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Missouri: House Bill 130: Regulate ride sharing services

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 130, Regulate ride sharing services: Passed 140 to 16 in the state House on January 26, 2017

 

To establish a regulatory framework that would enable “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft to operate in this state, including a preemption on local government regulations or bans.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri House Bill 130!

 

Nevada Senate Bill 70: Dispose of items left at veterans memorials

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Nevada, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 70, Dispose of items left at veterans memorials: Passed 21 to 0 in the state Senate on February 14, 2017

 

To allow the Director of the Department of Veterans Services to transfer abandoned or unclaimed property, such as those items occasionally left at shrines or memorials, to entities such as the Nevada State Museum, the Nevada Historical Society, and any other governmental agency or nonprofit entity. The Director must first, however, create and publish a formal policy regarding the transfer, destruction, or other disposal of such
abandoned or unclaimed property.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Nevada Senate Bill 70!

 

New Hampshire Senate Bill 12: Allow concealed pistol carry without a license

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in New Hampshire, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 12, Allow concealed pistol carry without a license: Passed 13 to 10 in the state Senate on January 19, 2017

 

To repeal the requirement to obtain a license to carry a concealed pistol or revolver and to make certain other modifications to state gun laws.

 

Comment below to share what you think of New Hampshire Senate Bill 12!

 

The Veto Battle in Virginia

 

 

How many bills will Governor Terry McAuliffe veto this year?

Governor McAuliffe, a Democrat, is at odds with the Republicans who control the General Assembly. This disagreement flares up in many ways, from the state budget to public statements. However, the most consequential example of the partisan split is seen in the fate of legislation. Last year, the governor vetoed thirty-five bills. He has already started vetoing bills this year. Here are some of the bills that have met the governor’s disapproval:

 

HB 1582 – To allow an active duty military member or a military member who has received an honorable discharge to obtain a concealed handgun permit at the age of 18. Current law allows concealed handgun permits for anyone 21 years of age or older.

 

HB 1578 – To allow a home schooled student to participate in interscholastic programs, such as sports, offered by public schools.

 

HB 1432 – To allow someone to carry a concealed switchblade knife if the person is engaged in a lawful activity that is enhanced by the use of a switchblade.

 

HB 2264 -- To prohibit state funding for organizations that provide abortions (this is mainly aimed at Planned Parenthood). The bill would also deny funding abortions that are not allowed under the Medicaid program, which denies payments for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or a mother’s life being endangered.

 

HB 2198 -- To reinstate a tax credit program for coal production and employment, with a limit of $7.3 million a year. The program would last until 2022. This bill is similar to one that the General Assembly passed last year. That bill, which would have prevented this subsidy program from expiring in 2016, was vetoed by Governor McAuliffe.

 

Unless some Democrats decide to vote against McAuliffe, Republicans do not have enough votes to override the governor’s vetoes.

 

What do you think of Gov. McAuliffe’s vetoes? Do you agree with him that these bills should not become law? Or do you think that he is standing in the way of good public policy?

 

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 3: Limit Dismemberment Abortions

 

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Senate Bill 3, Limit Dismemberment Abortions: Passed 32 to 18 in the state Senate on February 8, 2017

 

To impose strict limits on the use of abortions using the technique of dilation and evacuation, or dismemberment, and to ban the use of this technique, with limited exceptions, before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 3!

 

Colorado House Bill 1143: Audit government communications with Medicaid recipients

 

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House Bill 1143, Audit government communications with Medicaid recipients: Passed 63 to 0 in the state House on February 21, 2017

 

To audit correspondence between the government and recipients of Medicaid for readability, understandability, and accuracy.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Colorado House Bill 1143!

 

Michigan House Bill 4001: Cut state income tax rate .2 percent

 

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House Bill 4001, Cut state income tax rate .2 percent: Failed 52 to 55 in the state House on February 23, 2017

 

To cut the state income tax from the current 4.25 percent to 4.05 percent over two years. Twelve Republicans voted 'no' and one Democrat voted 'yes.'

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan House Bill 4001!

 

Iowa House Bill 312: Let motorists leave a car running unattended

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Iowa, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 312, Let motorists leave a car running unattended: Passed 98 to 1 in the state House on February 22, 2017

 

To remove language in state law that forbids motorists from leaving a car running unattended. The law continues to require motorists to engage the parking brake in such circumstances.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Iowa House Bill 312!

 

What’s Up with President Trump’s Budget?

 

 

Defense spending up. Big cuts to social programs. Federal funding for the arts on the chopping block.

 

You may have seen headlines or social media posts that give details about President Trump’s budget. Depending on where you stand, you may be cheering, weeping, or shrugging your shoulders. But what is actually going on with the president’s spending plan?

 

Officially, nothing is going on – yet. A 1990 law requires that the president submit a budget proposal to Congress by early February. Donald Trump has not done so (he wouldn’t be the first president to miss the deadline). In fact, his spokesman says that the president’s budget will be unveiled “later this year.”

 

Right now, the White House has asked agencies to find a way to increase defense spending by $54 billion and cut other spending by an equal amount.  That gives a broad idea of what the president will propose, but it does not give any details about what agencies may be targeted for cuts or what shape those cuts may take.

 

Even after the president submits his budget, this does not mean that his spending plan will go into effect. Under the federal budget procedure, the president submits a budget, but Congress must pass its own budget resolution. The congressional budget resolution may or may not incorporate what the president wants to see happen. Each chamber passes its own resolution, and these two versions must be reconciled by the two chambers.

 

The congressional budget is not even the final spending plan. It is, instead, a detailed outline of what spending should look like. If the resolution recommends changes to mandatory spending programs such as Medicaid and Social Security, Congress must pass those changes. For non-mandated spending, such as on defense or national parks, the congressional budget resolution provides a guide for appropriation committees to allocate actual spending amounts. The budget resolution does set forth special rules for consideration of some items, so it is a useful blueprint for Congress to take on future spending decisions.

 

It should be pointed out that this process is often ignored by Congress. Some years it does not pass any budget resolution. Instead, it simply passes appropriations bills to authorize a certain level of federal spending. We don’t know if that could happen this year. Given that the president is not close to submitting his budget resolution (remember, it was due in early February), chances are good that we’ll see some interesting maneuvers during this year’s budget process.

 

Comment below and share how you think President Trump and Congress should structure the 2017 federal budget!

 

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 166: Ban Deduction of Fees for Union Political Activity

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Pennsylvania, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 166, Ban Deduction of Fees for Union Political Activity: Passed 28 to 22 in the state Senate on February 8, 2017

 

To prohibit governments from deducting money from employees on behalf of unions that the unions will then use for political purposes.

 

 Comment below to share what you think of Pennsylvania Senate Bill 166!

 

Iowa Follows Wisconsin’s Lead on Unions

 

 

The fight over government worker unionization has come to Iowa.

 

Last week, the legislature passed a bill that would limit the power of government employee unions. Here is how VoteSpotter described the bill:

 

To limit the scope of collective bargaining for union of government workers, require ongoing elections of employees to keep a union in place, and prohibit the government from collecting dues or political contributions for a union. Some parts of this act do not apply to public safety employees.

 

With Republicans controlling the legislature and the governorship, this bill faced little serious opposition on its way into law.

 

Republicans in the Hawkeye State were inspired by legislation from Wisconsin in 2011. That was when Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in that state’s legislature enacted a bill, known as Act 10, to limit collective bargaining for government workers over fierce pushback by union and activists. By contrast, the Iowa legislation did not feature nearly the heated theatrics and political wrangling as occurred in Wisconsin.

 

What will happen in the wake of this bill’s enactment in Iowa? It may face a court challenge, as Act 10 did. If courts uphold the law, then Iowa will likely see a decline in government union membership, given the experience of Wisconsin. One analysis concluded that Act 10 produced $5 billion in savings for Wisconsin taxpayers over five years, so something similar could occur in Iowa, too. In fact, it seems that the effects of Act 10 are still being sorted out in Wisconsin, so it may take Iowa years to see the full impact of this legislation.

 

What do you think of this type of legislation? Are government unions too powerful? Or are legislators on the wrong track in limiting collective bargaining for government employees?

 

Updates to Missouri Senate Bill 19: Adopt a "right to work" law

 

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Missouri, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 19, Adopt a "right to work" law: Passed 21 to 12 in the state Senate on January 26, 2017 and 100 to 59 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To prohibit employers from requiring employees to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment.

 

Senate Bill 19, Submit 'right-to-work' law to statewide voter referendum: Failed 12 to 21 in the state Senate on January 23, 2017 and 64 to 91 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To submit to the voters in November of 2018 a referendum to prohibit employers from requiring employees to join or financially support a labor union as a condition of employment.

 

Senate Bill 19, Limit union ability to delay right-to-work law in workplace: Failed 10 to 20 in the state Senate on January 25, 2017 and 60 to 98 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To delete language from the new Missouri right-to-work law that defines any changes made to an existing collective bargaining agreement as essentially making it a new agreement. The law becomes effective in a particular workplace only after its current union contract expires. In some states that recently enacted right-to-work laws, public employee unions and employers claimed to make themselves exempt by extending the duration of existing contracts. Missouri's law prohibits doing that here, and the amendment would have removed that language.

 

Senate Bill 19, Change the penalty for violating right-to-work law: Failed 12 to 20 in the state Senate on January 24, 2017

 

To change the penalty for violations of a Missouri right-to-work law from a "class C misdemeanor" to an "infraction" (which means no threat of jail or prison).

 

Comment below to share what you think of Missouri Senate Bill 19!

 

Iowa House Bill 291: Limit Collective Bargaining for Unionized Government Workers and Require Ongoing Recertification of Unions

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Iowa, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 291, Limit collective bargaining for unionized government workers and require ongoing recertification of unions: Passed 29 to 21 in the state Senate and 53 to 47 in the state House on February 16, 2017

 

To limit the scope of collective bargaining for union of government workers, require ongoing elections of employees to keep a union in place, and prohibit the government from collecting dues or political contributions for a union. Some parts of this act do not apply to public safety employees.

 

Also of note: Legislators in both chambers attempted to 'kill' the bill before its passage - 

 

Senate Bill 213, To kill a bill that would limit the scope of collective bargaining in government: Failed 21 to 29 in the state Senate on February 14, 2017

 

To amend the bill that limits the scope of collective bargaining for government employees by deleting its "enacting clause," effectively killing the bill.

 

House Bill 291, To kill a bill that would limit the scope of collective bargaining in government: Failed 41 to 55 in the state House on February 15, 2017

 

To amend the bill that limits the scope of collective bargaining for government employees, effectively removing its prohibition on collective bargaining for most topics.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Iowa House Bill 213!

 

North Carolina House Bill 7: Earmark share of revenue increases to the state's rainy-day fund

 

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in North Carolina, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

North Carolina House Bill 7, Earmark share of revenue increases to the state's rainy-day fund: Passed 110 to 3 in the state House on February 15, 2017

 

To set aside 15 percent of new revenue growth per year in the state saving reserve. That fund currently gets one-fourth of what's left over in state coffers at the end of the fiscal year. The bill would limit the fund's use to avoiding spending cuts if revenue declines, if a court ruling imposes damages against the state, or if there is a state emergency. Also, if a proposed withdrawal is more than 7.5 percent of the last state budget, the bill would require a two-thirds vote of both houses to approve it.

 

Comment below to share what you think of North Carolina House Bill 7!

 

Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 4: Prohibit Using Private Lawyers to Defend Redistricting

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Assembly Resolution 4, Prohibit using private lawyers to defend redistricting: Failed 35 to 62 in the state Assembly

 

To prohibit the legislature from contracting with private legal services to defend legislative redistricting efforts. In January, a federal court found that the legislative districts drawn by the legislature were unconstitutional. This bill would prohibit using tax revenue to pay private-sector attorneys to appeal. This vote was to withdraw the bill from committee to allow the entire Assembly to vote on it.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 4!

 

Virginia House Joint Resolution 549: Recognize Pornography as a Public Health Hazard

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Virginia, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Joint Resolution 549, Recognize Pornography as a Public Health Hazard: Passed 82 to 8 in the state House on February 2, 2017

 

To state that the House recognizes “pornography as leading to individual and societal harms” and that there is a “need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level” regarding pornography.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Virginia House Joint Resolution 549!

 

U.S. Senate Motion 57: Affirm Senator Warren Broke Senate Rules

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in the U.S. Senate, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Motion 57, Affirm Senator Warren broke Senate rules: Passed 49 to 43 in the U.S. Senate on February 7, 2017

 

To uphold the ruling of the chair that Senator Elizabeth Warren broke Senate Rule 19, which prohibits any senator from “imput[ing] to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator." Senator Warren had been reading a letter by Coretta Scott King about Senator Jeff Sessions, whom President Trump had nominated to be Attorney General. The chair had ruled that by reading certain sections of this bill, Sen. Warren had disparaged her colleague, Sen. Sessions.

 

Comment below to share what you think of U.S. Senate Motion 57!

 

Michigan Senate Bill 40: Expand State Subsidies for Particular Companies on State Line

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Michigan, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 40, Expand state subsidies for particular companies on state line: Passed 24 to 14 in the state Senate on February 9, 2017

 

To let particular businesses that are near the state line, and that have been selected by political appointees on a state 'economic development' program board, to each collect up to $10 million in state business subsidies for hiring people who do not live in Michigan.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Michigan Senate Bill 40!

 

Congress Busy Overturning Regulations

 

Updated February 24, 2017

 

Congress has been very busy since it convened in early January. Even before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of Congress were busy writing and voting on legislation. One area is getting a lot of attention from our federal legislators – overturning regulations using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

 

Not only is it unusual for Congress to target a large number of regulations to reject, but using the CRA at all is quite rare. After the Republican sweep in the 1994 election, Congress enacted the CRA in 1996 as part of the “Contract with America.” Its provisions have only been used one time prior to this year. Since January, however, the House of Representatives has considered eight resolutions that would overturn Obama Administration rules. More are on the way.

 

Under the CRA, a majority in Congress has the power to pass a resolution that would undo any rule issued by a federal agency issued within the prior 60 legislative days. The agency is barred from ever again issuing a regulation that is similar to the one rejected. Unlike other legislation, this resolution cannot be filibustered in the Senate. The president must sign the resolution for it to take effect.

 

This year is the first time when party control of Congress and the presidency coincide to make the CRA workable in any significant way. Republican President Trump took office from his Democratic predecessor, whose administration issued a variety of controversial regulations during its final year in office. Last year, members of Congress were out of town a lot, so the threshold of 60 legislative days stretches far back into 2016 to cover numerous regulations issued by the Obama Administration. President Trump has signaled that he is willing to sign regulatory rollback resolutions, so the Republican majority in Congress has an unrivaled opportunity to strike back at Obama-era rules that they don’t like.

 

Stay tuned and check the Regulatory Reform Tracker for weekly updates on Congress' efforts to rollback and overhaul regulations!

 

Gun Control in Virginia

 

The issue of gun control is a hot topic in many states, and Virginia is no exception. With its Republican-dominated legislature, the Commonwealth’s lawmakers have advanced legislation in recent years that would expand the rights of gun owners. This has met some resistance from Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, although the two branches of government have found some common ground on this issue.

 

The beginning of the 2017 legislative session has already seen action on firearms legislation. For the most part, these bills are aimed at expanding the right for Virginians to carry concealed firearms:

 

House Bill 1582, Lower age for concealed handgun permit for military members: Passed 78 to 19 in the state House on January 18, 2017

 

To allow an active duty military member or a military member who has received an honorable discharge to obtain a concealed handgun permit at the age of 18. Current law allows concealed handgun permits for anyone 21 years of age or older.

 

Senate Bill 1362, Allow non-duty military personnel to carry concealed weapons: Passed 22 to 18 in the state Senate on January 24, 2017

 

To allow members of the Virginia National Guard, Virginia Defense Force, Armed Forces of the United States, or Armed Forces Reserves who is on non-duty status to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

 

Senate Bill 1299, Allow concealed carry with protective order: Passed 27 to 13 in the state Senate on January 24, 2017

 

To allow anyone who is protected by a protective order to carry a concealed weapon without a permit for 45 days after the protective order is issued. Only Virginians eligible under state law to carry a concealed weapon would be permitted to do this.

 

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