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Biden Could Pursue Gun Control upon Inauguration

When Joe Biden takes office on January 20, many progressives are pushing him to enact a variety of policies that break with the Trump Administration's actions over the past four years. One high-profile area where Biden will likely act is on gun laws. His proposals to place more federal restrictions on gun ownership will meet sharp opposition from Republicans in Congress, however.

 

 During his time in the U.S. Senate and as vice president, Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of gun control. During the 2020 campaign, he outlined a variety of proposals that he says would help stem gun violence. These include:

  • Ban online sales of guns and gun parts
  • Ban the sale of certain types of semi-automatic guns known as "assault weapons"
  • Ban the sale of high-capacity magazines
  • Mandate a background check for all transfers of guns, including those between private individuals
  • Repeal a federal law that prevents gun manufacturers from being sued for the misuse of their products
  • Prohibit individuals from purchasing multiple guns in a month
  • Require gun owners to lock up their guns, report them if stolen, and be held legally liable if minors have access to them

 

Biden contends that these ideas are necessary to reduce murder and suicide rates. He and his supporters argue that these stricter laws will deter crime while still preserving firearm access to those who want them for hunting. Opponents, however, point out that there is little evidence that gun control laws actually reduce crime rates. They note that many criminals already evade current gun laws so these new proposals would simply infringe upon the rights of legitimate gun owners.

 

To enact these proposals, however, Congress must act. The last time a major gun control package passed Congress was in the mid-1990s. If Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate, none of these proposals is likely to even come to a vote in that chamber. As president, Biden can pursue some gun control measures through executive orders, but his ability to do so is limited.

 

Do you think the federal government should impose new restrictions on gun ownership?

Pharma Company Pleads Guilty to Federal Opioid Charges

Purdue Pharma has pled guilty to three federal criminal charges related to the opioid epidemic.

 

Steve Miller, who chairs Purdue's board of directors, pled guilty this week on behalf of the company to charges that the company had not effectively tried to stop illegal diversions of its opioid drugs, that it misled the Drug Enforcement Administration, and that it stonewalled efforts by the DEA to investigate the opioid epidemic.

 

These charges are part of broader legal fights trying to place responsibility for the nation's opioid crisis onto drug companies. States, local governments, and the federal government have filed suits alleging that Purdue and other companies pushed doctors to prescribe heavy doses of the drug even after it knew the dangers it posed. Many of these suits are seeking money from these companies for these governments’ expenses in dealing with the opioid crisis.

 

According to the legal theory being put forward in these suits, opioid manufacturers made and marketed these drugs knowing that they were addictive and dangerous. They encouraged doctors to prescribe the drugs regardless of the harm it would cause to users. They say that the high rates of opioid addition and overdoses we are seeing today is a direct result of these companies’ actions. The guilty plea by Purdue bolsters these cases.

 

This legal argument is not universally accepted, however. Critics of these cases note that opioids are tightly controlled by the federal government. They said that the companies complied with federal laws and regulations regarding opioids, and should not be blamed for people who misuse their products. They point out that the vast majority of overdoses are due to heroin or fentanyl, not prescription opioids.

 

Do you think that drug companies contributed to the opioid crisis?

Court Rules States Can Defund Planned Parenthood

States do not have to allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the Medicaid program, a federal appeals court ruled today.

 

The case involved efforts by Texas and Louisiana to label Planned Parenthood affiliates as "unqualified" to participate in the Medicaid program, which would remove the ability of women who go there to have their services paid for by the government. Planned Parenthood supported women who wanted to use Planned Parenthood in those states. The federal court held that these women did not have the ability under federal law to sue over the state's actions to end Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood.

 

Some states have received permission from the federal government to offer certain reproductive services through their Medicaid program but exclude Planned Parenthood from participating. The Trump Administration has supported these efforts. This is part of the wider efforts to remove state and federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

 

Those who oppose this funding argue that taxpayer dollars should not go to an organization that provides abortion. They contend that women have other alternatives for their health care. Supporters of government funding for Planned Parenthood say that the organization offers a range of services beyond abortion, and that cutting off funding hurts poor women. They also point out that no federal dollars can go to pay for abortions.

 

Planned Parenthood has vowed to appeal this case.

 

Do you think that state governments should cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood?

Los Angeles Bans Outdoor Dining to Stem Coronavirus Surge

Coronavirus cases are rising in Los Angeles County. The local health department thinks that ending outdoor dining will help stem the tide.

 

Under this order, restaurants and other establishments that serve food can only offer take out. Both indoor and outdoor dining are prohibited. Outdoor dining has been allowed since May, under the rationale that being outdoors provides less exposure to the coronavirus than being indoors. However, with cases increasing in the county, health officials contend that even outdoor seating is too dangerous.

 

States, counties, and cities around the nation are taking new steps and re-imposing old bans in order to curb the increase in coronavirus cases. In Los Angeles County, the five-day average of cases has surpassed 4,000, which was the threshold set by the health department for new restrictions.

 

These measures have proven controversial in many areas. Business owners argue that they are an extreme response that is killing jobs and the economy. They say that business shutdowns are an overreaction that do more harm than good. The officials imposing these restrictions counter that they are essential to keep the virus and the harm it causes at bay.

 

The Los Angeles order lasts for three weeks, although it can be extended.

 

Do you think that health officials should prohibit outdoor dining as a way to combat the coronavirus?

House Passes Veterans Bills

Members of Congress are meeting during a lame duck session, working on a variety of bills before the session ends. They are even putting aside some of their partisan disagreements. This week, the House of Representatives passed two veterans-related bills with no dissenting votes.

 

While the Republicans, Democrats, and one Libertarian member of the House have strong disagreements, these disagreements were not on display during debate over veterans legislation. On November 16, the House unanimously passed two bills:

 

  • S 3147: To require the Veterans Affairs Administration to report on the policies and procedures it changed to improve care.
  • S 327: To allow veterans with a service-connected disability to enter national parks with no charge.

 

The passage of these bills was timed to occur near Veterans Day, which was on November 11.

 

The House will move on to debating more contentious legislation soon, however. Funding to keep the federal government open will expire on December 11. Congress and President Trump must agree on legislation to fund federal activities for the rest of the fiscal year when members return to the capitol after Thanksgiving.

 

What do you think Congress should do to honor veterans?

Senate Focusing on Judges During Lame Duck Session

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made confirming President Trump’s judges a high priority during the last four years. The focus on the judiciary is continuing during this week’s lame duck session.

 

Since the Senate reconvened on November 9, it has held 14 votes. All but one of those votes involved a judicial confirmation. Senators must go through a two-vote process in order to approve judges. One vote is for cloture, or to close off debate on a nominee. Previously, it took 60 votes to invoke cloture. In 2013, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules so that a cloture vote can pass by a majority vote.

 

During this month, the Senate has approved these Trump-nominated judges:

  • Kathryn Kimball Mizelle to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Florida -- 49-41
  • Stephen A. Vaden to be a Judge of the United States Court of International Trade -- 49-43
  • Toby Crouse to be United States District Judge for the District of Kansas -- 50-43
  • Benjamin Joel Beaton to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Kentucky -- 52-44
  • Kristi Haskins Johnson to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi -- 53-43
  • Aileen Mercedes Cannon to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida -- 56-21
  • James Ray Knepp II to be U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio -- 64-24

 

As these vote totals show, most of these judges are confirmed along party-line votes or votes that have just a few Democrats joining the Republicans. Judicial nominations have become especially partisan over the past twenty years, and this has intensified under President Trump's term in office. Democratic senators have consistently opposed Sen. McConnell's efforts to confirm judges. 

 

This opposition is especially pronounced during the lame duck session. Democrats see Sen. McConnell's efforts as a way to ram through federal judges with life tenure before President Trump leaves office. They also worry that the Republican majority will approve few federal judges nominated by incoming President Joe Biden.

 

Do you support Senate Republicans focusing on the confirmation of President Trump’s judicial nominees?

Coronavirus-Related Unemployment Benefits Set to Expire

When Congress passed the CARES Act in March, it made self-employed workers and freelance workers eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time. That eligibility will expire on December 26 unless Congress acts during the lame duck session to extend it.

 

Congress included these workers in the CARES Act when it passed in March. The rationale was that in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, workers who had not been previously eligible for benefits should be included. Unlike traditional employees, people who are self-employed or who do freelance work do not pay into the unemployment system. Under the CARES Act, however, they could also receive payments similar to other workers.

 

This expanded eligibility ends in December, however. 

 

Congress convened a lame duck session this week to pass legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year and pass a handful of other bills. While coronavirus aid bills were largely bipartisan when Congress passed them in the spring, that cross-party agreement has broken down. Differences between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as differences between Congress and the president, are currently hampering efforts to craft new legislation. 

 

If congressional leaders can work out their differences, Congress could pass another round of coronavirus aid in late November or early December. However, some Democrats want to wait until Joe Biden takes office, which they think will give them a stronger hand during negotiations.

 

Do you support extending the eligibility for unemployment benefits to people who are self-employed?

Trump Drawing Down Troops in Afghanistan, Iraq

More American troops will be coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq, the Trump Administration announced today.

 

The president ordered a reduction in U.S. military personnel for both nations by mid-January. In Afghanistan, troops will be reduced from 4,500 to 2,500. In Iraq, the reduction will be from 3,000 to 2,500. Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller made the announcement of this policy change today.

 

Trump Administration officials contend that these reductions in force will not affect the U.S. mission in either nation. They say that this was a collaborative decision supported by military officers in the Pentagon. Some military officials disagree, however, and argue that such reductions will hurt efforts to keep the peace in Iraq and curb the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 

President Trump ran for office on a platform of disengaging from military actions overseas. In some cases he has removed U.S. troops, but in other nations he has sustained or expanded forces. The president has long argued that the U.S. is doing too much militarily in foreign countries. His critics see his views as being shortsighted and emboldening nations like Russia and China.

 

Do you support removing some U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan?

Governors Re-impose Coronavirus-Related Restrictions

Across the nation, coronavirus cases are increasing. This is prompting some governors to re-impose restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus. This has made some of their states' residents unhappy.

 

In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee re-imposed lockdown restrictions that had been lifted months ago. These include limiting how many people can attend funerals, curbing indoor dining, and banning some youth sports activities. In Oregon, indoor gatherings for more than a handful of people are banned. Michigan is prohibiting schools from meeting in person.

 

These orders come as over 60,000 people are hospitalized from the coronavirus. Some hospitals say they are reaching a critical situation, and may not be able to offer necessary services if cases continue to climb. Governors argue that restricting business activities and requiring masks are the best way to blunt the impact of the coronavirus until a vaccine is developed. 

 

Some residents of these states are unhappy with the restrictions. They argue that the coronavirus is not very deadly, so it is an overreaction to impose severe government controls in response. They also contend that these lockdowns do more harm than good, as people are losing their businesses and people are being put out of work.

 

Not all states are implementing new restrictions. Florida's governor, for instance, recently lifted lockdown orders.

 

Do you support governors placing restrictions on individual gatherings and business activities in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus?

Biden Advisor Says No National Lockdown Coming

With coronavirus cases increasing, there is heated discussion about what will be done under a Joe Biden presidency to combat the spread. His coronavirus taskforce advisor has ruled out a national lockdown.

 

Dr. Vivek Murthy said in interviews that there is no strategy to place restrictions on the entire U.S. economy. Instead, Murthy said that such restrictions should be targeted to locations that have a high incidence of the disease. Dr. Murthy is a former U.S. Surgeon General whom Joe Biden has selected to lead his task force on coronavirus issues. Other Biden advisors have said the same thing.

 

Around the nation, governors are taking various steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus. With numbers increasing in many states, governors are putting in place a variety of restrictions. These include limits on non-family gatherings, business shutdowns, and mask mandates. In-person schooling is being discontinued in some areas, too.

 

Proponents of coronavirus-related restrictions argue that they are vital to stop the spread of the disease. They contend that without them, many people will die or become sick, overwhelming the health care system. Opponents contend that the restrictions are going overboard and are hurting people and businesses. They argue that this is a prime example of government overreacting to the virus.

 

There is disagreement on how many restrictions the federal government can put in place to deal with coronavirus spread. The Trump Administration has embraced some policies, such as a national moratorium on some evictions, that have proven controversial and are being challenged in court. Many legal observers note that while states have broad powers to deal with pandemics, the federal government does not. A national lockdown would certainly face lawsuits.

 

Do you support a national lockdown to deal with the coronavirus?

Florida Governor Wants to Allow More Force Against Rioters

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not been shy about expressing his dislike of rioting, looting, and demonstrations that block roads. Now he wants legislators to change state law to allow state residents to use more force against people in these situations.

 

Under DeSantis's proposal, the state would expand the number of situations in which people could use lethal force in self-defense. These would include looting and the "interruption or impairment" of a business. The law would also impose harsher penalties for blocking roads and give drivers immunity if they struck protestors unintentionally. In addition, the governor has proposed cutting state funding for local governments that defund police departments.

 

These proposed changes to state law come in the wake of nationwide protests over police brutality and racial discrimination. in some cities, these protests have turned violent, leading to looting. Many times protestors will also block traffic in an attempt to bring attention to their cause. Many elected officials have deplored the protests and rioting, saying that law enforcement should do more to stop them.

 

Critics of Gov. DeSantis's proposals say that this would empower vigilantes to kill protestors and run over demonstrators. They argue that the punishment for these actions should not be death. DeSantis says these changes are necessary in order to stop protestors from destroying businesses and blocking traffic. 

 

The Florida legislature may consider this legislation when it convenes in January.

 

Do you think there should be tougher laws for looters and demonstrators who block traffic?

Supreme Court Hears New Obamacare Case

Supreme Court justices today heard arguments in one more case seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From their questions to lawyers on both sides of the case, it appears unlikely that they will do so.

 

Eighteen states and two individuals brought the case to the high court. They argued that when Congress removed penalties for the individual mandate to obtain health insurance, it rendered the entire law unworkable. They say that this mandate is the key to the entire law, and it that part is effectively repealed, then the law should be overturned. 

 

Justices seemed skeptical about that argument. They pointed out that Congress could have repealed the ACA when it eliminated the individual mandate penalty. Chief Justice John Roberts appeared skeptical that the Supreme Court should be doing the job of Congress. Others noted that it the mandate penalty were zero, then no one was harmed by the mandate and thus did not have standing to bring the case.

 

Another argument hinged on what is called "severability." That is the idea that if one section of a law is found to be illegal or unconstitutional, then the rest of the law can stand. Plaintiffs in this case argued against that idea for the ACA, saying that the individual mandate is the key to the entire law. Justice Brett Kavanaugh disagreed, however, saying that the individual mandate could be ruled unconstitutional but that this decision would not affect the rest of the law.

 

The justices will likely issue an opinion in this case next year.

 

Do you think that the Supreme Court should overturn the Affordable Care Act?

Utah Governor Issues Mask Mandate

With coronavirus cases surging in Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert has issued a mask mandate and limit on gatherings.

 

Utah's coronavirus cases reached a record high last week, with Gov. Hebert saying, "our hospitals are full." To deal with the rising cases, the governor issued an order requiring that masks be worn in public places. He also limited gatherings to individuals in the same family. 

 

This order is controversial. There have already been numerous anti-mask mandates across Utah, with protestors saying that masks are ineffective and any mandate to wear them is an infringement upon individual rights. Gov. Hebert dismisses these objections, noting evidence that masks work to stop the spread of coronavirus. He also said that laws exist to protect the public, and likened a mask mandate to the requirement that drivers wear seatbelts.

 

Thirty-five states have some form of a mask mandate. These mandates vary by jurisdiction. Some mandates apply to the whole state, while others, such as the one in Montana, only apply to counties that have a certain number of coronavirus cases.

 

President-elect Joe Biden supports mask mandates, while President Trump has not embraced this idea. Biden has said he would work with state governors to implement a mask mandate that would apply nationwide.

 

Do you think that governors should require that masks be worn in public?

Virginia Voters Shut Legislators out of Redistricting

Virginia legislators will no longer be determining the shape of legislative and congressional districts in that state.

 

Voters overwhelmingly approved Question 1, which gives power to draw congressional and legislative districts to an independent commission. Those backing this state constitutional amendment said that allowing politicians to draw these districts leads to gerrymandering, which deprives many voters of a meaningful choice. They contended that independent commissions will consider politics less than politicians will. Opponents, however, pushed back. They said that by giving redistricting power to a commission, it will take away the chance of voters to hold their elected officials accountable for how districts are drawn.

 

Congressional and legislative lines must be drawn after every census. In 2011, Virginia legislators were unable to agree on new districts, since Democrats and Republicans split control of legislative chambers. Under an independent commission, this situation would not occur again. Legislators in two successive sessions supported resolutions that would give voters the chance to vote on making this change to the state constitution. 

 

When this commission convenes after the 2020 census results are known, it will be composed of legislators from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as private citizens. The commission will draw maps that could then be approved or rejected by the Virginia General Assembly. Legislators may not amend the maps. If the General Assembly rejects the maps, the commission will draw another set of maps. If the General Assembly votes down these maps, then the Virginia Supreme Court will draw the lines.

 

Prior to Virginia’s approval of this amendment, 7 states had similar independent commissions that draw congressional district lines, while 10 states had independent commissions to compose legislative districts.

 

Question 1 garnered nearly 66% of the vote.

 

Do you support an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative district lines?

California Voters Say Gig Drivers Aren’t Employees

California legislators wanted to classify contractors for Lyft and Uber as “employees.” But California voters disagreed, voting in favor of an initiative that allows these workers to continue being classified as independent contractors.” Some see this as a victory for worker freedom, while others contend that it will allow these companies to continue exploiting drivers.

 

Over 58% of voters approved Proposition 22, which changed California law to allow app-based drivers to be classified as independent contractors. This was in response to the enactment of AB 5 in California. That law put severe restrictions on how companies could use independent contractors, including drivers for Uber and Lyft. Supporters said it was necessary to crack down on unscrupulous companies that were trying to avoid paying workers benefits and higher wages. Opponents countered that it was the government meddling in arrangements that worked well for both employees and contractors.

 

Uber and Lyft strongly supported Proposition 22, saying that it was necessary for them to continue operating in the sate. Besides removing app-based drivers from AB 5’s restrictions, Proposition 22 also:

  • Required app-based driving services to pay certain minimum amounts to drivers
  • Imposed limits on the number of hours an app-based driver could work in a 24-hour period
  • Mandated health care subsidies for some app-based drivers
  • Required companies provide some forms of insurance for these drivers

 

AB 5 only affected drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft. Other independent contractors are unaffected. After AB 5 was enacted, businesses began restructuring or ending their relationships with California independent contractors. 

 

To amend Proposition 22 will take a ⅞ vote in both chambers of California’s legislature.

 

Do you think that states should impose more restrictions on companies using independent contractors?

Voters Legalize Marijuana Use in Five States

 

The legalization of marijuana continues to score victories at the ballot box.

 

Voters in Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, and New Jersey approved ballot measures that legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes. These measures differ in their details, with some being more restrictive than others. Most limit how much marijuana is considered a legal amount and impose heavy taxes on it. New Jersey, however, simply legalized the possession of marijuana, said its sales are subject to the state sales tax, and prohibited any new taxes on it.

 

Mississippi and South Dakota also approved medical marijuana. In South Dakota, however, the more expansive legalization measure also allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

 

With these victories, there are now 15 states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Most of these states have done so via ballot measures, although Vermont and Illinois legislators passed legalization bills in those states. Many more states have decriminalized marijuana possession.

 

The federal government still lists cannabis as a controlled substance. Federal agencies can still arrest individuals for marijuana possession, but states that have legalized the drug do not do so. Some members of Congress are pushing for the federal government to relax its marijuana laws.

 

Do you think that the federal government should still prohibit the possession and use of marijuana?

It's Election Day

It's Election Day. Although tens of millions of Americans have voted absentee or by mail this year, there are also millions who are voting in person today. These votes will determine the fate of a variety of policies across the nation.

 

Who will be our next president, as well as control of the House of Representatives and the Senate will be determined by voters. Governors' races as well as state and local offices will be filled. The men and women elected to these positions will determine policies for the next two or four years. But voters will also directly decide on some policies today through state and local ballot initiatives and referendums. 

 

These are some of the issues being decided directly by the voters today:

  • Recreational marijuana legalization: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voters will determine if their states legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
  • Medicinal marijuana legalization: Sound Dakota and Mississippi voters will decide on the fate of medicinal marijuana.
  • Income tax increases: Colorado voters are facing the question of whether to reduce the state's income tax rate, while Arizona voters will determine if their top rate increases. Illinois voters are being asked to move from a flat tax to a graduated income tax.
  • Tobacco tax increases: Voters in Oregon and Colorado will decide if tobacco users will pay more for their products.
  • Ranked choice voting: Alaska may adopt a ranked-choice voting system if voters approve.
  • Affirmative action: In 1996, California voters approved a proposition that banned government from discriminating or giving preferential treatment based on race or gender, among other things. Voters are being asked to repeal that prohibition this year.
  • Rent control: California voters will also determine if the state can expand the use of rent control.
  • Abortion: Colorado voters could approve a proposition that bans abortion after 22 weeks. Louisiana voters are deciding on an amendment that states there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.
  • Sports betting: Maryland voters may allow their state to join the growing number of states that permit gambling on sports. South Dakota voters will also decide whether to allow limited sports betting in that state.

 

What issue do you think is most important during this year's elections?

 

Teachers Union Objection Causes DC Schools to Remain Online

Children were set to return to D.C. public schools for in-person learning next week. However, an objection from the district's teachers' union has caused these plans to be put on hold.

 

Under the initial plan, some elementary school students were scheduled to return to their classrooms beginning with the new school term's beginning on November 9. The school district was negotiating with the teachers' union to determine the safety procedures that would be put in place for such a re-opening. The D.C. school chancellor said that regardless of negotiations, he was planning to allow limited in-person schooling.

 

The teachers' union objected to this plan, however. Among other things, it urged its members to call in sick to school on November 9. Enough of these members did so to make re-opening an impossibility. 

 

The teachers' union has consistently opposed in-person schooling, saying it puts teachers' health at risk. The D.C. school system and some parents say that with proper precautions, schools can safely accommodate at least some students. They contend that children's social and academic skills are suffering from schooling that takes place solely online.

 

The district's school chancellor says that in spite of this month's cancellation, the system will offer in-person schooling at some point, but has not set a firm date to do so.

 

Do you think that children should be at school in person?

Politicians Working to Make Daylight Savings Time Permanent

It’s time to change the clocks back this weekend as Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday morning. However, there is a growing movement to pass legislation that would end the twice-a-year clock switching that upsets so many people.

 

In 2018, California and Florida voters approved initiatives that would make permanent Daylight Saving Time if federal law is changed to permit it. Since then, 13 states have approved legislation to do the same. Currently, the federal government allows states to adopt Daylight Saving Time between March and November or stay on Standard Time year-round. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Republicans from Florida, have introduced federal legislation that would keep Daylight Savings Time in place through November 2021. Sen. Rubio has also introduced legislation to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.

 

The idea to change clocks between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time dates back to World War I. Initially the idea was that it would save energy by aligning the clocks with natural sunlight. It was imposed by the federal government during both world wars, but then was up to state and local preference until 1966. That year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the law giving states either the option of choosing Standard Time or Daylight Saving Time during a uniform period of time.

 

Those who favor instituting permanent Daylight Saving Time point to evidence that the twice-a-year ritual of changing clocks has adverse effects on health and the economy. They say that in order to stop the changing of clocks, it is necessary to pass this initiative empowering the legislature to debate the issue. Those opposed to a change note that it would mean darker mornings in the winter, with children going to school before the sun comes up.

 

 

During 2020 legislative sessions, 32 states considered bills to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.

 

Do you favor permanent Daylight Saving Time?

 

Trump Administration Removes Wolves from Endangered Species List

The Trump Administration announced this week that it is removing the gray wolf for the endangered species list. Officials say that wolf numbers have recovered enough so that it does not need federal protection, but critics call the move premature.

 

While their numbers were once declining, gray wolf populations in the United States have been growing in recent decades. In some areas of the country, such as Idaho and Montana, wolf populations have reached a point where they have been taken off the endangered species list, a process called “de-listing.” In the Great Lakes region, a judge halted a 2011 Interior Department regulation to de-list the wolf population. This latest move by the Trump Administration would affect the wolves in the Great Lakes area.

  

If an animal is listed as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, there are numerous restrictions on what humans can do to the animals. In the case of wolves, these restrictions led to many conflicts with landowners, especially in the west. Ranchers were especially concerned about wolves killing their livestock. Supporters of removing the wolves’ endangered status say that this will allow states to design plans that will both protect wolves but also take into account landowners’ concerns. Opponents of this legislation argue that wolves play a vital role in ecosystem management, and their numbers show that they still deserve federal protection. They also contend that de-listing the wolves will lead to them being hunted until their numbers are once again declining.

 

Critics of this action have vowed to fight it in court.

 

Do you support removing wolves from the endangered species list?

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