By Nathan Thomas on Monday, May 20, 2013 - 5:09pm
The Associated Press this morning profiled Democratic efforts across the country to ensure access to the polls for all eligible voters - and Republican efforts to restrict that access in order to win elections. Per the AP, Colorado Democrats' recent passage of Election Day voter registration is "the latest — and most substantial — development in a nationwide Democratic Party effort to strike back at two years of Republi
By Nathan Thomas on Monday, May 20, 2013 - 2:37pm
Maine Republicans, like those in many other states, rabidly oppose expanding Medicaid under the President's Affordable Care Act. So a recent study by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation (and confirmed by the conservative Heritage Foundation), which found that "Maine would save $690 million over the next 10 years if the state expanded eligibility," is a serious political problem for them. It's so much of a problem, in fact, that "Republicans have since attempted to discredit the study" by claiming "that the study is based on every state participating in expansion... so the study, and the savings, are flawed."
What's "flawed" is the GOP logic in this case, as it is with most Republican objections to Medicaid expansion: As a Kaiser spokesperson points out, Texas rejecting Medicaid has no impact on the savings Maine would realize by accepting it. But if Maine Republicans are under the impression, at least, that obstructing implementation of Obamacare will increase the cost of health care (which, despite missing the mark in this instance, is true overall), then why are Maine Republicans obstructing implementation of Obamacare?
By Nathan Thomas on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 3:25pm
The AARP, the Iowa State Association of Counties, and the American Cancer Society "released a map today showing how much Iowans in each county will pay in property taxes to support the Republican alternative" to Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, according to Radio Iowa. The much-criticized GOP alternative, developed by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, would cost Iowa taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more than simply expanding Medicaid, while covering tens of thousands fewer families.
But in order to make the numbers work at all, Radio Iowa notes, "The governor’s plan is financed with $85 million in local property taxes," compared to $0 in property taxes under the Senate Democrats' plan. Property taxes have been an extremely contentious issue in Iowa in recent years, and if enacted, the Republican plan to siphon property tax revenue away from local governments would further complicate efforts to provide relief. AARP provides a helpful map showing how each county's property taxpayers would be affected.
By Nathan Thomas on Monday, May 13, 2013 - 6:19pm
Earlier this afternoon, the Democratic-led Minnesota Senate joined the state House in passing HF 1054, to make Minnesota the 12th state in America to establish civil marriage equality.
KSTP News has the video of the final vote, including the cheers that rose up immediately thereafter (NOTE: video volume drops after the 1:10 mark):
By Nathan Thomas on Friday, May 10, 2013 - 3:10pm
The Tampa Bay Times reported on the embarrassing campaign launch of GOP state House candidate Blaise Ingoglia, running in the open-seat race for House District 35 next fall. At the time of his announcement speech, which was attended by Hernando County Tax Collecter Sally Daniel, "Ingoglia owed Daniel's office $11,864.75 for two years' worth of delinquent property taxes on his Spring Hill home." Ingoglia "paid the outstanding amount on Thursday, the same day the Tampa Bay Times sent him an email asking about the debt."
Going forward, this episode could seriously undermine Ingoglia's campaign message. "Ingoglia made a name for himself locally in 2007 with his 'Government Gone Wild' seminars that chronicled what he described as the county's wasteful spending," but Ingoglia will have a tough time convincing voters that he cares about their tax dollars when he's been late "a total of six times" paying his own.
By Nathan Thomas on Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 1:46pm
When children or teenagers have a medical emergency, their parents may not be immediately available to approve care. But according to the Charlotte Observer, North Carolina House Republicans are advancing dangerous new legislation that could delay the delivery of emergency care by requiring parental consent before teenagers "could receive birth control or be treated for sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse or mental illness."
But the text of HB 693 reveals even more damaging implications than the Observer's report identifies. The bill would make it illegal for doctors and hospitals to provide "services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of (i) sexually transmitted diseases, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, (ii) abuse of controlled substances or alcohol, (iii) mental illness, or (iv) pregnancy." And the re-written medical emergency exemption only applies if "a medical emergency exists that so complicates the pregnancy as to require an immediate abortion or the immediate provision of health care services." [emphasis added]
In other words: Hospitals could no longer even diagnose some potentially life-threatening diseases without a parent's consent. Pregnancy tests without a parent's consent could no longer be administered simply to avoid the catastrophic birth defects associated with some medications. And medical emergency exceptions for HIV/AIDS, drug or alcohol overdose, and many other life-threatening conditions would not apply to boys or non-pregnant girls. (Even if a patient were pregnant, how could a doctor legally make that determination, since "diagnosis" of a pregnancy would be illegal while her parents are out of touch?)
By Nathan Thomas on Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 11:00am
This week, Delaware became the 11th state in America to provide equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Under the terms of HB-75, which passed with overwhelming Democratic support and was quickly signed into law, "no new civil unions will be performed in Delaware after July 1, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year. The legislation also states that same-sex unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under Delaware law."
While historic, the bill's many supporters viewed it as the obviously fair decision for the state and its people. State House Majority Leader Val Longhurst, a member of the DLCC Board of Directors and one of the bill's Democratic sponsors, argued weeks before the vote that "I think it’s the nation moving and I think everybody has accepted it and has said why not let’s move forward with it."
Crowds on hand erupted in cheers as the final votes took place, and later as Governor Markell signed HB 75 into law:
By Nathan Thomas on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 12:50pm
Yesterday, North Carolina Senate Republicans unveiled a multi-billion dollar tax bill, whose centerpiece is a massive tax break for the state's richest earners. The GOP plan would cut the top income tax bracket nearly in half, "to 4.5 percent from the current 7.75 percent." To pay for it, "A married couple with two children making $30,000 a year would pay an estimated $1,000 more in taxes each year, according to a calculator on a political website designed to support the plan." [emphasis added]
That's because the plan expands state taxes to include "Social Security," "prescription drugs and food," and "nearly 170 types of services" that aren't presently taxed - including legal, accounting, and doctors' visits. Most of these new taxes will fall heaviest on low-income families and small businesses who can't afford, for instance, to hire their own in-house attorneys and accountants.
The plan also throws salt in the wounds of almost 500,000 working North Carolinians, who won't get access to affordable health insurance because GOP legislators already rejected Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Thanks to the GOP's new health care taxes, coverage will be even more impossible for these families to afford, and most of them now also be hit with that thousand-dollar tax hike.
By Dan Roth on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 3:29pm
A New Hampshire Republican State Representative is claiming that President Obama’s appointees, the push to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the proposal to ensure that people who purchase firearms at gun shows and over the Internet undergo a background check will lead to citizens rising up against the government.
By Dan Roth on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 11:05am
Colorado's Democratic legislative majorities passed civil unions legislation earlier this year, and today gay and lesbian couples in the state celebrated as the new law went into effect.