Federal Overreach

“Government Gone Wild”

The United States government operates under the confines of the U.S. Constitution, given only those powers expressly granted to it in this document. In many aspects of American life, however, government is acting outside those enumerated powers and has encroached upon our freedoms without checks or court reviews. A truly limited government helps its citizens by only exercising its particular and spelled out tasks and removes itself from interfering in decisions or jobs done best by private citizens or the business community. 

This situation is especially evidenced in the administrative agencies of the Executive branch. These agencies now have independent authority to disseminate rules, enforce those rules, and then to adjudicate enforcement of the rules. No check on the power of these independent agencies exists. The SGLF believes that there need to be limits to the powers of these agencies and their overreach into individual states.

FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plays a large role in the increased federalization process. FEMA was originally created as national catastrophe response agency, not a federal program which subsidizes Americans who live in risky disaster areas. President Obama has made 343 declarations since taking office in January 2009, the most in FEMA history. Instead of creating another federal agency to handle natural disasters, Congress could establish requirements related to which circumstances can be declared natural disasters. A key way to accomplish this would be to align these declarations with measurement scales used for natural disasters. The costs associated with natural disasters in terms of lives, homes and possessions and economic costs are horrible. However, adding more and more responsibilities and obligations to the FEMA and federal government’s plate will only result in a losing situation for taxpayers. 

Federal Estate

The federal government’s acquisition of and control over land in the United States is getting out of control. According to the Department of the Interior, payment in lieu of taxes for taking land off local tax rolls under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was $358.5 million. In 2004, the Government Services Administration reported that the federal government owned some 5,104,608 acres of “vacant” land, while in 2003, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) reported that the National Park Service has deferred maintenance by billions of dollars on its land. In 2007, the GAO reported that the Interior Department spent $1.6 billion annually on maintenance and construction, but had a $9.6 billion backlog of deferred maintenance projects. Nevada itself is already 84.48% owned by the federal government, not including any foreclosed housing that the government now owns as well.

Not only does federal possession of land add to the federal deficit through maintenance and up keep costs, but it also prevents job creating activities from occurring on that land. The farming, mining, and forestry industries could all create jobs on these parcels of land that are being used for nothing and taxpayers are taking the hit for it. 

EPA

Measures designed to protect the health and welfare of the environment and society are very necessary. These policies, like others that regulate businesses and citizens of the United States, should be created and enforced through their proper channels, not independently created, regulated, and enforced by one single entity. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) blatant overreach has been denounced by members of both parties. The EPA’s lack of discretion in promulgating rules has and will continue to effect jobs and energy costs. In addition to this lack of discretion, the EPA’s overregulation also weighs heavily on businesses across all fifty states.  Billions of dollars yearly for compliance with the EPA’s heavy-handed measures may force businesses to leave the United States, or not choose to locate here in the first place. The EPA’s independent authority to create and then consequently unilaterally enforce these rules must be stopped. 

Additional Resources

SGLF Rule of Law Project

The Impact of EPA's Regulatory Assault

Heritage report on Dodd-Frank Act

IER Identifies Coal Fired Power Plants Likely to Close as Result of EPA Regulations

ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank Act

Dodd-Frank Act

The financial regulatory overhaul Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) decreases competition amongst financial institutions in the United States, while simultaneously treating large firms different than small ones. In treating these two types of firms different, small firms have less chance of success, and the large firms that have been deemed “too big to fail” are at a competitive advantage compared to their smaller counterparts. The DFA’s central notion that the Federal Reserve Bank will control the activities of these firms also perpetuates this unfair advantage. Decisions of competitiveness and who prevails in the free market system should be left to the system. The DFA intrudes into the marketplace and does not provide protection to other institutions that exist. This gross interference in the free enterprise system needs to be repealed or fixed immediately.

The Dodd-Frank Act:

  • Intrudes into matters left to the states or businesses themselves
  • Intrudes into the judicial branch’s responsibilities
  • Distorts residential mortgage markets

News & Articles

Taking Page From Health Care Act, Obama Climate Plan Relies on States

Written by CORAL DAVENPORT and PETER BAKER for The New York Times on June 02, 2014Federal Overreach
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s new plan to fight climate change depends heavily on states’ devising individual approaches to meeting goals set in the nation’s capital, a strategy similar to the one he used to expand health care, often with rocky results. Rather than imposing a uniform standard for reducing power plant carbon emissions, the regulation unveiled on Monday offers the states flexibility to pick from a menu of policy options. But as with health care, the policy could lead to a patchwork of rules that frustrate businesses and invite resistance from states that oppose the policy. Monday’s announcement of the proposed regulation — which is intended to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 — represented Mr. Obama’s boldest step in using his executive authority to halt the warming of the planet, an issue he vowed to address during his first presidential campaign six years ago.
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EPA proposes cutting carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants 30% by 2030

Written by JULIET EILPERIN AND STEVEN MUFSON for Washington Post on June 02, 2014Federal Overreach
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, taking aim at one of the nation’s leading sources of greenhouse gases. Under the draft rule, the EPA would let states and utilities meet the new standard with different approaches mixing four options including energy efficiency, shifting from coal to natural gas, investing in renewable energy and making power plant upgrades. Other compliance methods could include offering discounts to encourage consumers to shift electricity use to off-peak hours.

The rule represents one of the most significant steps the federal government has ever taken to curb the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to climate change, and the draft is sure to spark a major political and legal battle. Conscious of that, President Obama called a group of Senate and House Democrats on Sunday afternoon to thank them for their support in advance of the proposed rule. Speaking to an audience of more than 100 ebullient supporters at EPA headquarters, the agency’s administrator Gina McCarthy framed the move in both pragmatic and moral terms.
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Texas attorney general plans to fight new EPA rule

Written by Betsy Blaney for Associated Press on June 02, 2014Federal Overreach
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — A federal mandate to slash carbon emissions nationwide could result in another lengthy legal battle in Texas after the front-runner to become the state's next governor said Monday he will fight the effort. Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general and Republican nominee for governor, said requirements to cut emissions by 39 percent in Texas would further a federal agenda that has threatened to cut jobs in a booming state energy industry. The comments put into question how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would force Texas to comply with its new standards if Abbott wins the gubernatorial election in November. The EPA is relying heavily on governors to help develop an emission-cutting strategy within three years but can create its own plan for states that refuse.
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Wyoming House moves EPA actions

Written by KYLE ROERINK for Casper Star-Tribune on February 26, 2014Federal Overreach
A bill and resolution giving the state leverage to battle the Environmental Protection Agency passed first readings on the Wyoming House floor Wednesday. Senate File 75 would expand the state’s ability to fight the EPA in court, appropriating a $2.2 million war chest for Attorney General Peter Michael to use to battle the federal agency. The state is involved in at least five lawsuits with the EPA and more are likely to come within in the next year.
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Supreme Court Skeptical of EPA’s Greenhouse Limit Approach

Written by Jake Grovum for Stateline on February 24, 2014Federal Overreach
A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court seemed skeptical Monday of the Obama administration’s approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, in a case that tests the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority and has divided the states. The government’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act — which the Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 ruling in 2007 — wasn’t at issue in the arguments Monday. Rather, industry groups and more than a dozen states object to how the agency is carrying out those limits. At least 18 states, meanwhile, back the EPA’s approach. Specifically, those challenging the EPA say it is reading too broadly its authority to regulate greenhouse gases, carrying over limits from vehicle transmissions and applying them to stationary sources such as power plants. They also say the EPA is picking and choosing which parts of the law to enforce by establishing a permitting scheme for greenhouse gas emitters, because its threshold for when those regulations take effect is above the law’s limits.
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Latest Texas, EPA Battle: Cross-State Air Pollution

Written by Neena Satija for The Texas Tribune on December 09, 2013Federal Overreach
Texas Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s battle with the Environmental Protection Agency continues Tuesday morning in the U.S. Supreme Court, when his office will argue against a proposed federal rule to limit the effects of air pollution across state boundaries. The rule itself — which would identify Texas and 26 other “upwind” states as significant contributors to air pollution in “downwind” states, requiring the group to further cut emissions — is not in question. The high-court justices will only consider how the rule should be implemented, and a judgment in the case would, at most, delay — not stop — the EPA’s 15-year effort to address cross-state air pollution.

But delaying the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, also known as the “transport” rule, is “what the opponents of the rule are after here,” said David Spence, a professor of business and law at the University of Texas at Austin. A federal appeals ruled against the transport rule last August, and the EPA is now appealing that decision. The rule is the latest in a series of EPA attempts since 1998 to address air quality problems in some states that originate beyond their own borders. Each of the EPA's efforts thus far has been challenged in court.
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Lawsuits by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, others challenge Obamacare subsidies

Basic structure of health care exchanges, subsidies and penalties are under attack in lawsuits that are moving through courts in Oklahoma, Washington, D.C., Indiana and Virginia.

Written by Chris Casteel for News OK on December 04, 2013Federal Overreach
WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama this week launched a new campaign to defend the Affordable Care Act, a federal judge here heard arguments in a lawsuit nearly identical to the one filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt that would, if successful, deal a crippling blow to the law. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman promised to make a decision as soon as possible in the case, one of four that raises the same basic argument that Pruitt made first in his Oklahoma lawsuit.

That argument is that the Internal Revenue Service went far beyond the plain language of the Affordable Care Act to grant subsidies, based on income, to people who buy insurance on exchanges. Those subsidies can trigger penalties for employers and individuals. One section of the law says that the subsidies, in the form of tax credits, are available to people who buy insurance “through an Exchange established by the State.” However, 34 states, including Oklahoma, refused to establish their own exchanges, and the federal government has had to set up exchanges in those states to sell insurance policies. The IRS, in writing a rule to implement the law regarding subsidies, made no distinction between state-established exchanges and federal ones.
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ObamaCare's Next Legal Challenge

The law says subsidies can only go through state-run exchanges.

Written by SCOTT PRUITT for The Wall Street Journal on December 01, 2013Federal Overreach
As millions of Americans see their health-insurance premiums increase, have their coverage dropped as a result of the Affordable Care Act, and are unable to use the federal exchange, Oklahoma has sued the Obama administration. The Sooner State and several others are trying to stop the government from imposing tax penalties on certain states, businesses and individuals in defiance of the law. If these legal challenges are successful, the deficit spending associated with the new health-care law could be reduced by approximately $700 billion over the next decade. While the president's health law is vast and extraordinarily complex, it is in one respect very simple. Subsidies are only to be made available, and tax penalties for not signing up for health insurance are only to be assessed, in states that create their own health-care exchange. The IRS, however, is attempting to enforce tax penalties in all states—including Oklahoma and the majority of the other states that have declined to create their own exchanges. Citizens and businesses in these states must use the federal exchange instead.

The distinction is critical, because under the terms of the law it is the availability of government insurance-premium subsidies that triggers the penalties against businesses if they fail to provide their employees with health insurance that the administration deems acceptable. This is a huge problem for the administration, which desperately needs to hand out tax credits and subsidies to the citizenry to quash the swelling backlash against the law. When Oklahoma first raised this challenge in 2012, many experts predicted that the Sooner State would "go it alone" in pursuing this legal strategy. Not so. In Indiana, the state and 15 school districts have filed a lawsuit against the IRS, the agency that collects the penalties. Business owners (who, like the state of Oklahoma, would be subject to penalties as employers) and individuals in Virginia and the District of Columbia have done the same. In the D.C. lawsuit, the presiding judge recently rejected the Obama administration's attempt to have the case dismissed, as the judge in the Oklahoma case did in August.
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EPA doesn’t rule out state carbon tax option for power plants

Written by Ben Geman for The Hill on November 21, 2013Federal Overreach
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) isn’t currently ruling out the idea of allowing states to meet planned climate regulations for existing power plants by imposing state-level carbon taxes. The concept of giving states that option is experiencing a little boomlet. Brookings Institution economist Adele Morris this month pitched it to the EPA, and it has also garnered coverage in The Washington Post, E2-Wire, and The Daily Caller. E2-Wire asked the EPA if the rule they’ll propose in draft form next June might give states that option. The EPA declined to address the idea head-on, noting the agency is gathering input from a range of sources to inform the carbon rules for existing plants.
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DOJ 'Abandons' Suit Against Louisiana School Voucher Program

Written by MICHAEL WARREN for The Weekly Standard on November 19, 2013Federal Overreach
The Obama administration's Justice Department has dropped a lawsuit aiming to stop a school voucher program in the state of Louisiana. A ruling Friday by a United States district court judge revealed that the federal government has "abandoned" its pursuit of an injunction against the Louisiana Scholarship Program, a state-funded voucher program designed to give students in failing public schools the opportunity to attend better performing public or private schools. "We are pleased that the Obama Administration has given up its attempt to end the Louisiana Scholarship Program with this absurd lawsuit," said Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, in a statement. "It is great the Department of Justice has realized, at least for the time being, it has no authority to end equal opportunity of education for Louisiana children."

But the legal battle over school vouchers in Louisiana isn't over. The Justice Department is still requesting the court allow a federal review process of the program. Earlier this year the Justice Department had sought the injunction against the program because, its petition argued, moving children out of certain school districts in Louisiana may have been in violation of a standing federal desegregation court order from 1975. According to that existing injunction, the state could not send public money to private schools in those school districts "in ways that further or support discrimination or segregation."
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House Republicans pressure EPA to drop coal-plant carbon rules

Published in FoxNews on November 16, 2013Federal Overreach
Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposal to impose carbon dioxide limits on power plants. Committee leaders sent a letter to EPA director Gina McCarthy on Friday, asking her to withdraw the proposed regulations, arguing that the agency is trying to "impose standards beyond the scope of its legal authority." In September, the EPA released a proposal to set emissions caps for new coal-fired power plants that would likely require the industry to use carbon-capture technology, which involves burying the carbon underground. Critics argue the technology, which is still under development, is too expensive, not commercially available and poses serious safety risks. The agency maintains the technology has been “adequately demonstrated” based on three government-funded projects. The lawmakers argue the EPA is prohibited by law from using the projects to justify its proposed regulations.
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Which Federal Appeals Court Vacancies Should Take Priority?

Written by Maggie Clark for Stateline on October 29, 2013Federal Overreach
Seven Republican attorneys general say President Obama is stacking the deck against states that sue federal agencies by filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Circuit currently has three open seats, but also has the lowest workload of any circuit, according to data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The D.C.-based court hears all cases against federal agencies and is a frequent stop for state attorneys general challenging federal regulations. By filling the D.C. vacancies before filling vacancies in circuits with heavier caseloads, the attorneys general argued the president is packing the D.C. court with judges who share his political preferences and will support his agencies when they’re challenged by the states. “It's inappropriate for the Obama administration to inject politics into decisions about how best to allocate judicial resources by attempting to unnecessarily add judges to the D.C. Circuit when other circuits are in much greater need," said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
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Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance

Written by Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye for NBC News on October 28, 2013Federal Overreach
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years. Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Health-Law Navigators Blasted in Republican Report

More Safeguards Needed to Protect Data, Avoid Scams as Navigators Help People Sign Up for Insurance, GOP House Investigators Say

Written by Amy Schatz for The Wall Street Journal on September 18, 2013Federal Overreach
WASHINGTON—More safeguards are needed to ensure thieves don't impersonate government-funded "navigators" and nab financial details from people trying to sign up for health insurance, according to a report from Republican House investigators. The report raised concerns that official navigators, who get federal funding under the 2010 health law, won't have government IDs or other documentation to prove they are authorized to help enroll people for health insurance. The federal government won't maintain a list of authorized navigators or helpers, making it difficult for consumers to be confident when handing over sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers, the report said. The Obama administration is providing a total of $67 million to more than 100 community, religious and health-care groups to hire navigators who will help enroll uninsured Americans. New health-insurance exchanges created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act are set to open Oct. 1, offering coverage starting Jan. 1.

The "heightened risk of identity theft and financial loss from a poorly managed outreach campaign" is a significant concern, according to the report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is holding a hearing on the issue Wednesday. The law's backers say navigators are needed to help explain health insurance to people who haven't bought it before or don't have computer access. They also say the GOP focus on the navigators is less about protecting consumers and more about impeding efforts to implement the health law. "There is a systematic effort by some Republican state officials to obstruct implementation of the Affordable Care Act," Rep. Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) wrote along with two Democratic colleagues in a letter Tuesday that criticized how witnesses were chosen for Wednesday's hearing. Consumer-protection worries have escalated in recent weeks as reports of various scams tied to the health law have begun popping up. The Federal Trade Commission has scheduled a meeting Thursday to discuss the issue.
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S.C. attorney general promotes work opposing Washington

Written by Mary Orndorff Troyan for Greenville Online on September 12, 2013Federal Overreach
WASHINGTON – A court decision that reinstated Yucca Mountain, Nev., as a candidate for storing nuclear waste marked a legal victory for states over the federal government, South Carolina AttorneyGeneral Alan Wilson said Thursday. “I was happy when a federal appeals court basically said ... this administration ran afoul of the law by withdrawing Yucca’s application,” Wilson said at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Wilson was one of four Republican attorneys general who participated in a panel about the battles between states and federal officials over rules and laws involving health care, energy, labor and the environment. “The federal government no longer sees the states as equal partners,” Wilson said. “That’s why we are fighting.” South Carolina was among states that filed suit during President Barack Obama’s first term when the Energy Department halted its analysis of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in the Nevada desert.
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EPA to finalize regional haze plan for WY by Nov.

Written by Irina Zhorov for Wyoming Public Media on August 28, 2013Federal Overreach
The comment period closed Monday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Regional Haze Plan. The plan seeks to address the issue of air pollution produced by coal fired power plants. Wyoming put together its own regional haze program, but the EPA rejected parts of it, saying it wasn't strong enough, particularly when it came to nitrogen oxide emissions at four plants. Governor Mead says EPA’s plan circumvents the Clean Air Act’s directive to let states lead the way in regional haze control. He adds that the EPA’s plan will cost more – $1.2 billion dollars in upfront costs and $170 million in annual costs. The Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Shannon Anderson says that's an exaggeration.

“Both EPA and the state of Wyoming and the utilities overestimate the costs for the pollution control technology. This particular technology that reduces nitrogen oxides is currently installed at over 200 power plants across the country, it’s widely used, it’s not cost prohibitive by any means, so we believe it’s more than reasonable to require it at Wyoming coal plants,” Anderson says. Anderson says that both the EPA and the state overestimate the cost of updating power-generating facilities and ignore another pollution source, the state’s oil and gas industry. The EPA plans to release a final rule by November 21st.
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Attorney General to Appeal Regional Haze Decision

Published in The Ardmoreite on August 22, 2013Federal Overreach
OKLAHOMA CITY — Attorney General Scott Pruitt Wednesday announced the state’s plan to ask for a rehearing before the full Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Oklahoma’s Regional Haze case against the EPA. In July, a three-judge panel voted 2-1 in favor of the federal agency. “We strongly disagree with the judges’ decision and the basis for their findings. As Judge Kelly said in his dissenting opinion, the EPA misrepresented the facts, made assumptions and provided no factual support for its conclusions,” General Pruitt said. “Regional Haze is about aesthetics, not health, and states have a say in how the regulations are implemented. Part of that role is considering the cost to our consumers.”

The Regional Haze Rule under the Clean Air Act requires agencies to work together to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064. Oklahoma’s industry leaders, elected officials, utility companies, consumer protection advocates and energy producers spent months creating a State Implementation Plan to address the requirements of the rule in multiple parts of the state, submitting it to the EPA in 2010. The state plan accomplished the regional haze requirements by 2026, decades before the deadline, while significantly reducing the effect on utility consumers. The EPA denied Oklahoma’s plan and instead implemented its own federal plan, without following the requirements listed in the Clean Air Act. Utility officials estimated the federal plan would increase utility rates for Oklahomans by 13 percent to 20 percent over three years. The 10th Circuit stayed implementation of the federal plan in June 2012. The three-judge panel ruled on the case July 19.
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Western haze triggers battle over new pollution controls

Environment » Two sides offer different views on EPA proposal.

Written by Judy Fahys for The Salt Lake Tribune on August 19, 2013Federal Overreach
An environmental group is squaring off online with Rocky Mountain Power over plans to clean up emissions from a Wyoming Power plant. HEAL Utah says the electric company is trying to dodge pollution controls the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to clean up the air and dawdling on improvements to its renewable-energy portfolio. The group has set up a Web page encouraging Utahns to voice their support for the EPA proposal by next Monday and has developed a video, The Dirty Truth, to make its case. "Instead of doing the serious work of mapping out a clean energy future, Rocky Mountain Power is using its considerable resources to fight the Clean Air Act and to fight environmental protection," said HEAL’s Christopher Thomas. "It’s time Utahns learned the truth about this company."

Last month Rocky Mountain Power joined with other Wyoming electric providers in a Web campaign to encourage ratepayers to weigh in against the EPA plan. The controls EPA favors would cost around $1 billion and would do only a little more than Wyoming’s alternate proposal, the page says. "Rocky Mountain Power has invested $1.5 billion to comply with environmental rules at our power plants," said company spokesman David Eskelsen. "We support the Wyoming state plan for regional haze and believe EPA’s proposal is extreme and costly for little benefit. What’s more, the company is a national leader in owning wind power plants."
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