Sncj 030512


Published on

AZBio partners with LexisNexis and State Net to bring you all the latest updates from Washington DC and around the nation. Check out the latest in the March 5, 2012 edition. Want State Net delivered to your inbox every week? Register for your complimentary subscription at:

Published in: Economy & Finance, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Sncj 030512

  1. 1. Volume XX, No.7 March 5, 2012 Home Stretch Budget & taxes States diverting 5 4 foreclosure settlement money Politics & leadership 8 Supreme Court blocks MT campaign spending law Governors 10 Walker won’t challenge WI recall signatures Bird’s eye view 2 Hot issues 12 Once around the statehouse lightly 17 The next issue of Capitol Journal will be © available on March 12th. Top Story The Obama administration SNCJ Spotlight B is about to finalize rules Feds bolster state efforts to help underwater homeowners for another program arely a month into President Barack Obama’s presidency, his designed to help millions administration announced a major effort to help millions of underwater of struggling homeowners homeowners who owed more on their mortgages than their homes wererefinance into lower interest worth refinance into lower interest rate mortgages. But the Home Affordable mortgages. Whether it Refinance Program, or HARP, fell short, in large part because it came with is more successful than numerous limitations that stifled its effectiveness. With borrowers and lenders previous efforts is yet to alike staying away in droves, the Obama administration is now set to finalize new be determined. rules on a more accessible plan, dubbed “HARP 2.0,” in the hope this will finally
  2. 2. give a jolt to the nation’s sluggishhousing market. Bird’s eye view Economists say doing so WA NHcould also give a kick start to ME VT MT NDthe economies in communities OR MN MA ID SD WI NYwhere the housing crash has been WY MI RI PA CT IAparticularly rough. NV NE NJ OH UT IL IN CA CO WV DE “Any refinancing plan that KS MO VA KY MD NCfrees up disposable income would TN AZ OK NM AR SCin theory help the economy,” says MS AL GA TX LARyan Sharp, executive director of AK FLthe Center for Strategic EconomicResearch in Sacramento, California. HI States with highest January foreclosure rates States with lowest rates“If people are able to refinance Source: RealtyTrac, Huffington Postand recycle that disposable income Foreclosure rates picking up Foreclosures were up 3 percent nationally inthroughout the region, then it will January, according to RealtyTrac Inc. A totalhelp the overall economy.” of 210,941 homes either received default Making HARP 2.0 work notices, were scheduled for auction or were repossessed over the course of the month,begins with getting troubled which translates to about one in every 624 households.borrowers to use the program. Nevada, with 5,931 foreclosed properties, had the highest rate, 1 in 198 households. California had far moreThe initial HARP was introduced foreclosures, 51,584, but the second highest rate, at 1 inin 2009 to help homeowners 265. North Dakota, with just five foreclosures, had the lowest rate, one in 63,500. RealtyTrac projects foreclosure rates willwith distressed loans backed by continue to rise as lenders restart foreclosure proceedingsthe Federal National Mortgage they temporarily suspended while the nation’s biggest lendersAssociation, Fannie Mae, or were negotiating last month’s $25 billion foreclosure settlement with the states’ attorneys general.the Federal Home MortgageAssociation, Freddie Mac,two government-secured enterprises that together hold about 60 percent of all thecountry’s mortgages. The idea was to help a specific group of Fannie- and Freddie-backed borrowers: those who were underwater with their loans and locked into highinterest rates but who still had good credit and had consistently stayed current withtheir payments. These borrowers were thought to be the ones who would eventuallybe most likely to walk away from their homes. But that plan also encountered difficulties. HARP was available only tohomeowners whose loans did not exceed a 125 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. State Net Capitol Journal®Many who had purchased at the height of the housing bubble were well in excessof this limit. Lenders also balked at a requirement to guarantee that a borrower’soriginal loan met all of Fannie and Freddie’s standards, which could have resulted inthem being forced to buy back refinanced loans that were later found to have someproblem. And a HARP refinance was also not available to homeowners whose loanswere not obtained by Fannie or Freddie before May 2009. Although the Obama 2
  3. 3. administration estimated that HARP would help refinance as many as 5 million loans,less than a million homeowners wound up using the program. While HARP 2.0 still has the May 2009 purchase deadline, the new rules —which will be officially released on March 15 — toss out the 125 percent cap and theneed for a new property appraisal. The administration has also indicated it will nolonger force lenders to buy back bad loans. Although most economic experts say anything that sparks the housing marketwill help the economy, perspectives vary on just how much the new rules willactually accomplish. Rob Nunziata, co-CEO of FBC Mortgage in Orlando, believes HARP 2.0’srelaxed requirements will definitely help in Florida, one of the states hardest hit bythe housing collapse. “This is going to mean everything,” he says. “For the majority of distressedborrowers in Florida, the 125 percent LTV cap in the original HARP program simplydid not offer any help. Just removing that cap will mean an awful lot.” Tim Ross, president and CEO of Ross Mortgage Corporation in Royal Oaks,Michigan, also believes the plan could be quite successful. But he says that will dependon several factors, including how the secondary lending market reacts to the plan. “Is the secondary market going to offer a refinance loan at a low 4 percent interestrate identical to that of a highly qualified original loan applicant with a large downpayment?” he says. “Typically, that refinance loan will be priced to the risk involved,but if the premium to be paid on one of these HARP 2.0 loans — and there likely willbe a premium — is too great, then a lot less people will be helped.” Estimates of how many homeowners will take advantage of the new rules also vary.Freddie Mac has conservatively estimated HARP 2.0 refinances will “roughly double ormore” the number done under the original program, while Moody’s Analytics predictsaround 1.6 million new refinances. Meanwhile, another study released by San Diego-based Data Quick in February says the removal of the 125 percent loan-to-value capalone will qualify up to 6.7 million more homeowners than under the old rules. But even if the bulk of eligible homeowners take advantage of HARP 2.0, someobservers question its overall economic potential. Core Logic’s Fleming predicts thatwhile the program “constitutes a significant economic stimulus on the order of severalbillion dollars given to borrowers in many of the economically hardest hit areas,” itwill have only “modest impact on consumption and the economy.” Jeffrey Michael, director of the University of the Pacific Business Forecasting State Net Capitol Journal®Center in Stockton, California — another of the communities hardest hit by thehousing collapse, with mortgages averaging 175 percent loan-to-value — alsoquestions how much HARP 2.0 will help his area’s fiscal health. “Anything that helps to fend off foreclosures helps the region,” he says. “But Ithink it helps at the margins and not much else.” One major reason for that, Michael says, is the sheer enormity of the problem.CoreLogic data indicates that more than 20 million homeowners nationwide “have 3
  4. 4. insufficient or negative equity positions in theirhomes,” with 4.7 million underwater by 25 percent In the hopperor more. Nevada and Florida lead the nation in At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thou- sands of bills in all 50 states, the US Congressdistressed mortgages, at 60 percent and 45 percent and the District of Columbia. Here’s a snapshotrespectively, with states like Michigan and California of what’s in the legislative works:close behind. Number of Prefiles last week: 600 States, meanwhile, have not stood by idly. Number of Intros last week: 4,460According to Heather Morton, who tracks bankingissues for the National Conference of State Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 1228Legislatures, states were addressing the foreclosureissue even before the Great Recession began. Number of 2012 Prefiles to date: 8,349 “States have averaged about 300 bills a year Number of 2012 Intros to date: 57,338since 2007,” she says, many of those aimed at Number of 2012 Session Enacted/helping bring distressed borrowers together with Adopted overall to date: 5,049lenders so the parties can work out amicable Number of bills currently in State Netsolutions that fit each of their needs. Database: 160,690 “No one solution is a fit for everyone,” she says. — Compiled By OWEN JARNIGAN“What works in one state or neighborhood may not (measures current as of 2/29/2012) Source: State Net databasebe a good fit in another.” Many of those measures also have dealt withmortgage fraud and unscrupulous lending practices, something that recently garneredstates a $26 billion settlement from the nation’s largest banks. Although those funds aresupposed to be used to further help distressed homeowners, several states, includingMissouri, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Maryland, have already indicated theywill put at least some of the windfall toward other budgetary problems (see Budget &taxes in this issue). The latest HARP program is also only one of several the federal government hasused in an attempt to quell the foreclosure crisis. The president has further advocatedloosening the rules on HARP’s sister program, the Home Affordable ModificationProgram, or HAMP, which is for those borrowers who have crossed over intodelinquency or are near doing so. In his State of the Union address in January,President Obama proposed opening HARP 2.0 up to distressed borrowers with loansnot backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Jonathon Lederer, president of Lederer Private Wealth Management LLC inSacramento, is a fan of the latter proposal. He believes allowing all underwater State Net Capitol Journal®borrowers to refinance under HARP 2.0, regardless of being Fannie- or Freddie-backed, would definitely help the economy “get at least a short term boost.” To pay for doing that, the president wants to tax big-ticket financial companies,those with $50 billion or more in assets. But Michael notes that such a fee wouldrequire Congressional approval, something far from certain in Washington’s hyper-partisan environment. 4
  5. 5. “It really would have been good to see something like this sooner,” says Michael. “The president should have sent this to Congress when he had control of it.” Other challenges abound as well. Gary Hurst, a senior loan consultant at Pacific National Lending in Gold River, California, notes that HARP 2.0 “does nothing directly to stimulate housing demand for new borrowers and investors or reduce the high inventories of distressed properties.” Unemployment, while slowly improving, is also still a significant problem for many Americans, making refinance an unrealistic option. And even if everything goes smoothly for the bulk of loan applicants, Lederer says history doesn’t bode well for HARP’s economic potential. “The question is whether people who get to refinance would return to their previous spending patterns,” he says. “Historically, for five to six years after a downturn people are much more cautious, much more likely to de-leverage rather than to spend, which is what grows the economy. Without that return, a short-term boost may be all we get.” Even so, Michael says any effort to ward off foreclosures is worth investigating. “There is definitely a reason to address it,” he says. “Right now the real incentive is for people to go to foreclosure, which is really harmful. Foreclosures are dragging down the economy and doing all sorts of damage to neighborhoods.” — By RICH EHISENBudget & taxes S TATES DIVERTING FORECLOSURE SETTLEMENT MONEY: Last month, the nation’s five largest mortgage lenders signed a $25 billion settlement with the attorneys general of 49 states addressing loan servicing abuses that contributed to the foreclosure crisis. But even before the ink was dry on that agreement, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced his state would use part of its share of the settlement money to fund higher education. Similar plans are being discussed in several other states struggling with budget shortfalls, including Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maryland and Wisconsin. Although under the terms of the settlement, the bulk of the $25 billion will go State Net Capitol Journal® directly to homeowners hurt by the mortgage crisis, $2.7 billion was set aside for states to use as they wish. But some consumer advocates say using any of the money for anything other than foreclosure relief is wrong. “We shouldn’t be in the position of taking money that is intended to help consumers and their mortgage tribulations and putting that to another purpose,” 5
  6. 6. said Joan Bray, a former Missouri state senator who is now the chairwoman of theConsumers Council of Missouri. Some think that is particularly true given the amount of the settlement. “As insufficient as it is,” said Kathleen Day, spokeswoman for the Center forResponsible Lending, “this money was intended to go directly to help strugglinghomeowners.” The fear for some consumer advocates is that the same thing will happen with theforeclosure agreement as has happened with the 1998 multistate tobacco settlement.When that deal was reached, states initially said they would use the $206 billion thatwould come from it to curb tobacco use and improve public health, but funding fortobacco-prevention programs has fallen off considerably. Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, thelead negotiator on the foreclosure settlement, however, said officials “have toacknowledge that there has been damage done to states and their budgets and theirservices because of this mortgage crisis.... So states will have some flexibility inhow they spend” the settlement money. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, STATELINE.ORG,NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL, STATE NET) BUDGET FALLS VICTIM TO POWER STRUGGLE IN VA SENATE:Budget stalemates are hardly unheard of in Virginia. But the state entered unchartedterritory last week, when Senate Democrats rejected the chamber’s last active budgetbill for the two-year budget cycle that starts July 1, leaving lawmakers with nospending plan to negotiate on. “This is unprecedented, and it is unacceptable,” Gov. Robert McDonnell (R). “Itis not the Virginia way.” McDonnell and Republican lawmakers blame the situation on the Democrats,who they say are seeking more power in the Senate, which was split 20-20 betweenthe two parties after the November election but which the GOP now controls becauseof the effective majority Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s (R) tiebreaking vote gives them. Democrats say their opposition to the budget is about more than just politics.Among other things, they say the budget doesn’t provide enough funding for publicschools and health and human services. “The budget does not adequately address the needs of our children, the elderly,and the poor,” said Sen. Mamie Locke (D). But Senate Republicans say they tried to appease Democrats by agreeing to State Net Capitol Journal®increase funding for education and reverse cuts to social services programs. AndSenate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R), who has accused Democrats ofattempting to “bend over the entire commonwealth of Virginia and disrupt the majorpolicy decision over just raw, brutalized political will,” said a power-sharing deal is“not happening” while he is in charge. (VIRGINIAN-PILOT [NORFOLK]) 6
  7. 7. NY BORROWING FROM PETER TO PAY PETER: The state governmentof New York and municipalities statewide are borrowing $750 million this year, andprobably over $1 billion next year, to pay their contributions to the state pensionsystem. That governments are struggling to meet their pension obligations is no greatsurprise. But the source they are borrowing from is: the pension system itself. A borrowing mechanism approved in 2010 under the administration of formerGov. David A. Paterson (D) and supported by public sector unions and the statecomptroller’s office, which oversees the pension system, allows public employers tomake lower payments now in exchange for making higher payments later. Supporters say the plan is helping governments make it through a difficult time.But critics say it is simply kicking the state’s pension problems down the road. “You’re undermining the long-term solvency of these funds and making thepension fund even more of a gamble than it already is,” said Josh Barro, a seniorfellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. Barro said the state is betting the performance of its pension investments willimprove over the next decade and bail out the system. “If performance continues to be weak, then contribution rates will be even higherthan the rates we’re trying to avoid now, and you’ll produce even more fiscal paindown the road,” he said. (NEW YORK TIMES) BUDGETS IN BRIEF: Officials in Stockton, CALIFORNIA, a city of 290,000near San Francisco, voted last week to enter into the 90-day mediation processestablished under a new state law designed to make it more difficult for municipalitiesto declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy. If mediation fails, the city will become the largestin America to go bankrupt (NEW YORK TIMES, STATELINE.ORG). • In brighternews, CALIFORNA’S top budget analyst reported last week that Facebook’s eagerlyanticipated IPO could pump nearly $2.5 billion into the state’s coffers over the nextfive years (LOS ANGELES TIMES). • PENNSYLVANIA’s Department of GeneralServices has raised $700,000 since 2004 from selling contraband seized by thefederal Transportation Security Administration at airports, including New York City’sJohn F. Kennedy and LaGuardia. The most sought-after items have been pocketknives, scissors and corkscrews, which the state usually sells in boxes of 100 (USATODAY). • NEBRASKA Governor Dave Heineman (R) has proposed lowering therate and raising the income threshold for every state tax bracket. He also wants to cutthe state’s corporate income tax and do away with the inheritance tax (STATELINE. State Net Capitol Journal®ORG). • NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) proposed a $32 billion budget lastmonth that includes about $2 billion of additional spending in several areas, includingeducation (STAR-LEDGER [NEWARK]). • ALABAMA plans to shut down all buttwo of its mental health hospitals by the spring of 2013 to cut costs and change howthe state treats psychiatric patients, state officials announced last month. The state hasclosed 10 mental health treatment centers since the 1990s and relocated patients to 7
  8. 8. small group homes and private hospitals, which mental health advocates believe often provide patients better care (NEW YORK TIMES). • ILLINOIS is implementing new Medicaid enrollment restrictions, including electronic cross-checks on residency and income expected to cut thousands of current beneficiaries from the program and save more than $1 million, without federal approval. The state has been debating the changes with federal officials for nearly a year (STATELINE.ORG). — Compiled by KOREY CLARKPolitics & leadership S UPREME COURT BLOCKS MT CORPORATE CAMPAIGN SPENDING LAW: The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked a Montana Supreme Court ruling that appears to be at odds with the federal court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission striking down the federal ban on corporate campaign spending. Three Montana corporations, Western Tradition Partnership, Champion Painting and the Montana Shooting Sports Association, challenged Montana’s ban on corporate political spending — the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act — in 2010. And a lower state court ruled the law was unconstitutional in light of the Citizens United decision. But the state’s Supreme Court reversed that decision in December on the grounds that the law was a response to political corruption and doesn’t ban all corporate political spending. The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended that ruling, however, while it considers whether to hear an appeal by Western Tradition Partnership — now American Tradition Partnership — et al. American Tradition Partnership called the justices’ action a win for the First Amendment. “Stripping people of their right to engage in political speech because you do not like the identity of the speaker is an assault on the republic’s founding principles,” it said. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, issued a brief statement indicating that campaign spending since the Citizens United decision makes “it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption’” as the court’s majority State Net Capitol Journal® had ruled in that case. She was presumably referring to the unregulated super PACs that have poured millions of dollars into the GOP presidential race. She said the appeal would “give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.” 8
  9. 9. But the justices’ decision to consider whether to hear the appeal doesn’tnecessarily mean they will. They may simply choose to reverse the state court’sruling. A decision either way probably won’t come for several months. (GREATFALLS TRIBUNE) NEW REMAP ENTERS MIX IN TX: In the latest chapter of TEXAS’ ongoingredistricting saga a federal court in San Antonio has issued a new interim map for the2012 election that could potentially hand Republicans as many as 25 of the state’s 36congressional seats. The same court issued another interim map — one that was moreDemocrat-friendly — in November. But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out that mapin January, arguing that it diverged too much from the redistricting plan approved lastyear by the state Legislature. Meanwhile, a federal court in Washington, D.C. is weighing the legality of theLegislature’s plan — which the Justice Department and minority-rights groupsargue doesn’t reflect the explosive growth of the state’s Hispanic population overthe last decade — and negotiations continue on when the state’s congressional andpresidential primaries will be held, with the date already having been moved fromMarch to April (POLITICO). POLITICS IN BRIEF: U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-MAINE) announcedlast month that after 33 years in Congress she will not be seeking re-election. Herdecision — evidently spurred by the unyielding partisanship in Washington, D.C.— is likely to have ramifications not only on the congressional contests in the statebut also on the fight for control of the U.S. Senate (BANGOR DAILY NEWS). •CALIFORNIA state Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D) has become involved in a scandalsurrounding a romantic relationship between his wife, Alameda County SupervisorNadia Lockyer, and a man she apparently met in rehab for alcohol abuse in 2010,which became public last month after an incident at a local hotel. Lockyer hasreportedly received a sex tape of his wife and the man, Stephen Chikhani, who tolda reporter at a court appearance on an unrelated drug charge last week that therewas “a way bigger story than the sex tapes” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, SANFRANCISCO CHRONICLE). • COLORADO Secretary of State Scott Gessler (R)adopted a full rewrite of the state’s campaign finance rules last month. Critics saythat action was outside of his authority and will allow money to dominate the state’selections, but Gessler said the changes were necessary to bring the state’s rules in State Net Capitol Journal®line with recent court decisions (DENVER POST). • Former NEVADA state Sen.Bill Raggio, the longest-serving senator in the state’s history, died last month of arespiratory illness while traveling in Australia. The 85 year-old Republican served inthe Senate for 38 years (LAS VEGAS SUN). — Compiled by KOREY CLARK 9
  10. 10. Governors W ALKER WON’T CHALLENGE WI RECALL SIGNATURES: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said he will not challenge any of the more than 1 million signatures from petitions seeking his recall. Members of his staff said they did not have time to go through them all before the Feb. 27 deadline. A Dane County judge had previously granted Walker a 20-day extension to review the signatures and file any challenges, but refused a request for another two- week extension. That, Walker spokesperson Ciara Mathews said, left them with “an impossible deadline” to meet. Walker’s people ultimately were able to go through only about 400,000 of the signatures. That leaves it up to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to determine if the petitions contain at least 540,208 valid signatures, the minimum needed to qualify for a recall election. Walker’s camp requested that the GAB accept the findings of two other groups — Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty and We the People of the Republic, two tea party groups which have jointly manned an effort called Verify the Recall — but so far the GAB has insisted there is no legal basis for them to accept any third party challenges. A Waukesha County judge has also ordered the GAB to verify signatures independently, giving it until March 19 to do so. GAB spokesman Reid Magney said the board would refer any fraud it encounters directly to state prosecutors. Although Verify the Recall and True the Vote, another petition review group that backs Walker, say they have found thousands of invalid signatures, even the governor’s supporters are seemingly resigned to a recall election going forward. As of last week, the two groups say they had reviewed over 800,000 signatures, deeming just over 534,000 to be legitimate. Presuming the GAB does verify the necessary number, the focus will quickly turn to when the election will be held. Under Badger State law, the election must be held within six weeks of verifying the signatures, meaning it would be held in April. But GAB officials are not in favor of that, noting the GOP presidential primary is already set for April 3. Multiple Democrats deciding to challenge Walker would also complicate matters. With more than one challenger, the April election would become a primary, with a general State Net Capitol Journal® election to follow a month later. Whenever it is held, the ticket will be crowded. Five other Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish (R) and four GOP senators, are facing recall votes as well. If it goes forth, Walker would become only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall election, joining North Dakota Gov. Lyn Frazier (R) in 1921 and California Gov. Gray Davis (D) in 2003. Walker would certainly hope for better 10
  11. 11. results — both of them lost and were removedfrom office. (POST CRESCENT [APPLETON], Upcoming stories Here are some of the topics you may seeWISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL [MADISON], covered in upcoming issues of the StateMILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL) Net Capitol Journal: • CA redevelopment • Child protection CHRISTIE RIPS NYPD OVER MUSLIM • Election year politicsSPYING PROGRAM: New Jersey Gov. ChrisChristie (R) last week angrily denounced the New YorkCity Police Department for surreptitiously monitoring Muslim-owned businesses andhouses of worship in New Jersey. Christie was responding to an Associated Pressreport than the NYPD has been monitoring the Newark residents since 2007. “I don’t know if this NYPD action was born out of arrogance, or out of paranoia,or out of both,” he said, “but we’re taking a real good, strong hard look at it from apolicy perspective at the governor’s office level.” Christie was particularly angry that he and his staff were not briefed on theprogram when he came into office. He claimed the program ignored the lesson of the9/11 terrorist attacks, which have been blamed in part on a lack of communicationbetween various state and federal law enforcement and anti-terrorism organizations. New Jersey Attorney General Jeff Chiesa is reviewing the NYPD actions todetermine if any state civil rights laws were broken. (STAR-LEDGER [NEWARK],NBCNEWYORK.COM) OBAMA PRODS GOVS TO BOOST EDUCATION SPENDING: PresidentObama urged governors last week to invest more state resources in education, saying“Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state than the decisions you makeabout where to invest.” The president said better education will produce a morehighly skilled workforce, something crucial for the U.S. to remain competitive withother countries. The president’s comments came at a dinner he hosted at the WhiteHouse for governors in town for the National Governors Association winter meeting.(BOSTON GLOBE) MALLOY ALTERS LIQUOR PROPOSAL: Connecticut Gov. Dannel P.Malloy (D) has revised his proposal to overhaul the Constitution State’s liquor laws,saying the latest version addresses concerns from the state’s liquor wholesalers andretailers. Under his original plan, the state would have introduced chain ownership, State Net Capitol Journal®allowing single entities to hold as many as nine retail permits, up from two undercurrent law. Malloy also originally suggested eliminating the current limit of onepackage store per 2,500 residents of any municipality. Last week, he proposedallowing ownership of up to six stores while still maintaining the limit of one storeper 2,500 residents. Malloy admitted it was a concession to package stores, butsaid it would still limit competition among package stores. Malloy said the state’s11
  12. 12. current liquor price controls, which set minimum prices on all alcohol products sold, are “ghastly,” “unfair,” and causing businesses to leave the state. Lawmakers are currently holding public meetings on the proposal. (CONNECTICUT MIRROR, NORWICH BULLETIN) GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: Lawmakers in OREGON reached an 11th hour agreement on two of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s (D) top legislative priorities: creating a state health insurance exchange (HB 4164) and consolidating the state’s early childhood education programs (HB 4165). Lawmakers were working to get the bills done before the session closed last week (OREGONIAN [PORTLAND], STATE NET). • ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) rejected an invitation to appear before a U.S. Senate sub-committee to discuss SB 1070, the state’s landmark immigration law. Brewer spokesperson Mathew Benson said the governor will be in Washington D.C. that week, but to attend a hearing about SB 1070 before the U.S. Supreme Court. Benson called the invitation from U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NEW YORK) “a publicity stunt” (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA). • WYOMING Gov. Matt Mead (R) said he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Equality State’s challenge to a 2001 federal rule barring development on nearly 50 million acres of roadless areas in national forests. The rule enacted under former President Bill Clinton has been upheld by both the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit in separate cases (ASSOCIATED PRESS). • NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez (R) signed SB 369, a measure that allows state National Guard and Reserve members who complete six years of service to be considered veterans and eligible for state benefits, such as a property tax break (SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN). — Compiled by RICH EHISENHot issues B USINESS: The ALABAMA Senate endorses SB 294, which would increase the maximum size of beer sold by Heart of Dixie retailers from 16 ounces to 25.4 ounces. The bill is now in the House (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, State Net Capitol Journal® STATE NET). • The UTAH House and Senate approve SB 41, which would bar minors from using indoor tanning beds without parental consent. It is now on its way to Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for review (STATE NET, DESERET NEWS [SALT LAKE CITY]). • The WEST VIRGINIA Senate approves SB 73, which would also, among several things, bar minors from using indoor tanning beds. The measure 12
  13. 13. would also require tanning salons to warn customersof the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet light. It The week in sessionis now in the House (STATE NET, CHARLESTON States in Regular Session: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL,GAZETTE). • Still in WEST VIRGINIA, the Senate IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS,approves SB 406, which would bar dog breeders from NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, SC, SD, TN, US, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WYowning more than 50 dogs at a time. The measurewould also require owners of more than 11 unsterilized States in Recess: DE, NCdogs to obtain a permit, establish minimum treatment Special Sessions in Recess: DE “b”standards for care of the dogs and make breeding States Currently Prefiling or Draftingfacilities subject to inspection. The bill, which would for 2012: LAexempt registered racing greyhounds, show dogs and States Projected to Adjourn: OR, WAherding dogs, is now in the House (CHARLESTON States Adjourned in 2012: NMGAZETTE, STATE NET). • CALIFORNIA Attorney Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessionsGeneral Kamala Harris (D) reaches an agreement withthe nation’s largest mobile computing providers that — Compiled By OWEN JARNAGIN(session information current as of 3/1/2012)requires those companies to conspicuously post their Source: State Net databaseprivacy policies. The companies are Amazon, Apple,Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and ResearchIn Motion, which comprise the majority of the mobile applications market (USATODAY, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE). • The COLORADOHouse approves HB 1115, which would allow businesses and unions to commenton the fiscal impact of proposed bills on their organizations before those measuresare heard. It is now in the Senate (STATE NET, DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL).• The IOWA House and Senate give final approval to HF 589, which would makeit a crime to obtain access to an agricultural facility under false pretenses or to lieon a job application to obtain that access. It moves to Gov. Terry Branstad (R) forreview (DES MOINES REGISTER). • The OREGON House approves SB 1548,which would make it illegal for employers to bar the unemployed from applying foropen positions. It moves to Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) for review (GAZETTE-TIMES[CORVALLIS]). • The ARIZONA Senate approves SB 1336, a bill that would barcompanies in product liability suits from being assessed punitive damages if theproduct complied with state or federal regulations. It is now in the House (EASTVALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA]). CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The WEST VIRGINIA House passes HB State Net Capitol Journal®4053, which would make it a felony to force or coerce people into forced laboror sex. Violators would face up to 10 years in prison. It has moved to the Senate(CHARLESTON GAZETTE, STATE NET). • SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. DennisDaugaard (R) signs HB 1021, which adds clemency hearings to actions in whichcrime victims may provide written input (STATE NET). • Still in SOUTHDAKOTA, Gov. Daugaard signs SB 23, which makes it a felony to possess or sell 13
  14. 14. synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana, Upcoming electionscocaine and heroin. The chemicals are often sold (3/01/2012 - 3/22/2012)as “incense” or “bath salts.” The law goes into 03/06/2012effect immediately (STATE NET). • The NEVADA Georgia Special Runoff House District 107Pharmacy Board adds six more kinds of syntheticmarijuana to its list of banned substances. The Silver Ohio Primary Election House (All)State barred the sale of so-called incense products Senate (Even)(NV 5238 2011) last year (RENO GAZETTE- US House (All)JOURNAL). • The MINNESOTA House approves US SenateHB 1467, legislation that would broaden the Gopher 03/13/2012State’s so-called “Castle Doctrine” law that allows Alabama Primary Election US House (All)residents to use deadly force to repel intruders fromtheir home. Under the proposed law, residents could Mississippi Primary Election US House (All)use deadly force anywhere they have a legal right to US Senatebe. It has moved to Gov. Mark Dayton (D) for review(BRAINERD DISPATCH, STATE NET). • The 03/20/2012 Illinois Primary ElectionIOWA House approves HF 2215, which would allow House (All)Hawkeye State residents to use deadly force if they Senate (All) US House (All)reasonably believe it is necessary to avoid the risk ofinjury or death. The measure has moved to the Senate New York Special Election Assembly Districts 93, 100, 103 and 145(STATE NET, DES MOINES REGISTER). Senate District 27 EDUCATION: The MINNESOTA Senateapproves HB 1870, which would allow schools to make teacher layoffs basedon student performance. The measure has returned to the House (BRAINERDDISPATCH, STATE NET). • Also in MINNESOTA, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signsHB 1770, legislation that requires Gopher State teacher candidates to pass a basicskills exam in math, reading and writing in order to receive a teaching license(BRAINERD DISPATCH). • The ARIZONA House approves HB 2563, whichwould allow Grand Canyon State schools to teach elective courses on the influence ofthe Bible on Western culture and civilization. It is now in the Senate (EAST VALLEYTRIBUNE [MESA]). • The UTAH House and Senate approve HB 62, which clarifiesthat Beehive State elementary schools are allowed to request supplies from parents.Parents would not, however, be required to comply with the request. The measureis now with Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for review (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • Also in State Net Capitol Journal®UTAH, the Senate approves SB 223, which would require high school and juniorhigh students to say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. The measure, whichrequires the Pledge to be conducted class by class and to be led by students, movesto the House (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • The MISSISSIPPI Senate approves SB2401, which would allow students from anywhere in the Magnolia State to attend a 14
  15. 15. charter school. The measure, which would also allow In case you missed itschool boards in the 32 highest rated districts to block Democrats presently lead the presidentialcharter schools in their area, is now in the House contest while Republicans are ahead in the battles to control Congress and a majority of(HATTIESBURG AMERICAN). • The IDAHO House statehouses. If these trends continue, the na- tion faces four more years of divided — andapproves HB 481, which would remove the Gem divisive — government.State’s cap on charter schools. It is now in the Senate In case you missed it, the article can be found on our website at(IDAHO STATESMAN [BOISE]). • The WYOMING rejects SF 54, which would have required mostEquality State college students to be vaccinated against meningitis (ASSOCIATEDPRESS). • The SOUTH DAKOTA Senate approves SB 130, which would requireschool districts to adopt anti-bullying policies. The measure is now in ConferenceCommittee (RAPID CITY JOURNAL). ENERGY: The COLORADO House approves HB 1160, which would allow thecapture of methane gas from coal mines to qualify as a renewable energy source. Themeasure is now in the Senate (STATE NET, PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN). ENVIRONMENT: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to orderemergency measures aimed at preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.Five Great Lakes states — MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, PENNSYLVANIA,WISCONSIN and OHIO — requested the measures. The court issued the rulingwithout comment (WASHINGTON POST). • WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker(R) signs SB 368, legislation that eases the permitting process for developmentin Badger State wetlands, including allowing state officials and landowners moreleeway to consider mitigation projects to replace wetlands destroyed by development(MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL, STATE NET). HEALTH & SCIENCE: The UTAH House approves HB 245, a bill that wouldban the smoking of hookah pipes and electronic cigarettes in public places. Themeasure is now in the Senate (DESERET NEWS [SALT LAKE CITY], STATENET). • A federal judge rules that a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule requiringlarge, graphic warnings on cigarette advertising is unconstitutional. U.S. DistrictJudge Richard Leon said the rule violates the First Amendment. The FDA has notindicated if it will appeal the decision (REUTERS). • The WEST VIRGINIASenate approves SB 437, a bill that would, among several things, limit the sale of State Net Capitol Journal®pseudoephedrine products and require Mountain State pharmacies to track thosesales. The measure is now in the House (CHARLESTON GAZETTE). SOCIAL POLICY: MARYLAND Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signs HB438, which makes the Old Line State the eighth to legislatively endorse same-sexmarriage. The law will go into effect in January, 2013. Opponents, meanwhile, have 15
  16. 16. vowed to curtail the law via a ballot referendum (BALTIMORE SUN, STATE NET).• The VIRGINIA Senate approves HB 462, which would require women seeking anabortion to first have an external ultrasound. The measure has returned to the House(RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH). • Also in VIRGINIA, the Senate postpones HB1, a bill that would grant personhood rights to human embryos. The Senate sent themeasure back to the Senate Committee on Education and Health for considerationnext year (CBSNEWS.COM). • NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoes SB1, which would have legalized same-sex marriage in the Garden State. Christie saidhe wants voters to decide the issue (TIMES OF TRENTON). • The WISCONSINSenate approves SB 306, which would require doctors to be present when prescribingabortion-inducing drugs and further require physicians to inform a woman of herright to refuse or consent to an abortion. The bill is now in the Assembly (STATENET, POST-CRESCENT [APPLETON]). • The GEORGIA House approves HB954, a bill that would bar Peach State women from having abortions after the 20weeks of pregnancy. The bill, which would make exceptions for cases where thewoman’s health or life is endangered, moves to the Senate (LOS ANGELES TIMES).• The ARIZONA Senate approves SB 1365, which would bar governments fromdenying or removing someone’s professional license for refusing to do things thatgo against their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The bill has moved to the House(EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA]). • The IOWA Senate approves SF 2247,which would replace the term “retarded” in Hawkeye State legal codes with the term“intellectual disability.” It has moved to the House (DES MOINES REGISTER). POTPOURRI: VIRGINIA Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) signs HB 940, a bill thatoverturns the Old Dominion’s one-a-month cap on purchasing handguns. The newlaw goes into effect July 1 (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH). • The ALABAMAHouse approves HB 2, legislation that would ban drivers from reading, writing orsending text messages while behind the wheel. It has moved to the Senate (STATENET, MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER). • The SOUTH DAKOTA Legislaturegives final approval to HB 1248, which would allow Coyote State residents to carryconcealed handguns without a permit. The measure has moved to Gov. DennisDaugaard (R) for review (RAPID CITY JOURNAL). • OHIO Gov. John Kasich(R) signs HB 14, which overturns a Buckeye State law that deems pit bulls to beinherently vicious dogs. The new law also creates three designations of dangerousdogs: “vicious,” “dangerous” and “nuisance.” The law goes into effect in May State Net Capitol Journal®(CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER). — Compiled by RICH EHISEN 16
  17. 17. Once around thestatehouse lightly B ETTER NOT TRY THIS IN WISCONSIN: Public employee unions and pro-business forces are the lions and hyenas of the political realm, constantly snipping and snapping at one another in an effort to gain the upper hand. The latest dust-up comes via California Assemblyman Roger Dickinson. Although California public workers are considered to already have some of the strongest job protections in the nation, Dickinson has nevertheless authored legislation to dramatically strengthen those protections even more. As the Sacramento Bee reports, the bill’s many tenets include virtually barring outsourcing contracts to private firms or requiring employees to work overtime to cover for co-workers who get laid off or, for that matter, who call in sick. State officials would also have drastically less time to investigate and act on employee misconduct, even for serious crimes like fraud and embezzlement. All of which makes one wonder if, given the state’s myriad real problems, Dickinson is shooting to take over Gov. Jerry Brown’s old “Moonbeam” moniker. MOONBEAM V. MOONIE: Speaking of Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., he is well known for not suffering fools gladly. That information, however, was apparently news to one East Coast reporter last week. As the Los Angeles Times reports, a reporter from the Washington Times approached Brown, who was in Washington D.C. for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, with a pointed reference to California being bankrupt, followed by a claim that Ronald Reagan had served in the governor’s office after Brown. When Brown corrected her on both points — noting Reagan followed Brown’s father, Edmund Sr. — she shifted gears, insisting he had lost a bid for re-election after his first term. After Brown corrected her yet again, she returned to her claim that California is bankrupt, this time prompting Brown to ask her, “Are you a Moonie by any chance?” The Washington Times was started by Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification Church, whose followers are often called “Moonies.” End of interview. A STYLISH ARGUMENT: While Maryland and Washington have recently State Net Capitol Journal® endorsed same-sex nuptials, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez reiterated last week that she will fight any attempts to bring gay marriage to the Land of Enchantment. That has Santa Fe hair stylist Antonio Darden riled. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reports, Darden, who is gay and who has cut the gov’s hair in the past, recently left Martinez a message telling her that she was officially no longer welcome at his establishment. The news didn’t seem to bother Martinez, however. When questioned 17
  18. 18. about it by The Huffington Post, she said Darden wasn’t her regular hair stylistanyway. Oh, and by the way, “he talked too much” when he was on the job. Soundslike a match made in heaven, eh? AND THEIR COOKIES ARE FATTENING TOO: Add the Girl Scouts ofAmerica to the list of subversive groups determined to destroy everything we holddear. At least that is how Indiana Rep. Bob Morris sees it. As the Louisville Courier-Journal reports, Morris recently became the only House member to refuse to signon to a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts on their 100th anniversary. In a letter hesent to fellow Republicans, Morris accused the Scouts of being an arm of PlannedParenthood and a “radicalized organization” that supports abortion and promotes the“homosexual lifestyle.” Morris’s colleagues weren’t convinced. House Speaker BrianBosma, also a Republican, went out of his way to poke fun at Morris by handingout the Scouts’ famous Thin Mint cookies and telling lawmakers in session that thesituation had inspired him to “purchase 278 cases of Girl Scout cookies in the lastfour hours.” — 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