Contrast this with the states, who are getting things done -- some better than others. America is at its most prosperous and productive when there is limited government, less spending, less taxes, less dictation from Washington, and less encroachment into the states.
SGLF will promote innovative reforms advocated by our conservative elected leaders and defend them when the special interest proponents of the status quo attack these elected leaders. SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets, and efficiency in governing.
SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and is a strategic partner to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) - home to the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Republican Secretaries of State Committee.
Eye on Boise: Private school tax break plan heads to House vote
Nonini calculated that public schools would get $11 million less in state funding through the average daily attendance formula due to the switch, though that would be offset by an estimated $8 million in tax credits, his calculation for how much of the $10 million is likely to be used. Committee members had lots of questions about Nonini’s calculations but finally voted 12-4 in favor of the bill Friday. That moves it to the full House.
Health law may squeeze Mass.
The change, which affects about 720,000 small business employees and self-employed workers, is meant to bring Massachusetts in line with national policies governing how and when insurance is purchased. “It’s federal bureaucrats who have no idea how the Massachusetts market works,” said Lora Pellegrini, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, a trade group for state health insurers. “There will be a major disruption in the small group market.”
For some in Massachusetts, the new US rules — handed down by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Feb. 27 — are another affront to a state that pioneered expanded access to health care and has been working to rein in costs. Last year, the federal government put in place regulations that ended a Massachusetts discount for small businesses that banded together to buy coverage.
Voter Registration in Supreme Court Spotlight
The case centers on a dispute over Arizona’s voter-approved Proposition 200, which was enacted in 2004 and requires voters to prove their U.S. citizenship before registering to vote. The law contradicts the federal measure, and the clash has grown to incorporate the broader arguments over state control of elections featured prominently in recent court battles over voter ID requirements and a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.
The Arizona case differs from the voter ID cases, however. It focuses on a requirement that voters show certain identification prior to registration, rather than voting. The Supreme Court has upheld voter ID requirements to be constitutional. It also doesn’t directly involve the Voting Rights Act. At issue is the question of how much proof a voter should be required to show before registering, and whether the state can go above and beyond the federal statute. The Arizona law requires voters to show documents such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, naturalization papers or passport. Federal law requires states to use a simple form that asks voters to verify their citizenship under penalty of perjury.
Public lands legislation puts federal control in cross hairs
Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, claimed the U.S. Forest Service is twisting ranchers’ arms to get them to sign over their water rights. His HB166 and a companion resolution affirm ranchers’ right of access to public lands to develop their water rights. Other popular measures took aim at the Endangered Species Act, which one lawmaker condemned as "a federal tool that hurts us." The Legislature reauthorized a $300,000 appropriation to keep wolves out of Utah. SCR3 asks the feds to hand Utah prairie dog management to Iron County and HCR7, insists no private land be designated as critical habitat for the Gunnison sage grouse.
The Legislature also passed HB164, which would allow county authorities to "mitigate" national forests they deem a threat to public safety. Thursday evening the House concurred with a Senate amendment on the bill.
Senators preparing for oil tax bill vote
Democrats mount last-ditch 'resistance'
The latest version of S.B. 21 from the Senate Finance Committee includes provisions raising the base production tax rate to 35 percent and then lowering it to 33 percent by 2017, instituting a $5 per barrel production allowance, creating a 20 percent gross revenue exclusion for new oil, and removing the progressivity mechanism, which results in oil companies paying a larger share to the state when oil prices are high, from the tax structure. The state take is slightly progressive, but generally flat, as oil prices increase under the bill.
NJ proposes tougher rules for jobless benefits
Residents could register for work online from home or a public library, or at a county-run career center. The proposed change is designed to curtail unemployment fraud. The first testimony was by a representative of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. The business group supports the change.
Mo. Senate passes union paycheck deduction bill
Public safety unions representing first responders would be exempt and not have to seek consent from members under the Senate bill. The Senate voted 24-10 along party lines Thursday to send the measure to the House. Republicans supported the bill, while Democrats voted against it. The House on Wednesday passed a similar measure that would only require consent to spend dues on political contributions.
Kansas Senate debating union paycheck deductions
Supporters of the bill say they want to prevent public employee unions from funneling money deducted from members’ paychecks to candidates or causes opposed by those members. They also contend that state and local government agencies processing payrolls shouldn’t be entangled in such transactions. Opponents argue there’s no need for the legislation because union members must agree to any deductions. Public employee unions say the measure is meant to hurt their fundraising and is another politically motivated attempt by many Republicans to undermine groups that overwhelmingly support Democrats.
Legislature has chance for landmark educational reform
Gov. Bryant, Speaker Philip Gunn and I have worked closely together to create the best foundation for changing the quality of education, and legislators are in the final stages of passing education reform. The Senate and House are close to an agreement allowing school choice for parents and students through public charter schools with one important difference: Deciding where the schools should be allowed to operate.
The Senate and House agree school boards in A- and B-rated school districts can veto a public charter school application and deny giving parents educational choice. Both chambers agree public charter schools need only approval from the state authorizing board to operate in D- and F-rated districts. The primary difference is whether school boards in C-rated districts can block public charter schools in their community, in spite of parents’ demand for school choice.
School flexibility: Alabama Supreme Court clears the way: Bentley can sign tax-credit bill into law
House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said, “While the enemies of education reform will continue to file baseless actions and fight the changes that our public education system desperately needs, today’s unanimous decision is a great victory for students, parents and educators alike.” And Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey applauded the court for upholding the “separation of powers, a fundamental doctrine of our republic which is crucial to the successful operation of state government.”
Idaho House panel backs state insurance exchange
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter backs this plan for a state-designed online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy insurance, arguing that it keeps Idaho in control and will be less expensive than a federal exchange. Under President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul, exchanges will be required starting Jan. 1.
Lawmakers on the panel agreed with the Republican governor, saying they believe defaulting to the federal version _ as governments in about 25 GOP-led states have _ will leave Idaho without a seat at the negotiating table. "Idaho should be a leader," said Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa. "Idaho is not giving into ideology here... I think Idaho is taking a stand and protecting its citizens rather than just handing everything over to the federal government."
Gov. Robert Bentley backs changes for state's Medicaid program
Bentley said the proposal will end Alabama Medicaid Agency’s fee-for-service model in favor of a network of locally run managed care networks. State Health Officer Don Williamson called the plan “potentially the most important health transformation” the state has seen. “It’s built on the idea, instead of paying for visits and volume, we pay for outcome and quality. This is an ambitious undertaking,” Williamson said.
Senate passes permitting bill
SB27 allows the state to take over dredge-and-fill permits from federal government
JUNEAU — The state could move toward taking responsibility for dredge-and-fill permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a bill passed by the Alaska Senate on Monday. SB27, one of several bills related to permitting that have been proposed by Gov. Sean Parnell, passed 15-2. It now goes to the House.Parnell has billed SB27 as a way to limit “federal overreach” in Alaska.
The bill would allow the state to evaluate the costs and consequences of assuming primacy for the dredge-and-fill permitting program. It also would allow the departments of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources to take “reasonable steps” to assume primacy. The benefits, according to a briefing paper from the departments, would include involvement of fewer agencies, state management of water and land-use priorities and funding stability. The paper says the Corps has seen a recent cut in staff and is facing additional cuts when it will need to prepare large environmental reviews and permit “many state projects” from large state capital budgets the last few years.
Education bill clears Senate Education Committee
Senators reviewed a revised bill Tuesday during the committee meeting, and a majority approved the legislation on a voice vote. The new measure is 189 pages -- 10 more than the original bill -- and includes several compromises, said Senate Education Chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne. Those changes came after discussions with unions and the governor's office, he said. "We met with the constituency groups to try to look at the issues they had," Plymale said. "Whether we agreed with all the issues or not, they had some very valid issues that I thought needed to be addressed and we probably addressed 17 or so of those."
Hallie Mason, Tomblin's policy director, said the bill still accomplishes the governor's goals. "It's a much stronger bill. As we move forward to work through the legislative process, we'll see where we go from here; there may be additional changes. But I've been pleased with the opportunity to work through the bill," she said.
Panel introduces revised education tax credit bill
A measure giving tax credits to individuals or businesses who donate to private and religious schools has been introduced in a House committee. The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted on a party-line, Republican-led vote Monday to introduce the legislation that offers tax breaks to people and companies that give scholarships to students attending private schools. The bill provides an estimated $10 million yearly in tax credits to donors.
Coeur d'Alene Republican Sen. Bob Nonini said his proposal gives more financial support to private school students and could save the state an estimated $5.8 million annually by lowering enrollment in the state's public schools.
R.I. Senate leaders submit legislation to improve business climate
They come in response to "Moving the Needle," a January report by the Senate and the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, a business backed research group, that focused on how the state could raise its low rankings in national business surveys.
Senate panel rejects Medicaid expansion in Florida
TALLAHASSEE -- A Florida Senate committee voted Monday against Medicaid expansion, joining the House in rejecting Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal for a three-year trial covered entirely by federal funding. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said Florida should pursue a program that is stronger than Medicaid, which he described as flawed and costly.
“Why in the world would we take the federal government’s position when they promise that they’ll pay for Medicaid expansion when we know that they will be unable to keep that promise in the long run?” Brandes said. The conversation now turns to what Florida can do for roughly 1 million uninsured people who will still draw down billions of federal dollars.
Cost will be the focus, because even if the federal government pays for everything in the first three years, the state’s share will eventually rise to 10 percent. “I oppose the Washington plan, and I want a Florida plan,” said Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who chairs the committee, which talked about creating a program to use the federal money to purchase private insurance policies for those who qualify. The Senate select committee on the Affordable Care Act voted along party lines, 7-4. Democrats said they were willing to explore alternatives, but unsuccessfully urged colleagues to embrace expansion as a backup.
Time to Make Union Representation Voluntary
Time to Make Union Representation Voluntary
James Sherk - The Heritage Foundation
Edward Savarese learned the hard way how inefficiently the government operates. The rookie 5th grade teacher in Clark County, Nevada excelled in the classroom. He won recognition as one of his district’s “New Teachers of the Year.” But a month later the School Board laid him off because he lacked seniority.
Unlike the private sector, many state and local governments base layoffs on seniority. Government raises typically have little to do with performance. Pension costs have driven many cities into bankruptcy. These policies hurt taxpayers, communities, and diligent workers. Poor union contracts drive much of this dysfunction.
Walker signs mining bill into law
Legislation eases permit process, may create jobs
The legislation will dramatically reshape Wisconsin’s mining regulations to ease the permitting process for the open-pit mine Gogebic Taconite wants to dig just south of Lake Superior. Environmentalists maintain the measure guts the state’s environmental protections, but Republicans say it will help create thousands of jobs.
“This will do tremendous good for the people of Iron County,” Walker said after he signed a copy of the bill at Joy Global Inc., a Milwaukee facility that makes mining equipment. The county has the state’s second-worst unemployment rate in the state. Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams didn’t immediately return a telephone message Monday.
House panel OKs teacher contracts bill
Debate on the proposal became spirited, with school boards arguing they need deadlines to set their annual budgets. The Idaho Education Association teachers union says the measure inappropriately undermines teachers' collective bargaining abilities. The proposal would be limited to just a year, a concession aimed at giving stakeholders an opportunity to study its success. Eagle Republican Rep. Reed DeMordaunt said he's forming a legislative task force to carry out that evaluation.
Bill would allow counties to take over school ownership
“The school districts should be focused on education and not acquisition of real estate,” said state Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “In high-growth counties, they’re spending. a lot of time on construction. They need to focus on teaching the students.” While the bill is backed by the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, it’s opposed by the Wake County school board and the N.C. School Boards Association. The bill was introduced three days after Wake school board members urged members of the Wake legislative delegation not to support the legislation.
Alabama Senate passes right-to-work legislation
While most people realize Alabama is friendly to business, Sen. Gerald Dial said the amendment would send a message to businesses throughout the nation and throughout the world “that Alabama is serious about business.” The Alabama AFL-CIO opposes the proposal.
Iowa Senate advances version of education reform with more money and more options for schools
Unlike the House, it maintains the governor’s call for minimum starting teacher salaries of $35,000 and requires districts to adopt new “career pathways” for teachers to earn more money by mentoring their peers. When the House approved its version of the reform last month, it set minimum salaries at $32,000 and made the pathways optional. “The bottom line is that, unlike the House, we are staying with the governor’s original vision,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames. “We want every school district to begin to have activities and to use the (career pathways) model along these lines.” The Senate version, Senate Study Bill 1228, won approval in Quirmbach’s committee on Thursday afternoon ahead of a key legislative deadline. It’s now ready for debate on the Senate floor.
House signs off on second charter schools bill
The bill governs how outside groups would be supervised if they move to open alternative schools. It also creates contractual benchmarks for charter schools, to demonstrate that they are flourishing and accountable to the state. Proponents argued opening charter schools offers more school choice to Idaho families.
Pingree Republican Rep. Julie VanOrden said charter schools can often serve struggling students better than their public school cousins. Moscow Democrat Rep. Shirley Ringo said the measure could result in waves of new schools _ and more hands in the state's public education funding pot.
Kansas casts eye on teachers unions
The battle over teachers unions has marched its way across the country. Ohio. Michigan. Wisconsin. Idaho. And now it’s in Kansas, greeted by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies in the Legislature. Lawmakers are moving to undercut the tenuous power of teachers unions by barring them from using voluntary paycheck deductions for politics. And they’re going after teachers’ ability to bargain collectively on key issues — hoping to give cash-strapped school districts new flexibility and leverage in contract talks.