The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) firmly believes that real government reform, innovative policy changes, and the big ideas that will solve America's problems are going to be found in state capitols and not Washington, D.C. As has been the case for several years, there is grid-lock in Washington, and Federal government spending and regulation are out of control, while our country's problems continue to be unaddressed by Washington.

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.

NM teachers unions want education department to slow implementation of evaluation system

Published in THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on October 26, 2013Labor Reform
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — New Mexico's two teacher unions want the state Public Education Department to slow its implementation of a new evaluation system for teachers and schools. The National Education Association is considering legal action, while the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico is threatening to withdraw support for renewal of a waiver that allows the state more flexibility under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Patrick Sanchez, head of the National Education Association in Las Cruces, told the Albuquerque Journal ( that teachers have reached a boiling point over the department's plan. "It's pretty fierce, close to nuclear," he said. The system has provoked protests and talks of a teacher strike in Albuquerque as well as criticism from teachers and others around the state. Critics say the system places too much weight on student achievement and allows for classroom observations to be done by someone other than the school principal or assistant principal.
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New Voter ID law causing few problems

Written by ANNA M. TINSLEY for The Star-Telegram on October 26, 2013Election Law
The state’s voter ID law doesn’t seem to be creating significant problems at Texas polls so far, but election officials worry that the worst is in store. This year’s Nov. 5 election, which features constitutional amendments and proposals such as school and park bond packages, is drawing a trickle of Texas early voters to the polls, a drop in the bucket of what is expected next year. “We’ve really had no complaints, concerns or issues,” said Steve Raborn, elections administrator for Tarrant County. “But it’s only a small test given the low turnout. “Voters who turn out for these constitutional amendment and bond elections are frequent voters. They know the drill,” he said. “Next year, we probably will get a lot more voters, first-time voters or infrequent voters, and maybe they haven’t received that message.” This is the first statewide election in which Texans must show a photo ID to vote.
Read original article fixes won’t be done until end of November, adviser says

Written by Sandhya Somashekhar and Lena H. Sun for The Washington Post on October 25, 2013Health Care
The Obama administration announced Friday that it was putting a private firm in charge of fixing its faulty health insurance Web site and set the end of November as a target date for working out all the bugs, the first indication of how long repairs may take. One day after contractors on the project publicly suggested that the federal government inadequately tested the site before its Oct. 1 launch, administration officials said that one of those contractors — Columbia-based Quality Software Services Inc., or QSSI — would take over management of Jeffrey Zients, a former administration official selected by the White House to assess the extent of the online marketplace’s problems, told reporters the site is “fixable.” But he offered a sobering picture of the problems left to tackle, saying there are dozens of issues on a “punch list” that need to be addressed. More than 100 items are on the list, according to a person who is knowledgeable about the project and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is not public.
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State insurance boards frustrated with Obamacare technical glitches

Written by Reid Wilson for Washington Post on October 25, 2013Health Care
Commissioners responsible for overseeing insurance industries in states relying on the federal government to run health-care exchanges are hearing from consumers who can’t log into Web sites, and some aren’t hearing back when they call Washington for answers. At the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services says its Web site,, is working better every day. More than 700,000 applications have been completed, many through the Web site, according to a department spokeswoman. HHS is pushing to enroll the uninsured in person, as well as online. The department has held more than 500 events for the health insurance marketplace since Oct. 1, one source said. And HHS is relying on the more than 60,000 agents and brokers who have been trained to sign people up, along with 12,000 certified application specialists and 2,200 so-called “navigators.”

“People are getting online, they are getting enrolled, they are completing applications, and we are seeing improvement,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. “We have made sure that people know that there are a number of ways to fill out an application, get it completed, go through the shopping experience and ultimately get enrolled.” But in a series of interviews with insurance commissioners in several states, many told GovBeat that they weren’t getting answers when they call HHS. States that declined to set up their own exchanges are worried that some of their citizens won’t be able to sign up in time, though states running their own exchanges have had more success.
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After Insurance Industry Pow-Wow, White House Delays Obamacare's Individual Mandate By Six Weeks

Written by Avik Roy for Forbes on October 24, 2013Health Care
Yesterday afternoon, chief executives of 12 major health insurers—including Aetna, Humana, WellPoint, and Kaiser Permanente—trudged to the White House to “discuss…ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” The meeting was off the record, but we have a pretty good idea of what happened. Insurers were likely to urge the White House to delay the implementation of Obamacare’s exchanges until the website,, gets fixed. And it appears they got their wish. Last night, the White House confirmed that it intends to delay the enforcement of the individual mandate by as much as six weeks. “The White House is meeting with insurance industry executives,” a consultant to insurers told Ezra Klein, “and I can tell you what they’re talking about. [They’re saying] you need to get this fixed, because you’re setting us up for a real fall with our customers. [Patients are] not going to blame Kathleen Sebelius if they walk into their doctor’s office and the doctor doesn’t know who they are. They’ll blame the insurance company. And I’m sure what the insurers are telling the White House today is we will not let you put us in that position.”

I recently spoke to one of those CEOs, Bruce Broussard of Humana, at the Forbes Healthcare Summit. Broussard expressed optimism that the website would eventually get fixed. But he was more cautious about whether or not healthy and young people will pay lots more for health insurance in order to subsidize other people. “The exchanges probably are a good thing,” says Broussard. “It’s expanding coverage for people, and we think that in the long run it will be the right thing to do. In the short run, it’s got some bumps, and the industry and the government expected that. But we are focused on fixing those bumps, and to work with the government to make it both a good experience [while] driving down health care costs and improving the quality.”
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More Americans In 3 States Have Had Their Insurance Canceled Under ObamaCare Than Have Filed An Exchange Account In All 50

Written by Josh Archambault for Forbes on October 24, 2013Federal Overreach
This week the reality of the ObamaCare roll-out appeared in a set of news stories that serve as an ironic juxtaposition. Over 500,000 individuals have seen their insurance policies cancelled in just 3 states.  In all 50 states, only 476,000 applications have been “filed” in an exchange. (Even though we are still learning the true definition of “filed.”) First from Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby at Kaiser Health News: Thousands get health insurance cancellation notices “Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.”

That is far north of half a million lives dropped due to new ObamaCare regulations in just 3 states. That doesn’t even include recent reports in North Carolina of Blue Cross planning to cancel a sizable portion of their plans, or carriers doing the same in Illinois or Nebraska. Next up is Julie Pace from the AP this past weekend: “Administration officials say more than 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges.” As I have tracked enrollment by states, many are reporting out both Medicaid and exchange enrollment at the same time. Therefore the 476,000 number is misleading. My best guess is that for the 17 states that have reported out some data, the number is closer to 193,818 applications (once you pull out he Medicaid applications that have been reported on). Of course, this number is also still too high as it is compromised by the jointly reported data.
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Common Core standards for K-12 students approved by Senate, close to implementation

Written by Kristen M. Daum for The Detroit Free Press on October 24, 2013Education Reform
LANSING — The Michigan Department of Education could begin implementing Common Core Standards for K-12 students in the state soon, now that the state Senate has given its approval. By a voice vote today, the Senate approved a resolution that allows the department to implement the national standards under certain conditions. A voice vote means each senator’s position on the bill is not recorded. The Senate’s revised version of the resolution — HCR 11 — now goes back to the House for final approval. The House approved its version in late September by an 85-21 vote. Common Core State Standards are a national set of expectations of what students need to know in order to be career- and college-ready when they leave high school. The standards have been controversial in Michigan and some other states where people expressed concern about the potential loss of local control.
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Fracking Fight Focuses on a New York Town’s Ban

Written by JESSE McKINLEY for The New York Times on October 23, 2013Energy & Environment
DRYDEN, N.Y. — This town in the Finger Lakes region is not the kind of place where one would expect a grass-roots uprising. Even its promotional brochure makes it sound sleepy, listing the main attractions as “a few large dairy farms, some crop farms and several horse ranches.” But Dryden could soon be synonymous with something more than animals and agriculture. In August 2011, the town passed a zoning ordinance effectively forbidding hydraulic fracturing, the controversial gas extraction method also known as fracking. The ordinance, passed after a feisty local lobbying effort, prompted a lawsuit now being mulled by New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, whose ruling could settle the long-simmering issue of whether the state’s municipalities can ban the drilling process.

Dryden was not the first place to act against fracking, nor the first place where such bans have been subject to legal challenges. Bans are increasingly common in cities, towns and even counties across the country, including Pittsburgh, which did so in 2010, and Highland Park, N.J., a New York City suburb, where the Borough Council outlawed fracking on Sept. 17. While some of those votes are more symbolic than substantive — Highland Park was not likely to become a gas-drilling center — in the case of Dryden, the stakes could be high. “It’s going to decide the future of the oil and gas industry in the state of New York,” said Thomas West, a lawyer for Norse Energy Corporation USA, which has sought to have the ban overturned and will file legal briefs on the appeal on Monday.
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States With Big Military, Research Facilities Hurt Most by Shutdown

Written by Elaine S. Povich for Stateline on October 23, 2013Economic Prosperity
States with large military installations and major research institutions will suffer the greatest economic hit from the 16-day federal shutdown – especially the Washington, D.C. area, New Mexico and Alabama, according to new estimates from Moody's Analytics. D.C.'s economy could take a whopping 5.59 percentage point dive in the fourth quarter. Next hardest hit: Maryland with an expected GDP reduction of 1.11 percentage points, Virginia 0.73 percentage points and West Virginia 0.64 percentage points. Outside of the capital region, Moody's Analytics projected New Mexico's economy could suffer an 0.63 percentage point drop in the fourth quarter and Alabama 0.55 percentage points. The national economy will likely be back to recovery by early 2014 after Congress and the White House reached a bipartisan deal that reopened the federal government and raised the debt ceiling, according to Steven G. Cochrane, managing director of Moody's Analytics.
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Kasich Wins Approval of Medicaid Plan That Bypasses Legislature

Written by Mark Niquette for Bloomberg on October 21, 2013Health Care
An Ohio legislative panel approved Governor John Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul over the protests of fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Ohio Controlling Board, a separate legislative entity that considers agencies’ spending requests, voted 5-2 today to take $2.56 billion in U.S. funds through fiscal 2015 to add 275,000 adults to the state-federal program for the poor. Kasich, a first-term governor, turned to the panel to circumvent a vote of the full legislature after he was unable to persuade Republicans who control it. Almost two-thirds of the 60 Republican representatives, including Speaker William Batchelder, protested his Controlling Board gambit as illegal and unconstitutional.

“This offers an opportunity to really give people a hand up,” Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health representing the Kasich administration, told the panel. The board consists of four Republican and two Democratic lawmakers, plus a chairman from the state budget office named by Kasich. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to cover those earning about a third more than the federal poverty level, or $15,856 annually for an individual and $26,951 for a family of three this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Menlo Park, California-based nonprofit that studies health issues. It said Ohio will be the 25th state, and the eighth with a Republican governor, to take that step. The U.S. government will pay all the added cost for the first three years and at least 90 percent after that.
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States Sign Up Thousands While HealthCare.Gov Stumbles

Written by Christine Vestal for Stateline on October 21, 2013Health Care
President Obama defended the Affordable Care Act on Monday but said he could not “sugar coat” the technical problems that have plagued the federal government’s health insurance exchange website since its launch Oct. 1. “The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don’t just want it, they’re showing up to buy it. Nobody is madder than me that the website isn’t working as well as it should be, which means that it will get fixed,” Obama said.

The federal health insurance exchange website – - has frustrated millions of Americans anxious to find out what kind of deal they can get on health insurance.  More than 20 million people have visited the site, Obama said, and “more than half a million consumers across the country have successfully processed applications for individuals and entire families." The federal website serves as the starting point for purchasing health insurance in about half the states – those where governors and lawmakers decided not to launch their own websites, primarily Republican-controlled states. Meanwhile, the states that agreed to set up their own exchanges are signing up tens of thousands of people though by no means are declaring success.
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POLL: Majority believe healthcare website problems indicate broader issue with law

Written by Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement for Washington Post on October 21, 2013Health Care
Most Americans say the rocky start for is a harbinger of bigger problems for the Affordable Care Act, according to results of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Fifty-six percent of Americans say the website problems are part of a broader problem with the law’s implementation while just 40 percent see the website problems as an isolated incident. Reaction to federal insurance exchange website are deeply rooted in partisanship. More than eight in 10 Republicans say website troubles are a sign of broader implementation problems, while most Democrats call it an isolated incident. Independents resemble the public overall, with 55 percent seeing broader problems with implementation. President Obama is clearly aware of that conflation and the dangers it presents for the law. “We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website,” he said at a speech Monday at the White House.

The bungled rollout has not soured support for the health law overall, however. Forty six percent now support it while 49 percent oppose it. That compares favorably to a 42 to 52 percent negative split last month. Support has rebounded since July among moderate and conservative Democrats, while Republican opposition has also softened. Criticism of the law is varied, with one in five opponents saying it doesn’t go far enough rather than saying it goes too far in changing the system. Fewer than half of Americans have supported the law ever since its passage but the desire for repealing it altogether is even lower. One-third of the public, 33 percent, doesn’t support the law and wants to repeal it, while 20 percent are not supporters but want to “let the health care law go ahead and see how it works.” Hard-core opposition rests mainly among Republicans, 69 percent of whom oppose the law and 60 percent who say it should be repealed.  That compares with a third of independents who want to repeal it and 10 percent of Democrats.
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Obamacare website: 6 biggest contractors

Written by Chris Isidore for CNN on October 21, 2013Federal Overreach
It cost the federal government more than $300 million for outside contractors to set up the Obamacare website that has had so much trouble in its first three weeks of operation. Most of that money has gone to six prime contractors that together have received more than $200 million in taxpayer funds, with the biggest single contractor receiving $88 million. Overall, the government has spent $394 million setting up the website and the exchanges through which the public can buy health insurance, according to a report earlier this year from the General Accountability Office, a government watchdog. While not all the money went into the troubled websites, most of it did.

The largest contractor is CGI Federal Inc., the U.S. unit of a Canadian firm CGI Group (GIB). It received $88 million through last March 31. Its original $93.7 million contract runs through December, with three one-year option periods still possible. A company spokeswoman said the terms of the contract prevent it from speaking about the details of its work. Quality Software Services Inc. received $55.1 million to set up the data hub, according to the GAO report, while National Government Services Inc. a unit of WellPoint (WLP, Fortune 500), received $31.6 million for a consumer call center and providing premium aggregations. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
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School voucher enrollment goes up 38 percent despite lawsuits, budget fight

Written by Danielle Dreilinger for The Times-Picayune on October 21, 2013Education Reform
Despite legal and fiscal uncertainty, enrollment increased in Louisiana's school voucher program this year: 6,751 students compared with 4,876 last year at this time, or a 38 percent increase, according to state data released Monday. Satisfaction with the schools appears to be strong as well, with many returning schools doubling or even tripling their voucher enrollment. Vouchers, officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, allow low-income students to attend participating schools at taxpayer expense. All the schools so far have been private or parochial with the exception of one Opelousas public school. Students must be either coming from C, D or F schools, or entering kindergarten. The program began as a New Orleans pilot in 2008 and is in its second year of statewide operation.

Eric Lewis, Louisiana director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, said he was excited to see the increase. He said he was hoping for even more participants, but thought the enrollment looks good considering "all the debate that's been out there." Indeed, the voucher program has been a target of litigation in Louisiana as it has in many other places. Sign-up for this school year opened as the state Supreme Court was about to consider the constitutionality of the program. The justices ruled in May that vouchers could not be funded by siphoning money from a budget reserved for public schools, forcing Gov. Bobby Jindal to request a separate $40 million-plus line item from the Legislature.
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Matthew Tully: Here's why school vouchers are a good idea

Written by Matthew Tully for Indianapolis Star on October 20, 2013Education Reform
Assuming you had options, would you send your son or daughter to a school that didn’t educate them well? My answer to that question would be an emphatic “hell, no,” of course; and I’m fairly certain most other parents would say the same thing, and they’d say it just as emphatically. After all, it has to be a heartbreak to feel forced by geography or income to send children to a school that doesn’t meet their academic or social needs, or that doesn’t ensure they are growing and developing to their full potential. It’s a simple question: Would you send your kid to a school that didn’t work for them? It seems to me that question alone is what the debate about vouchers should center on.

So, yes, I’m fine with the huge growth in vouchers in this state. As The Star reported recently, Indiana is growing its low-income voucher program faster than any state in the nation. Indiana education officials report that enrollment in the program more than doubled this school year and now counts roughly 20,000 students. That’s 20,000 kids whose families de­cided to send them to schools that better met their needs, that better fit their personalities, that better addressed their unique strengths and weaknesses, and that they believe give them a better chance at receiving the education they deserve. That’s a lot of kids whose families have made clear that they want and expect better. Good for them.
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Offshore fracking is on the rise in Calif.

Written by ALICIA CHANG and JASON DEAREN for Associated Press on October 19, 2013Energy & Environment
LONG BEACH, Calif. – The oil-production technique known as fracking is more widespread and frequently used in the offshore platforms and human-made islands near some of California’s most populous and famous coastal communities than state officials believed. In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach – some of the region’s most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions – oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades, according to interviews and drilling records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

Just this year in Long Beach Harbor, the nation’s second-largest container port, an oil company with exclusive rights to drill there completed five fracks on palm tree-lined, human-made islands. Other companies fracked more than a dozen times from old oil platforms off Huntington Beach and Seal Beach over the past five years. Though there is no evidence offshore hydraulic fracturing has led to any spills or chemical leaks, the practice occurs with little state or federal oversight of the operations. The state agency that leases lands and waters to oil companies said officials found new instances of fracking after searching records as part of a review after the AP reported this summer about fracking in federal waters off California, an area from three miles to 200 miles offshore. The state oil permitting agency said it doesn’t track fracking.
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Taking of case by U.S. Supreme Court offers hope for relief from EPA

Written by The Oklahoman Editorial Board for The Oklahoman on October 18, 2013Federal Overreach
The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week to look at a case that has the potential to shorten the ever-expanding reach of the Environmental Protection Agency. Justices agreed to weigh in on the case brought by the state of Texas, and joined by 11 other states including Oklahoma. At the heart of the matter is whether the EPA has the authority under the federal Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as power plants. A 2007 Supreme Court ruling allowed the agency to regulate carbon dioxide from “mobile sources” such as automobiles. Under the Obama administration, the EPA has passed rules to apply those regulations to “stationary sources” such as new or expanding industrial facilities. A separate piece of the Clean Air Act already covers those sources. Pollution limits were set by Congress when it wrote the Clean Air Act, which became law in 1970. The EPA rewrote the thresholds as they related to greenhouse gases, despite not having that authority. The agency sees the limits as workable, but as The Wall Street Journal noted, the rule “could cost the economy $300 billion to $400 billion a year.”
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Wyo. high court to hear fracking disclosure suit

Written by Mead Gruver for Bloomberg on October 18, 2013Energy & Environment
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 20 over whether the public has the right to obtain lists of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or if those ingredients are corporate trade secrets that may be shielded. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission adopted its first-in-the-nation fracking chemical disclosure rule three years ago. The rule requires companies that frack in Wyoming to provide the commission with lists of the chemical ingredients in the fracking fluids they use. The idea is that if groundwater pollution ever occurs near an oil or gas well, the commission — which oversees oil and gas development in Wyoming — would be better able to determine if fracking played a role.
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TN Supreme Court upholds voter ID law, says it's not an undue burden

Lawmakers have authority to take steps to guard against fraud

Written by Chas Sisk for The Tennessean on October 18, 2013Election Law
The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld a 2011 law requiring photo identification at the polls, ruling that lawmakers had the authority to take steps to guard against fraud. The court ruled unanimously Thursday against the city of Memphis and two voters in Shelby County who had argued the ID requirement placed an unfair burden on the poor, elderly and others who lack driver’s licenses. Chief Justice Gary R. Wade wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court and many other state courts have upheld similar voter ID requirements. He also said that, while instances of people impersonating voters at the polls have not been documented in Tennessee, such cases have occurred elsewhere. “Protection of the integrity of the election process empowers the state to enact laws to prevent voter fraud before it occurs,” Wade said. “It is within the authority of the General Assembly to guard against the risk of such fraud in this state, so long as it does not do so in an impermissibly intrusive fashion.” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said the unanimous ruling shows the photo ID requirement did not harm voters, despite complaints from a small group of Tennesseans.
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Companies find a new way to fight fraudulent lawsuits

Written by Tiger Joyce for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on October 17, 2013Legal Reform
A federal judge in Wheeling, W.Va., last month stiffened the punishment for two prominent Pittsburgh personal injury lawyers and a discredited radiologist who, a jury found last December, had promulgated fraudulent asbestos lawsuits against CSX Transportation, the freight railroad company that employs nearly 1,000 Pennsylvanians and more than another 31,000 Americans. The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act under which CSX brought its table-turning landmark lawsuit against the fraudsters allowed U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp to triple the jury's original award for damages to nearly $1.3 million. Judge Stamp also may yet require former law partners Robert N. Peirce Jr. and Louis Raimond and creative X-ray reader Ray Harron to pay all or much of the $10 million CSX says it has spent on legal fees and court costs.

Meanwhile, smaller businesses and larger companies that are frequently targeted by meritless or fraudulent lawsuits have begun to look to CSX's aggressive RICO lawsuit as a new model for punishing those who audaciously perpetrate this kind of costly fraud on our courts. I say "costly" because every dollar companies spend defending themselves against bogus lawsuits is a dollar they will not spend creating jobs and investing in new technologies and growth opportunities. In addition to inflating prices for goods and services, as litigation costs are inevitably passed on to consumers, such lawsuits also clog court dockets, waste precious, taxpayer-provided court resources and delay court cases for those who have suffered real injuries.
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Assembly passes $100 million property tax cut, sends bill on to Walker

Written by SCOTT BAUER for Associated Press on October 17, 2013Economic Prosperity
MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Assembly, on a broad bipartisan vote Thursday, approved a $100 million property tax cut a week after Gov. Scott Walker proposed it, clearing the way for it to be signed into law by the end of the week. The measure sped through the Legislature with little opposition, allowing for the cut to be applied to tax bills mailed to homeowners in December. The amount of the cut will vary widely across the state but for the typical homeowner it will amount to just $13 this year and $20 next year. Even under the cut, property taxes are still projected to increase by $11 — from $2,943 to $2,954 — in two years for the median-valued $148,000 home. Walker and Republican backers defended the cut, as modest as it may be, as the right thing to do given the state's growing budget surplus.
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Consumers Still Face Problems Accessing Health Insurance Exchange

Written by Jim Burress for WABE on October 16, 2013Health Care
Those attempting to buy a health plan through Georgia's federally-run insurance exchange continue to encounter problems. Michael Lappin of Atlanta is in that group. “It breaks some of my excitement about it," the mortgage broker says. Since the exchanges went live Oct. 1st, Lappin estimates he's spent about three hours on the site trying to shop for a policy. “Most of the time it’d kick me out and say it could not create an account," he says of his initial attempts. "And I’d have to start all over again, which was the most frustrating part.” Lappin says he's since been able to create an account, something he sees as a sign of progress.

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Indiana manufacturers win partial victory as US Supreme Court agrees to review emission limits

Written by Maureen Groppe and Richard Wolf for Indy Star on October 16, 2013Federal Overreach
WASHINGTON — Indiana’s manufacturers and utilities won a partial victory Tuesday when the Supreme Court decided to look at one aspect of the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. The court accepted six petitions — including one filed by Indiana and several other states — that sought to roll back EPA’s regulatory clout over carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, refineries and factories. That could signal the court’s dissatisfaction with a 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that affirmed the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

“Whether the EPA exceeded its regulatory authority under the statute Congress passed is an important legal question that 12 states, including Texas and Indiana, asked the United States Supreme Court to decide, so we are pleased that the nation’s highest court has accepted this case for hearing and will give the states the opportunity to be heard,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. Environmental groups were pleased with the court’s refusal to consider broader issues, including EPA’s auto emission standards and its basic determination that greenhouse gases pose a threat. The justices limited the case to one question: whether EPA’s regulation of motor vehicle emissions triggers the new permitting requirements for stationary sources, such as power plants.
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UPDATED: Hassan to call special session for Medicaid expansion vote

Written by GARRY RAYNO for The New Hampshire Union Leader on October 15, 2013Health Care
CONCORD — Lawmakers are expected to meet in November to decide whether the state expands Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults, after the Commission to Study Medicaid Expansion unanimously approved its final report Tuesday. The report recommends the state expand the Medicaid program to low-income adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but makes expansion contingent on federal officials approving the use of private insurance. Today, Gov. Maggie Hassan will ask the Executive Council to approve the special session.

House and Senate leaders say the commission’s work is the framework for lawmakers to reach compromise on a plan that will expand health insurance coverage to the state’s low-income adults, yet guard against runaway costs for taxpayers. The New Hampshire plan would have the state expand Medicaid eligibility in order to maximize the available federal money, while using private insurance to cover as many newly eligible people as possible. “I fully agree with the commission’s recommendation that New Hampshire should move forward with expansion prior to Jan. 1 — after which we will begin to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars per day that we can never recover,” Hassan said. “After consulting with Senate President Morse and Speaker Norelli, I am confident that a November special session will allow for thorough consideration and enactment of a New Hampshire plan for expansion in time for federal approval before Jan. 1.”
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N.H. lawmakers taking up Medicaid expansion question

Written by NORMA LOVE for The Associated Press on October 14, 2013Health Care
State Rep. Marjorie Porter sympathizes with people who would benefit from New Hampshire expanding Medicaid because she still owes medical bills from the four years when she was uninsured. “It was very difficult to get the care I needed,” said Porter, a Democrat from Hillsboro. After much angst, a special panel is poised to issue a report tomorrow recommending that New Hampshire add an estimated 49,000 poor adults to the state’s Medicaid program. But the panel’s vote is far from the final word on a subject that next enters the give-and-take of political legislative wrangling between Democrats, who favor expansion, and Republicans, who want much greater use of private insurance than the panel is recommending.

Tom Bunnell, policy consultant for the nonprofit Voices for Health, said that while politicians debate expansion, the people who would benefit will continue to seek care from clinics and hospital emergency rooms. “I don’t think there’s any other choice for people,” said Bunnell, whose group advocates for access to affordable care. Porter said she knows what it’s like not to have a regular doctor to oversee her asthma treatment. She said clinics sometimes told her to go instead to a hospital emergency room for treatment. In July, she finally got coverage through her husband’s retirement plan and could afford to have a pulmonary test done that otherwise would have cost her several thousand dollars. The test led to better treatment of her chronic illness. “I couldn’t have done that before,” she said. State Sen. Nancy Stiles, a Hampton Republican who brokered a deal with Democrats to move forward with expansion, won support for expanding the program to poor adults if those with jobs are required to keep their employer’s insurance when it’s cheaper. That requirement will require a federal waiver that Stiles and others believe will be approved.
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