Monday, May 20, 2019
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DUI bill that caused political furor over process is now dead

“I think a lot of legislators thought that the process was being circumvented, and I didn’t care to have it keep going,” Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, told MTN News on Tuesday. “I’m disappointed for the people of Montana because it is a serious problem in this state,” he said. “When one to two people die every week because of impaired drivers, that’s serious.” The proposal, crafted originally by Republican Attorney General Tim Fox, would have taken a number of steps to attempt to reduce drunken driving, including the use of blood draws from first-time drunken-driving suspects. “Without that hard evidence, it’s hard to get a conviction,” Regier said. In an interview Tuesday, Fox told MTN News that he, too, is disappointed that the bill didn’t pass — but said he plans to keep working on the issue. “Montana, unfortunately, is a state that leads the nation in the number of DUI deaths and DUI, in general, per capita.” Other elements of the bill included increasing fines for serial DUI offenders and making it harder for DUI offenders to get those offenses removed from their record. Regier’s Senate Bill 65, which contained the original proposals, passed the Senate but was killed last Friday by the House Judiciary Committee, with both Republicans and Democrats voting against it. However, late that same evening, Regier and others decided to take parts of the bill and place them in a lengthy amendment that would be offered to another bill Saturday morning, in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. The committee voted Saturday morning to place the DUI language into House Bill 685, a one-page “companion bill” that had a broad title and had been sitting in committee with virtually no content. Story by Mike Dennison, MTN News

GOP lawmakers propose bill to separate Chicago from Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Legislation proposing the separation of Chicago from Illinois is intended to spark discussion about the overarching influence of the city in state politics, not actually lead to the creation of the 51st state, according to a Central Illinois lawmaker who sponsored the measure. "It's more of a frustration of the policies than the true belief that Chicago and Illinois would be better off as separate states," Davidsmeyer said. "I don't believe that Chicago and the state of Illinois should be separated. Our relationship is mutually beneficial." Chicago needs to recognize how its policies impact rural Illinois, Davidsmeyer added. "The reality is, the city of Chicago is competing with New York City and L.A. and San Francisco, and (downstate is) competing against rural Indiana and rural Missouri," he said. GOP state Rep. Brad Halbrook introduced the proposed measure in February. He co-sponsored a similar proposal last year that failed, and this year's attempt has even less of a chance of succeeding in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Halbrook said the city of 2.7 million people differs ideologically from the rural population downstate on matters such as abortion and gun rights. "We are trying to drive the discussion to get people at the table to say these are not our values down here."

Divestiture politics roils pensions, investments

Thanks to Assembly Bill 33, introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, the state Legislature will spend time and resources to codify an issue that California pensioners have spoken on before: divesting from high-performing funds for political purposes. AB 33, as written, would require that state retirement systems, namely California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), divest of all investments in private corrections companies and disallow investing in those same companies in the future. Specific numbers for the amount of money CalSTRS has lost through divesting from private corrections companies are not readily available but all CalSTRS divestment efforts from 2000 through 2018 have cost the fund’s retirees an accumulated $6 billion. The most basic argument against this bill is one against divestment generally. Divesting destabilizes an investment portfolio at the cost of public servants’ retirement and future stability. California pensioners have a reasonable expectation that retirement funds will be responsibly invested and managed now and in the years to come. Further, there is often a misconception that these companies have a role in shaping the public policy that is the target of activist agendas, like Bonta’s call for divestment. In October 2018, CalPERS elected a new board member over the divestment issue. When a pension fund is underfunded only two options remain: raising taxes on working people to make up the difference, or to cheating retirees out of the pensions they rely on. — Editor’s Note: Corrects 9th graf to identify Jason Perez as board member, Henry Jones as board president.

Bill to strip Maine vaccination exemptions moves ahead despite GOP opposition

Janet Mills’ administration on track to pass. Now, Maine allows guardians to opt children out of school immunization requirements based on personal, religious or medical beliefs. Tipping’s bill would remove all nonmedical exemptions as a response to rising opt-out rates. During the past school year, only six states had a higher vaccine opt-out rate than Maine, and the share of kindergartners vaccinated for measles dropped in this school year for the third straight year with the share of students citing nonmedical exemptions rising from 5 percent to 5.6 percent. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned those marks are risking the state’s “herd immunity,” a standard making it nearly impossible for contagious diseases to spread. “We have to make decisions in 2019 that are for the greater good, and this is one of those,” Carson said. Republicans on the education committee criticized Tipping’s bill as a violation of personal and parental rights. Democrats voted that down along party lines. Sen. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, said while he would support further education in places with high shares of unvaccinated children, parents have “a multitude of reasons” why they don’t vaccinate their kids. He said Tipping’s bill effectively boots a class of students out of public schools.
Lindsey Graham holds press conference on abortion bill

Lindsey Graham holds press conference on abortion bill

Senator Lindsey Graham speaks to media about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. FOX News operates the FOX News Channel (FNC), FOX Business Network (FBN), FOX News Radio, FOX News Headlines 24/7, FOXNews.com and the direct-to-consumer streaming service, FOX Nation.…

Brexit: bill to prevent no-deal passes Commons by one vote

The bill, spearheaded by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and the Conservative Sir Oliver Letwin, passed late into the night, with MPs defeating a number of obstructive amendments from both Brexiters and the government. It finally passed its third reading about half an hour before midnight by just one vote – 313 ayes to 312 noes – and must now pass the House of Lords. The bill was almost scuppered during a frenzied day in parliament after MPs initially voted by a majority of just one – 312 to 311 – to let the snap bill proceed. Cooper and Letwin then had six hours to pass the bill’s second reading, committee stage and third reading through the House of Commons. Bercow said it was precedent for the Speaker to vote with the government, which had opposed the motion and the amendments. The government opposed both the Cooper-Letwin motion and Benn’s amendment. Speaking in the debate, Letwin said the government’s plan to seek an extension was an “enormously welcome development” and he did not have doubts that they would seek to avoid a no-deal Brexit, but there was still a need to pass legislation. “It is right she puts that forward, and then the house will decide.” Labour and the SNP whipped in support of the motion. MPs voted through the second stage of the bill at 7pm and after voting on a long series of amendments passed it around 11.30pm. The newly passed legislation could be debated in the Lords as soon as Friday or Monday, where it is likely to encounter attempts to frustrate its progress by Eurosceptic peers.

MPs to table emergency bill forcing May to request Brexit delay

The effort is being led by Yvette Cooper, a senior Labour MP, and Sir Oliver Letwin, a Tory former minister, who want to get their one-line bill through the House of Commons in just one day on Wednesday. Where next for Brexit? 1 April MPs rejected all indicative votes 3 April More indicative votes Another meaningful vote Cooper (business motion) Clear result Passes Passes Rejected Commons debate Possible runoff with May’s deal Passes Lords debate MPs’ choice wins May’s deal wins Passes Government goes back to Brussels May makes plan for article 50 extension Passes 10 April Possible extension Leave after short extension Brussels approves at EU summit 12 April No-deal exit Revoke article 50 Extend article 50 23 May UK takes part in EU elections Second referendum Renegotiate with EU General election 1 April MPs rejected all indicative votes 3 April More indicative votes Another meaningfulvote Cooper (Business motion) Passes Clear result Passes Rejected Commons debate Passes Possible runoff with May’s deal Lords debate MPs’ choice wins Passes May’s deal wins May makes plan for article 50 extension Government goes back to Brussels Passes 10 April Leave after short extension Brussels approves at EU summit Possible extension 12 April No-deal exit Revoke article 50 Extend article 50 23 May UK takes part in EU elections Second referendum Renegotiate with EU General election Guardian graphic An amendment passed by MPs last week gives them the power to take control of the order paper on certain dates, which they are hoping will give parliament time to debate and pass the bill before May attends an EU summit in Brussels next Wednesday. This is the natural point at which the prime minister would have to request an extension to article 50 in order to stop the UK crashing out without a deal on April 12. Cooper said the government could decide how long an extension to propose. 3 April 2019 Parliament debates again Parliament may decide to have another set of indicative votes - possibly on the paper will be a compromise option that combines a customs union with a confirmatory public vote. 4 April 2019 Another meaningful vote? EU leaders would decide how long at a summit on this date. However, if Brexit has been further delayed, the UK would hold European elections on the Thursday. Cooper and Letwin brought forward their legislation against no deal after MPs failed to alight on a consensus for an alternative to May’s Brexit deal in indicative votes on Monday. A source close to the Independent Group said there was a real risk that a win for a customs union in the House of Commons could have scuppered the chances of a new poll and that referendum supporters had already compromised by supporting the indicative votes process, which put their preferred option at risk.

Maine regulators’ staff endorses $1 billion CMP corridor plan

It is the biggest milestone so far for the project that has been in the works for more than a year and drew support from Gov. Janet Mills in February after parties inked a 40-year benefits package worth $250 million. The three-member Maine Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal in April. John Carroll, a CMP spokesman, said in a statement that the report “squarely addresses the questions that have been raised in the course of this proceeding,” and “confirms that the project will provide environmental and economic benefits for Maine.” Next month’s vote will come amid fervid grassroots opposition in western Maine and during the further permitting processes that are required. Mills’ hometown of Farmington voted against it overwhelmingly last week, joining eight other towns in opposing it and almost all of the more than 1,300 public comments filed with the commission on the proposal were in opposition. “There’s nothing in this report that changes the facts that this transmission corridor is a bad deal for Maine and it’s deeply unpopular,” said Sandra Howard, the director of Say NO to NECEC, an opposition group that uses the acronym for the project’s formal name. Former Republican Gov. Paul LePage also backed it. Threats to the project loom in the Legislature, where Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, the co-chair of the Legislature’s energy committee, has submitted a bill backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that would require every town along the corridor’s path to accept it by referendum before the utilities commission moves it forward. They start on Monday morning at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Jonathan Johnson: End ‘Representational Asymmetry’ in Utah politics

They pledged to go around the state now and “listen.” I won’t question why the bill had large exceptions for special interests, was promoted by simplistic analysis and floated by overinflated rafts of political sloganeering. Now politicians want to listen. That difference, the difference between public and legislative knowledge is “Representational Asymmetry.” Representational Asymmetry happens when politicians and insiders are far more informed than the public. Yes, teach first. Teach both the short- and long-term impacts, both to local governments and individuals. When companies raise funds they are required to make full fact disclosures — not just what’s favorable, but the good, bad, and the ugly. Because today’s technology puts powerful tools for what I’m suggesting squarely in the hands of the politicians if they want to really teach – especially when different bill elements impact taxpayers differently. Truth be told, most government websites are thinly disguised re-election tools. For example, instead of just showing just a single “average” taxpayer impact, an interactive website could help each taxpayer learn the bill’s consequence to themselves individually. The taxpayer could simply answer some survey questions, hit a button and let the technology teach him or her about their personal impact.

Poll shows South Carolina overwhelmingly supports closing ‘Charleston loophole’

Shattering the assumption that America’s gun control debate is doomed to political deadlock, a new poll has found an overwhelming majority of South Carolinians — both Republicans and Democrats — support legislation that would require background checks for gun purchases, even if it takes longer than three days. A Winthrop University poll of 1,007 South Carolina residents found 80 percent of respondents said they would be in favor of closing the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allowed a self-avowed white supremacist to purchase the gun used in the 2015 Emanuel AME Church murders. The poll results released early Thursday found 80 percent of Republicans surveyed said they would support the expanded background check effort, compared to the 83 percent of Democrats polled. “Where the division is, is with the party elites like elected officials and campaign leaders. One of them was the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which seeks to extend the length of FBI background checks for gun purchases from three days to 10. Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, was the bill’s primary sponsor. Since the bill’s passage in the House, both Clyburn and Cunningham have publicly urged their colleagues in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to take up the bill by holding press conferences and penning op-eds. Huffmon said there’s a real political fear, especially among Republicans, to alienate potential voters on the issue of guns. Nobody is marching with signs saying don’t close the Charleston loophole.” Each year, Kimpson said he has seen slow but steady progress on getting his bill closer to passage. In October 2015, a Winthrop poll found 80 percent of South Carolinians supported requiring a completed background check for a gun purchase.