State Net Capitol Journal 031912


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 19, 2012.

Want State Net delivered to your inbox every week? Register for your complimentary subscription at:

Published in: News & Politics
  • 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

State Net Capitol Journal 031912

  1. 1. Volume XX, No.9The GOP Dilemma March 19, 2012 Budget & taxes 5 WV commits to paying 4 down pension debt Politics & leadership 7 Lawmakers allowed to change votes in several states Governors 10 Snyder spars with Detroit over financial rescue Bird’s eye view 2 © Hot issues 13 Once around the statehouse lightly 17 The next issue of Capitol Journal will be available on April 2nd. Top Story GOP presidential SNCJ Spotlight R Repeal ‘Obamacare’ or help it succeed? candidates say they are anxious to overturn the epublican presidential candidates and GOP Affordable Care Act. members of Congress are eager to repeal the But Republican state Affordable Care Act (ACA) that President lawmakers are torn Obama pushed through Congress on a party-line vote between defeating what in 2010. But their Republican counterparts in thethey call “Obamacare” and nation’s statehouses are torn between resisting what making the law work. they call “Obamacare” and making it work.
  2. 2. “The sands in the hourglass areslipping away across the country,” Bird’s eye viewAlabama State Rep. Gregory D. WA Source: Associated General Contractors of America, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor NHWren (R) recently told The New ME VT MT NDYork Times. OR MN MA ID SD WI NY Wren, co-chair of the health WY MI RI PA CT IAreform task force of the National NV NE NJ OH UT IL IN CA CO WV DEConference of State Legislatures, KS MO VA KY MD NCwas referring to the narrowing TN AZ OK NM AR SCwindow available to states for MS AL GA TX LAcreating the health insurance AK FLexchanges that are a centerpieceof the federal law. The exchanges HI States with largest net percentage gain in construction jobs between January 2011 and January 2012 States with largest net percentage losswould be online supermarketsin which uninsured individuals Construction employment up in majority of states Construction employment rose in 28 statescould shop for a health plan. and held steady in two others betweenAs envisioned, government January 2011 and January 2012, the bestsubsidies and competition among showing since 2007, according to the Associated General Contractors of companies would make The trade group’s analysis of data from thethe health plans offered on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Pennsylvania had theexchanges more affordable than biggest net gain in jobs during that period —current plans. Through these 13,000 — but North Dakota had the largest net percentage increase, at 16.1 percent. Tennessee was No.exchanges and expansion of 2 in both total jobs and percentage, 12,500 and 12.0 percent,Medicaid, the federal-state plan respectively. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Florida lostthat provides health care for the the most jobs — 21,500 — while Alabama had the largest percentage decline, 9 percent.poor, the Obama administrationhopes to insure 30 million of theapproximately 50 million Americans who lack health insurance. The states, however, face a practical problem; if they fail to present a plan toset up the exchanges by Jan. 1, 2013, the law allows the U.S. Department of Healthand Human Services (HHS) to create federal exchanges over which the states wouldhave no control. Wren cited this prospect, opposed by governors of both parties, inintroducing HB 245, a bill to set up an Alabama exchange. But in a pattern repeatedin several Republican-controlled states, the bill stalled because Gov. Robert Bentley(R) wants to wait until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the State Net Capitol Journal®health care legislation. The high court is scheduled to hold three days of hearings onthe law beginning March 26, with a ruling expected by July 1. There’s a case to be made for waiting. But as various foes of the ACA, includingRepublican Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, have pointed out, waiting also entailsrisks. Setting up the exchanges is no easy matter, and the plans states are requiredto submit by the Jan. 1, 2013, deadline are supposed to include a standardized 2
  3. 3. application form and a consumer-friendly online presentation. HHS on March 12issued a 642-page document providing guidance for the states on the exchanges andgranting flexibility on the minimum requirements of a health plan. Even so, setting up the exchanges will take time. Massachusetts and Utah, thetwo states with functioning exchanges under state laws, took nearly a year to makethem operational. The Massachusetts exchange started in 2006, as the product of alaw proposed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney who as the leading Republican candidatefor president now promises to repeal the federal law, which was largely modeled afterhis Massachusetts plan. The Obama administration has given states financial incentives to createexchanges; HHS has doled out $600 million to 34 states that have done preliminaryspadework plus a $1 million planning grant to every state. A dozen states and theDistrict of Columbia have fully embraced the federal law with laws or executiveorders creating state exchanges. California, the first to implement the federal lawby creating the California Health Benefit Exchange, is especially advanced. If theSupreme Court invalidates the federal law, California is positioned to launch its ownhealth care system should Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and the Legislature decide they wantone. At the other extreme, a dozen states, notably Texas and Florida, have refused tospend their own money — or accept federal funds — to build the exchanges. Severalother states, like undecided voters, don’t know which way to turn. Most have takensmall steps and are running in place until the court rules. There is a partisan overlay to this activity or lack thereof. With the exception ofNevada, the states that have done the most to implement the exchanges are governedby Democrats, and the states that have done the least have Republican governors.But many Republicans are conflicted. In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyderproposed an exchange that stalled in the Republican-controlled House. In Wisconsin,Republican Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order creating an exchange andthen, under pressure from conservatives, canceled his order. In Pennsylvania, Gov.Corbett, opposes the health reform law while following the Boy Scout maxim ofbeing prepared. He has accepted $34 million in federal funds to build an exchange. Republicans such as Gov. Corbett and Rep. Wren believe that states that waituntil the Supreme Court rules are fooling themselves. If the law is upheld, they willhave to scramble to meet the Jan. 1, 2013 deadline. It’s also possible — perhapslikely — that the exchanges will survive a ruling that strikes down the most disputedelement of the 905-page law: a requirement that all uninsured Americans purchase State Net Capitol Journal®health insurance. Legal analysts disagree about whether the high court will find thismandate constitutional, but most doubt that the court will invalidate the entire law. Insurance companies, divided during the congressional debate over the law, preferstate to federal regulation and generally support creation of the state exchanges. “Wehope the law is ruled constitutional in its entirety,” said Tom Epstein of Blue Shield ofCalifornia, a large non-profit insurer that has long favored state exchanges. Insurers 3
  4. 4. will benefit if the law is upheld because they willreceive federal subsidies for people who purchase In the hopperhealth plans through an exchange. At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thou- sands of bills in all 50 states, the US Congress And what if the Supreme Court rejects the and the District of Columbia. Here’s a snapshotmandate requiring purchase of health insurance of what’s in the legislative works:while leaving the rest of the law intact? It’s been Number of Prefiles last week: 173widely forecast that such a ruling would sound the Number of Intros last week: 3,998death knell for Obamacare, as it would removethe principal financing source for subsidizing the Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 1,361exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid. But amandate may not be the only recourse. Kim Belshe, Number of 2012 Prefiles to date: 9,465a high-ranking health care official for two previous Number of 2012 Intros to date: 63,854California governors, suggests that insurance Number of 2012 Session Enacted/companies, aided by federal subsidies, could induce Adopted overall to date: 7,687the uninsured to purchase health insurance by Number of bills currently in State Netoffering low-priced plans during their annual open- Database: 167,200enrollment months. Belshe is now a director of the — Compiled By OWEN JARNIGANCalifornia Health Benefit Exchange, whose executive (measures current as of 3/14/2012) Source: State Net databasedirector, Victor Lee, calls the mandate “just one toolin the kit” of reforming health care. Although it’s atool he wants, Lee says that “a revolution in health care” will continue in any case.This revolution, if that is what it is, is driven by the costs of health care, whichare more expensive in the United States than in any other industrialized nation inthe world. The American people, like their representatives, have been divided on the meritsof the federal health care law ever since it was passed. A recent Gallup Poll found that45 percent of Americans thought the law a “good thing” and 44 percent “a bad thing.”(Interestingly, a vast majority — 72 percent — believes that requiring individuals topurchase health insurance is unconstitutional.) Because of this division, the politicaldebate over health care is likely to continue no matter what the Supreme Courtdecides. It is also likely that insurance exchanges will proliferate, with or without themandate. Gov. Corbett and Rep. Wren are right in saying that it makes good sense forthe states to be prepared. — By Lou Cannon State Net Capitol Journal® 4
  5. 5. Budget & taxes W V COMMITS TO PAYING DOWN PENSION DEBT: West Virginia’s unfunded pension liability — estimated at $10 billion last year — is one of the highest per capita in the nation. But the state became a standout on the issue in a very different way last month when lawmakers approved legislation proposed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) — SB 469 — dedicating $30 million per year in personal income tax revenues to help pay down that pension debt. “We’ve struggled for the last three or four years to find a solution,” Tomblin said. “Now, as far as I know, we’re the first in the country to address it.” Public pension analysts supported that claim. “While many states struggle with similarly low funded ratios, only West Virginia has implemented a plan to bring the funded ratio of such a large accrued liability to 100 percent,” said Lisa Heller, a senior analyst at Moody’s Investor Service, echoing three others who said they knew of no other state that had devoted tax revenue to that end. States have focused instead on shrinking their unfunded liabilities. Over the last three years, nearly every one has reduced retirement benefits for public employees. (STATELINE.ORG, STATE NET) US SENATE PASSES TRANSPORTATION BILL: On a 74-22 bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate passed a new transportation bill last week (US SB 1813) that would keep federal funding flowing to states for another two years. The $109 billion plan would change some transportation processes and increase funding by redirecting money currently allocated for the clean up of leaks from underground fuel tanks and by eliminating tax credits for paper makers. But it would make no major changes in the primary source of federal transportation funding: the federal gas tax. The chamber overwhelmingly rejected proposals that would have allowed states to raise money by commercializing rest stops along interstate highways, and phasing out the gas tax and turning over responsibility for transportation funding to the states. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) still praised the senators for their work. State Net Capitol Journal® “Their bipartisan approach,” the group’s executive director, John Horsley, said in a statement, “helped set a path forward for this bill that not only provides a greater degree of funding certainty for states, it also establishes reforms that will streamline project delivery, consolidate programs and improve performance reporting and accountability.” 5
  6. 6. With less than two weeks to go before the current federal transportation programexpires, the U.S. House still has to approve its own transportation bill, vote on theSenate plan or pass another short-term highway funding bill, as Congress has doneeight times since 2009. (STATELINE.ORG) PROPERTYTAX REVENUES ON DECLINE: Cities, counties and school districtscollected $436 billion in property taxes in 2011, about 20 percent more than in 2006.But last year’s total was just 1.2 percent more than the year before — and actually .9percent less after adjusting for inflation — according to data from the U.S. Bureau ofEconomic Analysis. Property tax collections haven’t fallen below the rate of inflation since 1995.And they haven’t dropped below inflation-adjusted, prior-year levels — which couldconceivably happen if the current downward trend continues — since the GreatDepression. What is happening is that the devaluation of housing prices is only now beginningto be reflected in American homeowners’ property tax bills because of complex lawsin most states forestalling property tax declines during economic downturns. “People say, ‘Hey, my house value went down. How about my tax bill goingdown?’ But it doesn’t work that way,” said Robert Ross, chief assessment officer inMcHenry County, Illinois, part of the metropolitan area of Chicago. Property tax assessments in that state are based on a formula that takes intoaccount home values going back as far as seven years. Public schools in the state,which have had to cut 3.3 percent of their workforce — 270,000 employees — sinceJuly 2008, are going to be hit particularly hard. “We’re doing everything we can to save classroom teachers,” said AlexandraNicholson, superintendent of West Northfield School District 31, which gets almostall of its revenue from property taxes. (USA TODAY) BUDGETS IN BRIEF: Acknowledging the realities of the volatile stock marketand weak investment climate, the board of the CALIFORNIA Public EmployeesRetirement System, the largest public pension fund in the nation, voted 9-1 last weekto lower its assumed average annual rate of return a quarter of a percentage point,to 7.5 percent. The reduction will raise the state’s pension costs by $167 million(LOS ANGELES TIMES). • NEVADA Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) said last week thatin order to avoid further cuts to education and other services, he will seek another State Net Capitol Journal®extension of the 2009 increase in payroll, sales and car registration taxes in hisbudget for the next biennium. He extended the sunset date of those levies last yearafter a state Supreme Court decision threw into question more than $600 million inlocal government funds he had planned to use to balance the budget (LAS VEGASSUN). • OREGON lawmakers convened in special session last Monday in an effortto pass a budget addressing the state’s $1 billion budget gap, which they failed to do 6
  7. 7. in the 60-day session that ended on March 9, as well as in a 17-day special session last December. They will also consider a $1.2 billion plan to stimulate jobs through school construction, community and environmental cleanup projects across the state (OLYMPIAN). • WYOMING lawmakers approved and Gov. Matt Mead (R) signed legislation — SB 82 — eliminating the state’s $2 cap on ATM fees, which was the only such limit in the country. Proponents said the fee wasn’t enough for many small businesses to cover the costs of operating the machines, especially in rural areas (CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE, STATE NET). • OHIO Gov. John Kasich (R) unveiled a mid-term budget plan that would provide a $500 million-per-year income tax cut by increasing oil and gas taxes. The proposal also calls for $1.74 billion in construction projects, including $675 million for schools (CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER). • VIRGINIA ended its 2012 legislative session March 10 without passing a state budget, reportedly due in part to a partisan standoff over committee assignments. Work on the $85 billion, two-year spending plan will recommence in a special session on March 21 (WASHINGTON POST). • Despite signs of an improving economy, the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projects that states will face a combined $47 billion budget gap in the fiscal year that begins in July. But that figure is less than half the shortfall states confronted a year ago and less than a third of the $191 billion gap three years ago (WALL STREET JOURNAL). — Compiled by KOREY CLARKPolitics & leadership L AWMAKERS ALLOWED TO CHANGE VOTES IN SEVERAL STATES: When members of California’s Assembly hit the campaign trail this year touting their votes on various bills, what they say may be only half true. The state is one of 10 that allow lawmakers to change their votes on bills after they have passed or failed. The practice doesn’t change the outcome of the original votes, but it allows lawmakers to take political cover from, or, alternatively, take credit for, certain votes on their official record. The practice is used liberally in California’s Assembly. In the first two months of this year alone, members employed it over 400 times. (In the state’s Senate, only legislative State Net Capitol Journal® leaders can add their votes after a bill has passed or failed, but they rarely do.) Some of the state’s most prolific users defend the practice, saying they often don’t have enough time to read legislation before it is voted on and they also use the option tactically. Members will occasionally hold off on voting for a colleague’s bill until they see if that colleague has voted for their legislation, said Assemblyman Tony Mendoza (D). 7
  8. 8. “Sometimes it’s very political,” he said. Mendoza, who has added his vote to bills after the original tally 17 times this year, the sixth-highest amount in the Assembly, said another reason he often waits to add votes is because lawmakers make changes right up until the last minute. “Some bills, I don’t even want to vote on. I don’t like them,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t feel good about it, but the author wants you to add on to it because it makes it look good when it goes to the Senate side.” Peter Scheer, executive director of the California-based First Amendment Coalition, said those who add votes “might as well be absent.” “Your vote is superfluous. It’s worse than superfluous, because you’re only adding it when it’s safe, and you’re wasting your constituents’ time.” While lawmakers in at least nine other states also allow vote-changes or adds, they appear to do so less freely. In some cases, that’s due at least in part to policy changes. Last June, after North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tempore Dale Folwell (R) asked if he could change his vote on a controversial consumer finance bill from yes to no two weeks after it had passed, House Speaker Thom Tillis instituted a new policy allowing vote changes only “It’s worse than within 24 hours of the original vote in “an effort to protect the sanctity of thesuperfluous, because you’re voting process,” his spokesman said. only adding it when it’s And until about 10 years ago, Ohio safe, and you’re wasting representatives were allowed to change your constituents’ time.” their votes by the end of the day, like their counterparts in California. But the House made a rule change because the practice had become so widespread that it was difficult to keep track of the vote totals. Now in order for a lawmaker to change his or her position, the House must vote to reconsider the entire bill, something that rarely happens. (ASSOCIATED PRESS, ABC NEWS) DOJ REJECTS TX VOTER ID LAW: The U.S. Justice Department has rejected Texas’ new voter ID law, concluding the state failed to prove the law would not discriminate against minority voters, as it is required to do under the Voting Rights Act because of its past record of discrimination. “According to the state’s own data, a Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter State Net Capitol Journal® to lack this identification,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez stated in a letter to Texas Elections Director Keith Ingram. “Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card issued by DPS, and that disparity is statistically significant.” Reaction to the decision broke along partisan lines. 8
  9. 9. “The DOJ has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requiresnothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive alibrary card or board an airplane,” said Gov. Rick Perry (R). “Their denial is yet anotherexample of the Obama administration’s continuing and pervasive federal overreach.” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D), however, said the Justice Department’sdecision was not political but rather “calculated on the data the state sent them.” It will now be up to a federal court in Washington to decide if the law can takeeffect. But it is unlikely to do so before the state’s May 29 primary. (HOUSTONCHRONICLE) SC LT GOV RESIGNS: South Carolina Lt. Gov. Ken Ard (R) resigned lastweek after pleading guilty to seven counts of violating the state’s campaign financelaws. Ard evidently funneled $75,000 of his own money into his 2010 electioncampaign through friends and reported $87,000 worth of donations he didn’t actuallyreceive to make it appear he had more financial support than his opponents, a tactichis main primary challenger, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, says worked. “That first quarter fundraising was critical in showing the big donors in the statewho had the support on their side,” Connor said. Ard was spared prison but sentenced to five years’ probation, a $5,000 fine and300 hours of community service. His resignation also forced Glenn McConnell (R) togive up his post as Senate president pro tempore — considered the most powerful inthe state — and assume the largely ceremonial, part-time job of lieutenant governor,as required by the state’s Constitution. (POST AND COURIER [CHARLESTON],STATE [COLUMBIA], TIMES AND DEMOCRAT [ORANGEBURG]) PA PASSES VOTER ID LAW: Pennsylvania has become the ninth state in thepast year to enact a strict voter ID law. Both chambers of its Legislature passed HB934 last week with only Republican votes, and the bill was signed into law by Gov.Tom Corbett (R) hours later. Supporters argued the bill was necessary to ensure the integrity of the electoralprocess. Opponents, who vowed to challenge it in court, decried it as a “votersuppression bill,” which will impose particular hardship on elderly, minority andhandicapped voters, and a thinly veiled attempt to enhance Republican chances ofdefeating President Barack Obama in November. (STATE NET, CBS NEWS) State Net Capitol Journal® POLITICS IN BRIEF: Jurors in ALABAMA have found VictoryLand ownerMilton McGregor and five other defendants, including Sen. Harri Anne Smith (I),not guilty on all counts in the retrial of the state’s high profile government corruptioncase. When the case was tried last summer, jurors deliberated for a week beforereturning not guilty verdicts on some charges but saying they were hopelesslydeadlocked on others (BIRMINGHAM NEWS). • VERMONT Secretary of State 9
  10. 10. James Condos (D) is calling for a criminal investigation of an undercover video released via the website of a conservative activist purportedly showing individuals using the names of other people — including one who is deceased — to obtain ballots for elections in the state, including this year’s presidential primary. The crime of voter fraud in VERMONT is punishable by a fine of up to $100 and up to a year in jail, Condos said (BURLINGTON FREE PRESS). A judge in WISCONSIN struck down the state’s voter ID law (WI Act No. 2011-23) less than a week after another judge temporarily blocked it. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) said he will appeal the decision, but it complicates plans for officials who were hoping the law would be in effect for the state’s upcoming April 3 presidential primary (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE). • The NEW HAMPSHIRE House approved a “right-to- work” bill that would prohibit collective bargaining agreements from requiring all workers to pay union fees. The 198-139 vote on HB 1677, however, is far short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a likely veto by Gov. John Lynch (D) (UNION LEADER [MANCHESTER]). • NEW JERSEY lobbyists spent a record $73.2 million last year, including $15.2 million on mass media advertising, according to the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission. The spending constituted an 11.2 percent increase over 2010 (NEW JERSEY NEWSROOM). — Compiled by KOREY CLARKGovernors S NYDER SPARS WITH DETROIT OVER FINANCIAL RESCUE: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has offered Detroit a way to avoid having a state-appointed emergency manager take over the troubled city’s finances. But that proposal, which would strip the mayor and the city council of most of their power and place the city’s future in the hands of a state financial advisory board, has not gone over well with Mayor Dave Bing (D) or other city officials. Under the proposed consent agreement, Bing and the Detroit City Council would report to a nine-member board consisting of State Treasurer Andy Dillon, one person selected by the governor, one person selected by the state treasurer, two people selected by the mayor, three people jointly appointed by the mayor and council State Net Capitol Journal® selected from a list of six candidates provided by the governor, and one person selected by the council. Snyder and Bing would jointly recommend a new city chief executive officer, chief operating officer and human resources director, with the board having final say over who is selected. The board would also have final authority over the city’s financial decisions. In a statement, Bing said he was “tremendously disappointed” in the proposal, which he said “does not represent the spirit of partnership needed between the city 10
  11. 11. and the state to resolve the city’s financial challenges.”Bing also decried what he said was the proposal’s Upcoming stories Here are some of the topics you may seerequirement that the city waive its ability to contest any covered in upcoming issues of the Stateaspect of the agreement. Net Capitol Journal: “It forfeits the electoral rights of the citizens of • The Amazon tax • Child protectionDetroit guaranteed by the democratic process,” he said. • Election year politics But Snyder said he has grown tired of waiting forthe city to devise its own plan for dealing with a $197million budget shortfall that will soon leave it unable to pay its bills. “For several months, I have made very clear through my discussions with themayor that the best possible outcome would be for the city to develop its own,workable plan to address this financial crisis,” he said in announcing the plan. “Overtime, it has become increasingly clear that may not come to fruition. If the city cannotimplement its own recovery plan, to address both short- and long-term problems, aconsent agreement is the next best option.” Snyder compared his proposal to one implemented in New York City in 1975when the city faced bankruptcy. That entity, the New York State Financial ControlBoard, stayed in place until 1986. “Did you hear about the mayor or the City Council complaining about New YorkCity having a financial board that was signing off things, that went on for decades?”he said. “I don’t think you heard a word about it, because it just worked.” Detroit City Council members were also vocal in their opposition to Snyder’sproposal, with some threatening legal action to kill the deal if it were to moveforward. Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said the proposal was “outrageous” andwould entail Detroit “consenting to [its] own demise.” “Who puts a noose on their own neck?” she asked. But the governor called Detroit officials’ resistance to change a “cultural challenge”that must be overcome if the city is to avoid going broke. He gave them until March 27to either sign off on his deal or come up with a better one on their own. Not doing so, hesaid, will likely necessitate bringing in an emergency financial manager. “We’re running out of time,” Snyder said. “And you have to have somebodyon the other side to agree on something.” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, POLITICO,DETROIT NEWS, NEW YORK TIMES) CUOMO GETS PENSION REFORM WIN: The New York Legislature has State Net Capitol Journal®given Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) much of the public employee pension reform packagehe wanted. Empire State lawmakers last Thursday endorsed reforms that includeoffering new, non-unionized state workers making less than $75,000 a year a 401(k)-style plan rather than the traditional pension given to current workers. The bill (SB6735) also raises the state employee retirement age to 63 (from 62) and will requiremost workers to up the amount they contribute toward their pension from the current3 percent to as much as 6 percent for the highest earners. 11
  12. 12. Cuomo, who had previously threatened to not sign off on a state budget — possibly shutting down the state government — unless lawmakers acted on his reform package, praised the Legislature’s action. “Without this critical reform, New Yorkers would have seen significant tax increases, as well as layoffs to teachers, firefighters and police,” he said in a statement. But while Cuomo got most of what he wanted, he also made some significant concessions. The governor had asked for the 401(k)-style plans to apply to all new workers, and he also wanted major changes to pensions for New York City police and firefighters, neither of which was part of the final package lawmakers endorsed in the wee hours last Thursday morning. Even so, officials said the changes they did endorse should save state and local governments over $80 billion over the next 30 years. Over $21 billion of that will come in New York “This deal is about City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) called the measure “real reform” that “does politicians standing with not hurt any of our current employees or any the 1 percent — the of our current retirees.” wealthiest New Yorkers But the measure also enraged union — to give them a better leaders, who called it an attack on the middle class. Danny Donohue, president of the break while telling nurses, state’s largest public worker union, the Civil bus drivers, teachers, Service Employees Association, accusedsecretaries, and laborers to the governor of shoving reforms “down the put up and shut up.” throat of state legislators fixated on their own self-preservation.” “This deal is about politicians standing with the 1 percent — the wealthiest New Yorkers — to give them a better break while telling nurses, bus drivers, teachers, secretaries, and laborers to put up and shut up,” Donohue said after the vote. Lawmakers also passed AB 9526, a constitutional amendment that would create a bipartisan redistricting commission after the 2020 Census. The deal was another compromise for Cuomo, who had campaigned on a vow to not sign off on any legislative maps unless they were drawn by an independent body. But he gave way on that in exchange for lawmakers agreeing to the constitutional amendment and a backup law that grants the governor significantly more control over the maps if they fail to endorse the amendment in the necessary two years in a row. (NEW YORK TIMEs, DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE [ROCHESTER], REUTERS, ALBANY State Net Capitol Journal® TIMES UNION) GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: VIRGINIA Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) said he would try again next year to convince lawmakers to go along with his request to hike the Old Dominion’s transportation infrastructure funding. Lawmakers last week scrapped his proposal to divert $100 million from core services to transportation 12
  13. 13. (WASHINGTON POST). • UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert (R) Officially announced his plans to seek another term The week in session (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • Former MAINE Gov. States in Regular Session: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, John Baldacci (D) said he would not seek the Senate KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, seat of the retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-MAINE). NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, SC, SD, TN, US, VT, WI, WV, WY Baldacci had been considered a strong possibility to run for Snowe’s seat, but he said he could not commit States in Recess: NC himself to another six years in Washington D.C. after States in Special Session: VA “a”, WA “c” his current term as a contract worker with the Dept. Special Sessions in Recess: DE “b” of Defense expires (BANGOR DAILY NEWS). • States Projected to Adjourn: WV Current MAINE Gov. Paul LePage (R) revealed a plan to consolidate the state’s four Department of Health States Adjourned in 2012: AR, FL, IN, NM, OR, UT, VA, WA, WY and Human Services offices down to two, with a third Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions being reorganized. The measure will be officially introduced to lawmakers this week (BANGOR DAILY — Compiled By OWEN JARNAGIN(session information current as of 3/15/2012) NEWS). • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Bev Perdue Source: State Net database (D) said she believes the natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” could be done safely in the Tar Heel State as long as it is regulated and drillers pay fees that will cover the cost of inspectors for the drilling operations. Perdue said the practice would create jobs and “help America and North Carolina be globally competitive” (NEWS & RECORD [GREENSBORO]). • RHODE ISLAND Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) unveiled a seven-bill pension reform package to help local cities and towns struggling with skyrocketing pension costs. The measures include allowing cities and towns to halt cost-of-living increases if the plan is less than 60 percent funded, a new cap on pensions for employees who retire with a work-related disability and a requirement that local pension plans be no more generous than state pensions. Lawmakers must approve the proposals for them to take effect (ASSOCIATED PRESS). — Compiled by RICH EHISENHot issues B State Net Capitol Journal® USINESS: The IOWA Senate approves SF 2275, legislation that would legalize Internet poker in the Hawkeye State. Under the proposal, casinos would manage the games, allow people to establish accounts and deposit money to use for online wagering. The bill has moved to the House (DES MOINES REGISTER, STATE NET). • Still in IOWA, the House endorses HF 2399, which would require dealers purchasing more than $50 in scrap metal at a time to pay with 13
  14. 14. a check or by electronic funds transfer so police have Upcoming electionsa way by which to track the theft of copper and other (3/8/2012 - 3/29/2012)metals. It is now in the Senate (QUAD-CITY TIMES 03/20/2012[DAVENPORT]). • WISCONSIN Gov. Scott Walker Illinois Primary Election House (All)(R) signs AB 450, legislation that would create a one- Senate (All)year pilot program to give people on unemployment a US House (All)chance to take part-time training jobs with employers New York Special Electionthat could lead to full-time work. Participants will Assembly Districts 93, 100, 103 and 145receive an additional $75 per week in unemployment Senate District 27benefits. • The MISSISSIPPI Senate endorses a trio of 04/03/2012bills related to the microbrew beer industry: SB 2878, District of Columbia Primary Electionwhich would permit the amount of alcohol by weight in Council At-Large Districts andbeer to be raised from 5 percent to 8 percent; SB 2370, Wards 2, 4, 7 and 8which would allow the brewing of beer with greater US House (All)than the current cap of 5 percent alcohol by weight; Maryland Primary Electionand SB 2600, which would allow microbreweries to US House (All) US Senateoffer samples of their offerings. All three measuresare now in the House for review (HATTIESBURG Oklahoma Special ElectionAMERICAN). • NEBRASKA Gov. Dave Heineman House District 71 Senate District 20(R) signs LB 780, which raises the current productionlimit for microbreweries from 10,000 to 20,000 barrelsannually (STATE NET, LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR). • WYOMING Gov. MattMead (R) signs HB 87, which creates a state regulatory board to oversee the growingsport of mixed martial arts (STATE NET, CASPER TRIBUNE). CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The MISSOURI House approves HB 1220, whichwould require the Show Me State Corrections and Social Services departments tostart a two-year test program to provide transportation for children and a caretaker tovisit their mothers in prison. It is now in the Senate (NEWS TRIBUNE [JEFFERSONCITY]). • VIRGINIA Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) signs HB 279, which wouldrequire first-time DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle. OldDominion law already requires repeat offenders to install the Breathalyzer devices,which prevent a person from starting the car if they have ingested alcohol (STATENET, WASHINGTON POST). • The WISCONSIN Senate approves SB 104, a billthat would allow judges to order GPS monitoring for people who violate restraining State Net Capitol Journal®orders. The measure moves to Gov. Scott Walker (R) for review (STATE NET,LACROSSE TRIBUNE). EDUCATION: The IDAHO House approves SB 1308, which would giveterminated Gem State teachers three years to transfer their sick leave benefitswhen finding new employment. Current law allows only one year. The measure14
  15. 15. moves to Gov. Butch Otter (R) for review (IDAHO In case you missed itSTATESMAN [BOISE], STATE NET]). • Still in Nearly a decade ago, observers claimedIDAHO, the House approves HB 632, which would the debate over supply-side economics to be over. But now, the theory known asrequire schools to develop protocols for removing “trickle down economics” under President Ronald Reagan is enjoying a resurgence inyouth athletes from competition when exhibiting the states.signs of a concussion. An injured athlete would not In case you missed it, the article can be found on our website atbe allowed back into competition until cleared by a The bill is now in the Senate (STATE NET,IDAHO STATESEMAN [BOISE]). • SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Dennis Daugaard(R) signs HB 1234, an education reform measure, which among several things,creates a new evaluation system for teachers and administrators based in part onstudent performance. The law also creates an incentive pay system for teachers, offersscholarships to teachers in training and bonuses for math and science instructors,while phasing out teachers’ continuing contract rights (RAPID CITY JOURNAL). •IOWA Attorney General Tom Miller (D) issues the opinion that online schools arelegally allowed to operate in the Hawkeye State. Miller says the online courses arelegal as long as the curriculum is taught by a properly licensed teacher and studentsenrolled in the course are supervised (DES MOINES REGISTER). • The IOWAHouse approves HF 2380, a bill that would, among several things, require yearlyevaluations for school teachers, a test for graduating high school seniors and an extrahour of class time each day for kids in state-funded preschool programs. The measuremoves to the Senate (RADIO IOWA, STATE NET). • The KENTUCKY HouseEducation Committee fails to move HB 336, which would have linked harassmentbased on sexual orientation, race and other characteristic to the Bluegrass State’santi-bullying law. The inaction effectively kills the measure for this year (COURIER-JOURNAL [LOUISVILLE]). • WEST VIRGINIA Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signsSB 221, legislation that requires in-service training for teachers and principals includeat least two hours of suicide prevention education each school year (CHARLESTONGAZETTE). • The WISCONSIN Assembly passes SB 237, which would requireBadger State schools to teach students that abstinence is the only reliable way toprevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It moves to Gov. Scott Walkerfor review (LACROSSE TRIBUNE). ENVIRONMENT: The ARIZONA Senate approves SB 1332, a bill that wouldrequire the federal government to relinquish control of public lands in the Grand State Net Capitol Journal®Canyon State. The measure, which opponents claim is unconstitutional, is nowin the House (ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES [PHOENIX]). • The WISCONSINAssembly approves SB 411, which would create a hunting season on wolves in theBadger State. It moves to Gov. Scott Walker (R) for review (ASSOCIATED PRESS,MADISON.COM, STATE NET). • The IDAHO Senate approves HB 464, whichwould prohibit cities and counties from enacting ordinances that make it impossible 15
  16. 16. to drill for oil and gas. The bill moves to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) for review(IDAHO STATESMAN [BOISE]). • A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Courtof Appeals rules that Congress acted legally when it removed Northern Rockieswolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act last spring. Opponents hadsued to block wolf hunts in states like WYOMING, MONTANA and IDAHO. Theplaintiffs are considering further appeals (BILLINGS GAZETTE). HEALTH & SCIENCE: The INDIANA House and Senate give final approvalto HB 1149, which would bar smoking in all public buildings except for bars andcasinos. The measure moves to Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), who is expected to signit into law (STATE NET, JOURNAL AND COURIER [LAFAYETTE]). • TheMISSOURI House approves HB 1193, legislation that would direct the state healthdepartment to develop a means of monitoring prescription medications. It hasmoved to the Senate (STATE NET, NEWS TRIBUNE [JEFFERSON CITY]). • TheMARYLAND Senate approves SB 559, which would bar Old Line State residentsfrom smoking in a vehicle with a passenger under 8 years old. The bill has moved tothe House (STATE NET, BALTIMORE SUN). • The MICHIGAN Senate approvesa trio of bills that collectively require health insurance companies to cover sometreatments for autism. The measures, SB 414, SB 415 and SB 981, are now in theHouse (STATE NET, DETROIT NEWS). SOCIAL ISSUES: The KENTUCKY House approves HB 200, which wouldcreate an outside statewide panel of experts to review deaths of children in orderto better track those that result from abuse or neglect. The measure moves to theSenate (COURIER-JOURNAL [LOUISVILLE]). • The MAINE House and Senateindefinitely postpone ME I 3, a citizen initiative that would legalize same-sexmarriage in the Pine Tree State. Lawmakers’ rejection sends the proposal to votersthis November (STATE NET, BANGOR DAILY NEWS). • The MICHIGANHouse approves HB 5134, which would require a woman seeking an abortion toundergo an oral screening to determine if she has been coerced into ending thepregnancy. It moves to the Senate (STATE NET, DETROIT FREE PRESS). • Still inMICHIGAN, the House endorses HB 5181, which outlines civil damages a womancan receive if she has been coerced into having an abortion. It also moves to theSenate (ASSOCIATED PRESS). • The MISSISSIPPI House approves HB 1390,a bill that would require doctors at the Magnolia State’s lone abortion clinic to be State Net Capitol Journal®certified in obstetrics and gynecology and have privileges to admit patients to localhospitals. It is now in the Senate (STATE NET, HATTIESBURG AMERICAN). • TheWISCONSIN Assembly approves SB 92, legislation that would bar private healthinsurance providers from offering abortion coverage in policies sold through a healthinsurance exchange. The measure moves to Gov. Scott Walker (R), who is expectedto sign it into law (STATE NET, LACROSS TRIBUNE). • The NEW HAMPSHIRE 16
  17. 17. House approves HB 1659, which would require women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion and be exposed to detailed information about the state of the fetus when the procedure is performed. House lawmakers also endorsed HB 1679, which would bar late term or “partial-birth” abortions, and HB 1723, which would change the state’s parental-consent law for minors seeking abortions, extending the 48-hour time period for the judicial process to be resolved to two business days. All three measures move to the Senate (UNION LEADER [MANCHESTER]). POTPOURRI: The KANSAS House approves HB 2353, which would allow Sunflower State residents to carry guns into most public buildings. The measure, which would exempt universities, hospitals and nursing homes, has moved to the Senate (STATE NET, KANSAS CITY STAR). • The ILLINOIS House approves HB 5099, which would prohibit hand-held cell phone use while driving near an emergency scene. It moves to the Senate (STATE NET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES). — Compiled by RICH EHISENOnce around thestatehouse lightly N O GO FOR TOTO: Toto may have gained everlasting fame as Dorothy’s favorite pooch, but even the mighty Wizard of Oz didn’t have enough pull to make him the official Kansas state dog. As the Kansas City Star reports, the Sunflower State House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources last week declined to hear HB 2513, which would have bestowed that honor on the cairn terrier, the breed that played Toto in the classic 1939 MGM musical. Although the advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals threw a winged monkey into the mix by opposing the measure -– the group feared that its success would further the state’s notorious puppy mill problems — advocates say the bill’s demise had more to do with election year politics. But fear not, Toto lovers. Bill author Rep. Ed Trimmer says he will click his heels three times and try again next year. State Net Capitol Journal® NOT SUCH A SWIFT MOVE AFTER ALL: Political types are fond of the ubiquitous “I want to spend more time with my family” excuse whenever they step away from the fray for a bit. As often as not, the stated desire for family life is in reality a mere reboot for some other political effort. That was clearly not the case, however, for Oregon House candidate Jack Swift...or, more accurately, “former 17
  18. 18. candidate.” As the Portland Oregonian reports, Swift recently dropped out of therace, citing “extreme marital distress.” That torpor apparently stemmed from thefact he had not bothered to discuss his candidacy beforehand with Catherine Swift,his wife of 52 years. Ms. Swift made it clear she was not happy with the idea of himtrundling off to Salem, and that was that. Mr. Swift says he did learn something fromit all: “I guess one should check one’s support before opening one’s mouth.” WHO IS THAT MASKED MAN? To the folks at the Newark, New JerseyGoodwill Rescue mission, the scruffy fellow looking for a place to sleep was justanother of the countless number of homeless that dot America’s urban landscapes.But as the Columbus Dispatch reports, the down-and-out fellow was actually NewJersey Senator and former Gov. Richard Codey, who was researching allegeddiscrimination against the mentally ill at Garden States homeless shelters. Codey,sporting a fake beard and tattoo and dirty clothes, said he perused over 20 sheltersbefore finding one that would take him in. But his biggest challenge was still tocome: the shower call. Codey said he was “terrified” that a shower would undo thehours of work his team did applying his makeup, including tobacco stains on his teethand broken blood vessels on his skin. Alas, he made it through the evening withoutblowing his cover, though he did end up with a painful sore hip from sleeping on abedroll on the floor. AND DROP THE PONY EXPRESS TOO: Once upon a time, train travelwas the fastest way to get around the U.S. But even then, delays were inevitable,prompting Idaho lawmakers to pass a law requiring Gem State train stations to letothers down the line know when a train was running behind. Even more specific,they had to do so via the telegraph. That device has of course been long overtaken byvastly more advanced technology. The law, however, remains on the books, thoughperhaps not for long. As the Idaho Statesman reports, lawmakers have sent Gov. C.L.“Butch” Otter legislation that would finally declare the telegraph to be obsolete. Thisis where an acid-tongued wag would make some crack about needing to do the samefor some lawmakers’ thinking. Thankfully, nobody like that is around. — 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