Political News Briefs


BACK & FORTH

Staff Reports



Secretary Zinke Statement in Support of President Trump’s American Energy Executive Order

WASHINGTON – Today (March 28), President Donald J. Trump, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced a bold American energy Executive Order that will put our nation on track to full and dominant American energy independence. The Executive Order calls on the Secretary of the Interior to review the Bureau of Land Management’s 2016 moratorium on new coal leases on federal land and also review three final rules from the Department regarding oil and gas production on both federal and private land and the outer continental shelf.

“We can’t power the country on pixie dust and hope. Today, President Trump took bold and decisive action to end the War on Coal and put us on track for American energy independence,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “American energy independence has three major benefits to the environment, economy, and national security.

“First, it’s better for the environment that the U.S. produces energy. Thanks to advancements in drilling and mining technology, we can responsibly develop our energy resources and return the land to equal or better quality than it was before. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty it is better to develop our energy here under reasonable regulations and export it to our allies, rather than have it produced overseas under little or no regulations.

“Second, energy production is an absolute boon to the economy, supporting more than 6.4 million jobs and supplying affordable power for manufacturing, home heating, and transportation needs. In many communities coal jobs are the only jobs. Former Chairman Old Coyote of the Crow Tribe in my home state of Montana said it best, ‘there are no jobs like coal jobs.’ I hope to return those jobs to the Crow people.

“And lastly, achieving American energy independence will strengthen our national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and allowing us to assist our allies with their energy needs. As a military commander, I saw how the power of the American economy and American energy defeated our adversaries around the world. We can do it again to keep Americans safe.”

The Department of the Interior manages all mineral and renewable energy development on federal lands and the outer continental shelf, including 700 million acres of subsurface minerals. The Department also has jurisdiction to regulate energy development on private lands.

BROWN STATEMENT ON FAILED HOUSE REPUBLICAN HEALTHCARE BILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives pulled the American Health Care Act just before its scheduled vote.

“It’s no secret why this bill didn’t have the votes to pass the House today – it’s a bad deal for the people we serve,” Brown said. “Blocking this plan is a victory for the mother who wrote me about the services her son gets for autism, the people I’ve met who are treating their opioid addictions, the seniors who rely on Medicaid to stay in their nursing homes, and thousands more Ohioans who depend on coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Instead of wasting any more time threatening to take health insurance away from working families, Congress needs to move on and work together to lower costs and improve healthcare for everyone.”

GasBuddy Commentary: President Trump Approves Keystone XL Pipeline (March 24)

Today, President Donald Trump together with the U.S. State Department have signed and issued a presidential permit to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. Fuel price-tracker GasBuddy has been watching this issue for several years, with dozens of expert analyst writings covering the subject from both Canadian and U.S. viewpoints. Find them here: http://business.gasbuddy.com/?s=keystone

On today’s announcement, GasBuddy Senior U.S. Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan noted:

After years of various delays, President Trump’s administration has issued a permit for the completion of the long-awaited Keystone XL pipeline. While the impact on gasoline prices may not be immediately known or felt, the pipeline will allow more U.S. refiners to process Canadian crude oil and reduce reliance on foreign supply, while helping Canadians secure their energy future. It may also bring a side effect of causing the typically discounted Canadian crude oil prices to rise, as more refiners and customers seek out Canadian crude oil. The impact may be felt most by refiners that already process a significant portion of such crude oil, as the low price of Canadian oil is likely to rise.

Certainly, this move is a positive one for Canadian oil interests, as it will likely boost the value of the Canadian Dollar while bringing more jobs to the energy sector there. Interestingly, it could also allow- for the first time- Canadian oil shipments access to global markets previously unreachable.

U.S. motorists are unlikely to feel an immediate impact at the pump as a result, but with the new possibilities the pipeline brings, there is no guarantee that there won’t be future impacts to fuel prices.

GasBuddy Senior Canadian Petroleum Analyst Dan McTeague noted:

For Canadian oil producers, today’s decision by the US President to overturn his predecessor’s veto and allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is welcomed news. The decision to allow Keystone XL’s construction isn’t about sending Canadian oil to waiting ships in the Gulf of Mexico, it is about ensuring U.S. refiners, who’ve invested in processing heavy oil, access to a reliable and abundant supply that responds to America’s energy needs. Today’s decision is a win-win for the world’s most integrated energy partnership, the U.S. and Canada. It brings North America one step closer to energy security and more stable pricing at the pumps.

BROWN URGES AGRICULTURE NOMINEE TO PROTECT FARM SAFETY NET PROGRAMS FOR OHIO FARMERS, PROTECT FUNDING FOR OPIOID TREATMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – the first Ohioan to serve on the Agriculture Committee in over 40 years – urged Governor George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the Secretary of Agriculture, to protect the farm safety net that protects Ohio farmers from periods of low prices or yields.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, Brown worked with his Republican colleague Senator John Thune to make sure the bill included the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program which is particularly important for Ohio’s wheat, corn and soybean producers. ARC is a market-based program that relies on current crop-year data, market prices, and actual yields, making payments to farmers only when they face price or yield losses.

“One in seven jobs in my state depends on agriculture – that’s why I’m on this Committee. I need to know that farmers can depend on you. I want to know that you will work with us and use your authority to make sure that we can work with you to find ways to carry out the Ag Risk Coverage program and help us with short term assistance for dairy farmers.”

Brown also asked Perdue whether he would protect funding for opioid addiction saying: “There are 200,000 Ohioans that are getting opioid addiction treatment that are on the Affordable Care Act. If that insurance is taken away as it would be with the House bill, would you go back to OMB and the White House to protect funding used in the battle against opioid addiction in rural Ohio and rural America?”

USDA has helped in the fight against opioids through its Rural Development grant programs, like the Community Facilities Program—which helps rural communities expand local resources like medical facilities and public safety services. Brown supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities.

Brown introduced bipartisan legislation to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015.

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost in The Daily Caller, March 22

Sen. Sherrod Brown Wants A Liberal Legislator On The Supreme Court

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown announced his opposition to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court almost before the words were out of the President Trump’s mouth. He should reconsider and pay more attention to the people of Ohio than the Washington, D.C. shrieking machine.

Judge Gorsuch is simply unassailable as a judge. He graduated with honors from both Columbia University and Harvard Law, followed by a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford. His decade on the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has earned him nearly universal respect — even from President Obama’s former acting Solicitor General, who wrote in Wednesday’s New York Times urging liberals to support Gorsuch.

So what’s Sherrod Brown’s problem? It’s simple: He wants a liberal legislator on the bench. In his microwaved statement of opposition, Senator Brown failed to cite any flaw of character, any failure of judicial reasoning, any absence of scholarship or wisdom for opposing Gorsuch – or, at the very least, not giving the nominee a full and fair hearing before opposing him. Our senator simply listed reasons that sound like they came straight out of a legislative campaign.

For example, he claims Judge Gorsuch is guilty of “arguing against the rights of working Americans to band together to hold Wall Street and corporations accountable for abuses.” That’s not at all what Judge Gorsuch did — in fact, it’s not what judges do. (It is what some legislators do, and the legislature is the proper place for such arguments.)

Judge Gorsuch is the kind of judge most Americans say they want — a judge who applies the law and decides cases, not some black-robed Franken-legislator making up laws and accountable to no one. In a Marist poll conducted at the end of December, fully 80% of Americans say they want a judge that applies the law and the Constitution as written.

If Sen. Brown talked to regular Ohioans, he’d find that at least 80 percent share that view — and Judge Gorsuch is just this sort of judge. In a case last year, he wrote about the role of a reviewing court:

“[O]urs is the job of interpreting the Constitution. And that document isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams for a new and perfected tort law, but a carefully drafted text judges are charged with applying according to its original public meaning.” Cordova v. City of Albuquerque, 816 F.3d 645, at 661 (2016)

Precisely so.

Sen. Brown wants judges to start with the desired result – that inkblot from projecting hopes and dreams — and to work backwards. The problem is that some day, such a judge will have a different desired result than Brown or you want. The fair, and honest way to judge it start with the facts, apply the law, and announce the result. If the result is bad, it is the province of Congress to change the law by passing a new statute or amending our Constitution.

Senator Brown’s list of liberal litmus tests – decisions that placate Planned Parenthood, promote over-reading discrimination lawsuits, advance nanny-state over-regulation — are simply not what a judge or judging should be about. A judge should be judged on the process of judging: is there a reasoned, intellectually rigorous and consistent approach to applying the law? By that only reasonable measure, Judge Neil Gorsuch stands tall. I look forward to Ohioan and all Americans getting to hear President Trump’s nominee make his case. It’s a shame that Sherrod Brown has made up his mind before the first hearing.

Dave Yost has been Ohio’s Auditor of State since 2011.

BROWN COMMENDS CFPB ACTION AGAINST EXPERIAN FOR DECEIVING CUSTOMERS ABOUT CREDIT SCORES

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee – March 23 commended the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s action against Experian, the world’s largest credit monitoring firm, over allegations that it was deceptively marketing credit scores to its customers and failing to provide them with free annual access to their credit reports.

The CFPB fined Experian and its subsidiaries $3 million for misleading customers by telling them that the credit scores they bought from the company were the same scores that lenders used to make credit decisions. The bureau also ordered Experian to explain the difference to consumers between the score they buy and the score lenders receive. Since 2012, more than 900 Ohioans have submitted complaints about Experian to the CFPB’s online consumer complaint database, according to the bureau.

“A person’s credit score can have a huge impact on their mortgage or car loan payments and even their employment,” Brown said. “Selling consumers a fake credit score isn’t just deceitful, it also makes it impossible for them to make the best financial decisions. The CFPB’s action today will help ensure that consumers who make the effort to track and correct their credit information aren’t misled by unfair products and deceptive advertising.”

NPR, March 22

National Security

Trump Surveillance Flap Throws Monkey Wrench Into House Russia Investigation

Explosive accusations and countercharges on Wednesday threatened to derail one of Congress’ investigations into the potential connections between President Trump’s 2016 campaign aides and Russia’s meddling in the election.

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes of California, announced that he had learned that then-President-elect Donald Trump and some of his staff had been caught up in U.S. surveillance of foreign targets overseas in the months after the election.

Nunes cited information he said was brought to him by credible sources — but did not share it with his fellow Republicans or with the Democrats on the committee. Instead, after making an announcement to reporters at the Capitol, he traveled to the White House because, he said, he needed to brief President Trump. Then Nunes talked to reporters again outside the White House and returned to the Capitol, where he finally discussed his charges with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, a fellow California lawmaker.

Schiff used a late afternoon press conference to denounce the “extraordinary” conduct by Nunes, saying Nunes had damaged any hope that the regular House Intelligence Committee could pursue a credible, bipartisan investigation into the Russia connections.

Instead, Schiff said, Congress must impanel some kind of special committee like the ones it has created after crises in the past, including the terrorist attacks of 2001.

“Today’s events have underscored the imperative of an independent commission,” Schiff said.

The twist in the story represented another bizarre zigzag in the often surreal soap opera involving Trump, Russia, the election and his campaign aides.

Nunes’ charges followed a report earlier in the day by the Associated Press that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had been paid millions by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin to draft a strategy to improve Putin’s image in the West. And the back-and-forth Wednesday came only two days after FBI Director James Comey told Nunes’ committee that his investigators have been looking into Trump aides’ connections to Russia since last July.

“I have to hope this is not part of a broader campaign from the White House to deflect from the director’s testimony this week,” Schiff said.

Nunes called his actions appropriate given that the material he viewed did not involve Russia and because as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he was doing his job.

“The president needs to know these intelligence reports are out there and I have a duty to tell him that,” Nunes said.

But Schiff complained that Nunes did not share whatever material had been brought to him with anyone else on the committee and that all he, other lawmakers and the public had to go on were Nunes’ comments.

The chairman’s revelations served to partly vindicate Trump’s March 4 claim on Twitter about being incredulous that President Obama had sunk to “a new low” by ordering a wiretap of his phones before the election. Trump’s Republican allies — including Nunes — and Comey all had said there was no evidence of any wiretap.

But Nunes said Wednesday his discovery did prove there was more general surveillance of Trump and his camp, apparently as part of legal and routine monitoring by U.S. intelligence of foreign targets overseas. Not only that, Nunes said, the names of Trump and aides were “unmasked” by American intelligence officers — revealed openly in their classified reports as opposed to being listed as, for example, “U.S. Person 1.”

Such names can be revealed to help analysts and decision-makers understand what to make of what American spies have collected, but Nunes charged that the intercepts he had viewed weren’t important enough to justify that.

Schiff, in his response, said that so-called incidental collection doesn’t necessarily mean that American intelligence hears a U.S. person talking on the phone to a foreign target. It could involve two foreign spies saying the name of a U.S. person. Schiff also said he understood that most of the names in the intercepts were properly “masked,” and that Nunes was complaining because the context of the material made it easy to deduce the identities of the people under discussion.

By sunset on Wednesday the issue had become a truth vacuum — nearly impossible to verify definitively because of the secret nature of the material and the secondhand nature of the accounts about it.

Nunes’ accusations help Republicans strengthen a narrative about discontented Obama administration dead-enders abusing their powers to spy on the incoming Trump team and, in some cases, leak details about them to the press. A report in the Washington Post describing intercepted conversations between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak ultimately forced Flynn to resign.

Republicans want the investigation that Nunes’ committee is leading to be about these issues — information security, leaks and the press — which is all ground on which they feel comfortable fighting. A second hearing, scheduled for March 28, is set to include Obama-era appointees, and Nunes’ disclosure gives Republicans who make up the majority on the committee a new weapon against them.

Democrats, however, want the House Intelligence Committee probe to be about Trump’s connections to Russia, like those in the AP story about Manafort and those laid out Monday in an extended opening statement by Schiff.

Nunes’ public charges and visit to the White House on Wednesday raise the prospect that Democrats might not go along with any future proceedings to protest what they perceive as the partisan bent of the committee’s investigation. Then the question will become whether Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, would appoint a special independent panel to investigate their own president.

BROWN, PERDUE INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN PROPOSAL TO BOOST INVESTMENT IN MANUFACTURING JOBS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and David Perdue (R-GA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation that will expand financing opportunities for small and mid-size manufacturers in Ohio, Georgia and around the country. The Modernizing American Manufacturing Bonds (MAMBA) Act will modernize financing opportunities available to small and mid-size manufacturers to build new facilities.

“Ohio manufacturers are eager to grow their workforces and produce more Ohio-made products, and we can help them achieve that goal by connecting them with the capital they need to grow,” said Brown. “A simple update to the way manufacturers can use private activity bonds will be a huge help to manufacturers and entrepreneurs as they work to hire Ohioans and grow our economy.”

“We now have the opportunity to revive America’s leading role in manufacturing thanks to U.S. innovation and capital formation,” said Perdue. “This common-sense update will help our high-tech manufacturers grow and compete globally.”

MAMBA will:

· Triple the bond size limitation from $10 million to $30 million so qualified small issue bonds – the primary economic development tool for small and mid-size manufacturers – meet the demands of today’s manufacturers. This outdated limit is not indexed to inflation and losing value every year, so raising it will increase access to capital for manufacturers.

· Double the capital expenditure limitation from $20 million to $40 million. There is currently a limit on the value of tax-exempt bond financing a manufacturer can access over a six-year period. The limit has not been updated in ten years. This change will help better meet the capital needs of developing manufacturers.

· Allow up to a quarter of bond proceeds to be used for facilities that are located on the same site or ancillary to a manufacturing facility.

· Expand the definition of manufacturing to reflect today’s advanced manufacturing environment, allowing more business to qualify for these financing opportunities.

Brown is a strong supporter of American manufacturing. He authored the Revitalizing American Manufacturing and Innovation (RAMI) Act, which was signed into law in December 2014. The bill created a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation made up of advanced manufacturing hubs to bring together industry, universities and community colleges, federal agencies, and all levels of government to leverage resources and spur innovation. Brown’s office also hosts a series of Manufacturing Camps each summer to get a new generation of Ohioans interested in manufacturing jobs.

Experts Predict More Overdose Deaths, Higher Infant Mortality

Under Republican Re-Write of Affordable Care Act

COLUMBUS—While celebrating the benefits of Obamacare, medical experts warned that the GOP replacement expected to be voted on today would worsen Ohio’s most serious health crises and hurt its most vulnerable citizens.

The experts joined members of Indivisible 12, a pro-Affordable Care Act (ACA) group of activists outside Congressman Pat Tiberi’s office, to celebrate Obamacare’s 7th birthday and urge Tiberi to vote against the replacement.

“Trumpcare is not giving people something better,’’ Steve Wagner, Executive Director of Universal Health Care Network (UHCAN) Ohio, told the news conference. “Most people in Ohio did not ask Congress to kill coverage for 24 million people. They simply want to be able to afford quality care like some of their neighbors. The Trumpcare cuts in Medicaid would hurt healthcare for older adults, children and those with disabilities; shifting costs to states and hurting those with addiction.’’

Dr. William Cotton, a Columbus doctor representing the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the replacement threatens care for children.

“Over 50% of children in Ohio are covered by Medicaid. If coverage decreases, it will drastically impact our children, who are the future of Ohio,’’ Dr. Cotton said. “This is an issue we hoped to discuss with Congressman Tiberi at the Ohio State Medical Association meeting when he spoke this past weekend. He refused to take any questions.’’

Congressman Tiberi has faced increasing criticism for ducking face-to-face meetings with constituents – and now refusing to engage with one of Ohio’s premier medical groups. His silence comes as he is tasked with helping to craft the replacement to the Affordable Care Act. Indivisible members delivered postcards to Tiberi’s office from people who support the ACA. These Tiberi constituents also came equipped with balloons and a birthday cake to honor ACA’s birthday – but tombstone-shaped signs and a coffin that warns of the consequences of its repeal.

Republicans in Congress, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), plan to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In its current form, the AHCA would roll back children’s insurance coverage by capping federal funds for Medicaid, ending Medicaid expansion, and restructuring the health care marketplace.

Some of the most dire warnings about AHCA came from Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz, whose office is struggling to handle record numbers of accidental deaths from opioid overdoses. The ACA replacement would do away with coverage for many with addiction and mental health disorders.

“If the replacement passes in its current form, it would have a devastating impact on the millions of people in this country struggling with problematic substance use and would exacerbate the worst drug overdose crisis in U.S. history,’’ Dr. Ortiz said. “People are dying in record numbers today. More of them will die if drug treatment is taken away.’’

On average, eight people die each day in Ohio due to unintentional drug overdose, and Ohio has one of the highest overdose rates in the nation.

Senior citizen activist B.J. Talley also spoke at the news conference and said that while the Republican plan would hurt many, “Nobody would suffer as badly as older Americans who live just above or near the poverty line.’’

She pointed to a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis that showed that under Obamacare, a 64-year-old who earns $26,500 per year in 2026—175 percent of the poverty line—would have to pay $1,700 for insurance, after tax credits. That plan would cover 87 percent of their medical costs, on average.

Under the Republican replacement, that same person would owe a full $14,600 after tax credits for a plan that only covers 65 percent of their medical costs. That person who makes just $26,500 a year would pay more than half of their income for less coverage.

While hurting older Americans, the GOP plan provide, over a 10-year period, $275 billion in tax breaks to the top two percent.

“This plan is unacceptable. It will hurt the least among us. And since Congressman Tiberi is helping to write the replacement plan, he needs to lead the fight to fix it,’’ Talley said.

BROWN STATEMENT ON ARREST OF SUSPECT CONNECTED TO JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER BOMB THREATS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement March 23 following the arrest of a suspect in connection with bomb threats called in to Jewish Community Centers in Ohio and throughout the country.

“I’m grateful for the work of law enforcement officials to seek justice on behalf of the organizations that were threatened and for their efforts to keep these centers safe. Over the course of the past few weeks, threats of violence and acts of intimidation have permeated communities in Ohio in an effort to divide us. Instead, Ohioans have stood together to reject such hateful acts in our state, and I will continue to speak out against efforts to intimidate or endanger Ohioans.”

In March, Brown joined all 100 members of the U.S. Senate in a letter to Trump Administration officials to address bomb threats that have been made against Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Day Schools, and Synagogues in Ohio and throughout the country. The Senators urged Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey to continue efforts to combat these anti-Semitic acts and to keep the Senate apprised of future action.

Brown has condemned threats of violence against Jewish Centers in Ohio and denounced anti-Semitic vandalism at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. Brown also raised concerns with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the growing number of hateful incidents and anti-Semitic rhetoric around the state and across the country.

BROWN, PORTMAN INTRODUCE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE BILL TO INCREASE FLEXIBILITY FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week (March 23), U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide local communities with increased flexibility when complying with Clean Water Act requirements for updates to water infrastructure projects. The bill would also give communities more autonomy as they prioritize and plan for wastewater and storm water investments.

“Wastewater infrastructure improvements support local jobs and keep our water clean and safe to drink. It’s critical we support Ohio communities as they work to update these systems and give them the flexibility to get projects done based on unique community needs,” said Brown.

“According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most of the water infrastructure in this country is more than 50 years old. Local communities are working to upgrade our aging water infrastructure systems, but too often struggle with the costs of inflexible government mandates, and families are forced to pay higher utility bills as a result. Our legislation would give local communities more flexibility in complying with these mandates and encourage the EPA to work with them in developing innovative and cost-effective ways to upgrade our water infrastructure so it’s healthy and safe for all Ohioans,” said Portman.

Many state and local governments face difficulties meeting Clean Water Act requirements for storm water and wastewater updates. The U.S. Conference of Mayors found, on average, municipalities spend between 6 to 7 cents of every tax dollar on water and sewer systems. This makes water infrastructure the third-largest expense for cities, after education and emergency personnel.

The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act would:

  • Provide communities with flexibility to prioritize investments in wastewater and storm water projects needed for CWA compliance.
  • Establish an Office of Municipal Ombudsman at EPA to assist cities in complying with federal environmental laws.
  • Compel the EPA to promote “green infrastructure,” which uses or mimics natural processes to infiltrate or reuse storm water runoff beneficially on-site where it is generated.
  • Require the EPA to update this guidance and expand the criteria for determining affordability and revise its guidance for affordability measures.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities have endorsed the legislation.

Koch Brothers Attempt to Buy Votes on Healthcare

Washington, DC – In an attempt to block the ‘American Health Care Act’ from passing the House of Representatives, well-funded special interests are promising to raise millions for Freedom Caucus members who vote no.

“The Koch Brothers’ offer to make huge contributions to those conservative members of the House who vote against the leadership’s healthcare legislation shows once again the deeply corrupting influence of big money in politics,” said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters.

“The American people have long believed that campaign contributions from big money and special interests are bribery, and today’s action shows how true it is. ‘You give me your vote, and we’ll give you the money.’ That’s just not right,” said Carson.

“This shows once again that the Supreme Court made a tragic and long-lasting mistake in Citizens United when they ruled in favor of the role of big money in American politics,” she said. “That case changed the landscape of modern politics by ushering in this era of powerful SuperPACS.”

The League opposes the American Health Care Act, though for different reasons than the Koch Brothers.

“Nonetheless, by dangling big money in front of members of Congress, this action threatens our democratic process. Legislators are supposed to vote in the interest of the American people, not funding their political campaigns,” Carson stated.

The League is deeply committed to reforming our nation’s campaign finance system to ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Polaris Statement on Backpage.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Polaris, a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, issued the following statement as Backpage.com, a long-time facilitator of sex trafficking in the United States, shut down the “adult” section of its website. The move comes hours before a hearing scheduled by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris, said:

“A monumental step in the fight against sex trafficking in America has been achieved now that Backpage.com has shuttered the adult escort section of its website. While long overdue, we strongly hope this is a permanent action. We applaud the many leaders who have worked towards this moment for years—from the survivor leaders and families who spoke out to share their stories and expertise, to the many determined lawyers, State Attorneys General, advocates, other law enforcement officials, and Members of Congress who have all shined a spotlight on how traffickers use Backpage to place ads and attract customers for commercial sex acts involving trafficking victims. From an anti-trafficking lens, the presence of Backpage’s adult escort section was far more part of the problem than it ever was part of the solution.

“For over five years, Polaris has raised serious concerns about how sex trafficking victims were being advertised online on Backpage. We have served victims sold on Backpage in our programs who told us their stories, and we received nearly 2,000 reports of likely sex trafficking cases involving Backpage through operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the U.S. This action taken by Backpage will neither eradicate the sex trafficking industry nor will it stop other websites from potentially popping up to try and play a similar role, but Backpage’s adult escort section shutting down nationwide will help prevent the continued exploitation of countless more victims. It will make it harder for traffickers and sex buyers to profit from, control, and exploit adults and children who are in the sex trade against their will. This action is certainly a positive step forward for efforts to fight human trafficking in the U.S.”

About Polaris

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do — helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.

Tim Ryan for Congress (various emails)

When DC Republicans added Tim to their Target List of Democrats they’re working to beat in 2018, they wanted him to back down.

They wanted Tim to stop holding President Trump accountable, to stay silent on Trump’s cabinet nominees, to sit out the fight to save healthcare.

NEWSFLASH: Tim’s not backing down. Not now, not ever. But right now he needs our help.

With just two weeks to until the first fundraising deadline of the year, we need 100 grassroots supporters to step up and chip in to support Tim in his reelection fight.

Tim has been outspoken in holding President Trump accountable for abandoning working Americans, for breaking his campaign promises to create jobs and protect Medicare.

Tim’s on the front lines of the fight to stop Trumpcare and the President’s Budget, which guts the social safety net and programs that help working families get ahead.

The last thing DC Republicans want is a bold, Midwestern Democrat like Tim holding the President accountable for his broken promises. That means the big-money GOP attacks are coming, and we need to be ready.

On Thursday, House Republicans will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with Trumpcare.

We need to act fast. Will you take a stand against Trumpcare right now, before it’s too late?

As you read this, GOP leadership is scrambling to make sure this disaster of a bill passes.

Republicans are making last-minute changes in the middle of the night — give-aways to everyone from far-right conservatives to New York “moderates” — just to ensure Trumpcare passes.

Even President Trump was on Capitol Hill yesterday twisting arms to pass the bill.

They’re doing everything they can to hand Trump a victory on healthcare in the next 48 hours.

It’s on us to work even harder to stop them, friends. Will you stand up for healthcare right now?

Tim will not be out-worked by Republicans who are trying to take away healthcare from 24 million Americans. He’s fighting around the clock to stop Trumpcare.

But here’s the thing. Grassroots pressure will make the difference in the fight to save healthcare, and right now Tim needs our help.

After a first read of Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, all I can say is…we waited seven years for THIS?

So far we know the GOP’s Trumpcare bill will:

  • Force millions of working Americans off their insurance
  • Raise costs for millions more
  • Cut off access to affordable reproductive healthcare
  • Give massive tax breaks to insurance and drug companies

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Republican plan will drain the Medicare Trust Fund just to pay for tax cuts for the healthcare industry and the wealthiest Americans.

This bill is a disaster, folks. Working families are going to get hurt, and I don’t plan to stand by and let that happen without a fight. Will you add your name and join me in opposing Trumpcare?

For seven years, we’ve listened to Republicans rail against the Affordable Care Act.

For seven years, they ignored its successes, fixated on its shortcomings, and refused to lift a finger to improve the law.

And, for seven years, Republicans promised that they could do better if voters gave them the chance.

Now, they have their chance to govern, to actually improve our healthcare system, to make life better for working Americans, and they’ve blown it.

I’m ready to work with Republicans and fellow Democrats to make insurance more affordable, to invest in wellness and preventative medicine, and to tackle the real problems in our healthcare system.

But this bill is just political theater, and people are going to get hurt. I can’t stand by and let that happen. Please, sign on today and join me in standing against this disaster of a bill.

Ayn Rand on A-Level Curriculum in United Kingdom

2017 curriculum for A-level politics taught in secondary and pre-university schools includes Ayn Rand as a key thinker

IRVINE, CA, March 24, 2017— The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), the leading center for the advancement of Ayn Rand’s writings and her philosophy of Objectivism, announced today that the 2017 curriculum for A-Level Politics, which is taught in secondary and pre-university schools in the United Kingdom, will include Ayn Rand and her ideas for the very first time. This is a significant step forward for the advancement of Rand’s ideas in the UK.

ARI executive chairman Yaron Brook said, “I just returned from speaking at some of the most prestigious high schools in England: Eton, Westminster, Harrow, Oxford Girls’ Day School Trust, Radley, Headington and Winchester. These students are exceptionally bright – they will be the political, business and intellectual leaders of tomorrow. Because of this curriculum change and ARI’s efforts, in addition to the multitude of political ideas they are exposed to, they will now be exposed to Ayn Rand’s. These students will get to grapple with a diverse worldview and build up their own respective intellectual muscles through this new curriculum.”

A-level specifications require students to know and understand the core ideas and principles of liberalism, socialism, conservatism and other political ideologies. Rand will be incorporated into the conservatism segment of the curriculum alongside other intellectual giants.

Rand’s inclusion in the curriculum should hearten all those who believe in rich and diverse discourse – regardless of political stripe. Its benefits will redound to the UK’s students, and the nation as a whole.

About ARI

The Ayn Rand Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that promotes the works and philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. The Institute fosters a growing awareness, understanding and acceptance of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, to create a culture whose guiding principles are reason, rational self-interest, individualism and laissez-faire capitalism—a culture in which individuals are free to pursue their own happiness.

BROWN ENCOURAGED BY WHITE HOUSE ACTION TO ADDRESS OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Senator Invites Opioid Commission Members to Visit Ohio to Learn about Crisis Firsthand, Encourages Commission to Include Input from More Agencies and Outside Partners

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today (March 28) applauded a White House plan to create a federal commission designed to evaluate and improve federal policy to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. The commission would assess current federal practices and make recommendations to cabinet members on implementing policies that better prevent and address opioid addiction. According to reports, members of the commission would include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Brown invited commission members to visit Ohio to learn more about how the opioid crisis has impacted the state and how the federal government can better support state and local efforts. Brown also encouraged the Trump Administration to include input from other federal agencies, such as Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“We need all hands on deck to address the opioid crisis, so I’m glad to see the White House taking action, and I’m ready to work with the commission to deliver real results for Ohio communities,” said Brown. “The commission’s first action should be to get out of Washington and see how the opioid epidemic is devastating communities across America, so I’m urging them to come to Ohio and learn from those on the front lines dealing with this crisis every day.”

Brown has worked to combat the scourge of opioid use in Ohio. Last week, Brown urged Governor George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to continue USDA’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio communities. USDA has helped in the fight against opioids through its Rural Development grant programs, like the Community Facilities Program—which helps rural communities expand local resources like medical facilities and public safety services. Brown supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities.

Brown also worked with his colleagues Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce bipartisan legislation last week to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015. He has also fought against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has enabled more than 900,000 Ohioans with health insurance, including more than 200,000 who are currently receiving treatment for their addiction because of the ACA.

Last Congress, Brown introduced legislation that would help address the opioid epidemic from prevention to recovery, filling in gaps that would help: boost prevention, improve tools for crisis response for those who fall through the cracks, expand access to treatment, and provide support for lifelong recovery. Brown supported the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), signed into law last year, which included his provision to combat drug abuse within Medicare by locking those with a history of addiction into one prescriber and one pharmacy to help mitigate the risk of prescribing opioids to at-risk patients. Brown was also a cosponsor of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, which passed into law as part of CARA and will help provide safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans. He has also worked to expand use of MAT, which was expanded under CARA, and cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act to further expand access to this form of treatment.

Ohio Library Council Legislative Day Scheduled for March 29

Columbus – On March 29, more than 250 representatives from Ohio’s public libraries will travel to Columbus for the Ohio Library Council’s (OLC) Legislative Day. Library directors, fiscal officers, trustees, and supporters will meet with members of the Ohio General Assembly to share how their libraries are transforming local communities with essential services such as workforce development and early literacy programs. They will also urge state legislators to support Ohio’s public libraries by rejecting the cuts in the state’s budget proposal.

Statements on the Collapse of the American Health Care Act

Today (March 24) the U.S. House of Representatives pulled replacement legislation for the Affordable Care Act after failing to secure the votes needed to pass it. The following are statements from Ohio progressives who advocated for its defeat:

Steve Wagner, Executive Director, UHCAN Ohio

“We know health care needs to be improved. People need to be able to afford health care. But Republicans promised a better plan, and today’s outcome shows that the American Health Care Act is not a better plan. 24 million people losing health coverage is not a better plan. Putting health care out of reach for low-income working people is not a better plan. More expensive premiums for seniors is not a better plan. Health care that doesn’t cover preventive care and maternity care is not a better plan. Congress and the President must continue to work toward a plan that will give Americans better, more affordable health care.”

Sandy Theis, Executive Director, ProgressOhio

“Today’s outcome proves that the voices of doctors, patients, activists and faith leaders are a powerful force for good. Let’s keep working together to make sure Ohio has a health care system that helps our citizens and our economy. The Republican replacement would have hurt both.’’

Renuka Mayadev, Executive Director, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio

“Maintaining health coverage for Ohio’s children and families is critically important. Today’s outcome was a step in the right direction.”

ACA Filing Deadline Looms for Businesses—Errors are Costly

With the Affordable Care Act still in place and employers providing more than 70 % of the nation’s health coverage, the costs of managing health plans and complying with regulations can cost millions of dollars.

Employers still face a fine of roughly $500/employee for failing to report accurately to the IRS and another fine of $500/employee for failing to report accurately to the employee. The cost of errors can cripple a business.

NEW DATA: SEGREGATION COSTS CHICAGO REGION BILLIONS EACH YEAR

Higher incomes, lower homicide rate, and more college graduates projected if region were less segregated

(Chicago) … Data released by the Metropolitan Planning Council and Urban Institute reveal that economic and racial segregation cost the Chicago region billions of dollars each year, constraining the area’s economy and potential. It’s the first study of its kind to show the economic impact of segregation to the region. In the next phase, the study’s partners will identify policy interventions that can accelerate metropolitan Chicago toward a more integrated and economically prosperous future.

The study projected three key outcomes if the region’s African American-white segregation were reduced to the median of the nation’s largest 100 metro areas, including $4.4 billion in additional income in our region each year, 30 percent lower homicide rate and 83,000 more bachelor’s degrees.

The economic impact of the findings illustrates that a more robust regional economy can be created by reducing both economic and racial segregation. Here’s how the findings break down if the region were at the median level of segregation:

  • $2,982 increase in African American incomes per person per year, which means an additional $4.4 billion in income and an $8 billion boost to the Chicago region’s gross domestic product.
  • Thirty percent lower homicide rate, resulting in 167 fewer lives lost across the region in 2010. In the city of Chicago alone, that would mean 229 fewer lives lost in 2016.
  • 83,000 more bachelor’s degrees, resulting in $90 billion in total lifetime earnings.

“For over a century, segregation has taken its toll in very concrete ways on people and communities,” said Marisa Novara, Vice President at the Metropolitan Planning Council. “This study illustrates that segregation’s negative impacts are felt by all people in the Chicago region, and that we could all be doing better if we didn’t live so separately from each other by race and income.”

The analysis uses census data and other information for the 100 most populous regions and ranks metropolitan areas on levels of racial and economic segregation. Chicago ranks as the 5th most racially and economically segregated region in the nation.

Overall, larger metropolitan areas tend to be more economically and racially segregated than less populous regions. Between 1990 and 2010, two-thirds of the nation’s largest regions reduced their economic segregation more than Chicago did.

“Our study documents the relationships between segregation and the incomes, educations, and safety of a metropolitan region’s residents,” said Greg Acs, director of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute. “Our findings suggest that efforts to reduce economic and racial segregation could deliver benefits all across metropolitan areas. Given the high levels of segregation in Chicago, the region’s potential gains from reducing segregation are substantial.”

Data also reveals that while the Chicago region’s segregation has decreased overall, more significant drops are needed to reach the nation’s median level. Between 1990 and 2010, Chicago’s economic and racial segregation declined by 10 percent. However, to match the nation’s median level, Chicagoland’s segregation would need to drop by 19 percent (economic), 28 percent (Latino-white), and most strikingly, 36 percent for African American-white segregation.

If we simply continue at our current pace of desegregation—and no interactions are introduced to accelerate our desegregation—it would take an estimated 30 years to reach the median level of Latino-white segregation and we would not reach the median level of African American-white segregation until 2070.

“Race and segregation are not only the two biggest issues facing our region, but they are limiting our ability to grow and thrive” said Terry Mazany, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Chicago Community Trust and co-funder of this research. “We can no longer afford to wait for these deeply entrenched issues to resolve themselves. The time for action is now.”

For decades, segregation has been one of the most intractable issues facing Chicago, which, while diverse, consistently ranks among the top segregated regions in the nation. While many studies have calculated the disadvantages to those living in predominately low-income minority communities, researchers rarely consider that segregation hampers economic growth and the quality of life for entire cities and regions. This study is the first of its kind to quantify the financial costs of segregation for entire regions, and it does so by demonstrating that a reduction in Chicago’s segregation would result in higher incomes, greater educational attainment, and reduced homicides.

“This study is an urgent call to all of us that more can and should be done to address the significant and shared costs of segregation in the Chicago region,” said Julia Stasch, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “We look forward to the next phase of this effort that will identify policies and actions leaders can take to make our region at once more just and more economically successful.”

The second phase of this initiative will identify what we can do to accelerate our rate of desegregation and create a more inclusive, prosperous path forward for everyone in Chicago’s region. The Metropolitan Planning Council is working with both local and national advisors to identify targeted policies focused on housing, economic development, transportation, public safety, public health and public education.

Visit metroplanning.org/costofsegregation for a full copy of the report.

About MPC

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today’s urgent problems.

The Ohio Senate will recognize the following:

National Grocery Bagging Champion: President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) will present a resolution honoring Brady Long of Wadsworth on being named the 2017 National Grocers Association’s Best Bagger.

Starbucks CEO Ducks Shareholder Question About Trump Criticism

Howard Schultz Won’t Explain Why He Criticized Trump Immigration Ban But Ignored Similar Obama Policy

Is Shultz Taking on President Trump to Promote His Own 2020 Presidential Ambitions?

Retiring Executive Doubles Down on Refugee Hiring Policy That Business Insider Reports Is Causing Starbucks Brand to Take “A Beating”

Despite Denial, Starbucks Appears to Place Politics Over Profits

Seattle, WA/Washington, D.C. – Confronted at an annual meeting of shareholders, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz ducked a question asking him to justify his criticism of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy while not opposing a similar policy during the Obama Administration. Schultz also denied his decision for the coffeehouse giant to hire 10,000 refugees may be hurting the Starbucks brand and shareholders’ investment despite reports to the contrary.

Schultz was questioned by a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP)– the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism. The National Center provided the lone conservative voice for shareholders among the thousands of investors and staff who attended today’s Starbucks shareholder meeting.

“Schultz is stepping down as Starbucks CEO next month, but the question remains if his liberal legacy will continue to haunt the company’s investors,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who attended today’s meeting and questioned Schultz. “By publicly taking on the President of the United States – perhaps for his own personal political ambitions – it appears that Schultz damaged the Starbucks brand and possibly diminished shareholder value.”

Following President Trump’s initial executive order seeking to limit certain travel and immigration from countries identified by the Obama Administration as posing a security threat to the United States, Schultz wrote a public note to all Starbucks employees saying that “[w]e are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question.” In the letter, Schultz also announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.

At the meeting, Danhof seized on Schultz’s comments against President Trump’s immigration order and the reported consumer backlash. Danhof noted:

According to Business Insider, since that announcement, “Starbucks’ brand has taken a beating.”

Starbucks said it would focus on hiring refugees “who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.”

That’s interesting, because ABC News reports that in 2011, after discovering two al-Qaeda members with links to Iraq operating in Kentucky, “the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months… even for many who had heroically helped U.S. forces as interpreters and intelligence assets.” One Iraqi refugee, who had aided U.S. troops, was assassinated during the Obama-Clinton ban.

Danhof then asked:

How much will Starbucks’ investors spend for us to properly vet refugees the federal government admits it can’t afford to vet? And why were you willing to have Starbucks’ reputation take a beating by attacking President Trump’s executive order when you lacked the courage to speak out against the Obama-Clinton travel ban?

Schultz ignored his double-standard, saying Starbucks policy is “based on principle” rather than politics. He further claimed there were no negative effects on the Starbucks brand “as a result of being compassionate.” Responding to Danhof’s question about vetting refugee applicants, Schultz said there would be “no additional cost” for Starbucks related to any vetting procedures.

“Government officials have admitted that they cannot vet all of the refugee being admitted to the United States for threats to the American people. Howard Schultz implied that Starbucks will similarly be turning a blind eye to the backgrounds of refugee applicants,” said Danhof.

Schultz stepped down from the position of CEO of Starbucks on April 3, 2017. He will continue to work for the company in the position of executive chairman. A prominent liberal activist who was suggested as a vice presidential selection by Hillary Clinton in 2016, the Seattle Times reported he is “definitely being pursued” as a candidate for president in 2020.

“Is Schultz attacking Trump to boost his liberal credentials in advance of a potential 2020 presidential run? We don’t know, but he should be upfront with the company’s investors if that’s the case,” said Danhof. “Schultz and other critics of Trump’s immigration orders are seemingly ignorant of legal realities. Some legal statutes are dense and unreadable, but that’s not the case here. Whether or not you agree with President Trump’s immigration orders, the law is clear.”

“This shareholder meeting was more of a validation of Howard Schultz’s liberal political agenda than a report to the company’s investors,” said Danhof. “Large portions were devoted to self-congratulation for promoting social justice than how the company is posined to differentiate its products in an increasingly competitive market. There was time for a musical guest, a stacked ‘open forum’ to praise the Starbucks social justice agenda and Howard Schultz pontificating on his vision of America, but very little time for actual company business and questions from shareholders. This was a rally, not a business meeting.”

This is the third National Center appearance at a Starbucks shareholder meeting. In 2016, the National Center presented a shareholder proposal asking the company to protect its employees from penalties at work stemming from their private, legal political activities. In 2014, the National Center commended Schultz for not bowing to the anti-science demands of radical environmental activists seeking to force Starbucks to purge its products of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group – focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. The Starbucks meeting will mark FEP’s fourth shareholder meeting so far in 2017.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:

  • FEP’s highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation’s activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.
  • FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
  • Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEP’s challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
  • FEP’s “Employee Conscience Protection Project” strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.

In 2016, the Free Enterprise Project was featured in the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Drudge Report, the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the Quad City Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others. The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.

Scott Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Students with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement today (March 22) after the Supreme Court released their decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The case addressed whether or not the school district provided a free, appropriate public education to a student with autism. Ranking Member Scott co-lead an amicus brief to the Court with Senator Patty Murray last fall, citing the extensive legislative history showing congressional intent to provide a meaningful benefit to students with disabilities.

“I am encouraged by today’s Supreme Court decision. The Court rejected the Douglas County School District’s argument that as long as barely more than ‘de minimis’ educational benefit is provided to a student with disabilities, schools are meeting the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The unanimous opinion of the Court clearly states that schools must provide a substantial education benefit to students with disabilities and the individualized education plan must be developed to ensure academic progress. This decision was the result of advocates, parents, and Members of Congress making their voices heard during the arguments earlier this year. The ruling is a great step forward in ensuring that students with disabilities are provided an education that allows them to live independently, be economically self-sufficient, and become active participants in an inclusive society.”

Polis statement on Supreme Court’s decision in support of students with special needs

WASHINGTON: Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., released the following statement today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District rejecting the lower court’s analysis regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and upholding the original intent of the critical legislation:

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed to ensure that every child in America, including those with special needs, receives the great education they deserve,” Polis said. “The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today confirms and clarifies the rights that parents have. This is a win for our public education system and a win for every student with special needs across the country. In order to effectively implement the Supreme Court’s decision, schools need adequate funding. Since IDEA’s passage, Congress has consistently failed to meet its funding commitment to students and the schools that serve them. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that Congress take steps to fully fund IDEA so that schools can meet the “appropriately ambitious” bar set by the courts and truly meet the learning needs of all students.”

Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District centered on Endrew F., an autistic fifth grade student who attended a private school because his parents deemed the public school education system inadequate to meet his learning needs. The parents sued the school district to pay for his private school tuition.

In November, Polis joined several members of Congress in filing an amicus brief in support of Endrew F.

Rep. Jared Polis serves the Second Congressional District of Colorado, which consists of several Front Range and Western Slope communities. In Congress, Polis is on the Committee on Rules, Committee on Education and the Workforce, Committee on Ethics, and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. In addition, he is the top Democrat on the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee and a member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee.

Before serving in Congress, Polis was the Chair of the Colorado State Board of Education, and the founder and former superintendent of the New America School system for new immigrants – as well as the Academy for Urban Learning for homeless and at-risk youth.

Polis is the founder of several startups and tech companies, including ProFlowers.com and Techstars, a startup accelerator. He has been named an “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst and Young.

Portman, Feinstein, Stivers, Loebsack Introduce Bill to Help Homeless Children and Youth

Senators Portman and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Tuesday (March 14) introduced the Homeless Children and Youth Act to amend the definition of homelessness used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) so that more American children who are vulnerable can receive services they need. Representatives Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The amended definition would simply align the HUD definition of homelessness, which is used to verify eligibility for homeless assistance programs, with the definition used to verify eligibility for other federal assistance programs like the National School Lunch Program.

Taking this step would reduce widespread confusion about eligibility for federal homeless programs and increase access to them. Specifically, children living in motels and doubled-up in households with acquaintances would finally be recognized as homeless by HUD.

“Persistent poverty robs children of the security and stability they deserve,” said Senator Portman. “Our common-sense reforms will open up access to federal assistance programs for thousands of homeless children and youth. Washington has to ensure that it is playing the right role in helping these vulnerable children, and this bill is a step in the right direction.”

Portman, Brown Make Bipartisan Push for Trump U.S. Trade Rep. Nominee Robert Lighthizer

Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced Robert Lighthizer, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative, to the Senate Finance Committee.

If confirmed, Lighthizer will play a key role in forming U.S. trade policy and representing the U.S. in cases against foreign countries that cheat on our trade laws. Portman and Brown have pledged to work with Lighthizer if confirmed to help boost Ohio’s steel industry.

“Mr. Lighthizer brings decades of experience to the table, much of it helping to ensure that American workers aren’t hurt by foreign trade cheats,” said Portman. “As a former United States Trade Representative, I know that the position is critical to our efforts to level the playing field for American workers and to ensure that we have open markets abroad to grow jobs here at home. Mr. Lighthizer is well-equipped for the task, and I look forward to seeing him succeed as our next Trade Representative.”

Portman and Brown have worked to give domestic industries the ability to fight unfair trade practices. In June 2015, Portman and Brown’s Leveling the Playing Field Act was signed into law, ushering in the most significant changes to trade remedy law since 2002.

Portman Presses Army Corps for Answers on Protecting Lake Erie and Flood Control Analyses

Portman, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, issued the following statement after meeting with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lieutenant Colonel Adam Czekanski, who heads the Corps’ Buffalo District, which includes northern Ohio:

“We’ve made good progress in our efforts to protect Lake Erie over the past several years, but there is much more work to be done. A key component of that effort is to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers dredges the Port of Cleveland and disposes of the dredged material in a responsible way. I told Lieutenant Colonel Czekanski that while I’m pleased they began the dredging last fall they must continue to ensure that the harbor is dredged as necessary for safe and efficient ship passage.

“I also made clear that the Corps’ must continue to cooperate with the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations regarding the current investigation, including a review of the Corps’ responses to my requests for documents and information. Our investigation into reports that the Corps cut its own budget as an excuse to dump contaminated sediment from the Port of Cleveland into Lake Erie is ongoing, and we will continue to review the Corps’ actions in this matter.”

Additionally, Senator Portman has worked with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) to push the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a flood risk management plan to prevent flooding from the Blanchard River. However, because the Corps was unable to complete the study in a timely manner, the city and county decided to transition to a non-federal project. A review of the Corps’ preliminary study revealed discrepancies in the Corps’ data and analyses. Senator Portman had this to say following the meeting:

“I also asked the Corps to explain the discrepancies found in its analyses of a flood risk management plan for the Blanchard River in Findlay, Ohio. Flooding of the Blanchard River has caused tens of millions of dollars in damages in the past. We must ensure that a flood management plan prevents these losses in the future. I asked the Corps to work with the city and county on any Corps permits that will be necessary to implement a flood risk management plan.”

Portman, Peters & Stabenow Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Great Lakes Funding

Senators Portman, Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on Wednesday (March 15) introduced bipartisan legislation to spur Great Lakes funding and research efforts and help support effective fishery management decisions. The Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act gives the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the legislative authority to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industry. Despite holding one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, the Great Lakes science program does not have the same funding authorization as science centers on saltwater coasts, and this legislation will close the resource gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers across the country.

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, critically important to both our environment and our economy,” said Senator Portman, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “By authorizing the USGS’s Great Lakes Science Center for the first time, we are prioritizing the research on fish populations and invasive species used by the Great Lakes states as well as Canada to support the health and growth of our $7 billion fishing industry. This bill will ensure we have the resources to help protect the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

ICYMI Toledo Blade Portman Op-Ed: “Protect Lake Erie and Keep Progress Going”

In Friday’s (March 17) Toledo Blade, Senator Portman wrote an op-ed detailing his efforts to protect and preserve Lake Erie. For example, Portman has fought to protect funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from cuts proposed by the Obama administration. In his op-ed, which follows Thursday’s news that the new administration has proposed to eliminate funding for the GLRI, Portman says that the GLRI is necessary to keep progress going on efforts to improve the health of Lake Erie and the tourism, fishing, and recreation that surrounds it:

“GLRI helps Ohio preserve the treasure of Lake Erie. I’m going to keep fighting for the funding we need, just as I have in the past. After several years of progress in protecting Lake Erie, we cannot afford to go backward.”

On Social Media:

Protect Lake Erie and Keep Progress Going

Lake Erie is a treasure for Ohio, providing 3 million Ohioans with drinking water and hundreds of thousands of Ohioans with good jobs in our billion-dollar fishing industry and the broader tourism industry. About 7 million people visit Lake Erie every year, spending nearly $13 billion in Ohio.

I am proud to be co-chair, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) of the Senate’s Great Lakes Task Force, a bipartisan group of senators who advocate for policies that protect the Great Lakes.

During my six years in the U.S. Senate, I have authored a number of bills that President Obama signed into law to protect our lake, including a law to prioritize funding to fight the harmful algal blooms that caused half a million people in Toledo to lose their drinking water in August of 2014.

(“Protect Lake Erie and Keep Progress Going,” Rob Portman. Toledo Blade. March 17, 2017)

BROWN APPLAUDS FINAL STEP TOWARD DAYTON BECOMING OFFICAL HOME OF VA HISTORY CENTER

Brown Pushed for Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center to Host VA History Center since 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 22, following actions by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officially established the National Veterans Affairs History Center at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). A representative of Brown’s office will attend the Memorandum of Agreement signing ceremony today in Dayton, which empowers the VA and community partners to start staffing, fundraising, and developing the Center’s operations and facilities.

“All Ohioans should be proud Dayton will be home to the National VA History Center, and I join the Dayton community and Ohio veterans in celebrating this huge honor today,” said Brown. “The Dayton VA Medical Center has a distinguished 150-year history serving Ohio veterans and now people from around the country will come to the Miami Valley to learn about those who’ve served. This is a big day for Ohioans and all those who’ve worked to bring this center to Dayton.”

Community partners at today’s ceremony will include: the City of Dayton, Montgomery County, Dayton Development Coalition, American Veterans Heritage Center, Greater Miami Valley MyVeteran Engagement Board, Dayton History, and the Dayton Foundation. This action is the final step toward the History Center becoming a reality.

In January, Brown secured a commitment from VA Secretary David Shulkin to uphold the Memorandum of Agreement placing the VA History Center at the Dayton VAMC. Brown has also written to the VA in support of locating the Archives in Dayton – which is home to one of the nation’s largest Air Force bases and one of the original U.S. veteran’s facilities – and has continuously called for Dayton to house the Archives in talks with former VA Secretaries Robert McDonald and Eric Shinseki.

A timeline of Brown’s efforts calling for the VA National Archives, now the National Veterans Affairs History Center to be placed in Dayton are below:

July 2010: Brown Leads Ohio Delegation in Letter to then-VA Secretary Shinseki

September 2010: During Meeting, Brown Urges then-VA Secretary Shinseki to Place VHA Archives in Dayton

July 2012: Brown Writes Letter to then-VA Secretary Shinseki on Expediting and Establishing Construction of VA Archives in Dayton

February 2014: During Meeting, Brown Continues Call for Locating the VHA Archives in Dayton

April 2016: Following Brown Action, Secretary McDonald Announces that VA Will Place National Archives in Dayton

January 2017: Brown Presses Trump’s VA Nominee on Administration’s Hiring Freeze and Plans to Privatize Veterans’ Health Care in Advance of Wednesday’s Nomination Hearing

The VA History Center will complement the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson – the world’s oldest and largest museum of military aviation – and will become the anchor of Dayton’s West Third Street “Corridor of Innovation,” which includes a Wright brothers’ bicycle shop, the home of African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, the Wright brothers’ airplane factory, and a building that was part of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. The VA National Archives could also work seamlessly with nearby Wright State University, with its nationally recognized Graduate Program in Historical and Archival Administration.

ICYMI: GROUNDBREAKING HRC SURVEY OF 50,000+ YOUNG PEOPLE REVEALS TROUBLING POST-ELECTION SPIKE IN BULLYING, HARASSMENT

The online survey — believed to be the largest ever of its kind — reflected responses of tens of thousands of young people ages 13-18 revealing the deeply damaging fallout the November election has had on youth across the United States.

Seventy percent of respondents have witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment since the election, with racial bias the most common motive cited. More than a quarter of LGBTQ youth said they have been personally bullied or harassed since Election Day — compared to 14 percent of non-LGBTQ youth — with transgender young people most frequently targeted.

Additionally, Hispanic and Latinx respondents were 20 percent more likely than other youth to report having been personally bullied, with harassment targeting both immigrant and nonimmigrant communities.

HRC President Chad Griffin: “Whether the threats come in their schools or from those holding the country’s highest offices, no young person should be bullied or made to feel unsafe. The alarming results of this groundbreaking survey underscore our fears about the damaging effect the recent election is having on our nation’s youth, and serve as a call to action to all of us committed to helping our young people thrive in an inclusive and supportive society.”

Tell Your Senators: EPA Nominee Is a Disaster for Parks

Urge your senators to oppose Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator!

Dear Friend of the National Parks,

I write to you today from the congressional hearing on President-elect Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Scott Pruitt is no friend to the conservation community, but I was especially troubled to hear him say this in the hearing:

“The role of a regulator is to make things regular.”

What is regular about Glacier National Park losing its glaciers or Joshua Tree National Park losing its Joshua trees? What is becoming regular — thanks to climate change — is dangerous for national parks.

Our parks need an EPA administrator who is committed to combatting one of the greatest threats facing our parks. A nominee like Pruitt who is skeptical of climate science and has actively worked against protections for our parks’ air and water is not the right person to lead the EPA.

Together we must work to oppose this nominee so President-elect Trump can name someone who has worked to protect the environment, not one who actively works to harm it.

Take Action: Urge your senators to oppose Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator.

The EPA is tasked with enforcing environmental laws that ensure national parks have the clearest air and cleanest water in the country. The agency should not be led by someone with a history of actively working to undermine the very mission, science and values it is tasked to uphold.

Join NPCA in urging your senators to oppose Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator.

Sincerely,

Theresa Pierno

President and CEO

With the tax deadline drawing near, the personal-finance website WalletHub followed up on its 2017 Tax Rates by State report with an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States to determine how much those with the lowest tax rates lean on Uncle Sam compared with those paying the highest.

In order to identify which states most and least depend on federal support, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states across three key metrics: return on taxes paid to the federal government; federal funding as a share of state revenue; and share of federal jobs.

Most Federally Dependent States\Least Federally Dependent States

1 Kentucky/ 41 New Hampshire

2 Mississippi/ 42 Connecticut

3 New Mexico/ 43 Massachusetts

4 Alabama/ 44 Nevada

5 West Virginia/ 45 Kansas

6 South Carolina/ 46 California

7 Montana/ 47 Illinois

8 Tennessee/ 48 New Jersey

9 Maine/ 49 Minnesota

10 Indiana/ 50 Delaware

Key Stats

  • With an average dependency rank of 20.10, Red States are altogether more reliant on federal funding than Blue States, which ranked 33.65 on average. (The lower the rank, the more dependent the state.)
  • There is a 67 percent correlation between a state’s federal dependency and its per-capita GDP. That means the least wealthy states tend to receive the most federal support.
  • Illinois is the fourth least federally dependent state, making sense of the fact that it has the highest tax rates in the nation. On the flip side, Delaware is the most federally dependent state and, as can also be expected from that rank, pays the second lowest tax rates.

Senate Passes Transportation Budget

$7.8 Billion Bill Directs More Funding to Improving

Local Roads and Bridges

COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate passed legislation today (March 22) investing $7.8 billion to fund the construction and maintenance of the state’s transportation system. The bill also enhances safety, promotes commerce and puts tens of thousands of Ohioans to work.

“This bill makes critical investments in infrastructure, improving roads and bridges throughout the state of Ohio,” said Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). “The bill also makes improvements in government efficiency and includes key changes to make Ohio a more attractive place to do business.”

Passed by the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support, House Bill 26 provides funding for the Ohio Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety, Public Works Commission and Development Services Agency.

“This legislation affects all Ohioans, our communities and our economy, and I’m proud of the bipartisan work we accomplished in the Senate,” said Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) Chair of the Senate Transportation, Commerce and Workforce Committee. “Our priorities were to ensure safe and efficient transportation for our citizens, enhance public transit funding and send additional funds to local governments for the maintenance of our local roads and bridges.”

Among the bill’s provisions included in the Senate-passed version:

  • Additional Funding to Local Governments: Allocates an additional $48 million in funding over the biennium from the existing motor fuel tax revenue to counties and municipalities for the improvement of local roads and bridges. This is above the $124 million proposed by the Administration.
  • Maintaining Ohio’s Bridges: Reauthorizes the Ohio Bridge Partnership Program which is a construction initiative designed to provide resources for county bridge projects.
  • Bringing Business Back to Ohio: Reduces the registration fee for high-volume, commercial vehicle fleets, encouraging this business to stay in Ohio, resulting in more job opportunities and economic development in Ohio’s trucking and commercial vehicle industry. It also modernizes and streamlines the current registration process.
  • Enhanced Consumer Protections: Requires any entity other than the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to use a prominent disclaimer about fees charged for services that are already provided by authorized local registrars.
  • Increasing Efficiency: Allows townships and municipal corporations to enter into agreements to share services as it relates to maintenance, repair and the improvement of their roads by creating joint road districts.
  • More Funding for Public Transit: At least $33 million per year will be invested in public transit options across the state. The bill also directs an additional $15 million from an existing emissions settlement towards public transit vehicles powered by clean energy.

House Bill 26 now proceeds to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

Today in the Ohio Senate

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Ohio Senate will consider the following resolution and legislation during today’s session, beginning at 1:30 p.m.:

Honoring Ohio’s Military Children and Families: Senators Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) and Lou Terhar (R-Green Township) will offer a resolution honoring children of military families in the state of Ohio for their sacrifices as loved ones are deployed while serving in the Armed Forces. The resolution recognizes the month of April as the “Month of the Military Child.”

Strengthening Penalties for Violent Offenses: Sponsored by Senator Bob Hackett (R-London), Senate Bill 20 would impose harsher mandatory penalties against offenders who cause permanent disabling harm to their victims. The legislation is named in honor of Destiny Shepherd, of Springfield, who suffered permanent brain damage when she was only 16 months old after being violently shaken and thrown against a wall while under the supervision of her mother’s boyfriend.

Providing Defendants Access to Records: Senate Bill 33, sponsored by Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township), clarifies that law enforcement officials may disclose information to a defendant from the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) in a criminal case. Privacy laws with regard to LEADS made it unclear whether law enforcement could disclose this information.

Improving Fiscal Recovery Pathways for Local Governments: Sponsored by Senator Lou Terhar (R-Green Township), Senate Bill 88 strengthens Local Government Fiscal Distress Commission laws, striking a balance between local involvement and constructive oversight.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/04/web1_senate-clipart-political-parties-2-3.jpg
BACK & FORTH

Staff Reports