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Tuesday
Nov252014

Washington State Representative Becomes Next Generation Leader

National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD) held its second facilitator training this past November in DC. State legislators from across the country came together in support of NICD's Next Generation initiative.

The 2014 Next Generation Facilitator Training was led by NICD Working Board Member Kirk Emerson and Next Generation Director, Ted Celeste and also included Heath Mello (Representative, D-Nebraska-5th District), Elaine Bowers (Senator, R-Kansas-District 36), Pamela DeLissio (Representative, D-Pennsylvania-194th District), Denise Driehaus (Representative, D-Ohio-31st District), Matt Pouliot (Representative-R-Maine-57th District), Frank LaRose (Senator, R-Ohio-27th District), Sharon Wylie(Representative-D-Washington-49th District), Sam Hunt (Representative-D-Washington-22nd District), and Nancy Garland (Former Representative, D-Ohio-20th District).


Thursday
Nov132014

Impact of Mid-term Election Campaign Ads

WASHINGTON: The National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD), an organization dedicated to improving the level of civil discourse among elected officials and the media is releasing results from its national conversation about campaign ads leading up to this week’s mid-terms http://respectorreject.com.

NICD, in partnership with the American Democracy Project, The Andrew Goodman Foundation, Common Sense Action, The Democracy Commitment, HonestAds, Pop Vox, and Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, sought to frame the conversation around civility and give the public a place to take a stand against sensational attacks of opposing candidates. According to Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, NICD’s Executive Director, “this campaign season was the worst ever in terms of negativity.”

During the course of the 2014 campaign season, an estimated $4 Billion dollars was spent to support candidates in races around the country and to produce ads which most viewers felt were “full of misinformation and lies.” Other themes which emerged included:

· negative ads only serve politicians not citizens.

· it’s too easy to be a gullible & passive viewer – citizens need to be critical thinkers.

· candidates should be held accountable for untrue information.

· ads should focus on candidates policies and not on what’s wrong with the opponent.

· being able to maintain civil discourse shows respect for voters.

· ads are too polarizing to foster civil discourse and do no respect voters.

· biased news sources contribute to an atmosphere of negative ads.

Social media played an integral role with some 320-thousand citizens joining conversations on #Election2014 and commenting on NICD’s social media platforms about ads featured on #RespectorReject as well as the current political environment in the U.S.

Clearly, citizens and voters feel strongly that negative ads and the untruths in these political ads are unacceptable and undesired but since some seventy-per cent of campaign ads take a negative approach, making more acceptable changes “will be an uphill battle.” Said Shane Christensen, NICD’s Program Director.

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THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR CIVIL DISCOURSE works to support elected officials capable of working to solve the big issues facing our country. A public demand for civil discourse and a media that informs and engages. Learn more at: www.nicd.arizona.edu

Thursday
Nov132014

Kansas and Arizona Proof of Citizenship Laws Struck Down

A federal appeals court ruled last week that Kansas and Arizona cannot force applicants to show documents proving their citizenship when using the federal voter registration form. The requirement is still in place when voters sign up using the state form, and any voter using the federal form can only cast a ballot in federal races. The litigation is ongoing and the states may decide to appeal. The Brennan Center represents the League of Women Voters in the case.


Thursday
Nov132014

Outside Spending and Dark Money in Toss-Up Senate Races

Winning candidates in 11 competitive Senate races were overwhelmingly backed by “dark money” groups that conceal some or all of their donors, according to a new Brennan Center post-election analysis. The study found $342 million in nonparty outside spending in those contests, with nearly 60 percent coming from “dark money” groups. The 2012 total was $259 million for all 33 contests. “It now seems each election is a new opportunity to break outside spending records, and 2014 did not disappoint,” said Ian Vandewalker. Read more from Bloomberg and listen to Lawrence Norden on NPR’s “Brian Lehrer Show.”


Friday
Sep192014

Network News Goes Dark on Dark Money

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 – Network news broadcasts seldom mentioned campaign finance reform during a period when the Supreme Court gutted limits on how much millionaires may spend to influence elections and Congress considered a constitutional amendment to undo the court decisions, according to a Media Matters for America study...

The sparse coverage of money and politics, in the words of the Media Matters report, “is part of a larger pattern in which the networks have largely underreported the rolling back of campaign finance reform and the unprecedented influx of billions of dollars into the federal election system.” ...

The study tracked coverage on network evening newscasts and Sunday shows since February of 2013 when the Supreme Court agreed to take up McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that a 5-4 majority eventually used to further gut campaign laws that already were shredded by a 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

During that 19-month period, each commercial network devoted less than one minute per month to campaign finance reform, according to the study. The PBS NewsHour stood apart with more coverage on campaign finance reform, money in politics and the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions than all the other networks combined.

The Senate last week debated an amendment that would restore the authority of Congress and state legislatures to regulate campaign spending. During that four-day debate, there was not a single mention of the issue on network newscasts, according to Media Matters.

Last Sunday, after Senate Republicans blocked the consideration of the constitutional amendment, the issue was mentioned on (only) two Sunday shows.

Read more at MediaMatters.org


Thursday
Sep112014

U.S. Citizens Being Denied their Right to Vote

By Brennan Center at NYU. School of Law

The Texas photo ID trial is continuing this week in U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi. The Brennan Center is part of a legal team representing several groups who argued the ID requirement violates the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution by making it harder for minorities to vote.

As many as 1.2 million eligible Texas voters do not possess acceptable ID. Hispanic and black voters are more likely to lack an ID than whites, according to expert testimony.

The judge also heard from several affected voters. Sammie Louis Bates, a low-income senior who is a lifelong voter, said she kept “running into the wall of needing her birth certificate,” which cost $42 — an amount she could not afford on a monthly income of just a few hundred dollars.

“I had to put $42 where it would do the most good,” she said. “We couldn’t eat the birth certificate, and we couldn’t pay rent with the birth certificate.”

The trial comes as many Americans face an ever-shifting voting landscape. Texas is one of seven states with ongoing litigation challenging voting restrictions ahead of the November election.

Read more on major lawsuits at the Brennan Center’s Election 2014 resources.


Friday
Sep052014

Low Pay is Not OK

By Thom Hartmann

Yesterday, fast-food workers in more than 150 cities went on strike to demand a living wage and the right to unionize. For the first time, home health workers also joined the protests to fight for higher pay. According to organizers, almost 500 people were arrested around the country for civil disobedience like blocking intersections.

The protests are being called the largest coordinated action by the low-wage workers movement so far, stemming from the original "Fight for 15" movement that started just two years ago. Protesters in cities from New York City to San Diego stood together chanting "Low Pay is Not O.K.," and workers as far away as Denmark joined protests to show their solidarity.

In a relatively short time, a few hundred low-wage workers in New York City sparks an international movement, and it doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. Although some cities and towns throughout the United States have increased their minimum wage, millions of workers are still struggling to make ends meet on the federal minimum of $7.25. And, despite strong regulations and recent rulings against it, many employers are still blocking workers' attempts to form a union.

Kaya Moody, a protester in Detroit, said, "We always get the 'Do you really think you deserve $15 an hour as a fast food worker?' We get that a lot, and I just feel like, who doesn't deserve $15 an hour, you know? It's a living wage."

These low-wage workers have recognized that if they want the right to organize and a living wage, they're going to have to fight for it. However, yesterday's massive strike proves they're not backing down from the challenge.

Latoya Caldwell, a Wendy's worker in Kansas City, Missouri, said, "We're a movement now. We know this is going to be a long fight, but we're going to fight it [un]till we win."

In the richest nation on earth, no one who works full time should be living in poverty, and every worker should have the power to bargain collectively. The best way to protect our right to unionize is to use it, and low-wage workers all around the world are showing us how it's done.

Friday
Aug292014

Advancing Health through Innovation: Call to Employers

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, September 16 at 1:30PM ET, chief executives of some of the nation’s largest companies will release a report on ways to advance the nation’s health through innovation.

Members of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) CEO Council on Health and Innovation include:

Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company
Mark Bertolini, Chairman, CEO, and President, Aetna
Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson
Muhtar Kent (Co-chair), Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company
Lowell C. McAdam (Co-chair), Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications
Brian T. Moynihan, CEO, Bank of America Corporation
Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD (Co-chair), Chairman and CEO, Institute for Advanced Health
Scott P. Serota, President and CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
Gregory D. Wasson, President and CEO, Walgreen Co.

American companies and their employees bear about 45 percent of the nation’s health expenditures. The report by the CEO Council will detail the companies’ most successful strategies for improving health and health care. In addition, the report will issue a call to employers to join their commitment to improve the health of individuals and communities and improve the health care system.

Several CEO Council members will attend and discuss the report, including Muhtar Kent of The Coca-Cola Company, Lowell McAdam of Verizon Communications, Patrick Soon-Shiong of the Institute for Advanced Health, and Mark Bertolini of Aetna.

Additional participants include: Trent Haywood, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; Shubham Singhal, Director and Leader, Healthcare Systems and Services Practice, McKinsey & Company; Senator Tom Daschle, Former Senate Majority Leader and Co-Chair, Health Project, Bipartisan Policy Center; Jason Grumet, CEO and President, Bipartisan Policy Center; and Janet Marchibroda, Executive Director, CEO Council on Health and Innovation, Bipartisan Policy Center.


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Wednesday
Jul162014

Which is Worse - Government or Corporate Bureaucracy?

From Thom Hartmann

Libertarians have been saying for a long, long time that if we just get rid of government, everything will run a whole lot better. But if you get rid of government, corporations step in to fill the gap left by government. And the truth is, corporate bureaucracy, the kind of bureaucracy people have to deal with every day when they try to do something as simple as pay their credit card bill is just as bad - or even worse - than any government bureaucracy.

If you don't believe me, do yourself a favor and listen to Ryan Block's now-viral experience with Comcast customer service. All Block wanted to do was cancel his cable account and get on with his life, but the Comcast retention agent he was speaking to just wouldn't take "no" for answer." The conversation kept going on just like that for another eight minutes!

The amazing thing about this is that it's not amazing at all. I'm guessing pretty much everybody in America has had an experience like this with their cable company, bank, phone company, or some other giant, monopolistic entity. I know I have.


Tuesday
Jul082014

WA CD-3 Congresswoman Herrera Beutler: Moderate or Disengaged?

During the time she has been in Congress, Representative Herrera Beutler has had little success in legislating. She has cosponsored the following handful of bills which have become law. The vast majority of cosponsored bills (see below) are non controversial.

The congresswomen has been described as a moderate; however, it seems that she has made a conscious decision to engage in few, if any, courageous decisions that will benefit the majority of her constituents.

In 2011, Herrera Beutler chose not to cosponsor the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early Reauthorization Act or the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act. However, after her child was born, she joined a "bipartisan group of lawmakers to advance care for children with complex medical conditions".

The Associated Press reports that her child "was born prematurely in July 2013 with Potter’s Syndrome, a kidney and lung condition that’s typically fatal. She received dialysis treatments at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., and will eventually need a kidney transplant."

H.R. 3187 (112th): March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act of 2012

Sponsor: Rep. Bob Dold [R-IL10, 2011-2013]

Introduced: Oct 13, 2011

Signed by the President: Dec 18, 2012

H.R. 2453 (112th): Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act

Sponsor: Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer [R-MO3]

Introduced: Jul 07, 2011

Signed by the President: Dec 04, 2012

H.R. 2139 (112th): Lions Clubs International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Act

Sponsor: Rep. Peter Roskam [R-IL6]

Introduced: Jun 03, 2011

Signed by the President: Oct 05, 2012

H.R. 1905 (112th): Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012

Sponsor: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL27]

Introduced: May 13, 2011

Signed by the President: Aug 10, 2012

H.R. 2527 (112th): National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act

Sponsor: Rep. Richard Hanna [R-NY22]

Introduced: Jul 14, 2011

Signed by the President: Aug 03, 2012

H.R. 886 (112th): United States Marshals Service 225th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act

Sponsor: Rep. Steve Womack [R-AR3]

Introduced: Mar 02, 2011

Signed by the President: Apr 02, 2012

H.R. 3421 (112th): Fallen Heroes of 9/11 Act

Sponsor: Rep. Bill Shuster [R-PA9]

Introduced: Nov 14, 2011

Signed by the President: Dec 23, 2011

H.R. 674 (112th): To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the imposition of 3 percent withholding on certain payments made to vendors by government entities, to modify the calculation of modified adjusted gross income for purposes of determin

Sponsor: Rep. Walter “Wally” Herger [R-CA2, 1987-2013]

Introduced: Feb 11, 2011

Signed by the President: Nov 21, 2011

H.R. 4 (112th): Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011

Sponsor: Rep. Daniel Lungren [R-CA3, 2005-2013]

Introduced: Jan 12, 2011

Signed by the President: Apr 14, 2011

H.R. 3370: Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014

Sponsor: Rep. Michael Grimm [R-NY11]

Introduced: Oct 29, 2013

Signed by the President: Mar 21, 2014

H.R. 3658: Monuments Men Recognition Act of 2014

Sponsor: Rep. Kay Granger [R-TX12]

Introduced: Dec 05, 2013

Signed by the President: Jun 09, 2014

H.R. 685: American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal Act

Sponsor: Rep. Sam Johnson [R-TX3]

Introduced: Feb 14, 2013

Signed by the President: May 23, 2014

H.R. 324: To grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the First Special Service Force, in recognition of its superior service during World War II.

Sponsor: Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL1]

Introduced: Jan 18, 2013

Signed by the President: Jul 12, 2013

H.R. 360: To award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley to commemorate the lives they lost 50 years ago in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where these 4 littl

Sponsor: Rep. Terri Sewell [D-AL7]

Introduced: Jan 23, 2013

Signed by the President: May 24, 2013

H.R. 1036: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 103 Center Street West in Eatonville, Washington, as the “National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson Post Office”.

Sponsor: Rep. David Reichert [R-WA8]

Introduced: Mar 07, 2013

Signed by the President: Jun 09, 2014

H.R. 1209: To award a Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the “Doolittle Tokyo Raiders”, for outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States in conducting the bombings of Tokyo.

Sponsor: Rep. Pete Olson [R-TX22]

Introduced: Mar 15, 2013

Signed by the President: May 23, 2014

H.R. 2019: Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

Sponsor: Rep. Gregg Harper [R-MS3]

Introduced: May 16, 2013

Signed by the President: Apr 03, 2014

On 7/28/2011— H.R. 2679 was introduced with 63 Democratic and Republican cosponsors. Congresswoman Herrera Beutler did not join as a cosponsor.

Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early Reauthorization Act or the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act - Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to expand, intensify, and coordinate NIH activities with respect to research on the causes of preterm labor and delivery, tools to detect, prevent, or reduce prevalence of preterm labor and delivery, and the care and treatment of preterm infants.

Establishes within NIH a multicenter clinical program to investigate problems in clinical obstetrics, improve the care and outcomes of neonates, and enhance the understanding of DNA and proteins as they relate to the underlying processes that lead to preterm birth.

Requires the Director to award grants for planning, establishing, improving, and providing basic operating support for transdisciplinary research centers for prematurity.

Requires the Secretary, acting through the Surgeon General, to establish and implement a national science-based provider and consumer education campaign on promoting healthy pregnancies and preventing preterm birth.

Reauthorizes provisions related to research on prematurity and preterm births and sets forth specific areas for such research.

Requires the Director of the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to award grants to establish demonstration projects for: (1) obstetrical services for high risk women of child bearing age remotely using telehealth; and (2) educational activities regarding risk factors for preterm birth.

Expands a demonstration project to inform health care providers and the public and improve treatment and outcome for babies born preterm.

Requires the Secretary to establish the Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality.

Requires a study on hospital readmissions of preterm births.

From GovTrack.us