something. Many comedians have gotten in trouble for crossing the "line" of tastefulness. Which is why many comedians steer clear of troublesome topics.

But Jon has somehow always been able to address tricky and even tragic topics with the right balance of sensitivity and respectful humor. And occasionally, just straight talk. His post 9/11 speech is the stuff of legend, so I won't talk about it here.

But as a former Bombayite now living in the US, my most memorable and personally relevant example of this uncanny knack of addressing tragedies tastefully is the segment he and John Oliver did after the 2008 Bombay attacks


It was just so perfect!

Watching Jon Stewart has been a part of my life from the very first week I moved to this country 9 years ago. He's been an integral part of my life.

I have attended two of his show's tapings in person and was blown away by how nice he was even off-camera. I went to DC with 250,000 other people for the Rally to Restore Sanity that he and Stephen Colbert organized.

And now he's announced that he's leaving The Daily Show. Given what a permanent fixture he's been in my life in this country, this is a BIG change. But I understand why he needs to do what he needs to do. Rosewater has shown that he's capable of much more and who can fault him for wanting to spread his wings?

I'll miss you Jon, and 11 PM Monday to Thursday just won't be the same after you leave.

          Illinois senate Republican leader Christine Radogno to resign as budget deadline looms, and other Chicago news   

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, June 30, 2017. Have a great weekend!…

          Donald Trump loves the US Senate healthcare plan. It would break all of his promises   
OPINION: US President Donald Trump says his healthcare plan will be "something terrific" that will "lower premiums and deductibles" and have "insurance for everybody" without cutting Medicaid.
          TS131: Gay Dinner Theatre, Paternity Leave in Baseball, Mike Francesa & Guest Sandra Fluke   
The distant cousin of the woman who wrote into the newspaper about how to handle her gay son went to see "Deathtrap" in Salt Lake City and had a complete meltdown over the gay kiss, and Bryan has everything to say about it. And, did you know it's hard for major league baseball daddies to get R-E-S-P-E-C-T when they replace bat swinging for newborn holding? That PLUS!!!! reproductive rights defender and California State Senate candidate Sandra Fluke .    Watch Us!  Every Wednesday on Funny or Die See Us! TSPOD Live shows Subscribe and Rate Us! iTunes Tweet Us!  @gibblertron & @bryansafi Use the Hashtag #tspod Email Us! shadethrowing@gmail.com Like Us! Throwing Shade Facebook Page Old School Listen! RSS FeedProud member of Max Fun Podcasting Network 
          TS125: CookieCott2014, Arizona Gay Discrimination, and Guest Jennifer Tress   
Erin remembers she's half Jewish and Bryan finds out the name of the guy he's dating, plus, seriously fun discussions on CookieCott2014 and Arizona State Senate's war on gays, all topped off with "You're Not Pretty Enough" author and life getter, Jennifer Tress.  Watch Us!  Every Wednesday on Funny or Die See Us! TSPOD Live shows Subscribe and Rate Us! iTunes Tweet Us!  @gibblertron & @bryansafi Use the Hashtag #tspod Email Us! shadethrowing@gmail.com Like Us! Throwing Shade Facebook Page Old School Listen! RSS FeedProud member of Max Fun Podcasting Network 
          32 million people would lose coverage if Obamacare was repealed   

Republican senators are skittish enough that their health care bill would leave 22 million people more without health insurance by 2026, compared to Obamacare.

They likely won't be too keen on President Trump's suggestion to just repeal Obamacare immediately and replace it later if they can't get enough support to pass their bill.

That move would probably leave 18 million more people without coverage in the first year after its enactment and 32 million more by 2026, according to a Congressional Budget Office report that looked at an earlier GOP bill to repeal Obamacare.

It would also cause premiums on individual market policies to increase by up to 25% the first year and to nearly double by 2026.

All this would happen mainly because the individual mandate -- which requires nearly all Americans to get coverage or pay a penalty -- would be repealed. But some insurers would also likely pull out of the market, the CBO said. The remaining carriers would likely raise rates dramatically because the remaining enrollees would tend to be older and sicker.

This is one reason why Republican lawmakers in both the House and the Senate moved away from a straight repeal of Obamacare without a replacement bill. That left insurers, consumers and other Republican members in a tizzy. Only 19% of Americans supported repealing Obamacare first and replacing later, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in March.

That hasn't stopped some conservative GOP members from pushing for a full repeal. Both Senators Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rand Paul of Kentucky have recently broached the topic with Trump, likely leading to his tweet Friday morning.

While senators are expected to ignore Trump's suggestion, it does inject more uncertainty into the future of Obamacare and the individual market. And that's the last thing insurers need.

Already, many are raising rates or even dropping out of the individual market completely for 2018. Some 36 counties in Nevada, Ohio and Indiana are at risk of having no carrier on their exchanges next year, according to Kaiser.

Their main concerns: the mandate that everyone have insurance and the cost-sharing subsidies for lower-income Americans.

Insurers are brushing off the president's comments, saying they are moving forward with the efforts in Congress.

"We're focused on making recommendations to improve the [Senate bill], and on ensuring a stable 2018," said Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.

Follow this story


          Can Trump Succeed Where Reagan Failed?   
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People with family members who were killed by undocumented immigrants meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on June 29, 2017.

On Thursday, the House passed the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which proposes to withhold federal funding from localities that refuse to cooperate with Trump administration immigration measures aimed at criminal noncitizens and other undocumented people. The bill would also allow individuals and close family members of individuals who are victims of felonies committed by undocumented immigrants who have been released from local or state custody against the advice of federal authorities to file suit against states.

The day before, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, called on Congress to work on bipartisan immigration and criminal justice law reforms, adding that cities could use more federal assistance to fight terrorism and crime, and provide mental illness, substance abuse, and reentry programs.

Landrieu said in a letter to House members that local leaders do not want their law enforcement officers involved in federal immigration detention activities, nor do they want to be put in legal jeopardy for possible violations of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures. (A related bill known as Kate’s Law would establish new mandatory minimum prison terms for deported criminals who return to the United States.)

The sanctuary cities battle, like so many of Trump’s hastily conceived and poorly executed policies, appears headed for another showdown, either when the bills arrive in the Senate, or, in the unlikely event that the upper chamber drums up the 60 votes needed to approve them, almost certainly in the courts.

While the Trumpian turmoil is new, past presidents’ attempts to compel localities to comply with federal policies have met with mixed success. A new report, “Reagan vs. Cities: The 20th Century Battle Over South African Apartheid & Lessons for the Trump Era,” from Jobs to Move America and the Center for Media and Democracy, details the 40th president’s efforts to stamp out the U.S. anti-apartheid movement by several means, including denying federal funds to cities and states that took actions against companies that did business in South Africa.

The report explores the mixed outcomes for two cities that sought to stand their ground against this federal overreach. In 1984, the U.S. Department of Transportation, with the backing of the Justice Department, threatened New York City with the loss of transportation dollars unless the city revoked a local ordinance preventing city officials from contracting with businesses that operated in South Africa or used materials from the country. Although Mayor Ed Koch complained all the way up to President Ronald Reagan, the feisty New Yorker finally backed down, declined to take the matter to the courts, and finally reworked the measure to satisfy federal officials and preserve the city’s federal funding.

Two years later, Baltimore, which had crafted a local ordinance requiring city pension funds to divest $1.1 billion from entities that did business with South Africa, also came under fire. The trustees of the pensions funds and the funds’ beneficiaries (who feared significant financial losses in the short timeframe the funds had to comply with the divestment ordinance) joined forces to take the city to court.

The State Department and the National Security Council submitted briefs supporting the trustees and beneficiaries. But Baltimore ultimately prevailed in the state courts, and the Supreme Court decided not to hear the case. By 1991, nearly 100 cities in 28 states had taken a variety of actions against companies doing business in South Africa.

Although an early attempt by Trump to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities was roundly criticized as unconstitutional (the president aimed to usurp powers granted to Congress) and ultimately blocked by a federal judge, Republicans in Congress have stepped up to take their turn at the issue. Federal courts likely will have the final word on whether the federal government can compel states to assist in immigration enforcement activities or whether such provisions infringe on state powers.

Congress can indeed attach conditions to funding, especially if the funding is related to a specific purpose like law enforcement. Since the Supreme Court has indicated its willingness to consider wider immigration questions like those posed by the administration’s travel ban, it is unlikely that the high court would decline to weigh in, as it did in the Baltimore pension funds question.

Like the anti-apartheid activists, sanctuary cities supporters may find that public response to the crisis may compel different responses from Washington. Grassroots efforts to protect undocumented people have sprouted up all over the country; nearly 650 of the country’s more than 3,000 counties have placed limitations on local law enforcement assistance to federal immigration detention efforts.

But the support for such measures is far from solid in the country at large. Lawmakers in more than 30 states have introduced bills to curb cities’ abilities to weigh in on immigration enforcement. A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ interests in decreasing the numbers of immigrants admitted to the country have not shifted dramatically.

The “Reagan vs. Cities” report also notes that in addition to cutting off federal funds and other measures, Trump’s tactics include “a public relations strategy aimed at vilifying opponents.” The court of public opinion, however, isn’t always malleable. Reagan may have been the “great communicator,” but he was mostly unable to compel cities and states to abandon divestment and other economic strategies aimed at crippling South African apartheid. Trump, if anything, is more of a great alienator than communicator, who will ultimately run up against the numerical impossibility of deporting millions of undocumented people.


          Voting Fights in the States   
AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

Oregon Governor Kate Brown, at podium, celebrates Oregon's first year of an automatic voter registration program with a news conference, where she said that in the November election, over 97,000 ballots were cast by new voters registered by the so-called motor voter program. Hazelnuts contained in the bags in the foreground represent the 270,000 Oregonians who were registered to vote by the program. 

The national battle over voting rights and “voter fraud” will play out in Washington over the next months in relation to the Kobach-Pence commission and the resistance to it. But in the meantime, issues have been joined this spring in state legislative sessions around the country. And the resulting scorecard may surprise you.

Back in November, when the dust settled after the election, the numbers on partisan control of legislatures seemed stark and frightening for advocates of voting rights and election reform. Republicans controlled both chambers in 31 states, and had the full “trifecta,” including the governor, in 24. In sharp contrast, Democrats controlled both houses in only 13 states, and had trifectas in a mere six. Looking at these numbers, at the post-Shelby decision absence of Voting Rights Act preclearance protections, and at the radically changed posture of the Justice Department, many feared an onslaught of voter-suppression legislation that would create an even more diminished electorate for the elections of 2018.

Well, it’s now the end of June, and while some legislatures are still in session, the great majority have finished their business for the year. Several states have indeed passed bad bills. But, overall, the results are significantly better, both in staving off voter-suppression efforts and in expanding voting rights and voting access, than one might have expected as the sessions began.

First, A Few Real Successes

Perhaps the most remarkable outcome this year is in Illinois, which has a Democratic legislature and a conservative Republican governor, Bruce Rauner. Last year, the legislature passed an automatic voter registration (AVR) bill with bipartisan support, but Rauner vetoed it. 

Under automatic voter registration, people who go to the DMV, and potentially other agencies as well, are automatically put on the voter roll, unless they opt out. In Oregon, which was the first adopter, AVR has added several hundred thousand voters to the rolls.

In Illinois, an AVR bill was reintroduced this year and, remarkably, passed both chambers with unanimous votes. While Rauner has 60 days to sign the bill, all indications are that he will, joining Illinois with eight other states and the District of Columbia where AVR is being implemented, and showing that maybe, at least in Illinois, encouraging people to register and vote doesn’t seem like a partisan trick.

The victory was also the work of a broad and determined coalition of voting-rights and election-reform advocacy groups, under the rubric of Just Democracy. Brian Gladstein, Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois and one of the leaders of the coalition said:

This bill will bring over one million eligible voters into the electoral process in Illinois. During a time of heightened partisanship in Springfield and across the nation, we have demonstrated that breaking down barriers to the ballot box can be achieved and supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

AVR still has a good chance to pass in other states. In Rhode Island, an AVR bill passed the House unanimously and a positive vote in the Senate is expected shortly. Governor Gina Raimondo has said she will sign it if it comes to her desk. In Massachusetts, where the legislative session goes on all year, an AVR bill with 102 legislative sponsors has been heard in committee (23 speakers in favor and none against), and could be before the full legislature in the fall.

In some other states, AVR made headway but was eventually blocked. These include Maine, New Mexico, and Nevada. In Nevada’s case, the bill passed both houses, but was vetoed by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval. A ballot initiative on AVR now goes to the voters, who will have the chance to approve it in the November 2018 general election.

In addition to automatic voter registration, other real gains were made. Utah expanded opportunities for early voting and absentee voting. New Jersey improved its processes for military voters and Indiana improved its registration process at the motor vehicle department.

Another issue where progress was made, though halting and slow, is restoration of the right to vote for citizens with felony convictions. Forty-nine bills were introduced in 16 states to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people who have served their sentences. A real victory occurred in Wyoming, which enacted a bill providing that people who completed their sentence after January 1, 2010, do not need to submit an application for restoration of voting rights and will automatically be issued a certificate of restoration.

In Florida, where 1.7 million citizens can’t vote due to the state’s lifetime ban on voting by people with felony convictions (1.5 million have fully completed their sentences), the broad and bipartisan Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has made major strides. The Florida Supreme Court has approved language for a proposed ballot initiative to restore voting rights to ex-felons; now the job is collecting 700,000 signatures on the petition in order to be on the ballot in November 2018.

In Minnesota, the Restore the Vote Coalition got a bill to more effectively restore voting rights through one house of the legislature. And in Nebraska, the state’s conservative unicameral legislature passed a bill to restore voting rights to citizens upon release from incarceration by a 27-13 margin, but the bill was vetoed by Governor Pete Ricketts. (Nebraska voting-rights advocates also derailed a proposed constitutional amendment requiring voter ID.)

Now for the Bad News

To be clear, and clear-eyed, the move to make voting more difficult and restricted continues, and several states enacted laws designed to limit the vote in one way or another. The forces bent on restricting the vote have won significant victories over the last several years, though many of the laws have been successfully challenged in court. In fact, of the worst voter-restriction bills that passed this year, a majority were actually efforts to re-pass laws struck down in court, altered in order to make them more judicially acceptable.

·      Iowa enacted a law, championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate, which includes restrictions on voter-registration drives; hindrances to Election Day, early, and absentee voting; strict voter-ID requirements; and—most troublesome—the right to purge voter rolls of “non-citizen” names without any clarity on who and how such decisions to purge are made. This could lead to significant numbers of eligible voters being disenfranchised.

·      New Hampshire passed a bill restricting registration for students and low-income voters by requiring proof of residency for those who register 30 days before the election, with investigation and criminal penalties for failure to comply. (A component to eliminate same-day registration was dropped from the bill.)

·      In Arkansas, a voter-ID law, modified after courts struck down an earlier, similar law, was passed and signed. The law reinstates the requirement that a voter must provide one of a narrow choice of IDs at the polls. In addition, the legislature put a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID on the 2018 ballot.

·      In North Dakota, the only state that doesn’t require voter registration at all, the governor signed strict voter-ID requirements into law. The bill was softened somewhat, particularly in regard to the Native American community, to avoid the fate of the 2016 version of the law, which was struck down in court.

Why Less Carnage?

No one wants to be naïvely optimistic, or to underestimate how much damage has already been done in states by determined efforts at voter suppression. Racially charged and politically motivated efforts continue at every level to find ways to discourage people from registering and voting. In the wake of Shelby, these efforts have multiplied and will continue to do so.

But, overall, the results in the 2017 legislative sessions were not nearly as bad as seemed likely last November. There was not a deluge of major voter-suppression legislation. Some bad bills were passed, a number were weakened as they made their way through the legislative process, and a significant number were sidetracked along the way. Two main reasons for this seem clear.

First, the courts, both state and federal, have played a significant role in preventing extreme assaults on voting. Prodded by strong litigation efforts from voting-rights organizations, in state after state, courts have found voter-suppression efforts unconstitutional, blocking their implementation. In addition to the direct effects of the cases, their cumulative impact has been to caution and restrain advocates of restrictive legislation from overreaching.

Second, it is deeply encouraging to see the growing power, sophistication, and rapid response capabilities of the movement for an inclusive democracy. In state after state, coalitions were activated, or created, to fight back against the efforts to stifle, shrink, and bleach the vote. 

And the advocates didn’t just play defense. Despite the potentially unfavorable partisan makeup in so many states, the affirmative action for expanding the right and ability to vote continues to make headway—winning in some states, gathering momentum for future victories in others. 

And there is one other cause for optimism worth noting. I recently attended a conference of 200 legislators and election officials from around the country, co-convened by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Democracy Fund. The focus of the event was election technology and administration. There was strong and bipartisan support for improving election machinery, combating the challenges of cybersecurity, and fighting for adequate funding to run elections in the best way possible. This is one of the reasons that online registration and automatic voter registration are making real progress; they are technical improvements as well as access expansions. The election officials take their responsibilities seriously, and if legislators, state and national, would take their cues, bipartisan progress just might become more possible.

Thanks to Cecily Hines for research and perspective for this column.


          Healthcare Activists Rally as Senate GOP Delays Vote   
McConnell’s June 27th announcement to delay the vote came just as healthcare advocates kicked off their three day long People’s Filibuster in an effort to put pressure on the Senators who were considering voting for a bill that would cut $772 billion from Medicaid and $408 billion from insurance subsidies in order to give a tax break to the top 1 percent of American earners and major corporations.
          Supreme Court to Hear Case Regarding Constitutionality of Partisan Gerrymandering   
The term “gerrymandering” refers to the redrawing of legislative districts in order to achieve a balance of voters that will elect a specific kind of candidate.
          Trumpcare Trades Women’s Lives for Tax Cuts to the Super Rich and Business Interests   
  For Immediate Release: June 23, 2017 Contact: Megan Connor / meganconnor@feministmajority.org / 703 973 6469 Feminist Majority today joined with Feminist Majority, National Organization for Women, In Our Own Voice, and the National Women’s Law Center in opposition to Trumpcare, which will have a catastrophic effect on many women’s lives. Watch the press conference here.  Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a draft of the Senate’s healthcare bill that shamelessly targets women: pregnant women trying to access maternal and per-natal healthcare; the women who make up nearly 70% of all adult Medicaid enrollees; young women trying to access reproductive healthcare; and elderly women who make up over two-thirds of nursing home patients. Just like the House version, the Senate bill is not about providing healthcare services but rather about taking them away from millions of people—mostly women. It takes nearly a trillion dollars away from Medicaid to give massive tax cuts to the super rich and benefits to insurance providers and drug companies. This bill disgracefully takes from Medicaid nearly a trillion dollars and would deny life-saving services to the 74 million people who rely on Medicaid for care. Medicaid pays for nearly half of all births in the United States. […]
          Senate Version of Trumpcare Puts Women on the Chopping Block   
The Feminist Majority condemns the cruel draft of the U.S. Senate healthcare bill released today that threatens to decimate Medicaid as we know it and rip health insurance away from millions. We’re calling on U.S. Senators to oppose the Senate’s deadly, heartless version of Trumpcare.
          Trump urges Republicans to repeal Obamacare now and replace it later   

President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.

Trump's tweet revives an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself...


          We need more money in health care. Here's one way to get it   
If there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family, this bill will do you harm.” – Former U.S. president Barack Obama Even President Donald Trump called the initial House of Representatives bill “mean.” Senate Republicans recently delayed discussion and voting on their own health care bill until at least after […]
          Making Health Care Cheaper   
Vox says that one of the most important issues is why Americans pay so much for care that costs less elsewhere. One reason why: America's two basic systems for providing care both put the payment on organizations with huge pools of money. Insurance companies have big budgets, but they are dwarfed by the Feds who run Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.

Inflation follows naturally when more dollars chase the same number of services.
          Did a GOP politician effectively buy Roger Stone’s endorsement against Sen. Elizabeth Warren?   

Roger Stone posted social media endorsements of Massachusetts state Rep. Geoff Diehl’s bid to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) just days after Diehl rented his email list.

Stone, who contributes to radio host Alex Jones’ Infowars network and will soon host his own Infowars show, has a history of pushing racist, sexist, and conspiratorial rhetoric. Stone has been a longtime adviser to Trump and worked as a paid consultant for Trump’s campaign; he is now reportedly under FBI investigation as part of the agency’s probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Stone announced in May through a marketing company that he’s accepting advertisers for his “online presence,” which includes his email list and "social media posts."

Diehl’s campaign rented Stone’s list on June 16 for a fundraising email. A message accompanying the email stated: “We are excited to share with you a special message from one of our sponsoring advertisers, Diehl For Senate. It is also sponsors like them that help fund Stone Cold Truth. Please note that the following message reflects the opinions and representations of our sponsor alone, and not necessarily the opinion of Roger Stone.”

Endorsements for Diehl subsequently appeared on Stone's Facebook and Twitter accounts. Those posts gave no indication whether they were advertisements.

Stone’s Facebook page posted the following on June 23: “Help Us Fire Elizabeth Warren!!!!! Geoff Diehl: The REAL Deal for Massachusetts Help build our grassroots movement to support the real Diehl for Massachusetts. Stand with Geoff Diehl for U.S. Senate. Your donation will send a loud message that it's time to put Massachusetts first.” Much of that language is taken from Diehl’s website. Diel’s Facebook page subsequently touted the Stone post by writing: “The Stone Cold Truth is that we need a U.S. Senator who will put Massachusetts first. Donate today!” 

On June 24, Stone tweeted a link to a Diehl fundraising page and asked followers to "help us fire Elizabeth Warren."

Diehl retweeted Stone and a supporter who celebrated Stone's tweet:

Stone’s backing of Diehl is at odds with his colleagues at Infowars, which has thrown its support to entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai, who is competing against Diehl for the Republican nomination. He appeared on Alex Jones’ program on June 7 and June 25. During the June 7 interview, Jones said it was “really exciting” to have Ayyadurai challenging Warren, gave viewers his campaign website address, and asked the Republican how people can support his candidacy. Ayyadurai responded by asking Jones’ listeners to make donations and to volunteer with his campaign.

He appeared on Jones’ June 25 show with guest host Owen Shroyer for roughly 20 minutes; the video description stated: “Everyone show your support for Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai running against Democrat Elitist, Elizabeth Warren in 2018. https://shiva4senate.com/ https://twitter.com/va_shiva.” During the appearance, the candidate said that “what Alex does is probably, sort of the last sort of beacon of truth that’s out there.”

Requests for comment to Diehl were not returned.


           Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace later    
By Doina Chiacu and Susan CornwellWASHINGTON, June 30 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump urged Republican senators in a tweet on Friday to repeal ...
          For many seniors, retirement gets more expensive if Senate’s health care bill is passed   
Older Americans would be subject to an "age tax" under the Senate legislation designed to revamp the Affordable Care Act, says an expert with the AARP.
          Older Hoosiers Express Concerns Over Health Bill   
AARP Indiana opposes the legislation being considered by the Senate.
          GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   

President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

The influential Koch network, backed...


           The Latest: WH says Trump supports Senate health care bill    
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the Senate GOP health care bill (all times local):3:15 p.m.The White House says it remains "fully committed" to pushing...
          Trump Urges GOP To Repeal Obama Law Now, Replace Later   

President Donald Trump urged divided congressional Republicans on Friday to break their logjam over dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law by “immediately” repealing it and replacing it later, a formula that GOP leaders dismissed months ago as politically unwise. Trump’s early-morning tweet embraced a sequential approach favored by only a handful of conservatives eager to take quick action on one of the party’s foremost priorities — repealing Obamacare, something Republicans have long promised to do. But his suggestion threatened to sharpen divisions between conservatives and moderates, who are leery of stripping coverage from millions of constituents without something to substitute for it. “If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!” Trump tweeted. Supporters of that idea include Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rand Paul, R-Ky. House and Senate leaders long ago abandoned initial thoughts of first erasing Obama’s law, and then replacing it. Such a step-by-step approach would leave Republicans vulnerable to Democratic accusations that they were simply tossing people off coverage without helping them obtain medical care. It could also roil insurance markets by prompting insurers to flee or boost premiums because of worries over whether, when and how Congress would replace the statute. And the idea would leave unresolved the quandary stumping lawmakers today — how to replace Obama’s system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that will get enough Republican votes to pass Congress. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Trump’s tweet. Underscoring the fissures within the GOP, conservative group leaders welcomed Trump’s suggestion but said it didn’t go far enough because it could open the door to a subsequent bipartisan compromise to replace Obama’s law. They accused McConnell of not wanting to go far enough and protecting GOP moderates who want to keep parts of the statute, such as insurance coverage requirements. “It’s distressing to see so many Republicans who’ve lied about their commitment to repeal. Mitch McConnell wants to amend Obamacare,” Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a conference call. Mimicking a southern accent, the New Jersey-born Cuccinelli said, “Root and branch, root and branch,” repeating an expression McConnell once used about how thoroughly he wanted to repeal the Obama law. On Thursday, Senate Republicans were considering breaking a stalemate over what their replacement bill should do by preserving a tax boost Obama’s law imposed on high earners. Keeping that tax increase in place was a bid to woo party moderates and rescue their sputtering push to repeal his health care overhaul. The break from dogma by a party that has long reviled tax boosts — and most things achieved by Obama — underscores McConnell’s feverish effort to rescue the Senate legislation from the brink of possible defeat. The money from the tax boost would instead be used to bolster proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people. The change, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would give a more populist flavor to the bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that as the legislation now is written, it would boost out-of-pocket costs for many poor consumers and produce 22 million uninsured people while cutting around $700 billion in taxes over a […]

The post Trump Urges GOP To Repeal Obama Law Now, Replace Later appeared first on Yeshiva World News.


          Sessions Hopes Russia Probe Ends ‘Sooner Rather Than Later’   

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a vote of confidence Friday to former FBI director Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, but he also said he hoped the investigation could “move forward and come to an end sooner rather than later.” The attorney general’s comments during a “Fox & Friends” interview were his most expansive to date on the Justice Department’s appointment last month of Mueller to run the investigation. “Mr. Mueller is someone I’ve known a long time, and I’ve had confidence in him over the years,” said Sessions, an Alabama Republican who served for years on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel that oversees the FBI. Those remarks stand in contrast to a drumbeat of Republican criticism of the special counsel’s investigation, including from President Donald Trump, who on the same show last week contended that Mueller was “very, very good friends” with fired FBI director James Comey and characterized that relationship as “very bothersome.” Republicans have also raised conflict-of-interest concerns by noting that some lawyers on Mueller’s investigative team have previously contributed to Democratic candidates, though federal law and department policy does not permit the special counsel to take into consideration the political affiliations of a potential hire. Sessions said he was hopeful the investigation would conclude sooner than later, a point White House staff has repeatedly made, and he did suggest that questions about the composition of Mueller’s staff could be fair game. “We expect integrity from every person involved in this investigation. Mr. Mueller is entitled, lawfully, I guess, at this point, to hire who he desires,” Sessions said, “but I think he should look for people who have strength and credibility by all people.” Mueller was appointed FBI director by Republican President George W. Bush and held the position for 12 years. (AP)

The post Sessions Hopes Russia Probe Ends ‘Sooner Rather Than Later’ appeared first on Yeshiva World News.


          Indiana Governor Signs Bill; Indiana CPAs and Indiana CPA Society Make...   

Bill for new type of licensing education unanimously passes House and Senate

(PRWeb June 30, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/06/prweb14423459.htm


          Anita Hill on What It Will Take to End Sexual Harassment   

It’s been 26 years since Anita Hill raised awareness of sexual harassment with her televised testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee. A national conversation about the problem ensued, as did a fuller understanding of its pervasiveness and unlawfulness. Charges of sexual harassment filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jumped 50 percent just the year after Hill spoke out. So is she surprised by recent disclosures about Uber and … [ more ]

The post Anita Hill on What It Will Take to End Sexual Harassment appeared first on Pennsylvania Conference for Women.


          KCWIR: The UMKC Downtown Arts Campus Vetoed   
Health Bill: This was supposed to be the week the U.S. Senate was to finally vote on a new health law to replace Obamacare. But that vote has now been pushed off until after the Fourth of July holiday due to lack of support. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran is making national news as he comes   ...Continue Reading
          Connecticut Medical Device Companies Watching Health Care Reform Closely   
Supporters of the Senate health care reform bill have been few and far between outside of the Republican party. But there's one important industry in Connecticut that is cheerleading for the legislation: medical device companies.
          Trump urges Republicans to repeal Obamacare now and replace it later   

President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.

Trump's tweet revives an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself...


          GOP health care debate turns to stark question: help the vulnerable, or help the rich?   

Republican negotiations over how to overhaul the Affordable Care Act centered sharply Thursday on a divisive and ideological question: How much money should the Senate health care bill spend on protecting vulnerable Americans, and how much on providing tax relief to the wealthy?

Senate Majority...


          Hopes fade for Friday revise of Senate Republican health care bill   

Senate Republicans appeared unlikely to hit a self-imposed Friday deadline for revising their health care bill, as negotiators considered scaling back promised tax cuts for the wealthy in order to provide more insurance assistance to the poor.

Vice President Mike Pence led a White House push by...


          Media Protect Elizabeth Warren in Senate Race   
Accuracy in Media Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has picked up the endorsement and fundraising support of entertainer Harry Belafonte, whose reputation as a calypso singer has been superseded by his service to international Marxism. During the Cold War, Belafonte sang at a “Concert for Peace” in communist East Germany, where he attacked President […]
          Pa. Senate OKs bill to let school workers have guns   
School districts that let employees carry firearms on school grounds to help protect students from would-be killers would have to abide by certain ground rules.
       

          FDA unveils plan to eliminate orphan designation backlog   

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled a strategic plan to eliminate the agency's existing orphan designation request backlog and ensure continued timely response to all new requests for designation with firm deadlines. The agency's Orphan Drug Modernization Plan comes a week after FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb committed to eliminating the backlog within 90 days and responding to all new requests for designation within 90 days of receipt during his testimony before a Senate sub...

Read the full story at http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=210391


          In The Land Of Bill Gates, A Standoff Over Money For Schools | GOOD Education   
In The Land Of Bill Gates, A Standoff Over Money For Schools | GOOD Education:

In The Land Of Bill Gates, A Standoff Over Money For Schools
Not one of Washington State’s 13 resident billionaires pays a dime in income tax.



ZACHARY WARREN SPENDS A LOT OF HIS TIME THINKING ABOUT CHAIRS. Desk chairs, to be more specific. Though there’s a range of chair sizes in the classroom where he’s taught for years in the Seattle Public School system, he says, “They don’t fit the kids. The desks don’t fit the kids.”
The problem, Warren believes, is that public education in his state isn’t fully-funded. Which means equipment doesn’t always work. Or adequate supplies simply aren’t available. So teachers like him — who already struggle to make it on salaries that are well below what it takes to live in the blazing Seattle housing market — must dig into their own pockets to pay for them. And when it comes to desk chairs, well, they aren’t exactly available for a couple bucks at the corner store.
Teachers being asked to foot the bill isn’t a pattern that’s limited to Washington; it’s a nationwide problem, due in large part to the fact that teachers, who are evaluated on student success, can’t do their jobs without basic supplies. But it’s surprising that in a prosperous state with a booming economy — home to two of the world’s biggest corporations, Amazon and Microsoft — schools can’t seem to put the coins together to pay for pencils and paste.
It’s a familiar conundrum for the Washington State legislature. Colloquially referred to as the WaLeg, the state government entered its second special session this month, an extension to the 2017 legislative period. Though the word “special” is right in the name, there’s nothing unique or surprising about the fact that lawmakers are staying in Olympia, the capitol, for an extra 30 days. It happens almost every year.
Despite the state’s reputation as a liberal haven, the WaLeg is split nearly dead in half down the aisle (the Senate has 24 Democrats and 25 Republicans, while the House has 50 Democrats and 48 Republicans). It’s a division that has led to some unusual funding shortfalls in one of the nation’s wealthiest states: Not a single one In The Land Of Bill Gates, A Standoff Over Money For Schools | GOOD Education:



          NYC Educator: Reverend Al and His Pals Support Mayoral Control   
NYC Educator: Reverend Al and His Pals Support Mayoral Control:

Reverend Al and His Pals Support Mayoral Control


You can stop holding your breath. Al Sharpton has finally weighed in on the mayoral control issue, and he strongly supports it. You won't be surprised that some of his friends support it too. Mike Bloomberg was a big fan, and Arne Duncan has also supported it. Newt Gingrich has yet to weigh in because he's running around telling important lies about the GOP's most recent assault on health care.

Of course he trots out the standard line that scores have improved, ignoring the fact that this is a nationwide trend, mayoral control or no. Reverend Al further can't be bothered to notice New York's rich history of rampant test score manipulation. All the reformies jumped up and down when they improved under Reverend Al's pal Mike Bloomberg, and viciously ridiculed Diane Ravitch, who noticed the NAEP scores painted a vastly different picture. The following year, the New York Times and others noticed she was right, and Mike Bloomberg's draconian methods made no significant difference.

I particularly like this line:



There’s no disputing this fact: Mayoral control is the best way to run the largest public school system in the nation.

How could anyone argue with that, since there's no disputing it? But actually, there is. Diane Ravitch has been calling it a myth for years, and wrote in one of her books that it was a reformy shortcut to circumvent democracy. Bill Gates didn't spend $4 million promoting it just for fun,  Leonie Haimson calls it fundamentally undemocratic. I argued in the Daily News that it was destructive to public education. So there is, in fact, dispute, and I'd argue Sharpton has put forth one of those new and trendy "alternative facts" here.

I was particularly fond of this line:


First, public comment rules would change and the Board of Education would be able to meet in “executive session” — in other words, behind closed doors. The board could therefore make decisions without public comment.

I've been to many PEP meetings, as well as school closing hearings, and I've never seen Al Sharpton show his face. Had Sharpton bothered to show 
NYC Educator: Reverend Al and His Pals Support Mayoral Control:




          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Conservative groups unleash on Senate Republicans over repeal billPolitico
What exactly does Trump want from this health care bill?CNN
GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch networkLos Angeles Times
ABC News -Breitbart News -The Atlantic -BuzzFeed News
all 148 news articles »

          U.S. Senate revises Russia sanctions bill, sends it to House   
The U.S. Senate reached an agreement on Thursday to resolve a technical issue stalling a new package of sanctions on Russia, although the measure's fate in the House of Representatives remained uncertain, lawmakers said. The legislation passed the Senate by a nearly unanimous 98-2 margin on June 15, looking like it might complicate President Donald Trump's desire for warmer relations with Moscow, where officials have denounced new sanctions. But it was blocked in the House, where Republican leaders said the Senate bill violated a constitutional requirement that any bill affecting government revenues originate in the House, something known as a "blue slip" violation. Lawmakers from the two chambers have bickered about the issue since. Democrats accused House Republican leaders of trying to kill the bill to please Trump after administration officials said they had concerns about it. Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters
          Seatbelt fine in Kansas increases $20 on July 1   
TOPEKA — On July 1, the fine for not wearing a seat belt in Kansas will raise to $30, from the $10 it has been since June of 2011. This change is for the fine for those 18 years and older who are not wearing their seat belt. There will be no court costs on the citations for violation of this law. This was just passed during the legislative session, as part of Senate Bill 89. Kansas has had a […]
          Trump says Repeal, Replace Later and Self-employed/Small businesses might lose affordable coverage!!!   
Like Trump's comment that took the nations breath away...:


Yet House and Senate Republican plans are getting trashed, not surprisingly, in this most recent poll:



So if Republicans can't prevent 23 million people from losing their health care insurance with a new plan, at least just dump the Affordable Care Act outright?


Dumb doesn't begin to describe taking this kind of chance with 8 percent of the economy. But get a load of what his in-the-tank true believing followers think:
Among Republicans, Trump wouldn't bear the brunt of the blame if Congress is unable to repeal and replace Obamacare. Just 6 percent would blame him, and half said they would blame congressional Democrats. Another 20 percent said they would blame GOP lawmakers.
Of course Republicans are only doing what voters wanted them to do...see graph....

The Senate's Better Care Act adds mind-boggling costly complexity to the U.S. health care system. 

For me, an "all payer system" is simple; every doctor is your doctor, every hospital is your hospital. No bills, no worries ever. .

Waaayyyyyy too easy say Republicans, who want us to spend days, months and years maneuvering through their nightmarish and complicated idea of free market freedom. One idea is so ridiculously convoluted and costly that it numbs the mind, making people join a group formed to manage health policy...seriously?
KFFDotOrg: Association Health Plans for Small Groups and Self-Employed Individuals under the Better Care Reconciliation Act: The Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), includes a provision to create new association health plan options for small employers and self-employed individuals ... the ACA requirement that premiums cannot vary based on health status does not apply in the large group market. Neither does the requirement for policies to cover ten categories of essential health benefits. 

SBHPs would be able to set premiums for small firm and self-employed members based on health and risk status ... However, in the event a covered individual becomes seriously ill or injured, nothing under federal law would prevent the SBHP insurer from raising the premium for that small employer or self-employed individual, even to unaffordable levels. This could lead to premiums in the traditional small group market becoming much higher for employers who need to seek coverage there ... making health insurance less affordable for sick individuals and small groups who would have to rely on them, and potentially not available at all.

          Cancel August recess for Congress, group of Senate Republicans say   
The Senate is scheduled to leave Washington by July 28 and not return to Capitol Hill until Sept. 5
          Comment on Three Allegedly Feared Dead As Gunmen Attack Melaye by Declaration State Of Emergency In Kogi, Melaye Tells Senate   
[…] News had reported that Senator Dino Melaye was allegedly attacked by unknown gunmen in Lokoja, the state capital on Monday June 12, 2017. It was gathered that the senator was […]
          "Internment Camp"   

Carlos Vera is with Pay Our Interns.

Senator Feinstein, one of the richest members of Congress, doesn't pay her interns. Senator Harris has "pledged to pay beginning in the Fall."

In the Huffington Post: Congress Called Out For Not Paying Interns:

The extent of the problem the report outlines is startling. In the U.S. Senate, 51 percent of Republicans pay their interns, while only 31 percent of Democrats offer paid internships. The rates in the House of Representatives are even worse, with 8 percent of Republican representatives and 3.6 percent of Democratic representatives paying their interns.

Interesting---and surprising---to learn that the Repugs are better overall about paying their interns than the Democrats. Good---and not surprising---to see that Bernie Sanders pays his interns.

See also Interns: Working for free and Internment Camp.


          Comment on Osinbajo Seeks Senate’s Nod To Borrow $1.5bn Loan by APC Selling Future Of Nigeria - PDP   
[…] President Yemi Osinbajo had on Tuesday written to the Senate seeking its approval for $1.5bn loan, which is part of the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan of the Federal […]
          Comment on Magu Stops Senate From Confirming 27 Electoral Commissioners by Senate Issues Buhari Two Weeks To Sack Magu   
[…] on Tuesday, the lawmakers rejected the consideration of the request, insisting that their earlier decision on Magu be effected by the Executive within two […]
          Comment on Senate To Probe Saraki, Dino Melaye Over Armoured SUV, Forged Certificate by ABU To Speak On Dino Melaye Certificate Saga Today   
[…] An online report titled, ‘Dino Melaye Allegedly Did Not Graduate From University.’accused Senator Dino Melaye  of lying about his qualification, and the Senate on Tuesday said it was going to investigate the matter. […]
          Comment on EFCC Indictment Over Paris Club Refunds False – Saraki by Falana Calls On EFCC To Prosecute Those Indicted In Paris Club Refund Saga   
[…] Senate president has since denounced the allegation, calling it ”mudslinging” and […]
          Comment on Sen. Bukola Saraki Deposited N77m Into His Account – CCB by Falana Calls On EFCC To Prosecute Those Indicted In Paris Club Refund Saga   
[…] to the alleged EFCC leaked report, about N3.5 billion had been traced to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his close […]
          Feinstein vs. the CIA: A Moment of Truth   
It was a truly historic moment on Tuesday when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the Senate floor to warn that the CIA's continuing cover-up of its torture program is threatening our Constitutional division of power. By blatantly concealing what Feinstein condemned as "the horrible details of a CIA program that never, never,...
          Comment on Dino Melaye Not A Graduate Of Ahmadu Bello University by Send Dino Melaye’s Certificate Case To Police, CSOs Tell Senate   
[…] senator representing Kogi West senatorial district was alleged not to have graduated from the institution for his first degree by an online publication on 20 […]
          Comment on Leaked DSS Report Has Vindicated Magu’s Rejection – Senator Abdullahi by Buhari To Speak On Magu’s Case Soon – Presidency – Concise News   
[…] The Senate, on Saturday, said the leaked report by the DSS on Magu, has vindicated its rejection of the anti-graft boss. […]
          New York Senate Joins Assembly on 2-Year Extension of Mayoral School Control   
The State Legislature granted Mayor Bill de Blasio two years of additional control over New York City’s schools, ending uncertainty over leadership of the nation’s largest school system....
          Md. insurance exchange would benefit from Senate bill   

Maryland's health insurance exchange faces an uncertain future ("State considers rate increases on the insurance exchange as another insurer drops out," June 21). Cigna recently pulled out of the market, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest insurer on the exchange, has asked to increase...


          Obamacare is just too costly   

I read with interest the commentary by Carmela Coyle and Hank Greenberg attacking the Senate bill designed to modify the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare (“Costs too great in Senate health care bill,” June 26). While I am not a fan of many aspects of the health care legislation being considered...


          DE SCR34   
This concurrent resolution commends the Food Bank of Delaware for its contributions towards ending hunger and resolving the root causes of poverty in the State of Delaware through its increased statewide impact.

2017/06/20 Introduced in Senate
          DE SCR32   
This Concurrent Resolution recognizes Ramadan and Muslim residents of this State as they observe Ramadan.

2017/06/14 Introduced in Senate
          5 Things To Know Friday   

1. Sales Tax

House Democrats on Thursday unveiled a two-year budget that would increase the state sales tax to 6.99 percent. Lawmakers say the move would help cities and towns. However, much of the state Senate and Gov. Malloy are opposed to any sales tax hike. A vote on the budget is expected...


          GOP health care debate turns to stark question: help the vulnerable, or help the rich?   

Republican negotiations over how to overhaul the Affordable Care Act centered sharply Thursday on a divisive and ideological question: How much money should the Senate health care bill spend on protecting vulnerable Americans, and how much on providing tax relief to the wealthy?

Senate Majority...


          Chronicle AM: SD Sued Over Forced Catheterization of Toddler for Drug Test, More... (6/30/17)   

The ACLU sues South Dakota over the forced drug testing of a toddler, Detroit residents again sue the dope squad for killing dogs in pot raids, Pennsylvania's governor signs an asset forfeiture reform bill, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

EPA Rejects California's Request to Recognize Allowable Marijuana Pesticides. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt last week rejected the state's request to recognize acceptable pesticides for pot crops. Pruitt used the fact of marijuana's continuing illegality under federal law to justify the decision: "Under federal law, cultivation (along with sale and use) of cannabis is generally unlawful as a schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The EPA finds that the general illegality of cannabis cultivation makes pesticide use on cannabis a fundamentally different use pattern."

Medical Marijuana

Pennsylvania Health Department Issues Dispensary Permits. The Health Department announced Thursday it had granted 27 medical marijuana dispensary permits. Each permit holder can open up to three dispensaries. They will be permitted to begin selling medical marijuana in six months. Click on the link for a list of permit recipients.

Asset Forfeiture

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed into law Senate Bill 8 on Thursday. The bill does not end civil asset forfeiture, but does impose a higher burden of proof on law enforcement before forfeitures can take place, mandate a hearing before any seized real property is forfeited, and add protections for third-party property owners.

Drug Testing

South Dakota Sued Over Forced Catherization of 3-Year-Old for Drug Test. The ACLU of South Dakota has filed a pair of lawsuits over the forced use of a catheter to take a urine sample from a three-year-boy to test for drugs as part of a child welfare investigation. The suit comes in the case of a Pierre woman whose boyfriend violated probation by testing positive for illegal drugs. Child protective workers then told the women her children would be taken away if she did not submit them to a drug test. The federal lawsuit names as defendants the state of South Dakota and the hospital whose employees actually performed the procedure.

Law Enforcement

Detroit's Dog Killing Drug Cops Sued for Third Time. A Detroit couple has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Detroit Police alleging officers needlessly and maliciously killed their three dogs during a July 2016 marijuana raid after officers refused to let them retrieve the animals from the back yard. That brings to three the number of active lawsuits filed against Detroit cops for killing dogs during pot raids. The culprit is the department's Major Violators Unit, which conducts hundreds of raids a year in the city, and which has left a trail of dead dogs in its wake. One officer alone has killed 69 dogs.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules County DAs Can't Form Their Own Dope Squads. The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday the county prosecutors cannot form their own policing units to conduct drug interdiction efforts, including traffic stops. The ruling came in a case involving the State Attorney's Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Unit created by the LaSalle County district attorney. The unit operated for five years, mainly stopping cars on their way to and from Chicago. Previously, state appeals courts had ruled that the units were an overreach of prosecutorial authority, and now the state's highest court has backed them up.


          Chronicle AM: WHO Calls for Drug Decrim, NV Legal MJ Sales Start Saturday, More... (6/29/17)   

Massachusetts pols continue to work on a legalization implementation compromise, Nevada legal marijuana sales begin Saturday, a pair of federal sentencing reform bills get introduced, the World Health Organization calls for global drug decriminalization, and more.

[image:1 align:right caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Possible Tax Compromise in Massachusetts. House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) has said he may be willing to move away from the House's position that retail marijuana sales be taxed at 28%, more than twice the 12% envisioned in the legalization initiative and the competing Senate bill. "I suppose there could be some negotiation," he said, referring to a legislative conference committee trying to reach agreement. "I found they are having fruitful conversations, so to speak, so I am hopeful," DeLeo said.

Nevada Legal Sales Begin at 12:01 a.m,Saturday. Nevadans and visitors will be able to legally purchase marijuana as of a minute after midnight Saturday. A few dozen medical marijuana dispensaries have been licensed to sell their products to anyone 21 and over with a proper ID as a stopgap measure before the recreational marijuana sales system goes online next year, and at least some of them will be open Saturday night to take advantage of the commencement of early legal sales. But tourists in particular will have to figure out where to smoke it -- there's no smoking on the strip, in casinos, or hotel rooms.

Medical Marijuana

Nevada Dispensaries Get Tougher Regulations on Edibles as Legal Sales Loom. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) Monday signed a Taxation Department emergency regulation that will impose tougher regulations beginning Saturday, the same day legal recreational pot sales through dispensaries begins. Under the new regulations, edibles can't contain more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose or 100 per package, they can't resemble lollipops or other products marketed to children, they can't look like real or fictional characters or cartoons, and they can't have images of cartoon characters, action figures, toys, balloons or mascots on the packaging.

Sentencing

Cory Booker Files Bill to Encourage States to Reduce Prison Populations. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has filed Senate Bill 1458, "to establish a grant program to incentivize states to reduce prison populations, and for other purposes." The bill is not yet available on the congressional web site.

Keith Ellison Files Bill to Defelonize Drug Possession, End Crack/Powder Cocaine Sentencing Disparity. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has filed House Resolution 3074, "to reclassify certain low-level felonies as misdemeanors, to eliminate the increased penalties for cocaine offenses where the cocaine involved is cocaine base, to reinvest in our communities, and for other purposes. The bill is not yet available on the congressional website.

International

UN World Health Organization Calls for Global Drug Decriminalization. The call came in a joint United Nations statement on ending discrimination in health care. One way that nations can do that, WHO said, is by: "Reviewing and repealing punitive laws that have been proven to have negative health outcomes and that counter established public health evidence. These include laws that criminalize or otherwise prohibit gender expression, same sex conduct, adultery and other sexual behaviors between consenting adults; adult consensual sex work; drug use or possession of drugs for personal use; sexual and reproductive health care services, including information; and overly broad criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission."

Human Rights Watch Calls Duterte's First Year a Human Rights Calamity. The New York-based human rights watchdog said Wednesday Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's first year in office was "a human rights calamity" with thousands of people killed in Duterter's war on drugs. "President Duterte took office promising to protect human rights, but has instead spent his first year in office as a boisterous instigator for an unlawful killing campaign," Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said in a statement. "Duterte has supported and incited 'drug war' killings while retaliating against those fearless enough to challenge his assault on human rights," he added. Human Rights Watch also slammed Duterte for subjecting critics of his anti-drug campaign to harassment, intimidation, and even arrest. "A UN-led international investigation is desperately needed to help stop the slaughter and press for accountability for Duterte's human rights catastrophe," the group said.


          What's next: Will the Senate vote on GOP health care bill before the 4th of July?   
Willie Geist and Dylan Dreyer wrap up Sunday TODAY with a look at the week ahead. On the radar, the Senate is planning to hold a vote on the GOP health care bill, but will it happen before Congress leaves for the holiday weekend? And JAY-Z is dropping a new album later this week.
          Will Mitch McConnell have enough votes to pass Senate health care bill?   
Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd tells Sunday TODAY's Willie Geist that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will attempt to pass the GOP health care bill by "trying to make a political argument rather than make policy changes." Todd also weighs in on new reports that reveal the Obama administration's struggle to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin.
          New Oregon Law will Help Facilitate the Sale of Industrial Hemp Products   
SALEM, Ore. (June 30, 2017) – Yesterday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill into law that will pave the way for faster development of Oregon’s hemp market, and further nullify federal prohibition in effect. Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) introduced Senate Bill 1015 (SB1015) in March. The new law will give the Oregon Liquor Control Commission…
          New Nevada Law Legalizes Commercial Hemp Production Despite Federal Prohibition   
CARSON CITY, Nev. (Jun 30, 2017) – Tomorrow, a new Nevada law goes into effect legalizing commercial industrial hemp production in the state, despite a federal ban on the same. The new policy sets the foundation to nullify federal prohibition in practice and effect within the state. A bipartisan coalition of 12 legislators sponsored Senate Bill 396…
          Now in Effect: Kentucky Right to Try Act Rejects Some FDA Restrictions on Terminal Patients   
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 29, 2017) – Today, a Kentucky law went into effect that sets the foundation to nullify in practice some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules that deny access to experimental treatments by terminally ill patients. A coalition of three Republicans sponsored Senate Bill 21 (SB21). The legislation gives terminally ill patients access…
          Illinois senate Republican leader Christine Radogno to resign as budget deadline looms, and other Chicago news   

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, June 30, 2017. Have a great weekend!…

          New Proposed California Bill to Allow Optometrists to Administer Vaccines – State Vaccine Tracking System to Increase   
Your action is needed to OPPOSE California AB 443 Optometry: scope of practice. If passed as currently written, AB 443 would allow optometrists to administer vaccines for influenza, herpes zoster virus (Shingles), and pneumococcus to adults 18 years of age and older. AB 443 has already passed the Assembly and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development on Monday, July 3, 2017 at 12:00 noon in Room 3191. Please plan to attend. If AB 443 passes into law as written, it would require optometrists to enter newly administered vaccines and personally identifying information into the state vaccine tracking system, CAIR.

          The GOP Healthcare Plan Fails the “Jimmy Kimmel” Test   

This week the Senate Republican leadership unveiled its Obamacare replacement plan. Like its House counterpart, the misnamed Senate plan retains most of Obamacare’s core features.

The post The GOP Healthcare Plan Fails the “Jimmy Kimmel” Test appeared first on The Constitution.


          Wind takes a blow as N.C. legislators OK deal on solar reform bill   
In a 2 a.m vote, the N.C. House and Senate agreed Friday to restore the solar compromise provisions of a reform bill on renewable energy regulation and cut a proposed wind moratorium from four years to 18 months. Duke Energy, a principal in the more than nine months of negotiations that led to the original House version of the "Competitive Energy Solutions for NC" act, welcomed the final result. "The passage of HB 589 provides North Carolina with a more cost-effective means of expanding solar energy,"…

          Illinois House adjourns, plunging state into third year without a budget   
Illinois House lawmakers adjourned Friday without approving a budget, officially entering a third fiscal year without one, but with optimism that a deal can be reached over the weekend.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan conceded Friday morning that a budget deal wouldn't be consummated by midnight – the start of the 2018 state fiscal year – and implored the major bond ratings agencies not to downgrade the state’s credit rating to junk status.

But House lawmakers offered up a glimmer of hope with a bipartisan 90-25 test vote to approve a $36.5 billion spending plan fueled by a $5 billion income tax increase.

Lawmakers and experts statewide had warned for months about the host of bad consequences that await the state should it enter an unprecedented third straight year without a budget, courtesy of the differences between the Democratic-dominated General Assembly and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

They go far beyond becoming the first U.S. state to be have its credit rating dip below investment grade. For starters, Comptroller Susana Mendoza has said she will be unable to cover the basic state services ordered paid by courts, and the Illinois State Department of Transportation has halted all of its road construction projects.

“We will remain in session to continue our progress toward passing a balanced budget," Madigan said in the statement. "In light of this ongoing progress, I would ask that bond rating agencies temporarily withhold judgment and allow legislators time to negotiate a bipartisan, balanced budget."

Madigan’s statement included letters he sent Friday to Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service. Standard & Poor’s warned several weeks ago that it will downgrade the state to junk should it not have a budget by Saturday, and the other two agencies could follow suit.

"We will continue working to put a compromise on the governor’s desk and end this impasse through the next week, and I ask you to allow these negotiations to move forward," Madigan wrote to all three ratings firms.

Illinois' current spending, mandated by court orders and consent decrees despite the lack of a budget, has resulted in a $6.2 billion deficit and a $14.7 billion stack of unpaid bills as of Friday afternoon.

The proposed budget in the House relies on increasing the state income tax and cutting $2.4 billion.

The revenue plan conceived by House Democrats likely would increase the income tax rate for individual filers by 32 percent, or from 3.75 to 4.95 percent of income. The increase would take effect Saturday – earlier versions that made the increase retroactive to Jan. 1 met with resistance from Republicans.

If approved, it would take on average an extra $600 a year from a worker making $50,000 a year.

The 4.95 percent rate is close to the 5 percent rate that Illinois taxpayers paid for four years after lawmakers raised taxes in the lame-duck session after the 2010 election. That temporary increase, which raised the individual rate by 66 percent, took an average of a week's pay from every Illinois worker.

Rauner, who was elected in 2014 on a platform of reversing Illinois' sinking fortunes, has insisted that any budget that includes tax increases must include sufficient pro-taxpayer and pro-business reforms. They include a four-year property tax freeze, and reforms to workers' compensation laws and changes to pension benefits for state employees.

The bitter partisan divide in Springfield over how to come together on a spending plan has eased in significant part to cooperation as Republicans and Democrats alike work to avoid the nightmare scenario that experts warn will come to pass if a budget isn't finalized, and fast.

"I come to you today with great joy, not with regret or despair. We're going to save our state, and we're going to save it together," Rep. Steve Andersson, R-Geneva, the House Republicans' floor leader, said to thunderous applause.

Andersson, whose district includes a sliver of McHenry County, was the only local house lawmaker who voted yes on the 90-25 test bill. Republican Reps. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills; Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake; Steven Reick, R-Woodstock; and Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, all voted no.

Skillicorn said that Illinois taxpayers will be giving more to the state in exchange for weak and "watered down" reforms.

"It's pretty clear to me that the governor and a large portion of Republicans have capitulated to the speaker," Skillicorn said. "The appropriations amendment didn't have any substantial cuts, no structural reforms, and really was something that compromises the values of the people of McHenry County."

McSweeney, as he has since the budget impasse started, reiterated that he is a "hell no" on any tax increase.

"There's nothing that's been done to reform Illinois government or spending. It's a travesty. It's a joke," McSweeney said.

Whatever plan the House passes will need to clear the Senate before going to Rauner for a vote. Senate Democrats approved a budget in May in the last days of the legislative session – without a single Republican vote – but Madigan did not bring it forward for consideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


          President Trump urges GOP to repeal Affordable Care Act law now, replace later   
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump urged divided congressional Republicans on Friday to break their logjam over dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law by "immediately" repealing it and replacing it later, a formula that GOP leaders dismissed months ago as politically unwise.

Trump's early-morning tweet embraced a sequential approach favored by only a handful of conservatives eager to take quick action on one of the party's foremost priorities — repealing Obamacare, something Republicans have long promised to do. But his suggestion threatened to sharpen divisions between conservatives and moderates, who are leery of stripping coverage from millions of constituents without something to substitute for it.

"If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" Trump tweeted.

Supporters of that idea include Sens. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Rand Paul, R-Ky.

House and Senate leaders long ago abandoned initial thoughts of first erasing Obama's law, and then replacing it.

Such a step-by-step approach would leave Republicans vulnerable to Democratic accusations that they were simply tossing people off coverage without helping them obtain medical care. And the idea would leave unresolved the quandary stumping lawmakers today — how to replace Obama's system of online insurance markets, tax subsidies and an expanded Medicaid with something that will get enough Republican votes to pass Congress.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to comment on Trump's tweet.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans were considering breaking a stalemate over what their replacement bill should do by preserving a tax boost Obama's law imposed on high earners. Keeping that tax increase in place was a bid to woo party moderates and rescue their sputtering push to repeal his health care overhaul.

The break from dogma by a party that has long reviled tax boosts — and most things achieved by Obama — underscores McConnell's feverish effort to rescue the Senate legislation from the brink of possible defeat.

The money from the tax boost would instead be used to bolster proposed health care subsidies for lower-income people.

The change, proposed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would give a more populist flavor to the bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that as the legislation now is written, it would boost out-of-pocket costs for many poor consumers and produce 22 million uninsured people while cutting around $700 billion in taxes over a decade — largely for richer people and the health care industry.

"You're increasing the burden on lower-income citizens and obviously alleviating the burden on the wealthy. That is not an equation that works," Corker said. He said he was "very confident" that leaders would address the issue in the updated bill.

Top Republicans also considered an amendment pushed by conservatives to let insurers offer plans with low premiums and scant benefits. To do so, a company would also have to sell a policy that abides by the consumer-friendly coverage requirements in Obama's 2010 statute, which the GOP is struggling to repeal.

Both proposals were encountering internal Republican opposition, and it was uncertain either would survive.

McConnell postponed a vote on an initial version Tuesday because of opposition from conservatives and moderates alike. By this week's end, he wants to nail down changes that would assure the bill's passage after Congress' weeklong July 4 recess. No more than two of the 52 GOP senators can oppose the measure for him to prevail, and there were no indications he'd achieved that margin as senators left town Thursday.

"We're kind of at a stalemate right now, I'd say," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who with Ohio GOP Sen. Robert Portman and others wants to forestall reductions the measure would make in Medicaid.

The Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people has grown dramatically in their states and others, but the Republican bill would cut it, with reductions growing over time.

Under Corker's proposal, the bill would retain Obama's 3.8 percent tax increase on investment income for married couples making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $125,000. Keeping that increase would save $172 billion over 10 years, and moderates want to use that money to make coverage more affordable for poorer consumers.

Conservatives said they opposed the idea, along with the chairmen of Congress' two tax-writing committees: Senate Finance chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Also in play was a proposal by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to let insurers offer skimpier policies, which conservatives say would lower premiums.

Moderates oppose that, especially if it lets insurers raise premiums on people with pre-existing medical problems.

Republicans also said party leaders agreed to add $45 billion for battling opioids abuse to their bill. They were also considering a proposal by conservatives to let people use tax-advantaged health savings accounts to pay health care premiums.


          Trump criticized for trash-talking MSNBC hosts   
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump launched a crude Twitter attack on the brains, looks and temperament of a female TV personality Thursday, drawing bipartisan howls of outrage and leaving fellow Republicans beseeching him: Stop, please just stop.

Trump's tweets aimed at MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski revived concerns about his views of women in a city where civility already is in short supply and he is struggling for any support he can get for his proposals on health care, immigration and other controversial issues.

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore)," Trump tweeted to his nearly 33 million followers Thursday morning. "Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

The tweets served to unite Democrats and Republicans for once in a chorus of protest that amounted to perhaps the loudest outcry since Trump took office.

"Obviously I don't see that as an appropriate comment," said Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump's tweets, "blatantly sexist." The president, she added, "happens to disrespect women ... it's sad."

Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma even linked the president's harsh words to the June 14 shootings of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others.

"The president's tweets today don't help our political or national discourse and do not provide a positive role model for our national dialogue," Lankford said, noting that he had just chaired a hearing on the shootings.

On Trump's level of insult-trading, Brzezinski responded on Twitter by posting a photograph of a Cheerios box that included the phrase "made for little hands." People looking to get under the president's skin have long suggested that his hands appear small for his frame.

Trump's allies cast his outburst as positive, an example of his refusal to be bullied.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president was "pushing back against people who have attacked him day after day after day. Where is the outrage on that?"

"The American people elected a fighter; they didn't elect somebody to sit back and do nothing," she added.

First lady Melania Trump, who has vowed to fight cyberbullying while her husband is president, gave his tweets a pass.

"As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement.

As Trump welcomed South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a White House dinner Thursday evening, he did not respond to shouted questions from reporters about whether he regretted the tweet.

Some of the administration's most high-profile women – daughter and presidential assistant Ivanka Trump, Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell – did not respond to requests for comment.

The White House has shown increasing irritation over harsh coverage of the president on Brzezinski and Scarborough's "Morning Joe," including commentary questioning Trump's mental state.

About two hours before his tweets, Brzezinski said on the show that "it's not normal behavior" for any leader to be tweeting about people's appearances or to be bullying, lying, undermining managers and throwing people under the bus. She said that if any business executive behaved the way Trump does, "there would be concern that perhaps the person who runs the company is out of his mind."

On Wednesday, she had mocked Trump after a story in The Washington Post said he had posted fake Time magazine covers of himself in some of his golf resorts.

"Nothing makes a man feel better than making a fake cover of a magazine about himself, lying every day and destroying the country," Brzezinski said.

Trump, who has a habit of throwing up distractions to deflect bad news, has been straining to advance his agenda lately, with the Senate this week coming up short in finding enough votes to begin debate on a bill to roll back President Barack Obama's health care law.

His demeaning broadside against a woman raised new complaints among critics who have long accused him of sexism and inflaming tensions in a deeply polarized nation. Trump also has consistently stoked a long-running feud with the press that has not hurt him with his base of roughly a third of the electorate.

But one expert rejected the idea that Trump's tweets about the MSNBC hosts amounted to a calculated push-back against the media.

"It's not a critique of the press. It's a diatribe. It's a rant," said Theodore L. Glasser, professor emeritus at Stanford University and an expert in mass media.

It wasn't the first time Trump has assailed a television personality who is a woman. In 2015, he went after then-Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly when she questioned him at a debate. Trump said later that during the exchange, Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever."

It's also far from the only time he's raised eyebrows with remarks about the physical attributes of women. Just this week in the Oval Office, Trump interrupted his phone conversation with the new prime minister of Ireland to remark on a "beautiful" Irish journalist in the room and take note of the "nice smile on her face."

The latest flare-up did nothing to improve Trump's chances of advancing the health care bill that formed a centerpiece of his campaign.

"This has to stop - we all have a job - 3 branches of gov't and media," tweeted Republican Susan Collins of Maine, a critic of the Senate GOP bill. "We don't have to get along, but we must show respect and civility."

Tweeted Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a frequent Trump critic: "Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office." Agreed South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham: "Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America."

Brzezinski and Scarborough, who are engaged, have known Trump for years and interviewed him numerous times during the campaign. But they have been highly critical of Trump since he took office.

They did meet with Trump at his Florida estate on New Year's Eve for what they described as a brief visit, and also spent time with the president and senior staff at the White House in February. But Brzezinski supporters disputed Trump's characterization of the Mar-a-Lago meeting, saying it was the president who repeatedly asked the couple to visit him. Brzezinski and Scarborough were staying in the area for the holidays.

NBC News spokeswoman Lorie Acio said in a statement, "It's a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job."


          Illinois legislative leaders meet; no word on budget deal   
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ legislative leaders met twice Thursday but surrendered few details about how close they are to a budget pact with one day remaining before the start of a third consecutive fiscal year without a spending plan

The relatively calm day in an otherwise cacophonous Capitol was interrupted by the announcement that the Senate’s minority leader, Lemont Republican Christine Radogno, would vacate her Senate seat Saturday, although she pledged to keep working until the moment of her departure.

The first woman to lead a caucus in the Illinois General Assembly stepped forward last winter to broker a budget compromise with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton. She faced disappointment when she could get none of her 21 other Senate Republicans to go along with the “grand bargain” they fashioned, but told reporters she is not a casualty of the contentious, two-year budget battle.

“Though I leave political office with a sense of sadness and some disappointment, I leave with no regrets,” Radogno said. “I did my best – that’s all I could do.”

Without a budget by Saturday morning, bond-rating houses have threatened to downgrade Illinois’ creditworthiness to “junk” status. Universities could face the loss of academic accreditation and the treasury will soon run short of money to cover even the court-ordered payments that have kept Illinois government on autopilot while erecting a $6.2 billion annual deficit and $14.6 billion in past-due bills.

House Speaker Mike Madigan said the House would vote Friday on the Democrats’ version of an annual budget, a $36.5 billion spending plan they said spends $800 million less than Rauner himself proposed last winter. Without elaboration, Madigan said negotiations continue over Rauner’s demands that are tangential to the budget, including cost-cutting changes to workers’ compensation, state employee pension benefits, a statewide property tax freeze and local government consolidation.

The Chicago Democrat has complained for two years that Rauner is not “reasonable” in seeking discussions of “nonbudget” items in talks over a fiscal plan. But this week, he staked out his own. They include Rauner’s promise to sign a school funding overhaul that won wide legislative majorities, requiring state regulation of rates by companies selling workers’ comp insurance, and mandating an open procurement process for a $9 billion contract the Rauner administration plans to sign for managed-care health coverage.

Madigan said he is negotiating on Rauner’s demands in an effort to compromise.

“I don’t see that I’m being unreasonable,” Madigan said. “I’m here. I’m proposing to vote on things I don’t believe in. ... But in the spirit of compromise, I’m prepared to vote” for those measures.

Radogno’s exit sets off a succession scramble which includes Deputy Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor in 2014.

A social worker, the 64-year-old Radogno was elected to the Senate in 1996. She and Cullerton assumed their leadership positions on the same day in 2009. Cullerton called their tenure “nine years of cooperation and professionalism.”

Rauner called her a “consummate professional” who “championed fiscal discipline and human services.” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said “Chris always stayed above the fray in this very partisan environment.”

Madigan, a legislator since 1971, applauded Radogno’s hard work, honesty, integrity, and forthrightness and concluded his praise with an apparent shot at Rauner.

“The genius of the legislative process lies in the ability to compromise,” Madigan said. “Chris Radogno understood that.”

___

Contact Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/john%20o’connor


          Illinois Senate Minority Leader Resigns Amid Budget Stalemate   
SPRINGFIELD, IL - JANUARY 26: Illinois State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R) speaks during the impeachment trial for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich January 26, 2009 at the Illinois State Senate Chambers in Springfield, Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich refused to participate in the trial, and has instead chosen to appear on talk shows in New York City.Christine Radogno told surprised reporters she wasn't planning to run after this term anyway, but said she's done all she can do in her position.
          Rhode Island legislature sends bill to protect youth from conversion therapy to governor   
PROVIDENCE, R.I. –  The Rhode Island legislature has passed a bill protecting minors from the harmful and discredited practice of “conversion therapy.” After clearing the House, House Bill (HB) 5277 passed through the Senate today and will now head to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s desk. Rhode Island may become the eleventh jurisdiction — and the fourth […]
          Obama Continues Support for Terrorist Groups   

911 Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation allowing relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, the first veto override of his presidency, just four months before it ends. The House of Representatives voted 348-77 against the veto, hours after the Senate rejected it 97-1, […]

The post Obama Continues Support for Terrorist Groups appeared first on Live Trading News.


          US Senator Tammy Baldwin sponsors Senate’s first ever resolution recognizing June as Pride Month   
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and several of their colleagues in introducing the first-ever Senate Resolution recognizing June as “LGBTQ Pride Month”. The resolution notes major milestones in the fight for equal treatment of LGBT Americans and resolves to continue efforts to achieve full equality for LGBT individuals. […]
          Cancel August recess for Congress, group of Senate Republicans say   
The Senate is scheduled to leave Washington by July 28 and not return to Capitol Hill until Sept. 5

          Trump's war with the media is reaching new heights as the Republican healthcare bill stalls   

donald trumpChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has escalated his war on the mainstream media in recent days with raging tweetstorms and public remarks that veer off message.

Over the past week, the White House has engaged in a series of provocations of media outlets that have shocked even reporters and observers who have become accustomed to Trump's often factually inaccurate jabs at the media at campaign rallies and on social media.

Trump's escalation came to a head Thursday when he unleashed a series of venomous tweets criticizing "Morning Joe" hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough and remarking (possibly falsely) on Brzezinski's appearance.

The backlash was almost immediate, as many decried the remark as sexist and others questioned its veracity outright.

The tweets came after several days during which the Trump White House had further provoked the media.

Politico reported that the White House hoped to seize on what staffers saw as a victory when CNN retracted a story over the weekend about a Trump transition official's interactions with a Russian oligarch. The bungled story led to the resignations of three high-level, respected staffers at the news network.

The president and several top staffers tweeted about the incident, and the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeatedly mocked CNN reporter Jim Acosta for protesting the communications shop's decision to cut back the number of televised press briefings.

And on Tuesday, the deputy White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, asked Americans to watch a video showing John Bonifield, a CNN health editor who is not involved in Russia-related coverage, questioning the network's decision to focus on the investigations of the Trump administration's Russia connections.

"There's a video out there circulating right now, whether it's accurate or not, I don't know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it," she said, after referring to CNN as "that outlet."

She continued: "If it is accurate, I think it's a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism. I think we have gone to a place where if the media can't be trusted to report the news, then that's a dangerous place for America, and if that's the place where certain outlets are going, particularly for the purpose of spiking ratings, and if that's coming from the top, that's even more scary, and that's even more disgraceful."

The president also appears to be seething over aggressive media coverage in private. At a closed-door fund-raiser with donors and lawmakers on Wednesday at his Washington, DC, hotel, Trump reportedly seemed fixated on the media, singling out CNN commentator Van Jones.

Trump spoke for about 30 minutes at the event, according to people present who spoke with Politico, and "continued to bash a favorite target — the media, and, in particular, CNN." Trump reportedly "presented himself as a victim of its reporting, which he described as deeply unfair."

Trump's frequent attacks on the media come as the Senate struggles to win support for its healthcare bill. One of Trump's key campaign promises was repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and that effort now seems to have stalled.

The White House also deemed this week "Energy Week," but Trump's attacks have distracted from that message as well.

Many Republicans have publicly criticized Trump for focusing on the media, saying his actions are stifling attempts to gin up support for the Republican healthcare bill.

"Obviously, the more we can focus and have a debate with the White House and the Senate and the American people and the House about how we're going to fix the failing Obamacare system, how we are going to go forward united, I think that is more helpful to the dialogue," Rep. Tom Reed told CNN on Thursday.

Trump has strayed off GOP talking points in other public appearances as well, including during a major rally last week. During his remarks in Iowa that were carried on national television, Trump asked Senate Republicans to "add some money" to the healthcare bill, leading some senators to suggest that the president lacks a grasp of the legislation that aims to cut costs.

And while some Republicans have expressed frustration with Trump's inability to stay on message, others have suggested Trump should largely stay on the sidelines in the healthcare fight if he contradicts or can't effectively propagate the party's message.

"You know, he's very personable and people like talking to him and he's very embracing of that, so there will be certain people he'd like to talk to," Sen. Bob Corker said, according to the Associated Press. "But I'd let Mitch" McConnell, the Senate majority leader, "handle it."

NOW WATCH: Here's the TV segment that prompted Trump's vicious Twitter attack on Mika Brzezinski

See Also:

SEE ALSO: CNN issues pithy one-word response to undercover video sting attempting to embarrass Van Jones


          Hospital leader, physicians react to healthcare proposal   
After the Senate released its proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) last week, hospital administrators and physicians have begun to weigh in. In a statement released on June 30, the Tennessee Medical Association (TMA) said the proposed bill is not consistent with priorities it recommended to the Trump Administration and the Tennessee Congressional Delegation earlier this year and "offers no significant improvements from the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House last month." TMA…

          Illinois legislative leaders meet; no word on budget deal   

In this Nov. 30, 2016, file photo, Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill. In a statement issued Thursday, June 29, 2017, Radogno said that she will step down as senator on Saturday, July 1. less FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2016, file photo, Illinois Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill.


          Illinois legislative leaders meet; no word on budget deal   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois' legislative leaders met twice Thursday but surrendered few details about how close they are to a budget pact with one day remaining before the start of a third consecutive fiscal year without a spending plan The relatively calm day in an otherwise cacophonous Capitol was interrupted by the announcement that the Senate's minority leader, Lemont Republican Christine Radogno, would vacate her Senate seat Saturday, removing one of the key negotiators at a critical time.


          Poll Shows Low Support For GOP Health Care Bill   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: The Senate will not be voting this week on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell postponed the vote until after the Fourth of July recess once it became clear he didn't have the support he needed in his own party to pass the measure. And that lack of enthusiasm appears to match the mood of the nation. A new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll finds fewer than 1 in 5 Americans supports the Senate bill, but Republican leaders insist they're not giving up. NPR's Scott Horsley is with us now. Good morning, Scott. SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel. MARTIN: Senator McConnell very much wanted to have this vote this week before the Fourth of July and when all the congress members go home for that recess. He was forced to backtrack. So what now? HORSLEY: Good question. This is a retreat. It's not necessarily a surrender. McConnell says he's still optimistic that he can win the
          Trump Administration Approves $1.42 Billion in Arms Sales to Taiwan   
The sale would be the first such proposed transfer since President Donald Trump took office and coincides with China’s rejection of a U.S. Senate bill that would allow U.S. Navy vessels to make regular port calls to the island.
          24 Confirmed to NJ Judicial Posts   
The New Jersey Senate on Thursday confirmed 17 of Gov. Chris Christie's nominations to the Superior Court bench, four for the Court of Workers' Compensation, and three administrative law judges.
      

          Well-trained: US senators propose another $558M for Israeli missile defense   
A Senate committee markup of the 2018 Pentagon funding bill would give $705 million to Israeli "cooperative" missile defense programs, a $588 million increase from the budget request made by President Donald Trump. The Senate Armed Services Committee draft of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would allocate $268.5 million for research, development, testing and evaluation for "multi-tiered missile defense systems" and another $290 million for purchasing them. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) identified the systems that would benefit from the funding as Iron Dome, David's Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3. "These funds will help Israel defend its citizens against rocket and missile threats, and contribute to America's missile defense programs," AIPAC said Thursday, in a statement thanking the Senate and House armed services committees. The David's Sling weapon system and the Arrow program would receive $120 million apiece, while $92 million would go towards Israeli procurement of Tamir interceptors for the Iron Dome short-range system through co-production in the United States, according to the Senate committee markup. The 2018 Senate proposal would be a $105 million increase over the funds approved for 2017, AIPAC noted. "As Israel faces dramatically rising security challenges, AIPAC urges inclusion of these vital funds in the final versions of the Fiscal Year 2018 defense authorization and appropriations bills," the lobbying group said. Comment: Israel would have little to no 'dramatically rising security challenges' if it minded its business, didn't force settlements on others' land, wasn't committing Palestinian genocide and didn't bomb Syria over false provocation. But that is just not how pathocrats operate.
          Pepe Escobar - Washington and Berlin on a collision course   
The Russia sanctions bill that passed the US Senate by 98:2 on June 15 is a bombshell; it directly demonizes the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, under the Baltic Sea, which is bound to double Gazprom's energy capacity to supply gas to Europe. The 9.5 billion euro pipeline is being financed by five companies; Germany's Uniper and Wintershall; Austria's OMV; France's Engie; and Anglo-Dutch Shell. All these majors operate in Russia, and have, or will establish, pipeline contracts with Gazprom. In a joint statement, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern stressed that, "Europe's energy supply is a matter for Europe, not the United States of America"; "instruments for political sanctions should not be tied to economic interests"; and the whole thing heralds a "new and very negative quality in European-American relations". An oil trader in the Gulf bluntly told me, "the new sanctions against Russia basically amount to telling the EU to buy expensive US gas instead of cheap Russian gas. So the Germans and the Austrians basically told the Americans to buzz off." A top US intel source, Middle East-based and a dissident to the Beltway consensus, stresses how, "the United States Senate by a nearly unanimous vote have decided to declare war on Russia (sanctions are war) and Germany has threatened retaliation against the United States if it initiates sanctions.
          House may stall Senate's Russia sanctions bill even after technical issue resolved   
New sanctions drawn up against Russia in the US Senate are no longer snagged by a technical matter, but the bill may still be in limbo, as it faces opposition in the House of Representatives. On Thursday, the Senate fixed what's known as a "blue slip" violation in its bill to lay further sanctions on Russia. At issue was the constitutional requirement that revenue bills must originate in the House. Democrats are accusing Republicans of stalling the sanctions in an attempt to please President Donald Trump after his administration officials raised concerns with the bill, according to Reuters. Republicans in the House say that their reluctance to push the bill forward is purely procedural, Reuters reported.
          German FM blasts US sanctions bill: 'Forcing us to give up Russian gas to sell own is unacceptable'   
A US bill threatening to sanction European companies taking part in construction of a Russian pipeline is seen as unacceptable in Berlin, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said, especially if it actually aims to push America's own gas exports. "We deem it absolutely unacceptable when a bill demands that Europeans give up on Russian gas so that they could sell American instead, at a much higher price," Gabriel said in Krasnodar, Russia, on Thursday as cited by Handelsblatt daily. Gabriel was referring to new sanctions passed by the US Senate in mid-June. Initially outlined as an amendment to a bill imposing sanctions against Iran, the Russian part of the document threatens penalties for companies doing business with Russian oil and gas firms, possibly affecting the participation of BASF, Shell, Engie, OMV, Wintershall and Uniper in the Nord Stream 2 project.
          SENATE: Some Republicans want to scrap summer recess   
With action stalled on major legislative items, 10 Republican senators are calling on leadership to cancel the August recess to tackle the growing workload if "meaningful progress" doesn't materialize in the coming weeks.
          ENERGY POLICY: Lawmakers release flurry of bills before recess   
Lawmakers in the House and Senate unveiled a bevy of energy bills this week as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced a comprehensive energy reform package similar to one that passed the Senate by a large margin last year.
          CAMPAIGN 2017: Developer's PAC to take on Strange in Ala. Senate special   
A new political action committee aims to take on appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) in Alabama's special Senate election.
          Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it   
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers c...
          GOP may keep Obama tax on wealthy in bid to save health bill   
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Senate Republicans may try preserving a tax boost on high earners enacted by President Barack Obama in a bid to woo party ...
          Comment on An Open Letter to Moderates by dhlii   
Separately as things stand I do not think that Republicans can manage legislation. The Health care mess at the moment demonstrates that their margins are too small to accomplish anything that is actually needed and half measures are worse than nothing. I would love to see tax reform - but we need REAL tax reform, not twidlling at the edges. There is not likely to be a second bite at tax reform for another decade. Right now there better off doing small things that are possible. There is a long list of small measures that are not likely to be viewed as controversial enough that Republicans can not pass them on their own that would increase the ability to reign in the administrative state. There are some that might get democratic support. There is substantial talk among democrats all of a sudden regarding "federalism" - returning powers of the federal government back to states. If Trump can manage to pull growth off the 2% peg its has been on for 2 decades - republicans will do well in 2018. If he can not then republicans should not do well. Tax reform would help alot but there is a catch-22 to get the political will to do tax reform properly - republicans need to succeed and build credibility. They should repeal PPACA or atleast bring a straight repeal to a vote in the house and senate. That is what the promised. They never should have promised more. Talk of further reform can happen AFTER that. I would also note I am less afraid of Trump as the head of the executive acting unilaterally within the constraints and powers of the executive. I am not too happy with him as the leader of the GOP pushing legislation. With respect to Congress he seems more interested in scoring points - passing something, than in passing what is needed. Think about that as you think about how much you value compromise. With few exceptions as an administrator Trump seems to be "doing the right thing". He has put mostly good people in place. He sometimes buts heads with them, but ultimately he appears to have vetted them well and is leaving them to do their job their way. Regardless, there is alot he can accomplish. Right now the economy is improving - or appears to be. Given that I have heard a years worth of predictions of coming recession, that is pretty amazing.
          Chiropractors encouraged as Senate recognizes need for resources to fight opioid crisis   

The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is encouraged by the reports that the U.S. Senate is slated to add $45 billion to its healthcare reform bill, emphasizing the need for healthcare reform efforts that further address the nation’s opioid epidemic. “Both the House and Senate bills designed to restructure the healthcare delivery system have been mostly silent on the opioid issue,” said ACA President David Herd, DC.

The post Chiropractors encouraged as Senate recognizes need for resources to fight opioid crisis appeared first on Chiropractic Economics.


          Senate committee backs aviation bill minus key Trump goal   
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican-led Senate committee on Thursday backed an aviation bill that omits one of President Donald Trump's goals —...
          Texas Senate Approves Concealed Handguns In College Classrooms   
The Texas Senate has given preliminary approval to allowing concealed handguns in college classrooms, a day after passing a measure allowing open carry of guns most everywhere else in America's second most-populous state.
          Proposals To Loosen Texas Gun Laws Get Early Senate Hearing   
Gun rights are again a focus at the Texas Capitol after drawing attention over rallies outside and confrontations inside.
          Report: Senate health reform cuts $3.1B from Alaska’s Medicaid   
A new state-commissioned analysis of the U.S. Senate health care bill said it would lower Medicaid payments to the Alaska by $3.1 billion over six years. That’s an even bigger cut than in the bill the House passed.
          Senate to return to Juneau on July 10 to focus on oil and gas tax credits   
The Senate majority wants to end the cash payments that oil and gas companies receive for tax credits, while the House wants to see companies pay more taxes.
          Premiums under the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act Rise Significantly   

A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds significant increases in 2020 health insurance premiums under the controversial Senate healthcare bill among those who receive tax credits.

The post Premiums under the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act Rise Significantly appeared first on CreakyJoints.


          After Obamacare: Disability Services At Risk In Medicaid Changes   

The bill being considered in the Senate would fundamentally change how Medicaid is paid for and could allow states to cut “optional services.”


          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Conservative groups unleash on Senate Republicans over repeal billPolitico
What exactly does Trump want from this health care bill?CNN
GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch networkLos Angeles Times
ABC News -Breitbart News -HuffPost -ThinkProgress
all 158 news articles »

          City says "no" to firefighters' pursuit of ballot measure   
So much for a state law enabling Colorado Springs firefighters to seek voters' permission to collectively bargain for pay and benefits.

City Clerk Sarah Johnson wrote to Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association Local 5 president David Noblitt in a letter dated Friday, June 30, saying go pound sand.

Actually, the letter was more formal than that, making the point that as a home-rule city, Colorado Springs considers Senate Bill 25, enacted to allow firefighters to seek voter approval of collective bargaining, not applicable to the city.

"Home rule municipalities have exclusive authority over municipal elections....," Johnson wrote.

Read the letter here:
[pdf-1]
Noblitt tells the Independent via email:
I am still just a bit flabbergasted on what they find so destructive about SB-25.…
          The Latest: Maine Senate gives initial OK to budget   
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Latest on legislative efforts to avoid a state government shutdown (all times local):
          Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it   
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.
          Last Weekend's NAACP Centennial Celebration Looked Back — and Forward   


As Memphis prepares for a 4th of July weekend, members and guests of the Memphis chapter of the NAACP are still savoring some moments last weekend from the organization’s centennial anniversary luncheon — particularly from keynoters Melissa Harris-Perry, former MSNBC host and Wake Forest professor, and Harold Ford Jr., the onetime Memphis congressman who now works on Wall Street and keeps his hand in politically, also on MSNBC.

There were notable things happening before keynoters Harris-Perry and Ford took their star turns, of course. Local NAACP president Deidre Malone and MC Mearl Purvis kept things moving from the dais, and a series of local dignitaries, including Ford’s successor, current 9th District congressman Steve Cohen and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, had some trenchant things to say — Cohen about the perils of the Trump presidency, Strickland about the need to boost African Americans’ share of local business opportunities.

Arguably, though, the best crowd reaction early on was to remarks by longtime civil rights activist Jocelyn Wurzburg, who (along with Shannon Brown and Roquita Coleman-Williams) was one of three official co-chairs for the event, held at the East Memphis Hilton last Saturday and devoted to the theme “Reflecting on the Past, Remaining Focused on the Future: 100 Years of Civil Rights and Human Rights Advocacy.”

Wurzburg, recipient of numerous citations and the person for whom Tennessee Human Rights Commission's annual Civil Rights Legacy award was named, conflated two tales. The first was about being embarrassed in her early youth when her mother, without asking, signed her up as a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy; the second detailed her response, during a visit to New Orleans, when a resident of that city lamented Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s recent removal of Confederate memorials, including a statue of Robert E. Lee.

The New Orleans native insisted that Lee had been done an injustice, in that the Civil War, in which he led a Southern army, had not been done on behalf of slavery. Wurzburg countered that, “as a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy, I can assure you it was.”

Harris-Perry, utilizing her erstwhile media chops, would wow the NAACP audience with a deceptively stream-of-consciousness rendition, including flamboyant hand-and-arm gestures, of what was actually a tightly organized dramatic presentation, aptly illustrated by a series of slides.

And along with her mastery of the medium (two actually; that of television and that of the lecture hall) came several provocative messages. One was both powerful and original: Taking off from her declaration that America had elected a president who was both “a racist and a pussy-grabber,” she formulated a convincing argument that racial domination, in its various forms, had depended on a distinctly physical domination of black women.

Slavery, which had involved the calculated and merciless separation of children from their mothers, had continued “through us,” Harris-Perry declared. To maintain the current stratified social system, she suggested, “Black women have to give birth,” and thereby to yield up to others “not only the product of our labor but our labor….The people who run this joint are pussy-grabbers.” That, she said, was “the reality of our wombs.”

Noting the incidence of black domestic servants in her paternal ancestry visi-a-vis the fact that her mother’s side was white and relatively privileged, Harris-Perry identified strongly with the former and with the idea of building “from the bottom,” a moral that she said would apply both to the advancement of the NAACP and the redevelopment of a dilapidated Democratic Party. “You always have to start with the least of these, literally, Jesus said. If you start at the top, you will miss so much. If you start at the bottom, you will miss nothing.”

Harris-Perry was the proverbial Hard Act to Follow, but Ford, who came next and last, managed to do just fine.

Professing that he was “glad to be home,” the former 9th District Congressman (who came within an ace of winning a Senate seat as a Democrat in 2006) executed an artful segue from Harris-Perry. Elaborating on the theme of “the power of women,” he recalled the importance of women teachers in his early education, extolled the helpful role played by “women in this district” in the development of his political career, and did some verbal doting on his 4 ½-year-old daughter Georgia.

Ford then shifted to the subject of change and to what he saw as a geometrically increasing demand for it in the society of today, treating the abrupt shift by American voters to Obama in 2008 and, even more precipitously, to Trump in 2016 as a case in point. The silver lining was the fact, as he saw it, that yet another political shift in a wholly different direction could happen, and relatively quickly.

“People want change, and they want it now,” he said, noting the pell-mell transformations of public technology, like the ever-escalating rise in photography via cell phone. He recalled being told two years ago that, within five years from that point, “97 percent of all the pictures in the world” would have been taken.

Ford closed on a note of optimism: “We’ve got to be daring and not afraid of change.” He quoted Babe Ruth to the effect that “Yesterday’s home runs do not win tomorrow’s ball games.”



          June 30, 2017: Hour 2   
In hour two of Here & Now's June 30, 2017 full broadcast, we talk with Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — whose state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — about his reaction to the Senate health care plan. Also, we meet Mikah Meyer, who's on a quest to be the youngest person to visit every one of the National Park Service's 417 sites in one continuous trip. And recreational marijuana goes on sale for the first time Saturday in Nevada, after voters passed a ballot measure in November to make the practice legal in the state.
          Here Are 3 Reasons the Senate Health Care Bill Should Expand Individual Health Accounts   

As Congress works to undo the damage caused by Obamacare, members are looking for ways to maximize their opportunity to address Obamacare’s problems that drove... Read More

The post Here Are 3 Reasons the Senate Health Care Bill Should Expand Individual Health Accounts appeared first on The Daily Signal.


          One Step Closer to Marriage in New Hampshire!   

AP photo of folks leaving the NH State house today.

This just in--the New Hampshire House has approved a marriage equality bill! The bill's next stop is the Senate. If passed, New Hampshire would be the third state to allow marriage for gay and lesbian couples. The state currently allows civil unions for same-sex couples, which has provided all the statewide benefits of marriage for the past two years. Massachusetts and Connecticut currently have marriage equality laws on the books. Though the Vermont Senate approved a marriage equality bill this week, the state's Gov. Jim Douglas has announced he would veto it. The Rev. V. Gene Robinson (who will be honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at our LA Media Awards!) testified in support of marriage and told the AP:
"I am delighted, because it's clear to me that New Hampshire values one class of citizenship and not two."
March 27, 2009

          Michigan veterans' disability claims continue to pile up   
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., says we are failing when it comes to providing health care to those who have served in the military: "Our nation has a moral obligation to provide quality health care to the men and women who put on our nations uniform and are injured and wounded fighting our nations wars… Our responsibility ends only when the wounds are healed…I am sad to say that we as a nation are not meeting this obligation." He made these remarks in early April during an opening statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee Joint Hearing on Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs. Back in August of 2012, we reported on the long wait time for veterans filing disability claims. At the time of our report, veterans in our area were waiting an average of 319 days for a decision from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs on their disability claims. The national average was 257 days. Unfortunately, there have been few improvements. Today, the average wait time in our area is 321 days, a
          Yes, Petty Idiocy Still Rules Society    

Late night loud yowls, most precious Big Cat Beauties... sheesh, geez, what a long busy-overwhelming week for this Big Cat... okay, really who cares about ENEMY-MSM Mika? However, petty idiocy still rules our society...sadly! But come on, Mika looks like a programmed android, and she is STUPID ... all you have to do is look at her, listen to her for a few minutes, and it's obvious--her IQ is not impressive, let's say... and let's get a dose of reality, how obvious is it that President Trump is just fish-hooking these brainless-wonder presstitutes into reacting crazily... MEANWHILE he's doing the real business of being president of these united states. BEHIND THE SCENES.

Yeah, the Kougar couldn't resist this political cartoon. ~smiles~

Okay, according to Sorcha Faal of ~whatdoesitmean.com~ there is a plot to possibly assassinate President Trump during the G20, when The Donald and Putin are supposed to meet... thus, to blame it on the Russians and cause a world war.

MESSAGE TO THE SINISTER-FORCE GLOBALISTS: NO, YOU WILL NOT ASSASSINATE PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP. NOT EVER. WHATEVER YOU ATTEMPT WILL MERELY BACKFIRE ON YOU WITH DEADLY CONSEQUENCES. AND SO IT IS!!! 

~~~~~~

PAUL JOSEPH WATSON DOES A BRILLIANT JOB EXPOSING THE IDIOCRACY HYPOCRISY OVER POOR LITTLE ATTACKED MIKA. 


Save Me The Feigned Outrage Over Trump’s Mika Brzezinski Tweet

Paul Joseph Watson | The media has spent the last 2 years viciously attacking Trump over his appearance.


IF YOU WANT ANY KIND OF FREEDOM AND PRIVACY AROUND YOUR MONEY, THIS BILL MUST BE STOPPED. IT IS MORE THAN HORRENDOUS AND VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTION SIX WAYS TO SUNDAY. 





FANNIE AND FREDDIE WERE LOOTED BLIND BY OBOZO AND CREW, AND THE CONGRESS SIMPLY IGNORES THIS MASSIVE CRIME. 

SENATE OPENS LEGISLATIVE SEASON ON FANNIE AND FREDDIE IGNORING THEFT OF SHAREHOLDER VALUE

Senate Banking Committee features Sen. Corker plan to hand mortgage market to Wall Street and big banks

THE PEDO EMPIRE IS CRUMBLING DAY BY DAY... THANK THE DIVINE ... THIS BIG CAT IS ENTIRELY GRATEFUL FOR THE INCREDIBLE EXPOSURE THAT IS HAPPENING NOW, AND FOR THE ROUND UP OF THESE PSYCHO-PERVERTS WHO RULE AND RUN AND RUIN OUR LIVES. 


BREAKING: POPE’S PEDOPHILE NETWORK IMPLODING AS HIS TOP AIDE IS INDICTED FOR CHILD RAPE

Catholic church involved in child sex once again 


JAMES O'KEEFE, WHAT A HERO REAL JOURNALIST!!! 

WATCH: CNN CEO ‘COWARDLY’ RUNS AWAY FROM JAMES O’KEEFE

Fake news ringleader hides from press 


YEAH, THANKS STUPID-BRAIN NIKKI HALEY ... WE SO NEED A BIG OLE NASTY, KILL OFF HUMANITY, *KILL OFF THE PLANET WAR* WITH RUSSIA [SNARK] BECAUSE OF A MCMASTER-ORCHESTRATED FALSE FLAG ... YOU TWIT-ZOID. 

https://www.infowars.com/russian-senator-warns-u-s-preparing-provocation-to-attack-syria 

RUSSIAN SENATOR WARNS U.S. PREPARING “PROVOCATION” TO ATTACK SYRIA

Trump admin could launch false flag blamed on Assad


Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov warns that the United States is preparing a false flag “provocation” as a pretext to launch a military assault on Syria.
Responding to a CNN report that the U.S. “has ships and aircraft in place to strike Syria,” if ordered to do so by the President, Pushkov cautioned that this could be the precursor to a staged incident.
“The United States put its Navy and Air Force on alert, and is just waiting for an excuse to strike Syria. Assad will not give them one.” This, Pushkov wrote, makes it “the perfect time for a provocation.”
США привели в готовность силы ВМФ и ВВС и ждут лишь предлога для удара по Сирии. Асад им предлога не даст. Идеальное время для провокации.
Earlier this week, the administration warned Bashar Al-Assad that the U.S. was aware of new preparations for a chemical attack and that he would pay a “heavy price” for any such action.
This was followed up by a tweet from Ambassador Nikki Haley in which she asserted, “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.”
Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated that the Trump administration’s warning to Assad had been “successful,” but Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova took the move as “a warning sign of an intervention.”
“The campaign, which was started by the US and is being backed by London and Paris, on the alleged chemical attack that is claimed to be prepared by Damascus, is not original, it’s a textbook script, which has already been used in several countries in the region,” Zakharova said.
“The situation seems to be a massive provocation, both military and information-wise, a provocation which targets not only the Syrian leadership, but also Russia,” she added.
Back in April, the Trump administration launched 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield claimed to be the base for government aircraft that carried out a chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun.
The decision caused a split amongst Trump’s base because he specifically ran on the promise of not getting the United States entangled in more Middle Eastern conflicts that lead to the overthrow of secular leaders.
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*********************

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

THE EARTHQUAKES ARE STILL SHAKING UP THE PLANET ... THE KOUGAR CANNOT EVEN POST THEM ALL HERE

OKAY, SUPPOSEDLY, TO UPDATE THIS ARTICLE, RAND PAUL HAD A VERY GOOD MEETING WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP WHICH HE FEELS WILL YIELD POSITIVE RESULTS ... LET'S HOPE SO! 

RAND PAUL: HEALTH BILL IS NOW ‘OBAMACARE-PLUS’; IT SUBSIDIZES THE DEATH SPIRAL”

Legislation is "propping up" insurance companies

Senator Rand Paul continued to voice stern opposition to the Obamacare replacement legislation Friday, saying it isn’t even ‘Obamacare lite’ anymore, and instead is more like ‘Obamacare plus’.
Appearing on “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” last night, Paul noted that the Republican legislation may actually provide more subsidies than Obamacare.
“[W]hen we look at the bill, we actually find that with the Obamacare subsidies, not only are we keeping them, we may actually be providing more subsidies than Obamacare has.” Paul exclaimed.
“Our early estimates on the bill are that the bill may spend more in the next year or two than Obamacare does.” Paul added.
“And so, it’s hard for us to get our mind around that this is a repeal bill if we’re spending more, keeping all the subsidies, and then we’re going to start a brand new federal entitlement program where we give insurance companies money.” the Senator explained.
“I keep reading it and…it sounds like Obamacare to me. It doesn’t even sound like Obamacare-lite. In some areas, it may be Obamacare-plus, on the subsidy side.” he urged.
Paul also warned that the bill “subsidizes the death spiral of Obamacare.”
“It dumps a bunch of federal money, taxpayer money, or borrowed money into the insurance industry and says, ‘Hey, please lower the prices if we give you money.’” Paul told viewers.
In a further appearance on Morning Joe Friday, the Senator said that the so called healthcare overhaul is actually centered around “propping up” insurance companies.

“The insurance companies make all the money; all of this is predicated upon still propping up the insurance companies.” Paul said, adding that “you should be able to get insurance for $1 a day. I mean, you really should.”
The Senator argued that the legislation will amount to more “bailing out” of insurance companies.
“I want the bill to look more like a repeal bill. I promised people I was going to repeal it; I didn’t promise people that I was going to replace it with a federal program of bailing out insurance companies,” Paul asserted.
“I mean, we could do this for cars,” he added. “New cars are expensive. We could have a car stabilization fund.” he further argued.
In an interview with Breitbart, Paul noted that “The bill keeps ten of twelve Obamacare regulations that causes the prices of premiums to spiral upward.”


AT LEAST, THEY RECOGNIZE SOME LEVEL OF REALITY ... BLESS YOU WHEREVER YOU ARE, HERO SETH RICH 

  • Late night big ole yowls,dearest and summer-dancing KitKats ... so, most of the news-info below is from a week or so past ... time flies way too fast, and this Big Cat just can't keep up at all.

    WHAT SHE CAN SAY: THE TIME OF THE EVILDOER IS UP. THE TIME OF DIVINE JUDGMENT IS HERE. LIKE DOMINOS, YOU WILL FALL, YOUR DESPICABLE CRIMES ARE REVEALED TO ALL. ANY REPREHENSIBLE ACT YOU ATTEMPT AGAINST ANOTHER, AGAINST HUMANITY WILL ONLY BACKFIRE ON YOU IMMEDIATELY. 

    ~~~~~~

    END THE FED BEFORE THE ENDS OUR ECONOMY AND ENSLAVES *WE THE PEOPLE*. 


    AT LEAST, MR. PITT IS BRAVE ENOUGH TO EXPOSE PEDO-HOLLYWOOD. THANK YOU! 

    THE 1967 WARNING AGAINST THE ROTHSCHILD INFILTRATION 


    June 27, 2017

    Stunning 1967 Dissertation Warns Infiltration of Rothschild Luciferians in US Government 2


    Between 1967 and 1968 Myron Fagan recorded three LP records: The Illuminati and the Council on Foreign Relations.  The dissertations document the activities of the house of Rothschild were  produced byAnthony J. Hilder – an American activist, author, film maker, talk show host, broadcaster and former actor.
    This stunning recording from 1967 speaks to the very problems we face today, including Fake News, government corruption, the Corrupt United Nations and infiltration of a Luciferian Rothschild cult who may have gained irreversible control of the US government.
    https://chemtrailsplanet.net/2017/06/27/stunning-1967-dissertation-warns-infiltration-of-rothschild-luciferians-in-us-government

    HELL, AT LEAST THEY'RE OUTDOORS ACTUALLY EXERCISING... 

    THE BRUTAL REALITY WE FACE AS AMERICANS...DO ALL YOU CAN TO PEACEFULLY PREVENT THIS *DIVIDE AND CONQUER* HORROR SOROS AND MINIONS ARE FOMENTING AGAINST WE THE PEOPLE. 






    HEROINE, LAURA LOOMER...THE WOMEN WARRIORS RISE UP! 

    https://www.infowars.com/journalist-shuts-down-trump-assassination-play

    JOURNALIST SHUTS DOWN TRUMP ASSASSINATION PLAY

    "Stop liberal violence!" Journalist screams

    A conservative journalist interrupted the Trump assassination play in Central Park, N.Y., on Friday, only two days after the politically-motivated shooting of Republican lawmakers.
    Laura Loomer of Rebel Media was arrested after rushing the stage, yelling that the production promoted violence against President Trump and his supporters.
    The play, which is sponsored by Time Warner and the New York Times, features a Trump-lookalike who is violently assassinated in the same manner as Julius Caesar.



    THIS IS ONE VERY BRAVE WOMAN, KUDOS TO HER!!! 






    THE INCREDIBLY BRAVE HEROINE, MONIKA WESOLOWSKI ... MAY SHE BE PROTECTED IN EVERY DIVINE WAY 

    http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/2017/06/17/breaking-whistleblower-says-deep-state-in-control-of-state-department-ongoing-child-trafficking-cover-up-at-st-dept

    Breaking: Whistleblower Says Deep State in Control of State Department : Ongoing Child-Trafficking Cover-Up at St. Dept.


    Did you know that at the State Department they have an exorbitantly paid employee, of Middle East background, who is in charge of the sex-trafficking brochures for the State Department? Did you know that same person refuses to cover this issue as domestic issue? This plays right into the hands of the Deep State cover-up of their child-sex-trafficking practices at the highest levels of government? This is tantamount to overtly supporting and covering up child-sex-trafficking and the State Department is the willing accomplice. Did you also know that the State Department has 3 men, led by Deep State minion and close Obama ally, Larry Palmer, who controls all information coming in and out of the State Department and they control the FOIA’s for the State Department as well.
    State Department employee, Monika Wesolowski, has been unduly harassed and has had her life threatened for trying to expose traitors and overt practices of treason and sedition by State Department employees who are aligned with the Deep State motives and objectives. The following is an interview I conducted with Monika followed by objective, hard proof of the claims made by this whistleblower.
    Unlike a lot of sources,this interview names the names of the guilty.

    Monika “Begs” for Protection and Nobody From the State Department Will Help

    Monika has begged for protection from the death threats, violent attacks and constant harassment. As recently as last Tuesday, June 13, 2017, Monika took the issue to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s aides. As of the date of this publication, she has not heard back on this critical issue. I want to put the State Department on notice, you do not wait 5 days to investigate these kinds of allegations when someone’s life is in danger. This is an example of intentional/unintentional depraved indifference to the safety of of State Department employee, Monika Wesolowski (see the email communications at the bottom of the page).
    Previously, on The Common Sense Show,  I documented, with pictures, government vehicles that have stalked and harassed Monika. The Fairfax, VA. police have told Monika that it is not safer to go home and they cannot protect her.
    More recently, Monika has had animals poisoned to death. She, herself, has had to be treated for poisoning, some of which was uranium related. When I recently tried to interview Monika by Skype, ourcommunications were blocked for hours. Simultaneously, our cell phone communications were blocked as well. Here home has been invaded when she is not home. She was boxed in by two Muslim men, at the carwash, and stayed near until she called the police. This woman is the Deep State posterchild for political and personal harassment. In the following emails, please note the reference to CHILD-SEX-TRAFFICKING. I further want it to be known that Liz Crokin discovered a connection between the Virginia Shooter baseball practice shooter and child-sex-trafficking and that the primary shooting victim, Rep. Scalise had just sponsored a child-sex-trafficking bill eight days prior to being shot. This is no coincidence, the Deep State strikes again.
    Monika has backed out of previous interviews because she is in fear of her life. I have convinced her that if you are going to be on the list, you better be on top of the list. Because I know the fate of Breitbart and Hastings, I have shared this information with other journalistic outlets who are going to cover this case and we are going to turn up the heat significantly.
    I want to remind everyone, that in several earlier publications, I have tapped into two unnamed sources, one from the FBI and one from the State Department and was told that there is a Deep State purge underway. Monika confirms the assertion as her office is “like a morgue, people have either left or people have cleared out their desks and are awaiting their departure”.

    Crickets Chirping

    After numerous instances of being harassed and attacked, she reached out to Secretary Tillerson’s office, but to no avail. Here are the unanswered communications:
    From: Wesolowski, Monika
    Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 1:39 PM
    To: Peterlin, Margaret JA
    Cc: Kenna, Lisa D
    Subject: RE: Personal and Confidential
    Ms. Peterlin and Ms. Kenna,
    The issue goes back deeper into 2013 and child trafficking. I have not seen my eight year old son in a year . I worry for his safety and mine. It is imperative I speak to you in person, I will not speak to anyone outside of Mr. Tillerson’s close administration for fear for my life and that of my son’s. Thank you for speaking to me on the phone. I have been wanting to send this email for several months but afraid to.
    Monika A. Wesolowski
    Visual Information Specialist
    United States Department of State
    Global Publishing Solutions (A/GIS/GPS)
    Phone: 202-xxx-xxxx voicemail
    Phone: 202-xxx-xxxx direct

    UNCLASSIFIED
    From: Wesolowski, Monika
    Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2017 12:50 PM
    To: Peterlin, Margaret JA
    Cc: Kenna, Lisa D
    Subject: Personal and Confidential
    Importance: High
    Dear Ms. Peterlin,
    I proudly attended Secretary of State Tillerson’s swearing in ceremony and have faith that he will be successful at the State Department. I would like to arrange a meeting with your office with the Secretary of State Mr. Rex Tillerson. It is imperative I speak to Mr. Tillerson. I do not feel safe at my office or at home, I have been under constant attack. I have had things happen to my family, myself, and in the office that I cannot talk about in email. I feel my life and health, as well as that of my family and those close to me, is in danger because of where I work and the people I work with, and their connections. I do not know who to trust and cannot trust Diplomatic Security here at DOS, my coworkers or upper management, especially not Ambassador Palmer, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Information Services. I was informed by my HR that Ambassador Palmer pushed for the Hatch Act for my having a photograph and items of President Trump in my cubicle after the election. The situation at work has been hostile and I have been harassed. Please let me know if you could speak with me or arrange a meeting with the Secretary. Please expect a call regarding this email just to verify.
    Thank you kindly,
    Monika A. Wesolowski
    Visual Information Specialist
    United States Department of State
    Global Publishing Solutions (A/GIS/GPS)
    Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx voicemail
    Phone: 202-xxx-xxxx direct

     Conclusion

     I believe Monika’s best protection is the light of day. On that note, I would ask that all forward this article to your contact list. Secondly, if Tillerson’s office will not respond to this grave situation, then I would ask that everyone send this article to President Trump AND Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Finally, we need to keep the heat on this issue.


    OBUMMER CARE... ONE MASSIVE CON GAME ... AND YOU'RE THE SUCKER





    WILL THIS STOP THE CLINTONISTA/DNC BODY COUNT??? SO, THE JUDGE REFUSED TO PROTECT THESE WITNESSES ... IF ANYONE IS HARMED/MURDERED, THE BLOOD WILL BE ON HER HANDS. 




    GOVERNOR MOONBEAM GOES FULL-TILT COMMIE LUNATIC ... CALIFORNIANS, YOU HAVE THREE CHOICES: RISE AND SAVE YOURSELVES, LEAVE THE GOLDEN STATE, OR BE SACRIFICED ON THE ALTAR OF SATANIC INSANITY 





    YEAH, AT LEAST, CALIFORNIA IS SAYING MONSATANO'S ROUNDUP/GLYSOPHATE IS CANCER-CAUSING
    Neil deGrasse Tyson now pushing Monsanto propaganda alongside wife abuser and convicted felon
    Mike Adams
    Why am I not surprised? Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has become a mouthpiece for the GMO and chemical agricultural industries that poison the global food supply, is narrating a new documentary called "Food Evolution."
    The film pushes the same pro-GMO propaganda as a violent wife abuser who used to write for Forbes. Another fake science front group -- the ACSH -- appears in the film and is run by a convincted medical fraud FELON who spent years in prison (and now runs biotech propaganda campaigns for a living).
    Neil deGrasse Tyson has become a shameful betrayor of humanity and nature and an insult to real science.
    THE QUAKES ARE STILL SHAKING, RATTLING, ROLLING MOTHER EARTH ... THIS IS JUST ONE RECENT EXAMPLE 


    HERE IT IS, PROOF OF HOW THE AQUARIAN CONSPIRACY [THE BOOK] WORKS. 


    AIN'T THIS GREAT, LYING AI ROBOTS, ETC. 

    POLICE STATE AMERIKA, ONE MORE NEFARIOUS FASCIST TOOL 

    CORPORATE MONOPOLY ... WHY IS THIS NOT SURPRISING? 

    GEE, HOW VERY HUMANE. AT LEAST, YOU COULD EUTHENIZE THEM ... YOU SICKO SOCIOPATHS
          Video: Both Sides Spin CBO Numbers   

In this week’s video with FactCheck.org, CNN’s Jake Tapper looks at how members of both parties are spinning the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of how many people will be insured under the Senate health care bill.

The post Video: Both Sides Spin CBO Numbers appeared first on FactCheck.org.


          Fantasy Sports Bill Clears NJ Legislature   
The New Jersey Senate in a late voting session Friday gave final legislative approval to a bill that would regulate daily fantasy sports betting, a multi-million-dollar-a-year industry that has, until recently, gone largely unregulated nationwide.
      

          Pennsylvania Senate Passes Bill Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns in School   

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania state Senate voted to pass a bill which would allow teachers in the state to carry firearms while in schools. The bill was purportedly proposed in an effort to prevent school shootings and defend students, but opponents argue that it does more harm than good. The bill passed 28-22 and will

The post Pennsylvania Senate Passes Bill Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns in School appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.


          Republicans Have Done Nothing For The American People Since Lincoln – Mike Malloy Show   

Radio talk show host Mike Malloy talks about the Republicans trying to save face after delaying the vote in the Senate for a replacement of Obamacare. “Facing growing opposition from members of his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed the vote on the Republicans’ healthcare bill until after Congress’s 4 July recess.”

The post Republicans Have Done Nothing For The American People Since Lincoln – Mike Malloy Show appeared first on The Ring of Fire Network.


          6/30/2017: FRONT PAGE: Poll: 53% majority say leave Obamacare intact or fix it   

Just 12% of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan, a new USA TODAY/ Suffolk University Poll finds amid a roiling debate over whether the GOP will deliver on its signature promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. In the...
          6/30/2017: NEWS: Health care bill has hurdles to clear   

Majority Leader WASHINGTON Mitch McConnell, R- Ky., delayed a vote on the Senate health care bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare after it became clear the legislation lacked enough votes for even an initial motion to bring the bill to the...
          6/30/2017: NEWS: Liberals’ call to action: ‘ Crank up the outrage’   

WASHINGTON Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to delay a vote on a GOP health care plan gives Democrats a big opportunity to seize the July 4 recess to dial up the pressure to kill the bill for good. Several outside liberal groups plan...
          6/30/2017: OPINION: Don’t repeal and replace — retain and repair Obamacare   
Scrambling for votes on their wildly unpopular health care bill, Senate Republicans find themselves with an unappealing choice. They can anger their base by ditching seven years of promises to repeal Obamacare. Or they can strip 22 million people —...
          6/30/2017: OPINION: Pass the Senate measure ASAP   
To suggest that Congress must choose between fixing the Affordable Care Act and passing the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act misses a key point: Even if the Senate bill becomes law, we will still need to fix the ACA. The National Retail...
          6/30/2017: OPINION: ON LIFE SUPPORT?   

Views of the Senate health care bill:
          A Guilty Verdict in Nemtsov Trial, But Impunity Reigns   

On Thursday, the 12-person jury sitting at the Moscow District Military Court rendered its verdict in modern Russia’s most high-profile political assassination. By a majority vote, the jurors found five men—all of them linked to the Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov—guilty of the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down on a bridge in front of the Kremlin on February 27, 2015. Zaur Dadayev, a Kadyrov associate and, at the time of the murder, an officer serving in Russia’s Interior Ministry, was convicted of pulling the trigger. The sentence will be handed down in early July.

The verdict followed a two-year investigation and trial that left more questions than it gave answers. From the start, the authorities went to great lengths to avoid any discussion of motive. Russia’s Investigative Committee refused to invoke Article 277 of the Criminal Code—“encroachment on the life of a statesman or a public figure,” instead qualifying the assassination of the former deputy prime minister, incumbent regional legislator, and leader of the opposition as a common murder. Indeed, those questions that attempted to probe the political motives surrounding the murder, asked by Vadim Prokhorov who represented Nemtsov’s family, were repeatedly disallowed by the judge. Despite Prokhorov’s continued requests—and despite obvious links between those accused and the Kadyrov regime—the Chechen strongman was not even formally questioned. Neither was General Viktor Zolotov, commander of the Russian National Guard (formerly of the Interior Ministry’s interior troops) in whose command Dadayev was serving at the time of the murder, and who is widely considered to be a go-between between Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov.

Both the investigators and the court proved unable—or unwilling—to go beyond the perpetrators to pursue those who masterminded and ordered the killing. The only person named as an organizer in the assassination at the foot of the Kremlin Wall was a Chechen driver who remains at large. Initial attempts by investigators to name Ruslan Geremeyev, another Kadyrov associate and Interior Ministry officer, as an organizer were (twice) vetoed by General Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee. As for the masterminds, no one is even pretending to look.

“We saw a trial where it is forbidden to talk about the substance,” noted opposition politician Lev Shlosberg. “The court is investigating a political assassination without any questions about politics. This trial has done everything to make sure society did not get answers to the most important questions: who ordered [the assassination] and why. This shows that there are people who know the answers to these questions. And they are guarding them as a military secret of the state.”

“This was not a full-scale investigation but an imitation,” said Zhanna Nemtsova, the slain leader’s daughter. She has welcomed the guilty verdict for the perpetrators, but—in the absence of named organizers, masterminds, and motive—considers the case to remain unsolved and vows to “continue fighting to establish the truth.” So does Prokhorov, her lawyer. In this, they will be helped by Lithuanian lawmaker Emanuelis Zingeris, recently appointed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as a special rapporteur for the Nemtsov murder case, with a mandate to consider all aspects of the investigation and trial. Hours after the verdict, a message of support also came from the other side of the Atlantic. “Vladimir Putin and his thugs may have succeeded in taking Boris’s life, but they did not silence him,” US Senator John McCain, who knew Nemtsov and worked with him to pass the groundbreaking Magnitsky Act, said in a statement. “His memory, and the cause for which he gave his life, lives on in the hearts and minds of true Russian patriots, tens of thousands of whom have been taking to the streets in recent months to fight for truth and liberty for the Russian people. Inspired by Boris’s example, I know that someday they will succeed.”

OG Image: 

          2018 Defense Bills Offer Competing Views On DOD Priorities   
Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Wednesday completed markups for their versions of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, offering similar overall budget levels but differing on a number of key policy points, from funding fighter...(read more)
          Major Energy And Natural Resource Bill Proposed In Senate   
After their previous proposal fell just short, a bipartisan pair of senators on Thursday introduced the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, a broad piece of legislation aimed at reforming and modernizing the nation’s energy and resource policies...(read more)
          Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it   
WASHINGTON (AP) " President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.Trump's tweet revives an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself considered but dismissed months ago as impractical and politically unwise. And it's likely to further complicate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's task as he struggles to [...]
          Both Sides of Capitol Hill Advance Aviation Bills   
By Dean Franks, vice president, congressional affairs, ARTBA The House and Senate took important steps toward meeting a September 30 deadline for reauthorizing the federal aviation programs before departing on a week-long recess for the 4th of July holiday.  The House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee and Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation (CST) Committee passed differing […]
          Trumpcare and More at the Rick Smith Show   

I briefly discuss the Senate Bill, and how it really it's just a tax cut for the wealthy, rather than a health plan. It's as Trump himself admitted just mean. I also discuss how bleak the prospects for the near future are.

          Kate's Law and Sanctuary City Crackdown Pass House   

It's a start. But the real battle will be in the Senate.

The White House has statements of support for both H.R. 3003 – No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and H.R. 3004 – Kate’s Law on its site indicating that President Trump would sign them. The challenge though would be in the Senate.

The Senate is the last best hope of the left. The left is gambling that time will drag on and they can make major gains in the midterm elections. If that fails and bills like these pass, their only fallback plan is to continue the judicial coup, this time against both the executive and legislative branches of government. And that really might be a bridge too far.

No Sanctuary for Criminals is particularly explosive because it threatens to sanction sanctuary cities. The judicial coup currently stands in the way. But a judicial coup against Congress and the White House would be unsustainable.

 


          GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   
President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

The influential Koch network, backed... Reported by L.A. Times 1 hour ago.
          The Regulatory Week in Review: June 30, 2017   
Supreme Court to hear lawsuit challenging travel ban, Senate delays vote on bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and more...
          Sweeney’s PAC wants you to pressure Prieto over … Kool & the Gang   
UPDATE: The NJ Senate is now in session, the Assembly (scheduled for 2pm) is still Pending. Watch.  UPDATE2: Senate’s on break, waiting for the Assembly. Link above, refresh often.  It’s impossible to watch this budget stalemate play out and not see...
Read more
          With a government shutdown deadline a few hours away there is no budget deal resolution.   
Assembly Speaker Prieto says he will not post the unnecessary Horizon bill just to to meet Christie’s cynical transactional demand to punish Horizon, in which case Sen. Sweeney and Christie threaten a shutdown. The Senate has already passed the Horizon...
Read more
          Cynical, transactional politics from Christie, Sweeney & Norcross vs. Prieto’s principled approach   
This morning we are at an impasse with the threat of New Jersey’s state government being shut down. Governor Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney, with George Norcross lurking in the background, insist there will be no state budget until...
Read more
          Budget Mess News Roundup for Friday, June 30, 2017   
TRENTON STALEMATE Things not about the budget: Senate panel approves OPRA overhaul, also Kevin O’Toole’s last day in the Legislature, also Transgender student bill passes, heads to Christie’s desk Here’s how everyone voted on the state budget and Horizon SNAP...
Read more
          Horizon Blue Cross BS   
So here we are. Chris Christie told Senate President Steve Sweeney that there would be no deal on the state budget or on a modified school funding formula unless the legislature passes a bill giving the state more control over Horizon Blue Cross Blue...
Read more
          Kansas Lawmakers Wait For School Funding Decision   
The Kansas legislative session may be over, but lawmakers still aren't sure whether their work has ended. They're waiting to see whether the new school funding system they put in place will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court. The court previously said education spending was inadequate. In response, lawmakers approved $300 million in new funding over two years and a new method to distribute the money. Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says members of the group like the new funding formula, but they still have concerns. “We still believe that the dollars don’t measure up to where we believe they needed to be. We don’t think the court is going to say we’re spending too much,” Tallman says. Legal briefs on the new spending plan will be submitted to the Supreme Court this week . Republican Senate President Susan Wagle believes the new plan is adequate, noting that school funding is a large percentage of overall state spending. However, she says lawmakers will be
          Cuts in Senate bill could have dire effects on opioid crisis   
Proposal in the Senate rolls back Medicaid expansion, and that could potentially cut one treatment center's Medicaid funding by 75 percent

          Medicaid cuts in Senate bill could have dire effects at Ohio opioid clinic   
CBS News has learned that Senate Republicans, hoping to win support for the Obamacare replacement, have added another $45 billion for the treatment of opioid addiction. However, that is just a fraction of what Medicaid currently covers. So, what happens if Medicaid is cut drastically? Adriana Diaz reports.

          The search for meaning   

The other day Fresh Air did a conversation with a reporter about the health insurance battle; one item jumped out at me:

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies in for Terry Gross, who’s off this week. We’re talking with Sarah Kliff about the Senate health care bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had hoped to get it to a vote before the July 4 recess but has postponed action because he can’t get enough support for it to pass. Sarah Kliff is senior policy correspondent for Vox and co-host of its podcast “The Weeds.”

When we left off, Kliff had explained that the Congressional Budget Office found the bill would leave millions more uninsured and would increase health

Read the rest

          State Single Payer And Medicaid Buy-In: A Look At California, New York, And Nevada   

An illustration of the US map

Rising insurance premiums, lack of access, uncertainty, and commotion around Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal, have all contributed to the growing discontent and unease surrounding health care reform. Pressure to act continues to mount. Insurance titans Humana, United Healthcare, and Aetna have all rolled-back participation on the ACA Marketplaces. Anthem recently announced that it would exit the Ohio health insurance Marketplace, potentially leaving at least 18 counties without an exchange plan next year. Missouri and Washington State are also facing similar Marketplace participation issues. States such as Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee have seen individual market exchange premiums increase more than 45 percent since 2016. Furthermore, participating exchange plans are asking for steep rate increases for next year—averaging between 11.1 percent and 44.7 percent.

These events have contributed to an economic and political climate ripe for disruptive legislation. While Congress and the current administration pursue solutions to address premium and access issues, more states are inserting themselves in the conversation. More than a dozen states have explored options to leverage federal 1332 and 1115 waivers, which would provide flexibility to develop market stabilizing programs and regulatory changes to their respective individual and Medicaid markets. More recently, a few state legislatures have leap-frogged one-off programs such as reinsurance or high-risk pools, and sought to create a truly different market structure. Three states’ legislatures, California, New York, and Nevada, have developed high-profile state-driven solutions to address consumer access and price-related concerns. While state-led waiver initiatives such as those from Alaska and Oklahoma are meant to provide an incremental stabilizing force to their respective markets, the models that California, New York, and Nevada legislatures proposed could fundamentally reshape the framework of state health markets more akin to what Massachusetts did 11 years ago.

State Models

These state legislative developments are essentially falling into two camps, termed “state single payer” and “Medicaid buy-in.” State single payer describes almost any system that creates a single coverage mechanism for health care that is administered through a centralized authority. California and New York fall into this first bucket. The Medicaid buy-in proposal that the Nevada legislature approved did not expand the Medicaid program to everyone, but it attempted to leverage the structure and negotiated rates of the Medicaid program to enable commercial insurance carriers to replicate these features in the private market.

California

On June 1, 2017, the California State Senate passed SB 562 23-to-14, creating what is known as “Healthy California”—a program intent on eliminating the segmentation of the health insurance market into different coverage types such as Medicare, Medicaid, employer-sponsored, and individual insurance. Instead, there would be a single health care market for everyone. The benefits would be simplified as individuals would not be subject to premiums, copayments, or deductibles. Medical, pharmaceutical, dental, vision, and long-term care would be provided to all residents—including undocumented immigrants—free of charge. The state would seek to pay providers Medicare rates, and a nine-person panel would administer the program.

Experts estimate the program would cost approximately $400 billion per year—double California’s current budget. California could cover about $200 billion from current federal and state spending—including Medicaid and Medicare. An additional $100 to $150 billion would come from what employers are already spending. The additional funding needed could involve a 15.0 percent payroll tax, a 2.3 percent sales tax, and/or a business tax increase.

On Friday, June 23, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon decided to hold the bill within the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice. While Rendon’s actions did not entirely kill the bill, it will not be revived until next year. The bill may have a stronger prospect for passage next year if more thoughtful attempts to address financing, care delivery, and cost controls emerge.

New York

On Tuesday, May 16, the New York State Assembly passed a bill (A.5062) that resembles California’s in several core ways. Universal statewide coverage would be provided throughout the state, and enrollees would no longer be subject to out-of-pocket costs or network restrictions. This is the fourth time in recent history that the State Assembly has passed a similar bill.

The savings or costs—depending on who you talk to—range anywhere from $45 billion in savings to a need for $225 billion in tax increases. A hike of approximately $90 billion in annual new tax revenue appears to be the consensus estimate. Identified funding sources would be progressive payroll taxes and/or non-earned income tax increases.

Nevada

Nevada’s State Assembly and Senate recently passed a bill that was unique in its own merits but not quite as transformative. AB374—known as “Sprinkle care”—after its namesake State Rep. Mike Sprinkle (D) who introduced the bill—focused reforms solely on the individual insurance market and directed the state to contract with insurers to offer a commercial health plan based on the state’s Medicaid coverage. Employer-sponsored insurance and Medicare would have been maintained, but a commercial insurance product resembling the state’s Medicaid coverage would have provided consumers a new option. The plan would have offered a different benefit structure and leveraged the state’s lower Medicaid reimbursement rates.

On June 17, Nevada’s Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, vetoed the bill hours before it would have become law. The bill’s failure may speak more to its hasty drafting than its potential to serve as a roadmap for future legislation. While Gov. Sandoval expressed concerns of moving too fast too soon without solid factual foundations, a more thoughtful version of Nevada’s plan could serve as a model for future legislation within Nevada or other states.

Exhibit 1 below outlines and distinguishes the three models.

Exhibit 1: Distinctions Among the State Models

 CaliforniaNevadaNew York
Cost$400 billion per year; $200 billion outside current state and federal spendingUnclear$90 billion in annual new tax revenue
Proposed funding source15.0% payroll tax; 2.3% sales tax; business tax increasePossible use of federal income tax creditsProgressive payroll tax; non-earned income taxes, for example capital gains
Administration of benefitsStatePrivate sectorState
Employer-sponsored insurance continuesNoYesNo
Medicare and Medicaid continue as separate programsNoYesNo
Reimbursement ratesMedicarePossibly MedicaidMedicare
1332 waiver neededYesYesYes
1115 waiver neededYesUnclearYes

Possible Implementation Scenarios

First off, it’s important to note that any single-payer model proposed by California and New York are likely years away from implementation as significant market restructuring and government infrastructure would need to be in place to enact such a drastic shift. Nevada proposed its solution be implemented in 2019, which was aggressive given that much of the plan’s details were not fully developed (the original bill is only four pages).

We foresee three potential scenarios playing out across the state legislative movements: limited adoption, a Massachusetts-like scenario in which the federal government uses a state’s plan as a blueprint for national reform, or nothing happens at all.

Under the limited adoption model, a state such as California passes a single-payer model, and other like-minded and potentially neighboring states adopt similar models over time. For example, one could envision California passing a bill that Oregon and Washington later adopted and tweaked according to the needs of their specific populations. Further adoption would be limited, however, given many states’ reticence to increase taxes, adversely affect their labor markets, and abandon private-sector solutions.

In a Massachusetts-like scenario, a state such as New York, California, or some other state adopts a single-payer model that serves as a template for a federal single-payer approach. Just as Massachusetts provided a roadmap for the ACA’s enactment, a trailblazer state could provide a workable model for an expanded federal government single-payer program.

A final scenario assumes that states either do not pass single-payer or other disruptive models given consumer and business community pushback or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not grant federal waivers necessary to implement the programs. As to the latter point, there will be a host of regulatory hurdles and waiver applications necessary under any of these models, and getting approval could be challenging despite the prospect of increased waiver flexibility within the current administration.

Let us consider Nevada, given that it was likely the least disruptive of the three proposals. The designation of a commercialized Medicaid policy as a Qualified Health Plan and the potential application of federal tax credits toward such a product may have required the use of Section 1332 to apply for a State Innovation Waiver. Alternatively, current federal law prohibits a state from using federally matched Medicaid funding to reimburse a health care provider for services provided to a person who earns more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level or for other expenses that are unrelated to the administration of Medicaid. To the extent that the Nevada Care Plan relied on state or federal Medicaid dollars, the state may have also needed to consider applying for a Section 1115 or similarly oriented Medicaid waiver. These waivers were never crafted, and it’s unknown if the current administration would have been receptive to these changes.

At least for the short run, the “nothing happens” scenario has a high probability of playing out. Other states have tried and failed to create single-payer systems in the past. For example, consider the original Washington State effort in the early 1990s, Vermont’s attempt a couple years ago, and Colorado’s failed ballot measure last year.

Potential Local And National Impact

What would happen to markets if states passed legislation resembling any of these models? The answer depends on the model. In the California and New York scenarios, private insurance companies and brokers would cease to operate within the state. If a single-payer model spread to other states and/or the federal government, then the insurance and brokerage markets would be decimated. It is beyond this post’s scope to discuss in meaningful detail consumer implications associated with the various models. One thing is certain, consumer premium, coinsurance, and copayment responsibilities would either drop completely or be heavily reduced. Accessibility would improve in the sense that more people would have coverage, but it would also depend on agreed reimbursement rates and the percentage of providers who would be willing to accept new patients. Even if a state passed legislation, implementation could eventually become unworkable as was the case in Vermont.

In a Nevada-like scenario, private payers would continue to compete for Medicaid insurance lives as the state leverages aspects of the Medicaid program to reform commercial markets. Brokers would continue to sell group and individual market plans. Employers would continue to offer insurance, although fewer would likely offer over time given the tax advantages associated with qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements.

Regardless of what scenario occurs, the broader industry trend of states engaging in thoughtful attempts to innovate amid difficult market conditions is one that will likely have broader impacts across the country. While the US health insurance system is unique in its reliance on the private market to facilitate and manage health care coverage, much of the regulatory construct of the market is still shaped by the federal government. As more states seek to develop their own unique systems and solutions, we appear to be in a time where states are truly the laboratories of health care policy.


          Democratic Ideas On ACA Improvements; More From CBO On BCRA Medicaid Cuts   

On June 28, 2017, the New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing difficulty in corralling 50 Republican Senators to unite behind a version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, has suggested he might turn to the Democrats for help in shoring up the deteriorating situation under the ACA if he cannot get Republicans in line. If he does so, he may find that Democrats have both a proposed diagnosis and cure for the most immediately pressing problems facing the individual insurance market.

On June 28, 2017, the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions released a joint report entitled “A Manufactured Crisis: Trump Administration and Republican Sabotage of the Health Care System.” The report details how individual market stability is being undermined by the uncertainty created by President Trump’s repeated threats to withhold reimbursement from insurers that are legally required to reduce cost sharing for 7.1 million exchange enrollees, coupled with his ambivalence regarding the enforcement of the individual mandate. The report includes numerous quotes from insurance regulators and insurers from nearly 20 states and nationwide warning that uncertainty regarding cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments and individual mandate enforcement is causing insurers to raise premiums and exit individual insurance markets.

Also on June 28, 2017, Senator Jean Shaheen, joined by 20 Democratic Senators, introduced the Market Certainty Act. (text) This bill would clarify that funds were permanently appropriated to fund the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reductions. It would also expand eligibility for the CSRs, making them available to individuals with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. It would increase the amount of cost-sharing reductions so that individuals with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of FPL would be responsible for only 5 percent of cost sharing on average; individuals with incomes between 200 and 300 percent of FPL for 10 percent, and individuals with incomes between 300 percent and 400 percent of FPL for 15 percent.

Under current law, individuals between 100 and 150 percent of FPL must pay 6 percent of costs on average; individuals between 150 and 200 percent of FPL, 13 percent; individuals between 200 and 250, 27 percent; and individuals above 250 percent of FPL, 30 percent.

Under the Republican Better Care Act, cost sharing reductions would be funded at current levels through 2019 and then repealed. After that, consumers would be responsible for 42 percent of health care costs on average under plans that could be purchased with premium tax credits available to individuals with incomes below 350 percent of FPL. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deductible for an individual at 75 percent of FPL under the Better Care Act would be half of annual income, and that few low-income individuals would purchase coverage with such little value.

Senator Shaheen’s proposal, coupled with reinsurance legislation offered by Senator Shaheen and other Democrats earlier in June, could go far toward stabilizing individual insurance markets, luring insurers back into markets they have abandoned and lowering premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket limits for insured Americans.

As noted in the Democratic staff report (and by others), the uncertainty regarding the commitment of the Trump administration to continuing cost sharing reduction payments is a major factor contributing to destabilization of individual insurance markets. (Anthem has apparently announced it is leaving 14 counties in Nevada, leaving 61 bare counties in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada for 2018.) Given this situation, a frequently asked question posted at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid REGTAP.info website on June 28, 2017, strikes a note of irony. The FAQ describes in detail procedures that insurers must follow to address discrepancies in their cost-sharing reduction payment reconciliation data for 2016. CMS will notify insurers regarding overpayment or underpayment of CSRs for 2016 on June 30, 2017. Insurers have until August 11 to notify CMS of data discrepancies. It is all very technical, but illustrates again that while at the policy level storms are raging in the individual insurance market, at the technical level the engines keep chugging along.

CBO Projects Medicaid Cuts In Senate GOP Bill Would Reach 35 Percent By 2036

On June 28, 2017, the CBO released a supplement to its June 26 Better Care Reconciliation Act cost estimate. The supplement was requested by the Democratic ranking members of the Budget Committee and Finance Committee. It addresses the effects of the BCRA on Medicaid spending beyond 2026. The CBO recognizes the limits to its ability to make very long-term spending projections but does predict how the BCRA would affect spending through 2036.

The BCRA imposes a per-capita cap on federal Medicaid funding growth for some groups of enrollees beginning in 2020, and reduces the cap as of 2025 so that federal funding growth rates for all groups would be pegged to the consumer price index for all urban consumers. CBO had earlier estimated that BCRA’s Medicaid provisions would reduce federal Medicaid spending by 26 percent as of 2026—a $160 billion cut in spending for that year—compared to spending under current growth rates.

The CBO projects that the gap between federal Medicaid spending under the BCRA and under current law would widen to 35 percent by 2036. The CBO projects that Medicaid costs to maintain current services will grow at an annual rate of 0.7 percent above GDP growth in 2027, which will rise to a 0.9 percent annual excess growth rate above GDP growth by 2036. General increases in cost in the health care system attributable in part to new technologies will drive the cost of services higher while Medicaid programs will have to replace federal spending by state spending, cut provider payment rates, reduce benefits, restrict eligibility, or find some way to provide services more efficiently.

CBO believes that dollar projections 20 years out are misleading and thus gives its spending projections in terms of percent of GDP. In the absence of the BCRA, Medicaid spending would account for 2 percent of GDP for 2017 and 2.4 percent by 2036. CBO projects that under BCRA, Medicaid spending will account for 1.6 percent of GDP in 2036, a 35 percent cut. Medicaid would be a very different program in 2036 than it is now.


          What Makes Covering Maternity Care Different?   

The United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country, but federal policy makers are considering reducing access to insurance coverage for pregnancy care. Last week, the US Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, following the passage of the American Health Care Act in the US House of Representatives. Both pieces of legislation would allow states to waive out of the requirement that insurance plans in the individual market cover maternity and newborn care, as part of efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA requires that all individual market health insurance plans cover 10 essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care. Ever since the passage of the ACA, some people have objected to the maternity requirement, claiming it is unfair to men and some women who do not expect to become pregnant. The maternity requirement seems to be targeted more publicly than other essential health benefits, such as pediatric services, mental health and substance use services, and prescription drug coverage. This raises the question: Is maternity care different than other medical services?

Maternity care is different.

When a woman receives maternity care, the health care services are provided to the woman, but lasting benefits of maternity care affect both the woman and the child. The importance of maternity coverage in improving child health has long been recognized in our public health programs. The oldest federal-state partnership, the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program, has aimed to improve the health of mothers and children since 1935, in part by providing access to comprehensive prenatal and postnatal care. Medicaid has had a special category covering pregnant women up to a higher-income level than other adults for 30 years, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides affordable coverage to pregnant women up to a minimum of 185 percent of the federal poverty level. CHIP coverage for pregnant women technically covers the “unborn child” and not the woman. This is an important distinction because it is a reminder that the intent of the coverage is to improve health outcomes for children. Reducing infant mortality and improving health outcomes for children is an important public health goal that is extended through the ACA by requiring insurance coverage of maternity and newborn care, but it should not be the only goal of maternity coverage.

We cannot ignore the importance of maternity care for the health of women, in addition to the health of children. Routine prenatal care improves health outcomes for women by identifying treatable complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and ectopic pregnancies. Postnatal care screens for postpartum depression and infection. If a woman does not have health coverage for her pregnancy, she may forgo prenatal and postnatal care that could identify risks and help her and her provider take steps to prevent life-threatening complications.

Yet, just as the policy discussion to eliminate access to insurance coverage for pregnancy services occurs, women are dying from preventable complications of childbirth in the United States. A recent study by the CDC Foundation found that 60 percent of maternal mortality deaths are preventable. There are numerous factors besides health coverage that result in the high maternal mortality rate in our country. However, taking away access to affordable coverage for pregnancy care will no doubt place women’s health at risk.

We do not need to imagine what the future of maternity coverage would be without a benefit requirement. Less than 10 years ago, because there was no federal maternity requirement in the individual insurance market, women in three-quarters of the states were often unable to find or afford maternity coverage. At the time, only 12 states imposed a requirement on individual market insurers to cover maternity benefits.

In many states, the only way to purchase maternity coverage on the individual market was by purchasing a rider in addition to a health insurance plan. A rider is supplementary insurance, available for an additional premium cost that provides coverage for benefits not otherwise covered in the base policy. Riders varied but generally cost thousands of dollars a year, sometimes more than the base premium. For example, under a rider offered in Topeka, Kansas, a woman would have paid $9,682 between the annual cost of premiums just for the maternity rider and the deductible for her maternity rider and care. In addition, riders often covered only a small proportion of pregnancy related costs, with annual maximums as low as $2,000.

In its analysis of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that maternity riders will cost more than $1,000 a month if states waive out of the maternity coverage requirement. The CBO also estimated that the cost of pregnancy care and delivery will be $17,000 for women covered by private insurance. The actual health care charges, which a woman without insurance might be billed, may be almost double—in 2010, the average billed costs of prenatal care alone was about $6,200. Women could face similar bills for a stillbirth or later-term miscarriage. Without maternity coverage, children start their life in a family in economic hardship because they are born into families facing thousands of dollars of medical debt.

For three years now, women have had options to purchase comprehensive insurance with maternity care outside of employer-based coverage. Many women purchasing this coverage are also eligible for tax subsidies that reduce their premium and cost sharing, making both the coverage and care more affordable. We have moved forward toward ensuring that all women in the United States have access to affordable prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal services. Eliminating the requirement for health insurance plans to cover maternity would place the health of women and children at risk and place financial hardship on families welcoming a new child.


          Minneapolis Just Adopted a $15 Minimum Wage in a Landslide Vote   
City council members credit the hard work of grassroots labor organizations.

The Minneapolis City Council passed a law Friday making it the first Midwestern city to adopt a $15 minimum wage, increasing the salaries of 71,000 workers by 2024. 

With the historic vote, Minneapolis joins a growing wave of progressive U.S. cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., where the Fight for $15 movement and other grassroots organizations have scored major labor victories.

Before the vote, which passed 12-1, Minneapolis city council members credited activists and organizers from Fight for $15 and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha for pushing the bill forward. 

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tweeted a video of himself singing "Money (That's What I Want)" in celebration of the news. 

“Keep it up. We’re going to fight here in Washington, you guys are fighting there in Minneapolis, we’re fighting all over the country so the American people can get a raise,” Ellison said. 

In May, Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate introduced a $15 minimum wage bill that has little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress. 

In the face of austerity and social safety net cuts in the federal government, grassroots organizers and activists are looking more and more to local and state arenas to implement policies that combat poverty and inequality. 

 

Related Stories


          The Latest: AFL-CIO pushing to kill Senate bill outright   

CIO President Richard Trumka says the labor organization is running ad and social media campaigns in five key states kill the stalled Senate health care bill outright. Trumka told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the bill would deprive millions of working people of health insurance.


          The Latest: AFL-CIO pushing to kill Senate bill outright   

CIO President Richard Trumka says the labor organization is running ad and social media campaigns in five key states kill the stalled Senate health care bill outright. Trumka told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the bill would deprive millions of working people of health insurance.


          Enacting Trump-GOP agenda on health care, tax reform and build the wall difference between expanding majority in 2018—or losing it   

By Robert Romano With majorities in the House and Senate, plus President Donald Trump in the White House, the Republican Party is poised to either make big gains on signature campaign promises — reforming health care, the tax code and building the wall — or fail amid interparty squabbles over the details. The opportunity is vast. Republicans have an advantage […]

The post Enacting Trump-GOP agenda on health care, tax reform and build the wall difference between expanding majority in 2018—or losing it appeared first on NetRight Daily.


          Missed it by that much: CBO’s Obamacare enrollee lie   

By Rick Manning Congressional Budget Office estimates are funny things. They are usually taken as gospel when they are put out, and ignored later when they are way off. The latest CBO effort related to the Senate Obamacare replace bill is no exception. Like in all projections, the underlying assumptions bake the cake, and CBO makes a whopper of a […]

The post Missed it by that much: CBO’s Obamacare enrollee lie appeared first on NetRight Daily.


          Op-Ed: It's time for 'Swamp King' Mitch McConnell to go   
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should step down even if the GOP health bill passes, says Jake Novak.
          If I Were President: Healthcare Edition   
Today, we’ll discuss healthcare, since the Senate is debating their bill. The Senate bill is similar to the House bill in many ways. Neither repeals Obamacare, but do repeal many of the mandates. Four Senators, Paul, Cruz, Lee and Johnson … Continue reading

          State Agency-Crippling Bill Heads to a Vote in the Senate Rules Committee Today   
When we last left the IRRC bill Republicans cooked up to completely defang Executive branch rule-making, it had passed the House on close to a party-line vote, and has now headed back to the Senate. Laura Legere at the Post-Gazette brought … More after the jump
          The Asa's Health Care Pitch Edition   

Governor Hutchinson’s
critique of the Senate health care bill, the erection and destruction of the 10 Commandments monument, the U.S. Supreme Court and birth certificates for same-sex married couples and the appointment of Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland to U.S. Attorney — all covered on this week's podcast.

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          Wyden questions contact between Medicaid director and Arkansas   
Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is raising questions about talks between Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dennis Smith, a Medicaid advisor to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Verma had a private consulting firm that did work for Arkansas. Under an agreement entered when she took the federal Medicaid job last year, she was banned from speaking to Arkansas health officials without a written waiver from Health Secretary Tom Price. Press reports said she was supposed to speak with Smith in mid-March.

UPDATE: Arkansas Department of Human Services takes exception to Wyden's characterization. Spokeswoman Amy Webb said Verma "was not a consultant to the state and did not have a contract with us. I believe she did some consulting work for HPE, which is one of our contractors."

Her ethics disclousre form says she received income  fro "Hewlett Packard Arkansas Medicaid" and her agreement on seeking waivers for work with related partieis said:

“I provided consulting services to the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and-Virginia through SVC Inc. Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(d), I will seek a written authorization to participate personally and substantially in particular matters involving specific parties in which I know the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia are a party or represents a party.”

Wyden distributed a letter and news release:

“I am growing increasingly concerned that the Department of Health and Human Services is not effectively implementing its process to enforce Administrator Verma's ethics agreement and the standards of ethical conduct,” Wyden wrote in the letter to Elizabeth Fischmann, the Designated Agency Ethics Official for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Arkansas is listed repeatedly in Administrator Verma's ethics materials as a state with which she has a covered relationship, and yet there does not appear to be any authorization for her participation in the March 17 call based upon the approved waivers released to and by OGE in response to its data call.”

This letter is the fourth that Sen. Wyden has sent to HHS regarding Verma’s compliance with ethical standards. To date, HHS has not supplied any substantive responses to these requests. This most recent letter was sent at a time when the Senate is considering close to $800 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program that Verma oversees.
Wyden noted that a call to Smith appeared on Verma's calendar. Smith was hired under a deal where he was made a faculty member at UAMS, but would be spending most of his time advising on Medicaid issues. Smith, who came to Arkansas following a controversial period in Wisconsin, is paid $294,000 by Arkansas.

Wyden said Verma got a waiver to speak with another Arkansas official three days before the March 17 call and she obtained a waiver for a later call as well, but none is reflected for the scheduled call with Smith.

Wyden has asked a series of questions about the communications, including why a waiver should be granted for Verma to speak with Arkansas officials.

Arkansas has an interest in winning approval from the CMS for a number of changes in the operation of the Medicaid expansion program. At the core of Wyden's letter: Should Arkansas be discussing such issues with someone it once employed (or had an arrangement with someone it employed)?

Verma was based in Indiana and had close ties to Mike Pence,, former Indiana governor.

PS: Coincidentally, Arkansas today submitted to CMS the waivers it needs to throw 60,000 people off the Medicaid expansion rolls by lowering the income qualification to 100 percent of poverty and imposing a work requirement.


          Thursday's open line   

The Thursday open line, plus news and comment leading with the governor's criticism of the Senate health legislation. Somehow this didn't post last night.



          Trump nominates Cody Hiland to be U.S. attorney for eastern district   
As expected, Donald Trump has nominated Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland of Conway to be U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. He must be confirmed by the Senate.

Hiland's name was among nine U.S. attorney nominees put forward by Trump today, a second wave of appointments. He was known to be under consideration after FBI background checks began and meetings with U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman, both Republicans. Most of the 93 U.S. attorneys were fired or resigned after Trump took office. Career prosecutors are serving as interim leaders in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, where former Democratic Rep. Chris Thyer and Conner Eldridge had served respectively in the Obama administration.

Prosecutors run now as non-partisans, but Hiland, who lost a judicial race last year, is a Republican regular. His prosecutor position covers Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy counties.

He's been a lawyer in private practice, a staff attorney at the Public Service Commission and former program director for the Arkansas Transitional Employment Board. He was a staff aide to Gov. Mike Huckabee and is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas the UALR Law School.

          Opponent for Rapert starts campaign tonight   
Sen. Jason Rapert, much in the news this week, won't pass the 2018 election without opposition.

Maureen Skinner, a Democrat, is beginning her campaign with an event from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Brick Room in Conway. Facebook page here. Skinner, 46, who is a licensed psychological examiner in Conway, also has a campaign page. She's talking health care, jobs and education.

Skinner has never run for office before. She said the 2016 national election left her feeling "on edge" and with a belief that "somebody needed to do something." After participating in the women's march in Little Rock, she said she decided that something would be a run for office. Skinner, one of a class of six when she graduated from high school in Fox, continued her education at UCA. She emphasized: "I'm running for the Senate, not against Jason Rapert." She said he spent enough time talking about Jason Rapert.

          Gov. Hutchinson says major change needed in Senate health legislation   
Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined four major changes he'd like to see in Republican-backed health legislation pending in the Senate.

In short, he said — if in more diplomatic words — the bill as written would be devastating to Arkansas. Hutchinson chose to put it more kindly. He said the Senate was moving in "the right direction" and said "the status quo is not acceptable."

But he added: "There have to be significant changes in the current draft in order to give states like Arkansas options for the future and to continue coverage and not have a $500 million per year gap in our economy."

He said he'd spoken to Arkansas's senators about this, but referred questions about their reaction to them. To date, Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman have resisted saying much of anything about the legislation, though Cotton was one of 13 white male Republicans who participated in the secret drafting.

The shortcomings have been self-evident for some time in states like Arkansas that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion provided through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. House-passed and Senate-proposed legislation would obliterate the Medicaid expansion and also severely restrict traditional Medicaid coverage for the elderly and disabled by going to per capita distributions to states. Both changes would devastate Arkansas, with a large traditional Medicaid population and more than 300,000 people now covered by the Medicaid expansion. Hutchinson said the state was already making changes to reduce costs and state cooperation should be a goal of congressional action. Some 60,000 would lose coverage by reducing coverage for those making 138 percent of the poverty level to 100 percent and by instituting work rules.

Hutchinson suggested these changes in what's under consideration:

* Exempt those elderly, blind and disabled covered by traditional Medicaid from the per capita cap on spending. Otherwise, the cost would be shifted to the state, he said. (He said later it was OK to put children's coverage, Arkids, under a per capital program because they were generally lower cost.)

* If the federal government moves to block grant funding for Medicaid, Hutchinson said the funding should include in the figuring the Medicaid expansion population. Some states didn't take the money. If the pot is redivided to cover all states equally, those who expanded will lose and those who didn't will gain. "This puts us in a difficult position to manage and maintain coverage," Hutchinson said. If the population is considered, he said, "the state can assume the risk and create savings and ensure coverage of the working poor."

* Senate legislation must "redesign" the tax credits, or subsidies, for those covered in the health insurance marketplace. Hutchinson echoed critics of the Senate legislation who say the subsidies are so small as to be worthless.  "If the subsidy is not sufficient, an individual will decide they can't afford it." He said "there have to be sufficient subsidies to make it work."

* The states must be given "flexibility" on how they spend money received under per capita reimbursements. He didn't specify some examples of what he had in mind. In some states, though, flexibility has meant not providing certain services (birth coverage for example) and measures co-pays, work, drug testing and other sometimes controversial ideas.

Hutchinson acknowledged that the Medicaid expansion, now known as Arkansas Works, by law must end if federal support is reduced. That's not an immediate concern because actual reductions won't occur for several years into the plan now outlined in Senate legislation. "They've given us a long glide path," he said.

Timing noted: Hutchinson finally weighed in with criticisms that have been voiced for weeks by many others following a week in which the Senate leadership's plan for a quick vote on the GOP fill apart because of he couldn't keep all Republican senators on board.

Noted too: Hutchinson refused to talk taxes — either those to pay for his expanded vision of health coverage and the windfall for the wealthy envisioned in the pending bill.

Just yesterday, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families gave some idea of the blow the Senate bill would deliver to rural health care.

          How bad are Trump's judges? A Little Rock native illustrates   
We've written before about Little Rock native John Bush, the Louisville lawyer nominated by Donald Trump for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He comes Federalist Society-certified, which is bad enough, but his record as an opinion further illustrates his lack of fitness for the bench, particularly when it comes to a demonstrated animus toward gay people and women's abortion rights. He also professed a lack of knowledge or awareness of any divisiveness spawned by Brown v. Board of Education. Yes, a Little Rock native knew of no fallout from the seminal desegregation ruling that ultimately brought federal troops to the city of his birth.

An article in his hometown Louisville Courier-Journal, where his wife, also a lawyer, contributes a similar right-winged opinion column, illustrates just how bad Bush is. And he's little different from many others Trump has nominated. Even some Republican senators have been taken aback by Bush, but apparently have been brought into line by Republican leadership to approve. They believe him today when he says he really didn't mean all the ugly things he's written. Lying then or lying now? It's a bad bet for an enforcer of the Constitution.

Bush's strategy now is to duck questions about his blogging.

Trying to save his nomination to a federal appeals court, Louisville attorney John K. Bush has evaded questions about blog posts in which he equated abortion with slavery as America’s greatest tragedies, denounced gay marriage and embraced other conservative views.

Responding to written questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about his more than 400 posts on hot-button issues, Bush repeatedly said “my personal views are irrelevant to the position for which I have been nominated.”

He refused to answer questions about commentaries in which he criticized public financing or raised doubts about global warming, saying the questions call "upon me to weigh in on a political debate, which I cannot ethically do as a nominee for judicial office.”

Asked why he joined the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group whose Louisville chapter he co-founded, he said, “I believed that membership ... would help me learn about interesting legal topics that I might not otherwise encounter in my practice.”
He is not alone. Trump has turned his appointments over to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. With Supreme Court appointee Neal Gorsuch already forming a block with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, the future is not bright.

          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch networkLos Angeles Times
Repealing Obamacare with no replacement could be a 'recipe for disaster'ABC News
Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace laterReuters
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all 182 news articles »

          Moon Jae-in, Mika Brzezinski, Jay-Z: Your Friday Evening Briefing - New York Times   

New York Times

Moon Jae-in, Mika Brzezinski, Jay-Z: Your Friday Evening Briefing
New York Times
1. President Trump, who previously rejected a proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act before coming up with a replacement, suggested doing just that on Twitter. But such a repeal could have even more trouble clearing the Senate than the current effort.
Trump just slammed one of America's close alliesWashington Post
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all 1,322 news articles »

          WATCH OUT FEDERAL RESERVE: Senate agrees to expanded ‘Audit the Fed’ provision   
News Item...
          Senate Should Not Confirm Bernanke Until Fed Audit   
News Item...
          Senate Will Move on Hate Crimes Bill; Critics Claim Bill Simply Unnecessary   
News Item...
          Governor signs controversial discrimination measure   
Senate Bill 43 was widely panned by anti-discrimination forces as a law that would make it easier for employers to discriminate.
          The Never-Ending Battle Over Selecting Oklahoma's Most Powerful Judges   
Anti-abortion laws. A Ten Commandments monument at the State Capitol. An overhaul of the workers’ compensation system. Controversial rejections of all or parts of these legislative actions by the Oklahoma Supreme Court – coupled with a push by national and state conservative groups – have led to a steady march of bills over the past decade that would alter the process for choosing state Supreme Court and Appeals courts justices. The 2016 legislative session was no exception. The Oklahoma House and Senate approved measures to change the way the state’s most powerful judges are selected, although none of the proposals became law or made it to the November ballot. The bills failed to pass because of several factors, including concern about over-politicizing the judicial selection process; disagreements between House and Senate Republicans; opposition by Democrats, and lobbying by the Oklahoma Bar Association. But if previous sessions going back to at least 2008 are any indication, similar
          Another editorial…what do you think?   

(Attached below is the editorial from the June 29 Waterbury Republican-American.  What do you think?  Send me a comment at  Len.Suzio@cga.ct.gov , sign my “New Direction” petition at www.SenatorSuzio.com and please share this with CT Taxpayers!)

Connecticut budget

 Democrats’ risky strategy

Our June 19 editorial noted Connecticut House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, like many state Democrats, has portrayed legislative Republicans as naysayers incapable of making positive public-policy contributions.

Speaker Aresimowicz offered this criticism just before the legislature’s regular 2017 session adjourned June 7 without a 2017-19 budget.

The speaker has no credibility left to make this argument in the future.

He may have created a political problem for his party.

Legislative Republicans proposed a budget April 27. After plummeting revenues rendered it unbalanced, the GOP went back to the drawing board. The House and Senate Republican caucuses released separate, updated proposals May 16. Connecticut faces an approximately $5 billion deficit in the 2017-19 biennium.

After the legislature adjourned, lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had to figure out how to fund state government come July 1, the start of fiscal year 2017-18. A special legislative session was scheduled for today. Republicans hoped to bring their budgets up for votes.

June 27, Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Leonard A. Fasano, of North Haven, wrote to Speaker Aresimowicz and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, on the matter. “Under the rules of special session, a budget bill or bill implementing the budget must be emergency certified, which requires the signature of the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore. … Therefore, I am asking for your approval as soon as possible so that a vote can be held on (the Senate Republican) budget,” he wrote. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, hoped “to force an up-or-down vote on the House Republican package,” the Republican-American reported June 28.

However, Speaker Aresimowicz refused to allow votes on any budget proposals – not the GOP’s budgets and not on Gov. Malloy’s “minibudget.”

Scheduling conflicts and dissension in the House Democratic ranks factored in the speaker’s decision.

Speaker Aresimowicz was criticized not only by Sen. Fasano and Rep. Klarides, but by Sen. Looney.

Come Saturday, Gov. Malloy almost certainly will have unilateral control of Connecticut’s finances until a budget is agreed upon.

The governor has unveiled an executive order that will “impose drastic spending cuts to local funding, hospitals and social services,” according to the Republican-American.

Sen. Looney, Rep. Klarides and Gov. Malloy himself have said gubernatorial-only control is a less than ideal scenario.

In the wake of this episode, it is hard for Speaker Aresimowicz to claim Republicans offer nothing positive.

Indeed, as Sen. Fasano noted, the speaker “has still not offered a complete state budget proposal.”

Additionally, if Gov. Malloy’s cuts prove as “draconian” as Sen. Looney predicts, the public should pin some of the blame for them on Speaker Aresimowicz.

That wouldn’t help Democrats during the 2018 legislative elections, when they will try to recover from their 2016 losses.

 


          “A dereliction of duty.”   

“A dereliction of duty.”

By Sen. Tony Hwang

We’re ready to vote on a budget.  We’re here at the State Capitol on behalf of state taxpayers.  We’re here to work.”

On June 29, I stood with Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats at the State Capitol to say exactly that.

Connecticut Senate Republicans have produced a detailed, line-by-line, thoughtful budget that has been thoroughly vetted by non-partisan analysts.

Our Senate Republican plan, which can be read at www.ctsenaterepublicans.com:

  • restores cuts to town aid
  • restores cuts to local education funding
  • restores cuts to hospitals
  • does not harm non-profit organizations
  • reduces the size of government
  • makes necessary changes to state employee benefits
  • protects core services for seniors, the disabled, children and our most at-risk residents.

Stanley Black & Decker’s CEO said he prefers the Senate Republican approach “because it goes much further toward eliminating inappropriate practices related to public employee pensions and is less punitive to towns and municipalities.”

Unfortunately, Senate Republican plan never received a vote prior to the end of the fiscal year.

The Democrat Speaker of the House, who controls the House legislative agenda, refused to allow votes on any budget proposals.

This in my view, is a dereliction of duty.

This is failure.

The Hartford Courant described it as “abrogation of a serious responsibility.”

And I wholeheartedly agree.

 So, what happens now?

Gov. Malloy will have unilateral control of Connecticut’s finances until a budget is agreed upon.

 The governor has unveiled an executive order which will “impose drastic spending cuts to local funding, hospitals and social services.”

Vulnerable people will be hurt.

Pain will be inflicted.

This didn’t have to happen.

You, the taxpayers, sent me to Hartford to work on your behalf and to be your advocate.

Every day, I try my very best to do my job and be your voice in Hartford.

On June 29, I showed up at the State Capitol to do exactly that.  We were blocked from doing so.

And that’s truly a shame.

What can you do?

Call the House Democrats Office at 860 240-8500.  Tell them how you feel.

Tell them to do their job.

Send me your comments at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov .

 

 

*Sen. Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport.  On the web: www.SenatorHwang.com .

 


          Senator Kelly Releases Statement Re: Aetna’s Relocation to NYC   

HARTFORD, Conn. – Today Co-Chairman of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) released the following statement regarding Aetna’s announcement that they will move their Corporate Headquarters to New York City in 2018.

“While this is disappointing news, it is not surprising,” said Sen. Kelly. “Far too long Connecticut has been governed by those with little regard for fiscal responsibility and even less regard for good-paying jobs and the hard-working families that call Connecticut home.”

Following a never-ending budget battle in Hartford, Aetna’s announcement comes just a year after General Electric’s move from Connecticut to Boston.

“If GE’s move wasn’t a wake-up call, this is,” said Sen. Kelly. “All eyes are on us, whether it’s large corporations with headquarters here or the Wall Street credit agencies, all are watching anxiously as the Connecticut economy continues to flounder. We cannot fail to do our jobs; we must put Connecticut on a path to prosperity.”

“Senate Republicans have done their job and have a plan to do this,” said Sen. Kelly. “Our plan lays the foundation for a new Connecticut, a plan that will put hard-working families first, a plan that creates jobs through a stable and predictable economy. Connecticut needs a new direction and Senate Republicans are ready to lead the way.”

Learn more about what’s in the budget proposal  at www.ctsenaterepublicans.com.

 


          Another editorial…what do you think?   

(Attached below is the today’s editorial in the Waterbury Republican-American.  What do you think?  Send me a comment atEric.Berthel@cga.ct.gov and please share this with CT Taxpayers!)

Connecticut budget

Democrats’ risky strategy

Our June 19 editorial noted Connecticut House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, like many state Democrats, has portrayed legislative Republicans as naysayers incapable of making positive public-policy contributions.

Speaker Aresimowicz offered this criticism just before the legislature’s regular 2017 session adjourned June 7 without a 2017-19 budget.

The speaker has no credibility left to make this argument in the future.

He may have created a political problem for his party.

Legislative Republicans proposed a budget April 27. After plummeting revenues rendered it unbalanced, the GOP went back to the drawing board. The House and Senate Republican caucuses released separate, updated proposals May 16. Connecticut faces an approximately $5 billion deficit in the 2017-19 biennium.

After the legislature adjourned, lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had to figure out how to fund state government come July 1, the start of fiscal year 2017-18. A special legislative session was scheduled for today. Republicans hoped to bring their budgets up for votes.

June 27, Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Leonard A. Fasano, of North Haven, wrote to Speaker Aresimowicz and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, on the matter. “Under the rules of special session, a budget bill or bill implementing the budget must be emergency certified, which requires the signature of the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore. … Therefore, I am asking for your approval as soon as possible so that a vote can be held on (the Senate Republican) budget,” he wrote. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, hoped “to force an up-or-down vote on the House Republican package,” the Republican-American reported June 28.

However, Speaker Aresimowicz refused to allow votes on any budget proposals – not the GOP’s budgets and not on Gov. Malloy’s “minibudget.”

Scheduling conflicts and dissension in the House Democratic ranks factored in the speaker’s decision.

Speaker Aresimowicz was criticized not only by Sen. Fasano and Rep. Klarides, but by Sen. Looney.

Come Saturday, Gov. Malloy almost certainly will have unilateral control of Connecticut’s finances until a budget is agreed upon.

The governor has unveiled an executive order that will “impose drastic spending cuts to local funding, hospitals and social services,” according to the Republican-American.

Sen. Looney, Rep. Klarides and Gov. Malloy himself have said gubernatorial-only control is a less than ideal scenario.

In the wake of this episode, it is hard for Speaker Aresimowicz to claim Republicans offer nothing positive.

Indeed, as Sen. Fasano noted, the speaker “has still not offered a complete state budget proposal.”

Additionally, if Gov. Malloy’s cuts prove as “draconian” as Sen. Looney predicts, the public should pin some of the blame for them on Speaker Aresimowicz.

That wouldn’t help Democrats during the 2018 legislative elections, when they will try to recover from their 2016 losses.

 

 


          Wow…have you seen this Hartford Courant Editorial?   

SqCapitolwithRays

(Please read and share the following July 28th  Hartford Courant editorial for an update on the CT state budget.  Send me your comments at Heather.Somers@cga.ct.gov)

Mr. Aresimowicz, Get The Democrats To The Capitol

It’s on you, Joe Aresimowicz.

For many months, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives has known that the state was facing a multibillion-dollar problem. He knew legislators would have to make painful cuts and find creative and fair ways to raise revenues if they had a prayer of solving it.

And they had a deadline. The fiscal year ends Friday.

But now, after mustering zero workable solutions over the past few months and with only hours to go, Mr. Aresimowicz has refused to call for a vote on a reasonable stop-gap budget offered by the governor and supported by the Senate‘s Republican and Democratic leaders.

Why? Because, Mr. Aresimowicz said, a temporary solution isn’t good enough — but also because the Democrats are on vacation.

v”I believe my members are less than likely to hop on planes and leave their families at vacation places all over this country and other countries to come in and do a temporary fix,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

He refused to identify for The Courant those Democratic state representatives who chose to go on vacation at a critical time in one of the most serious budget crises the state has ever faced. Leaving town this week is a stunning dereliction of duty.

Mr. Aresimowicz and the rest of the House Democratic caucus are instead choosing to accept spending cuts so drastic that basic social safety nets for some of the state’s most vulnerable will be lost. Cuts to town aid will be so deep that local officials might have to recast their entire budgets. The move also puts the state’s shaky credit rating at further risk.

Apparently realizing that the legislature is incapable of finding its own elbows, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy earlier this week wisely offered legislators the option of passing a “mini-budget” for the next quarter that would allow for some new revenue (much of it already earmarked for certain programs but not yet spent). Without a budget, the governor can’t raise revenue or shift funds. He can only slash millions, cutting services for the sick and the poor and eviscerating school funding grants to towns.

The vote on the mini-budget would have to take place Thursday or Friday. If nothing passes by the end of Friday, the governor’s executive order budget goes into effect.

If Mr. Aresimowicz continues to refuse to call for a vote, the impacts will be felt immediately. It will eliminate services to some clients of the Department of Developmental Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Rental assistance will be slashed by millions. Funding for summer youth jobs will be completely eliminated.

School funding will see the biggest cuts if the legislature can’t come up with a budget before the fall. How big? Take West Hartford. In the last fiscal year, the city received $20.9 million in state funding for schools. Under the governor’s proposed executive order, West Hartford would receive $4.3 million. Simsbury, which received about $6 million last year, would get zero dollars.

Do the math.

The most frustrating thing is that through these past few months, the legislature wasted time debating and amending bills that didn’t stand a chance of becoming law, and leadership knew it. Mr. Aresimowicz placated members of his caucus by entertaining floor debate on bills such as marijuana legalization that were soon enough left to rot.

How could House Democrats have gone months without coming up with a workable, clear, full-spectrum solution to the state’s $5 billion budget shortfall? Did they not realize that that was their job? Or did their own internal politicking get in the way?

One Democratic effort to fashion a budget failed spectacularly in April when a 262-page detailed spending plan couldn’t even get a vote in the Democrat-controlled appropriations committee. In May, Democrats offered a one-page sketch of a plan, along with a spreadsheet containing more details. Since then, nary a peep from the party nominally in control of the legislature.

Others had their priorities in order.

The Senate and House Republicans, and Mr. Malloy, came up with actual spending plans. Their respective strengths and weaknesses are debatable (Mr. Malloy’s budget director Ben Barnes told The Courant’s editorial board that the House Republican’s plan contained “large pieces of baloney”), but that’s the point — they have offered something to debate.

What have House Democrats offered?

Shamefully little.

And now they refuse to vote on a measure that would at least keep some basic protections in place.

Mr. Barnes warned that if the legislature refused to vote on the mini-budget, there would be a “significant risk” of another bond rating downgrade from Wall Street. “They are paying close attention to what we are doing,” he said.

Mr. Aresimowicz’s failure to call for a vote, to say nothing of his failure to craft a complete budget proposal that was at least palatable to his own caucus, is an abrogation of a serious responsibility, and the consequences for the people of Connecticut are going to be profound.

It’s mystifying how legislators could be so cavalier about solving the budget problem, the most important thing they have to do.

Connecticut’s Democratic leaders need to ask themselves: Whom do you serve?

Mr. Aresimowicz, call for a vote.


          Fasano Statement on Aetna’s Announcement   

Hartford – Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement regarding Aetna’s confirmation that they will move their headquarters to New York City.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising news today that Aetna has confirmed its decision to move its headquarters out of Connecticut. The statement from Aetna today makes it clear that Aetna, like many job creators, is closely watching what happens at the state Capitol. Budget uncertainty and economic volatility is something that our state’s job creators cannot ignore, and something that without a doubt factors in to their business decisions. Connecticut is at a crossroads and now is the time to send a strong message that our state is committed to policies that create stability, predictability and growth. We need to make it clear that the policies that have driven our state into the ground have to end, and we need to adopt a budget that moves our state in a new direction.

“Much like what happened with GE, Aetna has not been silent on their concerns. In 2015, when huge tax increases were on the table, Aetna made it clear they saw that our state was ‘in danger of damaging its economic future by failing to address its budget obligation in a responsible way.’ They also said ‘such an action will result in Aetna looking to reconsider the viability of continuing major operations in the state.’  Unless we take measures to move Connecticut in a new direction, job creators like Aetna will continue to be faced with questions of whether it makes sense to continue growing in our state. Today they are moving their headquarters, but if nothing changes could more moves be in store? We cannot dismiss their move or comments as inconsequential. We have to recognize that now is the time for a significant shift in policy to better our state for all people, businesses and communities.”


          Free Summer Meal Program for Kids and Teens     

The 2017 Summer Lunch Program locations have been announced. These summer meals are free, nutritious, meals and snacks that are provided to kids and teens, 18 years of age and younger, throughout the summer while school is out. Many locations serve both breakfast and lunch. This is a federally assisted meal program – no paperwork, no registration and no ID is required. See nearby locations below or visitwww.ctsummermeals.org. The Summer Meals program will continue through August 18th.

Nearby Locations:

  • Where: 37 Mather Avenue, Building 25, Groton

  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM -9:00 AM & 11:30 AM -12:00 PM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: Groton Estates Park
  • Nathan Hale Road, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:15 AM – 9:45 AM & 12:15 PM -12:45 PM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: 126 Litton Avenue, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM & 11:15 AM – 11:45 AM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: River Front Center
    476 Thames Street, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:15 AM – 8:45 AM & 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM

                     
    image001July 3rd

     

  • Where: Washington Park
  • 155 Meridian Street, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM & 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: William Seely School
  • 55 Seely School Drive, Groton

  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:15 AM – 9:00 AM & 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: Nautilus Park Community Center
  • 124 Gungy Wamp Road, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:15 AM -9:45 AM & 12:15 PM – 12:45 PM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: Claude Chester Elementary School
  • 1 Harry Day Drive, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM -9:00 AM & 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM Breakfast not served on Fridays

    image001July 3rd

     

  • Where: Catherine Kolnaski Elementary School
  • 500 Poquonnock Road, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM- 8:45 AM

    image001July 3rd

     

  • Where: Bluff Point Playground
  • 61 Depot Road, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM & 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

    Breakfast Not Served on Fridays

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: Stonington High School
  • 176 South Broad Street, Pawcatuck
  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM – 9:15 AM & 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM

    image001July 4th

     

  • Where: TVCCA Community Building
  • 36 Central Avenue, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM & 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
  • image001July 3rd & July 4th

  • Where: Bill Memorial Library
  • 240 Monument Street, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:15 AM – 9:45 AM & 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM

    Breakfast Not Served on Fridays

  • image001July 3rd

     

  • Where: Dolphin Gardens
  • 45 Proteus Avenue, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:15 AM – 9:45 AM & 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM

    image001July 3rd & July 4th

     

  • Where: Dolphin Community Center
  • 100 Tern Road, Groton
  • When: Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM & 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM

    image001July 3rd

  • Where: Groton Public Library 52 Newtown Road, Groton

  • When: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM & 11:30 AM -12:20 PM

    image001July 3rd


  •           Jacobs: New York State Senate Task Force on Heroin & Opioid Addiction field hearing to be held in Buffalo   
    New York State Sen. Chris Jacobs announced the New York State Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will hold a field hearing in Buffalo on July 12 to continue to examine the issues faced due to increased heroin and opioid abuse.
              Trump har utpekt NATO-ambassadør    
    USAs president Donald Trump vil ha republikaneren Kay Bailey Hutchison (73) som ny ambassadør til Nato. Stolen har stått tom siden Trump overtok som president. Nominasjonen ble oversendt til Senatet for godkjenning torsdag, melder Det hvite hus.
              Sen. Cory Booker On Health Care And The Democrats' Future   
    Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: With Republican senators delaying a vote on their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, many lawmakers on the left now see an opportunity, among them New Jersey's Cory Booker. Just outside the Capitol the other evening, Senator Booker and Congressman John Lewis were chatting about health care. And before long, a crowd gathered around with concerns of their own. CORY BOOKER: And it was just a beautiful night. There was something magical about it in the sense that it was spontaneous, but so authentic in the sense that I think you could stand on any street corner in America and you're going to have people walking by who have been touched by Medicaid and aspects of this bill that would threaten the gains that they've made or one of their family members have made. INSKEEP: Rachel Martin talked with Senator Booker about whether the Senate Democrats and Republicans can work together. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Where do you see common
              With The Senate's Health Care Vote Delayed, What's Next For Democrats?   
    Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: To health care now - both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are complaining that they aren't working together. Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking on the Senate floor yesterday. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MITCH MCCONNELL: It's unfortunate that our Democratic colleagues refuse to work with us in a serious way to comprehensively address Obamacare's failures in the seven years since they passed it. MARTIN: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had this response. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) CHUCK SCHUMER: We Democrats are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on health care. MARTIN: So what is the next move for the Democrats? Tom Perez is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's with us in the studio. Thanks for coming in this morning. TOM PEREZ: Always a pleasure. MARTIN: Do congressional Democrats really want to work with Republicans to try to
              GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   
    President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

    The influential Koch network, backed... Reported by L.A. Times 1 hour ago.
              Orlando activists stage die-in at Marco Rubio's office over Trumpcare   
    To the tune of the Negro spiritual "Wade in the Water," protesters in Orlando staged a die-in outside U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's office Wednesday to demand he vote against the Republican health care bill that would leave 22 million people uninsured by 2026.

    Senate GOP leaders wanted to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act earlier this week but were unsuccessful because they lacked votes.…
              Can The Trump Brand Win State Elections, Too?   
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvquFgyOLaA The front-runner in Virginia's Republican gubernatorial primary this year, Ed Gillespie, is campaigning on what traditionally would be considered an impressive political resume: former Republican National Committee Chairman, presidential adviser, lobbyist, and, in 2014, unsuccessful Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. In one campaign ad , Gillespie is seen alongside former President George W. Bush, and promises voters, "I know firsthand how the system works." That, of course, is the same political system that many voters repudiated by electing President Trump, who narrowly won Virginia's GOP primary in 2016. Next Tuesday's Virginia's gubernatorial primary is serving as an early test of how strong Trump's brand is at the state level. The state's primaries also offer a look at how intra-party struggles brought to light by the 2016 campaign are playing out among Republicans and Democrats . One of Gillespie's two rivals for the Republican
              Health care policy FAQ   
    What proposed state and federal changes mean for the future of health care policy in Arkansas.

    Health care policy impacts millions of Americans, including the more than 300,000 Arkansans currently covered by the state's Medicaid expansion program. The details, however, can get confusing quickly. It's hard enough to keep track of all the names — private option, Arkansas Works, Medicaid expansion, Obamacare, ACA, AHCA. On top of that, it seems like every month lawmakers propose to shift the policy ground beneath our feet. The Arkansas legislature met in a special session earlier this month to approve Governor Hutchinson's plan to alter the state's Medicaid expansion, adding work requirements and cutting eligibility. That plan now awaits approval from the federal government. The same day the governor signed that bill into law, the U.S. House passed the American Health Care Act, which would completely undercut the governor's proposal and threaten the very existence of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. It's now in the Senate, awaiting a vote.

    The Medicaid expansion helped cut the state's uninsured rate in half. What would the proposed changes coming from the governor and Republicans in Congress mean for those who rely on that coverage? Let's take a look.

    What is the Medicaid expansion? What is Arkansas Works?

    The Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare) provided funding to cover low-income adults under the Medicaid program. This expansion of Medicaid covers people who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level — that's $16,400 for an individual or $33,600 for a family of four. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states could choose whether or not they wanted to accept the Medicaid expansion. Arkansas decided to move forward, but with a twist: The state obtained a special waiver from the federal government to use Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for the Medicaid expansion population, a policy that became known as the private option. Later, when Hutchinson became governor and continued the policy, he re-branded it as Arkansas Works. Whatever name it goes by — Medicaid expansion, private option, Arkansas Works — the program covers more than 300,000 Arkansans, with most of the costs covered by the federal government through the ACA.

    How will Hutchinson's proposed alterations to the Medicaid expansion change who is eligible?

    Hutchinson, with the legislature's backing, is seeking permission from the federal government to limit eligibility for Arkansas Works to households at or below the federal poverty line (that's $11,880 for an individual or $24,300 for a family of four). That would mean that current beneficiaries who make between 100-138 percent of the FPL — more than 60,000 of the state's working poor — would be removed from the program.

    Assuming the ACA remains in place, what options will those cut from coverage under the governor's plan have for health insurance?

    Most of the 60,000 people who would lose Arkansas Works coverage would be eligible for the ACA's Health Insurance Marketplace, often called the exchange, where they can buy subsidized health insurance. The ACA provides income-based premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction subsidies that keep premiums, co-pays and deductibles relatively low.

    Others will not be able to get subsidized coverage on the exchange, because their employer offers them health insurance (the state Department of Human Services estimates this applies to 20 percent of the beneficiaries in the 100-138 FPL group). If that employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) meets two tests — it's considered "affordable" under the law and meets a "minimum value" standard in terms of coverage — then they are barred from getting the premium credits and cost-sharing reductions that would make coverage on the exchange affordable for them. Those who fall into this category would typically face higher costs and receive less generous coverage if they switch to ESI.

    Will the working poor have to pay more under the governor's plan?

    The governor has claimed that the 60,000 people being removed from the Medicaid rolls "will not lose access to coverage" and would get "the same level of financial support that they have now." In fact, those beneficiaries will pay more than they do today — sometimes much more — and coverage will be skimpier for many.

    Under the terms of its Arkansas Works agreement with the federal government, the state is allowed to charge beneficiaries who make between 100-138 percent of the FPL premiums up to 2 percent of their household income. However, currently, the state charges a flat rate of $13 per month.

    On the exchange, premiums for plans equivalent to Arkansas Works are designed to be equal to 2 percent of household income (because of the federal subsidies, that's what this group will have to pay for premiums regardless of whether the unsubsidized premium that insurance companies charge for the plan goes up or down). That's significantly more than $13 per month. An individual right at the poverty line would have to pay up to $20 a month in premiums. An individual who makes 138 percent of the FPL would have to pay up to $27 per month. Meanwhile, larger family sizes will have larger incomes in order to fall in the 100-138 FPL range. So a single mother of three, for example, who is right at the poverty line, would be on the hook for $40 per month premiums on the exchange; if she was at 138 percent of the FPL, she would be on the hook for $56 per month premiums.

    For those who have to move to ESI plans, the premium increase will be even more dramatic. For an ESI plan to be deemed affordable, premiums cannot exceed 9.69 percent of household income. That means that a plan could have premiums nearly five times what someone was paying under the 2 percent max allowable under Arkansas Works (and even more than that compared to the flat $13 premiums that the program is imposing this year). Under the Medicaid rules in the Arkansas Works waiver, an individual living at the poverty line could be charged no more than $20 monthly; the most that a single mother of three could be charged is $40. But if those same beneficiaries get insurance through a plan at work, they could face employee-contribution premiums of up to $95 or $195, respectively, and would then not be allowed to shop on the exchange. They would have to find a way to pay those premiums or go without health insurance.

    What happens if people don't pay premiums?

    If people are unable to pay their premiums under Arkansas Works, they don't lose their coverage; they incur a debt to the state, which likely isn't collectible unless the individual has a state tax refund from which to withhold. On the other hand, if people are unable to pay their premiums on the exchange, they'll be booted off of coverage and become uninsured for the remainder of the year. These premiums are relatively small, but this is a population with almost no disposable income. Forty dollars a month may not sound like a lot, but for a family of four at the poverty line, that could be the difference in getting enough groceries to go around. Currently, only 25 percent of these beneficiaries are paying the $13 premiums each month. If they struggle to keep up with premiums on the exchange, they'll end up without coverage.

    Will the working poor get the same level of coverage under the governor's plan?

    Those who are sent to the exchange will get plans that have a similar amount of coverage to the plans on Arkansas Works, though that coverage may take different forms (for example, they might have deductibles, whereas Arkansas Works only has co-pays). However, there is one key difference, which will lead to many having to pay more out of pocket on the exchange plans. Under Arkansas Works, Medicaid rules impose a strict limit on the total amount that beneficiaries can be charged between premiums and cost-sharing (it cannot exceed 5 percent of monthly or quarterly income). There is no such rule on the exchange, and while there are out-of-pocket limits, the total amount that beneficiaries have to pay could exceed 5 percent of income.

    For example, consider an individual who makes $12,500 a year: If she was being charged premiums at 2 percent of her income, the most that she could be charged in cost-sharing under Arkansas Works on a monthly basis is $35. Over the course of the year, that would work out to $360. If that same individual was on the exchange, the available plans average nearly twice that, $660.94, as an out-of-pocket maximum — and that's only over the course of the year, with no protections for monthly/quarterly charges.

    Things look much worse for those who are routed to ESI plans instead of the exchange. For a work-sponsored plan to meet the "minimum value" test, it only has to cover 60 percent of average expected costs, as opposed to 94 percent under Arkansas Works. That could mean $5,000 deductibles or $7,000 out-of-pocket maximums, expenses that many people in this population could not realistically afford to pay.

    Will the governor's plan increase the uninsured rate in the state?

    Almost certainly, yes. Many will not be able to afford the premiums or the cost-sharing and will have no choice but to go without coverage. Others may struggle to successfully navigate the system and find their way to coverage alternatives in the first place. Moving this population from Medicaid to other coverage is not as easy as flipping a switch. Sixty thousand people will receive a sudden letter that their coverage has been canceled; many of them have no experience purchasing private health insurance. The transition would require a massive outreach and education effort and excellent communication. The Hutchinson administration has often faced criticism for its failures at such outreach, including a botched eligibility renewal process in 2015 that led to tens of thousands of eligible beneficiaries losing coverage. In similar transitions in other states, even with much more extensive outreach efforts than Arkansas has ever done, attrition was significant as people inevitably got lost in the shuffle and ended up with gaps in coverage.

    "Our greatest concern is that tens of thousands of Arkansans will become uninsured because they are no longer eligible for Arkansas Works, unable to afford other coverage, or simply fall through the cracks because of the constant policy changes," Marquita Little, of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said. (Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families have provided donations to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.)

    What happens if Donald Trump and the Republican Congress repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA)?

    The AHCA would completely unravel Arkansas Works, as well as Hutchinson's plan for Arkansas Works 2.0.

    The Medicaid expansion would be completely phased out, eliminating the enhanced federal funding for new and returning enrollees starting in 2020. Without that funding, Arkansas could not realistically continue to offer Medicaid coverage for the population of low-income Arkansans reliant on Arkansas Works under current law, now numbering more than 300,000 beneficiaries. Forget about Arkansas Works 2.0; Arkansas Works itself would be dead.

    Hutchinson said that he hopes the enhanced match rate for Medicaid expansion will be saved now that the AHCA is in the Senate. But even if it is, the AHCA would still completely undermine Hutchinson's plan for the 100-138 FPL population because of the way it changes the subsidies on the exchanges. Hutchinson's plan presupposes that the 100-138 FPL population can rely on those subsidies. The ACA offers tax credits that ensure that the amount people are charged for premiums on the exchange will not exceed 2 percent of income; the AHCA has no such limit and its tax credits aren't based on income. The Arkansas Works beneficiaries that Hutchinson aims to send to the exchange would find themselves faced with premiums that most of them could not possibly afford if the AHCA passed in its current form. Premiums would be even higher for older people in this population because the AHCA would also allow insurance companies to charge higher amounts based on age than the ACA does. Under the AHCA, regardless of how poor the consumer was, the Congressional Budget Office found that the average monthly premium faced by an individual who is 21 years old would be $120; at 40 years old, $200; at 64 years old, $1,216.

    Hutchinson acknowledged this problem. "The governor would like to see the AHCA's tax credits increase for the lower income populations to account for this issue and ensure there are affordable coverage options available outside of Medicaid," his spokesman J.R. Davis said.

    In addition to drastically lowering the premium tax credits available to poorer and older Arkansans, the AHCA would also altogether eliminate the ACA's cost-sharing reductions, which offer cost protections from co-pays and deductibles to low-income consumers. Under current law, people in the 100-138 FPL range can sign up for plans that cover 94 percent of the average cost of medical expenses; under the AHCA, those same plans would only cover 70 percent. Under the ACA, someone who was sent to the exchange as part of Hutchinson's plan would face an average deductible across eligible plans of $246 and an average out-of-pocket maximum of $661. Under the AHCA, cost-sharing would skyrocket, with deductibles for those same plans ranging from around $1,500 to $3,500 and the out-of-pocket maximum ranging from around $3,600 to $7,150.

    What other impacts would the AHCA have on Arkansas health care?

    In addition to eliminating the Medicaid expansion and increasing costs on the exchange for poorer, sicker and older Arkansans, the AHCA would also enact hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the state's traditional Medicaid program (the program that existed before the ACA's expansion), covering the elderly in nursing homes, low-income children, very poor parents, the blind, the disabled and other vulnerable populations. Such cuts would put additional burdens on the state budget or force the state to cut services or eligibility for traditional Medicaid.

    Work requirements


    In addition to cutting eligibility, the governor's proposal would institute work requirements for Arkansas Works beneficiaries. The Obama administration did not allow work requirements for Medicaid because it said such requirements were not consistent with the purpose of the program, which is to increase access to health care. The Trump administration has signaled that it is receptive to the idea of work requirements, so Hutchinson is trying again with the request.

    The details of the work-requirement program still need to be worked out between the state's Department of Human Services and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but here is the outline of the governor's plan, according to DHS:

    In order to continue receiving coverage, beneficiaries must work 20 hours per week or 80 hours per month. If they are not working, they have to participate in job training programs (or potentially certain approved volunteer activities).

    Beneficiaries must be in compliance for nine months out of the year. Otherwise, they will be kicked off of coverage and locked out of the program for the remainder of the year.

    People aged 18-49 will be subject to the work requirement, and those older than 50 will be exempt. The following groups will also be eligible for exemptions:

    Those deemed "medically frail" — the 10 percent of Arkansas Works beneficiaries who have the most intensive medical needs.

    Those caring for an incapacitated person.

    Those caring for dependent children in the home.

    People receiving unemployment benefits.

    Those participating in a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program.

    Full-time students.

    Pregnant women.

    DHS projects that around half of Arkansas Works beneficiaries would be eligible for an exemption.

    This analysis is courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.



              How the 2017 Arkansas legislature made life worse for you   
    But it wasn't as bad as it could've been at the Capitol.

    Arkansas's legislators were locked and loaded when they arrived for the 91st General Assembly this year, determined to get more guns into public places and take away voting and abortion rights, their evergreen attacks.

    Thanks to the legislature, concealed weapons soon may be carried just about everywhere except Razorback games and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Unemployment benefits were cut, whistleblowers were silenced and charter schools were given advantages over regular public schools. Other legislation was symbolic but ugly, such as an act authored by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) that aims to stop Sharia, or Islamic ecclesiastical law, from taking over Arkansas's court system.

    Some of the silliest bills went nowhere, such as efforts by Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) to wipe Bill and Hillary Clinton's names off the Little Rock airport, to indefinitely delay implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program and to call a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Anti-immigrant legislation that would have penalized colleges and cities with so-called "sanctuary" policies withered in committee. Rep. Smith, the sponsor of the bill targeting universities, warned that rogue professors might hide undocumented immigrants in their offices and then dump their human waste on campus in the dark of night; surprisingly, this argument did not persuade his colleagues. Rep. Kim Hendren (R-Gravette) proposed banning cell phones from public schools; later, he filed a bill prohibiting teachers from using books authored by leftist historian Howard Zinn. Neither gained traction.

    What was good? A little. Conservatives tried to circumscribe the medical marijuana amendment with bans on smoking and edible products, among other roadblocks, but the worst of the anti-pot legislation stalled. Evidently reassured by Governor Hutchinson's promises to make the private option more conservative (read: stingier) down the line, the annual appropriation for Medicaid passed without a major fight — a relief for the 300,000-plus Arkansans receiving health insurance through Obamacare. Pushed by Hutchinson, the ledge directed some of Arkansas's tobacco settlement proceeds to expand a waiver program for the developmentally disabled, opening the door to services for some 500 to 900 desperate families stranded for years on a waitlist. At long last, the state will stop its reprehensible practice of celebrating Robert E. Lee's birthday simultaneously with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a symbolic but important step forward that was championed by the governor.

    Here's our survey of the damage:

    GUNS
    In Glock we trust

    The biggest gun-related news this session was the passage and signing of House Bill 1249, now Act 562, which creates a new "enhanced carry" permit that will allow gun owners who have undergone eight hours of additional training — including active shooter training, with a curriculum still to be worked out by the Arkansas State Police — to carry a concealed handgun in many places previously forbidden under the state's concealed carry law, including the state Capitol, public colleges and universities, bars, churches and courthouses. Concealed carry in prisons, courtrooms and K-12 schools is still forbidden, and private property owners, including bars, churches and private colleges, can still prohibit firearms if they choose.

    Sponsored by Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville), the bill was a far piece from where it started by the time it was signed. Originally, Collins' bill would have solely mandated that public universities and colleges allow faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns. It was an attempt to push back against the state's public colleges and universities, which have steadfastly rejected Collins' and his colleagues' attempts to institute "campus carry" in the past. Amendments to HB 1249 soon pushed it several clicks further toward the broad "guns everywhere" approach favored by the National Rifle Association, and far beyond a potential shooting iron in a well-trained professor's briefcase. Now, anyone with the enhanced permit will be able to carry on a college campus, including into sometimes-contentious student and faculty disciplinary hearings and raucous college dorms.

    The passage of the bill spawned some last minute scrambling when the Southeastern Conference expressed concerns about fans coming to college football games carrying heat, resulting in Act 859, a cleanup effort that prohibits concealed carry in college athletic venues. Also exempted by Act 859 were daycares, UAMS and the Arkansas State Hospital, an inpatient facility for the mentally ill. The bill also allows private businesses and organizations to ban concealed carry without posting a sign to that effect. If a private business decides to ban concealed carry without posting a sign, anyone caught carrying a concealed weapon on the premises can be ejected or told to remove their gun if they want to come back. If the concealed carrier repeats the infraction, they can be charged with a crime. Even after the purported cleanup, that still leaves a lot of places open to concealed carry unless those places set a policy forbidding the practice, including most hospitals, mental health facilities and off-campus high school and middle school sporting events. At the signing ceremony for HB 1249, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said, "We believe that if you have a legal right to be somewhere, and you're a law-abiding person, you ought to have a legal right to defend yourself." For the NRA, that means the right to be armed everywhere, any time, as long as you don't have a criminal record. Notice Cox didn't say anything about pesky permits or training.

    Speaking of law-abiding persons, also of concern when it comes to concealed carry is Act 486. Under the law, the Arkansas State Police is now prohibited from establishing or amending any administrative rule that would revoke or suspend a concealed carry permit unless the holder of the permit was found to be in violation of a criminal offense. While not penalizing a person if they haven't committed a crime sounds like a good idea, the problem is that people can and do go off the rails for a multitude of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with a violation of the criminal code. Before the passage of Act 486, the State Police had broad latitude to revoke or suspend concealed carry permits for a number of reasons, including serious alcohol and drug abuse, dangerous mental illness, or a mental health professional's determination that a permit holder might be a threat to himself, his family or the public. With the passage of Act 486, though, a concealed carry holder who suffers a complete mental breakdown to the point of visual hallucinations can keep on packing right until the moment he or she is admitted at the State Hospital (thanks Act 859!), even if the person's family or a doctor asks the State Police to pull their permit. Ditto with people suffering from substance abuse issues, elderly dementia patients and those who hint they might be capable of suicide or homicide. Under the law, a permit can still be revoked or suspended if the person is caught carrying into a prohibited place like a courtroom or jail, but as seen above, the list of places where handguns are prohibited is dwindling by the year. Otherwise, thanks to Act 486, we just have to wait until that person commits a crime. By then, it's too late.

    In the What Could Have Been column, we have HB 1630, by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), which would have created the misdemeanor offense of "negligently allowing access to a firearm by a child" if an owner failed to secure a loaded gun or left it in a place a child could easily access. Though the bill had exemptions for hunting, sport shooting and use of firearms on a farm and had a sliding scale of penalties, with incidents involving the death or serious injury of a child at the top of the list, it went nowhere.

    EDUCATION

    Traditional schools took licks, but the worst was kept at bay.

    The single worst education bill passed in 2017 was probably Act 542, sponsored by Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale), which requires school districts to sell or lease "unused or underutilized" facilities to competitor charter schools. Charters already had right of first refusal in the event a district decides to sell a building — but after Act 542 goes into effect this summer, a charter can force a district to sell or lease a building, even if the district doesn't want to do so. If a different entity — a nonprofit, say, or a clinic or a business — wants to buy an unoccupied school building instead, that's too bad. Act 542 requires a district to hold on to unused buildings for two years, just in case a charter comes along and wants the facility for itself.

    Clark pointed to a situation a few years ago in which the Helena-West Helena School District refused to sell a vacant elementary to KIPP Delta, a charter. But there are good reasons why a district wouldn't want to hand over an asset to a direct competitor: Charter networks tend to weaken districts by bleeding away higher-performing students and public money, and they often enjoy advantages their traditional public school counterparts do not. As some opponents of the bill pointed out, the new law is tantamount to forcing Walmart to sell a store to Target. That's why school superintendents across the state fought the bill and convinced no small number of Republicans to join Democrats in opposing it. In the end, though, it passed the House on a 53-32 vote. Republican legislators also rejected proposals by Democrats Sen. Joyce Elliott and Rep. Clarke Tucker — both from Little Rock, which is seeing unchecked charter growth at the expense of traditional public schools — to impose fairer rules on charters.

    Thankfully, the legislature turned down an even worse proposal. HB 1222 by Rep. Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville) proposed a convoluted scheme to divert millions of dollars away from the public coffers (by means of a tax credit to wealthy donors) and toward private schools in the guise of "education savings accounts" to be used for student tuition. A school voucher plan in all but name, the bill would have been devastating to public education. Dotson eventually scaled back the legislation to a pilot program with a four-year sunset, allowing a Senate version of the bill to win passage in that chamber — but many Republicans remain fond of their local school districts, and it narrowly failed in the House.

    Meanwhile, legislators expanded an existing voucher program, the Succeed Scholarship. Created in the 2015 session, it uses public tax dollars to pay private school tuition for a limited number of K-12 students with special needs. Parents are required to waive their child's civil rights protections under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In the past, the scholarship was open only to kids with an Individualized Education Program, or IEP; now, foster children living in group homes will also be eligible, thanks to Act 894 by Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton). Act 327 by Rep. Carlton Wing (R-North Little Rock) will allow a nonaccredited private school to participate, as long as the school has applied for accreditation. And, the appropriation for the Succeed Scholarship rose from $800,000 to $1.3 million — an increase of 63 percent — potentially allowing as many as 200 students statewide to participate.

    That bump is especially notable alongside the meager 1 percent increase in the state's overall K-12 education budget for the next two years — far less than the 2.5 percent boost recommended by legislative staff tasked with determining what constitutes "adequate" school funding. A bit more money will be directed to teacher pay and special education, and pre-kindergarten will see an overdue $3 million increase, so the money situation could be worse. Still, with state revenue squeezed hard by tax cuts, and private and charter schools knocking at the door, traditional public schools are clearly not the General Assembly's top priority.

    On other fronts, school legislation was a mixed bag. Elliott's Act 1059, will limit the use of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students in grades K-5 — a much-needed reform — but her bid to end corporal punishment failed in committee. (Rural Arkansas still loves the paddle.) One of the better education bills to pass this session was Elliott's Act 1039 which gives teeth to a 2013 law (also by Elliott) requiring dyslexia screening and intervention. Its reporting requirements and enforcement mechanism hopefully will force districts to deliver better reading interventions to dyslexic students. A major accountability bill developed by the state Education Department, Act 930, will overhaul how schools are monitored by the state, though it's too soon to say how the changes will play out. Act 478 by Rep. Bruce Cozart (R-Hot Springs), will require high school students to pass a civics test before graduating; an attempt by Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) to impose the same requirement on legislators and state agency heads received a cold reception. A bill by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle), now Act 910, will end September school elections and require them to be held concurrent with the November general or spring primary election date. That could spell trouble for future millage votes.

    Finally, there's higher education: "Campus carry" dominated the news, but a major change in funding may be just as consequential. Act 148, which originated with the governor's office, creates a funding formula for colleges and universities that ties state money to metrics like graduation rate. HB 1518, now Act 563, a worthy bill by Rep. James Sturch (R-Batesville) requires the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board to create an action plan for addressing sexual assault on college campuses.

    Benjamin Hardy

    TAXES

    Some help for the working poor and lots of punting.

    Give modest credit to Governor Hutchinson. In the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions, Republican legislators pushed a massive cut on taxes on capital gains and reduced the income tax burden on all but the working poor. This session, Hutchinson provided some relief at the lower end of the tax bracket. Hutchinson pushed through a $50 million tax cut, directed at households with a taxable income of less than $21,000. The cut is misleading, though, as it targets taxable income, which is often far less than salary or adjusted gross income. In fact, Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families pointed out that 48 percent of the overall $50 million cut will go to taxpayers in the top 40 percent of earners, while only 5 percent will go to those making less than $18,000 per year.

    Establishing a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit, tied to the federal EITC, would have been considerably more beneficial to the lower 40 percent of Arkansas earners, who often have no income tax liability, but pay a large share of their income in sales tax. An EITC would have provided a more substantial boost to the working poor at less cost than Hutchinson's cut. Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and Sen. Jake Files (R-Fort Smith) were behind the EITC proposal, which historically has bipartisan appeal, but they couldn't get support from Hutchinson or enough other legislators.

    Hutchinson also supported legislation that exempted all military retirement pay and survivor benefits from state income taxes. The first $6,000 of military retirement pay had been exempt previously. Since most veterans aren't career soldiers and eligible for a pension, the exemption will leave out many veterans (again, an EITC would have been a better avenue). But few politicians on either side of the aisle were going to stand in the way of helping veterans — even though Hutchinson unconscionably larded the measure with unrelated tax hikes. The legislation offset the eventual $13.4 million cost of the exemption by raising the sales tax on candy and soda. Completely unrelated to veterans' retirement income, the bill provided a $6 million tax cut on soft drink syrup, which it paid for by taxing unemployment benefits and digital downloads. So, veterans with pensions got a bump and corporate interests got significant help, while folks downloading books and movies, as well as people in between jobs, got screwed.

    In the "could have been worse" column, more credit for Hutchinson: He held at bay lawmakers from his party such as Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) who wanted to cut $100 million or more in taxes — threatening essential state services in the process — by creating a commission to consider the future of tax policies in the state.

    The commission will have to consider two issues the General Assembly punted on. A bill that would have required out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases made by Arkansans stalled in the House, with several Republicans decrying the proposal as a tax increase even though Arkansans already are required to pay the tax by law (few do because it requires self-reporting.) Still, Amazon said it would voluntarily begin collecting sales tax on Arkansas customers beginning in March. Another bill that merely would have referred to voters a proposal to increase the tax on gas to pay for bonds for highway construction failed on similar anti-tax grounds.

    Lindsey Millar

    CRIMINAL JUSTICE

    Atual reform

    Act 423, "The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety Act," might be the most consequential piece of good legislation the General Assembly passed. It's a sprawling, omnibus law, with three primary components.

    Most consequentially, it introduces swift and certain sanctioning, which means parolees and probationers who commit minor violations of the terms of their supervision will be sent for 45 to 90 days to Arkansas Community Correction facilities, where they will receive rehabilitative programming, instead of being sent to prison for significantly longer stints. Arkansas in recent years has had the fastest growing prison population in the country, fueled largely by parole violators returning to prison. Swift and certain sanctioning is expected to free up as many as 1,600 prison beds and save the state as much as $30-$40 million.

    The law also seeks to divert people who commit nuisance offenses because they are high on drugs or having a mental health crisis in public from jail or prison. It establishes Crisis Stabilization Units, regional facilities where people in crisis could go to receive treatment for several days. The law mandates the creation of three such units, but $5 million earmarked in the state budget for the operation of the facilities, paired with significant additional federal money the state expects to draw from Medicaid, could allow for several more CSUs to open. The locations of the CSUs have not yet been selected, but Craighead, Pulaski and Sebastian counties are thought to be leading candidates. Finally, Act 423 also requires law enforcement officers to receive crisis intervention training to help them de-escalate interactions with people amid behavioral health episodes.

    The law is the product of 18 months of study and presentations by the nonprofit Council of State Governments, which reported to a Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force that bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock) co-chaired. Hutchinson, co-sponsor Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) and CSG say the new law will save the state money, which can be reinvested in effective criminal justice policies. CSG's justice reinvestment program has successfully been implemented in states across the country.

    Of course, whether it's successful here will depend on policymakers seeing the reforms through. One potential stumbling block: CSG recommended that the state hire 100 new parole and probation officers to better supervise the nearly 56,000 people on parole and probation. Current supervision officers handle on average 125 cases. Governor Hutchinson's budget didn't provide for funding to hire 100 new officers, though it did make temporary funding to Arkansas Community Correction permanent, which will at least allow the department to retain the 60 officers it had hired since 2015. That's not enough, Sen. Hutchinson (who is the governor's nephew) said. He hopes a future General Assembly will approve additional funding for more officers using some of the savings generated by Act 423.

    A perennial stumbling block for any criminal justice reform is the inevitable violator who commits a serious crime. A significant portion of Arkansas's recent prison growth spike came because of punitive parole policies enacted in the wake of the 2013 murder of a teenager in Little Rock by a serial parole violator. It's natural to think that locking up people who commit crimes for long stretches reduces crime, but research shows it's just the opposite, Sen. Hutchinson said.

    "I've had the luxury of studying this for years now. It's hard to wrap your brain around sometimes," Hutchinson said. "Longer sentences do not, in fact, result in lower crime rates. The longer [people are] incarcerated, the greater chance of recidivism they have."

    Hutchinson chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, and many of its members, chief among them Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest), were hostile to the idea of moving away from incarceration in certain situations. King introduced the tough-on-crime Senate Bill 177, which would have required anyone with three stints in prison to serve at least 80 percent of any subsequent sentence. Arkansas already has a two-strikes law: After someone commits a second serious violent or sexual crime, he's required to serve 100 percent of his sentence. So King's measure would have mostly targeted low-level property and drug crimes and at huge cost. According to an impact statement, it would have added 5,499 inmates at a cost of $121 million in 2026. The total 10-year cost to the state would have been $692 million, and that's not including the significant cost of building new prison housing. King let the bill die in the House Judiciary Committee after Governor Hutchinson forcefully spoke out against it.

    Three other positive new laws: Act 566, sponsored by the odd couple Rep. John Walker (D-Little Rock) and Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), has Arkansas opt out of a section in President Clinton's sweeping 1996 welfare reform law that prevents anyone who has been convicted of a felony drug offense from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. Act 1012, from legislation sponsored by Tucker and Hutchinson, allows someone on probation or parole for an offense that did not involve the operation of a motor vehicle who has a suspended drivers license because of unpaid fines or fees to continue to drive to work or school. Act 539, sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain Home) and Rep. Rebecca Petty (R-Springdale), prevents minors from being sentenced to life without parole. Before they become eligible for parole, the new law requires minors sentenced to life terms to serve 20 years for nonhomicide offenses, 25 years for first-degree murder and 30 years for capital murder. Of course, the Parole Board could repeatedly deny parole requests and force someone sentenced to a life term as a minor to spend his life in prison.

    The heartbreaker of the session in criminal justice was the failure of Democratic Sen. Joyce Elliott's proposal to require racial impact statements for new criminal justice legislation. The impact statements would have provided research on whether proposed legislation would have a disparate impact on minority groups. Similar bills failed in 2013 and 2015, and this one was substantially amended to merely provide the impact statements as an option, but it died on the House floor. It was another reminder that for many white people, there is no greater insult than suggesting that they or something they do might be racist, even if the bias was unintended. One opponent, Rep. Ballinger, said he did not believe in systemic racism.

    Lindsey Millar

    ABORTION

    Risking women's health

    Women and their bodies were subjected to serious new insults this year by Arkansas legislators practicing medicine without a license.

    Among the most egregious laws was the so-called "dismemberment abortion" bill, now Act 45, whose chief sponsors were Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) and Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock). The bill prohibits doctors from performing what doctors believe is the safest method of second trimester abortion: dilation and evacuation. The alternatives would be something akin to a Caesarean section, in which the belly is cut open to remove the fetus, or an induced abortion, which requires the woman to go into labor to expel a fetus killed by an injection of salt water, urea or potassium chloride into the amniotic sac. Those procedures are what doctors call "high morbidity" — meaning they have a high risk of making patients sick.

    Dilation and evacuation is recommended by the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Medical Association. The difference between those organizations and the Arkansas legislature is that one group does not believe women should receive the best health care possible.

    But Mayberry and Sanders and their co-sponsors think D&E, which uses a vacuum, is tantamount to butchery. But hysterectomy and induction abortions accomplish the same end as a D&E and are far less safe.

    There is no exception for incest or rape in the law. And, like previous laws passed by legislators who think their particular religious beliefs give them the right to control women, the law particularly harms women who can't afford to travel to a more broad-minded jurisdiction to exercise a legal right.

    Another evil of the law is that it allows a spouse, parent or guardian to bring a civil suit against the abortion provider if the woman has "received or attempted to receive" dilation and evacuation. That means, according to abortion rights activists and Mayberry himself, a husband can stop an abortion. He may have committed rape. A parent may have committed incest. Doesn't matter.

    Rep. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) brought us the bill that became Act 733, the so-called "sex-selection abortion ban." Despite the fact that there is zero evidence that Arkansas women are dashing into abortion clinics because they've determined the sex of their fetus and don't like it, the bill has the potential to create an huge burden on the doctor provider.

    Say a woman has had prenatal tests to see if her fetus has a genetic disorder. She learns there is a disorder and, by the way, the sex of the fetus. Her doctor must ask if she knows the gender of the fetus. If she answers that she does, the abortion must be delayed, because this new state law requires the doctor to "request the medical records of the pregnant woman relating directly to the entire pregnancy history of the woman." No abortion may be performed until every chart for every pregnancy generated by the woman's ob-gyn (or ob-gyns) and staffs and hospitals, every record generated during every trip to the ER she may have had to make, is supplied and reviewed by the abortion provider. Not only could that take a lot of time and generate a mountain of paperwork — what if the woman already had five children? — but it would also notify, perhaps against the woman's will, her doctors and their staffs that she is seeking to obtain an abortion.

    The bill does not state what information in those records would suggest that the woman was hell-bent on not having another boy or girl.

    "Why are physicians and the clinic made to be an investigative party into a woman's motives to have an abortion?" asked a spokesman for Little Rock Family Planning, the state's only clinic that offers abortion up to 21 weeks.

    Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs) and Sen. Scott Flippo (R-Bull Shoals), like Mayberry and Sanders, introduced what's called a model TRAP law (targeted regulation of abortion providers) meant to end abortion by imposing stricter inspection regulations on clinics. The bill allows the state Department of Health to make yearly trips to inspect clinic records and "a representative sample of procedures"; to regulate all aspects of the clinic "without limitation," and to collect an annual fee of $500.

    While purporting to be a bill to protect women's health, the new law, Act 383, is designed to let the state shut down a clinic for facilities violations not spelled out in the legislation. It's not clear what violation would close the clinic. Towel on the floor? Out of paper towels? Scoop left in the break room freezer's icemaker?

    As it happens, Little Rock Family Planning is inspected frequently, more than the once every year that the law already called for. The health department inspected the clinic four times in 2016, citing such things as discolored ceiling tiles and a chair with rips. The clinic's spokesman said some inspections are instigated by complaints from the anti-abortion protesters that picket outside.

    The vague language of Act 383 "has potential for abuse. We don't know if we would be singled out and treated differently, if our license could be suspended for even minor paperwork violations," the spokesman said.

    — Leslie Newell Peacock

    TRANSPARENCY

    The public's right to know took one step forward, two steps back.

    Arkansas's robust Freedom of Information Act came under assault in 2017 as never before, with legislators proposing at least a dozen new exemptions to the open records law. Thanks to SB 131, now Act 474, by Sen. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch), security plans of the State Capitol Police are no longer disclosable to the public; Stubblefield's reasoning was that someone seeking to do violence at the Capitol might request such plans, but the law is written so broadly that virtually any record of the Capitol police could fall under the new exemption. Stubblefield's SB 12 (Act 541) created a similar exemption for schools, including colleges and universities. HB 1236, now Act 531, by Rep. Jimmy Gazaway (R-Paragould), prevents the disclosure of a body-cam or dash-cam recording of the death of a law enforcement officer.

    Thankfully, though, many anti-FOIA bills failed. The most significant was SB 373, by Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), which proposed exempting attorney-client communications and work product from the FOIA if the client is a public entity. The force behind the bill was the University of Arkansas. The problem with this idea — aside from the fact that attorney-client communications can already be shielded on a case-by-case basis, by order of a judge — is that a public entity could declare almost any record exempt simply by emailing that record to its attorney. Had it passed, this loophole could have swallowed the entire FOIA.

    On the bright side, Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R-Rogers) managed to pass HB 1427, now Act 318, to require candidates to file their monthly finance reports electronically, rather than on paper. HB 1010, now Act 616, by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) extends the same requirement to political action committees and other groups. This matters because a searchable electronic database will make it much easier for the public to track contributions made to candidates and PACs, as well as their expenditures.

    However, the legislature quashed an effort to shine a light on the darkest regions of campaign finance when it rejected HB 1005, by Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock). The bill would have required disclosure of "electioneering" spending, meaning advertisements by independent organizations, nominally unaffiliated with any candidate, that dodge ethics laws by scrupulously avoiding the use of phrasings like "vote for" or "vote against." A growing number of states recognize that such ads — which have proliferated tremendously in recent years and comprise hundreds of millions of dollars in spending nationwide — are de facto campaign commercials and require them to be reported as such. Not Arkansas.

    Benjamin Hardy

    ANTI-LGBT

    Threats stalled.

    The legislature still shows animus toward people who don't fit its definition of normal, but Arkansans lucked out when three anti-LGBT bills failed. Two so-called "bathroom bills" that targeted transgender children and adults and another that would have let doctors refuse to perform a procedure if it offended their "deeply held beliefs" did not make it into law.

    But the legislature also blocked a bill that would have corrected an injustice. SB 580, by Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock), would have provided for the automatic listing of both parents' names on the birth certificates of children of married same-sex couples, an important factor in establishing inheritance and other matters. In a marriage between a man and a woman, the names of both parents are listed on a child's birth certificate, even in cases of surrogacy or artificial insemination. Arkansas is the only state that treats children of same-sex parents differently in this regard, seemingly in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that struck down bans on gay marriage nationwide. Elliott's bill would have fixed the problem, but when SB 580 came before the Senate Judiciary Committee, vice-chair Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas) said same-sex parents could make a will if they wanted to ensure their kids get an inheritance.

    Besides the children of same-sex couples, Collins-Smith doesn't much like transgender people, either. She introduced SB 774 to require that people had to use public bathroom or changing facilities that corresponded with the sex as listed on their birth certificates, and that the governing body of the public entity had to make sure the law was enforced. Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau director Gretchen Hall and Verizon Arena General Manager Michael Marion told Collins-Smith in a hearing on the bill said they could not see how it would be possible to know what was on the birth certificate on the thousands of people who might answer the call of nature at an event. "It's your job to find a way," Collins-Smith snarled. Collins-Smith pulled down the bill when she realized it was not going to pass.

    The House passed a bill introduced by Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville), who also had his mind on bathroom use, to expand the state's indecent exposure law. State law already says it is a crime to expose one's genitalia with intent to gratify sexual desire; Ballinger's bill would have made it a crime simply to expose genitalia in front of a person of the opposite sex. (Maybe it's common practice to inspect genitalia in bathrooms up in Berryville.) Though the House vote for the bill was 65 to 3, the bill went down the Senate Judiciary Committee drain, as Collins-Smith's did.

    Governor Hutchinson, who did not want Arkansas to suffer economically as North Carolina did when it passed its "bathroom bill" (since partially repealed), was relieved.

    Another ugly bill was introduced by Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro): the Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act, which would have allowed doctors to refuse to administer health care services that offended their "deeply held beliefs." Smith had in mind both reproductive rights and transgender reassignment surgery. There was no support for the bill from medical professionals, and state Surgeon General Dr. Gregory Bledsoe spoke against it, saying, "If you're a member of any sort of minority group ... these sorts of bills send a message that threatens you."

    Leslie Newell Peacock

    AVERAGE ARKANSANS 

    Workers, consumers and other enemies of the state got a raw deal.

    Governor Hutchinson deserves some recognition for passing a modest income tax cut for working people this session, even if it wasn't quite the boost for the poor that he claimed (see Taxes, page 15). But in almost every other way, the average Arkansan got screwed by the 2017 session.

    Start with Act 986, by Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs), which will outlaw private class-action lawsuits under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act — a cornerstone of consumer protection law. Such suits are a powerful deterrent against businesses that intentionally scam customers in various small ways, such as false advertising or misleading promotional offers. Preventing consumers from bringing claims as a class gives the unscrupulous a freer hand to prey on the unsuspecting.

    Act 606, by Rep. DeAnn Vaught (R-Horatio), provides a boon to corporations by allowing an employer to sue a worker who records a video or takes photos in the workplace "and uses the recording in a manner that damages the employer." In other words, it will stop whistleblowers from documenting unethical or illegal practices, such as animal abuse at factory farms. Animal rights organizations refer to it as an "ag-gag" bill.

    Maybe the biggest prize for big business, though, was the "tort reform" measure that was referred to the 2018 ballot, Senate Joint Resolution 8. Sponsored by Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain Home), it proposes a new amendment to the state constitution that would place ceilings on the noneconomic and punitive damages that may be awarded to a claimant in a civil suit. Attorney contingency fees would also be capped, at one-third of the net recovery. In short, this would sharply limit the ability of someone who was grievously harmed by an act of medical malpractice to seek compensation in court. SJR 8 sparked a bruising fight in the legislature, with a few Republicans breaking ranks to speak forcefully against abridging the right to a trial by jury. But business interests — especially nursing homes — have been pushing tort reform for years, and the measure proved unstoppable. Unless Arkansas voters reject it in 2018, that is.

    Speaking of abridged rights, the legislature also referred a proposed amendment that would enshrine a voter ID requirement in the Arkansas Constitution. The hard truth is that House Joint Resolution 1016, by Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R-Elm Springs), will likely pass in 2018 given the state's electoral trends. Never mind that proponents of voter ID can't cite any documented instances of voter impersonation in Arkansas, and never mind the evidence that such measures elsewhere have resulted in voters being disenfranchised — voter ID has become gospel to Republicans, aided by President Trump's falsehoods about rampant fraud in the 2016 election. Redundantly enough, the legislature also passed a voter ID bill in addition to the referred amendment, Act 633 by Rep. Mark Lowery (R-Maumelle).

    Arkansas's status as the worst state in the nation for renters went unchallenged. A bill by Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning), now Act 159, softened but preserved the state's unconscionable, one-of-a-kind criminal eviction statute, which courts in several counties have deemed unconstitutional. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Arkansas Realtors Association, Arkansas also remains the only state in which there is no minimum habitability standard for rental property. HB 1166, by Hot Springs Republican Rushing, purported to address that deficiency, but the bill's proposed standards were pitifully weak — limited to electricity, water, sewer and a roof — and it may have limited renters' meager rights in other ways, so it's best it failed.

    Legislators' sympathy for landlords didn't translate to protecting small property owners railroaded by the oil industry. House Bill 2086, an effort by Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) to more carefully examine the use of eminent domain by pipeline companies, was drafted in response to the construction of the Diamond Pipeline, which will carry crude oil across the length of Arkansas from Oklahoma to Memphis. It failed to get out of committee.

    Currently, unemployment benefits in Arkansas cover workers for a maximum of 20 weeks, which is a shorter span than any surrounding state except Missouri (also 20 weeks). Act 734 from Rep. Lundstrum will soon reduce that coverage time to 16 weeks ... and reduce weekly benefits checks paid to laid-off workers. This is despite the state's unemployment trust fund having amply recovered from the recession (it now contains around $500 million) and unemployment levels at record lows. So why trim benefits now? Simple: Employers want more money for themselves.

    There was at least one good piece of consumer legislation, though, sponsored by none other than Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway). Act 944 aims to close a loophole exploited by payday lenders, which were driven out of Arkansas some years ago by a ban on high-interest loans but recently have been creeping back into the state by charging astronomical "fees" in place of interest.

    And some bad measures failed, the most obnoxious probably being HB 1035 by Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville). The bill would have prohibited SNAP recipients from using food stamps to purchase items the state Health Department deems unhealthy, such as soda; it stalled in the face of opposition from grocery stores and others. House Bill 1825 by Rep. John Payton (R-Wilburn), which went nowhere, would have seized lottery winnings from citizens who have received public assistance from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. And, efforts to chip away at workers compensation failed this time around. Got to leave something for 2019.

    Benjamin Hardy



              Senators face test of courage on health care   
    Forget for a minute about partisan labels and listen to members of the U.S. Senate talk about why they work in politics. ...
              Senators urge USTR to strengthen agricultural trade in NAFTA   
    U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and John Thune, R-South Dakota, a longtime member of the Agriculture Committee, were joined by 15 of their colleagues in urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to strengthen agricultural trade as the administration prepares to begin negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). "As senators representing states with significant agricultural exports, we appreciate the careful approach the administration is taking to strengthen the NAFTA agreement, while ensuring that no changes are made that could result in harm to U.S. agriculture," the senators wrote. "We look forward to working with you throughout the congressional consultation process to ensure that NAFTA continues its substantial economic contributions to U.S. farmers and ranchers and to the growth of our agricultural economy."
              How Ilorin high court ruled N4b damages in Saraki Libel case against Sahara reporters   
    The fight between Sahara reporters founderOmoleye Sowore and Nigeria senate president,Olubukola Saraki took a new turn when the latter won a judgement against the publisher.
    Justice Adeyinka Oyinloye of an Ilorin High Court in Kwara state, ordered the publisher, to pay the sum of N4 billion as damages to the Senate President,over a series of libelous stories published on the news platform from September to December 2015.

    Saraki through his lawyer, Babatunde Olomu, approached the court for an intervention

    following the publication of series of stories against him by Sahara Reporters.

    Both Sowore and Sahara Reporters were joined as defendants in the suit marked as KWS/23/2017.

    According to Saraki's counsel, the defendants had refused to defend the case despite the service of the summons on them. Olomu said the first series of service involved an arrangement between the office of the Nigerian ministry of Justice and their counterpart in New York, the operational base of the medium.

    When that failed, the counsel said the claimant thereafter seized the opportunities of a visit to Nigeria by Sowore to serve him at his two properties in Ikeja area of Lagos state.


    The relief granted to Saraki by the court include “the sum of N1 billion as general and aggravated damages for libelous words falsely, maliciously and recklessly published by the defendants of and concerning the claimant in the online issue of Sahara Reporters of October 5, 2015 under the caption “Nigeria at 55: Bukola Saraki and 83 Inmates Are Running the Asylum.

    “The sum of N1 billion as general and aggravated damages for libelous words falsely, maliciously and recklessly published by the defendants of and concerning the claimant in the online issue of Sahara Reporters of Sahara Reporters of September 20, 2015 under the caption: “A polished Name for political immorality. Time for Saraki to Go!.

    “The sum of N1 billion as general and aggravated damages for libelous words falsely, maliciously and recklessly published by the defendants of and concerning the claimant in the online issue of Sahara Reporters of Sahara Reporters of November 09, 2015 under the caption: “Bukola Saraki On a shopping Spree to Buy Judges…Stop Being a Clown And A Coward Man Up, face The Music”

    “The sum of N1 billion as general and aggravated damages for libelous words falsely, maliciously and recklessly published by the defendants of and concerning the claimant in the online issue of Sahara Reporters of Sahara Reporters of December 1, 2015 under the caption: “Arms Contract Scandal: Senator Saraki Blackmailed CBN Officials To Pay N250 Million Hush Funds.”

    “An order for injunction restraining the defendants from further writing, printing or causing to be written, printed or circulated or otherwise published of the claimant the said, or similar libel.

    “An order directing the defendants to remove the offending publications from its website on the internet within three days from the date of judgment and an order directing the defendants to publish an apology to the claimant on its online newspaper and in three other daily newspapers.”

    Sowore on the other hand's reaction was predictable as he took to his Facebook page to give his verdict on the ruling.
    Have we heard the end of this? You bet not.Watch this space.


              Senate GOP weighs healthcare bill revisions that would tweak tax breaks, health plan regulations   
    Senate GOP leaders, toiling in the final hours before their July 4 recess to find ways to improve their healthcare bill, are weighing several ideas. One such idea is championed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is pushing for an amendment that would get the bill closer to the full ACA repeal that conservatives crave.
              New CBO analysis predicts 35% Medicaid spending cut by 2036 under Senate bill   
    Medicaid was already a major sticking point in the Senate’s push to pass a healthcare bill, and a new Congressional Budget Office analysis may make Republicans’ job even harder. While the CBO’s original score predicted that the bill would result in the government spending 26% less on Medicaid than under current law, the new report estimates the cut would be even greater—35%—by 2036.
              ​​​​​​​Senate Republicans try to gather votes for health bill as talk turns to possibility of a bipartisan solution   
    Senate Republicans are hunting for votes in an effort to pass their healthcare reform bill, but may have to find a bipartisan solution if the GOP cannot come to a consensus.
              Cosgrove on the financial toll to hospitals if Senate passes healthcare reform bill   
    Hospitals across the country could be in big financial trouble if the Senate approves the current version of the Republican Better Care Reconciliation Act, warns Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, just one of many hospital CEOs who have sounded alarms about the proposed legislation and urge true policy reform.
              June 29, 2017: What to Know   
    Gains for the Idaho economy, "The Progressive Liberal" steps into the ring and hints at a new timetable for the Senate healthcare bill. Following the delay of a vote on a controversial Senate healthcare bill, sources close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told ABC News he wants a revised version of the bill in the hands of his colleagues by Friday, June 30, before they head home for the Fourth of July recess.…
              Senate Follows House Lead in Criticizing NASA Budget Cuts   
    As House appropriators approved a spending bill that rolled back some of the proposed cuts in the administration's 2018 budget request for NASA, Senate colleagues raised similar concerns about cuts to agency programs.
              Warnings Raise Stakes on Health   
    Hundreds of thousands of consumers across the country are getting letters from insurers warning that their health plans bought under the Affordable Care Act will be terminated at year-end, raising alarm at a politically sensitive moment when Senate Republicans are struggling to craft their own health-care legislation.
              Photo: Man swears affidavit claiming he was forced to forge signatures for Dino Melaye's recall    

    A man by the name Tope Ayeni, has sworn an affidavit claiming he was given N20,000 by the APC chairman in Ayetoro Gbede/Duagbe ward 1 in the state, to convince people to sign the recall register for Dino Melaye or forge their signatures.

    Tope in the affidavit claimed that the chairman asked him to give N500 to anyone he can convince to sign the register. A copy of the affidavit was shared by Dino Melaye above.

    Last week, INEC released a statement saying it has received over 180,000 signatures from constituents of Kogi West Senatorial district requesting for Dino to be recalled from the senate.

    Dino Melaye has however come out to say that some of the people that signed the recall register were dead people. He maintains that the state governor, Yahaya Bello, is behind the plot to recall him from the senate.


              Nigerian Files Lawsuit To Compel Senate To Ascertain Buhari’s Health Status    
     
    Toyin Dawodu, a Nigerian citizen, has filed a lawsuit to compel the Senate of Nigeria to constitute a medical panel to determine if President Muhammadu Buhari can discharge his constitutional duties.

    In a statement dated June 28, he said he instructed his attorneys from Forthright Chambers and lawyers for Citizens Advocacy of Nigeria to file the action [FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2017] at the Federal High Court in Abuja a few weeks ago.

    Citing reports that Nigeria is being controlled by a group of unelected bureaucrats, and that Mr. Buhari is in such incapacitation that even his wife is not allowed to see him, Mr. Dawodu said it was possible that President Buhari is being held by his handlers against his will, and that Nigerians deserve to know his current status and whereabouts.

    Affirming his love and respect for President Buhari, and praying fervently for God to give him strength to gain back his health, Mr. Dawodu said:

    “But I love Nigerian more. I fear for my country, I fear for the future of millions of Nigerians both living and unborn,” adding that hecannot stand by and allow the current leadership vacuum that exists to continue.

    He stressed it is now incumbent on the members of the Senate, who were elected, to stand up and be counted to save Nigeria in her hour of need.

    “I am also urging every Nigerian to impress upon their Senators to discharge their duty by constituting a medical panel as prescribed by the constitution to determine if President Buhari is capable of discharging his duty.”

    Text of the statement:

    IS NIGERIAN PRESIDENT BEING HELD AGAINST HIS WILL?

    THE LAWSUIT FILED AT THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT IN ABUJA NIGERIA.  CASE NUMBER FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2017

    TO COMPEL THE SENATE OF NIGERIA TO CONSTITUTE A MEDICAL PANEL TO DETERMINE THE HEALTH STATUS OF PRESIDENT BUHARI.

    Riverside, CA 6/28/17- A few weeks ago, I instructed my attorneys from Forthright Chambers and lawyers for Citizens Advocacy of Nigeria to file a lawsuit compelling the Nigerian Senate to constitute a medical panel to determine if President Buhari is capable of discharging his constitutional duties.

    Several reports have indicated that the country is being controlled by a group of unelected bureaucrats whose motives may not align with the aspirations of most Nigerians.

    Reports have also indicated that our elected President is in such a medical incapacitation that even his wife is not allowed to see him in his incapacitated state.

    It is possible, that President Buhari is being held by his handlers against his will and Nigerians deserve to know his current status and his where about.

    This Press release explains my rational for the lawsuit to all Nigerians and other well-wishers of Nigeria.

    In 2014, I campaigned to elect then General Buhari to be elected President of Nigeria. Here's a link to the video I uploaded to YouTube as my support for his candidacy.  goo.gl/P2EExJ

    A full copy of the law suit can be found on my blog at www.amazingtoyin.blogspot.com

    My admiration for President Buhari dates back to his first foray as head of state. In 1985, I expressed this admiration by contacting him through the Nigerian Embassy.

    In my letter, to him and his administration, I outlined how he could make Nigeria a great nation economically by focusing on our strategic assets of both human and natural resources.

    Unfortunately his administration was short lived.

    Fast forward 2014. After three tries, he succeeded in becoming the head of state.

    My support for him in the last election was based on my inclination that President Buhari can finally finish the job he started 30 years earlier.

    Regardless of his current policy failures, I and millions of Nigerians are now convinced that the President, despite all his intentions, is incapable of discharging his duties. Therefore, he should resign or be forced to do so, by the Senate, or the executive council as prescribed in the Nigerian constitution.

    The Nigerian electorate voted for Buhari as head of state.

    Currently we have an acting President.

    The problem with the current situation is that the acting president is not fully in charge of the country.

    There is no proof that any elected official, including leaders of both houses of assembly have seen the President in the last several weeks.

    There is no proof that even the vice President or any member of the cabinet of President Buhari has spoken to him in his current incapacitated state.

    I love and respect President Buhari and I wish and pray fervently for God to give him strength to gain back his health.

    But I love Nigerian more. I fear for my country, I fear for the future of millions of Nigerians both living and unborn.

    Therefore, I cannot stand by and allow the current leadership vacuum that exists in out polity to continue.

    There are several current agitations for the restructuring of Nigeria.

    If Nigeria needs a strong leader, it is now. Unless a strong leader emerges that has the full authority of Nigerians, the country may descend into chaos.

    Our elected leader is indisposed, due to no fault of his own.

    Therefore, if we love our country, we must collectively urge our President to face his health issues and let Nigeria be led fully by a capable Vice President as prescribed by the constitution.

    As it stands, the Vice President takes direction from the so called Cabal, who passes such instruction under the pretext that they come from the President.

    No one can confirm the present condition of the President. As such, it is now incumbent on the elected members of the Nigerian Senate to stand up and be counted to save Nigeria in its hour of need.

    I am also urging every Nigerian to impress upon their Senators to discharge their duty by constituting a medical panel as prescribed by the constitution to determine if President Buhari is capable of discharging his duty.

    That is the basis of my lawsuit.

    I love President Buhari and wish him speedy recovery, but I love Nigeria more.

    May God bless all of us and bless Nigeria.

    Toyin Dawodu

    Sahara  Reporters

              Sahara Reporters publisher, OmoyeleSowore, reacts to Ilorin court judgment asking him to pay N4bn in damages to Saraki    
     
    An Ilorin High Court in Kwara state yesterday ordered Sahara Reporters and its publisher, Omoyele Sowore, to pay N4 billion in damages to Senate President Bukola Saraki, over some reports published about him on the news portal from September 2015 to December 2015. Saraki told the court that the reports were libelous. Omoyele has reacted via his Facebook page.

              Senate Democrat staffers are predominantly white, women   
    Senate Democrat staffers are predominantly white and a majority of them are women, according to a report released by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday.The study found that 32 percent of staf...
              Trump: Criminal aliens stole 'beautiful American lives'   
    President Trump on Friday reaffirmed his effort to crack down on illegal immigration, pressing the Senate to swiftly pass two bills that he said would stop undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds from taking "be...
              Comment on Republican Senate restores spending in NASA budget by Cotour   
    Related because its about government spending, and government spending is about taxation: I got into a political "discussion" with a lady friend the other day (Read: Loud head to head head butting that ended with a nice hug :) Her big issues? Trump and the "RICH" have too much money and her taxes are too high, and Trump is going to become Hitler! (What ?) I wrote a private little poem for her that preceded this piece but thought it not appropriate to share. "On another subject: 51.6 percent of all taxes collected by the government are from just 2.7 percent of the population, the "RICH". The rest of the taxes collected, 49.4 percent, come from the remaining 97.3 percent of the population. (2.7 % of the population the “Rich” pay 51.6 percent of all the taxes in the country, as per PEW) If you are interested in lowering your taxes there needs to be less government confiscation of it. So if you are FOR, among many other things, universal healthcare (Read: Welfare / healthcare is not a right but a service that must be paid for. Everyone should have it but someone must pay for it), open borders and illegal immigrants being supported by our social welfare systems, a culture of dependency created by political party’s in order to ensure a dedicated voting block to keep them in power, then you are insisting on higher and higher taxation. That is the Liberal / Democrat model. The Republicans have their own issues that create higher taxation. (Both party’s are by nature corrupt) Government, any government, is from its inception a corrupt and perverted operation, that is what was well understood by the Founders of America. All government can be is corrupt, the only question is to what degree. Your personal dislike of Trump is understandable, he seems to be a bore, but his kind of unique personality and skill set is perfect for Washington and its kind of corruption. He is sooo disruptive to the everyday perverted and corrupt business that goes on in Washington that in the long term he will IMO prove a net positive. What is the by design institutional counter balance to any president? The Constitution. Any president can not just do as they please, there are counter balances in the form of the Congress and the courts. Trump is no Hitler, could never become a Hitler. That is a false political narrative. Why? Because the Founders of America understood the nature of man and the nature of man as it relates to governance / government and power. And they designed mechanisms to limit the power of any and all presidents. So instead of spending time worrying about who has how much or too much $$, it might be a better idea to figure out who is spending all the money, your tax money, and limit how they can spend it. NO?"
              Comment on Republican Senate restores spending in NASA budget by Garry   
    This is an excellent example for why the President should have a line-item veto, as many state governors do.
              Senate Dem wants to rewrite online trade rules in NAFTA   
    Wyden says that he wants to seize this opening to address new challenges and considerations that have arisen in the digital economy since NAFTA, which he called "outdated," was created in 1994.
              GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   

    President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

    The influential Koch network, backed...


              AARP Response to Latest CBO Score on Proposed Medicaid Cuts in Senate Health Bill   

    AARP national logo.WASHINGTON, June 30, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond issued the following response to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report issued yesterday, which further analyzed the proposed Medicaid cuts, titled Longer-Term Effects of the Better Care...



              Rep. Franks: If Defunding Planned Parenthood is Taken Out of Health Care Bill, It’ll “Blow to Smithereens”   
    One surefire way to ensure that the GOP’s health care bill never sees the light of day is if the leadership removes its pro-life provisions, according to conservative lawmakers. They sent a fair warning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, imploring him to retain the language that strips Planned Parenthood from Medicaid funding for a […]
              House passes Kate’s Law and anti-sanctuary city law, which now move to the Senate   

    Two dozen Democrats voted with Republicans Thursday to pass Kate's Law, which will now move to the Senate.

    The post House passes Kate’s Law and anti-sanctuary city law, which now move to the Senate appeared first on Powdered Wig Society.


              The Science Behind Global Warming is Very Clear, and Has Been For Decades: 'BradCast' 6/29/2017   
    On today's BradCast: It's been 29 years since NASA's chief scientist, Dr. James Hansen, offered landmark testimony to the U.S. Senate in June of 1988, explaining that scientists had determined with 99% certainty, as the New York Times reported it at the time, that record atmospheric warming since the 1950s "was not a natural variation [...]
              Orchestrating Legislative Action 101   
    All across America child welfare reform activist are pushing to get the “First Family Preservation Act of 2016” (HR-5456/S-3065) passed through the Senate. The clock is ticking… session is getting short and we have 3 Senators holding it up. Senator … Continue reading
              The Senate's Obamacare repeal bill could be bad business for hospitals   
    Hospitals have benefited from treating more patients with insurance. The Senate proposal could shrink slim margins.
              Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it   
    President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.
              BREAKING: Court Clears Sen. Andy Uba of Certificate Forgery, Fit To Contest Anambra Guber   
    By Dansu Peter

    Move to sack senator Andy Uba from the senate and stop his Anambra Governorship his bid has failed as Abuja court clears him of allegation of certificate forgery.

    The cour further affirmed the originality of his waec certificate and eligibility to hold any public office in nigeria.

    The controversy over the eligibility of Andy Uba to seek public office over the allegations of certificate forgery was laid to rest today by the fct high court sitting in Apo and presided over by Justice Valentine Ashi.

    In a Ruling that lasted over two hours ,the judge held that the plantiff failed to discharge d burden of proof bestowed on him and so his suit stands dismissed. The court held that the same certificate have been used by the defendant since 2007 till date without any alteration and wonders the foundation upon which the suit is based since the defendant election forms submitted in Inec in over three elections he participated is same without any alteration.

    The court established that the defendant  senator Andy uba is eligible to hold any elective position as he meets wit the minimum educational requirement provided by d constitution of nigeria.
              Ag President Osinbajo Appoints FOURTEEN New INEC Commissioners See Full List   
    By Dansu Peter

    Yemi Osinbajo
    Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has approved the appointment of 14 new Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

    This is contained in a statement by the Director of Press, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Bolaji Adebiyi.

    While 13 of the new appointees were on their first term, Hussaini Halilu Pai of the FCT was re-appointed.

    OSGF Press Release:
    NEW RESIDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSIONERS APPOINTED
    His Excellency the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has approved the  appointment of the underlisted persons as Resident Electoral Commissioners.
    Appointee State Remarks


    (i) Professor Godwill Obioma Abia New Appointment
    (ii) James Lorliam Apam. Benue
    (iii) Dr. Nwachukwu Orji Ebonyi
    (iv) Dr. Iloh Joseph Valentine Chuks Enugu
    (v) Dr. Nentawe Goshwe Yilwatda Plateau
    (vi) Umar Ibrahim Taraba “
    (vii) Mr. Emeka Ononamadu Joseph Imo
    (viii) Obo O. Effanga. Cross River “
    (ix) Professor Francis Chuckwemeka Ezeounu Anambra “
    (x) Dr. Briyai O. Frankland Bayelsa lll
    (xi) Ibrahim Abdullahi, mni Adamawa
    (xii) Agboke Mutiu Olaleke Ogun
    (xiii) Hussaini Halilu Pai FCT Reappointment
    (xiv) Alhaji Ahmad Makama Bauchi

    These appointees have been confirmed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and therefore the appointments are with immediate effect.
    Bolaji Adebiyi

    Director (Press)
    Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation


              AG Sessions: Never met with Russians over the election   
    At a hearing in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gives his prepared testimony.
              Here's what Jeff Sessions will say in his Senate hearing   
    Sessions will say he did not meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016, sources tell Axios.
              'A waste of taxpayer money': Trump's voter fraud commission is facing pushback from a dozen states   
    • TrumpAt least a dozen states pushed back against a broad request from the White House commission on voter fraud.
    • The states included Indiana, whose secretary of state sits on the commission.
    • The requested information has raised questions about the ways it can be used.

    At least a dozen states are already pushing back against a request by President Donald Trump's voter-fraud commission to hand over registered voters' personal information to make public. 

    The bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to all 50 states on Wednesday seeking registered voters' names, addresses, dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, and party registration.

    It also asked for a decade's worth of voter history, information on felony convictions, and whether they have registered in more than one state. The commission said all voter data submitted by the states would be made public, and the Justice Department sent a separate letter asking states to reveal how they maintain their voter rolls.

    At least 12 secretaries of state — from Indiana, California, Kentucky, Virginia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Minnesota, Utah, Oklahoma, New York, Tennessee and New Mexico — have so far declined to hand over information that is not already publicly available. 

    Indiana's secretary of state, Connie Lawson, sits on the commission. But she said in a statement that "Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach." Only certain voter information, she said, is available to the public under Indiana law: name, address, and congressional district assignment.

    California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement that handing over the requested information would "legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach."

    “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally," Padilla said Thursday.

    Kris Kobach

    Trump vowed to investigate voter fraud just days after taking office, repeating false claims that millions of illegal ballots were cast in the presidential election. There is no evidence to support Trump's repeated assertion that he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton in November's election because people voted illegally, independent experts and analysts have said.

    Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement that "Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country."

    "The president created his election commission based on the false notion that 'voter fraud' is a widespread issue — it is not," Grimes said. "Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the president has repeatedly spread the lie that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast in the last election."

    States are already wary of accepting federal help when it comes to voting and election systems. States pushed back when the Department of Homeland Security wanted to designate their voter systems as "critical infrastructure" before the election last year, and are still reluctant to allow the government to conduct a complete digital forensics analysis of the voting machines to see if they were tampered with. 

    'Serious privacy concerns' and 'laying the groundwork for voter suppression'

    Election law and voter-fraud experts broadly agree that the commission's request is not only baseless, but an infringement on privacy and states' rights.

    "Having all of this information raises serious privacy concerns," wrote Rick Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. "Will the information be kept securely, or is it at risk of being hacked for identity theft purposes? Will it be used by the Trump campaign and other political officials for political purposes? How secure will this be?"

    Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation who is writing a book on the history of voting rights, wrote Friday that "never before has a White House asked for such broad data on voters, and it could be easily manipulated by Trump’s commission."

    Berman said the request could be a pretext to make it harder to register to vote, leading to widespread voter suppression efforts.

    "Kobach has a very well-documented record of making wildly misleading claims about voter fraud and enacting policies that sharply limit access to the ballot in his home state of Kansas," he wrote. "He’s been sued four times by the ACLU for voter suppression and was sanctioned by a federal court last week for 'deceptive conduct and lack of candor.'"

    Vanita Gupta, who ran the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department during the Obama administration and now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, agreed that Pence and Kobach appeared to be "laying the groundwork for voter suppression."

    "The integrity of our elections is indeed under assault — just not in the way Trump claims," she tweeted Thursday. 

    A 'gold mine' of voter information

    There is also the question of whether making this personal information, including Social Security numbers and military status, publicly available in one place risks making it more vulnerable to manipulation and misuse by adversaries.

    Russian hackers targeted election systems in at least 21 states last year, top DHS official Jeanette Manfra told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month. The hackers probed election infrastructure and successfully infiltrated a "small number of networks," said Sam Liles, the DHS's top cyber official.

    The hackers stole voter-data information, which they could then use "in a variety of ways," said top FBI counterintelligence official Bill Priestap, including to affect future elections, target individual voters, and determine whether the data is something they can manipulate going forward. 

    When a data-analytics firm hired by the Republican National Committee last year to gather political information about US voters accidentally leaked the sensitive personal details of roughly 198 million citizens earlier this month, cybersecurity experts called it "the motherlode of all leaks" and a "goldmine" for anyone looking to target and manipulate voters. 

    That information did not even include highly sensitive information like Social Security numbers that the administration now wants to gather and, apparently, make publicly available. 

    "It’s just shocking," Myrna Pérez, an expert on voting rights and election administration at Brennan Center for Justice, told Mother Jones on Friday, "that in a period where we know that there’s a risk that we have foreign interference and foreign attacks on our registration systems, that somebody thinks it’s a good idea to take the voter registration rolls in all 50 states and put them all together in one place."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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              Senate speaker mourns fallen Laikipia senator   
    Nairobi,KENYA:Senate speaker Ekwe Ethuro has sent a message of condolence to the family of Laikipia senator GG Kariuki following his demise Friday  morning. In a statement Ethuro said that he received the news about  the death of the legislator with great shock while on an official duty out of the country. He described Kariuki as a political  mentor whenever he used to discharge his senatorial duties and will be greatly missed by the legislature. He said that he is with the family  during this trying and difficult moment. Mr Kariuki passed on at a Nairobi hospital aged 78. He was a veteran politician and the oldest senator of the 11th Parliament. The senator, who joined politics in 1959, served in the governments of President Daniel Arap Moi and founding father ,President Jomo Kenyatta.
              Blog Post: House OKs 'Kate's Law,' Bill Targeting Sanctuary Cities   
    The House of Representatives passed bills targeting illegal immigration Thursday, advancing to the Senate measures that would pull federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities and enhance federal punishments for immigrants who have been deported and re-enter the country.
              Blog Post: 2018 Defense Bills Offer Competing Views On DOD Priorities   
    Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Wednesday completed markups for their versions of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, offering similar overall budget levels but differing on a number of key policy points, from funding fighter jets to proposed acquisition and management reforms.
              FreedomWorks Supports President Trump’s Call for Clean Repeal, Then Replace   

    FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon fully supports President Donald Trump’s call for clean repeal of ObamaCare, with solutions to improve the healthcare system coming after repeal. He released this statement:

    “We completely agree with President Trump. Virtually every Republican has campaigned on repealing ObamaCare for the better part of a decade. In fact, almost every House and Senate Republican voted to repeal most of ObamaCare in 2015. This is the one aspect of this on which conservative grassroots activists and Republicans agree. We can come back later and work on patient-centered, free market-based replacement provisions.

    “We urge Republican leadership in both chambers to heed President Trump’s call and fulfill their promise to repeal ObamaCare when they come back from recess. Let’s get this done and begin the process of putting the American healthcare system on sustainable course.”


              Only in Washington Can Limiting the Growth of a Government Program Be Called A "Spending Cut"   

    The Congressional Budget Office released a report Thursday on the long-term spending effects of the Senate version of H.R. 1628, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Unfortunately, Democrats and some in the mainstream media are already spinning the report, claiming that it shows that the bill will cut Medicaid spending. That's wholly inaccurate.

    We've already seen this stories related to Medicaid spending. When White House adviser Kellyanne Conways said the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) didn't cut Medicaid, Time ran a story with the headline, "Kellyanne Conway Says the Senate Health Care Bill Doesn't Cut Medicaid. That's Not True." Politifact claimed her statement was "mostly false."

    Another round of stories are hitting the Internet now, and they're making similar claims; that the BCRA cuts Medicaid spending.

    The report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) offered a look at Medicaid spending under the BCRA in second ten-year window, 2027 through 2036. Currently, Medicaid is an open-ended entitlement program, which means that there are no real limitations on the amount of federal funding for it. The BCRA doesn't repeal Medicaid expansion, though the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) would be reduced from 90 percent to 85 percent in 2021, from 85 percent to 80 percent in 2022, and from 80 percent to 75 percent in 2023.

    The bill would, however, limit seeks to change this in 2025 and after by limiting the rate of growth to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), which, for 2016, was 2.1 percent. Between 2010 and 2016, Medicaid grew at a 5.6 percent rate. Gross domestic product (GDP), in nominal dollars, grew by 3.5 percent. Between 1962 and 2015, Medicaid grew at a 16.9 percent rate, while nominal GDP growth was almost 6.8 percent.

    The CBO report doesn't state that there will be an overall cut in Medicaid spending. What the report says is that the program will grow at a slower rate compared to its extended baseline projections, which can be found in its July 2016 publication, The 2016 Long-Term Budget Outlook.

    "In CBO’s assessment, Medicaid spending under the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would be 26 percent lower in 2026 than it would be under the agency’s extended baseline, and the gap would widen to about 35 percent in 2036." the CBO explained. "Under CBO’s extended baseline, overall Medicaid spending would grow 5.1 percent per year during the next two decades, in part because prices for medical services would increase. Under this legislation, such spending would increase at a rate of 1.9 percent per year through 2026 and about 3.5 percent per year in the decade after that." (Emphasis added.)

    Again, Medicaid spending will continue to grow. It will only grow at a slower rate that exists under current law. As OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said back in May, "There are no Medicaid cuts in the terms of what ordinary human beings would refer to as a cut. We are not spending less money one year than we spent before."


              Cronyism is Killing America   
    Cronyism Kills

    The growth of America’s government may soon be outpaced by growth of the average waistline new indicators reveal. Rates of obesity have been increasing over the past several decades, but are now reaching some incredible levels. Currently it's estimated that well over one-third of adults are classified as obese and nearly two-thirds are classified as overweight. Perhaps more distressing is the recent discovery that one in six children are suffering from obesity.

    Voices in Congress are now calling for action to take on the growing epidemic, but as usual the government’s so called solution fails to address the root of the problem.

    The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act is the latest reincarnation of a bipartisan effort to alter how the federal government handles obesity. Advocates claim that by expanding funding for weight reduction focused medication that obesity can finally be defeated.

    In actuality the bill is little more than a cash grab by pharmaceutical companies who have been lobbying Democratic leadership for years for another expansion of the deeply flawed Medicare Part D. Even if the bill is passed it will have only a marginal impact on national health and actually increase healthcare spending according to the government’s own estimates.

    So if increasing corporate welfare to politically connected pharmaceutical companies won’t defeat obesity, what will? Reducing corporate welfare to politically connected agricultural companies.

    Congress is in a committed love affairs with major agriculture corporations and has been for years. Every year, billions of dollars are funneled to major firms that produce select crops, notably corn and soy. Subsidies to corn, as it turns out, incentivize over production of the crop, which in turns leads the industry to attempt and find a use for the excess product.

    More often than not, large quantities of corn, or its byproducts, are turned into junk food with little to no nutritional value. Agricultural subsidies, in their current form, are in effect creating and fueling the obesity epidemic in America.

    The unsavory consequences of these policies have been widely studied and been made readily available to lawmakers. Leaders in other industrialized nations have taken note and are not facing the same magnitude of issues surrounding weight in their nations.

    By interfering in the market process and providing artificial incentives to create unhealthy products lawmakers are directly culpable in the rising rates of obesity and related health problems. Creating an artificial demand for low nutritional food has flooded the market with low quality products that are a major contributor to the current public health crisis. In effect Congress is choosing to prioritize corporate profits over the nation’s health.

    If Congressional leaders are serious about reducing the burgeoning rates of obesity facing the country they will abandon crony projects like the Treat And Reduce Obesity Act and go after the root of the problem. Corporate welfare and crony capitalism are literally killing Americans in mass by artificially inflating the market with unhealthy food, expanding the handouts to more industries will not solve the problem.

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              Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform is Coming to Illinois   

    On June 23rd, the Illinois General Assembly passed a major Civil Asset Forfeiture reform bill, which is currently awaiting Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature. If vetoed, the bill is still likely to be enacted since it received full support in the senate and all but one vote in the house which is more than enough for a veto override. HB 303, if passed, would effectively reform the state’s Civil Asset Forfeiture laws by shifting the burden of proof from the citizens to the government and instead increasing it “from probable cause to a preponderance of evidence.

    The bill is relates to a process known as Civil Asset Forfeiture which allows police to take property (both physical and financial) from individuals who have been accused of a crime. One does not need to be convicted of a crime to have their assets seized through this type of forfeiture, merely accused.

    Under the new bill, law enforcement will be required to make a case for why property must be seized before it can be seized. Currently, the burden of proof is put on the citizens of Illinois who are forced to make an appeal once their property is taken in order to get it back (which is costly under state law and can take a while). This can prevent innocent individuals from losing rightfully acquired and unrelated material while preventing and cutting down on fraud.

    There are of course other reforms the bill pursues that would have a positive impact as well. The bill also bars seizures under $500, eliminates the requirement that citizens pay a 10 percent “cost bond” when appealing to get their property back, increases public reporting and transparency on Civil Asset Forfeiture, and requires police to make people more aware of how the process works.

    The impacts this could have would be felt quickly and have a long ranging effect. Between 2005 to 2015, state law enforcement has taken in $319 million while federal law enforcement has taken in $404 million for a combined total of $723 million. That is a lot of property and money the people of Illinois could be getting back should the bill pass.

    Likewise, there is evidence to suggest that it could greatly help the less fortunate. According to Reason Magazine, most of the seizures in Chicago over the past five years were specifically done in low-income and/or minority neighborhoods. During that time, law enforcement seized $150 million worth of assets, including “things like flashy jewelry, flatscreen TVs, and a copy of the Call of Duty: Ghosts video game” which seems a bit over encompassing for what were supposed to be the intended goals of Civil Asset Forfeiture.

    Overall, this is a great move for the state of Illinois and could serve as a model for future reform going forward. Unsurprisingly, Civil Asset Forfeiture reform has bipartisan support from both former Attorney General Eric Holder to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. This is exactly what is needed now and Illinois is taking a great step in the right direction. Supporting this legislation is exactly what Illinois needs and if passed it would be a monumental step in the right direction.


              By: Xennady   
    MikeK, I take your points, and I know I'm an outlier here when it comes to my low opinion about Bush. But I am extremely tired of so-called leaders who deliver us various forms of defeat, then congratulate themselves because they haven't brought us complete disaster. I put Bush and Nixon in this category, both. It seems an interesting parallel that Nixon and Bush had foreign policies requiring significant and important military commitments- Vietnam and Iraq- yet they both failed because they were unable to manage the domestic political scene. Nixon was undone by Watergate, after relentless harassment by his enemies, then forced to resign. If I recall Ford later went down to the leftist-run Congress begging them to meet our treaty commitment to South Vietnam, but they refused. I've long regarded the abandonment of South Vietnam as a terrible stain on the honor of the US, but now I read that Nixon did it deliberately, convinced it didn't matter if we let our Vietnamese allies get murdered by our enemies. Huh? And all after we had spent vast amounts of blood and treasure on the struggle, too. I'm sorry, I just can't accept that. But I suspect that if Nixon hadn't been so distracted and weakened by Watergate South Vietnam may have been able to survive anyway, especially if the left hadn't been able to cut off US support. Bush wasn't any better. It seems by now Republicans should have figured out that leftists aren't their friends, and developed some sort of countermeasures. Instead, Bush simply wouldn't respond, tamely accepting blame for disasters not his fault, accepting idiotic policies in the name false comity, and refusing to make obvious political attacks on his political enemies, which were a key part of his job. I know it's pointless to offer advice now, and of course everyone's hindsight is famously excellent, but for Pete's sake you don't need to be an architect to notice that a building is burning down, either. Again, the buck stopped with Bush. Period. When the democrat senate refused to act upon his nominees, he should done a little more about it than nothing at all. He should have been pointing out that they were refusing to act, perhaps he should have even gotten mad about it, using the power of his office to make his objections known. And it actually mattered, because if Bush had been able to get his people in place perhaps Moussoui's infamous laptop would have been opened, preventing 9/11. Failing that happy eventuality, he could have made a political case against the democrats, appropriately blaming them for their actions, resulting in weaker opposition that maybe wouldn't have been so bold as to derail the nation's entire political discourse over something so idiotic as the Plame affair. That never happened, obviously. Worse, much worse, Bush seemingly delighted in pushing policy loathed by the rank-and-file supporters of the GOP. The Bush Amnesty bill and the intense opposition it engendered is well known, but I also recall a proposal to rewrite labor law that would have had the effect of eliminating overtime pay. Being that the GOP is essentially a middle-class party, and many middle-class voters get overtime pay, this was essentially a direct attack by the Bush administration upon a huge segment of its support. Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, successful presidents who also had intransigent opposition, a hostile press, general bad times and grim brutal warfare to contend with during the times in office would never have made such a stupid mistake, enraging their supporters for trivial gain. For sake of brevity I'll refrain from discussing the 2008 economic collapse. Anyway, because Bush was regarded by the public as a failure, radical narcissist Barry Obama became president, throwing away all we had gained in Iraq either because of sheer moronic idiocy or vile treason. Ugh. Again, I know I'm an outlier. But I humbly suggest we stop accepting the excuses we're given and just face facts: Both Nixon and Bush were failed Presidents. They failed at home, and they failed abroad. We just don't have enough lipstick to make them stop being pigs. Alas.
              By: MikeK   
    "Plus, it was idiotic for Bush to accept the presence of Gorelick on the 9/11 commission, considering her role in causing it." It is helpful to recall the guerrilla war on Bush by the Democrat dominated Senate after 2000 and the Bush v Gore case. He could get no appointments confirmed and he left the DoJ in the hands of Clinton appointees until Gonzales tried to clean house 2 years later and was savaged by Democrats for doing so. Clinton fired all US Attorneys right after he was inaugurated. That included the ones investigating Whitewater. Rumsfeld was one of the few appointees at DoD by summer. Gorelick was a disaster but Bush may have had little choice by then. He is justifiably blamed for not trying harder. Nixon was a cold eyed realist who did pretty well but went too far in detente. The guy who let Vietnam go was Eisenhower who was asked by the French to help evacuate Dien Bien Phu or to use US airpower to help them break the siege.
              White House threatened Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with a National Enquirer story, the two allege   

    The most important legislative priority of President Trump’s administration so far is hanging by a thread in the Senate. The president of South Korea arrived in Washington on Thursday for talks as North Korea's nuclear threat increases. White House officials had wanted to focus public discussion...


              Senate Democrat blasts 'Obamaphone' over fraudulent findings, complete lack of oversight'   
    A new government audit finds more than a third of enrollees of the "Obamaphone" program may not be qualified -- among other fraudulent findings -- prompting a Senate Democrat to roundly criticize the program's "complete lack of oversight." A report ...
              Trump loves the Senate health-care plan. It would break all of his promises.   
    President Trump has said his health-care plan will be "something terrific” that will "lower premiums and deductibles” and have "insurance for everybody” without cutting Medicaid. Senate Republicans, though, apparently didn't get the memo, given that that their health-care bill would break every one of these promises — not that Trump seems to have noticed. The big […]
              Why Republicans are thinking of keeping an Obamacare tax on the rich   
    To fund changes that could make its health-care bill more palatable to critics, Senate Republicans are considering leaving in place one of the Affordable Care Act's taxes on the wealthiest Americans — a tax that has long been unpopular with conservatives. The details of which taxes would be scaled back and by how much haven't been […]
              The Asa's Health Care Pitch Edition   

    Governor Hutchinson’s
    critique of the Senate health care bill, the erection and destruction of the 10 Commandments monument, the U.S. Supreme Court and birth certificates for same-sex married couples and the appointment of Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland to U.S. Attorney — all covered on this week's podcast.

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              Wyden questions contact between Medicaid director and Arkansas   
    Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is raising questions about talks between Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dennis Smith, a Medicaid advisor to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

    Verma had a private consulting firm that did work for Arkansas. Under an agreement entered when she took the federal Medicaid job last year, she was banned from speaking to Arkansas health officials without a written waiver from Health Secretary Tom Price. Press reports said she was supposed to speak with Smith in mid-March.

    UPDATE: Arkansas Department of Human Services takes exception to Wyden's characterization. Spokeswoman Amy Webb said Verma "was not a consultant to the state and did not have a contract with us. I believe she did some consulting work for HPE, which is one of our contractors."

    Her ethics disclousre form says she received income  fro "Hewlett Packard Arkansas Medicaid" and her agreement on seeking waivers for work with related partieis said:

    “I provided consulting services to the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and-Virginia through SVC Inc. Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(d), I will seek a written authorization to participate personally and substantially in particular matters involving specific parties in which I know the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia are a party or represents a party.”

    Wyden distributed a letter and news release:

    “I am growing increasingly concerned that the Department of Health and Human Services is not effectively implementing its process to enforce Administrator Verma's ethics agreement and the standards of ethical conduct,” Wyden wrote in the letter to Elizabeth Fischmann, the Designated Agency Ethics Official for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Arkansas is listed repeatedly in Administrator Verma's ethics materials as a state with which she has a covered relationship, and yet there does not appear to be any authorization for her participation in the March 17 call based upon the approved waivers released to and by OGE in response to its data call.”

    This letter is the fourth that Sen. Wyden has sent to HHS regarding Verma’s compliance with ethical standards. To date, HHS has not supplied any substantive responses to these requests. This most recent letter was sent at a time when the Senate is considering close to $800 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program that Verma oversees.
    Wyden noted that a call to Smith appeared on Verma's calendar. Smith was hired under a deal where he was made a faculty member at UAMS, but would be spending most of his time advising on Medicaid issues. Smith, who came to Arkansas following a controversial period in Wisconsin, is paid $294,000 by Arkansas.

    Wyden said Verma got a waiver to speak with another Arkansas official three days before the March 17 call and she obtained a waiver for a later call as well, but none is reflected for the scheduled call with Smith.

    Wyden has asked a series of questions about the communications, including why a waiver should be granted for Verma to speak with Arkansas officials.

    Arkansas has an interest in winning approval from the CMS for a number of changes in the operation of the Medicaid expansion program. At the core of Wyden's letter: Should Arkansas be discussing such issues with someone it once employed (or had an arrangement with someone it employed)?

    Verma was based in Indiana and had close ties to Mike Pence,, former Indiana governor.

    PS: Coincidentally, Arkansas today submitted to CMS the waivers it needs to throw 60,000 people off the Medicaid expansion rolls by lowering the income qualification to 100 percent of poverty and imposing a work requirement.


              Thursday's open line   

    The Thursday open line, plus news and comment leading with the governor's criticism of the Senate health legislation. Somehow this didn't post last night.



              Trump nominates Cody Hiland to be U.S. attorney for eastern district   
    As expected, Donald Trump has nominated Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland of Conway to be U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. He must be confirmed by the Senate.

    Hiland's name was among nine U.S. attorney nominees put forward by Trump today, a second wave of appointments. He was known to be under consideration after FBI background checks began and meetings with U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman, both Republicans. Most of the 93 U.S. attorneys were fired or resigned after Trump took office. Career prosecutors are serving as interim leaders in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, where former Democratic Rep. Chris Thyer and Conner Eldridge had served respectively in the Obama administration.

    Prosecutors run now as non-partisans, but Hiland, who lost a judicial race last year, is a Republican regular. His prosecutor position covers Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy counties.

    He's been a lawyer in private practice, a staff attorney at the Public Service Commission and former program director for the Arkansas Transitional Employment Board. He was a staff aide to Gov. Mike Huckabee and is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas the UALR Law School.

              Opponent for Rapert starts campaign tonight   
    Sen. Jason Rapert, much in the news this week, won't pass the 2018 election without opposition.

    Maureen Skinner, a Democrat, is beginning her campaign with an event from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Brick Room in Conway. Facebook page here. Skinner, 46, who is a licensed psychological examiner in Conway, also has a campaign page. She's talking health care, jobs and education.

    Skinner has never run for office before. She said the 2016 national election left her feeling "on edge" and with a belief that "somebody needed to do something." After participating in the women's march in Little Rock, she said she decided that something would be a run for office. Skinner, one of a class of six when she graduated from high school in Fox, continued her education at UCA. She emphasized: "I'm running for the Senate, not against Jason Rapert." She said he spent enough time talking about Jason Rapert.

              Gov. Hutchinson says major change needed in Senate health legislation   
    Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined four major changes he'd like to see in Republican-backed health legislation pending in the Senate.

    In short, he said — if in more diplomatic words — the bill as written would be devastating to Arkansas. Hutchinson chose to put it more kindly. He said the Senate was moving in "the right direction" and said "the status quo is not acceptable."

    But he added: "There have to be significant changes in the current draft in order to give states like Arkansas options for the future and to continue coverage and not have a $500 million per year gap in our economy."

    He said he'd spoken to Arkansas's senators about this, but referred questions about their reaction to them. To date, Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman have resisted saying much of anything about the legislation, though Cotton was one of 13 white male Republicans who participated in the secret drafting.

    The shortcomings have been self-evident for some time in states like Arkansas that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion provided through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. House-passed and Senate-proposed legislation would obliterate the Medicaid expansion and also severely restrict traditional Medicaid coverage for the elderly and disabled by going to per capita distributions to states. Both changes would devastate Arkansas, with a large traditional Medicaid population and more than 300,000 people now covered by the Medicaid expansion. Hutchinson said the state was already making changes to reduce costs and state cooperation should be a goal of congressional action. Some 60,000 would lose coverage by reducing coverage for those making 138 percent of the poverty level to 100 percent and by instituting work rules.

    Hutchinson suggested these changes in what's under consideration:

    * Exempt those elderly, blind and disabled covered by traditional Medicaid from the per capita cap on spending. Otherwise, the cost would be shifted to the state, he said. (He said later it was OK to put children's coverage, Arkids, under a per capital program because they were generally lower cost.)

    * If the federal government moves to block grant funding for Medicaid, Hutchinson said the funding should include in the figuring the Medicaid expansion population. Some states didn't take the money. If the pot is redivided to cover all states equally, those who expanded will lose and those who didn't will gain. "This puts us in a difficult position to manage and maintain coverage," Hutchinson said. If the population is considered, he said, "the state can assume the risk and create savings and ensure coverage of the working poor."

    * Senate legislation must "redesign" the tax credits, or subsidies, for those covered in the health insurance marketplace. Hutchinson echoed critics of the Senate legislation who say the subsidies are so small as to be worthless.  "If the subsidy is not sufficient, an individual will decide they can't afford it." He said "there have to be sufficient subsidies to make it work."

    * The states must be given "flexibility" on how they spend money received under per capita reimbursements. He didn't specify some examples of what he had in mind. In some states, though, flexibility has meant not providing certain services (birth coverage for example) and measures co-pays, work, drug testing and other sometimes controversial ideas.

    Hutchinson acknowledged that the Medicaid expansion, now known as Arkansas Works, by law must end if federal support is reduced. That's not an immediate concern because actual reductions won't occur for several years into the plan now outlined in Senate legislation. "They've given us a long glide path," he said.

    Timing noted: Hutchinson finally weighed in with criticisms that have been voiced for weeks by many others following a week in which the Senate leadership's plan for a quick vote on the GOP fill apart because of he couldn't keep all Republican senators on board.

    Noted too: Hutchinson refused to talk taxes — either those to pay for his expanded vision of health coverage and the windfall for the wealthy envisioned in the pending bill.

    Just yesterday, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families gave some idea of the blow the Senate bill would deliver to rural health care.

              How bad are Trump's judges? A Little Rock native illustrates   
    We've written before about Little Rock native John Bush, the Louisville lawyer nominated by Donald Trump for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He comes Federalist Society-certified, which is bad enough, but his record as an opinion further illustrates his lack of fitness for the bench, particularly when it comes to a demonstrated animus toward gay people and women's abortion rights. He also professed a lack of knowledge or awareness of any divisiveness spawned by Brown v. Board of Education. Yes, a Little Rock native knew of no fallout from the seminal desegregation ruling that ultimately brought federal troops to the city of his birth.

    An article in his hometown Louisville Courier-Journal, where his wife, also a lawyer, contributes a similar right-winged opinion column, illustrates just how bad Bush is. And he's little different from many others Trump has nominated. Even some Republican senators have been taken aback by Bush, but apparently have been brought into line by Republican leadership to approve. They believe him today when he says he really didn't mean all the ugly things he's written. Lying then or lying now? It's a bad bet for an enforcer of the Constitution.

    Bush's strategy now is to duck questions about his blogging.

    Trying to save his nomination to a federal appeals court, Louisville attorney John K. Bush has evaded questions about blog posts in which he equated abortion with slavery as America’s greatest tragedies, denounced gay marriage and embraced other conservative views.

    Responding to written questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about his more than 400 posts on hot-button issues, Bush repeatedly said “my personal views are irrelevant to the position for which I have been nominated.”

    He refused to answer questions about commentaries in which he criticized public financing or raised doubts about global warming, saying the questions call "upon me to weigh in on a political debate, which I cannot ethically do as a nominee for judicial office.”

    Asked why he joined the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group whose Louisville chapter he co-founded, he said, “I believed that membership ... would help me learn about interesting legal topics that I might not otherwise encounter in my practice.”
    He is not alone. Trump has turned his appointments over to the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. With Supreme Court appointee Neal Gorsuch already forming a block with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, the future is not bright.

              The Latest: State Senate passes $43.7 billion budget   


              NY Times:  The False Premise Behind GOP Tax Cuts   
    New York Times editorial, The False Premise Behind G.O.P. Tax Cuts: With the Senate effort to upend Obamacare suspended for the Fourth of July holiday, there’s a chance to step back and examine the assumptions behind Republicans’ longstanding objections to the social safety net — as well as the flaws...
              Do not Take Away Health Care from Millions, Civil and Human Rights Coalition warns Senate   
    WASHINGTON (TIP): Civil and Human Rights Coalition demanded that Senate must listen to the people and not take away health care from millions. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in […]
              UWF economist: Corcoran has Florida bringing a knife to the gunfight for economic development   
    Dr. Rick Harper believes that Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s efforts to dismantle Gov. Rick Scott’s business incentives programs invited those involved in economic development to “bring a knife to a gunfight.” “Speaker Corcoran felt comfortable in disarming you and saying that you no longer have that tool available,” Harper told Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity at the NAIOP Northwest Florida’s Annual Economic Summit on Wednesday. “I mean, thank God, we got Triumph through with the provisions it does have in it because it’s substantially better than nothing.” Harper is an associate professor of marketing and economics at the University of West Florida. He was the director of UWF’s Center for Research and Economic Opportunity, which helped the university play a more significant role in economic development and job growth in Northwest Florida. From 2012-2014, Harper served as Senior Policy Advisor for Economic Affairs to the Florida Senate. He explained that businesses, particularly those in manufacturing, look for cash grants before locating to a new area. Alabama and Georgia have such incentive programs. Location consultants bring clients “to the table where they sit with government leaders who are saying, ‘Yes, we can give you […]
              GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   

    President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

    The influential Koch network, backed...


              Democratic Senate staffers are mostly white and women, new report says   
    People working for Democractic senators are overwhelmingly white and mostly women, according to a first-of-its-kind report on diversity in some congressional offices. The current Congress is the most diverse in history, with more minority lawmakers than ever before and a record 21 women in the U.S. Senate.
              UCC leaders speak out for affordable health care for all during interfaith vigil at U.S. Capitol   

    Leaders, clergy and members of the United Church of Christ shared personal stories and drew parallels to Scripture Thursday during a 23-hour prayer vigil at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as Senate Republicans continued drafting a law to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.


              Trevor Noah Takes Down Senate's 'Odious' Trumpcare Plans   
    “It’s like a fireman running into a burning building and saving the fire instead of the baby,” Noah says.
              Congress authorizes boost of CT-made weapons systems   
    WASHINGTON — House and Senate Armed Services panels have finished work on bills that would allow increased submarine production and boost the Pentagon’s authority to buy Sikorsky-made helicopters and F-35 fighter jets whose engines are made by Pratt & Whitney.
              Bill Allowing Pence To Run For Two Offices Likely Dead   
    Lawmakers say the bill that would allow Pence to run for both governor and president in 2016 likely won't even get a hearing in the state Senate.
              Comment on Former Virginia Trump Campaign Co-Chair: Under Senate Health Bill, Virginia is “Screwed in Perpetuity” for Blocking Medicaid Expansion  by Quizzical   
    Of course we all knew that all along but it is amazing to hear even one person from the Republican side admit the truth.
              Comment on Open Forum: July 1, 2017 by OldOzzie   
    <a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/liberals-under-turnbull-have-elevated-politicking-over-policy/news-story/b91f94942f8ef291b74c56f8544b7534" rel="nofollow">Liberals under Turnbull have elevated politicking over policy</a> <em>How did it come to this for the Coalition? And what is the way forward? At heart, the answer is quite simple but the complexities of personalities and politicking have complicated the descent and will hinder any recovery. Elected in a landslide just four years ago, the Liberals have ­frittered their mandate, undermined public confidence, failed on the most important task of budget repair and gone some way to ­making a Shorten Labor government inevitable. Linking poor policy, clumsy politics and susceptibility to personality-driven leadership solutions is straight-talking — or rather the lack of it. As George ­Orwell explained better than anyone, the retreat from direct language in politics is a symptom and a cause of muddled thinking. We cannot think with clarity if we don’t speak plainly, and vice versa. The Liberals have fallen into the leftist whirlpool of spin. They have succumbed to what is poison for the centre-right — fashion. Tempted to endear themselves to the progressives of the media/political class, they have forgotten their core value, the primacy of good sense over superficial appeal. Like the inch-deep state Labor model that Kevin Rudd took to Canberra, they have elevated ­politicking over policy substance. This has manifested itself in meaningless rhetoric, aimless positioning and an obvious lack of policy coherence. Superficial language has encouraged superficial policy, and vice versa. The damage is anything but superficial. It is substantive and long term — for the party and the nation. On climate, energy, education and fiscal repair the Liberals have surrendered policy strength and differentiation. Nods to fashion have them almost indistinguishable in practical terms from what is now a deeply green-left ALP. As we contemplate the prospect of a Shorten-Di Natale government that would deliver higher taxes, deeper deficits, more debt and higher power prices, we need to comprehend that this is precisely the formula that has been delivered so far by the Coalition. The difference is only in degree. Perhaps the only clear policy contrast is the extent of accountability for unions. It should have been impossible for a Coalition government to drift down this path. The Liberals have not been prepared to speak simple truths; to argue unpalatable facts. (Let’s leave the Nationals out of this for now because they have been largely innocent spectators as their Coalition partners have fallen into dysfunction.) There are pivotal aspects of important national debates that are obvious to any well-informed voter or self-evident to the common sense of mainstream Australians but are never mentioned in direct terms by Liberal politicians. The only people who seem to be prepared to say what they think are political outliers such as Pauline Hanson; she is prone to wade in without nuance or factual ballast yet still wins a political dividend just for engaging on the tough issues. The debate, otherwise, is constrained like a polite dinner party within invisibly delineated, politically correct boundaries set by the media/political class Take climate policy. No Liberal politicians, much less those in cabinet, will even discuss modelling and observations on global warming, preferring to inoculate themselves from leftist attacks by repeating meaningless mantras about “believing” in climate change. You may as well say you believe in tides. The dinner table debate on ­climate assumes two enduring myths: that scientific research has settled on a climate trajectory; and that Australia’s emissions reductions will make a difference. So it is all about how we cut emissions. Significant developments such as the publication in Nature Geo­science this month of a paper by Benjamin Santer and others (including Michael E. Mann) on differences between modelling and measured warming are ignored. “Over most of the early 21st century, however, model tropospheric warming is substantially larger than observed,” these pre-eminent scientists found. “We conclude that model overestimation of tropospheric warming in the early 21st century is partly due to systemic deficiencies in some of the post-2000 external forcings used in mode simulations.” Hold the presses. They are ­admitting warming is not as bad as they predicted. And they don’t ­really know why — so much for the science being settled. Given that politicians are at the forefront of emissions reduction, renewable energy and taxation policies designed to reduce global warming, they should be engaged in discussing crucial facts about the problem they claim to be ­solving. Voters may just be interested. Even if, for argument’s sake, we accept the most alarmist forecasts we still hear no politicians addressing the manifest futility of our policy responses. We are told to accept the world’s most expensive electricity at diminished reliability to meet non-enforceable emissions reductions targets that are ignored or not even set by many nations and cannot make the slightest difference to the global environment because they are being dwarfed by much larger increases in emissions overseas. Few things could be more important to the economy and national debate of this energy-rich nation; yet this element of debate is studiously ignored by Liberals — presumably for fear of attracting the opprobrium of the media/political class. Tony Abbott speaks plainly about it now, only after ­losing the prime ministership. Likewise in education, Liberals do not point out that all the available evidence suggests increased expenditure will not improve our declining standards. Instead, they will borrow and spend an extra $23.5 billion and claim virtue ­because this is less reckless than Labor’s goal. On fiscal repair, the Liberals ­accept what the parliament may allow, effectively offering a budget veto to Labor, Greens and crossbench senators. Cold arithmetic dictates what can pass the Senate but where is the advocacy for more reform and less spending? The Liberals under Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull invented new taxes, directly contradicting their narrative and ideological wellspring. They broke promises. Plain speaking gave way to weasel words as they tried to compete with Labor’s disingenuous “fairness” argument. This week Abbott spoke clearly about the financial and strategic madness of buying inferior submarines at a higher cost with longer delays when better, more cost-effective and timely nuclear options are available. Again, this clarity clashed with his language and actions as prime minister, highlighting how the hidden inhibitions of power seem to undermine logical decision-making and unvarnished arguments. To revive their fortunes and defeat Labor, the Liberals must get back to their roots of rational and pragmatic policy based on frank and honest debate. This is their foundation. This conviction came to me in adulthood, as it does for many, after a misspent youth of ideological delusion. Writing in Quadrant this month my News Corp colleague Tim Blair explained his centre-right conversion in perceptively blunt terms. “The best part of adopting conservatism after years of leftism, by the way, is how much easier life becomes,” he concluded. “If you’re a conservative, facts are generally all you need to establish a case or mount an argument. If you’re a leftist, however, you always have to find a way around the facts, which is why combative lefties always sound like lawyers knowingly representing a guilty client.” Here lies the secret of the ­Coalition’s present disarray and future revival. They’ve forgotten first principles and need to examine facts, debate practical solutions and fight to deliver them. Compromise will always have its way but they might start with conviction instead of guardedness, and give us clarity before endless subclauses. Orwell argued that just as our language becomes “ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish” so too does the “slovenliness of our language” make it easier for us to entertain foolish thoughts. Damn straight.</em>
              Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act   
    A new MP3 sermon from VCY America is now available on SermonAudio.com with the following details:

    Title: Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act
    Subtitle: Crosstalk America
    Speaker: Jim Schneider
    Broadcaster: VCY America
    Event: Radio Broadcast
    Date: 6/29/2017
    Length: 54 min. (64kbps)

    Overview: For several years, we've heard over and over again that a GOP led Congress and Senate would repeal the Affordable Care Act -Obamacare-. Vote after vote was taken for just such a repeal but it never went anywhere. Do Republicans really want to repeal-
              The Political Junkie Talks Healthcare Divide And Press Restrictions   
    The Republican party divides over the senate's version of a healthcare bill, the White House bans cameras and recording devices from press briefings, Democrats go 0 - 4 in special congressional elections, which is causing division in their party, and President Trump continues his claims about fake news.
              U.S. Attorneys named for Mississippi    
    Senator Thad Cochran issued the following statement.

    President Trump Nominates Mike Hurst of Madison & Chad Lamar of Oxford to Top Prosecutorial Positions

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today welcomed the White House announcement that President Trump intends to nominate D. Michael Hurst of Madison and William Chadwick (Chad) Lamar of Oxford to serve as U.S. Attorneys for Mississippi.

    A White House statement issued Thursday announced the President's choice of Hurst to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi and Lamar to be the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.  Cochran and Wicker recommended Hurst and Lamar, both of whom have served as Assistant U.S. Attorneys in their respective districts.

    "I am pleased that Mike Hurst and Chad Lamar have been chosen for these important positions of public trust.  Both are talented attorneys who are well-qualified to serve the nation and Mississippi well," Cochran said.  "I will do all I can to support the timely consideration of their nominations."

    "President Trump made the right call by nominating Hurst and Lamar to lead the U.S. Attorneys' offices in Mississippi," Wicker said.  "These experienced men are up to the task at hand and have wide support across the state.  I am hopeful that the Senate will take up their confirmation without delay."

    In their earlier recommendation to the President, Cochran and Wicker said, "Mike and Chad are exceptionally well-qualified to take on the important and challenging role of U.S. Attorney.  We are confident they would serve our state and our nation with integrity and enthusiasm."

                The Hurst and Lamar nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.  Within their districts, U.S. Attorneys are responsible for being the chief prosecutors for the United States in criminal and civil law cases.

    Hurst is currently director of the Mississippi Justice Institute, a division of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.  He served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Jackson from 2006 to 2015, working the criminal division.  Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's office, Hurst was legislative director and counsel to U.S. Representative Chip Pickering (R-Miss.), as well as counsel to the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.  Hurst is a graduate of Millsaps College and the George Washington University Law School.

    Lamar has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District since 1991, serving in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions.  He is currently the chief of the Criminal Division, and has extensive management experience within the Office of the U.S. Attorney.  Lamar has degrees from Millsaps College, the University of Mississippi Lamar School of Law, and the Boston University School of Law.


    Sent from my BlackBerry Priv

              State Roundup, June 30, 2017   
    House panel OKs stripping $200 million for new FBI headquarters, imperiling plans for Maryland location; among laws to take effect Saturday: a bill to protect funding for Planned Parenthood if federal cuts occur, one that would give tuition breaks to some out of state students and one to more closely monitor opioid prescriptions; Gov. Hogan headed for an appointment showdown with two secretaries re-appointed, paid without Senate approval; delay possible in Maryland gerrymander case; and HUD chief Carson seeks expansion of privatizing public housing.
              Illinois Senate's top Republican to quit this week; still no budget deal in sight   
    Updates with details of planned vote Friday — Illinois' Senate minority leader is calling it quits come Saturday. Republican Sen. ChristineRadogno'sannouncement Thursday came as lawmakers are still trying to nail down an elusive budget deal. Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan said he'll call a $36.5 billion spending plan for a vote Friday while Democrats and Republicans continue to negotiate tangential issues crucial to a state budget deal with Gov. Bruce Rauner.The Chicago Democrat reiterated Thursday that in order to pay for that plan, there would need to be an income-tax hike, though no legislation for that has been filed.
              University Says It Won't Seek State Funds For Arts Campus; Greitens Vetoes Bill Anyway   
    Update: This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. to include Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' veto statement. Despite gaining approval from the Missouri House and Senate for $48 million in state bond funding for its proposed Downtown Campus for the Arts, the University of Missouri Board of Curators announced today that it would instead "develop plans for an alternative funding match ... rather than seek funding from the state under the 50-50 matching program for capital projects."
              Cruz insurance proposal underscores trouble with protecting pre-existing conditions   
    Health insurers are nervous about a new deregulation proposal by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that could be added to the Senate Republicans' struggling legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
              Senate seeks DOD ban on Kaspersky software   
    The Senate has proposed banning the military from using Kaspersky Lab's cybersecurity software due to potential Russian government influence.
              Mental healthcare in the crosshairs of Senate health reform bill    
    The Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could reverse progress in expanding access to behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, experts say.
              Health Care On Hold as Senate Republican Leaders Find Consensus on New Provisions   
    President Trump suggested in a tweet if Senate Republicans can't agree on a health care bill, they should immediately repeal ObamaCare then to try to replace it later. FOX's Jared Halpern has more from Capitol Hill: Senate Republican leaders ... [visit site to read more]
              House Approves Two Immigration Enforcement Bills – President Trump Hopes Senate Follows   
    Two immigration enforcement measures touted by President Trump have won approval in the Republican-controlled House. FOX's Jared Halpern has more from Capitol Hill: A pair of near party-line votes in the House approves two immigration ... [visit site to read more]
              POLITICS: GOP chairmen may join Dems to preserve Obama auto regs   
    At least one top Senate Republican is working with Democrats hoping to safeguard Obama-era fuel economy standards from Trump administration rollbacks.
              Texas Attorney General Paxton Attack on DREAMers: Urging President Trump to Phase-Out DACA   
    Commentary: AUSTIN - Senator Sylvia R. Garcia, Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus issued the following statement in regard to Attorney General Paxton urging President Trump to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order or risk further litigation: "This is an unwarranted attack on immigrant youth, known as DREAMers, that have done nothing but go to school, pay taxes, attend college, and work to better their lives, Texas and the United States of America. Without DACA, these students would be forced back into the shadows with no employment authorization, no access to identification, and it would undermine the Texas investment in their education. Regardless of the naysayers, I certainly hope they are not thought of as anything other than what they are -- bright young men and women who will enrich our country and are more than worth the small investment we make in their future. There is no justification to end the DACA policy, except to perpetuate fear and
              Udall Demands Answers from Pruitt on Decision Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos   
    Commentary: WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) , ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s budget, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt demanding answers about his March 29 decision to reject a petition that sought to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with neurodevelopmental disorders in children and acute poisonings of farm workers. In denying the petition, Pruitt reversed the EPA’s proposed ban on the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops — and rejected the scientific determination of EPA’s professional staff linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage and farmer and bystander poisoning. The letter comes following a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the EPA’s FY18 budget, during which Udall pressed Pruitt to provide an explanation for why he overruled the judgment of EPA’s professional staff and reversed EPA’s decision to ban all chlorpyrifos food tolerances, which allow
              End Citizens United Endorses Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate   
    Commentary: EL PASO, TX -- End Citizens United (ECU) announced it is endorsing Representative Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate in Texas. As one of the strongest and most principled advocates for getting Big Money out of politics, O’Rourke has pledged not to take any special interest money and will entirely fund his campaign through individual donors. “Our decision to endorse Beto was an easy one. He stands as a progressive champion and the future of our party with a determined focus to give the people a voice in our democracy. He’s running against the worst of Washington in Senator Ted Cruz who has sold out Texans for the special interests at every opportunity,” said End Citizens United President and Executive Director Tiffany Muller. “Beto is dedicated to reforming the system and has the grit to do right by the people of Texas. As we look ahead to 2018, we must focus on proven issues that resonate with voters across the political spectrum, like getting Big Money out of politics. There
              New CBO Report Finds Deep Medicaid Cuts in GOP Bill   


    The Senate health care bill’s Medicaid cuts would grow even deeper after a decade, according to a new report Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, leaving more people without coverage...

    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
              GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   

    President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

    The influential Koch network, backed...


              Together We Came: Ray LaHood   

    Ray_LaHood_official_portrait.jpgBy Annie Riley

    “Arab Americans have made America a great country. You should never run away from that. You should never be ashamed of it. We should be proud of it,” exclaimed Raymond H. “Ray” LaHood, a proud second generation Arab American and life-long public servant. LaHood represented Illinois’ 18th congressional district in the US House of Representatives for 14 years before serving as the 16th Secretary of Transportation under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013. 

    Back in 1895, LaHood’s grandparents left their small village of Aitou, Lebanon in search of a better future. The couple settled in Peoria, Illinois, a little over 150 miles southwest of Chicago. Commenting on his grandparents’ decision to settle in Peoria, LaHood acknowledges the seemingly random choice, stating “The only thing that we can figure out is that, when they came through Ellis Island, they didn’t particularly like New York. And the train stopped in Peoria. I mean, we can’t think of any other reason. Can you?” Thanks to immigrants like LaHood’s grandparents and the grandparents of Randy Couri, Peoria established a large Arab American community and helped to enrich the culture of the small, Midwest city.

    LaHood was born in 1945 in Peoria, to his Lebanese American father Edward and his mother Mary of German descent. Edward and Mary LaHood operated a restaurant and bar. Although LaHood’s father never graduated high school, he valued education and pushed for his sons, Mike, Ray, and Steve to get an education. LaHood graduated from what is now Peoria Notre Dame High School and went on to pursue a degree in education and sociology at Canton Junior College and then Bradley University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science. 

    Following university, LaHood worked as a junior high social studies teacher for six years. Through teaching the younger generation about United States’ history and government, he developed a desire to enter public service. LaHood left his job as a teacher and worked for the Youth Services Bureau, Congressman Tom Railsback (R-IL), the Illinois House of Representatives, and US House Minority Leader Robert Michel (R-IL). Following Michel’s retirement in 1994, LaHood announced his candidacy for the 18th congressional district and won the seat in the US House of Representatives.

    LaHood dedicated his 14 years in Congress to representing the people of Illinois and promoting bipartisanism. The Republican congressman maintained his moral and political ground and gained respect across party lines. Known for his fair and even-keeled style, LaHood presided over more debates than any other member of congress during his time in office, most notably the 1998 debate concerning the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

    Barack_Obama_joking_with_Ray_LaHood_2010.jpgUpon the 2004 election of President Barack Obama to represent Illinois in the Senate, LaHood and Obama vowed to work together for their home state. This bipartisan relationship continued through Obama’s election as President in 2008 when Obama named LaHood Secretary of Transportation. LaHood was not the only Republican in Obama’s first cabinet, but he was the only Arab American. 

    As Secretary, LaHood set out to fix the state infrastructure system; he told Diane Rehm, “America is one big pothole … At one time … we were the leader in infrastructure. We built the interstate system. It’s the best road system in the world, and we’re proud of it. But we’re falling behind other countries, because we have not made the investments.” During his tenure, LaHood oversaw more than 15,000 public works projects, including launching a campaign against distracted driving, building high-speed railways, increasing bike and walk paths, safeguarding the rights of aircraft passengers, and raising fuel efficiency standards for cars. Despite his successes, LaHood chose to step down in 2013 perhaps due to a lack of bipartisanism and funding. Although LaHood has retired from public service, his son Rep. Darin LaHood, continues the tradition of service. Americans are grateful for the LaHoods' dedication to public service, and AAI has honored Ray and his son Darin at AAI’s Khalil Gibran “Spirit of Humanity” Awards Gala

    LaHood’s parents and grandparents sacrificed their education so that their children and their children’s children could succeed. LaHood recognizes the impact that his family and community made on him, stating, “we have stood on the shoulders of those who came before … I’m very proud to be a Republican in President Obama’s administration.  But I’m even prouder to be the only Lebanese – the only Arab American – in the president’s cabinet.” LaHood attributes his success to the hard work and values his family and community instilled in him: “the importance of family, of family values, the importance of education, and the importance of playing by the rules.” Ray LaHood has left a legacy of bipartisanship that continues to inspire many public servants and Arab Americans.

    Read more stories about Arab immigrants and their descendants on the "Together We Came" main page.


    Annie Riley is a 2017 summer intern at the Arab American Institute. 


              A.M. Roundup: Polluter permit fees leave DEC in the red   
    Good morning and happy Friday! Move all the indoor chores to the top of the honey-do list on this pre-holiday weekend: The forecast predicts rain every day from now through Sunday. The Fourth, though, looks pretty good. It’s all over in Albany — for reals this time — after the Senate passed the omnibus bill
              Senate passes omnibus extraordinary session bill   
    The state Senate passed Thursday afternoon legislation approved by the Assembly overnight that extends sales taxes in more than 50 counties for three years and mayoral control of New York City schools for two years, among myriad other actions.  The unofficial vote in the Senate was 48-2, meaning 13 members did not vote. The lone no votes
              Robert Parry: NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard   
    The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.

    The reality of a more narrowly based Russia-gate assessment was admitted in May by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan in sworn congressional testimony.

    Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8 that the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI, “a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community,” the former DNI said.

    Clapper further acknowledged that the analysts who produced the Jan. 6 assessment on alleged Russian hacking were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and NSA.

    Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.

    But Hilary repeats the bold faced lie:

    For instance, on May 31 at a technology conference in California, Clinton referred to the Jan. 6 report, asserting that “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.”

    Consortium News

    NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard


              Effects Of The Better Care Reconciliation Act Of 2017 On Medicaid Spending - The Senate Version Of Trumpcare    

    from the Congressional Budget Office

    Medicaid spending under the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would be about 35 percent lower in 2036 compared with CBO's extended baseline. Such spending under the bill would increase each year throughout the next two decades.

    Read more ...


              After CBO Medicaid analysis, Republicans suddenly aren't talking about how their cuts aren't cuts   

    Campaign Action

    Notice what Republicans are not talking about this Friday? Medicaid and how $772 billion in cuts isn't really a cut. No Republican has tweeted out any distorted graphs purporting to prove that cuts aren't cuts and really, they're adding money. They're not talking about Medicaid at all. Particularly not about that Congressional Budget Office analysis talking about how funding will be 26 percent lower relative to current law in 2026 and 35 percent lower in 2036.

    While the CBO warns that projecting beyond the first decade is difficult, the new report estimates that the slower growth rate would drive relative spending down even further in the second decade. By 2036, the government would spend 35 percent less on Medicaid than it would under current law.

    If states couldn’t find ways to administer the program more efficiently, they would be forced to raise taxes, cut benefits, heighten eligibility requirements, or reduce payments to doctors and hospitals to make up the decline.

    According to CBO, the reduce spending would likely mean states would cover fewer people. The report predicted “enrollment in Medicaid would continue to fall relative to what would happen under the extended baseline.”

    Democrats, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), have no problem talking about who asked the CBO for this evaluation. "This analysis makes clear that the massive cuts to Medicaid are only going to get worse," he said "These cuts will leave states with unfathomable choices like whether sick children get essential treatment or pregnant women get prenatal care or older Americans can receive adequate nursing home care."

    These cuts make the Senate version of Trumpcare even worse than the House version, and are a key part of why America hates this bill so much. That's opposed to the massive support—74 percent approval—Medicaid has with the public. When this KFF poll was conducted, just 4 in 10 knew about the deep cuts to Medicaid the proposal would make. As the new CBO analysis generates headlines, though, that awareness will increase. So will people's anger at Republicans about what they're trying to do.

    The end of Medicaid as we know it? No exaggeration. The Senate version of Trumpcare has worse long-term cuts to Medicaid than the House version, to pay for tax breaks to the wealthy. Call your Republican senator at (202) 224-3121, and give them a piece of your mind. Tell us how it went.


              McConnell totally ignores Trump, says Trumpcare discussions will continue over recess   

    Campaign Action

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell apparently doesn't think much—or anything—of the big "repeal now" idea popular vote loser Donald Trump has decided to sign on to. He's in Kentucky, and from there had his Communications Director David Popp release this statement.

    Member discussions and calls are ongoing within the Conference and Administration as staff continues their work. Leader McConnell is back in Kentucky and will be fully engaged during the State Work Period."

    So the big contribution to the debate from Trump (and Sens. Ben Sasse [NE] and Rand Paul [KY]) isn't worth even acknowledging or commenting on, and also too, there won't be a bill going to the Congressional Budget Office for a score today, as McConnell had planned.

    This is a definite setback, but that doesn't mean we can let up in the pressure. Keep calling, and since at least some senators will be going home, show up at their offices. Particularly Mitch McConnell's, since we know he's home.

    We delayed Trumpcare—for now. But the GOP leadership is hell-bent on denying health insurance, and is working hard to coerce Republican senators. We need three Republicans to stand firm. Call your senator at (202) 224-3121 and tell them “NO DEAL.” Then, tell us how it went.


              Senate Republicans shoot down Obamacare repeal trial balloon, Rand Paul and Trump double down on it   

    Campaign Action

    Most Senate Republicans are all but laughing at popular vote loser Donald Trump and their fellow senators Ben Sasse (NE) and Rand Paul (KY) for the harebrained suggestion that they just do repeal of Obamacare now and figure the hard stuff out later. It's a lead balloon.

    • "Not going to happen," said one senior GOP aide. "15 votes for that strategy. Which is why we are where we are."
    • Another senior GOP aide went further, saying if the president continues his erratic messaging, "Not really seeing anything happening in July if this keeps up."
    • And a third GOP aide said the chances of repealing first and replacing later are "zero."

    That's not going to stop Paul from running to the microphones to claim credit for the idea (it came from Sasse) and to say that Trump is all for it.

    "Senator Rand Paul suggested this very idea to the President," Paul's spokesman Sergio Gor told Yahoo News Friday. "He fully agrees that we must immediately repeal Obamacare and then work on replacing it right away."

    That's not going to happen. Largely because that first aide is right—the large majority of Republicans would completely reject it. And because it would completely screw up the legislative strategy they crafted to do both repeal and replace and tax reform. Under the rules they passed with budget reconciliation instructions, they can only do one Obamacare thing. Once it's done, they can do the tax thing. They don't have a mechanism for doing a second health bill outside of regular order, where they have to have 60 votes. And it doesn't seem too likely that McConnell would go nuclear—get rid of the filibuster entirely—for this. If he can't get 50 votes together for Trumpcare, he'd face a revolt if he tried to force this.

    What this does do, however, is create more turmoil for McConnell and give us more time to fight it. That's the positive. The negative is that it's just one more indication from Trump that he's ready to do whatever is necessary to blow up Obamacare, and that's a big problem for insurers, already facing uncertainty and confusion about the future of the program. That's bad news for Obamacare, but far worse news for the people who need it.


              McConnell's Trumpcare plan roiled by CBO's report on dramatic Medicaid cuts   

    Campaign Action

    The Congressional Budget Office's new numbers on how dramatically the Senate Republicans' plans for Medicaid would cut it is creating more turmoil among Senate Republicans. The CBO said that in the next ten years, Medicaid spending would be slashed by more than a quarter—26 percent, and in 2036, it would be reduced by more than a third—35 percent, relative to current law.

    “That is going to cause a lot of harm, and that’s one of my biggest concerns about the bill,” Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and a crucial holdout on the bill, told CNN after the release.

    For Republican leaders who say Medicaid spending is unsustainable, the findings might be seen as evidence that their policies would work. They want to put annual caps on Medicaid spending and roll back the expansion of the program, which has extended coverage to millions of people in 31 states.

    But for Republican senators from some of those states, including Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia, the pain of those cuts may prove politically untenable.

    The $45 billion Collins and those senators squeezed out of McConnell for opioid treatment funding is looking even more paltry in light of this analysis. But that concession on opioids—and the talk of retaining taxes on capital gains to pay for it and other elements to shore up help for lower income Americans has pushed the far right further right. As far to the right as raising the issue of repeal without replace once again.

    That repeal proposal has been shot down by other Republicans, but it shows just how chaotic things are now in the Republican conference, with some senators just flying off and freelancing in wild directions. McConnell's plan to have a revised bill today isn't happening, and senators are heading home. This is our best chance to stop this thing.

    The end of Medicaid as we know it? No exaggeration. The Senate version of Trumpcare has worse long-term cuts to Medicaid than the House version, to pay for tax breaks to the wealthy. Call your Republican senator at (202) 224-3121, and give them a piece of your mind. Tell us how it went.


              Republicans have lots of destroying America left on the summer agenda and not a lot of time to do it   

    Republicans came into power with such hopes and dreams. Hopes and dreams about crushing the future of working people and handing over more money and power to the already wealthy and powerful, but we are talking about the goals Paul Ryan was meditating solemnly on as he did keg stands in college, here. And now … never count them out or underestimate their ruthlessness, but congressional Republicans have painted themselves into something of a corner:

    It’s not just health care that Senate Republicans are hoping to get back on track after they return from their July 4 vacation. President Trump and Congress have a lot on their plate before their summer recess in August — raising the debt limit, passing a budget, moving on tax reform. It’s a daunting agenda during the best of times.

    And this is not, to put it mildly, the best of times, what with a president who doesn’t know what’s going on and resets the agenda on a whim via Twitter, all while his team is under investigation for collusion with the foreign government that got him into office despite a popular vote loss. That’s the setting for Republicans to try to pass a wildly unpopular healthcare bill that they’ve already had to delay a vote on, and, as Ryan Lizza explains, everything else in their agenda may hinge on that, because “For obscure parliamentary reasons, Republicans can’t move on with the rest of their wish list until they pass the health-care bill.”

    They planned to use one reconciliation bill for health care and a separate one for the beast of tax reform. But one of the many arcane rules about the reconciliation process is that any new reconciliation bill cancels out the old one. [...]

    If the Senate health-care bill dies and Republicans move on to tax reform, they will have an interesting choice to make: do they give up on health care and propose only a tax-reform bill? Or do they combine tax reform and health care into one monster bill, which would make passage even more daunting?

    Senate Republicans are still talking Trumpcare, and plan to bring it back after July 4 recess. We absolutely MUST make sure they don’t have the votes. Keep calling your Republican senators at (202) 224-3121. Tell them “NO DEAL” on Trumpcare.  Then, tell us how it went.


              Cartoon: The Institute for Empathetic Studies   

    Well, I bet Mitch McConnell wishes he could have kept the Senate health care bill secret until after the vote. First that whole representative democracy thing got in the way, then the CBO came out with a report that basically confirmed everyone’s worst fears about this terrible bill.

    As of now, Senate Republicans aren’t even going to put the bill up for a vote until after the Fourth of July recess. (Which is still not enough time to make this bill anything close to sane.) The Senate Trumpcare bill was initially doomed by guys like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who didn’t think the bill was mean enough. Trumpcare was blocked from the right, which gave an opening for it to be blocked by more moderate Republicans.

    Even though the Affordable Care Act has problems, it is much better than dropping 22 million people from their health insurance and chopping Medicaid by $772 billion or so. I guess those are the fun things you do if you’re trying to drown government in the bathtub and “deconstruct the administrative state.” Fortunately, those aren’t the sort of things most people in the United States want to do. Enjoy those empathy genes, and be sure to check out my Patreon page!


              Trump: Just repeal Obamacare now, they'll be desperate for whatever we give them   

    With Senate Republicans struggling to come to a consensus on Trumpcare, the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) made a radical, scorched earth proposal to popular vote loser Donald Trump, and of course Trump bit.

    x

    Because it's radical and extreme. Just totally repeal Obamacare, postponing implementation by a year, to give more time for coming up with a replacement.

    "On the current path, it looks like Republicans will either fail to pass any meaningful bill at all, or will instead pass a bill that attempts to prop up much of the crumbling ObamaCare structures. We can and must do better than either of these—both because the American people deserve better, and because we promised better," Sasse wrote in the letter.

    He asked Trump to call on Republicans to repeal Obamacare in early July if they cannot reach an agreement on a comprehensive plan by then.

    "We should include a year-long implementation delay to give comfort to Americans currently on ObamaCare that a replacement plan will be enacted before expiration," Sasse added.

    He then suggested Congress cancel its August recess to work on a replacement plan, passing that by Labor Day.

    Which is so dumb on so many levels that of course Trump loves it. First, they can't come up with 50 votes now—it's not going to happen by Labor Day. Second, it probably couldn't be done under Senate rules—it would likely require 60 votes. Democrats aren't going to help with this. Third, it would not provide comfort to anyone—insurance companies would leave the exchanges in droves, knowing what we all know—they won't come up with a replacement plan, not by Labor Day, not in a year. They haven't managed to do it in seven years, not gonna happen in a few months or even a year.

    And it would be a disaster. Because this isn't the first time the hare-brained scheme of repeal without replacement has come up, the Congressional Budget Office told us what would happen: 18 million people would lose insurance for 2018, 32 million would lose it by 2026. Premiums would increase by  20 percent to 25 percent (compared to current law) in the first year and would double—increase 100 percent—by 2026. That's under an analysis done for a bill that would have done repeal in phases, not all in one shebang like Sasse and Trump want to do. The analysis assumed a Medicaid phase-out. This would apparently just cut it off all at once. So the numbers could be much, much higher.

    If you need more indication that this is a really dumb, dumb idea, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is all over it, tweeting he's spoken with both Trump and leadership to do it. Never mind that just a few months ago, in January, he said "it's imperative that Republicans do a replacement simultaneous with repeal."


              Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9 AM ET!   

    Hey, we made it to Friday without seeing the Republican Medicaid destruction bill come to the floor.

    On the other hand, Trump couldn’t make it to Friday without a major newspaper publishing yet more evidence of his team’s collusion with Russia

    So, let’s set things up for the holiday weekend, and give ourselves a reason for some real fireworks!

    Listen LIVE, right here at 9:00 AM ET!

    Where else can you get live, unvarnished news, commentary and opinion from Daily Kos editors David Waldman, Greg Dworkin, Joan McCarter, and even Armando?

    Well, sure, you could get that at Daily Kos. And this is Daily Kos.

    But that doesn’t count, because reasons. Besides, reading is overrated! Except for what you’re reading right now, that is.

    Especially this part: Help make the media you want, with a monthly, sustaining donation to our Patreon account! Or choose your own schedule with our Square Cash account.

    How can you be sure it’s worth your support? How about I let you check out our last show, for FREE:

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    Don’t quit now! David Waldman and Greg Dworkin remind us we are in the middle of a life or death health care battle, and no where near the end. Call up those senators! Raise a ruckus at next week’s parades! Without a win, conservative media wanders away, because it’s about wins, not anything else. Donald now has better things to pay attention to, although he wasn’t ever really paying attention. The worse part of Obamacare for Republicans was the “Obama” part, really. Now they know they hit a wall, their bill is kryptonite, support is fabulously low, even with the base, even on Fox. New Gop fixes include bribing moderates, bribing wingnuts, and relying on the continued ignorance of Medicare recipients… maybe the Democrats are ready to negotiate? Topher Spiro has a bipartisan health care fix. Meanwhile, Republicans just want government to end, at least governing. Chaos is the Trump standard, here and abroad. America first is becoming America alone. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is pretty happy with ruining international relationships, but is not going to move in down the hall from some Russian mobsters! Is the press appeasing Trump? What methods will ever work? In GunFAIL: When a book miraculously stops a bullet in the movies, it’s a miracle… and it’s a movie. So don’t try that. Hey, that’s not gravel on NH Route 101!

    (Thanks again to Scott Anderson for the show summary!)

    Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.


              Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump's unhinged behavior is beneath the dignity of the presidency   

    We begin today’s roundup with an op-ed by MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough:

    It is disturbing that the president of the United States keeps up his unrelenting assault on women. From his menstruation musings about Megyn Kelly, to his fat-shaming treatment of a former Miss Universe, to his braggadocio claims about grabbing women’s genitalia, the 45th president is setting the poorest of standards for our children. We were heartened to hear a number of Republican lawmakers call out Mr. Trump for his offensive words and can only hope that the women who are closest to him will follow their examples. It would be the height of hypocrisy to claim the mantle of women’s empowerment while allowing a family member to continue such abusive conduct. [...]

    We have known Mr. Trump for more than a decade and have some fond memories of our relationship together. But that hasn’t stopped us from criticizing his abhorrent behavior or worrying about his fitness. During the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, Joe often listened to Trump staff members complain about their boss’s erratic behavior, including a top campaign official who was as close to the Republican candidate as anyone.

    We, too, have noticed a change in his behavior over the past few years. Perhaps that is why we were neither shocked nor insulted by the president’s personal attack. The Donald Trump we knew before the campaign was a flawed character but one who still seemed capable of keeping his worst instincts in check.

    Gail Collins at The New York Times:

    Back in the day, he sent me a copy of a column he objected to, with some notes suggesting I was a “dog and a liar” with “the face of a pig.”

    I’ve had many opportunities to make use of that story since Trump became a presidential candidate, so it’s all fine for me. However, I have to admit that it did not occur to me he’d keep doing that kind of stuff as president of the United States. [...]

    A lot of top Republican leaders have expressed their dismay about what was obviously a sexist insult, but that’s hardly sufficient. This is the same party, after all, that recently produced its Senate health care bill drafted by a committee of 13 men. A bill whose defenders have argued, in effect, that making maternity health coverage more expensive is not a problem because guys don’t get pregnant.


              Open thread for night owls: Sen. Duckworth puts hold on notorious torture advocate's nomination   

    Lindsay Maizland at Vox writes—Steven Bradbury wrote the memos authorizing torture. Trump wants him back in government. Bradbury, who was acting assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, has been nominated to be general counsel in the Transportation Department. But a pissed-off veteran of the Iraq war had something to say about that:

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) placed a hold on Bradbury’s nomination after members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee questioned Bradbury during a preliminary nomination hearing on Wednesday.

    During the hearing, Duckworth led the charge against his nomination, drawing on her own experience working as an Army National Guard helicopter pilot in Iraq. In 2004, her helicopter was shot down and she lost both of her legs.

    “When you’re stuck bleeding in a helicopter behind enemy lines like I was, you hope and pray that if the enemy finds you first, they treat you humanely,” she said. “Mr. Bradbury lacked moral conviction in the Bush White House, and I don’t think he can be trusted to stand up for the values I fought to defend, especially not in a Trump presidency.”

    Duckworth went on to say that Bradbury placed American troops in danger by writing what became known as the torture memos. “The actions you helped justify put our troops in harm’s way, put our diplomats deployed overseas in harm’s way, and you compromised our nation’s very values,” she said.

    Wanna see Duckworth take Bradbury down? Here ya go:

    TOP COMMENTSHIGH IMPACT STORIES

    QUOTATION

    “This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.”
                        ~
    Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments1759


    TWEET OF THE DAY

    x

    BLAST FROM THE PAST

    At  Daily Kos on this date in 2005Agreement Signed to Build Nuclear Fusion Reactor: 

    The existing crop of nuclear power plants all rely on fission, a somewhat messy process which yields some rather unpleasant radioactive waste products behind. So it's heartening to see that an international consortium has agreed to try to build a fusion reactor:

    Science's quest to find a cheap and inexhaustible way to meet global energy needs took a major step forward on Tuesday when a 30-nation consortium chose France to host the world's first nuclear fusion reactor.

    After months of wrangling, France defeated a bid from Japan and signed a deal to site the 10-billion-euroexperimental reactor in Cadarache, near Marseille.

    The project will seek to turn seawater into fuel by mimicking the way the sun produces energy. It would be cleaner than current nuclear reactors, would not rely on enriched uranium fuel or produce plutonium.

    It may be many, many years before this project yields any positive results, if it ever does. But given the twin problems of fossil fuel shortages and pollution that our current system faces, I think this is the kind of bold experiment we need to undertake.


    On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin says work continues on the Gop’s Medicaid repeal bill, as leaders look for ways to bribe holdouts back into the fold. Trump’s tweets embarrass America, again. Nikki Haley seems happy about cutting UN peacekeeping. GunFAIL still dumb.

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              Melania defends Trump's attack on MSNBC host: 'when attacked, he punches back 10 times harder'   

    First Lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson released a brief statement in defense of Donald Trump after her deplorable husband sent these tweets attacking MSNBC Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski:

    x

    x

    Beyond the pale, right? Un-presidential, undignified in every way imaginable. The outage has been swift and as you’ll see below, a growing, bipartisan chorus of members of Congress and the Senate are publicly denouncing the president. That hasn’t stopped the spokesperson for Melania Trump and White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders from defending these deplorable statements.

    x

              Have an employer health plan? You too could lose it under Trumpcare   

    Campaign Action

    Do you have health insurance from your employer and think that means you're out of danger from Trumpcare? Not so fast. The Congressional Budget Office had bad news for just about everyone in its score, and that includes 4 million people with employer-based insurance.

    The nonpartisan budget analyst attributed the drop to the GOP's plan to repeal ObamaCare's two central mandates: the requirement to have health insurance and the requirement that most large employers provide it.

    "Under current law, the prospect of paying the employer mandate penalty tips the scale for some businesses and causes them to decide to offer health insurance to their employees. Thus, eliminating that penalty would cause some employers to not offer health insurance," the CBO wrote.

    "Similarly, the demand for insurance among employees is greater under current law because some employees want employment-based coverage so that they can avoid paying the individual mandate penalty. Eliminating that penalty would reduce such demand and would cause some employers to not offer coverage or some employees to not enroll in coverage they were offered."

    That could happen immediately after the bill becomes law, if it does. This is another case in which the Senate bill is even worse than what the House came up with—it doubles the number likely to be forced out under the House bill.

    There are other problems for people with employer-based insurance because repealing the Affordable Care Act means getting rid of protections that everyone on private insurance enjoys. Like having preventive care covered without an additional co-pay. Or knowing that you couldn't be charged exorbitant premiums and copays for the treatments your pre-existing condition requires. Or knowing that if you or someone in your family is struck with a debilitating disease, you won't be facing any caps on what your insurance will pay to keep you healthy. Or alive.

    All we need is three Republican senators to block Trumpcare. If you have a GOP senator, we need you to call their office at (202) 224-3121. Demand that they put their constituents above their party. After the call, tell us how the call went.


              It's not just health care where Trump is getting in the way of Senate Republicans   

    Donald Trump isn’t just getting in the way of a Senate Trumpcare deal. He’s doing absolutely no favors to Republican efforts to strengthen their hold on the Senate in 2018, when they have a favorable map and should be able to perform well. A Trump-associated Super PAC took aim at Nevada’s Dean Heller, one of the few vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2018, but that’s not all.

    In Alabama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the Republican National Committee to support recently appointed Sen. Luther Strange in a contested primary, but the funding hasn’t come and he isn’t getting any answers, even after going straight to the White House to ask for it. But that’s not all:

    In Arizona, where Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a Trump critic, is facing a difficult reelection, Trump-fueled primary worries are intensifying. Prior to the 2016 election, Trump vented openly about Flake’s criticism of him — at one point, backstage before a campaign rally in Arizona, telling top aides animatedly that he wanted to find a Republican opponent to challenge the senator in 2018, according to two people familiar with the exchange. The administration’s anger at Flake has flared anew amid his criticism of the president’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

    Flake has already drawn a Trump-friendly primary opponent in former state Sen. Kelli Ward, and two other allies of the president — Trump 2016 campaign COO Jeff DeWit and former state GOP chair Robert Graham — could also try to unseat him.

    Trump has also made it harder for Republicans to target vulnerable Democratic incumbents. He appointed the top Republican prospect to challenge Montana Sen. Jon Tester to his cabinet, leaving McConnell scrounging for recruits, and ignored McConnell’s pleas to appoint the two most vulnerable Democrats—North Dakota’s Heidi Manchin and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin—to the cabinet, which would have made their seats almost certain Republican pick-ups.


              This week in statehouse action: Legisocalypse Now edition   

    It’s the end of the session as we know it, and I feel fine.

    Actually, I feel great. I get to kick off my inaugural TWISA at Daily Kos with an apocalyptic theme. Because DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM*

    *by which I mean multiple state governments are in legislative standoffs that threaten to shut their states right down.

    Let’s start with Maine, since it’s facing the most absurd and unnecessary governor situation.

    Campaign Action
    • The Democratic-majority House and Republican-majority Senate have been working nonstop in recent days to arrive at a state budget agreement that can not only pass both chambers of the state’s divided government, but also meets an apparently arbitrary ceiling of $7.055 billion set by GOP Gov. Paul LePage, the Eric Cartman of statehouse politics.
      • LePage colluded with the House Republican minority to push a budget that dramatically cuts education funding and slashes assistance programs for the poor while giving massive new tax breaks to the wealthiest two percent of Mainers.

    Fun fact! State budget bills in Maine have to win two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers. Bipartisanship or bust!

    • Both chambers must pass the budget with supermajorities and Gov. LePage must act on it by 11:59 PM  on Friday, June 30, or the state’s government will shut down for the first time since 1991.
      • But even if lawmakers deliver the budget in advance of the deadline, LePage might just let the state shut down anyway

    Funner fact! Maine governors can take up to 10 days after a bill passes both legislative chambers to mull a veto or sign the measure into law.

    • And LePage reportedly has pledged to wait as long as possible to sign the budget and let the government shut down out of spite (actual quote: “A shutdown is necessary for the future of Maine”) if he doesn’t get everything he wants, nevermind that
      • Non-emergency state services will shut down
      • Non-emergency state workers will never get paid for the time they’re forced to not work because of the shutdown
      • Emergency workers will still work but won’t get paid for that work until after the shutdown is over.

    But whateva, LePage does what he wants.


              What Republicans don't want you to talk about: The 208,500 who will die because of Trumpcare   

    There's a concerted pushback among conservative commentators and healthcare experts trying to fight the most immediate and gut-wrenching fact of Trumpcare. Like this guy, a well-respected conservative healthcare analyst:

    x

    You see, talking about actual outcomes as they result to actual human beings, who we all thought were at the core of healthcare policy, is not being “thoughtful.” Well, sorry, Mr. Roy, but we're going to talk about it because it's real. People are going to die prematurely (and leaving mountains of debt for their loved ones) if Trumpcare becomes law. Here are the numbers as run by Vox: 208,500 deaths in the next decade.

    The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the Senate Republicans’ health care bill becomes law, 14 million Americans will lose their health insurance in 2018, and, by 2026, 22 million would lose coverage.

    Drawing on that work, we estimate that if the Senate bill becomes law, 22,900 excess deaths will occur in 2020 — and the figure will grow over time. 26,500 extra deaths will take place in 2026. Over the next decade, we estimate that a total of 208,500 unnecessary deaths will occur if the law is passed (see Table 1).

    We also calculate anticipated additional deaths, state by state, using state-level coverage losses for the year 2026 (see Table 2). The predicted excess deaths by state range from 30 in North Dakota to 2,992 in California in 2026 alone.

    We delayed Trumpcare—for now. But the GOP leadership is hell-bent on denying health insurance, and is working hard to coerce Republican senators. We need three Republicans to stand firm. Call your senator at (202) 224-3121 and tell them “NO DEAL.” Then, tell us how it went.


              CBO says Trumpcare would slash Medicaid dollars by a quarter in 2026, by more than a third in 2036   

    Campaign Action

    The Congressional Budget Office worked fast in responding to Sen. Ron Wyden's request for an analysis of the long-term cuts to Medicaid in Trumpcare. They must have had the data right at hand, because here it is.

    In CBO's assessment, Medicaid spending under the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 would be 26 percent lower in 2026 than it would be under the agency’s extended baseline, and the gap would widen to about 35 percent in 2036 (see figure below). Under CBO's extended baseline, overall Medicaid spending would grow 5.1 percent per year during the next two decades, in part because prices for medical services would increase. Under this legislation, such spending would increase at a rate of 1.9 percent per year through 2026 and about 3.5 percent per year in the decade after that. […]

    The first 10 years of projections in CBO’s extended baseline match the agency’s 10-year baseline projections, which are based on a detailed analysis of the Medicaid program. Beyond the coming decade, however, projecting federal spending on Medicaid becomes increasingly difficult because of the considerable uncertainties involved. A wide range of changes could occur—in people’s health, in states’ decisions about Medicaid eligibility and covered benefits, and in the delivery of medical care—that are almost impossible to predict but that could nevertheless have a significant effect on federal spending on Medicaid. Therefore, for the projections beyond 2026, CBO has adopted a formulaic approach—one that combines estimates of the number of enrollees with fairly mechanical projections of growth in federal spending on Medicaid per enrollee (adjusted to account for demographic changes in Medicaid enrollees). That straightforward approach, which was designed to help make long-term projections of federal deficits and debt, can be usefully applied only when analyzing proposed changes in law that, like this bill, would affect spending in a similarly straightforward manner.

    Here’s that figure referenced.

    CBO

    Gee, why didn't Republicans think about taking into account all those thing like increasing prices for medical services and use actual existing data for figuring stuff like this out?

    Just so everyone is clear about this now, yes, this is a massive Medicaid cut for the long-term. More than one-third of it—a whopping 35 percent—would be gone relative to current law, the Affordable Care Act. That, by the way, would kill a lot of people.

    The end of Medicaid as we know it? No exaggeration. The Senate version of Trumpcare has worse long-term cuts to Medicaid than the House version, to pay for tax breaks to the wealthy. Call your Republican senator at (202) 224-3121, and give them a piece of your mind. Tell us how it went.


              McConnell's Friday deadline for a Trumpcare revision looking shaky   

    You squeeze the balloon on one side too tight, and the other threatens to blow up. That seems to be what's happening right now for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in negotiating Trumpcare. When we last checked in (early afternoon in Washington, D.C.) they were talking about jettisoning some of the big tax cuts for rich people in order to find some stuff to buy off the moderates.

    Or not.

    x

    The other side of the balloon is stretching to the breaking point.

    McConnell's team might be able to satisfy more centrist GOP senators with additional funding, conservatives remain a huge headache, according to senators and aides.

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his allies are still pushing to gut Obamacare's regulatory structure, but Republican sources doubt that the Senate parliamentarian will allow it. That raises a key question: Can the party's right flank support what's going to amount to only a partial repeal of the law?

    One Republican senator was "less optimistic" about meeting the Friday deadline, adding: "I'd be surprised if we get something done by Friday."

    Even if leadership decided to keep the Affordable Care Act's taxes on the wealthy, Sen. John Thune, third-ranking Senate Republican says that some of the conference are objecting to that money being spent on not having millions of people lose their health insurance, but on deficit reduction. Because they really care about the deficit. However, some unnamed Republicans told Politico, "the party is leaning strongly toward reshaping the bill to be less of a tax cut for the wealthy and more to supplying health insurance options to the working poor."

    All we need is three Republican senators to block Trumpcare. If you have a GOP senator, we need you to call their office at (202) 224-3121. Demand that they put their constituents above their party. After the call, tell us how the call went.


              Trump's such a ridiculous boob that red state Democrats no longer fear him   

    When Donald Trump first took office, all the pundits wondered at whether he would put together some sort of inspired agenda that wasn't definitively red or blue. Given his appeal with at least enough crossover Democrats to get elected and the fact that nine Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump won, he conceivably had the opportunity to prioritize issues on which he might get a bipartisan boost—funding infrastructure, certain tax cuts, etc.

    That was way back in the glorious “he’s gonna pivot" days—only a few months ago but feels more like several years in the Trump time warp. Anyway, that was then, this is now, writes the New York Times:

    Democrats, watching Republicans careen around in search of a health care solution, honored the demand of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, that they stick together in their refusal to lift a finger to help until repeal was taken off the table.

    And perhaps most important, Mr. Trump has rarely bothered to ask.

    “I am a moderate from a state Trump won,” said Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, who is up for re-election next year in a state where Hillary Clinton received just 38 percent of the vote. “You’d think they would have called me sometime.”

    McCaskill and her red state Democratic counterparts sure aren't waiting by the phone any longer. Nor are they afraid to tell it like it is. If you haven't watched the Missouri senator scold her Republican colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee for not holding a single damn hearing on the healthcare repeal bill, treat yourself to a few minutes of her outrage.

    Yep, far from upsetting the partisan polemics on Capitol Hill, Trump has gone about stretching them out and etching them in stone with his Twitter tirades and complete dismissal of Democrats. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been his gleefully willing accomplices by opting to use procedural moves that enable them to pass bills without any Democratic support whatsoever.


              High-ranking Democrat asks CBO to evaluate Trumpcare's long-term Medicaid cuts   

    Campaign Action

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has asked the Congressional Budget Office to evaluate the long-term impacts of the Medicaid cuts, which should once and for all debunk the ongoing Republican lie that cuts aren't cuts. Wyden, as ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, asks the CBO to "examine and make public an analysis of the Senate Republican health bill's Medicaid cuts beyond the 10 year budget window."

    "The American public deserves to see the full extent of pain this bill will bring to people across the country who count on Medicaid as a lifeline." Wyden said. "I'm hopeful that once my Republican colleagues understand the true implications of this dangerous legislation, they will reject it and work with Democrats to improve America's health care system." […]

    In the bill, known as the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," Medicaid becomes subject to a cap in spending beginning in 2020 that would not keep up with medical costs, pushing states to raise taxes or cut care from vulnerable populations including children, Americans with disabilities, and seniors who rely on Medicaid for long-term care. The growth rate of the cap becomes even more restrictive after 2024, two years before the end of the traditional scoring window. An analysis of the longer-term impacts will give a more complete and accurate view of the consequences of these caps on Americans' lives.

    Republicans—including HHS Secretary Tom Price and popular vote loser Donald Trump—have been peddling bogus charts to show that really, they're not cutting Medicaid at all, ignoring and hoping we'll all be ignoring it too, the facts of an increasing population, an aging population, inflation in healthcare costs. You know, reality.

    Not that they're not above either dismissing or spinning a CBO report away, but they're going to have a harder time answering the bad headlines they're going to get.

    The end of Medicaid as we know it? No exaggeration. The Senate version of Trumpcare has worse long-term cuts to Medicaid than the House version, to pay for tax breaks to the wealthy. Call your Republican senator at (202) 224-3121, and give them a piece of your mind. Tell us how it went.


              Blog Post: Major Energy And Natural Resource Bill Proposed In Senate   
    After their previous proposal fell just short, a bipartisan pair of senators on Thursday introduced the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, a broad piece of legislation aimed at reforming and modernizing the nation’s energy and resource policies.
              Pennsylvania: School Carry Bill Passes Senate with Weakening Amendment   
    Posted: 06.29.17 05:54 AM Yesterday, the Pennsylvania the State Senate passed an amended version of Senate Bill 383 with a 28-22 vote. Source: https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170629/pennsylvania-school-carry-bill-passes-senate-with-weakening-amendment
              Tennessee: Pro-Gun Legislation goes into Effect on Saturday   
    Posted: 06.29.17 07:29 AM This Saturday, July 1, House Bill 508/Senate Bill 445, sponsored by state Senator John Stevens and state Representative William Lamberth, is scheduled to go into effect.* Source: https://www.nraila.org/articles/20170629/tennessee-pro-gun-legislation-goes-into-effect-on-saturday
              Here Are 3 Reasons the Senate Health Care Bill Should Expand Individual Health Accoun   
    On 06.29.17 01:27 PM posted by Jarrett Stepman As Congress works to undo the damage caused by Obamacare, members are looking for ways to maximize their opportunity to address Obamacare’s problems that drove up premium costs for insurance and reduced access to plans. One innovative idea currently under consideration: expanding the use of health savings accounts. These are tax-advantaged accounts that let individuals save for routine health expenses. Created in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, the use of these accounts has been successful, though limited, due to restrictions placed on them by Congress. The good news: Provisions for expanding these individualized health savings accounts have been included in both the House and Senate Obamacare repeal bills. Additionally, reports suggest senators are looking for additional ways to expand the accounts.
              Opinion Journal: Mitch McConnell’s Uphill Battle    
    Business World Columnist Holman Jenkins Jr. on the prospects for health-care reform in the Senate. Photo credit: Getty Images.
              THR 7/1/17: Trump Wins on Travel Ban   

    The Senate Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace has stalled and appears to be pushed out past the 4th of July Weekend. All it took was a few Republican holdouts. Avid Roy, co-founder and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, and Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, explained the...

    The post THR 7/1/17: Trump Wins on Travel Ban appeared first on TownhallReview.com.


              Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it   
    WASHINGTON (AP) " President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans' delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can't reach a deal they should simply repeal "Obamacare" right away and then replace it later on.Trump's tweet revives an approach that GOP leaders and the president himself considered but dismissed months ago as impractical and politically unwise. And it's likely to further complicate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's task as he struggles to [...]
              Christie Press Conference on Budget Impasse   
    Governor Chris Christie called a press conference for 4PM this afternoon, presumably to make an announcement regarding the State Budget impasse between the Christie, the State Senate and the General Assembly.  
              Sarah Palin First Tea Party President   
    The 2016 Elections is off to a early start. Some people feel that the building block for the Tea Party Independent Forum within the Independent Voting Floor will separate the power of the Republican Party. I am sorry but this is not true. The Foundation of this forum is to bring in new officials as well as a Independent Tea Party Officials. As States move to file for Independence and to form their own Government, this is by all mean a mistake, The Separation of the States will break the Foundation Of The Constitution. Then the United Nations will be in a far better position to apply their New World Order Laws.
     It would seem, that most people are concerned about the economy and other issues, people are in dis-trust of Officials in Government from both parties. There are some of us who feel it is time for the Tea Party to take its right-full place in office under the Independent Forum.

    I am sorry but most people feel its time to vote out those who did not do their job and vote in new people with no political connections. This political battle for a seat to control a power that is not real, its the Voice Of the People that is the power and the posting of, Under The Cover Of Winter Storm Nemo, this posting does not hold all the information you seek, but I can tell you this that a data search for Political Official who hide their money investments over-seas in Pharmaceutical Narcotics. You may say so what....then why hide the money....?
     No my friends this will not separate nothing at all because as time goes forward we are being lost in a connection of United We Stand.
     . No matter how many seats get controlled, the job of the balance of the Fiscal Cliff, has not been done, and in the last 11 years over $109 trillion Dollars spent, and according to Officials on TV they only bring in $3 trillion per year...that around $76 trillion spent....so where is the money..? I can show you but not now....
     
    09/30/2001
    $5,807,463,412,200.06
     to
    09/30/2012
    16,066,241,407,385.89
    FEDERAL INVESTMENT PROGRAM CUSTOMERS
    As of December 31, 2012

    read more: 
    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_his...
     I still have not found a way to tell my twins that they are in debit for $37,000 to balance the budget. I mean how do you tell a 7 year child that they are broke....this gives a whole new meaning to kicking the can down the road....
    Then you have Obama Care crammed down our throats  by both Republicans and Democrats in Office.
     Abortion paid for in the Health Care Bill
     Narcotics paid for in the Bill
    Gun Rights  Under Fire


    We may not be able to bring in a Tea Party Official in The 2014 Senate Race for the seats at hand, but to share a 2016 Campaign.....

    Sarah Palin, do you want to make history and become the next Tea Party President Of The United States of America...? 
     This is not about winning its about opening the door to a whole new way of thinking...

              Bill Would Allow School Staff to Use Guns on School Property   
    The Pennsylvania Senate passed an amendment, by a vote of 28-22, allowing school districts' boards of directors to create policies permitting school personnel to access firearms in school buildings or on school grounds.
          

               Philippines: Duterte's first 365 days were full of lies, says jailed Senator De Lima    
    De Lima was removed through a Senate majority vote and was replaced by a veteran senator Richard Gordon.
               Donald Trump on Chuck Schumer: He doesnt seem like a serious person    
    While meeting with the World Series-winning Chicago Cubs at the White House, President Trump was asked by reporter if he would accept Senator Chuck Schumers request to meet with the entire Senate chamber to craft a bipartisan healthcare bill. President Trump said he just doesnt seem like a serious person. Despite a major setback in the US Senate with the postponed vote,Trump said that the Republican healthcare bill was moving along well and predicted a big surprise was yet to come.
              Charities Might Be Able To 'Fill The Boot' Again Soon   
    A ruling that outraged charities in Michigan could be overturned. The state Senate has passed a bill to bring back roadside donation collections.
              How to Exacerbate Arizona's Opioid Epidemic? Dismantle Medicaid   

    The Senate health care plan could hamper Arizona's efforts to fight a rising tide of opioid overdoses and deaths. Arizona's campaign to end a surge in opioid deaths could collide with Republican efforts to scuttle the Affordable Care Act and enact huge cuts to Medicaid.


              Health Care Experts Weigh In On Senate GOP Bill: Thursday’s Show (June 29, 2017)   
    Facing defections from within their own party, Republican leaders in the US Senate decided on Tuesday (June 27, 2017) to delay a vote on their health care bill until after the July 4 recess. While that gives senators more time to weigh their decisions on the bill, it also gives us more time to discuss what the bill might do ...
              STAT Plus: GOP chair puts drug pricing hearings on hold as he awaits ‘more of a bipartisan attitude’   
    A key Senate Republican is suspending the chamber's investigation into drug pricing, a hiatus he blames on Democrats focused on Obamacare.
              Why Did Democrats Just Kill A Single-Payer Healthcare Bill?   
    As Democrats in Washington made headlines slamming President Trump on the healthcare issue, California's Democratic lawmakers last week used their supermajority to block universal health care legislation. The Democrats halted the senate-passed bill after their party raked in big campaign contributions from drug companies and insurers. The move was the culmination of a successful lobbying campaign to portray the proposal as unrealistic and unaffordable. But would a state-based Medicare-for-all system really be the unaffordable budget-buster that opponents have long claimed? On this episode, I talk to University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin. He is a former economic adviser to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who campaigned for president in support of single-payer but who did not support the single-payer legislation in his own state. Pollin was commissioned by single-payer advocates to study the California bill. After publishing a report about his findings, Pollin argues that opponents of the bill have misrepresented the most basic facts about health care economics.
              The ObamaCare Waiver Breakthrough   
    The Senate health bill has an important way to reduce premiums.
              Comment on Just so you realize the Senate Healthcare bill is Going to Pass by In The Mailbox: 06.29.17 : The Other McCain   
    […] News BattleSwarm: Mexico’s Drug War Heats Up Again Bring The HEAT: TAC On Target Da Tech Guy: Just So You Realize The Senate Healthcare Bill Is Going To Pass Don Surber: How Donald Trump Is Helping Romance Dustbury: Will Cap’n Crunch Walk The Plank? […]
              Louisiana senator finds health care frustration at town hall   
    Louisiana senator finds health care frustration at town hall
    BATON ROUGE - A town hall meeting held by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy to talk about flood recovery in Louisiana's capital city was at times derailed by people trying to pressure the Republican to vote against the Senate GOP's proposed health rewrite.
    &nbsp;&nbsp;
    Cassidy is a doctor who worked for years in Louisiana's charity hospital system. He was noncommittal Friday about the health bill. He said he wasn't sure what the final draft of the legislation might look like, as negotiations continue behind closed doors in an effort to rally votes.
    &nbsp;&nbsp;
    Cassidy's answers dissatisfied several people assembled in the church who spoke against efforts to repeal the federal health law. At times, audience members shouted over the senator's answers. Cassidy ended the meeting to chants of "Vote no! Vote no!"


    Permalink| Comments



              U.S. Rep. Doug Collins promotes stricter immigration bills passed by House   

    U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, joined House Speaker Paul Ryan and other federal officials Thursday to promote two immigration bills that President Donald Trump promises to sign once they reach his desk.

    Ryan called Collins to the podium during his weekly news conference to talk about the two immigration bills — Kate’s Law and No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, both of which the House approved later in the day.

    The first bill would add more severe penalties for repeat illegal entry into the United States, while the second would attempt to withhold federal funding to jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement in so-called “sanctuary cities.” Both bills now shift to the Senate.

    Identifying himself as the son of a state trooper and supporter of law enforcement, Collins staked a strong stand against sanctuary cities.

    “This law is actually just saying, if you choose to put politics before people’s safety, then you’re not going to get the public funds, you’re not going to get the grants that you are supposed to be using to enforce the law,” said Collins, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, and a member of the House Judiciary Committee that favorably recommended the legislation to the full House.

    During last year’s campaign, Trump often railed against sanctuary cities. He also recounted many times the shooting death of young woman by a Mexican national with seven prior convictions who’d been deported five times — giving rise to Kate’s Law, which calls for tougher penalties for convicted and deported criminals who re-enter the country.

    The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials took the position that the bills would undermine public safety and harm Gainesville’s economy.

    GALEO Executive Director Jerry Gonzalez said the legislation would further criminalize immigrants and likely incarcerate more of them.

    “Gainesville’s economy depends upon immigrant labor, and the poultry industry would not survive if immigrants were deported,” Gonzalez said. “These initiatives would further diminish the immigrant community’s interaction with law enforcement and would diminish public safety as crime and suspicious activity would go unreported.”

    The Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to The Times’ request for comment on the legislation.

    In comments picked up by the national media, Collins reminded everyone of an observation made by one of the country’s founding fathers — John Adams — who said this country is “a nation of laws and not men.”

    “And today is a good day for the rule of law,” Collins said. “Today is when we go back and we state these are the laws.”

    Referring to localities around the country that have established sanctuary cities, Collins said choices made by one locality affect others.

    “This is not simply isolated in a vacuum situation,” Collins said.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.


              California’s Cap-and-Trade Program Just Won a Major Legal Challenge   

    California’s four-year-old cap-and-trade program, which sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and incentivizes the state’s biggest polluters to lower emissions, has won a substantial legal battle.

    On Wednesday afternoon, the state’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a lower court’s ruling over a legal challenge from a group of businesses initiated four years ago. Back then the Chamber of Commerce sued, alleging that the state is imposing an illegal tax on businesses through the cap-and-trade program.

    In April, the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of state officials. Now the California Supreme Court has essentially ended the legal challenge for good, a decision that has likely pleased Governor Jerry Brown and the Air Resources Board, which manages the cap-and-trade program.

    Over the years, the lawsuit added uncertainty and controversy to the state’s program. The state’s auctions, which sell cap-and-trade allowances to companies, have fluctuated wildly, partly due to such uncertainty, sometimes bringing in major revenue and sometimes bringing in very little money. A variety of state clean energy programs, including high speed rail, rely on revenue from the cap-and-trade program.

    However, the uncertainty is far from over for California cap-and-trade. State legislators have been in the process of trying to figure out how to extend the program beyond 2020, when by some measures it will lose authority. At the same time, the state is trying to meet more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets beyond 2020, and advocates say that a more aggressive cap-and-trade program will be important to make sure the state gets to those goals. 

    The governor had wanted to have an agreement on how to extend cap-and-trade in California by the time the state budget was signed. But that deadline came and went earlier this week, and cap-and-trade wasn’t addressed in it.

    Several related bills in the Assembly have failed to gain approval. A controversial bill in the Senate hasn’t yet been able to move to a vote.

    Legislators and constituents are at odds over a variety of issues including: making sure local air pollution (not just greenhouse gas emissions) is addressed; the use of offsets to meet cap-and-trade reductions, particularly when they’re for out-of-state projects; and the need for a floor and a ceiling for carbon pricing. Some stakeholders want significant changes to California’s cap-and-trade program, while others want it to remain very similar to the current version. 

    California’s cap-and-trade program has widely been seen as one of the world’s most sophisticated and ambitious emissions trading schemes. Europe launched one years ago, and Quebec and Ontario both have one as well. Several U.S. states on the East Coast have cap-and-trade programs, but they're specifically for power plant emissions.

    But there's more pressure on California to get the design of its program right, given that it’s such a world leader in the clean energy domain. China has been working on trials of cap-and-trade programs in various regions, and has taken lessons learned from California. 

    Designing the market mechanisms and economic levers of cap-and-trade programs can be difficult. But it’s even harder to get comprehensive programs approved politically.

    The L.A. Times reported late last week that Governor Brown has been hosting a steady stream of meetings to try to come to an agreement on the extension. Brown hopes to find a solution in July, before legislators go to summer recess on July 21. His team has also reportedly been developing and circulating draft proposals.

    State legislators are somewhat wary of another controversial vote after recently passing one to raise the state’s gas tax (which triggered a fierce backlash and even a recall campaign). The governor also wants the vote to achieve a two-thirds approval in both houses of the legislature, which will help ward off future lawsuits. 

    Governor Brown has taken an increasingly high-profile role on the world stage when it comes to climate change. While President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement, Brown has visited China and liaised with world leaders on the issue of city and state climate action.


              June 29, 2017: What to Know   
    Gains for the Idaho economy, "The Progressive Liberal" steps into the ring and hints at a new timetable for the Senate healthcare bill. Following the delay of a vote on a controversial Senate healthcare bill, sources close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told ABC News he wants a revised version of the bill in the hands of his colleagues by Friday, June 30, before they head home for the Fourth of July recess.…
              Boise Demonstration Keeps Heat on Idaho Lawmakers Over Senate Healthcare Bill   
    "We need to keep up the pressure." Discussion in the U.S. Senate over a controversial healthcare bill may be paused during the Fourth of July recess but at a demonstration outside Sen. Mike Crapo's Boise office Wednesday, more than 200 people said loud and clear they're against the proposed law, which would reduce the number of Americans with insurance and make drastic cuts to Medicaid. "Once these things are stripped away, there are going to be people on the street," said William Fowkes of Boise, who attended the demonstration with his daughter Eva, 30.…
              Hillary Clinton, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, and a George Soros Representative Caught Up in Senate Probe   

    ...

    The post Hillary Clinton, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, and a George Soros Representative Caught Up in Senate Probe appeared first on Freedom Outpost.


              Trump suggests just repeal Obamacare, then try to replace it   
    <br/>President Donald Trump speaks during an energy roundtable with tribal, state, and local leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in Washington.
    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump barged into Senate Republicans’ delicate health care negotiations Friday, declaring that if lawmakers can’t reach a deal they should simply ...

              Teachers, child advocates hail tentative state budget   
    Getty Images/iStockphoto<br/>Commonwealth Budget Photo
    Pennsylvania teachers and a statewide child advocacy group hailed the budget passed by the state Senate and likely headed for the governor’s desk late Friday ...

              Pittsburgh bishop calls Senate GOP health care bill ‘morally unacceptable’   
    John C. Schisler |  Tribune-Review<br/>Bishop David Zubik of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. (Trib photo)
    Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik on Friday called a Senate Republican health care proposal “morally unacceptable,” saying its proposed cuts to Medicaid would ...

              Pennsylvania Senate approves budget package   
    <br/>
    HARRISBURG — A $32 billion bipartisan spending package has the Pennsylvania Senate’s approval on the state fiscal year’s final day, although lawmakers don’t know how ...

              Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace later   
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump urged Republican senators in a tweet on Friday to repeal Obamacare immediately if they cannot agree on a new plan to replace it, muddying the waters as congressional leaders struggle for consensus on healthcare legislation.

              Video: US Senate Accuses Russia, RT & Putin In Election Meddling, Gives No Evidence   

    The U.S. Senate has devoted an entire hearing to alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election.


              Onon County Gets Sales Tax OK, Other State Business Draws Protests in Special Session   
    The legislature finally ended its 2017 legislative session, after the Assembly voted overnight on a privately negotiated omnibus bill, and the Senate finally finished on Thursday afternoon. The messy process drew condemnation from both sides of the aisle. Both Democrats and Republicans condemned an end of session that included the governor calling an extraordinary session of the legislature to deal with expiring laws, private meetings between Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, and rank and file lawmakers kept in the dark about the details. After two days with little or no information on an omnibus cleanup bill , the leader of the Senate Democrats, Andrea Stewart- Cousins, stood with her conference members, and said -enough. “Stop wasting time, stop wasting taxpayer dollars,” Stewart-Cousins said. “And do the things that people sent us here to do.” On the Senate floor, Deputy Senate Minority Leader Mike Gianaris, continued the criticism, saying the extraordinary session was called
              Senate Bill 326 Printer's Number 1059   
    A Supplement to the act of April 1, 1863 (P.L.213, No.227), entitled "An act to accept the grant of Public Lands, by the United States, to the several states, for the endowment of Agricultural Colleges," making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure; and making an appropriation from a restricted account within the Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund.A Supplement to the act of April 1, 1863 (P.L.213, No.227), entitled "An act to accept the grant of Public Lands, by the United States, to the several states, for the endowment of Agricultural Colleges," making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure; and making an appropriation from a restricted account within the Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund.
              Senate Bill 327 Printer's Number 1060   
    A Supplement to the act of July 28, 1966 (3rd Sp.Sess., P.L.87, No.3), known as the University of Pittsburgh--Commonwealth Act, making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; and providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.A Supplement to the act of July 28, 1966 (3rd Sp.Sess., P.L.87, No.3), known as the University of Pittsburgh--Commonwealth Act, making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; and providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.
              Senate Bill 328 Printer's Number 522   
    A Supplement to the act of November 30, 1965 (P.L.843, No.355), entitled "An act providing for the establishment and operation of Temple University as an instrumentality of the Commonwealth to serve as a State-related university in the higher education system of the Commonwealth; providing for change of name; providing for the composition of the board of trustees; terms of trustees, and the power and duties of such trustees; providing for preference to Pennsylvania residents in tuition; providing for public support and capital improvements; authorizing appropriations in amounts to be fixed annually by the General Assembly; providing for the auditing of accounts of expenditures from said appropriations; authorizing the issuance of bonds exempt from taxation within the Commonwealth; requiring the President to make an annual report of the operations of Temple University," making an appropriation for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriation; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.A Supplement to the act of November 30, 1965 (P.L.843, No.355), entitled "An act providing for the establishment and operation of Temple University as an instrumentality of the Commonwealth to serve as a State-related university in the higher education system of the Commonwealth; providing for change of name; providing for the composition of the board of trustees; terms of trustees, and the power and duties of such trustees; providing for preference to Pennsylvania residents in tuition; providing for public support and capital improvements; authorizing appropriations in amounts to be fixed annually by the General Assembly; providing for the auditing of accounts of expenditures from said appropriations; authorizing the issuance of bonds exempt from taxation within the Commonwealth; requiring the President to make an annual report of the operations of Temple University," making an appropriation for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriation; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.
              Senate Bill 329 Printer's Number 523   
    A Supplement to the act of July 7, 1972 (P.L.743, No.176), entitled "An act providing for the establishment and operation of Lincoln University as an instrumentality of the Commonwealth to serve as a State-related institution in the higher education system of the Commonwealth; providing for change of name; providing for the composition of the board of trustees; terms of trustees, and the power and duties of such trustees; providing for preference to Pennsylvania residents in tuition; authorizing appropriations in amounts to be fixed annually by the General Assembly; providing for the auditing of accounts of expenditures from said appropriations; providing for public support and capital improvements; authorizing the issuance of bonds exempt from taxation within the Commonwealth; requiring the President to make an annual report of the operations of Lincoln University," making an appropriation for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of the appropriation; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.A Supplement to the act of July 7, 1972 (P.L.743, No.176), entitled "An act providing for the establishment and operation of Lincoln University as an instrumentality of the Commonwealth to serve as a State-related institution in the higher education system of the Commonwealth; providing for change of name; providing for the composition of the board of trustees; terms of trustees, and the power and duties of such trustees; providing for preference to Pennsylvania residents in tuition; authorizing appropriations in amounts to be fixed annually by the General Assembly; providing for the auditing of accounts of expenditures from said appropriations; providing for public support and capital improvements; authorizing the issuance of bonds exempt from taxation within the Commonwealth; requiring the President to make an annual report of the operations of Lincoln University," making an appropriation for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of the appropriation; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.
              Senate Bill 431 Printer's Number 948   
    An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in nuisances, further providing for the offense of scattering rubbish; in registration of vehicles and in licensing of drivers, further providing for the acknowledgment of littering provisions; and, in miscellaneous provisions, further providing for the offense of depositing of waste and other material on highway, property or waters.An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in nuisances, further providing for the offense of scattering rubbish; in registration of vehicles and in licensing of drivers, further providing for the acknowledgment of littering provisions; and, in miscellaneous provisions, further providing for the offense of depositing of waste and other material on highway, property or waters.
              Senate Bill 723 Printer's Number 1039   
    An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, in high schools, further providing for courses of study.An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, in high schools, further providing for courses of study.
              We knew Trump was a misogynist. But this week was extreme | Jessica Valenti   

    The best thing I can say about this week is: at least it’s Friday

    There’s never a dull week under the Trump presidency. In addition to pushing a healthcare plan that would leave 22 million without coverage, the president has spent his mornings this last week attacking a cable news host in a bratty, sexist tirade.

    We already knew Donald Trump was a raving misogynist, but having a leader in uncertain times who whines about petty grievances instead of running the country does not exactly inspire confidence. The best thing I can say about this week is: at least it’s Friday.

    Continue reading...
              Republicans Clash Again Over Senate Health-Care Bill   
    New divisions opened among Senate Republicans on Thursday over their proposed health-care legislation even as they moved closer to nailing down some agreements to firm up support for the bill.
              Senate Panel Punts on Call to Restructure Air-Traffic-Control System   
    The Senate Commerce Committee approved a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill without any provision calling for air-traffic control privatization, seemingly ending prospects for congressional passage of the proposal this year.
              What conservative pundits say about Trumpcare (spoiler: they all dislike it)   

    Conservative commentators have derided the Republican bill as weak, visionless, and a treasonous acceptance of the basic thrust of the Affordable Care Act

    Senate Republicans pleased no one this week. Granted, they were never going to get much love from Democrats defending Obamacare, or their more progressive colleagues who are daring to talk aloud again about a single payer scheme. But their own ideological bedfellows also went after them as their plan, such as it was, was shelved until after the Fourth of July recess.

    Related: Republican healthcare bill limps into recess with no vote in sight

    Continue reading...
              Commissioner Carlisle McLean to leave the Maine Public Utilities Commission   
    Hallowell, Maine - The Maine Public Utilities Commission ("Commission") announced today the departure of Commissioner Carlisle J.T. McLean. McLean's term ended March 31, 2017 and she has continued her service as provided for by statute.

    "I know I speak for the entire Commission staff when I say that Commissioner McLean will be truly missed," stated Chairman Mark Vannoy. "Carlie is an exceptionally bright and skilled leader who has made a tremendous contribution to the Commission in her tenure here. Carlie has also played a pivotal role with national and regional industry organizations including RGGI, NECPUC and NARUC on behalf of Maine."

    "It has been a wonderfully epic and humbling challenge to serve as a Commissioner on the Maine PUC. I have sought to deliberately, independently and thoroughly consider each decision in light of the record before me with the public interest and the Maine ratepayer front of mind," stated Commissioner McLean. "I am grateful to Governor LePage for entrusting me with the nomination to this important post, and the Maine Senate for its confirmation. I feel so fortunate to have had this incredible privilege to serve the Maine people and work on cutting edge energy and utility regulatory issues. I will cherish the experience throughout the future and reflect upon it fondly."

    During her tenure on the Commission, McLean has decided hundreds of significant cases involving natural gas infrastructure, gas distribution issues, energy efficiency spending, rate reset cases, standard offer procurements, long-term electric and gas contracting procurements and a host of telecommunications cases, among many others.

    In addition, she has participated with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), the New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners (NECPUC) and served on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Board of Directors and Executive Committee as Treasurer.

    She offered on a personal note; "I will miss working with Chairman Vannoy, Commissioner Williamson, my colleagues throughout the region, and especially the Commission staff; they are a dedicated group of professionals who work extraordinarily hard every day for the citizens of Maine. I look forward to pursuing my next career challenge while spending some personal time with my family."

    Contact: Harry Lanphear (207) 287-3831
              Georgia governor: Senate health plan should not ‘punish’ the state   

    Gov. Nathan Deal took a cautious stance on the embattled Senate health bill Thursday, urging lawmakers not to “punish” Georgia and other states that didn’t expand their Medicaid program while stopping short of opposing the ...

              Secretary of Commerce Names Interim Census Leadership   

    Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the interim leadership of the U.S. Census Bureau under the Vacancies Reform Act, effective upon the retirement of Census Bureau Director John Thompson on June 30.  Ron Jarmin will perform the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director.  Enrique Lamas will perform the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Deputy Director of the Census.

    “Both Mr. Jarmin and Mr. Lamas have had long, distinguished careers at Census, and the Bureau will be well served by their leadership.” said Secretary Ross “The Census Bureau, along with the 2020 Census, are in good hands with these two men at the helm until the Senate confirms new leadership.”

    Ron Jarmin currently serves as the Associate Director for Economic Programs at the U.S. Census Bureau, leading the team for the 2017 Economic Census, which provides the foundation for other key measures of economic performance including the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.  Starting his Census Bureau tenure in 1992, Mr. Jarmin has also performed the roles of Assistant Director for Economic Studies.

    “I am honored to serve in this role at the Census Bureau and am grateful to Secretary Ross for entrusting me with this position.” said Jarmin. “I look forward to working with Enrique and Secretary Ross as we continue to advance the Bureau’s mission, providing timely and accurate data to the American public.”

    Enrique Lamas currently serves as the Associate Director for Demographic Programs, overseeing the Demographic Programs Directorate which provides accurate information on the size, distribution, and characteristics of the nation’s population. Beginning his career in 1980 in the Census’ Population Division, Mr. Lamas previously served as Chief of the Population Division, Assistant Division Chief in the Demographic Surveys Division, Chief of the Poverty and Wealth Statistics Branch, and Chief of the Labor Force and Transfer Programs Statistics Branch.

    “After 37 years at the Census Bureau, I could not be more pleased at this chance to serve in this leadership role,” said Lamas. “I would like thank Secretary Ross for giving me this opportunity.” 

    In the Vacancies Reform Act only individuals designated by the President and authorized first assistants can serve in an acting capacity for Presidentially Appointed, Senate-confirmed positions such as Director of the Census. Furthermore, the Secretary of Commerce has the ability to direct eligible employees to perform the role of the Senate-confirmed position when the position is currently vacant. Since the Deputy Director of the Census is not a Senate-confirmed position, the Secretary has the power to designate an employee to serve in that role until one is named.

    Mr. Jarmin will remain in authority unless rescinded by Secretary Ross, the President directs an officer or employee to perform the functions and duties of the Director in an acting capacity, or until a Director or Deputy Director of the Census is appointed. Mr. Lamas will remain in authority unless rescinded by Secretary Ross or until a Deputy Director of the Census is appointed.


              Frustrated with Washington, scientists and academics jump into electoral politics   

    Patrick Madden has taught and conducted research in computer science for close to 20 years at Binghamton University of the State University of New York. Were the political situation any different in Washington, he said he would be happy to continue doing just that. Instead, he’s running for Congress in New York’s 22nd District.

    “The last few years, the political debate has been separated from reality where politicians can say nearly anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or false. People don’t even bat an eye,” he said. “I’m going to do my best to haul the discussion back towards reality.”

    Madden is just one of a handful of scientists jumping into unfamiliar territory by launching campaigns for elected office. Organizations working with those candidates hope to field a small wave of scientist candidates across the country in response to an administration and Congress they say have disregarded science to an unprecedented degree.

    Scientists, academics and medical professionals have been wary of President Trump since his campaign was still a White House long shot and he was calling global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. But since his election victory, his approach to science has continued to alarm scientists and others concerned with evidence-based policy making -- from key cabinet appointments to muzzling of scientists in some federal agencies and huge cuts to research funding in the White House budget. For many the dangerous decision making culminated in Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accords.

    Frustrations with the administration helped spur one of the largest ever protests in support of science -- the March for Science in April. That event helped get many campus-based researchers and students of science out of the classroom and into the streets. It also connected many with tools and training to better communicate about the value of science to the general public.

    Even before the march, though, some organizers were working to find candidates with science backgrounds to run for office. Perhaps the most prominent of those groups is 314 Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group that splits its resources between electoral politics and pro-science advocacy.

    “The joke that I tell is we’re like Emily’s List for nerds,” said Ted Bordelon, the national spokesman for 314, referring to the political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women candidates.

    Bordelon said 314 recruits and trains candidates with any kind of background in a STEM field, from a bachelor of science to a Ph.D. The group has had about 6,000 individuals participate in candidate training across the country through online webinars and in-person events.

    Madden is among the candidates working with 314. Others are running for everything from school board to Congress.

    In California’s 48th Congressional District, stem-cell researcher Hans Keirstead announced plans this summer to run as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher, a noted skeptic of the scientific consensus on climate change. Volcanologist Jess Phoenix is running against Republican Steve Knight in California’s 25th District.

    And Lamar Smith, the Republican chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has drawn an opponent in Texas’s 21st District seeking to make hay of Smith’s anti-science views. While not a scientist himself, Democrat Derrick Crowe has worked as an organizer on climate change in Texas and described himself to Mother Jones as an “unabashed nerd and unapologetic advocate for science and reason.”

    Smith, meanwhile, has made enemies of prominent scientists like Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. Smith, a hard-core climate denier, responded to a paper on climate change from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by issuing a subpoena to the director of the agency. Smith and Rohrabacher are two of the incumbents being targeted by 314 in the next congressional campaign cycle.

    Kevork Abazajian, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, said jumping into politics comes more naturally to candidates from the legal profession and other fields. Candidates from STEM backgrounds often haven’t been involved in politics since they were in college or don’t find it easy to step away from the lab for a months-long campaign, he said.

    “It doesn’t make them unqualified to be political candidates or political representatives. They just have to learn how it works because they’re not as involved in it,” said Abazajian, 314’s volunteer state coordinator in California.

    In that role, he has frequent discussions with individuals considering runs for office about how to set up a campaign, raise funds, manage staff and communicate with the media. Abazajian said each candidate the group supports will run on a message tailored to their district -- they won’t have a set of common talking points on national policy issues. But those candidates will presumably push for more federal support of research funding and regulations based on recommendations of scientific experts over industry. But he said electing more scientists would shift the temperament and policy making in Congress.

    “They are middle-of-the-road. They are not ideological,” he said. “They go where the data takes them.”

    The group has endorsed Keirstead and this week will issue an endorsement of Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran with a master of science in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Houlahan is running against Republican Representative Ryan Costello in Pennsylvania’s Sixth District.

    It would probably be fair to expect that successful candidates with science backgrounds would back more federal funding of scientific research -- an issue frequently cited by attendees at the March for Science in April. And university groups have been vocal critics of the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, a policy that adversely affected many researchers, academics and students with ties to the countries involved.

    Madden, the Binghamton professor, describes himself as a left-leaning, progressive Democrat and said he supports increasing the minimum wage, investing in universities and reducing the cost of college for students. He also opposes the White House travel ban. Although his district leans GOP, he said he could attract enough support from voters of both parties to defeat incumbent Representative Claudia Tenney, a Republican and Trump ally.

    Tenney last year was one of 20 Republicans to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, which was set up to explore policy responses to the impacts of climate change. But this year she said Trump “showed leadership” by withdrawing from the Paris accord.

    Jason Westin, a Houston oncologist who leads a team of cancer researchers at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, said he had not planned to run for office before last November’s election. But Westin, who worked on health-care policy in the Senate before going to medical school, said he’s seen traditional respect for science come under attack by the current administration. He’s one of several Democrats running to challenge Republican Representative John Culberson in Texas’s Seventh Congressional District, one of two seats in the state Democrats plan to target next year.

    “We need people who understand science, need people who understand the consequences of disrespect for science to stop complaining and do something,” Westin said.

    As chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, Culberson has frequently overridden the judgment of NASA leadership. He’s also criticized the Environmental Protection Agency and cast doubt on the science of climate change -- two issues where Westin said he would seek to draw a contrast with the incumbent in his campaign.

    He also said the proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health in the White House budget would have an outsize effect on the district.

    "If we don’t get grants to labs, those jobs are gone," he said. "These are not academic points that don't have any real-life practicality. These are things that have a real impact on the local economy and are key for vibrant societies."

    While 314, an early supporter of the March for Science, is only supporting Democratic candidates, the march has remained nonpartisan. Caroline Weinberg, a co-chair of the march, said the organization won't be involved in activity connected to specific candidates or potential candidates for office.

    "The March for Science brought together an incredible community of organizers who are interested in ensuring that science and the scientific community plays a more active role in public policy. In the two months since the march, we’ve been working with these hundreds of satellite-event organizers to shape our priorities as we move forward as an organization," Weinberg said in an email. "We’re still having specific discussions about the role we’ll play in 2018. But regardless of the election season, the March for Science will continue to be active in speaking up when science is threatened or ignored by policy makers at all levels of government and in encouraging people to advocate for science and evidence-based policy."

    Rush Holt, the president and CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a high-profile supporter of the march, said he gets phone calls every year from scientists considering a run for office. But Holt, who taught physics before serving in the State Department and then Congress, said he’s received more of those calls this year than any other.

    “They have the usual concern -- can a scientist do it? And of the course the answer is yes, no better or worse than anyone else can,” he said. “Which is to say it’s hard work for anybody to do it and the odds are against you any time you try to break into politics. But it’s something I encourage scientists to do.”

    Holt said scientists have traditionally stayed out of politics, partly because they do not want to be seen as partisan. But increasingly their input has been ignored by lawmakers, he said.

    “We’d be glad to see more scientists in office if that means science and scientific evidence are better integrated into legislation and policy making,” Holt said. “Sometimes it seems that the only way that that happens is by having trained scientists and engineers and friends of science in the policy-making process.”

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    Patrick Madden
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              How tenure-track and adjunct faculty joined forces to unionize at Notre Dame de Namur   

    Tenure-track and tenured faculty members at Notre Dame de Namur University were beyond hopeful last year when their institution voluntarily recognized their new union; legal precedent holds that tenure-track faculty members on private campuses are managers and so not entitled to collective bargaining. There are additional legal challenges to organizing at religiously affiliated institutions, and Notre Dame de Namur is Roman Catholic.

    Then things got scary for the faculty: administrators announced a series of planned changes to academic programs, making good on a previous warning that the professors’ new labor status could put such shifts beyond their control. Tenure-line faculty members moved forward with collective bargaining anyway, optimistic that their longstanding concerns about the state of shared governance on campus might somehow be resolved through the process.

    A year later, things have largely been worked out: faculty members -- both part-time and full-time, both affiliated with Service Employees International Union -- have ratified their first contract. The three-year agreement includes substantial gains in pay, improvements to working conditions for the tenure-track and non-tenure-track alike, and assurances of shared governance and academic freedom.

    “The salary increase is better than anything we’ve had in my 20 years here,” said Kim Tolley, professor of education, past chair of the Faculty Senate and a key player in both the unionization and negotiation processes. Of the contract, she added, “It resolved workload issues and concerns the full-time faculty had, and has mechanisms for the faculty to negotiate some of the structural changes the administration wanted to make. … We are in an amazing place.”

    Part-time faculty members formed a union at Notre Dame de Namur last year, and tenure-line faculty members gained certification from the National Labor Relations Board soon after. Legally, the groups are two separate units, but they are covered by the same contract and members of each attended all bargaining sessions. The resulting agreement is one with relative parity in working conditions for full-time and part-time professors -- they way the wanted it. “Don't Divide Our University. #NDNUunites” buttons were even part of the union organizing campaign. (Note: This paragraph has been updated from an earlier version to clarify that part-time and full-time faculty members organized together.)

    Both groups get a raise, with the lowest-earning part-time faculty members seeing their per-course pay increase by 35 percent by the end of the contract. Full-timers will get 8 to 9.5 percent raises over three years, addressing their concerns about being some of the worst-paid professors in the pricey San Francisco Bay Area. The lowest full-time starting professor's salary is currently about $53,000, and will increase to around $62,000 by the end of the contract. Per-unit pay for the lowest-earning part-timers will increase to $1,266 (most courses are three units).

    The contract also squashes previous administrative proposals to up the full-time faculty course load to five courses per semester instead of four, and to bar full-timers from teaching overload courses. Tolley said some lower-paid professors rely on those courses to be able to pay their rent. Now they'll still be able to.

    Part-time professors won’t all be hired semester to semester anymore, either, under the contract. They’ll instead be offered any course they are qualified to teach by seniority. Those who have taught for 14 years and attained the title of senior lecturer can apply for a paid sabbatical. (That's pay for six units, or about two courses.)

    Full-time faculty members will get the same health-care benefits as administrators, and the university may no longer deny courses to adjuncts to prevent them from becoming eligible for health benefits.

    Additional funds are included for professional development, teaching independent studies and course cancellations.

    As for shared governance -- what some faculty members feared they might lose in becoming union members -- the contract ensures more faculty say in academic matters than previously existed on campus. Guaranteed standing faculty committees now include those on rank and tenure, curriculum, and faculty development. Except for rank and tenure, the committees must include an elected part-time faculty member, who is compensated for their time.

    A joint labor-management committee also will be created to resolve issues related to workload, training and job duties. Some planned changes to academic programs were resolved through contract negotiations, but those that weren't may be addressed in the joint committee.

    Crucially, faculty handbooks were rolled into the contract, making them binding and subject to the grievance process.

    Notre Dame de Namur is a designated Hispanic-serving institution. The contract reflects that by dedicating funding to recruiting new faculty members of color and training professors on implicit bias and best practices for teaching first-generation college students.

    After many years on campus, “in spite of differences that at times feel overwhelming that divide faculty from administration, unionization has for the first time provided a process for faculty and administration to work together constructively to serve our students,” Bob Ferrara, another professor of education, said in a statement announcing the contract.

    Notre Dame de Namur is just the ninth private institution to allow tenured and tenure-track professors to unionize, by SEIU's accounting. Nato Green, an area organizer with the union, noted that the contract also includes assurances of academic freedom for all professors. He said in an interview it therefore would protect Notre Dame de Namur’s faculty from the kinds of backlash instructors on other campuses have faced recently for their extramural speech, much of it on race.

    Green also praised the Notre Dame de Namur faculty’s focus on “building unity” throughout the unionization and negotiating process. Of joint part-time and full-time units on private campuses, he said, “that’s model we want to continue to pursue” at SEIU.

    In a statement Thursday, the university called the contract “a fair agreement, which is beneficial for all parties because it has clarified labor management relationships and compensation/cost structure for the next three years.” 

    The agreement “calls for a modest guaranteed wage increase for all faculty, with some additional increase to those at the lowest paid levels,” the university said. “Because tuition and student fees are the source of the vast majority of university funding, increases to compensation must always be balanced against the ability of students to pay for their educations. The university is always working to help students with scholarships, especially through fundraising, to ease this burden for students. 

    Notre Dame de Namur “looks forward to working with all its valued employees, faculty, staff, and administration, to focus on providing an exceptional education and an enriching experience for all students, which is the primary goal of all," it added.

     

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              Nigerian Copyright Commission Seizes Pirated Books Worth N800 Million and other major headlines you missed today..   
    Image result for kemi filani blog major headlines you missed today

    Dear KFBers, we have got loads of interesting stories for you on our Major headlines you missed today feature! Enjoy.....
    N4bn Judgement Against Sahara Reporters: Saraki Releases Statement 
    President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Thursday commended the judgment of an Ilorin High Court that ruled that the publisher of the online news platform, Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, should pay him the sum of N4 billion ($11.1 Million) as damages over a series of libelous stories published against him by the medium in 2015.

    Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that the judgement issued against Sahara Reporters for constantly publishing false, libelous and misleading stories that were aimed at defaming his person, was a testament that the moral arc of the universe will always bend towards justice.

    “One thing is clear by the judgement, there are systems in place in our nation for all citizens to seek redress if they have been unfairly treated in any way,” the statement read, “This judgement is a fulfillment of our promise that we will explore all legal means to seek redress for all the fabrications and mudslinging that Sahara Reporters has thrown at us over the years.


    “This judgement demonstrates that our justice system can and will continue to protect the fundamental human rights of all citizens from being infringed by anyone. Moving forward, the purveyors of mischievous stories can learn from this precedent that has been set. The ruling by Justice Adeyinka Oyinloye, will serve as a deterrent to all those who profit by propagating ‘Fake News’ to blackmail innocent citizens or curry undue favours.

    “This judgement is definitely not a victory for the Senate President alone. It is a victory for all the victims of the falsehood which Sahara Reporters daily dole out to rubbish the reputation of innocent Nigerians, many of whom either out of fear, lack of the patience to consistently pursue a court case for years or lack of belief in the ability of the system to give them justice decided to live with the injury to their reputation. The judgement is another vindication for our country and her solid enthronement of the rule of law as against the rule of men.

    “Dr Saraki believes this judgement would provide inspiration and encouragement for all those whose reputations have been unduly and unnecessarily injured by SaharaReporters and its ilk who are purveyors of false news to seek redress through the courts.

    “He sees the verdict of the High Court against Sahara Reporters as a positive development with the potential to reassure individuals and firms who would in future come under undeserved attack by publications which spread falsehood aimed at maliciously casting them in bad light.

    “The judgement provides a redeeming point for the noble profession of journalism which has as its sacred, cardinal principle the pursuit of facts at all times and in all situations. The journalists and news media who have devoted themselves to the pursuit of truth but appear to be overwhelmed by those who trade in falsehood and sensationalism now have a reason to be proud that they are on the right path. That is another meaning Dr. Saraki gives to this judgement.

    “However, the Senate President will like to assure all and sundry that he will not spare any legal efforts and expenses, both in Nigeria and abroad, necessary to recover every kobo of the cost awarded in his favour from the defendant.

    “The restitution from this judgement will be channeled to set up a Foundation whose aim will be to support pure and unadulterated investigative journalism and assist the families of real journalists that die in the line of duty. The money will also be used to support genuine publications whose owners are struggling to pay salaries of workers or meet their ever rising running cost. Part of the money will also be channelled to help lawyers who have been providing pro bono services to litigants, particularly, on cases bothering on enforcement of fundamental human rights.

    “It should be noted that the methodical and dogged manner in which Dr. Saraki pursued the case despite the ceaseless barrage of false allegations thrown at him by the Sahara Reporters should assure all Nigerians that he maintains a solid belief in free press, free speech and responsible journalism and that he will do every thing legal to fight those who want to use journalism as a destructive, blackmail and oppressive instrument. This latter brand of journalism will not help our society and has no role to play in the emerging Nigeria”, he stated.

    Melaye: Constituents File Suit To Stop INEC's Recall Process 
    The Concerned Kogi Registered Voters (CKRV) numbering 18, have filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from commencing verification of signatures collected in order to recall Senator Dino Melaye who is representing Kogi West Senatorial District.

    Addressing newsmen on Thursday in Abuja, ‎the convener and secretary of the group, Olowosayo Gabriel Sunday and Amupitan Babayomi Segun claimed that names of dead persons and people who do not reside in the district appeared on the recall register submitted to INEC.

    The applicants, who faulted 188,000 signatures which were submitted to INEC, noted that while 111,534 voted in the general election in Kogi West, the total number of registered voters in Kogi West is 360,098.

    According to a copy of the motion which was made available to newsmen, INEC which is the first respondent was sued alongside eight other respondents, comprising some aides of the state governor, Yahaya Bello and state lawmakers from the senator's district.

    In their application, the plaintiffs said, "that 2nd to 9th respondents fraudulently opened a recall register and signed signatures for registered voters in Kogi West Senatorial District.

    "That some of the names of the registered voters that appeared in re said recall register were dead voters and some voters who were not even residing at Kogi State and they were at different parts of the country when the purported signatures were fraudulently collated by the 2nd and 9th respondents."

    However, the convener of the indigenes, Olowosayo Gabriel Sunday, who is also the first applicant in the suit, said, "That as at the last announcement, INEC itself agreed and announced a figure of PVC collection in Kogi West that is far less than the alleged 188,000.

    "That we are aware that there is possible connivance between the people on the recall agenda and INEC because we have evidence of photograph of PVCs in thousands gathered together for the recall, an act contrary to the electoral act."

     
     
    UK deports 28 Nigerians
    The United Kingdom has deported another 28 Nigerians from its country on Thursday for remaining in the country illegally.

    The deportation came two days after Spain repatriated 23 Nigerians for immigration-related offences.

    Thursday’s deportees were returned aboard a chartered Titanic Airways plane with the registration number AWC-761/2.

    The deportees, comprising 21 men and 7 women, touched down at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos at about 12:15 p.m.

    Nigerian Copyright Commission Seizes Pirated Books Worth N800 Million
     After carrying out a successful anti-piracy raid at Awodi-Ora Estate in Ifelodun-Ajeromi Local Government Area of Lagos State which led to the confiscation of thousands of cartons of pirated works worth N600 Million, the Nigerian Copyright Commission has again carried out another successful anti-piracy raid at Tedi Village in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

    The anti-piracy raid culminated in the seizure of about two thousand cartons of pirated books belonging to various publishers. The Commission also arrested a Chinese nationale in connection with the pirated books. The seized books are worth over N200 Million.



              The battle over non-tobacco E-cigarettes at the FDA   
    Smokeless, tobacco-free, electronic (battery-powered) cigarettes that deliver a mixture of nicotine and water vapor but no carcinogens are part of the Senate debate over the proposed Food and Drug Administration tobacco regulations. Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, professor of socal and behavioral sciences, maintains they are a life-saving alternative for many smokers. Michael Siegel, 617-638-5160, mbsiegel@bu.edu
              Word that does not appear on the front-page at CNN right now: Russia.    
    The narrative has changed. Click to enlarge:



    I do see — look closely — "Van Jones: O'Keefe video is a hoax." The video is the one where we hear Van Jones say "That Russia thing is just a big nothing-burger." But the teaser on the front page doesn't give us a clue that the video had to do with Russia, and even when you click through, there's no mention of the substance of what we hear Jones say in the video, just the assertion: "CNN's Van Jones says the ambush video of him done by notorious provocateur James O'Keefe is a hoax."

    And how is the video a hoax? I think Jones is misusing the word, because he does not deny that he is the man in the video or that there's some context that would change the meaning of his statement. He indicates that he could have said other things, but not that he did actually on that occasion say more and O'Keefe had it edited out.

    ADDED: I'm just noticing that among the things CNN is trying to tease us with this morning is: "Prostitutes: Senate health care bill will devastate us." Prostitutes!

    ALSO: The Washington Post also has a front page that doesn't mention Russia but does — amazing! — have sex workers. Click to enlarge:



    You see the sex workers story: "Everything you were afraid to ask about phone sex workers — in one class-action lawsuit."

    Is there some JournoList-like back channel where they're brainstorming about how to titillate people if you can't talk about Russia and coming up with PROSTITUTES!
              GOP's Plan B for Obamacare repeal began with quiet push from Koch network   

    President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

    The influential Koch network, backed...


              Hopes fade for Friday revise of Senate Republican health bill with no quick fix in sight   

    Senate Republicans appeared unlikely to hit a self-imposed Friday deadline for revising their healthcare bill, as negotiators considered scaling back promised tax cuts for the wealthy in order to provide more insurance assistance to the poor.

    Vice President Mike Pence led a White House push by...


               Louisiana senator finds health care frustration at town hall    
    (AP) — A town hall meeting held by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy to talk about flood recovery in Louisiana's capital city was at times derailed Friday by people trying to pressure the Republican to vote against the Senate GOP's proposed rewrite of the national health care bill. Cassidy, a doctor who worked for years in Louisiana's charity hospital system, remained noncommittal about the Senate version of the health bill, though he's criticized similar legislation passed by the House. Kicking 22 million people off their health care in this country, referencing a Congressional Budget Office finding that the Senate GOP leadership's draft bill would result in that many people losing health insurance over the next decade. Edwards' heaviest criticisms center on the plan to significantly shrink spending on the traditional Medicaid program for low-income, disabled and elderly people and to phase out extra money given to states that expanded their Medicaid programs to cover the working poor.
              Trump taps Democratic Senate aide for FERC seat   
    President Trump announced last night that he plans to nominate Democratic Senate aide Richard Glick to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Glick, currently the minority general counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has also worked for the Department of Energy and in the private sector, including as a lobbyist for the wind industry.
              Comment on Strange former bedfellows in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race by Dennis Flessland   
    It will be interesting to see how these three handle the rough and tumble of campaigning and if any of them understand GOP primary voters. Politics ain't bean bag.
              Senate report: Phone bill cramming costs billions   
    Third-party charges on U.S. consumer and business telephone bills, most of them unauthorized by the customer, amount to US $2 billion a year, according to a new report from a U.S. Senate committee.
              Senators push for privacy, data security legislation   
    Democratic members of a Senate committee promised Wednesday to push hard for new online privacy protections and for legislation that would require companies to put security monitoring tools on their networks.
              Senators: New smartphone tracking law needed   
    The U.S. Congress needs to pass new laws to protect smartphone customers from having their locations tracked by operating systems and applications, members of a Senate subcommittee said Thursday.
              Area residents appointed to State boards and commissions   
    (DES MOINES) – Gov. Kim Reynolds today (Friday) announced appointments to Iowa’s boards and commissions. The appointments are effective Saturday, July 1st, 2017, are unpaid and are not subject to Iowa Senate confirmation. Among those she has appointed is: Kevin Blair, of Griswold – to the Council on Agricultural Education. Casey Alber, of Glenwood & […]
              Send a letter to your local newspaper & protect health care!   

    It’s working!

    Your calls, letters, signatures, stories, visits and loud, outraged voices are helping to slow down (and hopefully stop!) the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and massive cuts to Medicaid! U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to rush his terrible, horrible, no good “health care” (really, wealth care) bill, The Better Care Reconciliation Act/Trumpcare, through the U.S. Senate before the 4th of July recess, but on Tuesday he said he was delaying the vote because he doesn’t have support.

    But to be very, very clear: We have won a very small battle—not the war. This is just a delay. They are going to rewrite some of the bill in an attempt to build support from key senators and schedule a vote in the coming weeks so we can’t let up! We need to keep speaking out for our families’ health care!

    Next week U.S. Senators will be back in their districts for the July 4th recess and we want to flood them with messages from every direction that their constituents are strongly opposed to the terrible Republican healthcare bill. 

    KEY ACTION FOR TODAY! ***Can you help speak out for quality, affordable health care and send a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper? (Don’t worry—we’ve made it very easy for you. Just click on the link and we’ll walk you through the whole process)

    Letters that are submitted this week to your local newspapers are likely to be published next week when U.S. Senators are back in their home states.  Perfect timing!  U.S. Senators and their staff pay close attention to letters to the editor in local newspapers as a way to gauge the opinions of constituents. 

    They need to hear from YOU—those most impacted by their health care bill.

    We’ve got to keep the pressure on! Senate Republican Leadership said they are going to make adjustments to their bill and then will schedule a vote when the Senators get back to Washington, D.C. after the recess. To be clear—this bill is NOT salvageable—there isn’t any tinkering that could be done that could make this bill good for our families  We need to tell them to vote, “No!”

    Your voice is needed to let your Senators know that families back in their home state are standing up, taking notice, and are expecting them to protect the coverage gains we’ve made in recent years— and that the destructive Better Care Reconciliation Act hurts our families and economy. We need to increase the visibility of this issue and put pressure on the U.S. Senate to truly support the healthcare of millions of families.

    This is an emergency. You taking a moment to write a Letter to the Editor now will send a strong and swift signal to Congress that their constituents are concerned about the future of our health care. Plus: Senators pay special attention to their local newspapers!

    **Join me in writing a Letter to the Editor on health care to your local newspaper now!

    Here is why it’s so important to speak out right now: The provisions included in the destructive Better Care Reconciliation Act would threaten the health and wellbeing of women, children, families, and our economy. By getting rid of the successful Affordable Care Act and replacing it with the Senate proposal, protection for people with pre-existing conditions (like pregnancy, diabetes, c-sections, breast cancer, or even asthma) would be gutted. And the requirement for insurance providers to cover essential health benefits (like co-pay free birth control, annual exams, child well-visits, maternity coverage) could be removed.

    The Better Care Reconciliation Act/Trumpcare would also make massive spending cuts and structural changes to Medicaid. By taking away the decades old cost-sharing agreement between states and the federal government and shifting the cost of Medicaid on to the states, our government will be forced to make cuts that will end up reducing Medicaid coverage, services, or provider reimbursement rates. In the end, the people most affected are our most vulnerable communities: low-income families, pregnant women, people with disabilities, the elderly, rural communities, LGBTQ families, and communities of color — in particular Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native American families.

    On top of all of that, the U.S. Senate proposal would also effectively end the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion— an incredibly successful program in the 32 states, including D.C., where the program has been expanded. These states have seen boosts to job growth and state economies, and millions more adults who were previously uninsured have been able to receive health care coverage. These impacts would be particularly severe for women of color and women in rural areas. In fact, Medicaid has long played an even larger role in providing health coverage and paying for care in rural areas than in urban areas. Nearly 1.7 million rural Americans have newly gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion, many of them women.

    We need to loudly speak out against all of this and make our voices heard in our local newspapers!  We need to protect health care!

    **Will you join me in speaking out for quality, affordable health care and sending a Letter to the Editor NOW!?

    This bill is unpopular and unacceptable. Only 17% of those polled this week said they support the Better Care Reconciliation Act. U.S. families want our elected leaders to strengthen our health care system, not take away the vital protections and programs our families depend on for health and wellness.

    Which is why we need your voice! By sending a Letter to the Editor you are speaking up for all of our families in a high-impact, highly visible way.

    Don’t worry—sending the Letter to the Editor is super easy! When you click on the link above, we’ll lead you through a quick process to write a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper. This tool is pretty magical—you can easily edit our pre-drafted letter, if you wish (inserting your personal story if you have one!), and send it to your paper with just a few clicks.

    The pre-drafted letter (which you can edit when you click through to the link!) is logical, concise, and simply says:

    “Written in secret, the U.S. Senate leadership is rushing through the Better Care Reconciliation Act/Trumpcare, which would have dire effects on the health of our families and the stability of our economy.

    Here are the facts: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 22 million people would lose insurance under this bill. It would give giant tax breaks to billionaires, while taking healthcare away from women and children, communities of color, people in rural areas, people with disabilities, and the elderly. The plan obliterates the Affordable Care Act and proposes a weak replacement that would make health insurance less affordable, less accessible, and less comprehensive. It would even allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more for coverage than everyone else. On top of that, the BCRA slashes federal Medicaid funding, which funds nearly half the births in the U.S., healthcare for 10 million people with disabilities, and 70% of nursing home care. Our state’s budget would be crushed with the cost of trying to cover these critical needs. 

    No wonder this bill is already wildly unpopular. A recent NPR/PBS poll found that only 17% of Americans approve of this bill. I am not one of them!

    Our families, our state, and our economy can’t afford the Senate’s healthcare plan!

    In order to keep our families safe and our economy and communities healthy we must have quality, affordable healthcare. I am calling on our Senators to return to Washington, D.C. and do their job: protect our families’ healthcare!”

    After you click the link to send your Letter to the Editor, please forward this blog to friends—and also post the action link on Facebook and Twitter. The more of us who send letters, the bigger the impact we’ll have in protecting our health care and our families.

    **Don’t forget to take a moment to send a Letter to the Editor to your local paper now.

    Thank you for continuing to speak out during this long battle for our health care. It’s because of people like you that we are winning this fight!

    P.S. Are you looking for something else to do next week in your state on health care? Join in one of the events our partner organization are holding. You can check them out here.


              Take action on health care over July 4th Recess!   

    Your calls, letters, signatures, stories, visits and loud, outraged voices are helping to slow down (and hopefully stop!) the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and massive cuts to Medicaid! U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to rush his terrible, horrible, no good ‘health care’ (really, wealth care) bill, The Better Care Reconciliation Act/Trumpcare, through the U.S. Senate before the 4th of July recess, but on Tuesday he said he was delaying the vote because he doesn’t have support.

    But to be very, very clear: we have won a very small battle—not the war. This is just a delay. They are going to rewrite some of the bill in an attempt to build support from key senators and schedule a vote in the coming weeks.

    We can’t let up! We need to keep speaking out for our families’ health care!

    While our Senators are home for July 4th Recess we want to make sure we are seen and heard. Here are a few ways you can make sure you stand up for health care over the next week:

    1. Send a Letter to the Editor! Letters that are submitted this week to your local newspapers are likely to be published next week when Senators are back in their home states.  Perfect timing!  Senators and their staff pay close attention to letters to the editor in local newspapers as a way to gauge the opinions of constituents. Just click here and we’ll walk you through the whole process (including sample language and sending your letter directly to your local newspaper!).

    2. Bring a MomsRising health care sign to your local 4th of July parade or make your own. These parades are often attended by local elected leaders and the press. Holding a sign to speak out for health care is a great way to show your support for you community and patriotism!

    3. Tweet at your Senators about your health care story, local articles about how the Senate bill is damaging, or your disapproval of the Senate plan. You can find a full list of Senator’s twitter handles here.

    4.  Attend a town hall meeting or a local event sponsored by one of our partner organizations. Countless local groups are mobilizing across the U.S. this July 4th recess to #RESIST the terrible, horrible, no good cuts and caps to our health care. There’s too many to list, so we encourage you to connect with other health care advocates in your community and speak out locally. You can find some of the hundreds of events here:

    -Center for Public Representation

    -OFA

    -Planned Parenthood

    Alaska

    Families USA Rally to Protect Health Care

    Time: Wednesday, July 5th at 11 AM- 1 PM AKDT

    Location: Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Office

    Location 1: 805 Frontage Rd Ste 105, Kenai, AK, 99611

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1928131477426193/

    Location 2: 800 Glacier Ave, Juneau, AK 99801

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1894233367510874/

    Location 3: Ketchikan, AK

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1882162828667236/

    Location 4: Wasilla, AK

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/450611868636512/

    Location 5: Fairbanks, AK

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/155744078304476/

     

    California:

    Rally to Stop the GOP Health Care Bill

    Time: Monday, July 3 at 10:15 AM - 11:30 AM PDT

    Location: Harbor- UCLA Medical Center 1000 W Carson St, Torrance, California 90502

    Host: SEIU 721

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1389124424468664/

    Health Care Action at Rep. David Valadao District Office

    Time: Thursday, July 6, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM PDT

    Location: 101 N Irwin St, Ste 110B, Hanford, CA, 93230

    Host: SEIU Local 2015

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/118576435416803/

    Health Care Action at Rep. Steve Knight’s Office

    Time: Thursday, July 6, 11:00 AM-1:00 PM PDT

    Location: 26415 Carl Boyer Dr, Ste 220, Santa Clarita, CA, 91350

    Host: SEIU Local 2015

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/114552089161549/

     

    Kentucky:

    Let’s Tell Mitch to Dump Trumpcare

    Time: Thursday, July 6, 11:15 AM CDT

    Location: T.J. Health Pavilion, 312 N L Rogers Wells Blvd, Glasgow, KY, 42141

    Host: Terri Jo Harris

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/121131838489193/

    Louisiana:

    Bill Cassidy Town Hall

    Time: Friday, June 30 3pm CDT

    Location: EBRPL- Central Branch Library: 11260 Joor Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70818

    Michigan:

    Save Our Health Care Rally

    Time: Saturday, July 1, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM EST

    Location: Post Office Paw-Paw, 125 N Kalamazoo St, Paw Paw, MI, 49079

    Host: Vanburendems, Paw Paw Area Democrats

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/114616535818410/

    People Over Profit Rally: Health Care is a Right-Pinery Park

    Time: Wednesday, July 5, 5:30-7:00 PM EST

    Location: 2301 De Hoop Ave SW, Wyoming, MI, 49509

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/245723385832674/

    Health Care Town Hall w/Dan Kildee

    Time: Sunday, July 16, 11:00 AM- 1:00 PM EST

    Location: Plymouth-Ann Arbor Elks 325, 41700 Ann Arbor Rd E, Plymouth MI, 48170

    Host: Indivisible Michigan-District 11

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1914030515517745/

    Nevada:

    Health Care Town Hall

    Time: Wednesday, July 5, 6:00-8:00 PM PDT

    Location: Northern Nevada HOPES, 580 W 5th St, Reno, NV, 89503

    Host: Indivisible Northern Nevada

    Action Together Nevada

    Organizing for Action
    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1944840062430709/

    Oregon:

    Corvallis 4th of July Parade

    Time: Tuesday, July 4, 9:30-11:30 AM PDT

    Location: Gazebo at Central Park, Corvallis, OR

    Host: Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1914473315495787/

    Flash Protest Against Trumpcare

    Time: Thursday, July 6, 2:00 PM PDT

    Location: Near Three Rivers Community Hospital

    Hosts: Rogue Indivisible

    Health Care for All-Oregon

    UniteOregon

    ORD2 Indivisible

    The Josephine County Democratic Party’s Resist Committee

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/320569815060828/

    Tennessee:

    Farmers Against the AHCA press conference and tractor march.

    Nashville-Thursday, July 6. 12:30-4:30pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/1526572824049039/

    Washington:

    Town Hall: Impact of Trumpcare on Working Families

    Time: Thursday, July 6, 5:30-7:00 PM PDT
    Location: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98101

    Host: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

    Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1768897790022377/

    West Virginia:

    Community cookout and potluck in support of quality, affordable health care and immigration

    WHERE: Ritter Park, Shelter 1, near the tennis courts at the end of the park

                1340 Eighth Street, Huntington, WV

    WHEN: July 3, 2017, 10:30am

    WHO: Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, moms, kids, caregivers and community members

    https://act.moveon.org/event/cookouts/12244/signup/?source=&s=

    FamiliesUSA Rally to Protect Health Care

    Time: Wednesday, July 5th at 11 AM- 1 PM

    Location 1: 220 N Kanawha St, Beckley, WV 25801

    Facebook Event Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/818065641704752/

    We appreciate you continuing to use your voice to speak out for the health and well-being of our families! If you have events you want to share or ways you are speaking out, please feel free to share that info in the comments.


              MomsRising Members in Arizona and Colorado Share their Health Care Stories   

    Many thanks to Tucson- and Denver-area MomsRising members for sharing their stories on health care and SNAP with Senator John McCain and Senator Cory Gardner respectively. Stories are powerful and they are essential.

    Share your own healthcare story here: http://action.momsrising.org/survey/healthcare-stories/

    Check out media coverage and photos below:

    http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/06/22/senate-health-care-impact-colorado/


              Senate committee approves FAA bill that leaves out ATC privatization   
    The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday approved a Federal Aviation Administration funding bill that doesn't include langua -More

              Senate Armed Services Committee hopes funding will jump start OA-X   
    The Senate Armed Services Committee has OK'd $1.2 billion for the Air Force's OA-X light attack aircraft program.  -More

              McConnell Has About $200B In ‘Candy’ To Make Deals On Obamacare Repeal   
    As many as a dozen GOP senators may oppose the Senate majority leader’s Obamacare repeal bill. But the dealmaking is just beginning.
              Medicaid Meanderings: GOP Medicaid Plans – On The Right Track To Reform Or A Program ‘Sledgehammer’?   
    Opinion writers critique how the Medicaid program is handled in the GOP House and Senate health plans.
              Week In The News: Global Cyber Attacks, Health Care, Travel Ban   
    GOP healthcare plans on hold, cyberattacks go global, a partial travel ban is on. Our weekly news round table goes behind the headlines. A big week on so many fronts, and we’re talking – again – about tweets. Tweets from the president. In the Senate, US healthcare on the line and Republicans can’t pass a bill, yet. At the Supreme Court, a partial travel ban is ok’d, and the Trump administration jumps to impose it. A massive cyber-attack hits all over the world. And Donald Trump tweets a vulgar, ugly attack on two TV hosts. Tweets “psycho,” “crazy.” “low IQ,” “bleeding.” Our president. This hour, On Point: Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines. Tom Ashbrook Guests Stephen Henderson , Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press. Host of Detroit Today on member station WDET. ( @SHendersonFreep ) Kimberly Atkins , chief Washington reporter and columnist for the Boston Herald. ( @KimberlyEAtkins ) Jack Beatty , On Point news analyst. (
              GOP Health Bill Could Let Insurers Cap Spending On Expensive Patients   
    The health care legislation under discussion in the Senate could allow states to remove some of the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections — including the prohibition that keeps insurers from limiting how much they'll pay for medically needy , expensive patients. Clara Hardy's parents worry about the Senate bill for just this reason. These days, 6-year-old Clara's biggest struggle is holding her breath long enough to touch the bottom of the neighborhood pool. But immediately after she was born in 2011, she couldn't even breathe. She had a serious birth defect called a congenital diaphragmatic hernia . Sitting next to her mom, Chrissy Hardy, Clara reads from a book, made of construction paper, that she wrote and illustrated in crayon. "On day eight, the surgeons cut me open," Clara reads. "Everything that was in my chest got moved back to my belly. They put a patch to fix the hole in my diaphragm." "We were told more than once she would not survive," her mother adds. But after many
              Queer dance party descends on McConnell’s house, dancing with anger over health care repeal   
    Democracy in Action A swanky stretch of C Street near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., is blocked by a raucous crowd dancing in front of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s house on an unseasonably cool summer evening. As music blasts from loudspeakers, the scene resembles a Pride block party.…
              As Trump Travels To Summit, Congress May Be Reasserting Itself On Foreign Affairs   
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4UGCrI37p8 President Trump plans a European trip next week for a gathering of representatives of the world's largest economies — including those of allies such as Britain, Japan and Germany, and rivals such as China and Russia. The high-profile meetings will reinforce the general sense Americans share of any president: He is the head of state, the face of the nation, the principal architect of U.S. foreign policy and our advocate in the counsels of global power. Yet, in fact, the president makes and executes foreign policy not by himself but in a complex partnership with Congress. The role of Capitol Hill is easy to overlook, especially because Congress usually attracts far less attention in carrying out its part of the foreign policy process. That is especially true when Congress is focused intensely on a high-value domestic issue such as the health care bill now before the Senate. It is rare for an international issue to hold center stage for long on
              DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT WHILE TRUMP WAS BUSY TWEETING MEAN THINGS ABOUT THE MSM, House passes Kate’s L…   
    DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT WHILE TRUMP WAS BUSY TWEETING MEAN THINGS ABOUT THE MSM, House passes Kate’s Law, as part of illegal immigrant crackdown. On to the Senate.
              Bucco to Vote Against Dems’ FY 2018 Budget Deal   
    The following are Senate Republican Budget Officer Anthony Bucco’s remarks as prepared for delivery during today’s Senate session debate on the Democrats’ proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget. Senator Bucco, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, plans to vote no. Sen. Anthony Bucco, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, stated that he will vote against the Democrats’ proposed FY 2018 budget, saying it is not in the best interest of the majority of NJ residents. (SenateNJ.com) “Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to pay tribute to my friend, Senator O’Toole and thank him for his years of service. Senator – you have been an excellent resource for your fellow committee members and a true public servant. You will be missed. Thank you for all you have done for the people of New Jersey. I think we can all agree that this was a very productive session. For that, I’d like…
              Comment on Doily Gnuz – All about protecting the covfefe table by frugalchariot   
    It suddenly dawned on me -- the means to alleviate Republican fears of losing the House, the Senate, and in 2020 the Presidency. It's a two step process, but incredibly simple: (1) repeal Obamacare, effective immediately; (2) insert Universal Single Payer the moment Obamacare is gone. Then make the public statement that Health Care is not a convenience, it's a RIGHT that is now available to each and every person who is on American soil anywhere in the world. Period. It's SO SIMPLE!! Makes me wonder why the simple-minded GOP hasn't already come up with the idea.
              Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace later   
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump urged Republican senators in a tweet on Friday to repeal Obamacare immediately if they cannot agree on a new plan to replace it, muddying the waters as congressional leaders struggle for consensus on healthcare legislation.

              Former David Lee Roth Guitarist Jason Becker Says Proposed Healthcare Bill 'Has Me Freaked Out'   
    Jason Becker, who played guitar on David Lee Roth's 1990 solo album 'A Little Ain't Enough,' has spoken out against the proposed Senate healthcare bill. Continue reading…
              The Philippines a Century Hence   
    (by José Rizal Translated by Charles E. Derbyshire)

    NOTE: This famous essay of Rizal entitled "Filipinas de cien años" was first published in La Solidaridad, Madrid, between September 30, 1889, and February 1, 1890

    PART ONE: Following our usual custom of facing squarely the most difficult and delicate questions related to the Philippines, without weighing the consequences that our frankness may bring upon us, we shall in the present article treat of their future.

    In order to read the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past, and this, for the Philippines may be reduced in general terms to what follows.

    Scarcely had they been attached to the Spanish crown than they had sustained with their blood and the efforts of their sons the wars and ambitions, and conquest of the Spanish people, and in these struggles, in that terrible crisis when a people changes its form of government, its laws, usages, customs, religion and beliefs; the Philippines was depopulated, impoverished and retarded -- caught in their metamorphosis without confidence in their past, without faith in their present and with no fond home of the years to come. The former rulers who had merely endeavored to secure the fear and submission of their subjects, habituated by them to servitude, fell like leaves from a dead tree, and the people, who had no love for them nor knew what liberty was, easily changed masters, perhaps hoping to gain something by the innovation.

    Then began a new era for the Filipinos. They gradually lost their ancient traditions, their recollections, -- they forgot their writings, their songs, their poetry, their laws in order to learn by heart other doctrines, which they did not understand, other ethics, other tastes, different from those inspired in their race by their climate and their way of thinking. Then there was a falling-off, they were lowered in their own eyes, they became ashamed of what was distinctively their own, in order to admire and praise that was foreign and incomprehensible; their spirit was broken and they acquiesced.

    Thus years and centuries rolled on. Religious shows, rites that caught the eye, songs, lights, images arrayed with gold, worship in a strange language, legends, miracles and sermons, hypnotized the already naturally superstitious spirits of the country but did not succeed in destroying it altogether, in spite of the whole system afterwards developed and operated with unyielding tenacity.

    When the ethical abasement of the inhabitants had reached this stage, when they had become disheartened and disgusted with themselves, an effort was made to add the final stroke for reducing so many dormant wills and intellects to nothingness, in order to make of the individual a sort of toiler, a brute, a beast of burden and to develop a race without mind or heart. “Then the end sought was revealed, it was taken for granted, and the race was insulted, an effort was made to deny it every virtue, every human characteristic, and there were even writers and priests who pushed the movement still further by trying to deny to the natives of the country not only capacity for virtue but also even the tendency to vice.

    Then this which they had thought would be death was sure salvation. Some dying persons are restored to health by a heroic remedy.

    So great endurance reached its climax with the insults, and the lethargic spirit woke up to life. His sensitiveness, the chief trait of the native, was touched, and while he had the forbearance to suffer and die under a foreign flag, he had it not when they whom he served repaid his sacrifices with insults and jests. Then he began to study himself and to realize his misfortune. Those who had not expected this result, like all despotic masters, regarded as a wrong every complaint, every protest, and punished it with death, endeavoring thus to stifle every cry of sorrow with blood, and they made mistake after mistake.

    The spirit of the people was not thereby cowed, and even though it had been awakened in only a few hearts, its flame nevertheless was surely and consumingly propagated, thanks to abuses and the stupid endeavors of certain classes to stifle noble and generous sentiments. Thus when a flame catches a garment, fear and confusion propagate it more and more, and each shake, each blow, is a blast from the bellows to fan it into life.

    Undoubtedly during all this time there were not lacking generous and noble spirits among the dominant race that tired to struggle for the rights of humanity and justice, or sordid and cowardly ones among the dominated that aided the debasement of their own country. But both were exceptions and we are speaking in general terms.

    Such is an outline of their past. We know their present. Now what will their future be?

    Will the Philippine Islands continue to be a Spanish colony, and if so, what kind of colony? Will they become a province of Spain, with or without autonomy? And to reach this stage, what kind of sacrifices will have to be made?

    Will they be separated from the mother country to live independently, to fall into the hands of other nations, or to ally themselves with neighboring powers?

    It is impossible to reply to these questions, for to all of them both yes and now may be answered, according to the time desired to be covered. When there is in nature no fixed condition, how much less must there be in the life of a people, being endowed with mobility and movement! So, it is that in order to deal with those questions, it is necessary to presume an unlimited period of time, and in accordance therewith try to forecast future events.

    PART TWO: What will become of the Philippines within a century? Will they continue to be a Spanish colony?

    Had this question been asked three centuries ago, when at Legazpi’s death the Malayan Filipinos began to be gradually undeceived and, finding the yoke heavy, tried in vain to shake it off without any doubt whatsoever the reply would have been easy. To a spirit enthusiastic over the liberty of the country, to those unconquerable Kagayanes who nourished within themselves the spirit of Mgalats, to the descendants of the heroic Gat Pulintang and Gat Salakab of the Province of Batangas, independence was assured, it was merely a question of getting together and making a determination. But for him who, disillusioned by sad experience, saw everywhere discord and disorder, apathy and brutalization in the lower classes, discouragement and disunion in the upper, only one answer presented itself, and it was: extend his hands to the chains, bow his neck beneath the yoke and accept the future with the resignation of an invalid who watches the leaves fall and foresees a long winter amid whose snows he discerns the outlines of his grave. At the time discord justified pessimism -- but three centuries passed, the meek had become accustomed to the yoke, and each new generation, begotten in chains, was constantly better adapted to the new order of things.

    Now then, are the Philippines in the same condition they were three centuries ago?

    For the liberal Spaniards the ethical condition of the people remains the same, that is, the native Filipinos have not advanced; for the friars and their followers the people have been redeemed from savagery, that is, they have progressed; for many Filipinos ethics, spirit and customs have decayed, as decay all the good qualities of a people that falls into slavery that is, they have retrograded.

    Laying aside these considerations, so as not to get away from our subject let us draw the brief parallel between the political situation then and the situation at present, in order to see if what was not possible at that time can be so now, or vice versa.

    Let us pass over the loyalty the Filipinos may feel for Spain; let us suppose for a moment, along with Spanish writers, that there exist only motives for hatred and jealousy between the two races; let us admit the assertions flaunted by many that three centuries of domination have not awakened in the sensitive heart of the native a single spark of affection or gratitude; and we may see whether or not the Spanish cause has gained ground in the Islands.

    Formerly the Spanish authority was upheld among the natives by a handful of soldiers, three to five hundred at most, many of whom were engaged in trade and were scattered about not only in the Islands but also among the neighboring nations, occupied in long wars against the Mohammedans in the south, against the British and Dutch, and ceaselessly harassed by Japanese, Chinese, or some tribes in the interior. Then communication with Mexico and Spain was slow, rare and difficult; frequent and violent the disturbances among the ruling powers in the Islands, the treasury nearly always empty, and the life of the colonists dependent upon one frail ship that handled the Chinese trade. Then the seas in those regions were infested with pirates, all enemies of the Spanish name, which was defended by an impoverished fleet, generally manned by rude adventurers, when not by foreigners and enemies, which was checked and an expedition of Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, which was checked and frustrated by the mutiny of the Chinese rowers, who killed him and thwarted all his plans and schemes. Yet in spite of so many adverse circumstances the Spanish authority had been upheld for more than three centuries and, though it has been curtailed, still continues to rule the destinies of the Philippine group.

    On the other hand, the present situation seems to be gilded and rosy -- as we might say, a beautiful morning compared to the vexed and stormy night of the past. The material forces at the disposal of the Spanish sovereign have now been trebled; the fleet relatively improved: there is more organization in both civil and military affairs; communication with the sovereign country is swifter and surer; she has no enemies abroad; her possession is assured and the country dominated seems to have less spirit, less aspiration for independence, a world that is to it almost incomprehensible. Everything then at first glance presages another three centuries, at least, of peaceful domination and tranquil suzerainty.

    But above the material considerations are arising others, invisible, of an ethical nature, far more powerful and transcendental.

    Orientals and the Malays, in particular, are a sensitive people: delicacy of sentiment is predominant with them. Even now, in spite of contact with the Occidental nations, who have ideas different from his, we see the Malayan Filipino sacrifice everything -- liberty, ease, welfare, name for the sake of an aspiration or a conceit sometimes scientific, or of some other nature but at the least word which wounds his self-love he forgets all his sacrifices, the labor expended, to treasure in his memory and never forget the slight he thinks he has received.

    So the Philippine peoples have remained faithful during three centuries, giving up their liberty and their independence, sometimes dazzled by the hope of the Paradise promised, sometimes cajoled by the friendship offered them by a noble and generous people like the Spanish, sometimes also compelled by superiority of arms of which they were ignorant and which timid spirits invested with a mysterious character, or sometimes because the invading foreigner took advantage of internecine feuds to step in as the peacemaker in discord and thus after to dominate both parties and subject them to his authority.

    Spanish domination once established, was firmly maintained, thanks to the attachment of the people, to their mutual dissensions, and to the fact that the sensitive self-love of the native had not yet been wounded. Then the people saw their own countrymen in the higher ranks of the army, their general officers fighting beside the heroes of Spain and sharing their laurels, begrudged neither character, reputation nor consideration; then fidelity and attachment to Spain, love for the fatherland, made of the native encomendero and even general, as during the English invasion; then there had not yet been invented the insulting and ridiculous epithets with which recently the most laborious and painful achievements of the native leaders have been stigmatized; not then had it become the fashion to insult and slander in stereotyped phrase, in newspapers and books published with governmental and superior ecclesiastical approval, the people that paid, fought and poured out its blood for the Spanish name, nor was it considered either noble or witty to offend a whole race, which was forbidden to reply or defend itself, and if there were religious hypochondriacs who in the leisure of their cloisters dared to write against it, as did the Augustinian Gaspar de San Agustin and the Jesuit Velarde, their loathsome abortions never saw the light, and still less were they themselves rewarded with miters and raised to high offices. True it is that neither were the natives of that time such as we are now: three centuries of brutalization and obscurantism have necessarily had some influence upon us, the most beautiful work of divinity in the hands of certain artisans may finally be converted into a caricature.

    The priests of that epoch, wishing to establish their domination over the people, got in touch with it and made common cause with it against the oppressive encomenderos. Naturally, the people saw in them learning and some prestige and placed its confidence in them, followed their advice, and listened to them in the darkest hours. If they wrote, they did so in defense of the rights of the native and made his cry reach even to the distant steps of the Throne. And not a few priests, both secular and regular, undertook dangerous journeys, as representatives of the country, and this, along with the strict and public residencia then required of the governing powers, from the captain-general to the most insignificant official, rather consoled and pacified the wounded spirits, satisfying, even though it were only in form, all the malcontents.

    All this has passed away. The derisive laughter penetrates like mortal poison into the heart of the native who pays and suffers and it becomes more offensive the more immunity it enjoys. A common sore the general affront offered to a whole race, has wiped away the old feuds among different provinces. The people no longer have confidence in its former protectors, now its exploiters and executioners. The masks have fallen. It has been that the love and piety of the past have come to resemble the devotion of a nurse, who, unable to live elsewhere, desires the eternal infancy, eternal weakness, for the child in order to go on drawing her wages and existing at its expense, it has seen not only that she does not nourish it to make it grow but that she poisons it to stunt its growth and at the slightest protest she flies into a rage! The ancient show of justice, the holy residencia has disappeared; confusion of ideas begins to prevail; the regard shown for a governor-general, lie La Torre, becomes a crime in the government of his successor, sufficient to cause the citizen to lose his liberty and his home; if he obeys the order of one official, as in the recent matter of admitting corpses into the church, it is enough to have the obedient subjects later harassed and persecuted in every possible way; obligations and taxes increase without thereby increasing rights, privileges and liberties or assuring the few in existence; a regime of continual terror and uncertainty disturbs the minds, a regime worse than a period of disorder for the fears that the imagination conjures up are generally greater than the reality; the country is poor; the financial crisis through which it is passing is acute, and every one points out with the finger the persons who are causing the trouble, yet no one dares lay hands upon them!

    True it is that the Penal Code has come like a drop of balm to such bitterness. But of what use are all the codes in the world, if by means of confidential reports, if for trifling reasons, if through anonymous traitors any honest citizen may be exiled or banished without a hearing, without a trial? Of what use is that Penal Code, of what use is life, if there is no security in the home, no faith in justice and confidence in tranquility of conscience? Of what use is all that array of terms, all that collection of articles, when the cowardly accusation of a traitor has more influence in the timorous ears of the supreme autocrat than all the cries for justice?

    If this state of affairs should continue, what will be come of the Philippines within a century?

    The batteries are gradually becoming charged and if the prudence of the government does not provide an outlet for the currents that are accumulating, some day the spark will be generated. This is not the place to speak of what outcome such a deplorable conflict might have, for it depends upon chance, upon the weapons and upon a thousand circumstances which man cannot foresee. But even though all the advantages should be on the government’s side and therefore the probability of success, it would be a Pyrrhic victory, and not government ought to desire such.

    If those who guide the destinies of the Philippines remain obstinate, and instead of introducing reforms try to make the condition of the country retrograde; to push their severity and repression to extremes against the classes that suffer and think they are going to force the latter to venture and put into play the wretchedness of an unquiet life, filled with privation and bitterness, against the hope of securing something indefinite. What would be lost in the struggle? Almost nothing: the life of the numerous discontented classes has no such great attraction that it should be preferred to a glorious death. It may indeed be a suicidal attempt -- but then, what? Would not a bloody chasm yawn between victors and vanquished and might not the latter with time and experience become equal in strength, since they are superior in numbers to their dominators? Who disputes this? All the petty instructions that have occurred in the Philippines were the work of a few fanatics or discontented soldiers, who had to deceive and humbug the people or avail themselves of their powers over their subordinates to gain their ends. So they all failed. No insurrection had a popular character or was based on a need of the whole race or fought for human rights or justice, so it left no ineffaceable impressions, but rather when they saw that they had been duped the people bound up their wounds and applauded the overthrow of the disturbers of their peace! But what if the movement springs from the people themselves and based its causes upon their woes?

    So then, if the prudence and wise reforms of our ministers do not find capable and determined interpreters among the colonial governors and faithful perpetrators among those whom the frequent perpetrators among those whom the frequent political changes send to fill such a delicate post; if met with the eternal it is out of order, preferred by the elements who see their livelihood in the backwardness of their subjects, it just claims are to go unheeded, as being of a subversive tendency; if the country is denied representation in the Cortes and an authorized voice to cry out against all kinds of abuses, which escape through the complexity of the laws; if in short, the system, prolific in results of alienating the goodwill of the natives, is to continue, pricking his apathetic mind with insults and charges of ingratitude, we can assert that in a few yeas the present state of affairs will have been modified completely -- and inevitably. There now exists a factor which was formerly lacking -- the spirit of the nation has been aroused and a common misfortune, a common debasement has united all the inhabitants of the Islands. A numerous enlightened class now exists within and without the Islands, a class created and continually augmented by the stupidity of certain governing powers, which forces the inhabitants to leave the country, to secure education abroad, and it is maintained thanks to the provocation and the system of espionage in vogue. This class, whose number is cumulatively increasing, is in constant communication with the rest of the Islands, and if today it constitutes only the brain of the country in a few years it will form the whole nervous system and manifest its existence in all its acts.

    Now, statecraft has various means at its disposal for checking a people on the road to progress; the brutalization of the masses through a caste addicted to the government, aristocratic, as in the Dutch colonies, or theocratic as in the Philippines; the impoverishment of the country; the gradual extermination of the inhabitants; and fostering of feuds among the races.

    Brutalization of the Malayan Filipinos has been demonstrated to be impossible. In spite of the dark horde of friars in whose hands rests the instruction of youth, which miserably wastes years and years in the colleges, issuing therefrom tired, weary and disgusted with books: in spite of the censorship which tries to close every avenue to progress; in spite of all the pupils, confessionals, books, and missals that inculcate hatred toward not only all scientific knowledge but even toward the Spanish language itself; in spite of this whole elaborate system perfected and tenaciously operated by those who wish to keep the Islands in holy ignorance; there exist writers, freethinkers, historians, philosophers, chemists, physicians, artists, and jurists. Enlightenment is spreading and the persecution it suffers quickens it. No, the divine flame of thought is inextinguishable in the Filipino people and somehow or other it will shine forth and compel recognition. It is impossible to brutalize the inhabitants of the Philippines!

    May poverty arrest their development? Perhaps, but it is a very dangerous means. Experience has everywhere shown us and especially in the Philippines, that the classes which are better off have always been addicted to peace and order, because they live comparatively better and may be the losers in civil disturbances. Wealth brings with it refinement, the spirit of conservation, while poverty inspires adventurous ideas, the desire to change things and has little care for life. Machiavelli himself held this means of subjecting of a people to be perilous, observing that loss of welfare stirs up more obdurate enemies than loss of life. Moreover, when there are wealth and abundance, there is less discontent, less compliant and the government, itself wealthier, has more means for sustaining itself. On the other hand, there occurs in a poor country what becomes in a house where bread is wanting? And further, of what use to the mother country would a poor and lean colony be?

    Neither is possible gradually to exterminate the inhabitants. The Philippine races, like all the Malays, do not succumb before the foreigner, like the Australians, the Polynesians and the Indians of the New World. In spite of the numerous wars the Filipinos have had to carry on, in spite of the epidemics that have periodically visited them, their number has trebled, as has that of the Malays of Java and the Moluccas. The Filipino embraces civilization and lives and thrives in every clime, in contact with every people. Rum, that poison which exterminated the natives of the Pacific islands, has no power in the Philippines, but rather, comparison of their present condition with that described by the earlier historians, makes it appear that the Filipinos have grown soberer. The petty wars with the inhabitants of the south consume only the soldiers, people who by their fidelity to the Spanish flag, far from being a menace, are surely one of its solidest supports.

    Three remains the fostering of internecine feuds among the provinces.

    This was formerly possible, when communication from one island to another was rare and difficult, when there were not steamers or telegraph lines, when the regiments were formed according to the various provinces, when some provinces were cajoled by awards of privileges and honor and other were protected from the strongest. But now that the privileges have disappeared, that through a spirit of distrust the regiments have been reorganized, that the inhabitants move from one island to another, communication and exchange of impressions naturally increase, and as all see themselves threatened by the same peril and wounded in the same feelings, they clasp hands and make common cause. It is true that the union is not yet wholly perfected, but to this end the measures of good government, the vexations to which the townspeople are subjected, the frequent changes of officials, the scarcity of centers of learning, forces of the youth of all the islands to come together and begin to get acquainted. The journeys to Europe contribute not a little to tighten the bonds, for abroad the inhabitants of most widely separated provinces are impressed by their patriotic feelings, from sailors even to the wealthiest merchants, and at the sight of modern liberty and the memory of the misfortunes of their country, they embrace and call one another brothers.