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.

School voucher numbers soar for Indiana

Written by The Associated Press for The Tennessean on October 14, 2013Education Reform
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana could soon become the nation’s leader for use of school vouchers if unprecedented growth in the state’s school choice program continues. The Indiana Department of Education reports that more than 20,000 students have signed up for the three-year-old voucher program for the 2013-14 school year. That’s more than double last year’s number. The numbers put Indiana second in the nation for use of the vouchers, which give qualifying families public money to offset tuition costs at private schools. Milwaukee has more than 24,000 students enrolled in its program, while Ohio has just under 16,000. But both of those programs grew slowly over the course of many years, The Indianapolis Star reported. School choice advocates say they aren’t surprised by Indiana’s rapid growth, especially in Indianapolis. Marion County accounted for 30 percent of all voucher students statewide last year. “The growth in Indiana’s voucher program is amazing, but not totally unexpected given the quality of the non-public schools in and around Marion County,” said Robert Enlow, CEO of the Indianapolis-based Friedman Foundation, which advocates for vouchers nationally.
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Obamacare: Enrollment still tough for many in N.J.

Written by Dan Goldberg for The Star-Ledger on October 13, 2013Health Care
Kevin Burke tries twice a day to purchase health insurance. He’s tried during the morning, he has tried during the evening. Time and again healthcare.gov, the gateway to the online insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act, has stymied Burke’s efforts. Since its launch on Oct. 1, the federal government’s website has been inaccessible to millions. Federal officials have blamed overwhelming demand and technical errors for the glitches that have kept people from creating accounts, logging on or shopping on the exchange. Burke, 44, of Upper Freehold, is looking for a health insurance plan for his wife and two children. He and his wife have each started their own business and are living off savings. They are paying $1,322 per month for health insurance but the Burkes hope they will qualify for federal subsidies that will reduce their monthly premiums. “That would give me a longer leash on my business,” Burke said. The staff members at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick are meeting with a lot of potential consumers. The hospital offers information about the new law and tries to help people enroll, but, so far, their efforts have been hampered by the website’s inconsistent performance.
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Health plan sign-ups on the rise in Michigan

Written by Jeff Karoub for The Associated Press on October 13, 2013Health Care
Detroit — Amid the problems and political finger-pointing since the launch of online health care exchanges, Adnan Hammad sees progress. The community health director at the Dearborn-based nonprofit ACCESS said his staff has helped hundreds of people enroll in plans under the federal health care overhaul and educated thousands about the options. That’s despite technical problems that have plagued the site and frustrated consumers in Michigan and across the country since its Oct. 1 debut. Glitches and delays persist, but they began easing in the second week of the marketplaces — envisioned as a 21st century portal to a health care law designed to provide insurance for people who can’t get coverage on the job. Technical problems with the overloaded website frustrated consumers for days.

The exchanges launched as the federal government partially shut down. Republican leaders had demanded that votes to reopen the government be tied to dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law and cutting federal spending. “I’m not a politician. … I’m just seeing it from the human side,” said Hammad, whose organization is one of four in Michigan sharing $2.5 million from the federal government to help people sign up for insurance. “It is just an exciting time for us to actually see all those families and children come to our doors and leaving happy … saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to have health insurance now.’” Hammad said things have steadily improved and ACCESS has boosted the hours of the workers dubbed “navigators” to keep up with demand.
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States back off from enacting immigration laws

After a flurry of local activism in recent years — much of it inspired by Arizona's controversial enforcement law — lawmakers are waiting on the federal government to take the lead.

Written by Cindy Carcamo for The Los Angeles Times on October 12, 2013Immigration & Homeland Security
PAYSON, Utah — There's a good chance that the fresh tart cherries Southern Californians find at their grocers originated from Robert McMullin's orchards at the base of the Wasatch Mountains. The third-generation farmer provides 90% of the fresh sour cherries found in Southern California. The hard-to-find fruit is prized by bakers and cooks. McMullin shook his head when he recalled how much fruit went unpicked during this year's July harvest. "We lost $300,000 on that deal because we didn't have enough guys to pick," he said. McMullin's plight illustrates how stalled efforts to revamp immigration laws have hit farmers nationwide. He relies on a federal program that brings in legal workers from Mexico to work his groves, but the program, which he calls expensive and inflexible, can't always meet his needs. The system needs streamlining, he said.

A state guest-worker program that was supposed to go into effect this summer in Utah might have helped McMullin and other farmers searching for workers. But lawmakers delayed the program for two more years because they wanted to see whether Congress would pass an immigration overhaul first. Utah mirrors a national trend of states holding back on passing immigration laws in hopes that the federal government will act on the issue, according to a study released this fall by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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Ohio nears Medicaid expansion

Controlling board to mull Kasich’s request Oct. 21

Written by JIM PROVANCE for The Blade on October 12, 2013Health Care
COLUMBUS — Instead of 132 lawmakers, six apparently will decide whether roughly 275,000 more Ohioans will be added to the Medicaid rolls under the federal health-care law. For eight months, Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion plan has gone nowhere with fellow Republicans, but on Friday he took steps to bypass the General Assembly and ask a bipartisan, mostly legislative panel to accept nearly $2.6 billion in federal funds to pay for it. The Ohio Controlling Board, which usually moves state funds around and gives one last look at already-approved grants on the way out the door, will consider the request Oct. 21. The vote would allow Ohio to expand income eligibility for the federal-state health insurance of last resort to those earning as much as 38 percent over the federal poverty level. That’s roughly $32,000 a year for a family of four.

The panel consists of four Republican and two Democratic lawmakers plus one Kasich appointee. Assuming the two Democrats join Mr. Kasich’s board president in voting “yes,” the governor still would need one Republican vote. “The controlling board has the authority to adjust federal appropriations levels,” said Greg Moody, director of Mr. Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation. “[Medicaid Director] John McCarthy has submitted a request to the controlling board that would allow a federal appropriation at a level that would allow us to receive and expend money. We believe the only remaining action is to extend coverage.” The state is asking for $561.7 million in federal funds for the period between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2014, and $1.99 billion for the year ending June 30, 2015. The expansion is expected to draw a total of $13 billion in federal funds to Ohio over the next seven years.
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The most tax-friendly states for business

Written by Charley Blaine for USA Today on October 12, 2013Economic Prosperity
Taxes are necessary for a functioning government, but according to one group, many states are crippling regional business growth with tax structures that are too expensive or complex. The Tax Foundation's 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index graded all 50 states based on more than 100 measures that reflect how competitive a state's tax policies are to both large and small businesses. The report considered state income, corporate, property, sales, and unemployment insurance tax policies. As was the case last year, Wyoming had the best business tax climate in the country, while New York had the worst. Based on the Tax Foundation's report, these are the most tax-friendly states for business. As might be expected, several of the states rated best for business have among the lowest corporate tax rates in the country. However, several states with much higher corporate tax rates are also among the most tax-friendly for business, according to Tax Foundation data. Alaska and New Hampshire, for example, had the first- and second-highest corporate tax collections per capita in fiscal 2011, respectively, but they still made the list.
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Scott Walker announces $100 million in property tax cuts

Written by MARY SPICUZZA for The Wisconsin State Journal on October 11, 2013Economic Prosperity
Wisconsin homeowners would get $100 million in property tax cuts under a plan unveiled Thursday by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican leaders. If passed, the legislation would lower taxes on a typical home by about $13 for the December tax bill and $20 the following year. Walker made the announcement three days after Madison School Board member Mary Burke said she would challenge the governor in 2014 as a Democrat. Walker, flanked by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and budget committee co-chairwoman Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said he was calling a special legislative session to take up the bill, which he hopes to have on his desk for his signature as early as next week. That would mean passing the Joint Finance Committee, the Assembly and the Senate in a matter of days. Two other measures will also be included in the session. The property tax cuts would be paid for with money from the state’s surplus, the governor said.
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Utah jobless claims rise since gov't shutdown

Written by The Associated Press for The Daily Herald on October 11, 2013Economic Prosperity
SALT LAKE CITY-- Utah's unemployment claims have jumped more than three times their normal rate as thousands of furloughed federal workers have filed for benefits since the partial shutdown of the U.S. government on Oct. 1, state officials said Thursday. The Utah Department of Workforce Services, which administers the unemployment benefits program, has received almost 7,000 claims from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, spokesman Nic Dunn said. Of those claims, more than 4,600, or about two-thirds, came from federal workers. The Salt Lake Tribune first reported the jump in jobless claims on Thursday. If, down the road, Congress votes to approve back pay for those furloughed workers, they will be responsible for repaying the benefits, using a payment plan if needed, Dunn said.

There are roughly 40,000 federal employees in Utah, about 10,000 of whom are facing furloughs, according to Gov. Gary Herbert. Because of that federal presence, "we're definitely going to see that impact from those furloughed workers," Dunn said about the increase in claims. The first checks for those workers should arrive next week, he said. Some federal employees in Utah and around the country are required to show up for work despite the shutdown but are not being paid.
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Attorney General Bill Schuette opposing state employees' union appeal of right-to-work law

Written by Brian Smith for Michigan Live on October 10, 2013Labor Reform
LANSING -- Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to deny an application filed by the largest union representing Michigan state employees challenging the state's right-to-work law, saying a lower court decision was correct in upholding the law. UAW Local 6000, which represents more than 17,000 state employees, and other civil service unions are asking the state Supreme Court to review a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals which found that the Michigan Legislature was within its authority when it enacted right-to-work legislation late last year. The unions have contended that the Legislature overstepped its bounds under the state constitution by applying the law to state employees, saying the constitution grants all authority to the state civil service commission to regulate state employees, including whether or not employees can be required to join a union. The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a split decision in August, with the majority holding the law "is a decision to further remove politics from public employment and to end all inquiry or debate about how public sector union fees are spent." Schuette, representing the state, Gov. Rick Snyder, three members of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission and himself as Attorney General, filed the brief Monday urging the Supreme Court not to review the decision, saying in the brief that there is "no need" to examine the ruling.
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Healthcare.Gov's Flaws Found, Fixes Eyed

Site's Design Opened Door to Bottleneck That Persists

Written by Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky for The Wall Street Journal on October 10, 2013Federal Overreach
Government officials are considering rebuilding some parts of the federally run health-insurance marketplace that have been identified as the key flaws that blocked many consumers from getting coverage. Much of the problem stems from a design element that requires users of the federal site, which serves 36 states, to create accounts before shopping for insurance, according to policy and technology experts. The site, healthcare.gov, was initially going to include an option to browse before registering, but that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said. The decision to move ahead without that feature proved crucial because, before users can begin shopping for coverage, they must cross a busy digital junction in which data are swapped among separate computer systems built or run by contractors including CGI Group Inc., GIB.A.T +1.87% the healthcare.gov developer; Quality Software Services Inc., a UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH -0.15% unit; and credit-checker Experian EXPGY +1.33% PLC. If any part of the web of systems fails to work properly, it could lead to a traffic jam blocking most users from the marketplace. That's just what happened: On Oct. 2, officials identified a bottleneck where those systems intersect at a software component sold by Oracle Corp. ORCL +13.21% that still hasn't been cleared. The series of decisions and technical stumbles came together like a perfect storm amid political pressure to open the marketplaces on the health-overhaul law's deadline of Oct. 1, according to the accounts of multiple people involved in the exchange and experts following the developments. As a result, many fewer people are able to navigate the marketplace than called for in the initial plan, said people familiar with the situation.
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Michigan studies plan to ease rules on air emissions

Written by Jim Lynch for The Detroit News on October 09, 2013Energy & Environment
Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is considering major changes to the way Michigan regulates air emissions — a potentially cost-reducing initiative that pleases industry but has some environmental groups concerned about the potential health impact on residents. Last month, an air quality committee composed of industry representatives, environmental groups and state officials recommended cutting the number of chemicals subject to air emissions limitation rules by 37 percent — to 756 from more than 1,200. It’s a move state Department of Environmental Quality officials argue brings Michigan in line with most other states. The state currently tracks more chemicals than are required by the federal government — leading Michigan to share the distinction with Texas of regulating more chemicals than the rest of the states across the country. The regulatory reform also would help area industries keep up with out-of-state competition by reducing air emission costs. “Michigan and only a few other states have an open-ended definition of what’s regulated — no strictly defined list,” said Robert Stills, a supervisor with DEQ’s Air Quality Division. “Around the country, there aren’t many states with that kind of approach.”
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Wyoming education board stands firm on Common Core

Written by Associated Press for The Billings Gazette on October 09, 2013Education Reform
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The state Board of Education is sticking with new statewide K-12 education standards in English, language arts and math despite critics who say the standards erode local control. "The state Board of Education's position of being in favor of the Common Core has been reaffirmed," board Chairman Ron Micheli said. "And it will stay that way until there is a change in the position of the board." Wyoming is among about 45 states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Members of the board heard a presentation Tuesday from Amy Edmonds with the Wyoming Liberty Group, which opposes the new standards. "We cannot afford to continue down this path of adopting every new 'it' idea proposed as the silver bullet in education improvement," Edmonds said. "Wyoming's citizens, our communities and our mineral wealth all afford us with incredible opportunities to create a system that is world class. We simply need the courage and the vision to do it ourselves." Edmonds asked the board to consider stopping the rollout or ending the use of the Common Core and returning to a system that better allows for local control.
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Oregon's health insurance exchange still can't enroll, check tax credits; browsers welcome

Written by Nick Budnick for The Oregonian on October 07, 2013Health Care
Oregon's new health exchange, Cover Oregon, remains unable to enroll people for health insurance even with agents and application assisters that were given early access to the site. And as of Monday, more than 1,300 applications to determine eligibility for federal tax credits to reduce insurance premiums remain unprocessed. Agents and application assisters won't be able to enroll people using the site until Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the earliest, a spokesman said Monday. Officials earlier hoped agents could use the marketplace to enroll on Oct. 1, a date they pushed back to Oct. 7. But Cover Oregon spokesman Michael Cox says that technical issues are still being worked out, including inaccurate readings on whether people qualify for new tax credits and other government programs, such as Healthy Kids.

Most people, those with insurance through an employer or Medicare, won't be affected by the delays to the website. But for those who buy their own policies on the individual market and who hope to qualify for new tax credits to reduce premiums, the website wasn't able to help them as open enrollment began last week. The exchanges are the focal point of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most individual polices go away on Jan. 1, and the deadline to enroll in policies that take effect Jan. 1 is Dec. 15. Enrollment will continue until March 31 for insurance that kicks in later next year.
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Exchange launch turns into inexcusable mess: Our view

Health sites generate more error messages than coverage.

Written by Editorial Board for USA Today on October 07, 2013Health Care
Over the first four days the new online health insurance exchanges were open last week, more than 8 million people visited them, according to the Obama administration. At the very least, this casts doubt on the Republican claim that Americans hate Obamacare and want it repealed. It seems millions of people desperately want the coverage the law will allow them to get, regardless of their medical histories. Alas, the administration managed to turn the experience for most of those visitors into a nightmare. Websites crashed, refused to load, or offered bizarre and incomprehensible choices. Even though the system was shut down for repairs over the weekend, Monday's early reports continued to suggest an epic screw-up. Why have things gone so wrong?

President Obama's chief technology adviser, Todd Park, blames the unexpectedly large numbers of people who flocked to Healthcare.gov and state websites. "Take away the volume and it works," he told USA TODAY's Tim Mullaney. That's like saying that except for the torrential rain, it's a really nice day. Was Park not listening to the administration's daily weather report predicting Obamacare's popularity? Park said the administration expected 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. It got 250,000. Compare that with the similarly rocky debut seven years ago of exchanges to obtain Medicare drug coverage. The Bush administration projected 20,000 simultaneous users and built capacity for 150,000. That's the difference between competence and incompetence.
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Glitches persist on Maryland health insurance exchange

Software and servers may not be adequate, analysts suggest

Written by Andrea K. Walker for The Baltimore Sun on October 04, 2013Health Care
Technical problems continued to frustrate people attempting to access the new state health insurance exchange on Friday. The issues with marylandhealthconnection.gov, the online exchange set up under national health reform, prompted some analysts to suggest that the system's software and servers aren't robust enough. "They seem to be building this system on the go," said Robert Laszewski, a Washington-based insurance industry consultant. "It was not adequately tested, and it was not ready for prime time. That is perfectly clear." Consumers are supposed to be able to visit Maryland Health Connection, create an individual account and browse a variety of health insurance plans before buying one, much as they would book an airline flight. The exchange was created to provide a place for Maryland's 800,000 uninsured to find health coverage.

Problems began immediately after the exchange launched Tuesday, as people tried to create accounts and log onto the site. State officials blamed the account creation process, in which people were routed to a federal questionnaire to verify their identity. The system, they said, became overwhelmed when so many people tried to access it. But even after logging onto the site, many people complained about encountering error messages, frozen screens and other problems.
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Shutdown Could Cost Millions in Lost Tourism Dollars

Written by Pamela M. Prah for Stateline on October 04, 2013Federal Overreach
From the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, the closing of 401 national parks isn’t just disappointing campers, school children and wedding parties. Local communities and states are losing millions of dollars in lost tourism and tax revenue as the federal budget impasse lingers. Visitors spend about $76 million a day in communities near national parks, the National Park Service estimated before the federal government partially closed down because of failed budget talks between Congress and President Obama. The last government shutdown in 1995-1996 cost local businesses near national parks $14 million per day. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), an advocacy group, estimates the actual impact on businesses from the current shutdown could be closer to $30 million per day.

Approximately 15 percent of the visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park come in October, according to Holly Scott, the marketing director of Friends of the Great Smokies, a nonprofit organization that raises private funds to help maintain the park. Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park generate an estimated $10 million in gateway communities in October, she wrote in a recent blog post. The shutdown is costing the National Park Service $450,000 a day in lost revenue from fees collected at entry stations and fees paid for activities in the park, such as camping, boat ride and cave tours.
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Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer: ACA will cost Kansas businesses, families

Written by Jeff Colyer for The Wichita Eagle on October 04, 2013Federal Overreach
Last month I testified before a congressional committee about how the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will cost Kansas businesses and families. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 41 percent of small-business owners delayed hiring new employees because of the ACA. In Kansas, the trend is no different. When Gov. Sam Brownback and I came into office, the Kansas economy was hemorrhaging private-sector jobs. With new pro-growth policies, our economy has created 45,300 new private-sector jobs, but the ACA continues to be a major roadblock threatening small-business expansion. The economic effect of Obamacare is like ice on the wing of an airplane preventing it from taking off. It is especially damaging to those in the middle class who are missing out on new small-business jobs.

Remember when the ACA was supposed to increase competition and allow you to keep your own doctor and insurance plan? Obamacare does the opposite. Obamacare mandates that every Kansan buy a costly commercial product. And for thousands of Kansans it will be more expensive. In other words, everyone is required to buy a luxury car with air-conditioned seats. You can’t buy a small car or a used pickup without a fine. New Washington regulations mean that health insurance for many Kansans will be more expensive even if they qualify for huge government subsidies. A recent study by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shows how Washington drives up costs. The spin headline was that the insurance plan costs in the exchanges were less than expected – but still much more than today.
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Stephen Moore: Using 'Sue and Settle' to Thwart Oil and Gas Drillers

The Endangered Species Act is being employed more than ever to block development

Written by STEPHEN MOORE for The Wall Street Journal on October 04, 2013Energy & Environment
Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and an environmental advocacy group agreed to a legal settlement that will place nine species—including the Panama City crayfish, moccasinshell mussel and boreal toad—on the fast track for placement on the endangered species list. It is only the latest of many such listings. The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned Fish and Wildlife to designate some 250 species as endangered since 2008. Many of CBD's petitions—and lawsuits—are still in the pipeline. About 97% of the species that are designated as endangered never move off the list. Next March, Fish and Wildlife will make a determination about whether to add the lesser prairie chicken, found in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas to the list.

Harold Hamm, president of Continental Resources, says that the habitat for the prairie chicken overlaps "some of the most promising land for oil and gas leases in the country." Many Westerners suspect that this environmental activism isn't only or even mostly about saving species and obscure subspecies. Instead, it is about restricting land use on hundreds of thousands of acres of private and state land. The concern is that if these species are listed as endangered, their habitat could be placed off limits for economic development.
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Oklahoma leads in manufacturing growth

Manufacturing is resurging in the Sooner State, accounting for 12 percent of Oklahoma's current economic output, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb says at Malarkey Roofing Products on National Manufacturing Day.

Written by Richard Mize for The Oklahoman on October 04, 2013Economic Prosperity
National Manufacturing Day was an observance Friday in factories across the country, but in Oklahoma City it was more of an actual celebration. It wasn't just the green, white and black balloons, the snacks, brunch items and fine coffees, and the tour groups donning bright green hard hats and goggles for the occasion at Malarkey Roofing Products. It was the state statistics, not to mention Malarkey's own success story. Not only has Oklahoma one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates for several quarters as the national struggles to shake off the recession — and the energy business booms again in the oil patch. “Oklahoma has led the nation with the most rapidly growing manufacturing growth rate — a growth rate of 6.7 percent,” Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said, pointing out that manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the state's current economic output.
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No agreement among Indiana lawmakers over Common Core

Published in The Associated Press on October 02, 2013Education Reform
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers studying the state's use of a national set of reading and math education standards haven't been able to decide whether they recommend those be kept, changed or dropped. The six Republicans and six Democrats on the committee voted Tuesday to approve a report with no direction on how the state should proceed with the Common Core State Standards. The committee was formed after the General Assembly this spring approved a bill "pausing" implementation of the standards, which had been adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010. Committee co-chairman Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said a proposal to drop the Common Core and implement Indiana-designed standards has been considered by panel members, but hasn't gained enough support. Behning, who has supported the Common Core standards, said he had hoped for a consensus among the committee members. "We're not too far away from getting some agreement, but at this point in time we don't have it," he said. Some legislators have complained that Indiana has lost control over local schools by using the teaching standards developed by a national group of state school officials and since adopted by more than 40 states.

The committee's nonbinding recommendations would go to the State Board of Education, which is to hold at least three more public hearings on the standards and their future by next July. Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, said he wanted to see Indiana create new standards that borrow from the Common Core and the state's previous standards. "I heard from parents, teachers and community members that Indiana must maintain its sovereignty with regard to our education standards, and withdrawing from Common Core allows us to do just that," Yoder said. Republican Gov. Mike Pence supported the move to suspend implementation of the national standards for a year while the new state reviews are conducted. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and other Common Core supporters say the state's education officials have been reviewing the benchmarks for years and that the additional review isn't necessary. They also point to organizers of the ACT and SAT exams expecting students to meet those benchmarks. Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said the debate over standards adopted under former Republican state schools superintendent Tony Bennett was politically driven and "much ado about nothing."
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N.C. governor calls voter ID suit an "overreach"

Written by Phil Hirschkorn for CBS News on October 01, 2013Election Law
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory said he will "vigorously defend" his state's new voting reform law that is now under challenge by the U.S. Justice Department. Responding to the lawsuit calling the state's photo ID law discriminatory and regressive, McCrory said, "The federal government's action is an overreach and without merit." "This lawsuit will only result in costly legal bills and drawn out legal battles battles for both state and federal taxpayers," McCrory said. When North Carolina passed its strict photo voter ID law in July, it became the 13th state to do so in the past three years and the first since the Supreme Court in June struck down sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that granted the federal government de facto veto authority over election law changes in states where segregation was legal until the 1960s.

The Justice Department's civil lawsuit filed Monday in Greensboro, N.C., federal court objects not only to a new voter photo ID requirement but also to the reduction nearly by half in the number of days of early voting, the elimination of same day registration during the early voting period, and the rejection of "otherwise legitimate" provisional ballots cast in precincts where registered voters are not assigned to vote. "The Justice Department expects to show that the clear and intended effects of these changes would contract the electorate and result in unequal access to participation in the political process on account of race," said Attorney General Eric Holder in his remarks, in Washington, announcing the suit.
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Right-to-Work States Attracting More Citizens, Wealth

Eight of top 10 states increasing personal income were RTW

Written by Tom Gantert for Michigan Captiol Confidential on September 29, 2013Labor Reform
Eight of the top 10 states that saw an increase in personal income from new people coming to those states were right-to-work states, according to an analysis done by the Tax Foundation. Michigan lost $14.4 billion in personal income from 2000 to 2010 and was 45th overall. Michigan became a right-to-work state in March. Only Ohio (46th), New Jersey (47th), Illinois (48th), California (49th) and New York (50th) did worse. All six of the bottom states did not have right-to-work laws during those 10 years. New York lost $45.6 billion in personal income in that time period. Florida did the best gaining $67.3 billion in that 10-year span.

The Tax Foundation tracked people migrating from one state to another from the years 2000 to 2010. The "interstate migrants" had their income added to all the other income in that state. The state gaining that person had an increase in personal income while a state losing a person lost personal income. The figures are in 2010 dollars. Nick Kasprak, an analyst with the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research foundation based in Washington, D.C., said the analysis is based on the adjusted gross income from IRS 1040 forms. The study was not conducted specifically to address right-to-work versus non-right-to-work comparisons.
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HEALTH LAW ONLINE SIGN-UP DELAYED FOR SMALL FIRMS

Written by RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVA for The Associated Press on September 26, 2013Health Care
WASHINGTON (AP) — Administration officials are quietly telling key interest groups to expect initial glitches signing up online for coverage under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Two sources tell The Associated Press that small businesses will not be able to enroll online starting Oct. 1 when new health insurance markets go live. Instead, one of the sources, a person who was briefed on the situation, said business owners will initially have to mail or fax their information so that they can enroll. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't yet been made. Separately, the administration told Hispanic groups that the Spanish-language version of its healthcare.gov website will be not be ready to handle enrollments for a few weeks. An estimated 10 million Latinos are eligible for coverage.
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Greenhouse Gas Rules Still In the Works for Idaho Power's Plants

Published in Magic Valley Times- News on September 23, 2013Energy & Environment
BOISE • Proposed rules the Environmental Protection Agency released Friday to cut carbon pollution from new power plants to combat climate change won’t affect Idaho Power and its customers. The proposals apply only to new power plants. But President Obama did order the EPA to issue final greenhouse gas rules for existing plants no later than June 2015. Those rules could well decide the future sources of the electricity that lights Idaho homes and powers Idaho commerce. Idaho Power owns one-third of the Jim Bridger coal plant in Wyoming and half of the Valmy plant in Nevada. It also is part owner of a coal plant in Boardman, Ore., that already is planned for closure because of environmental costs. Idaho Power reviewed its Wyoming and Nevada coal plants earlier this year and decided to keep them for now.

“We don’t know what (the president) is proposing,” said John Carstensen, Idaho Power’s engineering project leader. “We will evaluate the rules when they come out and we understand the particulars of them.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the Obama administration will begin an outreach program to hear public ideas about climate change, which she said is a public health issue as well as an environmental issue. That justifies regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, an approach the Supreme Court has upheld. “Climate change is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time,” McCarthy said Friday. “By taking common-sense action to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, we can slow the effects of climate change and fulfill our obligation to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our children.”
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Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, congressional delegation blast EPA coal rules

Wyo. governor, delegation, blast EPA coal rules

Written by Associated Press for The Casper Star-Tribune on September 21, 2013Energy & Environment
CHEYENNE — Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and members of the state's congressional delegation reacted quickly on Friday to new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules to limit carbon emissions from future coal-fired power plants, saying they would cripple the coal industry as well as clean-coal research. Meanwhile, some environmental groups point to recent unsuccessful efforts by the federal government to lease new coal tracts in Wyoming's Powder River Basin as proof the nation needs to re-examine its policies for selling public coal reserves. The EPA on Friday announced the first national limits on carbon pollution from future power plants. The agency also is developing tougher standards on existing plants as part of the Obama administration's push to address global warming.

Wyoming is the nation's top coal-producing state and draws nearly $1 billion a year from its share of the proceeds from coal production on federal lands. "This latest EPA proposal would be damaging to Wyoming, the nation's top coal supplier," Mead said Friday. "The standards for coal-fired power generation in the proposed rule are unachievable and will arrest research, development and commercialization of clean technologies." EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday the proposed regulations aren't intended to damage the coal industry but would help the industry to adapt by encouraging companies to develop ways to reduce carbon emissions from burning coal.
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