Monday, September 30, 2013

Double Down edition

My deepest apologies for the prolonged hiatus. My summer exploded a little in June. Important parts of my life fell by the wayside for a bit. There may or may not be a goldfish dead of neglect involved.

(There's not.)

But state politics halted for nary a second, and much well-deserved attention was received by 
... among other things.

Courtesy of the good folks at Atlas, here's some of the statehouse hotness you might have missed this week, because maybe there's some other stuff going on, and you've been busy.
  • "Stand-your-ground" in schools? Lawmakers in Indiana are considering expanding the state’s “castle doctrine” law that allows people to stand their ground and use deadly force if they perceive a threat to themselves, their property or another person.
  • New Mexico's Secretary of Human Services claims "there has never been and is not now any significant evidence of hunger" in the state, so New Mexico shouldn't “just expand every government food program in existence.” (Not so) fun fact: The non-profit group Feeding America ranked New Mexico as the second worst state in the country for child hunger and general food insecurity.
  • In Virginia, that zany fellow who ended up in the LG slot on the Republican ticket this fall gets just a little more...interesting every day. Earlier this week, E.W. Jackson claimed that non-Christians “are engaged in some sort of false religion,” and next week he's holding a fundraiser with former Congressman Allen West. Now reports have surfaced that a woman filed a restraining order against Jackson in 2006 after he allegedly threatened her. Wouldn't it be just great if he presided over the state Senate and were a heartbeat away from the Governor's mansion? 
  • Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's NERD Fund, which is sustained by the generosity of undisclosed, unknown private donors, is paying for the condo of Detroit emergency manager Kevin Orr, who already draws a $275,000 taxpayer-funded salary. Fun fact: NERD Fund is already under scrutiny because of its role in funding Gov. Snyder's operations, including the salary of Snyder adviser Rich Baird, who helped recruit Orr to serve as emergency manager.
And here's a groovy blast from the past: Once upon a time (in 2011), Arizona's Governor tried (unsuccessfully) to oust the head of the Independent Redistricting Commission, the panel created by a 2000 state constitutional amendment tasked with redrawing congressional and legislative district lines every ten years, when the Commission produced districts insufficiently favorable to Republicans. Gov. Brewer's attempt at gerrymandering-by-coup failed under court challenge, and the new maps went into effect for the 2012 elections -- resulting in Arizona's congressional delegation transforming from 5R/3D to 4R/5D. 

So Republicans are trying to rig the game again -- this time through a court challenge claiming the Independent Redistricting Commission's mandate to draw congressional district lines undermines the state legislature's authority as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution. 

Weird, the Arizona GOP didn't seem to have an issue with the IRC's authority when it produced maps in 2001 that gave Republicans six of eight seats in the 2002 election...

So much action! And with the Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislatures all in session, be on the lookout for scads more fun in the near future!

For the Week of September 27, 2013

The National Association of State Budget Officers will hold its Fall Meeting September 26-28 in Alexandria, Virginia. 

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) will hold its Annual Retreat September 29 - October 1 in Lanai City, Hawaii. 


The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will hold a public hearing September 23 to discuss proposed rule amendments to hydraulic fracturing rules. 


The Air Resources Board will hold a public hearing September 26 to discuss amendments to the Consumer Products Rule addressing Aerosol Coating Products. 


The Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism will meet September 25-27 to view Georgia's "50 Years of Economic Development" presentation with Governor Nathan Deal (R) and hear remarks by Chairman Ron Stephens (R) and Chairman Frank Ginn (R). 


The Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission will meet September 25 to discuss the assessment of risks associated with drilling. 


The Joint Labor and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing September 24 to discuss H.B. 1739 and S.B. 900, which require all employers in the state to give their employees paid sick time. 


The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee will hold a subcommittee work session September 24 to discuss H.B. 286, which addresses broadband expansion and prohibits municipalities from being retail providers of broadband services. 


The Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee will meet September 23 and 24 to discuss replacing the state gross receipts tax with a sales tax. 


The House Health and Aging Committee met September 25 to discuss H.B. 139, which provides that a physician assistant who is under the supervision, control and direction of a doctor or a podiatrist may admit a patient to a hospital. 


The General Assembly reconvened September 23. 

The House State Government Committee met September 25 to discuss a number of bills related to public records access.