State Net Capitol Journal 021312


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State Net Capitol Journal 021312

  1. 1. Volume XX, No.5 February 13, 2012Outside Looking In Budget & taxes States reach foreclosure 5 4 deal with big banks Politics & leadership 8 AZ takes aim at unions Governors 13 CT, AL govs pitch education reform Bird’s eye view 2 Hot issues 15 Once around the statehouse lightly 18 The next issue of Capitol Journal will be © available on February 20th. Top Story SNCJ SpotlightWith unemployment still A States, feds ponder efforts to protect unemployed in hiringa major problem across the nation, lawmakers ccording to the old joke, the best way to get a bank to loan you money are taking a look at is to show you don’t need it. These days, employment rights advocates legislation to stop claim the same principle applies to the job market, and it is no laughingemployers from barring matter. With employers often overwhelmed by a flood of applicants for a single the unemployed from position, many have turned to a new wrinkle to winnow the field to a manageable even applying for a job. size: requiring job seekers to already be working for someone else. This scenario first came to light in May 2010 when local media outlets in Atlanta reported that a job posting from consumer electronics giant Sony
  2. 2. Ericcson, which was moving itscorporate headquarters there, Bird’s eye viewspecifically noted it would not WA Source: Los Angeles Times, Gallup.comk NHaccept applications from anyone ME VT MT NDwho was currently unemployed. OR MN MA ID SD WI NYWith national unemployment WY MI RI PA CT IAfigures then hovering at over 10 NV NE NJ OH UT IL IN CA CO WV DEpercent, the story immediately KS MO VA KY MD NCdrew national attention. Sony TN AZ OK NM AR SCEriccson quickly backpedaled, MS AL GA TX LAsaying the posting was simply a AK FLmistake and removed the ad fromcirculation. But employment rights HI Solidly Democratic states Democratic leaning states Republican leaning states Solidly Republican statesadvocates contend that it was farfrom a singular event, and say State party affiliations trending Republican The number of states leaning Republicanthat such restrictions have become doubled in 2011, according to a Gallupcommonplace across numerous survey of 350,000 adults from all 50 around the nation. The number of states Gallup classified as “solid Democratic” — where 10 percent of The National Employment respondents or more said they identifiedLaw Project (NELP), a New with that party — dropped from 29 to 11 since 2008, while the number of “solid Republican” states rose from four to 10. TheYork City-based nonprofit number of states classified as “lean Democratic” and “leanadvocacy group that studies the Republican — where one party’s advantage in party affiliation is between 5 percent and 10 percent — increased by one andlabor market, says a survey of six, respectively. Combining those figures, Democrats have anpostings on four of the nation’s advantage of 5 percent or more in 18 states and Republicanslargest online job listing sites have that advantage in 17 states, with party affiliations in the remaining 15 states, classified “competitive,” within five points—, Indeed. of each, and — over a four-week periodin March and April, 2011 found more than 150 ads that excluded unemployedapplicants. The ads covered a spectrum of employment fields, from IT professionalsand scientists to air conditioning technicians and nursing directors. In a report on thesurvey issued last July, NELP concluded that finding exclusionary ads across such abreadth of job postings suggests that the practice “could be far more extensive” thaneven what the survey indicated. If so, they say, it could mean even worse news forworkers desperate to find new employment. State Net Capitol Journal® “With the U.S. still dealing with record unemployment, particularly long-termunemployment, this kind of discrimination has a huge negative impact on people,”says Maurice Emsellem, Policy Co-Director for NELP’s California office. “Exceptfor some very specific situations, [being unemployed] doesn’t do anything to measurea person’s real qualifications for a job, so why is it even being considered?” 2
  3. 3. A growing number of lawmakers are asking the same question. Last Year, New Jersey became the first state to bar employers from excluding the currently unemployed from applying for an openly listed position. According to State Net, a handful of states this year, including California (AB 1450), Michigan (HB 4675), Arizona (HB 2660), Ohio (HB 424 and SB 261) and New York (SB 5151) have pending legislation that would also bar the practice. Similar bills have been introduced in Congress (HR 1113, HR 2501 and SB 1471) and the District of Columbia (B 486), and President Obama included a prohibition on excluding the unemployed in hiring in the jobs bill he proposed last fall. In March, 2010, President Obama also signed legislation that grants employers a tax credit for hiring people who have been out of work for at least 60 days. All of the pending measures are currently in committees. One, DC B 486, received first reading approval last Tuesday and is set for another vote at the Council’s next meeting in March. Although the unemployed are not currently a protected class, as are women, minorities, and the elderly, Donna Ballman, an employment law attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, says keeping out-of-work people from applying for jobs could create a disproportionate “adverse impact” on some minorities, which often have higher unemployment rates than the general population. But Randy Coffey, a partner in the Kansas City office of Fisher and Phillips LLP, a national management-side labor and employment law firm, says that argument “doesn’t stand up to legal scrutiny.” He notes that federal discrimination law enacts a rigid burden of proof in such “All we’ve really heard is a cases, and that very little real data lot of anecdotal evidence. exists to show that “a rough tool”These bills are a solution in like unemployment screening is disproportionately harming anyone. search of a problem.” “I don’t think this is a significant issue at all,” he says, noting that in over two decades of practice he has not had a single client who excluded the unemployed from the hiring process. “All we’ve really heard is a lot of anecdotal evidence. These bills are a solution in search of a problem.” California Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R), who sits on the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, is also skeptical. In an email to SNCJ, Gaines said that while she is reserving final judgment on CA AB 1450 until more analysis has been done, she has strong reservations about its premise and worries it could harm the State Net Capitol Journal® state’s already struggling economy. “I am worried that this bill will handcuff employers, chill their desire to hire, and continue the horribly high unemployment of our state,” she wrote, adding that the bill appears to give Golden State employers “the back of the hand.” 3
  4. 4. Ballman, however, argues that automaticallycutting off unemployed workers from potential jobs In the hopperis not only “not in the public interest,” it doesn’t At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thou- sands of bills in all 50 states, the US Congressmake good business sense. and the District of Columbia. Here’s a snapshot “You’d think in a climate with huge of what’s in the legislative works:unemployment rates that employers would realize Number of Prefiles last week: 685they’re eliminating a large segment of qualified Number of Intros last week: 8,364candidates, but HR is slow to change its practices,even in a recession,” she says. Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 103 Whether any other states, D.C. or the federalgovernment follow New Jersey’s lead is yet to be Number of 2012 Prefiles to date: 7,002determined. But in recent years, some states have Number of 2012 Intros to date: 42,394pushed to limit employers from another practice Number of 2012 Session Enacted/that employee advocates contend disproportionately Adopted overall to date: 2,256harms the poor and the unemployed: the use of an Number of bills currently in State Netapplicant’s credit history in the hiring process. Database: 146,654 The Society of Human Resource management — Compiled By OWEN JARNIGANsays approximately 60 percent of all companies (measures current as of 2/9/2012) Source: State Net databasenow review credit histories as part of their pre-employment screening. The bulk of those, 47percent, do so only for specific jobs while the remaining 13 percent do the review forall of their applicants. Federal law requires job applicants to give a potential employer written approvalto review their credit history. But advocates say most applicants are too desperate forwork to say no. And with so many people having lost jobs in the Great Recession,the chance of foreclosures, bankruptcies, repossessions or other credit-damagingproblems showing up on those reports is higher than ever. But does a poor credit history mean the applicant is destined to be a bad employee,or is likely to steal? Coffey says no, but notes that employers are looking for red flagsthat could mean a potential worker is a poor risk, such as “debt to income ratios,or patterns of spending to income that might indicate something odd is going on.”Employers say a person’s credit history also shows a lot about the applicant’s sense ofresponsibility, regardless of whether the job requires handling money. But New York City-based employment discrimination attorney Piper Hoffmansays this is an argument that is truly anecdotal. State Net Capitol Journal® “Credit checks are irrelevant to hiring decisions,” says Hoffman. “There areno studies showing that credit histories are predictive of anything relevant to jobperformance.” Worse, Hoffman says, a bad credit report can keep unemployed workers frompulling themselves out of their financial problems. 4
  5. 5. “Credit checks deny employment to those who may need it most,” she says. “Employers that use credit checks in their hiring decisions perpetuate a vicious cycle that keeps people with low incomes mired in money troubles.” As with unemployment screening, lawmakers have taken up the argument in greater numbers in recent years. Since 2007, seven states — California, Connecticut, Maryland, Hawaii, Oregon, Illinois and Washington — have barred employers from using credit histories in the hiring process, with exceptions for certain positions, such as those which include managing money. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 similar bills are slated to appear in 19 states and the District of Columbia this year. Ballman believes those measures and others designed to end unemployment screening could have a good chance for success. “With states trying to cut the number of people collecting unemployment,” say says. “It makes pure fiscal sense to ban this type of discrimination.” — By RICH EHISENBudget & taxes S TATES REACH FORECLOSURE DEAL WITH BIG BANKS: After more than a year of negotiations, federal officials, attorney’s general of 49 states and five of the nation’s largest banks agreed last week to a $25 billion settlement that could provide relief to more than 1 million struggling homeowners and help stop the downward slide of the housing market. Under the agreement, which grew out of an investigation by state attorneys general into allegations that mortgage servicers had evicted homeowners with false or incomplete loan documents, five banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial — will write down the principal on about a million underwater loans by $17 billion. The banks will also pay $5 billion to states as compensation for foreclosure improprieties, about $1.5 billion of which will go directly to individuals whose homes were foreclosed on between 2008 and 2011 as a result of some operational problem, such as lost paperwork. In addition, the banks State Net Capitol Journal® will be required to adhere to tougher loan and foreclosure standards. Every state signed on to the settlement deal but Oklahoma. Its Attorney General Scott Pruitt said he thought the scope of the agreement went beyond what was allowed under state law, so he negotiated a separate settlement for $18.6 million, the same amount the state would have received if it had gone along with the multi-state deal. 5
  6. 6. “Oklahoma is fortunate to have a stronger housing market and economy thanmany other states that are struggling,” Pruitt said. “This settlement will providedamages to those Oklahomans who did fall victim to unfair and unlawful misconductof mortgage servicing companies, while not exceeding the appropriate role andauthority of state attorneys general.” Some of the states in the national settlement will receive far less modest amounts.For instance, California, the state with the highest number of foreclosures, will get$12 billion. And Florida, No. 2 on the foreclosures list, will receive $7.6 billion. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan called the deal a“big victory for those who were harmed the most.” The Department of Justice said itwas the largest multi-state agreement since the tobacco settlement in 1998, in whichthe major tobacco companies agreed to pay the states $105 billion and change theiradvertising policies. But some said the foreclosure deal isn’t nearly big enough. With one in fiveAmerican homeowners underwater by an average of $50,000 each, there’s nearly$700 billion of negative equity flooding the housing market, 28 times the amount oflast week’s settlement. “This is a very small drop in a very big bucket,” said Jordan Estevao of theNational People’s Action, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. “It does not gonearly far enough.” But Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said it might not benecessary to erase all of the nation’s negative equity in order to turn the marketaround. Reducing the percentage of foreclosed homes by even a small amount, hesaid, could be enough to place a floor under home prices. Another criticism of the deal is that it lets the banks off too easy. In fact, concernthat the settlement would give banks too broad a release from their misdeeds wasreportedly one of the main issues that held up negotiations for so long. But theagreement will evidently apply only to foreclosure practices, such as “robo-signing,”evicting homeowners after only a cursory look at their loan documents. States willstill be able to go after the banks for other practices that contributed to the mortgagecrisis, like securitizing risky mortgages. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman also negotiated the freedom topursue a lawsuit against MERS, an electronic mortgage registry at the center of therobo-signing controversy. And California Attorney General Kamala Harris appearsto have won her state the right to seek sizeable monetary damages from the banks for State Net Capitol Journal®the losses the state’s pension funds sustained as a result of mortgage-based securities. The settlement will also not prevent states from pursuing the banks for criminalwrongdoing associated with the collapse of the housing market. “While today’s agreement resolves certain civil claims based on mortgage loanservicing activities, it does not — it does not — prevent state and federal authoritiesfrom pursuing criminal enforcement actions,” said U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder. 6
  7. 7. The most immediate concern about the settlement, however, is that it is likely totrigger a new wave of foreclosures. Banks had slowed the pace of foreclosures whilethey were negotiating on the settlement. Last year, the number of new foreclosurefilings was down 34 percent, according to RealtyTrac. As a result of last week’sagreement, banks are expected to start trying to clear their foreclosure backlog. “All of this will result in more foreclosure pain in the short term as some of theforeclosures that should have happened last year instead happen this year,” saidDaren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac. The firm is projecting about amillion foreclosures this year, 25 percent more than in 2011. But that short-term pain may ultimately make the long-term recovery of thehousing market possible. “The best thing about the settlement, frankly, is that it will be done,” said StanHumphries, chief economist at Zillow Inc., a Seattle-based company that provideshome-sales data. “The shadow of the settlement hung over the market for a yearnow.” (NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG, LOS ANGELES TIMES, CHRISTIANSCIENCE MONITOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS, KOCO.COM [OKLAHOMA CITY]) SURPRISE SURPLUS IN MI: Michigan has been in an economic downturnfor over a decade, with revenues that have either declined or been mostly flat everyyear but one since 2000. Billions of dollars in shortfalls have forced the state to closeprisons, eliminate government departments and cut funding for everything fromcrime laboratories to zoos. In the words of one former state budget director, “we wereso far down that the floor looked like up to us.” But last week the state received some surprising news: it has a $457 millionsurplus. And revenues have grown, not a lot, but still grown. “After a decade of declining revenues, it’s pretty doggone good news,” said JohnE. Nixon, the state’s current budget director. “Things have turned.” Nixon attributed the state’s improved fiscal situation to the uptick in the economy,as well as recent tax reforms engineered by Gov. Rick Snyder (R), which include thereplacement of a business tax with a corporate income tax that is expected to savelocal businesses $1.5 billion annually. The unexpected news has nearly every department, agency and interest groupin the state clamoring for a share of the cash. The attorney general, for example,wants funding for 1,000 new police officers to replace some of the 3,200 cut overthe past decade, and school officials want to offset cuts that have laid off teachers State Net Capitol Journal®and closed schools. But it doesn’t look like those things are going to happen any time soon. “A lot of people want us to backfill the cuts we made last year, and we’re notdoing that,” Nixon said. “We’re not going to have a record recovery here — we’regoing to have a long, drawn-out recovery.” 7
  8. 8. Not everyone approves of that approach, however. “If you’re talking about putting it in a rainy day fund, it’s raining,” said Peter Spadafore, the assistant director of government relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards. (NEW YORK TIMES) BUDGETS IN BRIEF: PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has proposed a $29.14 billion budget for fiscal 2012-2013 that holds to his campaign pledge not to raise taxes and addresses an anticipated $500 million revenue shortfall with sharp spending cuts. Those cuts include a 30 percent reduction in payments to Penn State, Pittsburgh and Temple universities and a 20 percent cut in funds to the state’s 14 public universities, the elimination of cash grants for the poor, and cuts to medical assistance and county-operated human services programs. “We will not spend what we do not have,” the governor told lawmakers. “We will not raise taxes” (STATE NET). • ILLINOIS Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said he wants to cut Medicaid spending by $2 billion to help close the state’s $12 billion projected budget deficit (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES). • MAINE Gov. Paul LePage (R) has proposed cutting 65,000 adults from his state’s Medicaid rolls and ceasing payment of room and board for 2,000 people who live in group homes to close the $220 million hole in the state’s biennial Medicaid budget (STATELINE.ORG). • OKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has proposed a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that includes a $1 billion income tax cut (TULSA WORLD). • LOUISIANA Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) proposed a package of business incentives last week that includes a constitutional amendment that would grant a property tax break of up to 10 years to certain types of businesses — including corporate headquarters, renewable energy companies and “destination health-care facilities — with the local governing body’s approval. The governor said the tax break could generate 10,000 jobs over the next five to 10 years (TIMES- PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS]). — Compiled by KOREY CLARKPolitics & leadership A Z TAKES AIM AT UNIONS: There are a group of anti-union bills moving State Net Capitol Journal® through the Arizona Legislature that could make the labor laws passed in Wisconsin last year look tame by comparison. Three of the bills impose restrictions on how unions collect dues and how workers are paid for union activities. A fourth bans collective bargaining for all public employees, even police and firefighters, who were exempt from Wisconsin’s collective bargaining restrictions. 8
  9. 9. “It seems as though those employees or at least the unions that represent them don’t care what the burden is on the taxpayer as long as they get theirs,” said Sen. Rick Murphy (R), who is sponsoring the bills. Nick Dranias of the Goldwater Institute, a Phoenix-based conservative think tank that helped draft the bills, said workers in the public sector in Arizona receive about 6 percent more in salary and benefits than “You’re not in government, those in the private sector. you know, to collect a “You’re not in government, you know, fat paycheck. You’re in to collect a fat paycheck,” he said. “You’re in government to serve. And if you get paid government to serve.” reasonably, that’s nice, but the moment you feel the need to organize collectively and create laws like collective-bargaining laws that give you special privileges to negotiate and extract compensation not seen in the private sector, you’ve gone too far.” Brian Livingston, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, acknowledges the state’s police — 80 percent of whom belong to a union — have better benefits and retirement plans, but he says they deserve it. “By the time we retire, we know that most “These bills are clearly of us will not live beyond what the average the most anti-worker, private citizen does,” he said. “And I’m speaking anti-middle class, anti- specifically about public safety, the rigors of our occupation, the hazards of our occupation take aunion bills in the history lifelong toll on our longevity.” of the country.” Senate Minority Leader David Schapira (D) clearly isn’t happy about the bills. “These bills are clearly the most anti-worker, anti-middle class, anti-union bills in the history of the country,” he said. He added that the bills were being considered purely because union leaders tend to support Democrats over Republicans. “These are people that the Tea Party leadership at the State Capitol in Arizona disagree with, and so they’re punishing them and that’s the purpose of these pieces of legislation,” he said. Sen. Murphy counters that unions are a political problem in that they have too much power over the elected officials they negotiate with. “When the unions are the ones who are disproportionately influencing those State Net Capitol Journal® elected officials, the elected officials are very rarely on the side of the taxpayers in those negotiations,” he says. And his position is likely to be the one that carries the day, just as it did in Wisconsin. Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-to-1 in the Arizona House and by an even wider margin in the Senate. (NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO) 9
  10. 10. CA BULLET TRAIN PROJECT DERAILEDAGAIN: According to documents filed this month, the Upcoming stories Here are some of the topics you may seeCalifornia High-Speed Rail Authority paid one of the covered in upcoming issues of the Statelargest public relations firms in the country $161,103 Net Capitol Journal:last year to try to persuade the Legislature to approve • CA redevelopment • Child protection$2.7 billion in funding for the rail authority’s bullet • Election year politicstrain project. That sum is a drop in the bucket in relation to thehundreds of millions of dollars spent each year on lobbying in the state. But the railauthority is a state agency. And the fees it paid Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwideto lobby state lawmakers were generated by issuing debt, which will probably endup costing the state — which is facing a $9 billion budget deficit — about $300,000with interest. “That is appalling to me. I’ve never heard of such a thing,” said Quentin Kopp,the rail authority’s former chairman, who retired last March. “That’s nonsense,absolutely nonsense. It’s embarrassing.” It’s actually not uncommon for government agencies to hire lobbyists. Cities andstates frequently contract people in Washington to lobby for federal legislation orfunding on their behalf. It is unusual, however, for a state agency to use state fundsto lobby another state government entity. In fact, the state’s Fair Political PracticesCommission said it doesn’t have rules governing the practice. Still, some lawmakers say it isn’t right. “It just doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D). “That’s nota good use or a valid use of the taxpayers’ money. I would not approve of that norcondone it.” Outgoing rail authority CEO Roelof van Ark issued a statement defending thelobbying services as a “vital need” and pointing out that all of California’s majortransportation entities “have legislative representatives in Sacramento, includingVTA [Valley Transportation Authority] and BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit].” Hisstatement neglected to mention, however, that VTA and BART are not state agenciesand don’t pay their lobbyists through the state budget. This isn’t the first time the bullet train project has suffered a public relationsderailment. In December, a newspaper report revealed the project wouldn’t createanywhere near the 1 million jobs political leaders had been claiming it would. Anda month earlier the rail authority released a business plan pushing back the project’s State Net Capitol Journal®completion date by 14 years and tripling its estimated cost from the $40 billion votersapproved in 2008. “It’s been one deception after another,” said Sen. Doug LaMalfa (R), who hasintroduced a bill to let voters reconsider the project. (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS) 10
  11. 11. DYSFUNCTION RETURNING TO NY? Duringthe administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), which The week in sessionbegan last January, New York state government has States in Regular Session: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL,been virtually — almost unrecognizably — free of the IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS,dysfunction that has plagued it for years. But the chaos NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, US, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WYof the past may soon be returning to Albany. Cuomo has threatened to veto the Legislature’s States in Recess: DEnew Senate districts, claiming they’re heavily Special Sessions in Recess: DE “b”gerrymandered. And Senate Republicans, who are States in Reconvened Session: NCdesperate to hang on to their slender majority in the States Currently Prefiling or Draftingchamber despite the fact that there are 2 million more for 2012: LAregistered Democrats than Republicans in the state, States Projected to Adjourn: NMare threatening to hold up key items on the governor’s Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions2012 legislative agenda, including pension reform andlegalized casino gambling, if he does so. — Compiled By AMY LARSON (session information current as of 2/10/2012) “The idea is for the Senate GOP to pressure Cuomo Source: State Net databaseinto accepting its Senate district lines by threateningdisruptions that would end the governor’s ability toclaim that he’s changed the climate of Albany by making government function well,”said an unnamed Senate Republican source. Cuomo, however, has said he won’t be bullied even if that means the return ofdysfunction to New York state government. “The Senate Republicans are threatening a return to the chaos of past years, andthe governor is, in effect, threatening chaos as well,” said another unnamed source,who added, “the governor may have a bad few months if there is a disruption, but it isthe Republicans who are running for re-election in November and must answer to thevoters, not the governor.” Senate Republicans have suggested a way to avoid the chaos, however: aconstitutional amendment outlawing gerrymandering in the next redistricting cyclein 2022 in exchange for Cuomo’s acquiescence to their map this year. Cuomo hassaid publicly he’d be willing to consider that. But privately he and others have beenwondering if they can trust Senate Republicans, given that nearly all of them renegedon a pledge they made to a reform group two years ago to establish an independentredistricting committee if they regained the majority they lost in 2008. “The view is the Republicans lied once, so why should they be trusted when they State Net Capitol Journal®say they’ll pass a constitutional amendment outlawing gerrymandering in 10 years?”asked an administration source. (NEW YORK POST) SUSPECTED DUI COULD ALTER PARTY CONTROL OF CO HOUSE: Aroutine traffic stop last month could shift party control of the Colorado House. 11
  12. 12. On Jan. 25, Denver police pulled over state Rep. Laura Bradford (R) after sheallegedly made an illegal turn a few blocks from the Capitol. Although officersreportedly smelled alcohol on Bradford’s breath and suspected her of beingintoxicated, they issued her a traffic citation and sent her home in a taxi. Bradford has admitted to having three glasses of wine the night of the incident,but she denies being drunk and also said she asked for no special treatment frompolice because she is a legislator, a claim they have corroborated. But despite that andalso the fact that the Colorado Constitution actually contains a little-known provisiongranting lawmakers “in all cases except treason or felony” immunity “from arrestduring their attendance at the sessions of their respective houses, or any committeesthereof, and in going to and returning from the same,” Bradford’s GOP colleagueshave distanced themselves from her. And House Speaker Frank McNulty (R) hasordered an ethics investigation of the incident. Those actions — and the GOP’s treatment of her even before last month’s trafficstop — have Bradford thinking about leaving the party and becoming an independent. “I’m frustrated by the lack of the support, not just over the last five days butduring last session too,” Bradford said. “I don’t always vote my caucus. I vote mydistrict. There’s been a lot of arm-twisting and scolding.” If she goes through with the switch, the partisan composition of the House wouldchange from 33-32 in favor of the Republicans to 32-32-1, potentially opening thedoor for a Democratic speaker (STATELINE.ORG, DENVER POST) POLITICS IN BRIEF: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck downCALIFORNIA’s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, concluding thatit serves no purpose other than to “lessen the status and human dignity of gays andlesbians.” Legal experts said the court’s 2-1 ruling was narrowly written to limit itsscope to CALIFORNIA and possibly avoid review by the U.S. Supreme Court (LOSANGELES TIMES). • INDIANA Secretary of State Charlie White lost his job lastweek after being convicted of six felonies: three counts of voter fraud, two counts ofperjury and one count of theft, each of which carries a sentence of six months to threeyears in prison. But White was planning to ask the judge to reduce the convictionsto misdemeanors at sentencing, which would not only allow him to avoid prison butalso reclaim his job (INDIANAPOLIS STAR). • SOUTH CAROLINA Gov. NikkiHaley (R) is supporting legislation in the House that would require employers toinform workers they don’t have to join a union, allow workers in a union to quit and State Net Capitol Journal®stop paying their dues without being subject to a waiting period, increase the civilpenalties for violating the state’s right-to-work law, and force unions to disclose theirstaff’s salaries and other financial information. Democrats, who are in the minority inboth chambers, say much of that agenda is unnecessary because the state already hassome of the toughest anti-union laws in the country (STATELINE.ORG) — Compiled by KOREY CLARK 12
  13. 13. Governors C T, AL GOVS PITCH EDUCATION REFORMS: Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) unveiled education reform proposals in their respective State of the State speeches last week. But while their proposed measures generally drew positive responses, critics also questioned how the governors plan to pay for them. Bentley’s proposals included passing legislation to allow publicly-funded charter schools in the Heart of Dixie, issuing a dollar-for-dollar tax credit to teachers that pay for classroom supplies out of their own pocket and the creation of a “teacher’s cabinet” made up of teachers, administrators, school board members and parents to advise him on education issues. Alabama is currently one of nine states that do not allow charter schools, something Bentley vowed to change. “We are going to pass public charter school legislation in Alabama because our children and parents, and yes, teachers deserve a choice,” he said. Democratic lawmakers indicated they would resist the charter school plan, questioning how the governor will pay for them when the state Education Trust Fund faces an expected $150 million spending cut. “I have heard a lot of these speeches before, “I have heard a lot of and I have heard the wind blow before,” saidthese speeches before, Rep. John Robinson (D). “I don’t know where the and I have heard the money for charter schools will come from when we wind blow before.” don’t have enough for regular schools.” State schools superintendent Tommy Bice also questioned how Bentley’s proposals would be paid for. “(The governor’s) obviously got something I’m not aware of yet,” he said. Questions also abounded in Connecticut, where Malloy proposed sweeping changes to the state’s teacher tenure system. He also proposed adding 500 preschool seats in at-risk areas and setting up a “Commissioner’s Network” that would have the Constitution State become a temporary trustee to oversee the worst-performing schools. Malloy’s budget proposal calls for an additional $128 million for education, including $50 million in aid to local schools that agree to adopt specific reforms. State Net Capitol Journal® House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero (R) said Malloy’s education proposals “took a lot of guts” as they were sure to spark an outcry from his Democratic base, but noted they would likely resonate with most residents. But he was also less optimistic than Malloy about the state’s finances. The governor had originally projected a $438 million surplus in the next fiscal year, but has since revised that to only $1.6 million. 13
  14. 14. “It’s all based on the fact that we’ve turned the Upcoming electionscorner in being a state that doesn’t have an economic 2/9/2012 - 3/1/2012crisis,” he said. “I wish he was right, and I hope 02/14/2012he’s right, but all the indices now are that he’s not.” Maine Special Election Senate District 20(NEW YORK TIMES, HARTFORD COURANT,MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, ASSOCIATED Oklahoma Special Election House Districts 1 and 71PRESS) Senate Districts 20 and 46 KASICH CALLS FOR ‘WAR ON THE SLAVE 02/21/2012 New Hampshire Special ElectionTRADE’ IN OH: Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said House District Hillsborough 10he wants to declare “war on the slave-trade business” 02/28/2012in the Buckeye State. In his annual State of the State Michigan Special Electionspeech, Kasich said the state will enlist the help of House Districts 29 and 51overland truckers, train more law enforcement officersand create an around-the-clock intelligence center called “the Hub” to assist trooperswhen they make traffic stops. He said statistics indicate that approximately 1,000Ohio children have been forced into the sex trade. The average age of those victims,he said, was just 13. “It’s hard for me to even think about this,” he said. “My girls (twins Reese andEmma) are 12. Could you imagine somebody snatching your daughter and somebodyforcing them into prostitution at 13 and 14 years of age?” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH) BEASHEAR WANTS COORDINATED DRUG RESPONSE: Kentucky Gov.Steve Beshear (D) said he wants lawmakers to make sure that fighting prescriptiondrug abuse doesn’t get overlooked as they deal with the state’s other pressingproblems. The governor called prescription drug abuse “a scourge” that kills 80 stateresidents a month. Beshear joined Attorney General Jack Conway (D), House SpeakerGreg Stumbo (D) and Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers II (R), in pushing forpending legislative initiatives to the problem, including HB 4, which would limitOxycontin and other powerful painkillers to no more than 30-day allotments and SB42, which would require that pain management clinics be owned and operated bydoctors licensed in the Bluegrass State. (BOWLING GREEN DAILY NEWS) GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: The UTAH House gave final approval to a measure(SB 39) that would allow the governor the power to hire and fire the Beehive State State Net Capitol Journal®Commissioner of Higher Education and the president of the Utah College of AppliedTechnology. The measure has moved to Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for review (DESERETNEWS [SALT LAKE CITY]). • HAWAII Gov. Neal Abercrombie (D) signed HB608, which grants $1.5 million in emergency state funds to the Queen’s MedicalCenter in Honolulu to ensure the Aloha State’s only liver and kidney transplantprogram stays in operation. The measure also sent $300,000 to the National Kidney 14
  15. 15. Foundation of Hawaii to maintain its chronic kidney disease management program (HAWAII GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS). • OKLAHOMA Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued Executive Order 2012-02, which bars the use of tobacco products on all state-owned and leased properties and in all state-owned and leased buildings and vehicles. Fallin, who made the announcement during her State of the State address, drew groans from some audience members when she revealed she was also closing a designated smoking room for lawmakers at the Capitol (OKLAHOMAN [OKLAHOMA CITY]). • Lawyers for ARIZONA Gov. Jan Brewer (R) filed an opening brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in her appeal of a ruling that blocked enforcement of the most controversial sections of SB 1070 (2010), the Grand Canyon State’s controversial immigration enforcement law. The high court will hear arguments in the appeal on April 25 (ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES [PHOENIX]). • SOUTH CAROLINA Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed SB 258, legislation creating an Inspector General’s Office in the Palmetto State. The new position will be empowered with subpoena power to investigate fraud, waste and abuse in all state agencies (THE STATE [COLUMBIA], STATE NET). — Compiled by RICH EHISENHot issues B USINESS: The IDAHO House unanimously approves HB 405, legislation to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors in the Gem State. The measure, which would also ban the sale of e-cigarettes in vending machines, is now in the Senate (IDAHO STATESMAN [BOISE], STATE NET). • ILLINOIS Gov. Pat Quinn (D) signs SB 1830, which relieves small, rural cemeteries from strict regulations that, among several things, required cemetery owners, managers and customer service employees to be licensed and undergo continuing education courses. The new law exempts Prairie State cemeteries that are family-owned, less than three acres in size or haven’t had a burial or entombment in 10 years (QUAD-CITY TIMES [DAVENPORT]). • The MISSOURI House gives second round approval to HB 1219, legislation that would require fired workers who claim discrimination or other adverse decisions to prove in court that discrimination was the “motivating factor” State Net Capitol Journal® rather than just a contributing factor to their dismissal. It faces another vote before it can move to the Senate (COLUMBIA MISSOURIAN). • The UTAH House approves HB 263, a bill that would allow spouses that have to quit their jobs when the military transfers a husband or wife would be able to collect unemployment benefits. It moves to the Senate (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • The SOUTH DAKOTA Senate Judiciary 15
  16. 16. Committee kills SB 136, which would have barred the In case you missed ituse of foreign orders or judgments in Coyote State civil Taking redistricting out of the hands ofcourts (RAPID CITY JOURNAL). lawmakers is supposed to take some of the politics out of the process. But recent inci- dents in states with independent redistricting commissions suggest that’s not the case. CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The ARIZONA In case you missed it, the article can beHouse approves HB 2018, so-called “Caylee’s found on our website at” legislation that makes it a felony for a parent,grandparent, guardian or caretaker to fail to tell law enforcement if a child ismissing for at least 24 hours. Violators would face up to 18 months in state prison.It moves to the Senate (EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE [MESA]). • The NEBRASKALegislature approves LB 415, which makes it a crime to smuggle cigarettes, moneyor cell phones into Cornhusker State prisons. Violators face up to a year in jail anda $1,000 fine. The bill moves to Gov. Dave Heineman (R) for review (LINCOLNJOURNAL STAR, STATE NET). • The WEST VIRGINIA Senate approves SB191, which would expand the availability of protective orders to any victim ofsexual violence, stalking or harassment. Current law grants protective orders only tovictims who live with their attacker or who are related to them. It moves to the House(CHARLESTON GAZETTE, STATE NET). Still in WEST VIRGINIA, the Senateapproves SB 222, which makes it a crime to prevent someone from calling 911. Itmoves to the House (STATE NET). EDUCATION: U.S. education officials grant 10 states — COLORADO,FLORIDA, GEORGIA, INDIANA, KENTUCKY, MASSACHUSETTS,MINNESOTA, OKLAHOMA and TENNESSEE – waivers from the strictest tenetsof the federal No Child Left Behind law. The waiver relieves states of a mandate thatall students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, but requires them to providea viable alternative (STAR-LEDGER [NEWARK]). • The SOUTH DAKOTASenate approves SB 25, which would create a new school achievement and financialaccountability system to judge performance to replace those required under the NoChild Left Behind law. It has moved to the House (RAPID CITY JOURNAL). • TheUTAH Senate approves SB 31, a bill that would cap class sizes at 20 students inkindergarten and at 22 students in first, second and third grades. Classes that exceedthat size would require teachers’ aides, known as paraprofessionals. It moves to theHouse (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). State Net Capitol Journal® ENERGY: The NEW HAMPSHIRE House approves HB 648, which wouldlimit local and state governments’ use of eminent domain to take private land forelectronic transmission lines. Under the measure, which now heads to Gov. JohnLynch (D) for review, eminent domain would be allowed only if the land is deemedcrucial to the state’s power needs (UNION LEADER [MANCHESTER]). • The U.S.Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves plans to build the first U.S. power plant in 16
  17. 17. three decades. The plan allows the Southern Co. to build two new nuclear reactors atits current nuclear power facility in GEORGIA. No nuclear plant has been built inAmerica since a partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in PENNSLVANIAin 1979 (REUTERS). ENVIRONMENT: The NEW MEXICO Environmental Improvement Boardvotes to repeal the rules governing the state’s cap-and-trade program, designed tolower greenhouse gas causing emissions. Supporters of the plan say they will appealthe Board’s decision to the state appellate court (SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN). •The PENNSYLVANIA House and Senate approve HB 1950, which among manythings, imposes an annual fee on Marcellus Shale drilling operations. The measuremoves to Gov. Tom Corbett (R), who is expected to sign it into law (PITTSBRUGHPOST-GAZETTE). HEALTH & SCIENCE: VIRGINIA Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) re-signs2011 SB 1062, a bill that requires Old Dominion health insurers to cover autismfor children ages 2 to 60. The measure requires companies to pay for specializedtreatment as well as occupational, speech and other therapies for children, with amaximum benefit of $35,000 each year. McDonnell originally signed the measurelast year but state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) determined the bill’s languageneeded correction (WASHINGTON POST). IMMIGRATION: The NEW MEXICO House approves HB 103, which wouldrepeal the state law that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.The measure moves to the Senate (SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN). SOCIAL POLICY: The WASHINGTON House approves SB 6239, whichwould make the Evergreen State the seventh to legalize same-sex marriage. Thebill goes now to Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who is expected to sign it into lawthis week (ASSOCIATED PRESS). • The GEORGIA Supreme Court strikes downas unconstitutional a Peach State law that criminalizes assisted suicides in whichsomeone advertises or offers to assist in a suicide and then takes steps to help carryit out. The court said the measure violated the First Amendment’s guarantee offree speech (ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION). • The VIRGINIA Houseapproves HB 62, which would bar state funding for poor women seeking abortions State Net Capitol Journal®in cases in which a baby would be born with an incapacitating deformity or mentaldeficiency. It is now in the Senate (STATE NET, WASHINGTON TIMES). • Still inVIRGINIA, the House approves HB 189, legislation that would allow faith-basedadoption agencies to deny placements based on religious beliefs, including oppositionto homosexuality. It moves to the Senate, which endorsed its own version of themeasure, SB 349 (REUTERS, STATE NET). 17
  18. 18. POTPOURRI: The VIRGINIA Senate approves SB 323, which would abolish the Old Dominion’s current limit of one handgun purchase per month. The measure moves to the House (TIMES-DISPATCH [RICHMOND]). • The WEST VIRGINIA Senate approves SB 211, legislation that makes sending or reading text messages while driving a primary offense for which offenders can be ticketed by police. The measure, which also makes talking on a hand held cell phone while behind the wheel a secondary offense, moves to the House (CHARLESTON GAZETTE). • The KENTUCKY Senate endorses SB 75, which would allow Amish buggies to use reflective tape rather than an emblem for slow-moving vehicles. Under current Bluegrass State law, the Amish must use a state-mandated bright orange safety triangle on their horse-drawn buggies. The measure moves to the House for review (LEXINGTON COURIER-JOURNAL). • The OHIO House approves HB 14, which would end the labeling of pit bulls as “vicious dogs.” The measure is now eligible to go to Gov. John Kasich (R) for review (COLUMBUS DISPATCH). — Compiled by RICH EHISENOnce around thestatehouse lightly T HE BIBLICAL PAY SCALE: Eve wondered why teachers tend toward the lower end of the pay scale? Ask Alabama state Sen. Shadrack McGill. According to the Times-Journal of Dekalb County, McGill recently noted that teaching is “a calling from God,” and paying teachers more money would violate “a Biblical principle,” leading to a whole mess of people going into it just for the lavish income. But McGill wasn’t done there. Oh, no he wasn’t. He opined further that while the Bible wants teachers to forgo a bigger salary, a 61 percent pay raise that Heart of Dixie lawmakers voted themselves in 2007 -– and have been loathe to surrender ever since — was absolutely necessary to make sure said pols would not take bribes. To summarize: Teachers wanting more money to educate kids is bad; paying lawmakers more money so they won’t take even more cash in the form of illegal bribes is good. Got it. State Net Capitol Journal® DON’T FLIP YOUR LID PEOPLE: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder would like government to ease up on the red tape and regulations. He made the point during his recent State of the State speech by skewering a Wolverine State rule requiring outhouse users to put the seat down when they’re done. The comment drew a nice chuckle. It also got a few chippy folks all lathered up over the seeming silliness of 18
  19. 19. such a thing. But as the Lansing State Journal reports, no such requirement actuallyexists. The state Department of Environmental Quality in fact says its rules requireonly that outhouse openings be covered when not in use. A DEQ spokesman furthernoted that “over-analyzing a joke usually reduces its humor value and obscures thebroader point.” Snyder noted he already knows to put the toilet seat down, saying heanswers to “a higher authority at home.” Meaning, of course, First Lady Sue Snyder. SUGAR AND SPICE...LOTS OF SPICE: Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is nothingif not a good sport. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Quinn was appearing on aChicago radio show last week when the host dared him to accept the “CinnamonChallenge,” meaning swallowing a spoonful of the spice at one gulp. Succumbingto what he later called “a weak moment,” Quinn accepted the challenge and deftlygobbled it down, followed right away by a big swig of water. WGN-AM’s JonathonBrandmeier hailed the gov’s success, shouting, “I bow before you!” Afterward, Quinncelebrated by hoarsely croaking out his personal catchphrase, “The will of the peoplewill be the law of the land.” He did note, however, that he wouldn’t be replicating thestunt any time soon. SILENCE IS GOLDEN...OR IS THAT BLUE? Few things can silence NewJersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose loquacious, confrontational style is legendary. Soit was news last week when Christie chose not to address the crowd at a rally for thenewly-minted Super Bowl champion New York Giants at MetLife Field in Jersey.After all, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had joyously emceed a similarevent in the Big Apple earlier in the day. But as the Newark Star-Ledger reports,Bloomberg had also not very publicly picked Met Life’s “other” inhabitant, the NewYork Jets, to beat the G-Men when they met during the regular season on ChristmasEve. The Giants not only won that one, they did not lose again the rest of the regularseason or in the playoffs. Christie said he chose not to speak because the celebrationwas “about the team, it’s not about me.” As if that ever stopped him before. — By RICH EHISEN State Net Capitol Journal®19
  20. 20. 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), Linda Mendenhall (IL), A LexisNexis® Company Lauren Davis (MA) and 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. 20