Social Issues

Commentary & Community

Maryland Lawmakers Approve Gender Neutral Drivers’ Licenses

If you live in Maryland and do not identify as either male or female, you may soon be able to receive a gender neutral drivers’ license.

 

Under legislation approved by the state Senate, Marylanders who do not wish to have “F” or “M” on their drivers’ licenses may instead choose “X.” This signifies that the driver identifies as non-binary or gender neutral.

 

Sponsors of the legislation say that it will help gender neutral individuals participate more fully in society. They say it will help them move off the sidelines of public life. Opponents of the legislation argued that a driver’s license is an identifying document, so it should accurately represent the person who holds it.

 

Five other states issue gender neutral licenses. Maryland’s neighbor, the District of Columbia, also issues such licenses, and was the first jurisdiction to do so in 2017.

 

Do you think that states should issue gender neutral drivers’ licenses to people who do not identify as male or female?

Assisted Suicide Bill Considered in Maryland

It goes by a lot of names – assisted suicide, aid in dying, physician-assisted death, death with dignity, to name a few. Whatever term that one prefers, Maryland legislators are considering a bill that would allow doctors to aid terminally ill people who are seeking to die.

 

Under proposed legislation, Marylanders with a terminal illness who have fewer than six months to live could receive a prescription for drugs that would allow them to die in their sleep. The “End of Life Option Act” would shield participating physicians from civil or criminal liability for prescribing lethal medication in these instances.

 

Supporters of this bill say it is necessary to allow those who have painful illnesses to die with dignity. They argue that someone who wants to end his or her life quickly rather than suffering through a painful dying process, a doctor should be able to help that person. Opponents counter that doctors should preserve life, not take it.

 

Previous versions of this bill have been introduced in Maryland during past legislative sessions but have not received a favorable vote. Sponsors are hopeful that with a new crop of more liberal legislators elected in 2018, this may be the year for it to become law. Governor Larry Hogan has signaled that he is not supportive of assisted suicide.

 

If this legislation is enacted in Maryland, that state will join California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado, and Vermont as states where assisted suicide is legal.

 

Do you think that it should be legal for doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for patients with a terminal illness?

Virginia Considers Late-Term Abortion Bill

Legislation to loosen restrictions on late-term abortions is causing controversy in Virginia as supporters and opponents argue over how close to birth abortions could be performed.

 

The bill in question would reduce the number of doctors required to approve a late-term abortion from 3 to 1 and would remove the requirement that late-term abortions could only be performed because of a medical health risk to the mother. It also allows these abortions to take place in facilities that are subject to fewer health regulations than in current law.

 

Opponents of the legislation say that this would remove important safeguards that prevent abortions from occurring up until the moment of birth. They point to a video of the bill’s sponsor in which she testifies that the bill would allow abortions until a few moments before delivery. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a supporter of the legislation, also stoked controversy when he appears to discuss whether a doctor should resuscitate a baby who is born alive after an abortion attempt.

 

Supporters of the bill counter that in cases where these abortions would take place, they would involve situations with non-viable fetuses. They say that they are only talking about extreme situations, and that opponents are taking their words out of context.

 

With Republicans in control of both houses of the legislature, this late-term abortion bill is unlikely to make it to Gov. Northam’s desk.

 

Do you think that it should be easier for women to get late-term abortions?

Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Bill Overturned in Iowa

An effort to ban abortions in Iowa if there was a detectable fetal heartbeat has been stopped by the courts. Backers are vowing to appeal this ruling with an eye towards overturning Roe v. Wade.

 

In 2018, Iowa legislators passed a strict ban on abortions in cases where a fetal heartbeat could be detected. District Court Judge Michael Huppert ruled yesterday that this was unconstitutional since heartbeats could be detected prior to the viability of the fetus.

 

Backers of this legislation knew that it would face judicial challenges. In fact, one of the senators supporting the law at the time of its passage said, “We created an opportunity to take a run at Roe v. Wade - 100 percent.” Under this strategy, the legislation would make its way through the court system until taken up by the Supreme Court. Presumably the high court would then use that opportunity to rule on whether the 1973 case legalizing abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade, should be overturned.

 

Those opposed to this law hailed the court’s decision as consistent with constitutional protections for abortion. They also said that the decision was a victory for women’s freedom and health care.

 

Do you think that states should ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected? Should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade?

Tens of Thousands Gather in DC to “March for Life”

Forty-six years after the Supreme Court established a woman’s right to an abortion, an expected 100,000 people will gather in Washington, D.C., for the annual “March for Life.”

 

This march draws pro-life individuals from across the nation to protest abortion and call for policies that would restrict the practice. The event begins by gathering on the National Mall, then a march to the Supreme Court where speakers address the crowd. This year, conservative activist Ben Shapiro will be the keynote speaker for the march. Last year, President Trump addressed the crowd via satellite, which was a first for a U.S. president. In previous years some presidents had taped a message or spoke to the crowd over the phone.

 

The first “March for Life” occurred on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. That decision legalized abortion across the nation, and has been controversial from its announcement. Through court cases and legislation at the state and federal level, there have been a variety of restrictions placed on access to abortion. However, the ultimate goal of the “March for Life” is the end of legalized abortion in the U.S.

 

Do you think that abortion should be legal? What types of laws, if any, should be enacted to regulate abortion?

Gay Conversion Therapy May Soon Be Banned in New York

Therapists who attempt to change the sexual orientation of minors are being targeted by New York lawmakers. Both the state Assembly and Senate passed legislation that would ban the practice of gay conversion therapy. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has said he would sign it.

 

Attempts by counselors and therapists to “convert” children from homosexuality to heterosexuality have become increasingly controversial. Most experts say that it relies upon flawed science. Others liken it to child abuse. The New York legislation would deem such therapy as “unprofessional conduct” and open practitioners to discipline.

 

Both houses of the legislature passed the bill by overwhelming margins. Gov. Cuomo has also expressed support for it, which makes the bill certain to become law soon. Previous attempts to pass legislation had run into roadblocks in the Senate, but with Democrats taking control this year the bill had little opposition.

 

When Gov. Cuomo signs this bill, it will become the sixteenth state to enact a ban on conversion therapy. Washington, D.C., also bans this practice.

 

Do you support states banning therapy aimed at changing a minor’s sexual orientation?

Abortion Pill Mandated at California Universities under Proposed Bill

Health centers at state universities may be required to offer medication that induces abortions under a bill filed in the California State Senate.

 

Sen. Connie Leyva’s legislation would mandate that health centers at all of the state’s universities must offer such a drug. She says that this bill is necessary to ensure that college students have access to abortion and are not deterred by distance or cost. Supporters of the legislation argue that in order for women to have the ability to exercise their reproductive rights, they should have easy access to this medication.

 

The legislature passed a similar bill last year, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it. In his veto message, he argued that abortion services in the state are prevalent, especially around universities. He said there was no need to mandate that schools offer abortion-inducing medication.

 

With a new governor in the state, it remains to be seen what the fate of such legislation will be this year.


Do you think that California should mandate that all public universities offer abortion-inducing drugs?

Cases Challenging Planned Parenthood Funding Bans Stand

Today, the Supreme Court took a minor foray into the debate over abortion. The justices refused to hear cases challenging court decisions involving state bans on Planned Parenthood funding. Some see this as a victory for abortion rights, but the reality is more complex.

 

A number of states have passed laws removing taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood. While Planned Parenthood provides a variety of reproductive services, the organization also performs abortions. Lawmakers who voted to end government money to Planned Parenthood did not want to provide financial support for an organization involved with abortion.

 

Predictably, there were lawsuits. In Kansas and Louisiana, the cases involved whether or not Medicaid recipients who received services from Planned Parenthood could sue over the ending of state support for the organization. Lower courts held that they could and the Supreme Court declined to take a case that would have reviewed these court decisions. This decision allows the lower court cases to proceed.

 

Three justices, with Clarence Thomas in the lead, said the court should have taken up the case. He pointed out that the issue did not directly involve abortion rights, but instead involved the question of whether or not an individual could sue under the Medicaid Act. However, he claimed that the other justices were reluctant to wade into a wider debate over abortion, so they declined to take up this case.

 

This case involved only one aspect of the Planned Parenthood funding bans. There may be other cases involving this issue that reach the Supreme Court in the future.

 

Do you think that states should cut off funding for Planned Parenthood? Should people who receive services be able to sue if the funding to Planned Parenthood is eliminated?

Recreational Marijuana May Be Legalized in New Jersey

Legislators in New Jersey today considered a package of bills that, if passed, could make the state the eleventh to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

 

Committees in both the Assembly and the Senate held hearings on legislation to expand the state’s medicinal marijuana program, permit marijuana to be used for recreational purposes, and allow more crimes to be eligible for expungement.

 

One of the bills under consideration would allow state residents who are 21 or older to possess an ounce of cannabis for personal uses. Smoking marijuana in public would be treated similar to smoking tobacco. Home cultivation would not be allowed under this legislation. The state would tax the sale of legal marijuana at 12%, with local governments able to impose another 2% tax rate.

 

Another bill would allow medical marijuana patients to possess 3 ounces of cannabis. Currently they can only possess 2 ounces. These patients could also buy edible marijuana products under this legislation and could buy from any dispensary, instead of being limited to one dispensary as they currently are today.

 

Governor Phil Murphy is supportive of legalization, but has differed with legislators on the details. For instance, he pushed for a 25% tax rate on legal marijuana sales. Legislators ultimately put a lower rate in legislation in order to deter black market sales.

 

Both legislative bodies are controlled by Democrats, and there are indications that a majority of legislators support some form of legalization.

 

Of the 11 states that allow legal use of recreational marijuana, only Vermont has legalized the use through the legislative process. The other 10 states passed legalization through ballot measures.

 

Do you support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes?

Obamacare Contraception Mandate Being Revised

For the past six years, there have been legal and regulatory fights over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. With the Trump Administration getting set to announce new rules on the mandate, it appears these fights will continue for years to come.

 

The ACA, or Obamacare, mandated that employers provide contraception coverage as part of their health insurance benefit at no charge to their employees. The Obama Administration wrote rules that required employers to offer coverage for all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This has led to ongoing lawsuits over the constitutionality of the mandate. The Supreme Court has ruled in one case that some corporations can be exempt from the mandate on religious grounds.

 

In response to another court cases, both the Obama and Trump Administrations have been devising regulations that would allow certain religious-based nonprofits to claim an exemption from the mandate. Several states challenged the Trump Administration’s 2017 rules that would have given a broad religious exemption from the mandate and a federal court struck them down.


The Trump Administration is preparing new rules that will attempt to survive a legal challenge. Observers expect them to give wide leeway to groups that do not want to provide coverage of contraceptive services that violate their religious beliefs.

 

Opponents of an expansive exemption to the contraception mandate say that the religious beliefs of employers should not dictate what types of health care that employees receive. They argue that contraception decisions are between a patient and a doctor, so an employer should have no say over it.

 

Those who favor a broad exception to the mandate say that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to force people to pay for contraceptive services that they view as immoral. They point out that this contraception would not be banned, and that employees could purchase it on their own.

 

It is unclear when the Trump Administration will announce these new contraceptive mandate rules. When it does, there will likely be lawsuits challenging them.

 

Do you think that religious nonprofits should be forced to offer contraceptive coverage even if such contraception violates the religious beliefs of those who operate the organization?

Harvard Trial Could Have Big Impact on Affirmative Action

Does Harvard’s “race-conscious” admissions policy illegally discriminate against Asian-American students?

That is the question at the heart of the trial that began this week pitting a group of Asian-American students against the Ivy League college. The Supreme Court has ruled that schools cannot use racial quotas in admissions, but has allowed some consideration of race.

 

The students are suing Harvard under the theory that the school’s race-conscious admissions policy allows it to manipulate potential students’ scores to achieve a certain racial balance. They contend that Asian-American students receive lower scores in some areas to balance out their higher academic and extracurricular activity scores. They argue that a race-blind process would lead to more Asian-American students allowed into Harvard.


The school denies discriminating against Asian-American students. It says that diversity is an important goal for an academic community that would be undermined if the courts find that using race-conscious admissions is illegal.

 

The group Students for Fair Admissions has brought this lawsuit. Its spokesman has said that affirmative action is not the issue here, but this case could lead to the Supreme Court. If that happens, the high court would have the opportunity to decide whether or not any racial factors should be at play when schools decide whom to admit and whom to deny.

 

Do you think that race should be a factor in college admissions?

 

Equal Rights Amendment an Issue in Virginia Senate Race

 

It may be over 40 years old, but the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a fresh topic in the Virginia Senate race.

 

During last night’s debate between Sen. Tim Kaine and challenger Corey Stewart, the issue of whether Virginia should ratify the ERA. Stewart said that passage of the ERA would lead to a rash of lawsuits, with men suing to participate in women’s athletic programs. Sen. Kaine said that the amendment was good for women.

 

The ERA says, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Supporters of this measure say that it is necessary to ensure that federal or state laws do not treat men and women differently. They say that, just like previous constitutional amendments prohibited discrimination based on race, this amendment is needed to prevent discrimination based on sex. Opponents of the amendment say that it would lead to government laws being made without regard to natural gender differences.

 

First submitted to the states for ratification in 1972, the ERA has yet to see enough states ratify it so it becomes part of the Constitution. Congress initially set a deadline of 1979 for the required 38 states to ratify the ERA. When that passed without the necessary number of states doing so, Congress extended the deadline to 1982. Only 35 states ratified the ERA prior to 1982, but 4 states rescinded their ratification. Since 2017, two states have ratified the ERA.

 

One house of the Virginia legislature ratified the ERA in 2011. A bipartisan group of legislators plans on introducing a ratification resolution next year. If that resolution passes, then 38 states would have ratified the ERA. However, a legal fight would likely follow, since the necessary ratifications occurred after the congressionally-set deadline and four of those states later reversed themselves. The Constitution is silent on whether or not Congress can set a deadline for ratification and whether states can rescind their ratification of amendments.

 

Do you think that the Equal Rights Amendment should be added to the Constitution?

Transgender Discrimination Ban up for a Vote in Massachusetts

The fate of the Massachusetts law banning discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity will be decided in November.

 

Question 3 will allow voters to determine if the law passed in 2016 that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity will go into effect. State residents collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot this year. If a majority of voters reject Question 3, the law will be overturned.

 

At issue is whether or not businesses and the government must provide accommodation for individuals based on the gender by which they identify. The law applies to businesses such as restaurants, stores, hotels, stadiums, and other similar places as well as schools and government buildings. Under the law, someone’s gender identity is protected if it is "sincerely held as part of a person's core identity" regardless of "whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth.” This law prohibits businesses and schools from allowing someone to access a bathroom or locker room based on their gender identity.

 

Those who support this law say that it is needed in order to protect transgender residents of Massachusetts from discrimination. They contend that many transgender individuals are harassed for using public accommodations, so this law is necessary in order for these individuals to live their lives without fear. Those opposed to the law say that it will make it easier for men looking to victimize women or girls to access women’s bathrooms.

 

Six other states have similar laws banning discrimination in public accommodations based on gender identity.

 

Do you think states should pass laws banning discrimination based on gender identity? Do you support laws requiring schools and businesses to provide individuals access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity?

Supreme Court, Abortion an Issue in New Hampshire Governor’s Race

 

Governors do not have any say over who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the New Hampshire gubernatorial race, President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the nation’s high court has become an area of contention.

 

Incumbent Governor Chris Sununu joined 29 of his fellow governors in signing a letter to U.S. Senate leaders in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination. This has led to attacks on Sununu by his Democratic challengers who question the governor’s pro-choice credentials for supporting Kavanaugh.

 

According one of the Democrats running for governor, Molly Kelly, Kavanaugh could vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to an abortion. If Gov. Sununu truly is pro-choice, they argue, then he would not support Kavanaugh’s nomination.

 

Governor Sununu countered that he continues to believe in a woman’s right to an abortion. He said that his signature on the letter to Senate leadership was in favor of a fair process for Kavanaugh. Sununu also said that he did not have a litmus test for the judges he has chosen as governor, only a requirement that they follow the Constitution.

 

Kelly pointed out that if Roe were overturned, then states would have to enact laws to protect abortion. She has vowed to do this. Her opponent in the Democratic primary, Steve Marchand, has laid out a plan that would provide taxpayer funding for abortion in New Hampshire.

 

Do you think that pro-choice governors should signal their support for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination? Should states enact laws that will keep abortion legal in the event the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?

 

Virginia Governor Denounces Plan to Arm Teachers

 

If the school board in a small Virginia county gets its way, teachers and staff members will soon be allowed to carry guns. This does not please Governor Ralph Northam. He has come out against the proposal, urging the attorney general to look into its legality.

 

Lee County is a rural county in the southwest part of Virginia. Its school board unanimously voted to allow some teachers and staff members to carry concealed weapons or store them in lockers at school. County officials have said that they cannot afford to hire more security for schools, so permitting staff members to carry guns is the only option to provide greater protection to students.

 

Governor Northam said that arming teachers is not a good idea. He said that school districts should wait for an opinion by the attorney general before undertaking this action. The attorney general’s office is researching the matter, but Attorney General Mark Herring has said that the law bans guns in schools with very few exceptions.

 

The issue of allowing teachers to carry guns to protect students has been discussed across the country after recent school shootings. Those in favor of the idea think that a teacher with a gun could be the first line of defense if a school shooting occurs. Others say that teachers should not be responsible for confronting armed intruders. Instead, those like Gov. Northam support providing more money for schools to hire security officers.


Do you support allowing teachers and school employees to carry guns to stop school shootings? Or should the government provide more money to schools in order to hire security guards?

 

Abortion to Remain Legal in Connecticut Even if Roe v. Wade Overturned

 

With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, many people are worried that the high court may overturn the landmark abortion ruling, Roe v. Wade. This ruling legalized abortion nationwide, regardless of state laws. Regardless of what happens at the national level, however, Connecticut has already enacted a strong law to protect abortion in that state.

 

While many observers discount the possibility, some pro-choice activists are concerned that Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court could lead to a majority that would overrule Roe v. Wade. If that happened, there would no longer be a national right to an abortion. The issue would once again fall to state legislatures to determine.

 

If this happens, abortion will be illegal in states that have legalized it. Many states do not have such a law.

 

Connecticut is different – it has already enacted a law that expressly permits abortion. This law does not have many restrictions on the procedure. For instance, there is no mandate that minors seek parental permission prior to obtaining an abortion. There is also no prohibition on using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. There is also no waiting period for abortions in the state and late-term abortions are permitted, but must be performed in a hospital.

 

For those who support legalized abortion, Connecticut is an example of what states should be doing to protect access to this procedure. For abortion opponents, however, the state’s law illustrates the extreme nature that some states will go to in order to remove reasonable restrictions on the procedure.

 

Do you think that states should enact laws to keep abortion legal if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?

 

Connecticut Senator Calls on Tech Companies to “Do More” to Combat Hate Speech

 

Alex Jones and Infowars had long pushed the boundaries of acceptable political speech, pushing false conspiracy theories about numerous events, ranging from the September 11th attacks to the Sandy Hook shootings. Social media companies had long faced calls to remove him from their platforms, and finally did so in early August. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy applauded the move, but urged these companies to go even further in policing their content. That prompted some to accuse Sen. Murphy of advocating censorship.

 

The discredited conspiracy theories advocated by Alex Jones have been condemned by people across the political spectrum. In response to his repeated false assertion that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, families of the victims recently sued Jones. Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify then removed Infowars content in early August.

 

For Sen. Murphy, this was a good first step. The Sandy Hook shooting took place in his state, and he had long been critical of the Jones. After his removal from social media, Sen. Murphy tweeted, “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

 

While many people supported Sen. Murphy’s words, others questioned whether a government official should be asking private companies to remove content. To these critics, it appeared that Sen. Murphy was edging close to using government pressure to police speech.

 

Reacting to criticism, Sen. Murphy followed up the next day with this tweet: “Private companies deciding not to let their platforms be used to spread hate and lies is not the same as government censorship. If it feels the same, then we need to ask why a small handful of companies have so much control over the content Americans see.”

 

Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have terms of services that lay out what is acceptable content by their users. As private companies, they can remove speech that violates these terms of use. Even though there was no First Amendment violation with their actions, some observers are wary of these companies policing political content. They say that this could lead to more mainstream voices being silenced if they upset politicians like Sen. Murphy.

 

Do you think that Facebook and Twitter were right to remove Alex Jones and Infowars? Should senators be calling on private companies to police their content?

 

Prominent Confederate Flag Coming Down in Virginia

 

A group in Virginia has been installing Confederate flags around the state, prompting a backlash from some residents. In this debate, issues of history, racism, zoning, and commemorating the past all come together.

 

The Virginia Flaggers have existed since 2011 with the mission of putting up Confederate battle flags near heavily-traveled roads. They were formed in response to efforts at the local level to remove or alter monuments commemorating the Confederacy. In addition to erecting flags, they have also protested at sites where local governments have debated Confederate monuments or the display of Confederate flags.

 

In March, the group placed a flag near I-64 in Louisa County. Recently county’s Board of Zoning Appeals decided that the flagpole that this flag was placed on violated zoning rules by being too high. The Virginia Flaggers argued that this was a monument, and thus exempt from height requirement. The board did not accept this argument and ordered the flagpole lowered or removed.

 

Those supporting the placement of Confederate flags across the state say that they are reacting to efforts that would cleanse the state of its Confederate history. They say that there is nothing wrong with remembering the Confederacy and memorializing the men who died fighting for it. Those opposed to the proliferation of Confederate flags say that this group is celebrating a treasonous government that fought to preserve slavery.

 

There has been an ongoing debate in the Virginia General Assembly over legislation that would allow local governments to remove Confederate monuments.

 

Do you think that flying the Confederate flag honors Virginia’s history as part of the Confederacy? Or does flying of the Confederate flag celebrate racism?

 

West Virginia Voters May Strip Abortion Rights from Constitution

 

“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”

This November, that is the language that West Virginia voters will decide whether to place in the state’s constitution.

 

Nationally, there has been a lot of attention on the future of abortion rights due the departure of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court. Some observers fear that with a more conservative justice on the court, cases could be brought that will further limit abortion or even overturn the case that made it legal throughout the U.S.

 

This battle over abortion is also being fought at the state level, however. In 1993, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution protected a woman’s right to an abortion. The court also held that the constitution mandated that the state fund abortion the same way it does other health services. That means that West Virginia’s Medicaid system pays for abortions.

 

If this constitutional amendment passes, abortion will not be outlawed in West Virginia. What it does mean is that legislators would face fewer limitations in what types of regulations they place on abortion. They would be bound only by federal law, not the state Supreme Court decision. They could decide, for instance, to stop state funding of abortions.

 

In the event of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade and returns the decision-making authority over abortion’s legality to the states, this constitutional amendment would then open the door to a state ban on abortion. Without state constitutional protection of the practice, legislators would be free to do as they wished on this issue if there is no federal abortion right.

 

Do you think the West Virginia Constitution should protect abortion rights? Or does the state constitution go too far in requiring taxpayer funding of abortions?

 

Minnesota Candidates Call for Refugee Resettlement Suspension

 

Minnesota has a long history of taking in refugees who flee their home countries to live in the U.S. Two candidates for governor want to pause this effort, however, citing their concerns over cost.

 

There is a large refugee community in Minnesota, with many refugees from Somalia settling there in recent years. The federal government funds part of these resettlement efforts, but there are also costs that Minnesota bears, too. However, efforts to calculate those costs have proven difficult to do, since many state programs do not ask about refugee status.

 

A Republican candidate running for governor, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, has said he wants to work with the federal government to suspend the refugee program until the state can figure out how much it costs taxpayers. Another Republican in the race, former Governor Tim Pawlenty, agrees.

 

These candidates contend they are not opposed to refugees coming to Minnesota, but simply want to ensure that tax dollars are being used wisely. They say that if the program can become more cost-effective, they would support it.

 

One Democrat running for governor, Erin Murphy, says she vigorously disagrees with this proposal. Other groups in the state have also pushed back, saying that the state should welcome those fleeing war or persecution in their home countries.

 

Refugee resettlement is done by the federal government. If either Johnson or Pawlenty is elected, he would have to obtain federal cooperation to suspend the placement of refugees in Minnesota.

 

Do you think that refugee resettlement in Minnesota should be suspended until the state figures out the cost? Or do you think that it is unfair for state officials to deny homes to refugees over cost issues?

 

Copyright © 2018 Votespotter Inc. All rights reserved.