Volume XX, No. 8
March 12, 2012
The next issue of Capitol Journal will be available on March 19th.
Nearly a decade ago, observers claimed the debate over supply-side economics to be over. But now, the theory known as "trickle down economics" under President Ronald Reagan is enjoying a resurgence in the states.
Supply-side surge in states
Nearly a decade ago, Wall Street Journal columnist and CNBC "Capital Report" co-host Alan Murray declared the long-running debate over supply-side economics to have finally come to an end — and "with a whimper." An extensive analysis of President George W. Bush's tax cut plan by the Congressional Budget Office — under the supervision of a supply-side economist and employing supply-side methodology no less — indicated that the proposed cuts would have only a "relatively small" effect on the economy, Murray stated. Whether the debate over supply-side economics ever really ended is itself debatable, but its tenets and one of its key proponents have found new life in the states.
According to Washington lore, supply-side economics got its start in 1974 when a University of Chicago economics professor by the name of Arthur Laffer, while having lunch with then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Cheney, sketched a curve on a cocktail napkin suggesting that cutting taxes could spur economic growth and actually increase rather than shrink tax revenues. The "Laffer Curve," which rested on the premise that there was a rate of taxation that maximized government revenues, and which Laffer himself admitted was not an original idea, went on to inspire the economic policies of President Ronald Reagan, under whose administration the top marginal income tax rate dropped from 70 percent to 28 percent.
Reagan's immediate successor, George H.W. Bush, famously derided Reagan's supply-side policies as "voodoo economics." More recently President Obama took aim at what he and others refer to as "trickle-down economics." In a speech Obama gave on the economy in December he said: "there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let's respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune.... If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else." Obama went on to say that it's a theory that "speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government.... But here's the problem: It doesn't work. It has never worked."
As far as Obama and other opponents of supply-side economics are concerned, all the tax cuts of the 1980s did was create massive deficits and widen the income gap between the rich and poor. Laffer, however, maintains that supply-side policies tripled the net wealth of American households and businesses between 1981 and 2007, from $20 trillion to $60 trillion. He also says his more recent research shows states with lower taxes do better economically, as reflected in "Rich States, Poor States," the report on state competitiveness he compiles each year in conjunction with the American Legislative Exchange Council.
And Laffer has found a receptive audience for his views in several states. He is reportedly being paid $75,000 to advise Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) — who has said, "'Rich, States, Poor States' should be required reading for governors" — on how to reduce and flatten his state's personal income tax. He is supporting a bid in Missouri by the group Let Voters Decide to hold a statewide vote on whether to replace the individual income tax with a higher sales tax. And he contributed to a report by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs that evidently helped shape Gov. Mary Fallin's (R) proposal to phase out that state's income tax. He also served on the tax advisory board of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), helped Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) abolish the estate tax last year, and actively supported Gov. Mitch Daniel's (R) push to make Indiana the nation's 23rd "right-to-work" state.
These efforts don't mark Laffer's entree into state policymaking. His involvement dates back to at least 1978, when he helped draft California's Proposition 13, the landmark initiative that imposed strict limits on property taxes.
But his recent state-level activities have also come in for criticism. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a liberal think tank based in Washington, D.C., has called Laffer's analysis for the OCPA advocating for the elimination of Oklahoma's income tax "flawed" and "junk economics." ITEP Senior Analyst Carl Davis said Laffer failed to take into account factors other than taxes that might affect economic growth, such as energy, in arguing that states without an income tax like Alaska, Texas and Wyoming have top-performing economies.
Retired Wichita State University economist William T. Terrell, likewise, challenged Laffer's assertion that his research showing the nine states without an individual income tax are outperforming nine high-income-tax-rate states justified altering Kansas' income tax system, in an editorial this month in The Wichita Eagle. Terrell said other research suggested all nine no-income-tax states enjoyed revenue sources not available to Kansas.
"This is what enables them to abandon personal income taxes," Terrell argued.
And some say Laffer's entire argument is based on a faulty method of calculating state tax rates by combining the top marginal state and federal rate in each state.
"Without this flawed regression analysis, there is not even the semblance of an argument left to support the idea that eliminating the income tax will spark the miraculous economic benefits that Laffer claims," David Blatt, director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, wrote in a blog post discrediting the OCPA's income tax elimination proposal.
Even moderate Democrats like Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who won a second term last year by defeating a Republican candidate — state Senate President David Williams — who had pledged to eliminate the state's individual and corporate income taxes, have expressed skepticism about Laffer's ideas.
"There are a lot of economic philosophies out there," says Beshear, who apparently doesn't subscribe to the one advanced by Laffer that holds tax rates drive economic growth.
"By far the biggest issue for companies looking to locate is the quality of the workforce," he contends.
Laffer, who counts Democrats Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy among his favorite presidents because of their pro-growth policies, said he hopes the interest in his research isn't "Republican-only."
But that seems likely, given that the debate over supply-side objectives like cutting marginal tax rates is now far more about politics than economics — if there was ever a time when that wasn't the case. As the noted economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman cynically put it: "The specific set of foolish ideas that has laid claim to the name 'supply side economics' is a crank doctrine that would have had little influence if it did not appeal to the prejudices of editors and wealthy men."
(STATELINE.ORG, NEW YORK TIMES, INSTITUTE ON TAXATION AND ECONOMIC POLICY, OKLAHOMA COUNCIL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, OKLAHOMA POLICY INSTITUTE, WICHITA EAGLE, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL, CNBC, WHITEHOUSE.GOV)
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
The Week in Session
States in Regular Session: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, SC, SD, TN, US, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
States in Recess: NC, SD
Special Sessions in Recess: DE "b"
States Currently Prefiling or Drafting for 2012: LA
States Projected to Adjourn: AR, FL, UT, VA, WV, WY
States Adjourned in 2012: OR, NM, WA Letters indicate special/extraordinary sessions
— Compiled By AMY LARSON
(session information current as of 03/08/2012)
Source: State Net database
Bird’s eye view
Voter ID continues to be hot issue
Voter ID was a hot topic in 2011, with legislation related to the issue introduced in 34 states and passed in six, although three of those bills were ultimately vetoed. This year is shaping up to be little different. Voter ID measures have been introduced in 32 states. Twelve of those states are looking at — and one state, New Mexico, has rejected (HB 113) — new voter ID proposals. Eleven states are weighing proposals to strengthen existing voter ID laws. And nine are considering amendments to voter ID laws passed last year, such as whether to allow student IDs to serve as a proper form of photo identification at the polls.
Budget & taxes
FL JUDGE SIDES AGAINST STATE IN PENSION CASE: A Florida circuit court ruled last week that Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Republican legislative leaders' decision last year to cut public employee salaries to offset the state's contribution to their pension fund was an unconstitutional breach of contract.
"The 2011 Legislature, when faced with a budget shortfall, turned to the employees of the State of Florida and ignored the contractual rights given to them by the Legislature in 1974," Leon County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford stated in her ruling. The three percent cut to public employees' salaries without renegotiating their contracts was an "unconstitutional taking of private property without full compensation" that violated the employees' right "to collectively bargain over conditions of employment," she wrote.
The ruling blows a $1 billion hole in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 state budgets. It also puts local governments back on the hook for $600 million in retirement contributions.
The Florida Education Association, which had filed the lawsuit challenging the pay cut along with other state and local governments took the opportunity to chide Scott and lawmakers.
"This was a gamble that the governor and legislature made last year," said Ron Meyer, an attorney for the FEA. "They gambled taxpayer's money that they could balance the budget on the backs of the hardworking employees of this state. They lost that bet today."
Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R), in turn, criticized Fulford.
"I think this is an example of judicial activism," he told reporters.
But Meyer countered that "judicial activism is when a court ignores the law" and that Fulford, on the contrary, had based her ruling in part on a 1981 Florida Supreme Court decision which held that although the Legislature had the authority to cut public employees' salaries, it could not breach a contract it had with existing employees.
"This court cannot set aside its constitutional obligations because a budget crisis exists in the State of Florida, Fulford stated. "To find otherwise would mean that a contract with our state government has no meaning, and that the citizens of our state can place no trust in the work of our Legislature."
Nonetheless Scott promised a "swift appeal" of the case, which has already cost the state $500,000 in legal fees. (MIAMI HERALD)
BUDGET COUP IN WA: Something unusual happened in Washington this month, an occurrence a Seattle Times editorial said amounted to "a political earthquake not seen in 25 years": The state's Democrat-controlled Senate passed a budget written by Republicans.
Three conservative Democrats, Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, joined with all 22 of the chamber's Republicans to do what Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown had been unable to do, come up with the 25 votes needed to pass a spending plan. Democratic leaders initially vowed to ignore the GOP budget, but relations between the two parties had reportedly thawed last week ahead of the regular session's March 8 adjournment date and a possible special session.
"We're talking," said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Ed Murray (D), who noted he had sent Sen. Joe Zarelli (R), the chief architect of the Republican budget, a list of ideas for a possible compromise with the House, which has passed its own plan and where Democrats hold a 56-42 majority.
"The Senate passed a budget, the House has passed a budget, we need to reconcile those differences," Zarelli said. "The parties are going to have to work together or we don't get out of here."
They have their work cut out for them. The two plans differ by $1 billion, with the Republicans' version making deeper cuts and the Democrats' alternative relying on accounting maneuvers, such as postponing a required payment to K-12 schools. (STATELINE.ORG, SEATTLE TIMES)
BUDGETS IN BRIEF: A government-shrinking bill passed by the OREGON Legislature this month (OR H 4131) would require state agencies with more than 100 employees to reduce their manager-to-employee ratios each year by a factor of one until they reach a ratio of 11:1. The plan still has to be approved by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) (STATELINE.ORG). • OHIO Gov. John Kasich (R) wants to impose a new tax on the form of oil and gas drilling known as horizontal fracking to give Ohioans a personal income tax cut (CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER). • Also in OHIO, Gov. Kasich turned down federal disaster assistance for the series of deadly tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest over the weekend. Democrats accused him of playing to his base, but Kasich said he would not rule out asking for federal help later if the situation warrants it. (STATELINE.ORG, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER). • A $36 million tax cut for IDAHO's top earners is sailing through the state Legislature. The measure — HB 563 — is co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House and also has the backing of Gov. Butch Otter (R) (SPOKESMAN-REVIEW [SPOKANE]). • FLORIDA legislative leaders reached a deal on a nearly $70 billion budget last week (HB 5001), highlighted by the creation of the Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland (MIAMI HERALD). • Democrats who control the MARYLAND Senate are reportedly rallying around a plan to abandon Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed tax hike on residents making $100,000 or more and instead seek a quarter-of-a-percent, across-the-board income tax increase. Members of the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee, said O'Malley's plan has drawn too much public resistance (WASHINGTON POST). • Corporate tax credits cost LOUISIANA $3 billion between 2005 and 2010, according to a legislative auditor's report that raises questions about the lack of accountability in such incentive programs. According to Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, agencies that administer the programs aren't required to track their performance, making it impossible to determine whether a particular credit is a good investment for the state (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS]).
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
Politics & leadership
WESTERN STATES STAGE SECOND SAGEBRUSH REBELLION: When Congress passed the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in 1976, declaring that hundreds of millions of acres of land in the West would be held in federal ownership unless disposing of it served the national interest, a group of Western states joined together to try to force the federal government to divest itself of those holdings. The uprising, which came to be known as the Sagebrush Rebellion, ultimately didn't amount to much, and after the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 — a former California governor who was sympathetic to the plight of the Western states — the rebellion died down.
But the Sagebrush Rebels are on the march again. Last week the Utah Legislature passed a bill (HB 148) setting a 2014 deadline for the federal government to cede control of lands within the state's borders that aren't national parks, military installations or designated wilderness areas and establishing a mechanism to sue if it does not. Similar legislation (HCM 2002) is also working its way through the Arizona statehouse. And with the American Legislative Exchange Council supportive of the idea, the same could soon be happening in other Western states.
But legal experts say the efforts aren't likely to get any further than they did in the 1970s because only Congress has the power to dispose of federal land.
"That's not really open to dispute," said Joseph Feller, a professor of natural resources law at Arizona State University. "The states have absolutely no power to take over the federal public land. They've tried it before."
John Leshy, a professor at the University of California, Hastings College of Law agrees.
"Legally, it's a ridiculous claim. It would be thrown out in federal court in five seconds."
Environmentalists also argue that state officials lack the resources to care for such large tracts of land.
"How in the world do they think they could manage these federal public lands?" said Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club.
And some say its just election-year saber-rattling by Republicans.
"It's mostly about saying, 'Give us back our land. We're mad as hell about it,'" said University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank.
But the states do have legitimate grievances. The federal government controls about 40 percent of the land in Arizona and about 70 percent of the land in Utah, far more than the amount of land it controls in Eastern states.
Utah lawmakers also say the federal government made an agreement with the state when it received statehood in 1896 that it would sell the public lands it held there with 5 percent of the proceeds going to public education.
"We still believe they have not agreed to live up to their side of the contract," said Utah Senate President Michael Waddoups (R).
Still, even some lawmakers who voted for Utah's HB 148 evidently weren't too optimistic about its chances of success.
"I suspect it will take the Supreme Court less time to throw this out than it takes us to debate it," said Rep. Evan Vickers (R).
Utah Rep. Ken Ivory (R), one of the leaders of the effort, sounded much more like a rebel, however.
"Are we not a state?" he said. "If sovereignty means anything, it means not having to say pretty please or mother may I to exercise our rights as a state." (DESERET NEWS [SALT LAKE CITY], ASSOCIATED PRESS, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT)
OR COMPLETES HISTORIC SHORT SESSION: Oregon lawmakers accomplished quite a bit in their first constitutionally mandated, even-year, short session last week. In the span of just 34 days, they rebalanced the state's two-year budget, approved health insurance exchange legislation (for more on this, see Governors in this issue) and passed measures designed to help homeowners in foreclosure. Although they failed to achieve one of their main goals for the session, removing barriers to job growth, most seemed satisfied with the work they did.
"Look what we accomplished in four weeks," said Sen. Alan Bates (D). "We got some good policy through. We balanced the budget. It was really a good session in a lot of ways."
Rep. Sal Esquivel (R) also gave the session high marks, but he recommended reducing the number of bills in the next short session.
"Three hundred bills in 30 days is quite a few," he said. "I would rather see us do quality, instead of quantity."
He also suggested that short sessions be limited to budget issues.
"Anything that we do during this short session should have to do with budget or money," he said. "I think [the session] was too fast, too quick and we didn't spend enough time to discuss the issues."
Others saw the same problem but proposed an alternate solution: lengthening the short session by 30 days and shortening the odd-year session by the same amount.
"The five-month [odd-year session] is too long," said Sen. Jason Atkinson (R). "The one-month [even-year session], in my mind, is too short. You get to an end day...and you see the Senate voting on policy bills that came from the budget committee, which is not how you're supposed to do things." (MAIL TRIBUNE [MEDFORD], STATESMAN JOURNAL [SALEM])
POLITICS IN BRIEF: A federal court in San Antonio set May 29 as the date for TEXAS' primary elections and July 31 for runoffs, finally settling the state's election season, which had been upended by battles over redistricting (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN). • A federal magistrate judge released her proposal last week for consolidating NEW YORK's congressional districts from 29 to 27. State lawmakers said the plan, which closely follows the lines proposed by Common Cause and other good-government groups, could be enough to break their deadlock over redistricting (DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE [ROCHESTER]). • Forty-nine proposed changes to the LOUISIANA Constitution, including one that would strip lawmakers of much of their power in drawing legislative districts, have been filed for debate in the legislative session that begins on March 12. With such proposals requiring a two-thirds vote in each house — along with the approval of the state's voters — only about 10 percent to 15 percent of those proposed each year end up passing the Legislature, according to policy analysts (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS])
— Compiled by KOREY CLARK
(03/08/2012 - 03/29/2012)
Alabama Primary Election
US House (All)
Mississippi Primary Election
US House (All)
Illinois Primary Election
US House (All)
New York Special Election
Assembly Districts 93, 100, 103 and 145
Senate District 27
CHRISTIE SAYS NYPD HARMING COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORTS: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) expressed concern last week that growing mistrust of police among the state's Muslim community over the New York Police Department's past surveillance of Garden State mosques and Muslim-owned businesses could be weakening the government's ability to ward off future terrorist attacks.
Christie's comments came after the state's top FBI agent, Newark Division Director Michael Ward, told the Newark Star-Ledger last Tuesday that the NYPD's surveillance, which occurred in 2007, had damaged the agency's relationship with the state's Muslim community. Ward said the surveillance had also weakened the agency's ability to sniff out terrorist activity before it happens, saying "we're less knowledgeable, we have blind spots, and there's more risk." Ward further expressed his dismay later at a news conference.
"It hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what's going on around the state, and thus it causes problems and makes the job of the [FBI] Joint Terrorism Task force much, much harder," he told reporters. The governor echoed Ward's sentiments later that day at a news conference in Trenton, saying the clandestine nature of the surveillance is what irritated him the most.
"I think what [Ward is] getting at really is this secrecy, it's this unwillingness to work with New Jersey law enforcement," he said. "I don't have any problem with the NYPD coming to New Jersey. But if you're going to come, let New Jersey law enforcement know about it so we can work effectively together."
Last Monday, Christie indicated he was reviewing a pair of executive orders signed in 2005 by Gov. Richard Codey (D) — Nos. 43 and 44 — that granted the NYPD limited authority to conduct operations in New Jersey. Those orders allow NYPD police powers in New Jersey along railroad rights of way and in ferry terminals. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has since claimed the EOs give NYPD legal authority to work in New Jersey without informing local officials first. Bloomberg also called Christie's allegations "ridiculous."
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne also defended the agency's actions, saying plainclothes agents were merely observing people from "countries of interest" in public establishments, which he said was "perfectly within the purview of the NYPD." Browne also noted several recent cases where NYPD worked in direct conjunction with Garden State police on anti-terrorism cases.
Christie said any changes to the EOs will happen only after Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa has completed his investigation into the matter. (MIAMI HERALD, STAR-LEDGER [NEWARK], THE TIMES OF TRENTON)
KITZHABER AGENDA SWEEPS OR LEGISLATURE: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) appears to be the big winner in the Beaver State's recently-wrapped legislative session (for more on this, see Politics & leadership in this issue). Kitzhaber went into the session championing two major health care reform bills and two equally significant education measures. Lawmakers endorsed all four, with the governor ceding almost nothing in return.
None of the measures had an easy ride. Three of the four measures — SB 1581, which requires school districts, colleges and universities to forge achievement compacts with the state in order to obtain state funding; HB 4165, which reorganizes the state's early childhood programs; and HB 4164, which creates a state health insurance exchange — passed last Monday, the session's final day. The final measure, SB 1580, which creates coordinated care programs for the state's Medicaid and Medicare patients, was approved the week before.
Kitzhaber celebrated the wins by inviting Senate President Peter Courtney (D) and House Co-Speakers Bruce Hanna (R) and Arnie Roblan (D) to join him in signing the bills last Monday evening. He also congratulated lawmakers for what he said was their willingness to "put Oregon and Oregonians first" over politics.
"There were some bumps along the way and everyone was stressed in a short session," he said. "I just want to take this moment to congratulate the Legislature for a truly remarkable success." (STATE NET, OREGONIAN [PORTLAND], REGISTER-GUARD [EUGENE], KVAL.COM [EUGENE])
SNYDER OUTLINES NEW ANTICRIME PROPOSAL: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) outlined a new plan calling for a more concentrated effort to combat crime in the Wolverine State's most crime-ridden cities. Snyder's proposal included hiring 180 new state troopers, 20 new forensic technicians in the state crime lab and re-opening the Flint city jail. Largely as a result of budget cuts, the Wolverine State lost nearly 15 percent of its law enforcement employees between 2001 and 2010, the steepest percentage drop in the nation, according to FBI statistics. The state is home to four cities with a population of 50,000 or more — Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw — that rank among the top 10 for violent crime. Snyder said the state's efforts would focus on those communities (DETROIT FREE PRESS, DETROIT NEWS, LANSING STATE JOURNAL).
JINDAL ED REFORM DETAILS RELEASED: Lawmakers pre-filed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) education reform proposals last week. The governor's sweeping reform package would include drastically overhauling teacher tenure protections and evaluation procedures (HB 974 and SB 603), expanding charter schools and state-funded school voucher programs (HB 976 and SB 597) and changes to the Pelican State's early childhood education offerings (HB 933 and SB 581). Lawmakers are expected to take up the proposals when the session begins on March 12. (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS], STATE NET)
GOVERNORS IN BRIEF: Lawyers for CONNECTICUT Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) filed a court motion last week to limit disclosure of materials to a fellow Democrat who sued him for slander in 2010. Malloy also asked for a judgment in his favor to end the case. The plaintiff, Lisa "Lee" Whitnum, has accused Malloy of calling her anti-Semitic (HARTFORD COURANT). • SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) signed legislation that will give one-time payments to South Dakota school districts and medical facilities that provide care to low-income people (RAPID CITY JOURNAL). • NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez (R) signed SB 240, legislation that will provide funding to pay for the cost of the state's medical marijuana program. Under the measure, fees paid by medical cannabis outlets, which range from $10,000 to $30,000 a year, will now go directly to a fund specifically created to administer the program (DAILY TIMES [FARMINGTON]). • WISCONSIN elections officials say the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R) and five others will not be held until early June. Officials said they wanted to wait until June to avoid conflicts with the April 3 GOP presidential primary and the May 28 Memorial Day holiday (POST CRESCENT [APPLETON]). • NEW JERSEY Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced a bipartisan legislative fix to save the Garden State's anti-bullying law. In January, the state Council on Local Mandates declared the law to be an unfunded mandate and gave lawmakers 60 days to change the statute or have it invalidated. The proposed fix will provide $1 million in funding to be awarded as grants through New Jersey's Department of Education to help districts with programming, approaches and personnel issues. A seven-member taskforce will also be created to draw up guidance for school districts to follow in implementing the law. Lawmakers must approve the changes (RECORD OF BERGEN COUNTY).
— Compiled By RICH EHISEN
Here are some of the topics you will see covered in upcoming issues of the State Net Capitol Journal:
- The Amazon tax
- Child protection
- Election year politics
BUSINESS: The OREGON House and Senate approve SB 1552, which requires banks and homeowners behind on their mortgage to jointly attend mediation to attempt to avoid foreclosure. The measure, which also bars lenders from beginning foreclosure proceedings while simultaneously agreeing to a loan modification plan, moves to Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) for review (GAZETTE TIMES [CORVALLIS]). • NEBRASKA lawmakers give first round approval to LB 863, which would make film, television and commercial ventures eligible to receive tax breaks for moving their productions to the Cornhusker State. It faces additional votes (LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR). • The IOWA Senate approves SB 2277, a bill that allows businesses to make mixed drinks that can take up to 72 hours of sitting before consumed. The measure, which specifically bars caffeine, stimulants and hallucinogens in the drinks, moves to the House (DES MOINES REGISTER). • Still in IOWA, Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signs HF 589, which makes it a crime to obtain access to an agricultural facility under false pretenses or to lie on a job application to obtain that access (DES MOINES REGISTER).
CRIME & PUNISHMENT: The ARIZONA Senate approves SB 1318, which would require anyone who processes photo-enforcement tickets for a company to be licensed as a private investigator. It has moved to the House (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX]). • MINNESOTA Gov. Mark Dayton (D) vetoes HF 1467, legislation that would have expanded the Gopher State's so-called "Castle Doctrine" to allow residents to use deadly force to defend themselves wherever they have a legal right to be. Dayton cited opposition from law enforcement for his veto (MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE). • Still in MINNESOTA, Gov. Dayton signs SF 1371, which allows police to sell confiscated firearms to federally licensed firearms dealers (MINNESOTA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE). • The HAWAII House approves HB 2751, which would make disorderly and contemptuous behavior at the Aloha State Legislature a petty misdemeanor. It moves to the Senate (HONOLULU STAR BULLETIN).
EDUCATION: The OREGON Senate approves HB 4077, which requires Beaver State school districts to develop programs to educate students about dating violence. It moves to Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) for review (OREGONIAN [PORTLAND]). • Still in OREGON, the state Higher Education Board unanimously adopts an internal policy that prohibits anyone who has signed a contract with the university from carrying a gun on campus. The ban goes into effect immediately (GAZETTE TIMES [CORVALLIS]). • Staying in OREGON, Gov. Kitzhaber signs HB 4165, which reorganizes the state's early childhood development programs in an effort to better prepare children for kindergarten. Gov. Kitzhaber also signs HB 1580, which requires school districts, colleges and universities to forge achievement compacts with the Beaver State government (OREGONIAN [PORTLAND]). • The COLORADO Supreme Court upholds a lower court's ruling that overturned a Centennial State law barring guns on University of Colorado campuses. The Court said CU regents had overstepped their authority by implementing a rule that was in conflict with a state law allowing properly permitted weapons owners to carry their weapons "in all areas of the state" (DENVER POST). • The UTAH Senate approves HB 363, which defines sex education as abstinence-only and bans instruction in sexual intercourse, homosexuality, contraceptive methods and sexual activity outside of marriage. It moves to Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for review (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • Also in UTAH, the House and Senate approve SB 64, which would implement annual evaluations and performance-based pay for public school administrators. It moves to Gov. Herbert for review (SALK LAKE TRIBUNE). • The WYOMING House approves SB 52, which would require Equality State public schools to screen students for dyslexia. The measure is now on its way to Gov. Matt Mead (R) for review (ASSOCIATED PRESS).
ENERGY: NEW MEXICO Gov. Susana Martinez (R) signs HB 201, legislation that will, in certain cases, expedite or eliminate some parts of the permitting process for geothermal energy companies operating in the Land of Enchantment (NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR'S OFFICE).
ENVIRONMENT: The WYOMING House and Senate approve SB 41, which would allow trophy hunting for wolves in a flexible zone around Yellowstone National Park beginning this fall. The measure, which would also classify wolves as predators that could be shot on sight in the rest of the state, moves to Gov. Matt Mead (R) for review (IDAHO STATESMAN [BOISE]). • KANSAS Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signs HB 2451, which eliminates the state's "use it or lose it" water policy that required water rights holders to use a certain amount of water each year (LAWRENCE JOURNAL WORLD). • CONNECTICUT Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) signs HB 5302, a bill that allows local municipalities to regulate solid waste facilities in the Constitution State (STATE NET).
HEALTH & SCIENCE: The UTAH Senate approves SB 40, which would increase state oversight of cosmetic medical procedures, including requiring businesses that represent themselves as "medical spas" to have a physician, nurse practitioner or osteopathic physician on the premises. It has moved to the House (DESERET NEWS [SALT LAKE CITY]). Still in UTAH, the House approves SB 208, which would bar the Beehive State from creating a health insurance exchange as called for in the federal Affordable Care Act. The measure has returned to the Senate for concurrence (STATE NET, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • OREGON, Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) signs SB 1580, which overhauls the state's Medicaid program by creating new provider groups called coordinated care organizations designed to emphasize prevention and integrate medical, dental and mental health care (OREGONIAN [PORTLAND]). • Also in OREGON, the House and Senate approve HB 4164, which would create a state health insurance exchange where residents and small businesses can shop for health insurance. It now goes to Gov. Kitzhaber (D), who has pledged to sign it into law (MAIL TRIBUNE [MEDFORD]). • The GEORGIA House approves HB 972, which would require pain management clinics to be licensed by the state. The measure, which would also establish minimum standards for prescribing pain medications, moves to the Senate (STATE NET). • The ARIZONA Senate approves SB 1359, which would prevent Grand Canyon State doctors from being sued for so-called "wrongful births," those in which a physician does not inform a pregnant woman of prenatal problems that could lead her to have an abortion. The bill moves to the House (ARIZONA DAILY SUN [FLAGSTAFF]).
IMMIGRATION: The GEORGIA Senate approves SB 458, which would bar undocumented immigrants from attending any of the state's 60 public colleges and universities. The measure moves to the House. If it eventually becomes law, the Peach State would join SOUTH CAROLINA and ALABAMA as the only states to bar undocumented immigrants from public colleges (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION). • The UTAH Senate approves SB 144, which would require non-attorney immigration consultants to register with the state Division of Consumer Protection, undergo criminal background checks and post bonds. The bill moves now to Gov. Gary Herbert (R) for review (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, STATE NET).
SOCIAL ISSUES: The WYOMING Senate rejects HB 82, which would have required people receiving welfare benefits to undergo random drug screening (LARAMIE BOOMERANG). • The ARIZONA Senate approves SB 1495, a bill that requires unemployment-insurance applicants to take a drug test at their own expense before they start receiving benefits. The measure, which also sets up random drug testing for those already getting benefits, moves to the House (ARIZONA REPUBLIC [PHOENIX]). • The KENTUCKY House approves HB 237, a bill that would require all social workers hired in the Bluegrass State after July 1, 2013 to be licensed by a national accrediting organization. Current social workers would have three years to obtain the license. The measure moves to the Senate (COURIER-JOURNAL [LOUISVILLE]). • The UTAH House approves HB 461, which would require women seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours before having the procedure. It is now in the Senate (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE). • The OKLAHOMA Senate approves SB 1274, legislation that would require doctors to tell women seeking an abortion that they have a right to hear a fetus' heartbeat before having the procedure. It moves now to the Sooner State House (STATE NET, REUTERS). • VIRGINIA Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) signs HB 462, legislation that requires Old Dominion women seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound. Doctors must also offer to allow the woman to view the image (REUTERS).
POTPOURRI: The COLORADO Senate rejects SB 137, which would have given residents the option to trade in U.S. minted gold and silver if the value of the dollar falls. Under current Centennial State law, people who want to spend gold and silver coins must convert them to paper dollars first (DENVER POST). • An ILLINOIS judge overturns a Prairie State law that makes it a felony to record a conversation without the consent of all the parties involved. Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks declared the law unconstitutional, saying it was too broad. State officials are considering an appeal (DAILY HERALD [ARLINGTON HEIGHTS]). • U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg rules that a MARYLAND law requiring residents to show a "good and substantial reason" to get a handgun permit is unconstitutional. State officials are expected to appeal the ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (THE CAPITAL [ANNAPOLIS]).
— Compiled by RICH EHISEN
In The Hopper
At any given time, State Net tracks tens of thousands of bills in all 50 states, US Congress, and the District of Columbia. Here's a snapshot of what's in the legislative works:
Number of Prefiles last week: 943
Number of Intros last week: 2,518
Number of Enacted/Adopted last week: 1277
Number of 2012 Prefiles to date: 9,292
Number of 2012 Intros to date: 59,856
Number of 2012 Session Enacted/Adopted overall to date: 6,326
Number of bills currently in State Net Database: 161,967
— Compiled By OWEN JARNAGIN
(measures current as of 03/07/2012)
Source: State Net database
Once around the statehouse lightly
JUST TRYING TO BE HELPFUL: Alabama Rep. Daniel Boman clearly does not think much of Gov. Robert Bentley's proposed jobs creation plan. As State Net notes, Boman has introduced HR 204, a resolution he says is "basically identical" to Bentley's, but with more "clear, straightforward" language. Examples include mocking references to jobs being important "unless they are the jobs of teachers" and other school personnel, an assertion that in the future government scientists will "almost certainly be able to grow money on trees" and that children should be working at real jobs instead of wasting time learning "useless skills like reading, writing and arithmetic that are completely unessential in today's economy." While Boman's sarcasm was meant to make a point, House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Blaine Galliher was not so amused. As the Birmingham News reports, Galliher called the resolution "inappropriate and unprofessional" and said it would be "going nowhere."
JUST A SNIP HERE AND THERE: Bowman isn't the only lawmaker who went over-the-top last week. As CNN reports, Georgia Rep. Yasmin Neal introduced HB 116, legislation to bar Peach State men from having vasectomies unless they are facing death or serious harm otherwise. Neal's measure further notes that vasectomies "leave thousands of children deprived of birth" and that it is "patently unfair" for the fellas to "avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood." Neal says she isn't serious about ridding the state of vasectomies, but she is deadly serious about making her colleagues recognize a woman's right to make decisions about her own body. Neal and Bowman were joined in sarcasm by Virginia Sen. Janet Howell, who addressed a controversial Old Dominion bill that would have forced women to undergo an invasive ultrasound before having an abortion by pushing to require men to have rectal exams and cardiac stress tests before obtaining prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medication. Touche.
NOW THIS IS WHAT YOU CALL POOR TIMING: Love him or loath him, Rush Limbaugh is undoubtedly famous. As the Kansas City Star reports, Limbaugh is in fact so well known that House Speaker Steve Tilley is inducting him into the Hall of Famous Missourians later this year, which entails placing a bronze bust of Limbaugh in the Statehouse's Capitol Rotunda alongside other notable Show Me State natives like Mark Twain and Harry Truman. While that might seem politically tone deaf given current events, Tilley says the decision to honor Limbaugh was made long before the radio blatherer ignited a universal uproar by calling a Georgetown University student a "slut" and a "prostitute." And while Dems and others are after him to call the whole thing off, Tilley has resisted, saying, ""It's not the 'Hall of Universally Loved Missourians.' It's the 'Hall of Famous Missourians.'" Good thing, because he sure as heck wouldn't make it into the former.
SPEAKING OF TONE DEAF: Whether it's fighting over the budget, social issues or even just the time of day, Virginia lawmakers haven't found a lot they agree on during this session. There is, however, at least one area where some Old Dominion lawmakers found common ground last week: a pay raise. As the Washington Post reports, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment and Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw took their respective floors last week to urge the Senate to tie their salaries to any future pay raises granted to state employees. Alas, spoilsport Sen. Jeffrey L. McWaters countered by chewing out his colleagues for even discussing cranking up its own pay when it can't seem to even pass a state budget. Thus chastened, the Senate soundly rejected the measure.
JUST ANOTHER HICKENBLOOPER: It seemed simple enough: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper had only to introduce Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to a group of school children. But as the Denver Post reports, such things rarely come easy to Hickenlooper, who somehow managed to fete Garcia as a "rising sex star." Realizing his error, the flustered gov corrected himself, saying he meant to call Garcia a "sex symbol." Whether either moniker was appropriate is debatable at best, but those close to him have apparently become used to the governor's frequent gaffes, known around the Capitol as "Hickenbloopers." If her husband's miscues bother First Lady Helen Thorpe, she hides it well. "John is a dork sometimes, which is of course why I love him," she says. But after still another awkward introductory gaffe last week — something about Michelle Obama in the shower — Thorpe warned him that "he better not go for a trifecta."
— By RICH EHISEN
In Case You Missed It
The Obama administration is about to finalize rules for another program designed to help millions of struggling homeowners refinance into lower interest mortgages. Whether it is more successful than previous efforts is yet to be determined.
In case you missed it, the story can be found on our Web site at http://www.statenet.com/capitol_journal/03-05-2012/html.
Editor: Rich Ehisen
Associate Editor: Korey Clark
Contributing Editor: Cynthia McKeeman and Art Zimmerman
Editorial Advisor: Lou Cannon
Correspondents: Richard Cox (CA), Lauren Davis (MA), Steve Karas (CA) and Ben Livingood (PA)
Graphic Design: Vanessa Perez Design