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.
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Kansas House panel votes against expanding Medicaid
Brownback did not include any funding for expansion in his proposed budget. Rep. David Crum, R-Augusta, said the state already has “pretty robust” coverage for kids through Medicaid and CHIP. The expansion, he said, would increase coverage for adults without children. “We’re not going to have any impact whatsoever on our children who are already receiving Medicaid services,” he said. Crum said the United States has avoided feeling the pain of its expanding deficit. Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane, said the resolution sends a simple and clear message that could help Brownback tell officials in Washington that states need more options beyond expanding or not.
Christie adds New Jersey to the Medicaid expansion list
Missouri House committee rejects Medicaid expansion bill
Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, is expected to file a Medicaid bill today that will give a clearer picture of their plan moving forward. After more than an hour and a half of testimony, the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee voted 5-2 against the Democrats’ bill, which would have expanded Medicaid eligibility to thousands of Missourians under an optional provision of the federal Affordable Care Act. Several representatives from health care and business advocacy groups spoke in favor of expansion during the hearing. One person spoke against it. Supporters say expansion will help create jobs in Missouri, provide health care for the poor and keep rural hospitals that will lose other federal dollars afloat.
Senate OKs bill restructuring oil tax
The prime sponsor of SB2336, Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, outlined the bill to members of the chamber. SB2336 requires annual recertification of wells on stripper well properties. It also changes the definition of a stripper well as a well producing 40 barrels of oil per day. The bill also requires that a well drilled and completed after June 30, 2011, would not be exempt from the oil extraction tax. Any well on a stripper well property exceeding 150 barrels of daily production, according to annual certification by the state Industrial Commission, wouldn’t be eligible until it meets stripper well qualifications.
What drew the sharpest debate was the portion of the bill that would change the state’s oil extraction tax rate. If the state reaches 1 million barrels per day for three consecutive months, the oil extraction tax would drop from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent on the first day of the next quarter. The drop from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent would kick in on Jan. 1, 2017, if the 1 million barrels per day level wasn’t reached by that date.
House finance committee advances bill aimed at preventing voter fraud
The bill approved Monday would also and require ballots to include information about voter fraud and its consequences. Supporters say the bill is necessary because of past problems with voter intimidation. They say the proposal could help protect the democratic process. County clerks from Maui and Kauai say the bill would impose an administrative burden on their offices. They say state law is already consistent with federal law regarding voter fraud.
Miss. House OKs list of tax breaks for businesses
But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said he’s not trying to deplete the state coffers by pushing for tax breaks. He said that when businesses get incentives, they create jobs, the economy expands and the state collects more revenue. “Do you think that when we take something out of the general fund we’re not expecting to get something back?” Smith told the House. “Come on, folks. Y’all are good business people.” Smith said the Senate rejected several tax incentives that the House passed in 2012. One of the few that passed both chambers and was signed into law last year was an inventory tax break that was “as weak as a popcorn poot,” Smith said.
Branstad tells feds Iowa won't expand Medicaid
Governor instead presses health secretary for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare
But in an interview Saturday with the Associated Press, the governor said he again rejected an expansion, and pressed Sebelius instead for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a health care program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low-income adults in the state. That program is set to expire later this year. “I am very comfortable that we have made the right decision and we are going to continue to pursue this waiver and we’re working with them on a partnership exchange, and that’s what I told Secretary Sebelius,” Branstad said between sessions of the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. “We are interested in making Iowa the healthiest state. We have kind of set our direction.”
Sequestration could slow oil and gas leases
The BLM released the information in a statement. Melodie A. Lloyd, a BLM spokeswoman in Billings, said no specific information was available for Montana and that the figures are for all BLM-managed land in the nation. The BLM shares revenues generated from both of these programs with local and state governments. Development of oil and gas as well as coal on federal lands will slow down because of cuts in programs that issue permits for new development, plans for new projects, conduct environmental reviews, and inspect operations, the BLM said. Leasing of new federal lands for future development also will be delayed, with fewer resources available for agencies to prepare for and conduct lease sales.
Scott Walker's budget proposal could increase charter school growth
One of them was not allowing public schools to spend more money for operations in the next two years than they're spending now. I was betting Walker would back a modest increase, at least in line with increased state aid for schools. By not increasing what is called the revenue cap on schools, Walker effectively proposed using increased education aid for property tax relief, not education. That would mean putting public schools statewide in increasingly tight circumstances. Will Republicans in the Legislature accept that or moderate it? A big question for the coming months.
Another Walker proposal would allow launching private school vouchers in as many as nine more cities in the state (Milwaukee and Racine have them now). It's very controversial and we'll talk about it in coming weeks. But Walker's budget proposal also includes important charter school changes. Those have gotten less attention, so let's focus on them here, mostly in the form of a primer on charters.
Beebe: Meeting with HHS chief on Medicaid expansion productive
“I had a productive meeting Friday afternoon with Secretary Sebelius,” Beebe said in a statement. “I presented her with the ideas raised by our legislators, particularly the option that at least some of the potential Arkansas expansion population would be able to obtain private insurance coverage through our exchange. The secretary has given me feedback, which I will share with legislators, concerning the choices available to Arkansans as our state moves forward.”
After Florida Medicaid Reversal, Hints of Compromise in Texas
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has a slightly softer stance. “I’m opposed to any expansion of Medicaid that doesn’t give Texas the flexibility that we want,” said Nelson, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. She remains a fierce critic of federal health care reform. “But if we could design a program that we could live with, I would suggest we take it to the federal government and say, you know, consider this,” she said.
Alaska legislative panel unveils oil tax rewrite
Early modeling indicated a flattening of the government's take around 60 percent from $80 to $120 oil for new entrants and roughly between 63 percent and 65 percent for prices from $100 to $160 a barrel. Increasing oil production is a shared goal between the governor and legislators. The debate centers on how best to do that. Parnell has proposed a plan that he says would restore balance to the system, and is aimed at making the state more competitive while encouraging new production. It would scrap the progressive surcharge that companies say is a disincentive to new investment but that has been credited with helping fatten the state's coffers the past few years.
House OKs bill to fill Medicaid spending gap
Legislative leaders say the emergency spending measure needs to pass by early March to avoid a cutoff of payments to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes for treating patients in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. “This is a bill that we must pass in order for … over 3 million people to continue to get medical care,” said House chief budget writer Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. Pitts said he hopes the Senate will make no changes so the bill can reach Gov. Rick Perry’s desk “by the first part of March.” Democrats had planned to use the bill, the first substantive legislation passed by the House this session, as a vehicle for restoring some of the $5.3 billion of last session’s budget cuts to public schools. GOP leaders have wanted to wait until a school-finance lawsuit is resolved before committing sizable sums.
Medicaid expansion faces uncertain future in Legislature
“I remain skeptical that that’s in the best interests of the state," McKeel said Thursday morning. Weatherford, during an appearance before the Florida Retail Federation and in a television interview, also repeatedly used the word "skeptical." Pointing to broader federal budget and debt problems, he questioned whether Washington would make good on a promise to pay billions of dollars for the expansion. "We’re talking about a federal government that is not able to pay its bills,’’ Weatherford said during an appearance on the show, "Florida Face to Face." Some Senate Republicans indicated they might be more willing to go along with Scott, who said he would support expanding Medicaid eligibility for three years and then revisiting the issue. The federal government is slated to pay all of the expansion costs for the first three years, before the state has to pick up a portion of the tab.
McDonnell all but rules out Medicaid expansion
The governor’s office released the letter within an hour after Scott became the seventh Republican governor to endorse Medicaid expansion and with one day remaining for assembly budget negotiators to agree on what terms to set on extending the program to as many as 400,000 additional Virginians. “Please understand that I cannot and will not support consideration of an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia until major reforms are authorized and completed, and until we receive guarantees that the federal government’s promises to the states can be kept without increasing the immoral national debt,” wrote McDonnell, who leaves office in January. The two-page letter repeated concerns he expressed last year as president of the Republican Governors Association.
Poll finds strong support for photo voter ID in Va.
The House of Delegates on Wednesday passed a measure to require the ID. The survey of voters found support for the idea high among Republicans, 95–4 percent, while Democrats backed it 57–41 percent and independents 78–20 percent. A gender gap was around the poll’s margin of error, while white voters supported the idea 79–19 percent and black voters 66–34 percent.
“The voter photo ID bill is similar to ones that have been passed – and are being challenged in court – in a number of states. Generally, polls show similar high support levels for such requirements in a number of states in which the issue has been raised,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
House OKs state budget with merit pay for teachers
The measure will allocate nearly $5.9 billion for public schools, colleges and state government programs — ranging from prisons to health care — in the fiscal year starting in July. That’s an increase of 4.2 percent, or $239 million. The budget leaves $19 million available for additional increases by the Senate and to offset possible tax cuts. The governor has proposed $47 million in tax reductions next year, including cutting the corporate income-tax rate. The largest share of the budget — nearly $2.6 billion, or a 4.6 percent increase — will go for public schools, the Public Education Department and other educational programs.
Bill to allow takeover of failing schools heads to McDonnell
Gov. Bob McDonnell’s bid to create a statewide school division to take over struggling schools is headed to his desk — but its fate depends on the budget. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, R-Hanover, carries a clause stating that it won’t take effect unless it’s funded in the budget. The Senate did not include in its version of the fiscal plan the more than $600,000 that McDonnell sought, though the House of Delegates included it in its version. A group of lawmakers tapped to reconcile the competing plans is meeting ahead of the scheduled Saturday adjournment.
Still, passage of the legislation is a victory for McDonnell’s administration, which has pushed the measure through the General Assembly over the staunch opposition of education and local government groups. It is opposed by the state associations of teachers, superintendents, school boards and others.
House, Senate overwhelmingly support $153M budget-balancing package
LePage has 10 days to act on it, and he hasn’t made a decision on signing the budget into law or vetoing all of parts of it, said LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett. “As with any unanimous budget, no one gets everything he or she wants,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, House chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee. “While we were disappointed that we fell short of restoring cuts to our schools, it only strengthens our resolve to do so next time.” House members and senators Thursday praised the Appropriations Committee for crafting a bipartisan solution.
Corporate tax break bill moves in House
If passed, the bill would change the ranges of the state’s 10 corporate tax brackets for type C corporations — the change would not affect limited liability corporations or S corporations. “We have about 5,000 C corps that this would apply to,” Hughes said. C corporations were the only option for incorporating in Alaska up to 1980. All of the 5,000 C corporations that could benefit from this tax were incorporated before then. C corporations include mom-and-pop restaurants, airlines, retailers and tourism companies.
New York Teachers’ Union Challenges State’s Tax Cap
The tax cap, which Mr. Cuomo persuaded the Legislature to approve in 2011, limits annual increases in local property taxes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The vast majority of school districts – 642 of 678, or about 95 percent – stayed within the tax cap last year, according to Mr. Cuomo’s office. (The cap does not affect New York City.) The teachers’ union, which filed its lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Albany, has been mulling a legal challenge ever since it failed to persuade lawmakers to reject Mr. Cuomo’s proposal.
In Reversal, Florida to Take Health Law’s Medicaid Expansion
It was an about-face for Mr. Scott, a former businessman who entered politics as a critic of Mr. Obama’s health care proposals. Florida was one of the states that sued to try to block the law. After the Supreme Court ruled last year that though the law was constitutional, states could choose not to expand their Medicaid programs to cover the poor, Mr. Scott said that Florida would not expand its programs. Mr. Scott said Wednesday that he now supported a three-year expansion of Medicaid, through the period that the federal government has agreed to pay the full cost of the expansion, and before some of the costs are shifted to the states.
U.S. signals agreement with Va. on Medicaid reforms
Agreement with U.S. could allow Va. to expand its program
“We at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are committed to working toward expedited agreements on meaningful Medicaid reforms for the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Cindy Mann, an administrator at the federal agency. Hazel reviewed the letter Tuesday with Virginia Senate representatives on the conference committee that will determine amendments to the two-year state budget, most notably whether Virginia will expand its Medicaid program. House of Delegates members on the panel were invited but did not attend the briefing.
EPA chief over Wyoming resigns, cites personal reasons
The administrator -- named to the position in April 2010 -- was no stranger to controversy during his tenure, announcing his resignation just three weeks after coming under fire from two U.S. senators who questioned his use of an Apple me.com email account to conduct official business. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. David Vitter, R-La., asked the agency in late January to disclose emails from the account after a message surfaced from Martin's me.com account to a high-ranking official of the Environmental Defense Fund. The message set up an official meeting.
UPDATE Voter ID bill passes Senate
Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, passed the Senate by a 23-12 vote. Under the bill, a voter would only be allowed to cast a ballot if he or she showed official identification bearing a photograph — a driver’s license, state identification card, concealed-carry handgun license, military ID, a U.S. passport, employee badge or identification document, public assistance identification card or college student identification card. Poll workers are currently required to ask for identification, but voters don’t have to show it in order to cast a ballot.