Republican Party

ALEC Alumni Pushing “Electricity Freedom Act” in OH and VA

ALEC Alumni Pushing “Electricity Freedom Act” in OH and VA

Over the past couple weeks, fossil fuel interests and their allies have ramped up attacks on clean energy on the state level. As the Washington Post reported in November, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a alecfossilfuelfundersfossil fuel-funded advocacy group, has made it a priority to eliminate clean energy standards across the country.

From the East Coast to the Southwest, ALEC members, alumni and operatives are moving full steam ahead to eliminate clean energy projects and the policies that support them.  However, not all of these attacks are coming from ALEC members sitting in state legislatures.  In Ohio and Virginia, former ALEC legislators, now in other positions, are driving anti-clean energy attacks. Below is part one of our series this week on former ALEC legislators spearheading fossil fuel-funded attacks on the clean energy industry.

 VIRGINIA

Two weeks ago, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a former ALEC legislator, struck an agreement with Dominion, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., to support legislation effectively eliminating the state’s voluntary clean energy standard. According to the Associated Press, under the agreement, the power companies would no longer have the same financial incentives for using sources of renewable energy in Virginia. Without a legally-binding clean energy standard, killing the financial incentives of the law would stop big utilities from investing in new sources of energy (editor’s note:  This is ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act”, as reported here), especially when they can keep profiting off of old coal-fired power plants.

So why is the Attorney General Cuccinelli working to stop clean energy in Virginia? There’s one thing that might show his hand. Attorney General Cuccinelli is running for Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election, and has received over $100,000 from fossil fuel energy interests for his campaign (and over $400,000 from dirty energy interests since 2001) including:

  • $50,000 from David H. Koch, co-owner of Koch Industries, a major fossil fuel conglomerate.
  • $25,000 from Consol Energy, a coal and natural gas producer.
  • $10,000 from Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining and processing company.
  • $10,000 from Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utility companies.
  • $10,000 from Dominion, one of the largest electric utility companies.
  • $10,000 from Koch Industries, a major fossil fuel conglomerate.

The Attorney General’s office claims that he sought to eliminate the standard because it allowed utilities to buy renewable energy certificates from existing facilities rather than build new clean energy in the state of Virginia. Dominion charged ratepayers $77 million as part of the clean energy law, without building a single clean energy project in the state.

 

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at an event sponsored by the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.

But, Mike Tidwell, of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), which has worked with lawmakers to propose several bills to improve the incentive program, said that, “The standard is flawed; but there’s a clear way to fix that.” CCAN is working with Delegate Alfonso Lopez to propose a solution that would require Dominion to invest in wind and solar projects in Virginia in order to qualify for financial incentives.

But instead of trying to fix the renewable energy standard, Mr. Cuccinelli is advocating for the elimination of clean energy incentives while also raking in over $100,000 dollars from fossil fuel interests for his gubernatorial campaign. This clear conflict of interest is compounded by the fact that Mr. Cuccinelli was a member of ALEC, which has publicly stated eliminating clean energy laws as one of its goals for 2013. And, it is Mr. Cuccinelli’s fossil fuel donors, most of which are corporate members of ALEC, that stand to profit from killing clean energy laws and slowing the growth of the clean energy economy.

Instead of fighting for Virginia families and small businesses, it appears that Mr. Cuccinnelli is more concerned with the interests of his big, fossil fuel donors. It’s probably a good indication of how he’ll run the state from the governor’s mansion.

OHIO

In Ohio, no legislation has been proposed to rollback the state’s “Alternative Energy Resource Standard,” yet. But three weeks ago, former ALEC legislator Todd Snitchler, now Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), and two other commissioners, decided to squash a solar power plant proposed by American Electric Power (AEP) – a move that seems to correlate with ALEC’s agenda to stop the growth of the clean energy market.

AEP planned to build the Turning Point solar power plant, a 50 MW solar power plant comprised of panels from a factory in Ohio. The company planned this project to comply with the requirements of the renewable energy standard according to the PUCO opinion and order. Ohio’s clean energy law calls for 12.5% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2025.

Todd Snitchler, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, with Governor John Kasich. Both politicians are ALEC alumni.

One of the primary opponents arguing against the solar plant in front of the PUCO was FirstEnergy Solutions, an electric utility (that generates 72% of its electricity from fossil fuels) and a major donor to Governor John Kasich, another ALEC alumnus.  Gov. Kasich received over $600,000 from oil, gas and mining interests for his 2010 election campaign and in early 2011, Gov. Kasich appointed Mr. Snitchler to chair the PUCO.

Mr. Snitchler and the two other Republican commissioners voting to stop the Turning Point solar plant disregarded Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff experts who stated that the project was necessary to comply with the state’s renewable energy standard.

Mr. Snitchler’s Twitter traffic affirms his ideological disdain for clean energy. He consistently attacked clean energy technology and the legitimacy of climate science (ignoring the Pope, United States Military, and every national academy of science in the world) according to a Columbus Dispatch analysis of his twitter traffic over the past year.

With anti-clean energy ALEC alumni in powerful positions in Ohio, pro-clean energy advocates must work to stop attempted rollbacks of the state’s clean energy standard in the state legislature or face a grim future in the Buckeye state.

editor’s note:  all emphasis in the article is mine.

This article has been re-named and re-posted from The Checks and Balances Project (Holding government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public).  The original title is ALEC Attacks Clean Energy Standards: Ohio & Virginia, and can be found at http://checksandbalancesproject.org/2013/01/30/alec-attack-clean-energy-standards-ohio-virginia/

 

 

The Precarious Situation of Nevada’s ELL Students

(or “Why Nevada is Going to Get Sued for Millions.“)

With recent headlines like “Conference attendees say Nevada isn’t doing enough to educate ELL students,” and “GOP lawmaker seeks more state funding for English language learners,” it should come as no surprise that Nevada has an English Language Learner problem in its grade schools. What such headlines don’t show is the depth and breadth of the peril we place our state in by not doing enough to educate ELL students.

Economic Impact

According to 2012 Applied Analysis impact study, the cost to Nevada of ELL students who will fail to graduate, or unlikely to graduate, is projected at $17 trillion, in loss of tax payments, unemployment benefits, cost of incarceration, and health care costs that will have to be subsidized. This net economic drag can be reversed if Nevada adequately educates ELL students early on and fixes its high school graduation crisis. The estimated return on investment if this is accomplished is tenfold for each dollar spent over the coming years. Therefore, every day Nevada continues to view the investment of educating ELL students as a burden is another day that the potential return on investment is not realized.

Depth of the ELL Population

Nevada school age children in general are demographically diverse and likely to be “at risk” – three in five are minorities, one in six is an ELL learner, and one in two qualifies for free or reduced cost school lunches – further exacerbating efforts to educate ELL students.

ELL population has remained stable for the last five years, even as immigration has declined into the state.  Although some immigrant families, particularly undocumented immigrants left Nevada in the last three years, the bulk of the immigrant families have decided to make Nevada their home in spite of the hard times. As is evident the magnitude of Nevada’s ELL demographics is no longer small enough to fully address by diverting minor resources from general education funding as it once was decades ago.

Breadth of the ELL Achievement Gap

Nevada has a legal obligation under constitutional law, federal law, and state law to provide ALL children with an equal quality of education and quality educational opportunities; free of charge and regardless of legal status. However, Nevada’s ELL children lag significantly behind their English-speaking counterparts, third grade ELL children lag 15% behind in CRT reading scores, and the gap becomes larger the longer that they remain in ELL programs, one in twelve ELL children passes the English high school proficiency exam.

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Experts agree that teaching special populations of ELL children require skill sets and expertise that the average teacher is not taught. In addition, for ELL children to succeed they need to receive instruction from teachers who understand how to teach the development of language as well as how to communicate to English Language Learners academic concepts. Shockingly, in a recent review of Clark County School District classrooms 69 out of 70 teachers were rated as not providing high quality ELL instruction and most observed classroom interactions contained NO instructional content for ELL students on language development. Reviewers made it loud and clear that the high quality instruction required for ELL students was almost completely missing. This is overwhelming evidence that Nevada is not meeting its legal obligations requiring that “the programs and practices actually used by a school system [be] reasonably calculated to implement effectively the educational theory adopted by the school.

Providing Resources for ELL Needs

Increased funding does not guarantee that the additional resources needed for educating ELL students are provided. However, Nevada doesn’t currently provide any funding for ELL resources, one of only a handful of states that does not provide any state funding for ELL children. In failing to provide even minimum services for ELL children the state places itself at risk of a multi-million dollar lawsuit. School districts with comparable ELL student populations, who have settled ELL lawsuits, such as Florida, California and Arizona provide substantial state support for ELL programs leaving a strong precedence for substantial ELL resources as a funding requirement. Further deteriorating ELL resources in Nevada:

This leaves us asking the question “What level of funding for ELL will fix the looming human, work force and legal crisis?” The Nevada legislature has commissioned two studies in 2006 and 2012; both recommended increasing funding for ELL students. According to the 2006 adequacy study, Nevada should be funding English Language Learners at $5600 per child which when adjusted for inflation would have equated to $3,551.3 million in additional funding dedicated strictly for English Language Learner instruction and resources. The 2012 study was unable to propose an updated estimate for funding ELL resources because it was “simply not possible to disentangle the relationship between – low?income [students] and ELL students.”

Authored by Sebring Frehner with the expertise of various community leaders.

Virginia Senate committee kills presidential gerrymandering bill

Obama

A Virginia Senate committee voted Tuesday to permanently kill a bill that would have aligned the state’s electoral votes with its House districts, a move critics say would have swung the 2012 presidential election for the Republican candidate despite President Barack Obama’s overwhelming victory in the popular vote.

The Virginia Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee voted 11-4 to kill the bill, with four Republicans joining seven Democrats in opposition.

Sponsor Sen. Charles Carrico (R) had offered to amend the bill in such a way that would cause electoral votes to be distributed proportionally in accordance with the state’s popular vote, but it was not enough to keep the bill afloat.

Similar bills are being considered in other swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania following an endorsement of the strategy by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

“I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at,” he told a reporter earlier in January.

Even so, three other states that initially took the idea seriously — Florida, Ohio and Michigan — have all dropped their plans to change the rules of their presidential elections.

This post was written by Stephen C. Webster at The Raw Story.  You can see the original post at http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/30/virginia-senate-committee-kills-presidential-gerrymandering-bill/

Help Determine the Future of the Internet – FCC Chair Appointment Due

Should broadband Internet service be treated as a basic utility in the United States, like electricity, water, and traditional telephone service?

Most of the time people want to speak to their government about the decisions being made – Most of the time we don’t get a chance.  Here is a chance to have your voice heard.

The FCC – your phones, your TV, your radio, your internet, community broadband.

This is the big stuff, important stuff, the big dollar stuff we use daily and you can possibly make a difference by signing a petition.

Most times the voice of the public is ignored in the area of appointments – where the voices of the billionaire telecoms get their way.

Most times the voice of the public is ignored in the running of the FCC – where the voices of the billionaire telecoms get their way.  Much of that problem stems from who is running the FCC – which is usually executives pulled from the large telecoms or lobbyists who worked for the telecoms.

A new appointment to chair the FCC is coming up and we have the chance to let the White House know who we want considered for the position.

I am asking that you look at the information that I am giving you below and hopefully, you will agree that signing the petition is the thing to do.

Please read the snips I have provided, then read the articles and after that – please consider signing the petition.

 

White House.gov Petition Text:

Appoint Susan Crawford as FCC Chairman.  America is ranked #16 in the world for broadband penetration, speed and price. Where high-speed service is available, it is often expensive and unreliable — and frequently there is only one monopoly service provider.

The United States needs new leadership at the Federal Communications Commission to help establish a competitive regulatory climate and to encourage new entrants into the market. Susan Crawford has spent her career studying the global telecommunications industry and has a keen sense of the history that brought us to this point.

Ms. Crawford would facilitate changes at the Federal level which could help America become the leader in global telecommunications innovation again. President Obama, please appoint her as FCC Chairman in 2013

100,000 signatures are needed.
Please consider signing the White House Petition


Susan Crawford
is the (Visiting) Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard’s Kennedy School and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. She was a board member of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from 2005-2008, and served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy in 2009.

Here’s one of many articles about Susan Crawford’s beliefs about broadband:

Should broadband Internet service be treated as a basic utility in the United States, like electricity, water, and traditional telephone service? That’s the question at the heart of an important and provocative new book by Susan Crawford, a tech policy expert and professor at Cardozo Law School. In Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age, released Tuesday by Yale University Press, Crawford argues that the Internet has replaced traditional phone service as the most essential communications utility in the country, and is now as important as electricity was 100 years ago. “Truly high-speed wired Internet access is as basic to innovation, economic growth, social communication, and the country’s competitiveness as electricity was a century ago,” Crawford writes, “but a limited number of Americans have access to it, many can’t afford it, and the country has handed control of it over to Comcast and a few other companies.”

SNIP

By taking on one of the most powerful industries in the United States, Crawford knows that she will not endear herself to the CEOs of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Verizon. “I’m not going to be on their Christmas card lists this year,” she quips. And given the entrenched influence of these companies in Washington, D.C., many — if not most — of her policy prescriptions seem a tad far-fetched. Is the U.S. government about to mandate low-cost broadband Internet access for all Americans? It’s not likely any time soon. But her book does provide a vivid and eye-opening description of what ails America’s cable and telecom market, and for that reason, it should be required reading for anyone interested in tech policy. Crawford’s book also lays out a road-map for solutions, quixotic as they may be. But, as Crawford says: “There is always hope.”

And there is this – from a piece from muninetworks.org

What is our FCC Chair doing about this problem? He helped Comcast to grow even bigger, with more market power to crush those rivals that he is calling on to build gigabit test beds.Chairman G wants to spur hundreds of David’s while refusing to curb Goliath’s power. Bad news, Mr. Chairman, Goliath actually wins most of the time. Rather than doing his job, Genachowski is begging others to do it for him.

More and more, he sounds more like a cable lobbyist than a public servant. This is actually a pattern: the head cable lobbyist in DC is a former FCC Chief himself and a recent FCC Commissioner left for a job at Comcast just months after pushing for the Comcast/NBC merger.

The revolving door helps to explain why the FCC has refused to take meaningful action that might threaten the cozy relationship between supposed competitors that have divided the market to their benefit.

SNIP

We need an FCC Chair that will wrestle with the real problem: far too much of our essential telecommunications infrastructure is controlled by de facto monopolies unaccountable to the communities that depend upon them.

Having Susan Crawford as the Chair of the next FCC would do wonders to making the FCC responsive to the needs of all America, not just the cable and telephone companies.

Snips from an older piece from Susan’s blog on HuffPo

“The television is just another appliance — it’s a toaster with pictures.” That statement was made by Mark Fowler, Ronald Reagan’s FCC Chairman who spearheaded a deregulatory trend that has continued for over three decades.   …  Fowler and the FCC have one thing right: with markets like these, consumer choice is toast.It’s as if we’ve allowed General Electric to have a monopoly on selling electricity to your home and then allowed them to leverage this advantage into the market for their toasters. Imagine the spiel: “If you buy our GE toaster, you get higher-speed electricity that will cook your bagels faster. But only our bagels fit in the GE toaster.” Today, rather than tangling with your tastebuds, Comcast is making decisions that affect what your ears hear, what your eyes see, and what your keyboard can reach. Comcast can give its own video on demand service an advantage via its Internet connections by removing it from the constraints of a monthly data cap. But unaffiliated content like Netflix – that’ll cost you extra. It’s the price you’ll pay because you like a different brand of bread.

We are stuck in this primitive state with company lobbyists who are buttering up policymakers just to jam consumers.

Read another of her many articles here:

The House GOP Plan to Gut the FCC
By Susan Crawford | 03.22.12

Surely we shouldn’t slip farther behind as a country to serve the interests of a few large companies.

In 1901, Republican Theodore Roosevelt took on another utility industry that had consolidated and was gouging Americans. “The railway,” he said, “is a public servant. Its rates should be just to and open to all shippers alike.  The government should see to it that within its jurisdiction this is so and should provide a speedy, inexpensive, and effective remedy to that end.”

Leadership within the FCC and oversight by Congress will provide those remedies. Strangling the FCC’s ability to regulate will drive us backwards.

She was on Obama’s transition team  for the FCC.

Susan Crawford, Kevin Werbach Named Obama’s FCC Review Team Leads
Nov 14, 2008

And finally here’s  a snip from the NY Times– please take the time to read the whole thing.

Op-Ed Contributor
An Internet for Everybody
By SUSAN CRAWFORD
Published: April 10, 2010

…But if the F.C.C.’s labeling of high-speed Internet access providers undermines its ability to tell them what to do, how can it ensure that consumers get the information they need about real speeds and prices? How can it ensure that basic communications services — which, these days, means Internet access — are widely available?

The F.C.C. has the legal authority to change the label, as long as it can provide a good reason. And that reason is obvious: Americans buy an Internet access service based on its speed and price — and not on whether an e-mail address is included as part of a bundle. The commission should state its case, relabel high-speed Internet access as a “telecommunications service,” and take back the power to protect American consumers.

After all that reading –
ask yourself the question –

Who do we want for the Chair of the FCC?

  • An executive from Comcast?
  • A lobbyist for the telecom industry?
  • A white haired old guy who doesn’t understand technology?
  • A white haired old guy who doesn’t care what the public wants or needs?

OR

  • Someone that just might be a real public servant?
  • Someone who apparently understands the needs of the public?
  • Someone like Susan Crawford.

100,000 signatures are needed.
Please consider signing the White House Petition

If you choose to sign it – please re-tweet to all your friends and family suggesting that they do the research and possibly sign it also.

THANKS!!!

posted by MNDem999 .  VLTP takes no official stand on this petition, and has published it as a courtesy.

States Pushing ALEC Bill To Require Teaching Climate Change Denial In Schools

groundhog

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – known by its critics as a “corporate bill mill” – has hit the ground running in 2013, pushing “models bills” mandating the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems.

January hasn’t even ended, yet ALEC has already planted its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” – which mandates a “balanced” teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms – in the state legislatures of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona so far this year.

In the past five years since 2008, among the hottest years in U.S. history, ALEC has introduced its “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” in 11 states, or over one-fifth of the statehouses nationwide. The bill has passed in four states, an undeniable form of “big government” this “free market” organization decries in its own literature. More →

Three Reforms to Top N.C. Agenda – Americans For Prosperity

by Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity

Now with a new governor working with the Legislature, here are the three key reforms to watch in the coming legislative session:

First, the Legislature needs to bring the benefits of fiscal responsibility home to each taxpayer through permanent tax reform. While the details have yet to be finalized, the Legislature may pass a bill to eliminate both the corporate and personal income tax. The state will make up the lost revenue by broadening the sales tax rate. This will encourage saving and investment, leading to higher job creation and greater overall prosperity.

Second, the state needs to take advantage of its energy reserves. Gov. Pat McCrory says he will join with his regional governors in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia to negotiate with the federal government for energy exploration off the Eastern Seaboard. In addition, the state needs to finalize regulations for natural gas development (fracking) so that investors More →

Keystone Pipeline First Challenge for Obama on Climate Change

With two new reports describing greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development as even worse than expected, environmentalists and sustainable investors are likely to scrutinize the State Department’s upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

This week, SocialFunds.com reported on two new reports analyzing potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil sands extraction in Alberta, Canada, both of which warned that previous estimates, as dire as they have been, failed to capture completely the potential environmental impacts of a practice that has been called “the most destructive project on Earth.”

In one study, Oil Change International assessed the effects on the environment of petroleum coke, a byproduct of the refining process  More →

VA GOP Shameless in Drive To Rig Elections – VIDEO

VA Senate Forces Through New District Maps

editor’s note:  It takes two articles to explain what happened in the Virginia Senate today.  In all of 40 minutes, GOP Senators took advantage of the absence of a Democratic Senator to gerrymander the Commonwealth’s districts to make it impossible for Democrats to win in VA–both in State and National elections.  Under this plan, Romney would have taken more electoral votes out of Virginia than Obama would.

Included here is a report from roanoke.com with the details of how this was done.

Then there is a video from The Rachel Maddow Show talking about today’s events but from wider and deeper angles.

Three things about this event really bother me.

1.  The relationships in the General Assembly are undoubtedly poisoned beyond the point of no return.

2.  How could Democrats actually believe a Republican promise that was not in writing–signed, notarized, and entered into the public record?  Remember, this is the state of Governor Ultrasound.

3.  And perhaps the worst–“it’s just not fair”.  NOT FAIR?  Prone to understatement are we?  Show some damn outrage!  If you are going to fight this, start your fight immediately.
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Another School Shooting and Michigan Lawmakers Tries to Loosen Gun Regs

images[4]Another school shooting, and another Michigan lawmaker gaffe — just a month after the Newtown massacre and the ill-fated guns in schools legislation were introduced on the same morning, (vetoed by Gov. Snyder) — here we go again….

As details of the Texas school shooting come in, it is reported that Sen. Rick Jones (R-ALEC) introduced the Fire Arms Freedom Act in Michigan — a bill that is described by The Tenth Amendment Center as:

“Originally introduced and passed in Montana, the FFA declares that any firearms made and retained in-state are beyond the authority of Congress under its constitutional power to regulate commerce among the states. The FFA is primarily a Tenth Amendment challenge to the powers of Congress under the commerce clause, with firearms as the object.”

Translation: Guns manufactured and sold within state lines are exempt from all federal gun laws. Lawmakers readily admit that the legislation is unconstitutional and that their intent is merely a push-back on potential upcoming gun regulation legislation.

Way to go Michigan lawmakers…way to go.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

democracy tree logo

ALEC’s Tax Commandments

While most of the attention about ALEC has centered on guns, prisons, and voter ID, the goal of ALEC is much larger than that and much more pernicious.

Below is an introduction to another area where ALEC legislative members are implementing malicious ALEC “model legislation” – that is dangerous to the US and state governments – as we now know them.

2002

In a 2002 ALEC report titled “Crisis in State Spending: A Guide for State Legislators” and distributed to all ALEC members, the foreword ends with this:
More →