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Colorado Senate Bill 021

 

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Colorado Senate Bill 021, Use Marijuana Revenue to Subsidize Housing and Services for Mentally Ill Criminals: Passed 35 to 0 in the state Senate on May 10, 2017.

 

To establish a rental housing voucher and supportive services program for released prisoners who have a behavioral or mental health disorder. The money would come from marijuana tax revenue.

 

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Wisconsin Senate Bill 58

 

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Senate Bill 58, Make Carjacking a Specific Crime: Passed 26 to 7 in the state Senate on June 14, 2017.

 

To create the new criminal offense of using force to take a vehicle without the consent of the owner. This crime could be punished by up to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

 

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West Virginia Senate Bill 2006

 

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West Virginia Bill 2006, Expand Penalties for Violation of the Whistleblower Act: Passed 98 to 0 in the state House on February 15, 2017. 

 

To increase maximum fines for employers from $500 to $5000, and in the case of public employers, to create a process to remove a person from public office if they are found to have violated protections in state law for "whistle blowers."

 

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Michigan House Bill 4213

 

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House Bill 4213, Require Court Order to Breathalyze Minor Who Says No: Passed 37 to 0 in the state Senate on June 22, 2017. 

 

To establish that a police officer must get a court order to get a breath test for alcohol from a minor who objects. This is not related to drunk driving or vehicles, but to enforcement of a state law that bans minors from being in possession of alcohol. Recent court cases have suggested that doing this without a court order is unconstitutional.

 

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Florida House Bill 1385

 

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House Bill 1385, Increase Domestic Violence Penalties: Passed 37 to 0 in the state Senate on May 5, 2017.

 

To increase mandatory jail time for guilty domestic violence offenders if they intentionally caused bodily harm or if the violence was committed in the presence of a child 16 years old or younger. This bill requires offenders to attend and complete a 29-week batterer’s intervention program.

 

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Michigan House Bill 4427

 

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House Bill 4427, Regulate Access to Police Body Camera Images: Passed 37 to 0 in the state Senate on June 22, 2017.

 

To establish that police body camera recordings taken in a private place are exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Individuals whose image is captured, owners of property seized or damaged in a crime and some others could still request a copy of the recordings subject to privacy exemptions. Police body camera recordings would have to be kept for at least 30 days, or longer if there is an related investigation.

 

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Colorado House Bill 1288

 

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House Bill 1288, Create Mandatory Jail Terms for Certain DUI Offenders: Passed 34 to 0 in the state House on May 1, 2017. 

 

Under current law, a person who commits a fourth or subsequent DUI offense commits a class 4 felony. If a court sentences the person to probation, the bill requires the court to order as a condition of probation one of two possible punishments: The offender would be required to serve between 90 and 180 days in a county jail, or between 120 days and two years in a county jail under alternative sentencing programs that allow the offender to be imprisoned only for certain purposes. The bill further requires that the offender be required to complete all of the following: between 48 and 120 hours of community service, an alcohol and drug driving safety education program at the offender’s expense, and possibly other conditions of probation.

 

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Pennsylvania Senate Bill 172

 

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Senate Bill 172, Allow Speed Cameras in Some Work Areas: Passed 45 to 3 in the state Senate on 10 July, 2017. 

 

To allow the use of speed cameras in areas where workers are located on the roadway or shoulder areas of a limited-access highway. Anyone who is caught on a speed camera going at least 11 miles an hour over the speed limit would receive a fine of $100.

 

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Nevada Senate Bill 153

 

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Senate Bill 153, Limit the Presumption That Certain Diseases in Police and Firefighters are Work-Related: Passed 36 to 6 in the state Assembly on May 22, 2017.

 

To limit the presumption that heart and lung diseases contracted by police and firefighters are work-related for the purposes of industrial insurance and disability benefits. Under current law, these diseases are presumed to be job-related when contracted by all police or firefighters with certain years of service. The bill would reduce the period of time in which the disease must be diagnosed after leaving the job, restrict the ability of those who use tobacco or do not follow doctors’ recommendations from collecting benefits and limit the benefits paid to those who are diagnosed after retirement to medical benefits only.

 

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Arizona Senate Bill 1071

 

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Senate Bill 1071, Create a System of Provisional Licencing for Ex-Offenders: Passed 56 to 0 in the state Senate on April 4, 2017.

 

To allow, with certain structural protections focused on public safety, for provisional or permanent licencing under the various state occupational licencing laws for former non-violent criminal offenders.

 

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West Virginia House Bill 2099

 

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Senate Bill 2099, Make Leaving the Scene of a Car Crash Involving Death or Injury a Felony.: Passed 96 to 0 in the state House on 17 February, 2017.

 

To make leaving the scene of a car crash crash involving death or personal injury a felony, commonly referred to as "Erin's Law."

 

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Ohio Senate Bill 1

 

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Senate Bill 1, Increased Penalties for Drug Trafficking: Passed 27 to 6 in the state Senate on March 29, 2017.

 

Increases the penalties for drug trafficking and aggravated funding of drug trafficking convictions and, in most cases, drug possession convictions, when the drug involved is a fentanyl-related compound, included expanded mandatory minimum sentences.

 

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Florida House Bill 1239

 

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House Bill 1239, Increase penalty for illegally passing a school bus: Passed 118 to 0 in the state House on April 28, 2017 and 28 to 6 in the state Senate on May 1, 2017

 

To authorize enhanced penalties for failing to stop for a school bus if it causes someone to be injured or killed. In addition to existing penalties the bill would authorize a $1,500 fine, one-year driver license suspension, and additional points added to a driver license record. Additional penalties could include community service, participation in victim’s impact panel sessions and attending a driver improvement course.

 

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U.S. House Bill 1039

 

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House Bill 1039: Allow probation officers to make arrests with no warrants: Passed 220 to 177 in the U.S. House on May 19, 2017

 

To allow a probation officer to arrest someone without a warrant if there is probable cause that the person assaulted or obstructed a probation officer.

 

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U.S. House Bill 115: Increase penalty for killing police

 

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House Bill 115, Increase penalty for killing police: Passed 271 to 143 in the U.S. House on May 18, 2017

 

To make the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder an aggravating factor in death penalty cases. In essence, this bill would increase the chances for people who commit these crimes to receive the death penalty.

 

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Highlights of the First Presidential Debate

 

In the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the candidates clashed over a number of issues, including the economy, race relations, policing, and national security.

 

One of the main themes of the night for Trump was that the U.S. is being held back by bad deals, including trade agreements like NAFTA, defense agreements with nations like Japan, or national security agreements like the one negotiated with Iran over that nation’s nuclear weapons. He said that he would bring his experience as a businessman to the office of president and negotiate better deals for the U.S.

 

Clinton stressed that she is prepared to be president, bolstering her case by focusing on policy specifics. She also made pointed appeals to minority voters and women voters.

 

The two candidates did not hesitate to attack one another. Clinton scored against Trump by going into a lengthy discussion of his refusal to release his tax returns and his questioning of whether President Obama was born in the United States. Trump hit Clinton on her e-mail server scandal. He also attempted to use the experience issue against her, saying that Clinton has been in politics for 30 years but has not used that time to address the problems she is discussing during the campaign.

 

Areas of agreement

 

While the debate mainly consisted of Trump and Clinton pointing out how they differed, there were some areas of agreement. While Trump strongly attacked free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Clinton also took a skeptical view of many trade deals.

 

On gun control, Clinton called for stronger measures to restrict gun sales. One of the proposals she stressed was prohibiting individuals on the no-fly list from being able to purchase firearms. While Trump did not explicitly endorse this idea, he did suggest that he may agree with it.

 

Both Clinton and Trump agreed that the U.S. should concentrate more on cybersecurity issues.

 

Areas of disagreement

 

On the economy, Trump said that he would create jobs in the U.S. by re-negotiating trade agreements, cracking down on companies that invest overseas, lowering taxes so that the wealthy create jobs, and cutting middle class taxes.

 

Clinton laid out a plan for economic growth that consists of creating new government programs for things like paid family leave and college tuition subsidies. She also repeatedly called for raising taxes on the wealthy. She said that Trump’s tax cuts are “trickle down” and will not work, befitting Trump himself, not the American people.

 

On crime, Trump said, “We need law and order.” He vigorously defended the controversial stop-and-frisk practice that came under fire and was halted by a judge in New York City. Clinton said there was an epidemic of gun violence and called for more gun control

 

When it came to national security, Trump blames Obama and Clinton for creating a vacuum that led to ISIS. He said the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil to deprive ISIS of income. Clinton accused Trump of not caring whether other nations obtained nuclear weapons, but Trump countered that he believed nuclear weapons (not global warming) was the single greatest threat to the U.S.

 

On the nuclear issue, Clinton said, “The man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his finger near the nuclear codes…”

 

Their best lines?

 

Clinton: “I have a feeling by the end of this evening I'm going to be blamed for everything that's ever happened.”

Trump: “Why not?”
Clinton: “Why not? Yeah, why not? Just join the debate by saying more crazy things.”

 

Trump: “I have a much better temperament than she does… my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament.”

 

Clinton: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing.”

 

Trump (on who may have hacked the DNC e-mails): “It could have been Russia. It could be China. It could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

 

What do you think?

Do you think Clinton or Trump won the debate? What do you think was their strongest moment against each other?

The Saga of Felon Voting in Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe is determined to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Virginians with felony records. It appears he will get his way prior to Election Day.

He first attempted to do so in April, when he announced a blanket order to restore voting rights to over 200,000 felons, saying, “There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans — we should remedy it.”

Republicans said that the governor was overstepping his constitutional powers. Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment said, “Gov. McAuliffe's flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law must not go unchecked.” By a 4-3 vote, the Virginia Supreme Court sided with the Republicans and invalidated the governor’s action.

That did not deter Governor McAuliffe, however. He vowed to restore voting rights on a case-by-case basis to comply with the court decision. He is in the process of doing that, already restoring rights for 13,000 individuals.

Some Republicans claim the governor is playing politics by focusing efforts on felons who primarily live in Democratic areas of the commonwealth. Supporters of Governor McAuliffe point out that the man who preceded McAuliffe in the governor’s mansion, Republican Bob McDonnell, also restored the voting rights of some felons.

If McAuliffe were governor in most other states, this would not be an issue. Virginia is one of only 9 states that do not grant felons voting rights. Most states restore voting rights to felons after they serve their sentences. Some restore these rights to felons even while they are on probation or parole. Two states, Maine and Vermont, even allow prisoners to vote.

What do you think? Should felons be able to vote?

A New Attorney General for Pennsylvania

The tumultuous tenure of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane came to an end on August 16. She resigned from office following her conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice. Governor Tom Wolf has nominated Bruce Beemer to replace her.

Kane was charged in August 2015 with felony perjury and other charges. The charges stemmed from Kane’s leaking of grand jury testimony in an attempt to smear a rival prosecutor. This prosecutor had alleged that Kane shut down an investigation of Democratic elected officials for political reasons. Kane leaked confidential grand jury testimony to embarrass that prosecutor, then lied about the leak under oath and conspired with others to impede the investigation.

Kane’s resignation comes after a long refusal to give up the office. Governor Wolf and others had called upon her to resign, but Kane vowed to stay in office and fight the charges. A state Senate resolution directing the governor to remove her from office failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote, although it did receive support from a majority of senators. The state House voted to open an impeachment investigation in February. Even though Kane has resigned, the impeachment investigation will continue.

The state Senate must confirm Gov. Wolf’s nomination of Bruce Beemer, the current inspector general for the commonwealth. Given Republican leadership’s support for Beemer, it seems that he will obtain the necessary two-thirds supermajority vote to become the state’s next attorney general.

House returns to resume a bitter fight over gun control

Congress will be taking up gun control this week. Do you support banning people placed on certain government lists, but who have not been arrested or even charged with a crime, from being able to purchase firearms?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/04/house-returns-resume-bitter-fight-over-gun-control-republicans-ryan-democrats/86669656/

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