State Net Capitol Journal 041612


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State Net Capitol Journal 041612

  1. 1. Volume XX, No. 12 April 16, 2012 Budget & taxes 5 CT pulls plug on managed 4 care for Medicaid Still Politics & leadership Congress casting critical eye on CA high-speed rail 7 Dreamin’? Governors 10 Christie stands by tunnel decision Bird’s eye view 2 Hot issues 13 Once around the statehouse lightly 16 The next issue of Capitol Journal will be © available on April 23rd. Top Story For more than a century, SNCJ Spotlight Can Jerry Brown rekindle the California has been a Mbeacon for dreamers and California Dream? innovators from around ore than six decades ago, social criticthe globe. But after years Carey McWilliams defined California of budget malaise, Gov. as a mercurial “great exception” among Jerry Brown is trying to the states in the rapidity of its growth. After bursting lead the state back to its into American consciousness with the Gold Rush of old glory. 1849, California built cities and ports and railroads and advertised itself to the world. Elsewhere in the
  2. 2. United States, wrote McWilliams,the tempo of development began Bird’s eye viewslowly and gradually accelerated, WA NH“but in California, the lights went ME VT MT NDon all at once, in a blaze and they OR MN MA ID SD WI NYhave never been dimmed.” WY MI RI PA CT IA How nostalgic these words NV NE NJ OH UT IL IN CA CO WV DEsound now. Recurrent recessions, KS MO VA KY MD NCa housing collapse, crumbling TN AZ OK NM AR SCinfrastructure and a decline in MS AL GA TX LAeducational opportunities have AK FLeroded public confidence anddimmed the lights in many corners HI States with lowest percentage of uninsured States with highest percentage of uninsuredof California. The ebullient sense Source: Gallup, Inc.of forward motion that pervaded Foreclosures hit five-year low U.S. foreclosure activity in the firstthe Golden State in the heady quarter of this year — as measured byaftermath of World War II, when the number of default notices, scheduledMcWilliams wrote California: auctions and bank repossessions — was at its lowest level since the fourth quarterThe Great Exception, is a distant of 2007. Foreclosure filings were reported on 572,928memory. The optimism was in properties this past quarter, about 1 out of every 230 U.S. housing units. Counter to the long-term trend, foreclosuremany ways a byproduct of the war, starts rose for the third straight month. Nevada had thewhen California was discovered nation’s highest foreclosure rate for the quarter overall, with filings on one in every 95 housing units in the state, but foranew by servicemen who embarked the first time in 62 consecutive months, it slipped to No. 2 into the Pacific and defense workers March, behind Arizona.who came to work in airplane andmunitions factories. Dazzled by California’s blue skies, rolling beaches, and easy ways,one newcomer gushed to Life magazine: “Mister, this is Dreamland.” After the war, California rushed to fulfill the dream. It built new colleges andexpanded others for veterans suddenly able to afford higher education because of theGI Bill of Rights. Developers bulldozed orchards and replaced them with houses,roads and schools. By 1964, California had become — and remains — the mostpopulous U.S. state. It was a nation-state with a budget that exceeded all but a halfdozen countries in the world, at once an agricultural cornucopia, a concrete matrix ofinterlocking freeways and a global leader in science and technology with world-classuniversities and a far-flung array of state and community colleges that were the envy State Net Capitol Journal®of the country. Spurred by the Cold War, the aerospace industry flourished. Duringthe apogee of California’s development when Pat Brown (D) was governor from 1959through 1965, voters at his urging approved the construction of a gigantic aqueduct,visible from space, to transport water from the abundant north to the parched south.For a time, anything seemed possible in California, which seemed to hold the nation’sfuture in its hands. 2
  3. 3. Inevitably, however, California began to chokeon what McWilliams had called its only constant: In the hopper“rapid, revolutionary growth.” The skies became less At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thou- sands of bills in all 50 states, the US Congressblue and the beaches and freeways more congested. and the District of Columbia. Here’s a snapshotAs commutes lengthened and taxes and regulations of what’s in the legislative works:increased, life in California became stressful. Racial Number of Prefiles last week: 32and ethnic tensions rose. Watts rioted. University Number of Intros last week: 617students rebelled. Farm workers organized. PatBrown was defeated in 1966 by rising Republican Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 1,466star Ronald Reagan, a former movie actor who hademigrated from Iowa three decades earlier to pursue Number of 2012 Prefiles to date: 9,941his Hollywood dreams. Reagan looked askance Number of 2012 Intros to date: 69,318at government but was astute enough in forward- Number of 2012 Session Enacted/looking California to refrain from practicing too Adopted overall to date: 13,014much of what he preached. Among other things, Number of bills currently in State NetReagan signed into law the largest tax increase that Database: 164,249had ever been levied in any state and expanded an — Compiled By OWEN JARNAGINextensive system of public parks. (measures current as of 4/11/2012) Source: State Net database California’s tipping point came in 1978, whenReagan was out of office and pursuing the presidencyand Pat Brown’s son Jerry was governor. Jerry Brown was then an apostle of limitedgovernment, expressed as “small is beautiful.” The younger Brown was creative butunfocused — and out of touch. He didn’t realize that many Californians, especiallythose with fixed retirement income, were in danger of losing their homes becauseof soaring local property taxes, which rose with every assessment. Brown and theLegislature were sitting on a huge state surplus they could have used for property taxrelief. Instead, they ignored the angry homeowners, who turned to the ballot box andapproved an initiative known as Proposition 13. The measure capped property taxesand kept many Californians in their homes. But it also put a cap on California’s futureby requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes — even though Proposition 13 did notitself achieve this threshold. California has been struggling ever since. The state took a heavy hit in the early1990s when the aerospace industry imploded and another a decade later when boom collapsed. Just when California was climbing to its feet, the GreatRecession struck the overblown housing market with seismic ferocity. From 2005 to State Net Capitol Journal®2009 California lost 600,000 jobs, many of them in housing construction and relatedbusinesses. Few of these jobs have been regained. California’s unemployment ratein February was 10.9 percent, third highest in the nation. State and local governmentrevenues collapsed during the recession, prompting heavy cutbacks in educationspending. Seven million Californians lack health insurance and nearly a quarter of thestate’s children are in poverty. A Legislature that in the mid-20th century was known 3
  4. 4. for its professionalism became dysfunctional, perennially balancing the budget withgimmicks that kicked the can down the road while failing to address underlyingstructural problems. But help could be on the way in the unlikely form of an older and wiser JerryBrown. As California’s youngest governor during the two terms he served from1975 through 1983, Brown flitted from issue to issue, earning the sobriquet of“Governor Moonbeam” from columnist Mike Royko. Times — and Brown — havechanged. Brown matured and learned the ropes of hands-on governance during twoterms as mayor of Oakland, a gritty city across the bay from San Francisco. He waselected governor again in 2010 and recently celebrated his 74th birthday. GovernorMoonbeam no longer, Brown sounded like his father last year as he extolled thevirtues of education and pushed through the Legislature the California Dream Act,enabling illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States before they were16 to receive financial assistance for higher education. Now, Brown is trying to close the state’s multi-billion dollar state budget gap withan initiative on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax by a quarter centand increase state income tax rates on those making more than $250,000 a year. Somebusiness groups are grumbling about the tax hikes, and Republicans oppose them.Nonetheless, a USC/Los Angeles Times poll found that 64 percent of Californiansfavor Brown’s plan. These voters seem responsive to Brown’s plea that educationcutbacks imperil the state’s future. California’s two university systems have raisedtuitions and limited enrollments. The community college system, crucial for working-class students, has also increased fees and in some cases eliminated courses neededfor graduation. Stephen Levy, who directs the Center for Continuing Study of the CaliforniaEconomy, believes that the gap between rich and poor will grow without a taxincrease. “Presently, there are two Californias, one of which is prospering and theother which isn’t,” Levy told me. The prosperous ones, on the whole, are those whomake a living in technology, trade or tourism. But Californians who depend for theirlivelihood on the housing market or inter-related industries, from financial services tofurniture manufacturing, are hurting. Levy said the Brown initiative would raise halfthe revenue California needs to balance its budget and that the continuing recoveryshould do the rest. Not everyone agrees. William Hauck, former president of the California BusinessRoundtable, believes that increased revenues from higher taxes won’t help much State Net Capitol Journal®unless Brown and, even more, the Democrat-controlled Legislature curb their appetitefor spending. Hauck is also skeptical of polls showing the Brown initiative a slamdunk at the ballot box. Historically, measures that raise taxes on the wealthy haveattracted well-funded and effective opposition. But Brown seems determined to lead California back to its glory days when itspent unstintingly on education and development, and his plan has some surprise 4
  5. 5. backers. The Los Angeles Times editorially called Brown’s initiative “a realistic plan.” In Sacramento, lobbyist George Steffes, no fan of Brown’s earlier governorship, said he is doing better this time around. More than four decades ago Steffes was legislative liaison for Gov. Reagan when he signed his historic $1 billion tax increase — $6.8 billion in today’s dollars. In those days, Steffes said, governors and legislators came together in crises and did their best for California. “The old guys did pretty well, and Brown’s an old guy now,” Steffes said. Economist Stephen Levy, in a view shared by many others, believes the future of California will be written by young people, many of them Latino or Asian, who are now attending increasingly under-funded elementary and high schools and junior colleges. Perhaps Jerry Brown, the old guy who remembers how it used to be, can help the young Californians to keep the lights on in the Golden State. — By Lou CannonBudget & taxes C T PULLS PLUG ON MANAGED CARE FOR MEDICAID: The way states used to pay doctors and hospitals for treating Medicaid patients was by directly reimbursing them for the services they rendered. But spurred by criticism that the so-called “fee-for-service” method encouraged health care providers to rack up fees for unnecessary tests and procedures, states have been switching to managed care plans, in which contracted health care organizations agree to a flat monthly fee for covering Medicaid beneficiaries, regardless of the actual costs they incur. Connecticut, however, is going back to the old system. After struggling for years with managed care arrangements that state officials say were no longer saving the state money or providing patients adequate care, the state scrapped its Medicaid managed care system in January and began directly reimbursing providers again. The state’s payment system may be a return to the past, but its method for providing care to Medicaid patients isn’t. A non-profit organization — one of the state’s former managed care organizations — provides care coordination for all Medicaid beneficiaries, including intensive case management for the elderly, blind State Net Capitol Journal® and disabled. The state is also aggressively promoting “medical home” programs by providing grants to primary care physicians for hiring case managers to track patient care. And it is taking part in a federal grant program to improve care for individuals who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, as well as helping seniors transition out of nursing homes. 5
  6. 6. Proponents of managed care don’t put much stock in the state’s efforts, however. “We see Connecticut as an anomaly,” said Margaret Murray, executive director ofthe Association for Community Affiliated Health Plans. Most states are moving to managed care because it provides more budgetcertainty and flexibility than they can get running their own programs, Murray said.For instance, managed care organizations can create new types of services, likemental health counseling, to meet a community’s needs as they arise, whereas stateswould have to get federal approval first, she pointed out. She also said many statesdon’t have the personnel to coordinate care, develop a provider network and processclaims efficiently. But according to Sylvia Kelly, CEO of Community Health Network, theorganization managing Connecticut’s new Medicaid program, the transition there hasbeen “a non-event.” Three months in, she said most providers are signing up and fewpatients have reported losing care. Moreover, the state expects the overhaul to save$41 million this year and $80 million in 2013. Oklahoma is the only one other state that has moved away from managed care.But its overhauled program, launched in 2003, is widely considered a success.(STATELINE.ORG) WA PASSES BUDGET IN DOUBLE OT: The Washington Legislaturefinalized a budget last week (HB 2127b) and sent it on to Gov. Christine Gregoire (D)for her signature. “Reaching this point wasn’t easy,” Gregoire said. The governor called lawmakers into a second special session at midnightlast Tuesday after they failed to agree on a budget by the end of the first 30-dayspecial session. Sen. Joe Zarelli (R), the Senate’s minority party leader on budget issues, saidthe deal was “accomplished in a bipartisan way, sometimes tugging and pulling, butnonetheless, in a bipartisan way.” The plan that ultimately drew a bipartisan 64 votes in the 98-member Houseof Representatives and 44 votes in the 49-member Senate relies heavily on anaccounting maneuver that will generate $238 million by giving the state temporarycontrol of local sales taxes before they are redistributed back to the local jurisdictions.The budget also makes no cuts to K-12 or higher education, eliminates a taxdeduction for some large banks and holds $320 million in reserve. State Net Capitol Journal® One of the major sticking points of negotiations was reportedly early retirementbenefits for future state employees. That impasse was broken when separatelegislation was approved cutting benefits up to 50 percent for workers hired after May2013 who retire at age 55. The change is expected to save the state $1.3 billion over25 years. (OLYMPIAN, STATE NET) 6
  7. 7. BUDGETS IN BRIEF: The public pension fund that provides retirement benefits for nearly half a million CALIFORNIA teachers is facing a projected $64.5 billion shortfall over the next three decades, according to the fund’s deputy chief executive. Ed Derman told reporters last week the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the nation’s second largest public pension fund, has only 69 percent of the assets it needs to meet future obligations (LOS ANGELES TIMES). • A new program that kicked off in NEW YORK in January allows homeowners to pay for energy efficiency upgrades using money they save by reducing energy use. Similar “on-bill financing” programs are in the pilot stage in at least 20 states, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (STATELINE. ORG). • MARYLAND’s General Assembly failed to approve an income tax measure negotiated by House and Senate leaders before the end of the regular 90- day session last week, triggering a so-called “doomsday” budget, balanced solely through hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts, for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Legislative leaders said they would ask Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to call a special session to allow them to take another shot at an income tax plan (BALTIMORE SUN). • NEBRASKA Gov. Dave Heineman (R) signed a scaled down version of his income tax-cut plan into law last Tuesday. LB 970 would initially have cost the state $327 million over three years but was pared down to $97 million by lawmakers (LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR). — Compiled by KOREY CLARKPolitics & leadership C ONGRESS CASTING CRITICAL EYE ON CA HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The state agency overseeing California’s multi-billion-dollar high-speed rail project received a frosty letter from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week. The letter informed California High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard that the committee would be examining the agency’s operations. Among the committee’s concerns is the agency’s use of the nearly $4 billion in federal money that has already been allocated for the project. The project’s estimated State Net Capitol Journal® cost has fluctuated between $33 billion and $98.5 billion, with the current projection at $68 billion. And the federal government is on the hook for half of that amount. The committee intends to assess “the potential risk CHSRA activities might pose for overall federal transportation investment,” committee chair U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) wrote in the notification letter. 7
  8. 8. The committee also wants to look into allegations of conflicts of interest involving rail officials and contractors. “I understand that these conflicts may have contributed to a pattern of weak oversight and mismanagement of the project,” the letter stated. “The ability of the California High-Speed Authority to evaluate properly these contractors is incredibly important for the protection of taxpayer money.” The letter indicated there were also questions about the ridership model the CHSRA used to estimate the number of passengers that will use the system, questions about the project’s proposed route, and questions about whether the agency has complied with Proposition 1A, the ballot“California high-speed rail measure authorizing the project. was sold to voters as a “California high-speed rail was sold to voters as a grand vision for tomorrowgrand vision for tomorrow but in practice appears to be no different but in practice appears than countless other pork-barrel projects to be no different than — driven more by political interests and countless other pork- consultant spending than valid cost- benefit analysis,” Issa said. “Before barrel projects.” more taxpayer money is sent to the rail authority, questions must be answered about mismanagement, conflicts of interest, route selection, ridership and other risks.” CHSRA officials said only that they would cooperate with the committee and were confident no problems would be found. (LOS ANGELES TIMES, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM) IDAHO’S ONLY BLACK LEGISLATOR RECEIVES KKK MAILING: Idaho Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb also received some disturbing mail this month: a hand-addressed application to join the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The application requested a photo, $35 in annual dues and a written statement proclaiming: “I am a White Christian man or woman.” The state’s only black legislator, Buckner-Webb said the mailing rekindled childhood memories of a cross burning on her lawn. “It conjured up a lot of things for me that weren’t very comfortable — not fear, but sometimes we get to thinking things are settled,” she said. State Net Capitol Journal® Although the mailing contained no personal note, Buckner-Webb didn’t think it was just a coincidence that she received it. “Initially, I wondered what was someone’s thought process in sending that to me. My first inclination was someone wants me to know the Klan is still around,” she said. 8
  9. 9. But she said the incident had only strengthened herresolve to fight all forms of prejudice. Upcoming stories Here are some of the topics you may see “I would be a fool not to take note and govern covered in upcoming issues of the Statemyself accordingly,” she said. “It was a sign for me Net Capitol Journal:to remain vigilant, to remain careful and to remain • Educationthoughtful.” (IDAHO STATESMAN [BOISE]) • Health care • The Amazon tax FL HIGH COURT RESTRICTS LOBBYINGBY JUDGES: The Florida Supreme Court has promulgated new rules restrictingjudges from lobbying the Legislature. The rules — reportedly spurred by the “TajMahal Scandal” in 2010, when it was revealed that judges had persuaded statelawmakers to approve construction of a lavish $50 million courthouse — barindividual judges from taking budget requests and other legislative suggestionsdirectly to lawmakers without first obtaining approval from the Supreme Court andbudget oversight committees. The rules also impose an eight-year term limit on allchief judges. The Conference of Circuit Judges, chaired by Judge Ronald N. Ficarrotta, isseeking a formal hearing on the rules before they are imposed. The circuit judgescontend the restriction on communicating with legislators could violate judges’ rightto free speech and impose a chilling effect on their ability to respond to lawmakers. “This could result in an unnecessarily harsh consequence for a judge makingan unapproved, yet good faith, recommendation or comment about judicial branchpolicy,” Ficarrotta noted in a brief. The judges also suggest that term limits for chief judges may be unconstitutionalsince they are not mentioned in the state Constitution, and may do nothing tostrengthen the court system. (TAMPA BAY TIMES) POLITICS IN BRIEF: A coalition of wealthy NEW YORK residents,unions and other organizations is pushing to enact a public financing system forelections in the state. The group, called New York Leadership for AccountableGovernment, includes media moguls Barry Diller and Chris Hughes, a founderof Facebook, restaurateur Danny Meyer and philanthropist David Rockefeller Sr.(NEW YORK TIMES) • Only three of the 16 new districts in the congressional mapdrawn by OHIO lawmakers and signed into law last week by Gov. John Kasich(R) are competitive, according to analysis by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable State Net Capitol Journal®Redistricting (DAYTON DAILY NEWS). — Compiled by KOREY CLARK 9
  10. 10. Governors C HRISTIE STANDS BY TUNNEL DECISION: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) last week vehemently defended his 2010 decision to cancel a train tunnel intended to relieve traffic congestion across the Hudson River after a new government report said he had greatly exaggerated the project’s costs. Although he did not mention the report by name, in a speech at a conference on taxes and the economy held by the George W. Bush Institute in New York City last Tuesday, Christie called the cancelled project “a tunnel to the basement of Macy’s” that would have left Garden State residents to pay for billions of dollars of cost overruns. Christie was reacting to the release of a report from the Government Accountability Office – Congress’s independent, nonpartisan investigative arm — that challenged the veracity of his reasons for killing the project, then the biggest public works project in the nation. When he scuttled the project in October 2010, Christie claimed the tunnel would cost between $11 billion and $14 billion. But according to the GAO report, state and federal officials had already agreed that the costs would be from $9.5 billion to $12.4 billion, with Garden State transportation officials saying the tunnel would cost no more than $10 billion. Gov. Christie also said the state was responsible for paying 70 percent of those costs; the GAO report placed the figure at 14.4 percent, with the federal government paying for the rest. The report also disputed his contention that the state was to pay for any cost overruns, saying that was still being negotiated between state and federal authorities at the time Christie killed the project. The report prompted scathing criticism of the governor from state and federal officials who supported the project, which had been in the works for 15 years and was over a year – and $600 million — into construction at the time it was halted. Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, who chairs the state Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, accused Christie killing the project solely to redirect money already set aside for it into the state’s moribund transportation trust fund, which subsequently allowed him to keep a campaign promise to not raise the gasoline tax. He called on the state to revive the project, telling the New York Times that, “The governor seized upon incorrect facts and followed the old saw that says if you repeat something often enough, it becomes the truth.” State Net Capitol Journal® Killing the deal also didn’t end the state’s financial obligations. The state spent over $1 million more on legal fees after federal officials demanded it repay $271 million in federal dollars already spent on the project. The two parties eventually agreed that the Garden State would repay $95 million of that total. But Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak argued last week that the GAO report did not include $775 million to build a new portal bridge, a required part of 10
  11. 11. the project, or the costs incurred by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,an entity operated by both states. Drewniak said it also did not account for federalhighway and stimulus funds earmarked for state, all of which, when combined, wouldhave put the state’s share at 65.5 percent. “The bottom line is that the G.A.O. report simply bears out what we said in thefall of 2010 and say to this day: the [tunnel] project was a very, very bad deal for NewJersey,” he told the Times. (NEW YORK TIMES, NORTHJERSEY.COM, RECORDOF BERGEN COUNTY) WALKER PLANS NEW DNA PUSH: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) saidhe plans to revive a controversial proposal to require police to collect DNA samplesfrom suspects upon arrest in at least some felony and sex cases in his next statebudget. Legislation to that effect died in the Badger State Legislature this year amidstconcern over the program’s cost, estimated to be approximately $4 million in its firstyear and $2.6 million annually thereafter. The governor did not reveal details as to what specific offenses would requireoffenders to give the DNA sample, telling reporters it would be “some feloniesand serious sex-related offenses.” Walker said he would task Attorney General J.B.Van Hollen with developing the plan. That decision could theoretically add tens ofthousands of samples to the state’s current DNA database. The state Department ofJustice estimated that the requirements of this year’s failed legislation, for instance,would have added 90,000 profiles to the database. Walker, who called DNA the “modern day fingerprint,” said that although theprogram would have significant startup costs, it would eventually save the statemoney by shortening investigations, get more dangerous offenders off the street andhelp exonerate wrongly convicted people currently in jail. (LACROSSE TRIBUNE,WISCONSIN GOVERNOR’S OFFICE) KITZHABER, OTTER CLOSE YEAR VETO-FREE: Oregon Gov. JohnKitzhaber, a Democrat, and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican, last weekaddressed the final bills lawmakers sent them for their respective 2012 sessions,ending the year without vetoing a single measure, though Otter allowed the final threepending measures he faced to become law without his signature. Kitzhaber signed all112 bills sent to him this year; Otter signed or otherwise allowed 342 measures thatcame his way to become law. Neither governor was alone in their veto paucity: Utah State Net Capitol Journal®Gov. Gary Herbert (R) rejected only two of 477 bills that Beehive State lawmakerspassed, while to date Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire has outright vetoed onlytwo of 238 bills, though she has partially vetoed a dozen more. (STATE NET) HICKENLOOPER CALLS FOR MORE WATER CONSERVATION:Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called for significantly greater water 11
  12. 12. conservation efforts in the Centennial State, tellingattendees at a “State of the Rockies” conference that The week in session“self-discipline in the amount of water we use is going States in Regular Session: AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, LA, MA, MD,to be the foundation of everything we will do.” The ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NE, NH, NY, OH, OK,governor pointed to water-poor nations like Australia PR, SC, TN, US, VTand Israel as prime examples of highly efficient water States in Recess: KS, NC, NJ, PAusage practices. He also called for building more dams States in Special Session: VA “a”on the imperiled Colorado River, which provides water Special Sessions in Recess: DE “b”for 30 million people in seven states and Mexico.Federal data shows those withdrawals exceed the river’s States Adjourned in 2012: AR, FL, GA, ID, IN, KY, NM, OR, SD, UT, VA, WA, WI,annual supply, a situation made all the worse by climate WV, WYchange, population growth and drought. (DENVER State Special Sessions Adjourned inPOST, COLORADO SPRINGS INDEPENDENT) 2012: FL “b”, WA “c”, WA “d”, WV “a” Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: U.S. Senator — Compiled By OWEN JARNAGIN(sessionDianne Feinstein (D-CA) voiced cautious support information current as of 4/12/2012)for CALIFORNIA Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) latest Source: State Net databaseproposed high-speed rail plan last week, sayingfederal support would likely rest on the project’s final projected cost. “Do I think itis doable? Yes,” she told reporters at a meeting of local government and businessleaders in Sacramento. “Do I think it’s doable with all the bells and whistles? No”(STATE NET). • NEBRASKA Gov. Dave Heineman (R) signed a five-bill packagelast week intended to improve the Cornhusker State’s child welfare system. Themeasures, among several things, create a state commission on child welfare (LB821), ratchet up foster parent payments (LB 1160) and require greater transparencyin child welfare spending (LB 949). The two other measures are LB 820 and LB961 (LINCOLN JOURNAL-STAR). • ILLINOIS Gov. Pat Quinn (D) approved52 pending clemency requests last week, part of a backlog of over 2,500 suchrequests. The Prairie State governor also rejected 136 clemency pleas (CHICAGOSUN-TIMES). • KENTUCKY Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signed HB 495, a bill thatwill allow the Bluegrass State to issue revenue bonds to pay the first three yearsof interest on $963 million in federal loans that kept the state’s unemploymentinsurance program operating during the recession. Starting in 2014, employers willbe assessed a $21-per-employee surcharge to repay the $79 million for the first threeyears of interest payments and future interest on the debt to the federal government State Net Capitol Journal®(BOWLING GREEN DAILY NEWS). • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) saidhe remains unsure of whether he will support proposed legislation to legalize medialmarijuana use in the Empire State. Cuomo said the issue needs more study, saying“the risks outweigh the benefits at this point” (DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE). — Compiled by RICH EHISEN 12
  13. 13. Hot issues B USINESS: The MARYLAND House gives final approval to HB 964, which bars Old Line State employers from asking or requiring job applicants to hand over their user names and passwords for social networking accounts like Facebook and Twitter. The measure moves to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) for review (STATE NET, BALTIMORE SUN). • The COLORADO Senate approves SB 1, which would give companies bidding for state contracts a 5 percent preference if they certify that at least 90 percent of their workers are Centennial State residents. It is now in the House (DENVER POST). • WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker (R) signs SB 202, which bars employees who prevail in workplace discrimination lawsuit from collecting compensatory and punitive damages. Workers could still be awarded back pay, costs and attorney fees (POST-CRESCENT [APPLETON]). • MAINE Gov. Paul LePage (R) signs HB 1214, which limits the legal liability of landowners who participate in the Pine Tree State agritourism industry as long as they post signs stating that visitors accept the “inherent risks” of any activity associated with their business (STATE NET, BANGOR DAILY NEWS). • IDAHO Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) signs SB 1295, which requires Gem State massage therapists to be licensed. Therapists currently practicing have 18 months to obtain a license or face fines (STATE NET, SPOKESMAN-REVIEW [SPOKANE]). • MISSISSIPPI Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signs SB 2878, which permits the professional brewing and sale of beer with alcohol content of up to 8 percent by weight. Current law caps alcohol content at 5 percent. The law takes effect on July 1 (HATTIESBURG AMERICAN). • Also in MISSISSIPPI, the House approves HB 825, which would end the Magnolia State’s ratemaking authority over 30,000 local-only AT&T landlines. The measure moves to Gov. Bryant, who is expected to sign it (HATTIESBURG AMERICAN). • OREGON Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) signs SB 1552, legislation that creates a Beaver State foreclosure mediation program that requires banks to meet with borrowers who elect to participate. The law also bars lenders from initiating foreclosure proceedings while simultaneously negotiating for a possible loan modification (OREGONIAN [PORTLAND]). • The CALIFORNIA Supreme Court unanimously rules that while Golden State employers are required to ensure that workers receive “uninterrupted” lunch and other breaks, they are not responsible for making employees actually State Net Capitol Journal® take those breaks. The decision came in response to a class action lawsuit charging Brinker International, which owns various chain restaurants, of not ensuring their workers get their breaks (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS). CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The LOUISIANA House unanimously approves HB 48, which creates the crime of theft of copper and other metals, with violators 13
  14. 14. facing a fine up to $5,000 and up to 10 years in jail. Upcoming electionsIt moves to the Senate (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW (4/12/2012 - 5/3/2012)ORLEANS]). • FLORIDA Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs 04/17/2012HB 37, so-called “Caylee’s Law” legislation that Arizona Special Primary US House District AZ 08makes it a third-degree felony to give false informationto a law-enforcement officer in the event of missing 04/24/2012 Alabama Primary Runoffchild. Violators will ace up to five years in prison US House Districts AL 04 and AL 06(ORLANDO SENTINEL). • Still in FLORIDA, Scott Pennsylvania Primary Electionvetoes HB 177, which would have allowed some House (All)Sunshine State inmates to be released prior to reaching Senate (Odd)85 percent of their sentences if they are enrolled in Constitutional Officers: Treasurer, Attorney General, Auditor Generala qualified substance abuse program (ORLANDO US House (All)SENTINEL). • WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker (R) US Senatesigns AB 397, another so-called Caylee’s Law that Pennsylvania Special Electionrequires parents or guardians to inform police in a House Districts 22, 134, 153, 169, 186timely manner if a child is missing (WISCONSIN and 197GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). • Still in WISCONSIN,Gov. Walker (R) signs SB 104, which allows Badger State judges to order GPSmonitoring for people who violate restraining orders (LACROSSE TRIBUNE). •IDAHO Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) signs SB 1309, which requires Gem Stateretailers to use an electronic tracking system that allows them to see if a consumerbuying pseudoephedrine-containing cold or allergy medications have already reachedtheir purchase limit. Pseudoephedrine is also key ingredient in the production ofillegal methamphetamine (STATE NET, IDAHO GOVERNOR’S OFFICE). • TheCONNECTICUT House approves SB 280, which would make the Constitution Statethe 17th, along with the District of Columbia, to repeal capital punishment. The bill ison concurrence in the Senate (HARTFORD COURANT). EDUCATION: The COLORADO Senate approves SB 15, which wouldallow undocumented immigrants at Centennial State colleges and universities topay tuition that is less than out-of-state fees but more than in-state tuition. It nowgoes to the House (DENVER POST). • WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker (R) signsSB 174, which limits participation in the Badger State’s voucher program to thoseschool districts in the program when the law took effect (STATE NET, WISCONSINGOVERNOR’S OFFICE, LACROSSE TRIBUNE). • The LOUISIANA House State Net Capitol Journal®and Senate give final approval to two bills, HB 974 and HB 976, that collectivelywould base teacher tenure and compensation at least in part on student performance;tie superintendents’ job security to student performance; shift hiring and firingpower from school boards to superintendents; create new paths to open independentpublic charter schools; and establish a statewide program that uses the public-schoolfinancing formula to pay private-school tuition for certain low-income students. 14
  15. 15. The bills move to Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is In case you missed itexpected to sign them into law (TIMES-PICAYUNE We won’t know until June whether the[NEW ORLEANS], STATE NET). • ARIZONA Gov. Supreme Court will uphold or strike down the Affordable Care Act. But regardless of whatJan Brewer (R) vetoes HB 2626, which would have the High Court decides, several states are still poised to move ahead with their versionexpanded the Grand Canyon State’s voucher-like of health reform.program for special needs students to include students In case you missed it, the article can be found on our website atclassified as gifted, children of military families, and who attend a failing school (EAST VALLEYTRIBUNE [MESA]). • MISSISSIPPI Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signs HB 1095, whichallows Magnolia State colleges and universities the leeway to waive out-of-statetuition fees if they deem doing so to be fiscally responsible (CLARION LEDGER[JACKSON]). • TENNESSEE Gov. Bill Haslam (R) allows HB 368, which wouldbar schools from prohibiting teachers from challenging curriculum on climate changeor evolution, to become law without his signature. Critics argued the law allowsteachers to introduce their personal religious or political beliefs into classroominstruction (LOS ANGELES TIMES). ENERGY: The NEBRASKA Legislature approves LB 1161, a bill that allowsthe state Department of Environmental Quality to review a new route within theCornhusker State for TransCanada Corp’s Canada-to-TEXAS Keystone XL crude oilpipeline. The measure moves to Gov. Dave Heineman (R) for review (REUTERS). ENVIRONMENT: The ARIZONA House gives final approval to HB 2199,which would allow mining companies and others businesses to keep environmentalaudit secret, even if they reveal pollution problems, and would generally disallowthem from being used as evidence in civil suits. Under the measure, which now headsto Gov. Jan Brewer for review, businesses still would be subject to sanctions forenvironmental violations spotted by regulators. And the new legal privilege would notapply in criminal cases (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX], STATE NET). • TheHAWAII House approves SB 2873, which would make certain construction projectsexempt from environmental impact study requirements. The measure returns to theSenate (ASSOCIATED PRESS). • The NEBRASKA Legislature approves LB 928,a bill that would legalize mountain lion hunting and create a state program that letshunters donate deer meat to the hungry. The bill moves to Gov. Dave Heineman (R)for review (LINCOLN JOURNAL-STAR). State Net Capitol Journal® HEALTH & SCIENCE: The IOWA House approves HF 2458, which wouldcreate a loan reimbursement plan for doctors who agree to work in the HawkeyeState’s rural areas for at least five years. The proposal, which would offer a maximumof $200,000 in reimbursements, moves to the Senate (DES MOINES REGISTER).• IDAHO Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) signs SB 1294, legislation that bars medical 15
  16. 16. personnel from denying life-prolonging procedures to patients who have requestedthem (STATE NET, IDAHO GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, IDAHO STATESMAN[BOISE]). • The ALABAMA Senate approves SB 283, which would require healthinsurers to offer some plans that include coverage for autism treatment. The measureis now in the House (BIRMINGHAM NEWS). SOCIAL POLICY: The ARIZONA House approves HB 2036, which wouldbar abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy. The proposal is now with Gov. JanBrewer (R) for review (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA]). • WISCONSIN Gov.Scott Walker (R) signs SB 92, which bars health insurers that participate in a healthinsurance exchange from offering coverage for abortions except in cases of rape orincest (POST-CRESCENT [APPLETON]). • Also in WISCONSIN, Gov. Walkersigns SB 306, which requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo a physicalexam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family (STATENET, POST-CRESCENT [APPLETON]). • MICHIGAN Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signsSB 712, which requires lottery winnings to be counted when determining eligibilityfor public assistance like food stamps. Gov. Snyder also signs SB 711, which requireslottery officials to notify the Dept. of Human Services within seven days of a lotteryplayer winning at least $1,000 (STATE NET, MLIVE.COM). POTPOURRI: The ALASKA House approves HB 255, which specificallybans drivers from sending, reading or writing text messages while behind the wheel.Lawmakers banned the practice in 2008, but a recent court decision ruled the lawwas not clear enough. The new measure moves to the Senate (JUNEAU EMPIRE).• IDAHO Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) signs SB 1274, a bill that bans driversfrom sending, reading or writing text messages while behind the wheel. The GemState becomes the 36th state to bar texting-while-driving, as does the District ofColumbia. The law takes effect July 1 (IDAHO GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, IDAHOSTATESMAN [BOISE]). • MINNESOTA Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signs HF 1829,which allows county attorneys and assistant attorneys to carry firearms on duty aslong as they have a valid permit (BRAINERD DISPATCH). — Compiled by RICH EHISEN State Net Capitol Journal® 16
  17. 17. Once around thestatehouse lightly S OME HEAVY HUMOR: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is used to jokes about his ample girth. Who, after all, has forgotten former Gov. Jon Corzine’s not-remotely subtle ads accusing Christie of “throwing his weight around” as a federal prosecutor. Christie routinely ignores such taunts, but New Jersey Sen. Richard Codey is not so inclined. As the Newark Star-Ledger reports, Codey recently became incensed at a New York Post story about Christie’s visit to Israel, headlined “The Whale at the Wall.” Codey condemned the story, which also noted that Christie had made “a huge impression” on his trip. Codey, himself a former governor and a possible rival for Christie’s job next year, called the story “childish” and “a slap in the face” to serious journalists. Christie, who has sparred with Codey in the past, thanked him but also pled indifference, saying, “If that’s the way they want to sell newspapers, that’s up to them.” SPEAKING OF LOW BLOWS: Former Michigan Gov. George Romney — father of GOP presidential candidate Mitt — passed away in 1995. But that did not stop him from getting a few moments at center stage of his son’s campaign last week via the popular AMC drama, “Mad Men.” During the show, a [fictional] character working for New York Mayor John Lindsay [not fictional] rebuffs a request to have the mayor appear at an event with the elder Romney by referring to the governor as “a clown.” That sent conservatives to screeching about the allegedly biased liberal media. But as the Hollywood Reporter notes, the dig actually had some historical context. Romney and Lindsay each harbored presidential aspirations, and the two men did not mask their dislike for one another. Sadly for both, the show’s resident ad wizard Dom Draper did not actually exist to help either man make it to the White House. MY GOOGLY EYES ARE WATCHING YOU: As previously noted in this column, women across the country have taken to unusual methods to protest what they see as overreaching regulation of their bodies by some lawmakers. The latest in this ongoing skirmish comes from Arizona, where the Arizona Republic reports that 32 GOP State Net Capitol Journal® lawmakers each received a special gift a few weeks back: a fuzzy, hand knitted uterus with big googly eyes and a bow. Each individually wrapped uterus came with a letter from a woman opposing legislation that restricts contraception health-care coverage. Neither the receivers nor the sender would comment on the knitting, but each bag also came with a note that read, “Please treat the women in your life as the intelligent persons they are. I have provided you with a uterus. Please leave ours alone.” 17
  18. 18. ALL THE NEWS UNFIT TO PRINT: You would think that even the shadiestpolitical spindoctors would know that everything they put into the public sphere will bescrutinized and dissected like a frog in a 7th grade science class. Wrong. As the FloridaCenter for Investigative Reporting notes, the state GOP was forced last week to removea post from Gov. Rick Scott’s Facebook page that showed a copy of the Miami Heraldfeaturing a huge headline lauding a new state law that had spurred job growth. Alas, theheadline was a fake. The real headline -– and the story below it — dealt with the risingmurder rate in Guatemala. The brainiacs who carried out the phony photo caper didn’teven change the story’s original dateline, Guatemala City. A GOP spokesperson blamedthe gaffe on “overzealous graphics,” which sounds like the words in the headlinesomehow changed themselves. Herald management called it something else: copyrightand trademark infringement. The post came down soon after. — By RICH EHISEN State Net Capitol Journal® 18
  19. 19. Editor: Rich Ehisen — Associate Editor: Korey Clark — State Net Contributing Editors: Virginia Nelson, Art Zimmerman Editorial Advisor: Lou Cannon ® Correspondents: Richard Cox (CA), Steve Karas (CA), James Ross (CA), Lauren Davis (MA) and A LexisNexis® Company Ben Livingood (PA) Graphic Design: Vanessa Perez State Net ISSN: 1521-8449 Youve just read State Net Capitol For a FREE subscription, Journal, the insiders source for visit our Website at political and legislative news in the 50 states. and click on the State Net Capitol Journal is "Register Now" icon. published 40 times annually and Or call us at delivered over the Web or email. 916.444.0840 A publication of State Net — Information and Intelligence on the 50 States & Congress The Power to Know. Act. Connect. Unique State Net tools, methods and expertise overcome the challenge of managing government affairs information. We help minimize your risks and empower your team for success. State Net Capitol Journal® State Net: the service you can trust when you need to be right. Learn more about our issue-based reporting solutions today: or • 800.726.4566LexisNexis is a registered trademark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used under license. State Net is a registered trademark of LexisNexis,a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Copyright 2011 LexisNexis. All rights reserved. 19