Nearly half the nation’s states are opting not to expand Medicaid to all of their low-income residents, leaving billions of federal dollars on the table and millions of poor Americans uninsured.
At least 21 states are opting out of Medicaid expansion for next year. In another six states, legislators are still weighing their options, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is tracking the states’ plans.
The Supreme Court changed the Obamacare rules last June when it decided that governors and lawmakers could opt out of widening their Medicaid rosters. Under the original health-care reform law, all those earning less than 138% of the federal poverty line, or roughly $31,800 for a family of four, would have been eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid rules currently vary from state to state, but many states provide little to no coverage of childless, non-disabled and non-elderly adults.
The Secretary of State in Nevada has asked the State legislature to consider a voter ID law that he has proposed.
Under his proposal, which lawmakers will consider in 2013, the photos on residents’ driver’s licenses would be placed electronically with their voter registration records and in the poll books at election locations. People without any identification, but who are registered, would be required to have their pictures taken by poll workers and sign an affidavit that they are the person they represent the first time they vote.
What is surprising is that the Sec’y of State is a Democrat. And what is different about this Voter ID law is that the ID is maintained by the election officials. Hence although it is called a voter ID law, voters are spared the burden of acquiring an ID.
Miller has himself suggested that voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. And he also admits that the program will cost many millions of dollars. But the strategy is clearly to neutralize the Republican effort at voter suppression by satisfying their explicit concern for ID without satisfying their real aim to disenfranchise those who don’t really deserve to vote anyway: poor people and minorities.
Although Republicans, not Democrats, generally have championed voter ID laws, Miller said the Minnesota secretary of state, who is a Democrat, proposed the photo ID bill, and the Republican legislators opposed it.
“I am not sure why they would oppose it,” Miller said. “It suggests to me you are after something else.”
The problem with this scenario is that Crist is much too conservative in some areas for many Democrats.
President Barack Obama’s narrow victory over Mitt Romney in Florida last week has Democrats eager to seize the momentum to focus on the next hurdle: defeating Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Party leaders are thumping their chests that the triumph was a repudiation of the tea party, a signal that the GOP state party is out-of-touch and a blueprint for unseating Scott, the most unpopular governor in Florida in decades. But Democrats have one big problem: no standout candidate to challenge him.
“Working on that one,” joked Scott Arceneaux, director of the Florida Democratic Party.
Their bench includes former legislators, failed former candidates, and a long list of mayors. Only state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, who is little known outside Tallahassee, has announced she is in the race.
Then, there is Charlie Crist.
Setting the stage for a tough campaign to raise taxes, Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday announced a budget deal with “more difficult cuts,” squeezing another $1 billion from the state’s safety-net for the poor.
Most welfare-to-work recipients will get cut off state assistance after two years — instead of four — if they are not meeting tough federal work requirements.
And the state will eliminate the Healthy Families medical program that serves low-income children. Instead, nearly 1 million youths will be shifted over the next three years to Medi-Cal to help close a $15.7 billion deficit and eliminate future shortfalls with the permanent changes to safety-net programs.
The deal ends a showdown over the last $1 billion in cuts needed to balance the budget. Legislators on Friday had approved a main $92 billion spending plan to meet the June 15 constitutional deadline and avoid forfeiting their own paychecks.
It cut short speculation that Brown would veto a budget bill for a second straight year and gave Democrats a chance to crow about an on-time budget as they head into the campaign season.
The oil and gas industry has done with the complicit support of the GOP and some Democrats in Pennsylvania what they only dreamed of elsewhere. Across the nation and around the world the jury is still out on the process of fracking to obtain natural gas. No concern to the legislators of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Not only did they sweep aside health and cost and water concerns, they took away the very right to fight the companies from drilling ANYWHERE. Governor Corbett (R) and the folks in Harrisburg Pennsylvania have sold the farm. Your farm. And you don’t even know it yet.
This is what the Tea Party and the GOP want./
“There is a crisis of authority, and we’re not prepared to think about it in these terms,” said Fukuyama. “When Americans think about the problem of government, it is always about constraining the government and limiting its scope.” That dates back to our founding political culture. The rule of law, regular democratic rotations in power and human rights protections were all put in place to create obstacles to overbearing, overly centralized government. “But we forget,” Fukuyama added, “that government was also created to act and make decisions.”
“If we are to get out of our present paralysis, we need not only strong leadership, but changes in institutional rules,” argues Fukuyama. These would include eliminating senatorial holds and the filibuster for routine legislation and having budgets drawn up by a much smaller supercommittee of legislators — like those that handle military base closings — with “heavy technocratic input from a nonpartisan agency like the Congressional Budget Office,” insulated from interest group pressures and put before Congress in a single, unamendable, up-or-down vote.
I know what you’re thinking: “That will never happen.” And do you know what I’m thinking? “Then we will never be a great a country again, no matter who is elected.” We can’t be great as long as we remain a vetocracy rather than a democracy. Our deformed political system — with a Congress that’s become a forum for legalized bribery — is now truly holding us back.
Yesterday, an Alabama Senate panel approved a measure that will require women who take the morning after pill to do so in the presence of a physician. The pill’s available over the counter to women 17 and over and it could not be simpler to take unless you absorbed it by thinking spermy thoughts, so either Alabama state Senators think that women are so stupid that they can’t be trusted to swallow a single pill without accidentally putting it in their eyes or butts, or they’re enacting yet more laws to interfere with a sexually active woman’s right to not be pregnant. I’m not into gambling, but if I was, $10 says it’s the latter.
The measure will now proceed to the full Senate for a vote, and if recent behavior of the Alabama legislature is any indicator of how they’ll handle this, it’ll probably die, but only after they embarrass themselves debating it for awhile. This isn’t even the worst iteration of the Women Can’t Take Their Own Damn Pills bill; an earlier version would have required ladies to undergo a completely unnecessary medical exam before taking the pill.
It’s not rocket science to understand that this measure isn’t designed to promote anyone’s health; it’s just designed to inconvenience women who are already in a stressful Morning After Pill situation and waste precious time, which is of the essence after the condom breaks. Forcing women to make an appointment with a doctor and then wait and then take the pill in front of the doctor isn’t “protecting life,” it’s just “promoting unwanted pregnancy” and “making getting emergency contraception a huge pain in the ass.” And I’m sure doctors don’t appreciate being told what to do by moralizing, votemongering legislators, either.
But, as exhausting as it is, we need to pay attention to and resist post-20 week bans on abortion. That’s because it’s cruel on its surface, but also because legislators are using 20 week bans in order to smuggle in other items of more importance to them than simply making it harder for a slim minority of women seeking abortions to get them. The most obvious thing they’re trying to do is set anti-science precedent. Since these bans are based on the false, unscientific claim that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain, if they’re allowed to stand, it opens the door for more laws based on straight-up lies to be passed. These laws are also being used to challenge the requirement set out in Roe v Wade that a woman’s health and life should trump that of the misogynist desire to keep her pregnant at all costs.
Legislators have had so much success smuggling in ulterior motives with 20-week bans that they’re now looking for ways to expand the amount of hard right anti-choice nonsense they can attach to those bills. The most recent—-and extreme—-example is Arizona. There, lawmakers are writing a 20-week abortion ban that starts counting off at the first day of a woman’s period. Yes, they’re arguing that you’re “pregnant” while you’re actually getting your period. In fact, as Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones explains, they’re really trying to steal as many weeks as possible away from women seeking abortion:
Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occured anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona’s law would start the clock at a woman’s last period—which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant.
Legislation that will encourage coercive prayer in schools sat unsigned on Gov. Rick Scott’s desk for 15 days.
Was this a sign that the Florida Republican, who’d suggested that he was leaning toward the bill, had a change of heart?
Not so much. On March 23 Scott finally did what had been expected all along - he approved a bad bill that will allow “inspirational messages” in public schools.
Under the law, school boards may set policies that allow students to deliver these messages during the student portion of any school assembly. The messages are intended to mark “the formal or ceremonious observance of an occasion or event,” and no school officials will be permitted to review or edit the content.
This might sound like freedom of expression, but we all know what’s going on here. The measure is nothing short of a thinly veiled attempt to promote coercive prayer in schools. Supporters said so.
Scott and his allies in the Florida legislature have now opened the door for schools to wade into a constitutional quagmire. No school is required to allow “inspirational messages,” but any that do may find themselves staring down a lawsuit. Guess who would have to pay the bill for that litigation? Hint: it’s not Rick Scott or legislators.
As The Miami Herald reported, AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said, “Legislators are clearly inviting Florida school boards to plunge into a legal swamp. I hope school board members turn down the invitation. It’s wrong to subject students to coercive prayer and proselytizing.”
A miserable failure, and a waste of legislative calendar when there’s plenty of other things legislators ought to be doing.
Gay rights advocates are declaring victory after New Hampshire’s failed attempt at repealing its gay marriage law, saying it resounds in a region where opponents have concentrated efforts to reverse momentum.
The state House voted Wednesday to kill the measure, ending a push by its new Republican majority to rescind New Hampshire’s 2-year-old law. Nevertheless, both sides are pledging to continue fighting into the fall elections.
“Today is a banner day for the freedom to marry,” said Craig Stowell, co-chairman of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families. Stowell said the House, where Republicans hold a 189-seat advantage, was supposed to give conservatives their best shot at repeal.
“They blew it,” he said. “This was supposed to be the most favorable legislative climate for repeal and they couldn’t even get a majority.”