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West Virginia Senate Bill 215

 

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

 

Senate Bill 215, Expand county commission authority over sewer and water rates: Passed 32 to 1 in the state Senate on February 20, 2017

 

To give county commissions the sole discretion and authority to amend the proposed rates, fees, and charges proposed by water and sewer districts, rather than simply approve or reject the proposed rates.

 

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Virginia House Bill 1536

 

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House Bill 1536, Ban grade school suspensions and expulsions: Passed 49 to 47 in the state House on February 6, 2017 and 33 to 7 in the state Senate on February 13, 2017

 

To prohibit students up to third grade from being suspended for more than five days or expelled except for drug, firearm, and certain other criminal offenses.

 

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Senate Unveils its Answer to Obamacare

 

After weeks of bill drafting behind closed doors, Republicans in the Senate have released their proposal to partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.


The bill departs from Obamacare in some key ways:

 

  • No government mandate to purchase health insurance.
  • No government mandate on employers to provide health insurance.
  • It would create a $112 billion fund to reimburse insurance companies who suffer losses.
  • Medicaid would be turned into a per capita block grant.
  • Funding would be frozen for Planned Parenthood.

 

However, the bill also keeps some key aspects of Obamacare in place:

 

  • It retains the mandate that insurance companies allow children to remain on their parent’s insurance until age 26.
  • It retains the mandates on insurance companies that they may not deny insurance to someone due to pre-existing conditions.
  • It also continues the mandate that insurance companies cover certain conditions, although states could alter what is defined as an “essential health benefit.”

 

No Democrats have signaled that they would support this legislation. In fact, there are some questions on whether there are enough Republican votes for this bill to pass the Senate.

 

Do you think this health care legislation is an improvement over Obamacare? Or do you think senators should oppose these changes?

 

U.S. House Bill 10

 

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House Bill 10, Repeal portions of Dodd-Frank financial regulations: Passed 233 to 186 in the U.S. House on June 8, 2017

 

To repeal a ban on banks investing in securities and derivatives, end limits on fees charged to retailers for debit card transactions, exempt banks from some regulations if they maintain certain capital-to-asset ratios, remove the Financial Stability Oversight Council's authority to regulate non-bank financial institutions under “too big to fail” rules, and expand congressional oversight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among other things.

 

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Tennessee Senate Bill 921

 

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Senate Bill 921, Legalize silencers: Passed 28 to 1 in the state Senate on April 3, 2017 and 74 to 18 in the state House on May 1, 2017

 

To remove the prohibition in state law on possessing a firearms silencer.

 

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Pennsylvania House Bill 1071

 

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House Bill 1071, Ban bag taxes: Passed 102 to 87 in the state House on April 25, 2017 and 28 to 21 in the state Senate on June 14, 2017

 

To prohibit local governments from imposing a tax, surcharge, or ban on plastic bags.

 

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Ohio Senate Bill 44

 

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Senate Bill 44, Expand access to electronic filing for campaign finance reports: Passed 33 to 9 in the state Senate on March 15, 2017

 

Expands the categories of political entities that are permitted to file their campaign finance statements electronically to include candidates for the State Board of Education and certain local candidates and political entities.

 

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Off to the Races with Your Tax Dollars

 

Would you pay to see dogs race?

 

If you’re a West Virginian, whether you watch it or not, you’re paying for it. The state gives $14 million in subsidies to the dog racing industry. Legislators passed a bill that would have ended this subsidy, as well as eliminated the mandate that two of the state’s casinos offer dog racing. The governor vetoed this bill, saying, “Eliminating support for the greyhounds is a job killer and I can’t sign it.”

 

West Virginia is not the only state that subsidizes the racing industry. States from New York to Ohio to Maryland provide subsidies to horse racing. These subsidies take different forms, but clearly many legislators think that it is important to give some form of government support to racing.

 

These horse racing subsidies also exist in Pennsylvania. Like West Virginia, there has been an effort this year to end state support for the industry. Some legislators are trying to kill the subsidy fund as part of a plan to deal with a budget deficit.

 

Also this year, a Louisiana legislator withdrew his bill that would have redirected horse racing subsidies to educational scholarships.

 

Supporters of subsidies say that they are necessary to help an industry that is struggling but still contributes to the state. Opponents say that these subsidies are little more than corporate welfare that is prolonging the life of an increasingly unpopular sport.

 

What do you think about subsidizing horse and dog racing? Are these subsidies a good use of tax dollars? Or should they be ended?

 

Missouri Senate Bill 395

 

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Senate Bill 395, Lower minimum age for accountant licensing: Passed 33 to 0 in the state Senate on April 6, 2017

 

To lower the age that someone can become licensed as an accountant from 21 to 18 and revise several definitions related to the profession of accountancy.

 

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Michigan House Bill 4215

 

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House Bill 4215, Repeal rule banning car running in driveway: Passed 77 to 30 in the state House on May 2, 2017 and 30 to 6 in the state Senate on June 13, 2017

 

To repeal a ban on leaving an unattended vehicle running other than on a public street or highway. This would allow warming up the car in the driveway in winter.

 

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Iowa Senate Bill 438

 

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Senate Bill 438: To prohibit state or local governments from requiring "project labor agreements" on public works projects: Passed 57 to 41 in the state House on April 4, 2017

 

To prohibit government managers from requiring "project labor agreements" on taxpayer-funded construction projects. In effect, such agreements require union labor.

 

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Will the Feds Crack Down on Medical Marijuana?

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to go after your medical marijuana.

 

At least, he wants the discretion to do so. Currently, there is a restriction that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money from interfering with medical marijuana operations in states where they are legal. Congress placed this prohibition on the annual spending bill that funds the Department of Justice, even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

 

According to a letter sent by Attorney General Sessions to members of Congress, the Trump Administration wants Congress to remove this restriction:

 

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

 

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein echoed his boss’s views. According to his recent testimony to Congress, “We follow the law and the science. From a legal and scientific perspective, marijuana it is an unlawful drug.”

 

There is also a policy within the Justice Department that gives guidelines on the steps that states can take to avoid federal prosecution of medical marijuana operations within their borders. However, the attorney general can revoke this guidance at any time.

 

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit medicinal use of marijuana. During past years, there has been strong bipartisan support in Congress for the prohibition on the Justice Department’s efforts to interfere with medical marijuana. There is no indication on what Congress will do this year, however.

 

Do you think that the federal government should refrain from interfering with medical marijuana in states where it is legal? Or do you think that the Justice Department should enforce the federal marijuana prohibition, regardless of what state laws say?

 

Florida House Bill 327

 

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House Bill 327, Mandate household movers disclose sexual offenses: Passed 119 to 0 in the state House on May 3, 2017 and 36 to 0 in the state Senate on May 2, 107

 

To require that household movers inform a customer if an employee with access to their property has been convicted of a sexual offense. A mover who knowingly fails to disclose this information will receive a minimum $10,000 fine.

 

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Colorado Senate Bill 305

 

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Senate Bill 305, Restore primary elections for U.S. President and allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries: Passed 33 to 2 in the state Senate on May 10, 2017 and 65 to 0 in the state House on May 9, 2017

 

To conform state election laws with the results of voter-approved ballot initiatives in 2016. The bill would restore the party-based primary voting system for the U.S. Presidential election. The bill requires the general assembly to pay for any presidential primary elections. The bill also provides for unaffiliated voters to receive ballots for primary elections.

 

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Arizona House Bill 2366

 

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House Bill 2366, Maintain property tax breaks for farmers: Passed 30 to 0 in the state house on February 22, 2017 and 59 to 0 in the state Senate on April 20, 2017

 

To allow property tax reductions to remain in place on inactive agricultural land if it is inactive because of limits on water allocations.

 

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Sanctuary Cities for Abortion?



The notion of “sanctuary cities,” where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, is well-known, if controversial. Now St. Louis is trying to set itself up as a sanctuary city for abortion. That has prompted a lot of controversy in Missouri.

 

Earlier this year, St. Louis passed an ordinance that prohibited an employer or a housing provider from discriminating against women for their “reproductive choices.” This means that an employer could not fire an employee because she got an abortion, but it also means that a pro-life family planning clinic would be forced to hire an applicant who was intending to have an abortion.

 

During their regular session this year, legislators attempted to pass a law that would have overturned the St. Louis ordinance. Such a bill cleared the House of Representatives, but failed in the Senate. Governor Eric Greitens has called a special session of the legislature in another attempt to get a pre-emption law passed.

 

This special session has undertaken a wider agenda than just dealing with the St. Louis ordinance, however. Lawmakers are also considering bills that would impose a variety of restrictions on abortions, such as unannounced inspections of clinics and providing the attorney general power to prosecute abortion law violations.

 

It is unclear what, if any, legislation will come from the special session.

 

Do you support the concept of a “sanctuary city” for abortion? Or do you think that Missouri legislators are on the right track by imposing more restrictions on abortion?

 

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 240

 

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Assembly Bill 240: Strengthen school attendance requirements for Wisconsin Works recipients’ kids: Passed 62 to 35 in the state Assembly on May 10, 2017

 

To impose penalties on Wisconsin Works participants if their children are habitually truant or fail to meet school attendance requirements. Current law requires that children of Wisconsin Works participants must be enrolled in school.

 

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More Offshore Drilling May be Coming

 

 

In late April, President Trump signed an executive order that could open up more areas in the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic to offshore drilling. This move comes in sharp contrast to President Obama, whose actions sought to place more areas off-limits to oil and gas exploration off of America’s coastline.

 

President Trump’s order does not mean that offshore drilling in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf or other areas will happen; instead, it begins a regulatory process that could eventually lead to oil and gas production in these areas. This would take years, perhaps over a decade, to happen.

 

Reaction from energy companies has been supportive, while environmental groups have expressed their displeasure. Politicians from the affected states are falling on both sides of this issue.

 

In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Mark Warner, both Democrats, support offshore drilling as long as Virginia receives a share of the revenue from it. Republican Representative Barbara Comstock from that state has introduced legislation that would provide this revenue-sharing for the commonwealth. Other Republican members of that state’s delegation support offshore drilling, while Democratic members from the House delegation oppose it.

 

Alaska’s elected officials, such as Republican Rep. Don Young, are strongly in favor of expanded oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. At the opposite end of the country, Florida Democrats such as Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schulz have vowed to fight the president on this issue.

 

North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, has expressed concerns about offshore drilling but has not stated that he opposes the President’s action. GOP Congressman Richard Hudson has praised the president for his move.

 

Do you support offshore oil and gas exploration? Or do you think that drilling for oil and gas off of our nation’s coast is the wrong direction for our energy policy?

 

Virginia House Bill 2342

 

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House Bill 2342: Allow state to establish charter schools: Passed 55 to 42 in the state House on February 7, 2017

 

To allow the state Board of Education to establish regional charter schools. Current law gives the power to establish charter schools to local boards of education. In effect, this law would make it easier for charter schools to open in Virginia.

 

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West Virginia Senate Bill 233

 

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

 

Senate Bill 233, Allow electronic surveillance in child care centers: Passed 32 to 0 in the state Senate on February 17, 2017

 

To exclude from protection under the state wiretapping and electronic surveillance act any oral communications uttered in a child care center so long as there are written notices posted informing persons that their communications are subject to being intercepted.

 

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