Thursday, September 18, 2014

Even Better Than The Real Thing edition

Happy September! Sorry about the hiatus, but I was waiting for the House to leave. Having them around makes me uncomfortable. (Someone told them I don't think their elections are as important as state legislative elections this year, and now they look at me all weird.) 
So Scotland might be moving out of the UK's house, unless it doesn't, but I've got Ireland on the brain. U2 suddenly released new, free album... in September of an election year. Coincidence? (Of course it is.) It's clearly an illuminati plot to... do something, maybe. (Sell iWatches.) The REAL story is that it's just another thing to distract from the fact that elections in key legislatures around the country are right around the corner.

  • Sometimes you can't make it on your own: The Scottish independence election reminds us that not only has a certain part of our own nation tried out the, ah, conscious uncoupling thing already, but also that some folks are still interested in taking a break from that whole "United States" thing. 
    • The League of the South (a group that wants the former states of the Confederacy to secede again) had themselves a Scottish vote watch party at its convention center on Thursday. The group, whose leader said he considers Alabama an "occupied territory," hopes Scotland's awesome secession experience inspires his southern brethren to follow suit (not bloody likely, according to polls).
      • While five Colorado counties took a slightly less antebellum stance last year by voting merely to secede from the state, voters in nearby Arizona have the opportunity this fall to vote to tell the federal government to go suck an egg while politely remaining part of the Union. 
        • The ballot measure, Proposition 122, would amend the state constitution to prohibit the use of state personnel or money to cooperate with or enforce any federal laws the state happens to find "not consistent with the Constitution of the United States."
          • Fun fact! Since 2008, more than three-quarters of the states have seen nullification bills pop up in their legislatures. The Arizona ballot measure may, however, be the first proposed nullification amendment.

  • Hold me. thrill me, kiss me, kill me: Lawmakers in Oklahoma are willing to try just about anything to keep killing folks in the name of the law. After a shortage of traditional lethal injection drugs led to the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April, state lawmakers are looking for other options
    • A couple of state Reps have decided that flooding a chamber with nitrogen gas would be a swell way to go, and now some professors at East Central University are going to check that out for them. Go Tigers! Hey, wait... maybe they should consider tigers as an alternative execution method, too.

  • When I look at the world... Tennessee state Sen. Rusty Crowe doesn't see Islam as an important part of its history, apparently. Sen. Crowe has taken a firm stand against middle school students learning about that Muslim stuff. Never mind that the founding and expansion of this major world religion falls completely within the time frame and context these kids are learning about in their Social Studies class.
    • Instead of being concerned about the fact that one particular school can't even afford enough textbooks to allow each student to remove them from the classroom, Sen. Crowe thinks the state school board is "out of control." Crowe also thinks teaching 7th graders about Islam historically is "a little much... it just doesn't feel right." No word on whether he thinks kids should be sheltered from learning about historic Christianity and Judaism, too.

  • Kite:... would be a swell thing to have as your official state toy, but one Pennsylvania man wants to give that honor to the Slinky
    • This is not, however, one of the measures being addressed as lawmakers convened this week for the last 10/11 (Senate/House) days of session remaining before the election. Bills addressing medical marijuana, privatizing liquor sales, overhauling the state's pension system, and even downsizing the legislature are all up for consideration. If they don't pass the GOP-dominated chambers by the end of the year, legislators have to start from scratch in the next session.
      • But will that GOP dominance continue next session? In the House (92 D/111 R), yes, but with only three seats separating Democrats from a majority in the state Senate (23 D/27 R), flipping the state Senate looks totally doable, especially with Democrat at the top of the ticket trouncing his opponent by double digits. 
    • But it's going to be harder than it looks.
      • Of the 25 Senate seats up this cycle, three Democrats and eight Republicans face challengers, and six seats are open. Democrats have to defend two seats that Romney won in 2012, while Republicans have to defend four seats won by Obama that year. 
    • Sounds promising for Democrats, yes? Not so fast. 
      • Two Democratic challengers in these seats reportedly suffer from lackluster fundraising and face well-established incumbents. The open SD-26 is being heavily targeted by both parties, although Obama won with 54.6% here in 2012
        • And on top of everything, one Democratic Senator of the current 23 is already effectively gone -- retiring after getting drawn into a Republican's district. So Democrats are effectively starting at 22, requiring them to pick up four seats for a majority. 
        • If Democrats flip three seats to tie the chamber, they'll win partial majority control with a newly-minted, Democratic lieutenant governor presiding. But with zero room for error in defense and offense, it's a tall order. 
          • Bottom line: Democrats will do well to break even this year and plan ahead to pick up seats in the arguably more favorable turnout climate of 2016.

  • Trying to throw your arms around the world: The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee is rather optimistic/bullish/delusional about the GOP's fate in certain northeastern states this fall. 
    • In a memo RLCC released at its Northeastern Regional Meeting, the group claims it will regain "solid control" of the legislature in Maine (delusional), cites "increasing momentum for the Republican ticket" in Pennsylvania (delusional), seems certain Republicans will win control of the House and keep control of the Senate in New Hampshire (bullish -- the House is nuts and the Senate is legitimately up for grabs). 
    • In Delaware, the RLCC points out that Republicans need only a three-seat gain to win a majority in the state Senate. Unfortunately for them, only 10 seats are up this cycle, two Democrats are running unopposed, there are zero open seats, and the only remotely competitive seat occupied by an incumbent is currently held by a first-term Republican (delusional). 
Also, guys, it's Dannel Malloy. I don't know who this "Daniel" chap you're referring to is, but he's not the governor of Connecticut
  • Where the streets have no name: It may sound like this candidate for New Hampshire House has no name, but he does; it just starts with a lower-case letter and is a single word. 
    • David Montenegro legally changed his name to "human" in 2012. Last Tuesday, human lost his primary to incumbent Democratic state Rep. Rose Marie Rogers. He got 30 votes, though. 30!! Name Free or Die!!

For the Week of September 18, 2014 

The following 7 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA and VIRGINIA.

Also meeting: PUERTO RICO

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies will hold its Annual Meeting September 21-25 in St. Louis, Missouri. 
The Democratic Attorneys General Association will hold its Roundtable Day September 21 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


The House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee met September 17 to discuss EPA proposed rule 111(d), which requires states to develop plans to fix existing sources of non-criteria pollutants. 


The Legislative Task Force on Autism will meet September 19 to discuss Associates Degrees in occupational life skills. 


The San Bernardino City Council met September 15 to discuss the City's pending case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. 

The Air Resources Board will hold a public hearing September 18 to discuss proposed rule amendments to the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Regulation.


The Family and Medical Leave Insurance Task Force will meet September 18 to discuss establishing an insurance program to provide short-term benefits for workers who are unable to work due to an injury or pregnancy to the worker or a family member.


The Washington D.C. Committee on Government Operations will meet September 18 to discuss the Clean Hands Elections Reform Amendment Act. 


The Senate Medicaid Care Management Organizations Credentialing Study Committee met September 15 to hear testimony from providers about the credentialing process, as well as responses to provider testimony from the Department of Community Health and Care Management Organizations. 


The Joint Oversight Committee on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange met September 16 to receive updates about the Maryland Exchange, the transition to the Connecticut IT platform and an update about approved rates in the individual health insurance market.


The Domestic Violence Task Force will meet September 19 to discuss funding for ending domestic violence abuse. 


The Legislative Energy Commission met September 16 to discuss the future of biogas in the state. 


The New Hampshire General Court convened September 15-17 to act upon measures vetoed by Governor Maggie Hassan (D). 

The Board of Mental Health Practice will meet September 19 to review rule text amendments to rules impacting mental health professionals. 


The Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship met September 16 to discuss the future of computer and video games development in the state. 

The New York City Committee on Economic Development met September 17 to discuss the economic impact of failing transportation infrastructure. 


The Energy Development and Transmission Committee met September 17 to discuss bill drafts related to plugging abandoned oil and gas wells, oil and gas tax being used to fund highway construction, the creation of oil and gas strategic planning authority and a bill relating to oil and natural gas exploration landfills. 


The Board of Education met September 15 to discuss proposed amendments to educator preparation programs, which requires programs to include evidence-based instructional strategies in its coursework. 

The Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee will meet September 18 to hear a Medicaid budget update.


The House Judiciary Committee met September 16 to review death penalty procedures and execution alternatives. 


The House Interim Committee on Health Care met September 15 to receive an update from Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority. 


The Health Reform Task Force will meet September 18 to receive updates about the negotiations between Governor Gary R. Herbert (R) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services regarding the Healthy Utah Plan. 


The Public Records Legislative Study Committee met September 15 to discuss public records exemptions created or repealed during the 2014 session. 

The Vermont Health Care Oversight Committee will meet September 18 to discuss a status update about the health benefit exchange, access to health care and medical malpractice. 


The Joint Select Health Care Oversight Committee will meet September 18 to receive updates about the Health Benefit Exchange from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and the Washington Health Care Authority. 


The Task Force on Digital Information and Privacy will meet September 18-19 to discuss bill drafts related to internet privacy. 

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