Bid to ban state funds for abortions tests open Oregon laws
By GILLIAN FLACCUS
Monday, October 29
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Teenage girls in Oregon don’t need their parents’ consent to end an unwanted pregnancy, women in the country illegally have coverage for the procedure and private insurers will soon be required to cover the full cost of an abortion under a new law.
Oregon has the least restrictive laws on abortion access in the U.S., making it a political standard-bearer for the abortion rights movement. But a dozen years after voters last rejected a measure to reduce women’s ability to get an abortion, a question on the Nov. 6 ballot is asking a new generation to amend the Oregon Constitution to ban the use of state funding for abortion.
If Measure 106 passes, low-income women insured by Oregon’s Medicaid program would pay out of pocket for the procedure. Its language also would likely mean public employees — such as teachers, government officials, firefighters and police — would no longer receive abortion coverage through insurance.
The emergence of the ballot measure amid an especially divisive U.S. political climate — and on the heels of rightward shift of the U.S. Supreme Court — has alarmed abortion rights advocates.
Opponents have labeled the measure a backdoor ban on abortion and say it targets the state’s poorest residents, who would have to pay $400 to $600 for the procedure without coverage from the Oregon Health Plan.
“In many ways, Oregon is the North Star when it comes to reproductive rights and abortion access, and if we, in this election, were to lose, it would be incredibly emboldening to the anti-abortion movement,” said Grayson Dempsey, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon.
“It’s really scary to me to know that we have one of the most serious threats to abortion in Oregon in my lifetime.”
Those supporting the measure say it’s not an attack on abortion but an attempt to give Oregon residents a say in how their tax dollars are spent after years with no referendums on the issue.
Voters rejected similar funding bans in 1978 and 1986. A measure requiring parental notification before a minor’s abortion failed in 2006, when today’s newest voters were in grade school.
“I’m 24 and so I haven’t actually ever been able to vote on something like this before. There is a huge, new crop of voters who haven’t had a chance to vote on where their tax dollars are going,” said Nichole Bentz, a spokeswoman for Measure 106. “We’re not banning abortion at all. We’re just talking about who’s paying for abortions.”
The federal government bans Medicaid funding of abortions, and a majority of states follow that lead. But Oregon is one of 17 states that uses its own tax dollars to fund abortions for women who are eligible for Medicaid.
It’s also the only state where no additional restrictions on abortion access have been added by voters or state lawmakers since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the procedure in 1973, Dempsey said.
In the last year, about 3,600 women have had abortions paid for by state Medicaid at a cost of $2 million.
In Oregon, where voting is done entirely by mail, voters have their ballots, and many have already turned them in.
Despite the state’s track record of rejecting limits to abortion access, the measure is being closely watched.
“We are actually a purple state. We are not red; we are not blue,” said Gerry O’Scannlain, a retired business executive. “And I’m very profoundly aware of that because I’ve lived here 49 years, and I’ve seen it ebb and flow.”
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LCV Action Fund Endorses Ken Harbaugh for Congress
Washington, D.C. – The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund, which works to elect candidates who will support sound environmental policies, announced today its endorsement of Ken Harbaugh for Congress in Ohio’s 7th Congressional District.
“Ken Harbaugh is committed to protecting clean air and clean water for all,” said LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld. “We are excited to endorse his campaign and look forward to working with him to invest in Ohio’s clean energy economy and bring sustainable family-wage jobs to the Buckeye State.”
“My children and I camp in our Ohio parks and we fish together in our Ohio lakes and streams,” said Ken Harbaugh. “The people of this state deserve clean land and air and drinkable water. I firmly believe that we can achieve these goals while building a strong, sustainable economy and bringing good-paying jobs back to Ohio. I’m honored to have the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, and I look forward to safeguarding our state’s natural resources for future generations.”
Ken Harbaugh is a former Navy pilot and Ohioan who believes duty and honor are promises. He grew up in a military family, the son and grandson of Air Force combat pilots. When it was his turn, Ken joined the Navy where he flew reconnaissance missions in the Middle East and off of North Korea. Following his naval service, he earned his law degree and co-founded a nonprofit to empower military men and women to keep serving in their communities. Ken is the recent President of Team Rubicon Global, a disaster relief organization that has helped train over 50,000 veterans to deploy in emergency response teams in Ohio and around the world. Ken is not a politician. He’s a public servant who believes in country over party, service above self, and opportunity for all Ohioans. In Congress, Ken will work with anyone from either party to help people with pre-existing conditions, to bring good-paying jobs back to his state, and to ensure that Ohio’s natural resources are protected for future generations.
About LCV Action Fund
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund, the connected federal political action committee (PAC) of the League of Conservation Voters, works to elect candidates who will implement sound environmental laws and policies, and defeat those who stand in the way of progress. Since the 1994 election cycle, LCVAF has helped elect and re-elect 74 U.S. senators and 331 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Over the last several years, our efforts have also helped elevate climate change and clean energy as critical issues in key elections.
Opinion: Voters Consider Energy Price Hikes in Arizona, Nevada, Washington
By H. Sterling Burnett
Voters in Arizona, Nevada and Washington state will soon decide if they want to pay more for less reliable electricity.
Progressive California billionaire Tom Steyer is trying to take California’s energy policies on the road. California energy prices are among the highest in the country, and Golden State residents suffer more non-disaster-related blackouts and brownouts than any other state. In a vain effort to control the weather 100 years into the future, California has adopted policies that restrict fossil-fuel use and severely limit residents’ energy choices. The result: high energy prices and unreliable electricity that works only when the sun and wind cooperate.
At a time when residents and businesses are fleeing California to seek more affordable energy and homes, California is now trying to export its misguided energy policies beyond its borders.
This November, voters in Arizona and Nevada will consider ballot proposals that would mandate an increase in the proportion of electricity generated from renewable power sources to 50 percent by 2030. Both measures are bankrolled by Steyer.
Additionally, Washington state voters, for the second time in three years, will consider a ballot initiative to impose the nation’s first tax on carbon-dioxide emissions.
The plain truth is, if voters approve these initiatives they will be paying higher prices for energy with little or no environmental benefit. Numerous studies have revealed that states with renewable energy mandates have experienced increased energy prices. The Brookings Institution found replacing conventional power with wind power raises electricity prices by 50 percent. Even worse, replacing conventional power with solar power triples electricity costs. In short, the higher the mandate, the higher the costs.
Europe is further along the renewable energy path than the United States, and the results are telling. Despite a 25 percent increase in wind power and 6 percent growth in solar over the past decade, carbon emissions actually increased in 2017, by 1.8 percent, due to the fact that “idling fossil fuel plants must be quickly brought online when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, and, just like cars in traffic, idling engines produce more carbon emissions,” as reported by Nevada’s Sparks Tribune. Meanwhile, electricity costs across the European Union have increased by 23 percent during the past decade.
The same is true in the United States. Under its current renewable power mandate, Arizona produces 7 percent of its energy from wind and solar, an amount required to increase to 15 percent by 2025. The Energy Information Administration reports that meeting the current 7 percent requirement has already added $304 a year to the average Arizonan’s electric bill — meeting the 50 percent standard proposed in Steyer’s ballot initiative could cost Arizona residents an additional $2,100 annually.
The results are the same for Nevada. Over the last five years, the average Nevadan saw his or her electric bill rise by 11 percent, despite that nationally rates fell on average by 1 percent — and declined even more in states without green-energy mandates. This is due in part to Nevada’s existing renewable energy mandate.
A 2013 study commissioned by the Nevada Policy Research Institute showed that simply meeting the current requirement (utilities get 25 percent of the electric power they supply by 2025) would likely raise power prices by an additional 11 percent. This would also cost the state more than 3,000 jobs. Requiring 50 percent renewable energy just five years later, after the low hanging “inexpensive” power switching as already been accomplished, will make rates and job losses skyrocket even further.
Washington state’s carbon-dioxide tax would impose a penalty of $15 per metric ton on carbon-dioxide emissions, rising $2 per ton annually until the state meets its goal of reducing emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels. Evergreen State auditors found residents would pay approximately $2.2 billion more in taxes during its first five years of implementation, with gasoline prices likely to rise by 13 cents per gallon and the costs of home-heating oil likely to rise by 15 cents per gallon in 2020, the year the tax would take effect.
The higher energy prices and increased energy instability will be for naught with regards to preventing global warming. The United States is already reducing its emissions without such draconian policies, but even if it weren’t, nothing done in the United States can prevent a global rise in emissions because developing countries are adding huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they industrialize.
Only the IRS, politicians and climate fanatics could love these high-cost, no-return ballot initiatives. Let’s hope Arizona, Nevada and Washington state residents see through the green smokescreen the ballot initiatives’ advocates are emitting.
ABOUT THE WRITER
H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Opinion: Politicians Sold Small Business a Bill of Goods on the Tax Law
By Frank Knapp Jr.
Once again, politicians promised economic glory to small-business owners and the public on tax reform, but instead delivered a deficit that has exploded by 17 percent with the bill coming due for all of us.
Late last year, in just two months, President Trump and the Republican Congress rushed through the biggest tax changes in decades. Consequently, the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which gave away $1.5 trillion, wasn’t thoroughly vetted by tax experts nor subjected to public hearings and bipartisan debate.
The result was a complicated law that gave a 40 percent tax rate cut to corporations and large tax cuts to the wealthy. It led to artificially inflated stocks when big corporations used most of their $1 trillion windfall to buy back their own shares — causing many to predict a recession on the horizon.
We now have a giant jump in the federal budget deficit, which reached $779 billion in the fiscal year that ended September 30. By all accounts, this is largely due to corporate tax revenue being down by a third. The deficit is expected to top $1 trillion next year.
What we didn’t get from the tax law was the promised $4,000 income boost per household, more and better paying jobs, a simplified tax code and higher federal tax revenues to pay for the tax cuts.
Wage growth has stagnated, and any wage increase is wiped away by growing inflation. As a result, many homeowners are considering borrowing against their equity to keep up with routine household bills. Low unemployment in today’s economy is driving interest rates higher on credit cards, car loans and mortgage rates. Yet 40 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and can’t cover a unexpected $400 expense.
Small businesses are doing well, but not because of the small, temporary and confusing benefits they received from the tax law. The IRS has yet to finalize guidelines to let small businesses know what benefits might apply to them. As a result, the agency is being hammered by complaints from rental real estate owners, small banks, CPA’s, veterinarians and other small businesses. Compliance with the new tax law is projected to cost a small-business owner up to $2,000, eliminating any tax benefits received.
As for the law giving small businesses more money to hire and give raises, according to a ZipBooks survey of its 100,000 customers, the tax law had no impact on the hiring plans for 88 percent of small businesses. “Clearly our customers are not boosting their hiring plans due to the tax law, as many lawmakers had promised would happen,” said Jaren Nichols, ZipBooks’ Co-founder and CEO.
That brings us back to the big promise that never came to fruition.
The White House and congressional Republicans promised that a top-down approach of hefty tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would fuel economic growth to the point that the federal treasury would be awash in more revenue than necessary to pay for the tax cuts. The tax law’s supporters cheered on reports that government revenue lethargically ticked up 0.4 percent over the last fiscal year. But that growth came in the final three months of 2017, before the tax law went into effect.
Now leaders on both sides of the aisle are saying we must bring down this unsustainable deficit. Republicans want to cut spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But in addition to harming the health and welfare of the most vulnerable Americans, this approach would take money out of our economy that helps small businesses.
Democrats are proposing paring back the 40 percent corporate tax rate cut and using the funds for tax credits for working families and infrastructure projects. These measures would create jobs and consumer demand needed for small-business communities across the country.
It’s time voters head to the ballot box and let politicians know they will not be played for fools. Only a new Congress unafraid to revisit the tax law will be able to put its fiscal house in order, bring down the federal deficit and promote a sustainable economy built from the ground up.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Frank Knapp Jr. is the co-chair of Business for Responsible Tax Reform and President/CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
2018 teen driving survey finds parents need to do better job
By Insure.com – Last updated: Oct. 23, 2018
Foster City, CA (Oct 23, 2018) –Nearly one-quarter of parents aren’t enforcing teen driving safety laws for their children, according to a new Insure.com teen driver survey.
Insure.com commissioned a survey of nearly 1,000 parents of teen drivers asking if they enforce Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, and if not, why, which laws they allow their teens to disregard, as well as how familiar they are with GDL limits. Additionally, the survey also reveals which types of cars parents prefer for their teens and whether or not parents are comfortable with teens using driverless vehicles.
GDL laws put limits on teen drivers, for instance by restricting nighttime driving and the number and age of passengers that can be in the car. The Governors Highway Safety Association says GDL laws are key to keeping teen drivers safe.
“Teenage drivers have the highest crash risk per mile driven, and car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, so it’s extremely important for these novice drivers to adhere to the requirements of a graduated license and gain experience with some oversight,” says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com. “Teens overestimate their abilities and parents should be the ones to recognize that their teen driver needs limitations and enforce them, otherwise they are putting the health of their children at risk. At the very least they may end up with a crashed car and years of paying higher car insurance rates.”
This survey found that five percent of parents never enforce GDL laws, while 17 percent said they sometimes don’t enforce these laws. This equals approximately 22 percent of parents who are NOT fully enforcing these laws to protect their children.
Why wouldn’t parents always enforce these laws?
It turns out that it may not be totally the parents fault. According to the survey, 33 percent of parents said that their teen doesn’t always listen to them. So even though parents may be trying to enforce these laws, teens aren’t listening.
“Another 29 percent of parents said they don’t know the GDL laws, which is troubling to hear, because the GHSA has told us that GDL laws are the most the most effective countermeasure its seen that contributed to the decline in teen driver fatalities,” says Gusner. ”Parents are the ones typically allowing the teen to drive a household car and pay for the teen’s insurance, it seems like a smart idea to know what rules your teenager should be following when learning to operate a vehicle.”
Here are the results for why parents may not be enforcing GDL laws:
- 33% said the teen doesn’t always listen to them.
- 29% said they don’t know GDL laws.
- 25% said they don’t think GDL laws are fair.
- 23% said they pick and choose what laws their child follows.
- 20% said the teen’s friends always need transportation and so it’s hard to say no.
- 6% said GDL laws aren’t necessary.
What laws are being broken?
The survey found that nearly half of the respondents said that they don’t enforce any cell phone restrictions while their teens are driving. This was only slightly higher than the percentage of parents who let their teens drive with friends.
“It’s disconcerting that nearly half of the parents that don’t fully enforce GDL rules don’t impose cell phone restrictions when distracted driving is such a hot topic due to the amount of accidents it is causing,” says Gusner. “It seems many parents need to pay more attention to restrictions that cause distractions – phones, electronics of any type, and passengers – to help train their novice driver to be safe, defensive drivers – not distracted ones.”
The survey showed that
- 49% don’t enforce cell phone restrictions.
- 45% don’t enforce passenger restrictions.
- 36% don’t enforce time restrictions.
- 30% don’t enforce electronics ban.
- 18% don’t enforce supervised driving hours (i.e., they fudge the hours).
- 7% allow their teen to drive alone though it’s against the law.
While this survey focused on teen driving, the Insure.com survey also found that more than 50 percent of parents text while their teen is at the wheel. Additionally, while nearly a quarter of parents don’t fully enforce the GDL laws, many parents plan to continue enforcing laws after their teen is no longer restricted by GDL laws.
Insure.com provides a comprehensive array of information on auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance, and life insurance. The site offers an extensive library of originally authored insurance articles and decision-making tools that are not available from any other single source, including its Best Insurance Companies rankings, based on a survey of more than 3,000 policyholders, and its Insurance Advisor tool, which helps consumers identify gaps in home, health, auto and life insurance coverage . For more information, please visit Insure.com.