Nevada

Deja Vu – Repeat of Teapot Dome

Deja Vu – Repeat of Teapot Dome

We need to learn a lesson from history when it comes to natural resources.  Money, labor, privatization, and politicians operate the same.

Some things never change.

At the time of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, the oil companies, particularly Sinclair Oil was given our nation’s oil resources for a sweetheart deal – no bidding necessary. The oil was in reserve for the Navy in case of war – the Republicans in charge arranged for it to go to oil corporations for profit.

Some things never change.

In our day, international mining corporations are allowed to enter Nevada and stake claims for very small fees . The current Governor of Nevada most recently worked at Jones Vargas – the firm hired to mining lobby. Elected officials on all levels take campaign donations from mining. Mining pays barely anything for billions of dollars in gold and other minerals.

It is estimated that one trillion dollars worth of gold is in the center of the state.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 239-240

Out west, one of the navy properties was a great oil field that lay under a butte, officially Naval Petroleum Reserve No 3 but known as Teapot Dome for the butte’s funny shape. Some engineers were arguing that the surrounding private companies were tapping the oil out from under the Dome. The best thing to do might be to grant a concession to drill there; that would both allow commerce to take over the business there and reduce the United States’ dependence on oil drilling in Mexico …. Granting oil concessions to private companies was like granting a great company the right to operate Muscle Shoals, the dam that had been constructed to produce nitrates during the war. It was important to do this now, Harding and Coolidge believed. If they did not then these sectors might forever stay in public hands.

Some things never change.

Resource Land: international mining corporations are staking claims all over Nevada in a mighty land grab. They are allowed by fee simple to patent the land converting public land into private property. At least at teapot dome, there was a lease and they had to pay something. They are not paying anything to tie up the land.

Resource Water: The ancient water is dumped by mining into the the desert while Vegas fights with the North and other states over water rights.

Resource Clean Environment. British Petroleum owns the superfund site in Yerington. The radioactive site will cost billions to clean up. Water has to be brought in from outside for the people living close by to drink. Mercury is polluting the water, fish are not edible, and the EPA is fining the mining industry. Thousands of holes are dug all over the state and abandoned.

Corporations are costing the government and the tax payers billions in Nevada; corporations are reaping only benefits and profits.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 240

Albert Fall, intended to lease the valuable Naval Petroleum Reserve No 3 without putting the project out for bids. The transfer to Interior from Navy had already taken place with the seeming endorsement of all, including the navy secretary and the navy assistant secretary, Theodore Roosevelt, the president’s son and Alice’s half brother …. The Wyoming reserves, some 200 million barrels of high-grade oil, would be leased to Mammouth Oil Co., a company created by Sinclair Oil, the company of a Harding campaign donor, Harry Sinclair

Some things never change.

Nevada is a leading producer of high quality gold. A cash cow for the billion dollar mining industry. Barely a soul spoke against their monopolies hidden out in the desert for decades. Campaign donations were hefty for many Nevada politicians.

Mining does employ a few mostly transient workers and adds some benefit to the immediate communities. It is by no means comparable to the benefit the corporations receive.

Nevada has become a place for out-of-state profiteers.

While leadership is asleep at the switch.

Nevada also has its own “Keystone Pipeline”. This huge natural gas line crosses Nevada leaving a huge scar on the old ground. Yes, we had temporary jobs and a short term boost in the economy. That boost is history. The federal government smoothly permitted the 48″ gas line. Nevada politicians can be proud that Nevada got the burden of the pipeline but not the benefit of buying one gallon of natural gas. North Dakota is not the only state that is covered with pipeline. If you really want to generate and sell electricity, cheap natural gas is the way to do it. Ask California – they got the gas.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 240

Senator Robert La Follette of Wisconsin was moving with alacrity to spotlight the transaction and demanded an investigation of the teapot Dome concession …. Coolidge watched from the Senate president’s seat.

Tax issues — the rich did not want to pay.

Some things never change.

The people of Nevada have to take the matter into their own hands because the politicians would not. SJR15 is before the Nevada Legislature. This would remove a cap placed in the Nevada Constitution by miners in ancient times. We hope this will be placed on the ballot and the people will vote — doing the job that our elected officials should have done.

Why has it taken Nevada so long? Mining law from 1872? These laws need to change.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 241

In June, the administration won a key case against violent strikers: United Mine Workers v Coronado Coal affirmed that strikers were liable for the damage they inflicted on companies property. On July 1, 300,000 rail workers walked out, shutting down commerce. The strikes halted the upward trend of business; the strike was taking the recovery hostage. The administration had begun to appoint conservative judges who would be a help in the endless battles between companies and unions.

Some things never change.

Under conditions of austerity, labor is taking to the streets, protesting, and becoming unsettled. Activists are activating. Organizers are organizing. Regular people are asking: Why are we giving resources away while we are experiencing severe financial crisis? Vegas experiencing the recession in many ways worse than the rest of the nation. Highest foreclosure. Highest unemployment.

Union busting was and is the primary goal. Profit margins widen as the rich take advantage of the work of people’s hands. In a right to work state, unions stand between working people and oblivion.

Resources are allowed to be siphoned away.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

It was becoming clear now that the interior secretary had accepted cash via an intermediary. “Not in my time has the country been so startled by the act of a public servant as it has been by the disclosure that Secretary Fall actually took money in a satchel, ” wrote Morrow….

Some things never change.

Closed door legislative meetings. Decisions made at the last minute. Horse trading. Mining lobbyists boldly meeting in the middle of the legislative building as if they owned the place. Some people getting richer and the disadvantaged not part of the discussion.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

Longworth’s compromise was worse than the White House feared. Republicans teamed up with Democrats, 408-8, to pass a bill that diverged sharply from the Mellon Plan.

Some things never change.

In a move that surprised everyone this Nevada Legislative session a few Republicans are leading the charge to do something about remedying the taxation of Nevada Mining. They are questioning and standing up to the lobbyists.

Where are the democrats?
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 281

But there again, despite the special prosecutors and the recent resignation of Navy Secretary Denby, the shadow of Teapot Dome was still long. If leasing Teapot Dome to Harry Sinclair had been a corrupt mockery of privatization, then was not the sale of Muscle Shoals to Ford the same? Governor Gifford Pinchot, who had negotiated the coal situation the prior autumn, opposed the sale. Progressives in the Senate found endless reasons to block it.

Some things never change.

In Nevada the progressives are activating around the mining issues. Sheila Leslie and Representative Steven Horsford worked on SJR15. US Representative Steven Horsford participates in the Mining Accountability and Oversight Committee, MOAC.

But the situation is progressing slowly, with the Nevada Governor appointing MOAC auditors and inspectors of the billion dollar mining industries – who do not attend the meetings. It’s lip service to oversight but it is not meaningful.

This reminds me of the Anderson Firm auditing Enron.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 295

The Teapot Dome investigations continued: the federal grand jury indicted Albert Fall, Sinclair, and Doheny.

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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 296

“We are often told that we are a rich country, and we are,” Coolidge told the crowd. But as in the Gospel of Luke, “where more is given, more is required.” The President laid down the law for those departments that would not cut. “I regret that there are still some officials who apparently feel that the estimates transmitted to the Bureau of the Budget are the estimates which they are authorized to advocate before the Committees.” The only lawful estimates were the president’s Finally Coolidge again stressed his theme: “I am for economy. After that I am for more economy. At this time, and under present circumstances, that is my conception of serving the people.”

Some things never change.

Governor Sandoval is a leader in a state full of gold. The billionaires are allowed to hide, hoard, and stash the wealth. While the Governor cut 5,000 jobs his first months in office. Schools, hospitals, social services, mental health, are all cut cut cut. This definitely serves a few people – it is not serving THE people.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 305

La Follete and Davis might be able to use Teapot Dome to bring Republicans down.

Some things never change.

Scandal will bring politicians down. Careful politicos – ethical consideration and disciplinary rules may bite you.
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 321

The big question in the Veterans Bureau and Teapot Dome scandals was how much information Coolidge himself had picked up in the cabinet meetings. When Dawes made a show of avoiding the meetings, he raised the question of whether Coolidge had been compromised by attending. The alternative was that Coolidge had been ignorant of what had gone on among men he saw at the White House …. That surmise kept Coolidge’s name clear but also suggested that he was a simpleton.

Some things never change.

The people involved in Nevada Mining issues and allowing the corporations to take American resources like this are either not paying attention or not understanding?
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Taken from Coolidge, by Amity Shales, page 391

Charles Forbes, Harding’s original Veterans Bureau chief, was still in Leavenworth Prison for the fraud he had committed with federal moneys. All over Washington could be found the detritus of war-related scandal, such as the Teapot Dome decision relating to naval reserves.

Some things never change.

Enough is enough. We need to use our Nevada resources wisely and be responsible stewards.

This post was written by Angie Sullivan

What Happens in Vegas… Could Get You 10 Years to Life

Unpacking the proposed Nevada sex trafficking legislation (Part 1)

Why is a 39-page bill that criminalizes a whole lot of normal people being sold as a way to save the child sex slaves?

Well, saving the (white female) child sex slaves has proven to be a powerful narrative. After all, who is actually for sex trafficking of a minor, right? Only the most depraved among us. So, we must support this tough on crimes legislation. It’s a no-brainer to pass, no? NO. And herein lays the problem.

Is history repeating itself?

The historical link to the “white slavery” panic of the early 1900’s is hard to ignore. Prostitution in the U.S. was largely legal until changing women’s sexual norms led to a “white slavery” panic that resulted in the closing of brothels with the White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act in 1910. According to historian Mark Thomas Connelly, “a group of books and pamphlets appeared announcing a startling claim: a pervasive and depraved conspiracy was at large in the land, brutally trapping and seducing American girls into lives of enforced prostitution, or ‘white slavery.’” The reality was numerous young women were drawn into prostitution for “mundane” economic reasons. The ambiguous language of the Mann Act allowed selective prosecutions and was used to criminalize forms of consensual sexual behavior for many years.

Although human trafficking can be defined as being put in a situation of economic exploitation that you can’t get out of; rather than focusing on forced labor, servitude and slavery-like conditions, the trafficking framework has been used in selective ways. The general conception in the U.S. is that all human trafficking is sex trafficking. This conception developed because a crusade against prostitution attempted to conflate sex work with human trafficking, a claim for which there is no evidence, even according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

An executive summary of human trafficking put forth by the non-profit Center for Health and Gender Equity concludes that “conflating human trafficking with prostitution results in ineffective anti-trafficking efforts and human rights violations because domestic policing efforts focus on shutting down brothels and arresting sex workers, rather than targeting the more elusive traffickers.”

Misconceptions about the problem are fueled by sensationalized stories that’s simplicity in the child sex slave narrative makes them potent, haunting, and easy to mobilize around. Enforcement resources and investigations in the U.S. are going into a group of human trafficking task forces focusing almost entirely on commercial sex. It is a structure built on vice squads rather than labor investigators.

Some testimony to the legislature on sex trafficking bill AB67 (& related AB113) from the first hearing on Wednesday, February 20th provides an enlightening perspective.

Issue #1:  Vague and overly broad definitions—is our goal to put more people in prison?

From the Clark County Public Defender’s Office:

“The substantially increased penalties in Section 42 of AB67, including life sentences in some cases, are particularly concerning given the vagueness of the law. While nobody disagrees that a violent child sex trafficker deserves a lengthy prison term, the concern is that individuals will receive substantial prison terms that are not merited by their conduct … making it more serious than an attempt(ed) murder charge.”

“AB67 likely runs afoul of the vagueness doctrine, which holds that ‘[a] conviction fails to comport with due process if the statute under which it is obtained fails to provide a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice of what is prohibited, or is so standardless that it authorizes or encourages serious discriminatory enforcement.’ U.S. v. Williams, 553 U.S. 285, 304 (2008). For example, the addition of the phrase ‘or other thing of value’ to the definition of prostitution in Section 8 could criminalize innocent conduct between persons in a committed relationship.”

“Furthermore, because there is no carve out for the legal prostitution that exists in Nevada, Nevadans are left to wonder whether they would be prosecuted under this statute for engaging in otherwise legal conduct, such as driving a legal sex worker to her place of employment. In addition, discriminatory enforcement by law enforcement is a strong possibility, especially because the vast majority of the prosecutions in Clark County arise out of law enforcement undercover sting operations that seem to disproportionately target African-American males. Simply stated, it is insufficient to leave it up to prosecutors and/or judges to determine what the law means and how it is to be applied.”

FACT: United Nations member states have recently mandated a study on the use of the “trafficking” framework. The concern is that due to opportunities lent by vagueness of definitions; the issue of trafficking has been sidetracked and used to further particular political agendas that often have little to do with protecting people from exploitation and abuse.

Issue #2: Where is the data and evidence of this huge scary problem?

At the February 2nd “From Prosecution to Empowerment” human trafficking conference at USC, Attorney Martina Vandenberg, founder of the pro bono organization Civil Justice: The Human Trafficking Legal Resource Center expressed: “In the field of human trafficking, I detest data because most of it is made up and bogus. It is really an appalling area.”

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto testified at the hearing and stated in the media that the Polaris Project, a national human trafficking organization out of Washington, DC that sent their policy director here to help write our state legislation, has identified a huge sex trafficking ring between Nevada and California that presumably runs from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Reno to Sacramento. Yet, when asked if there was evidence to back this claim Polaris Project’s Policy Program Director, Mary Ellison submitted this:

“In 2012, the NHTRC (National Human Trafficking Resource Center) Hotline received 174 calls from Nevada. Out of these calls, twenty-one (21) of them were classified as crisis calls, and forty-eight (48) of them were classified as tips from community members reporting suspected trafficking. The NHTRC had fourteen (14) cases from Nevada in 2012 that involved minors and had a total of forty-one (41) cases that had ‘high’ or ‘moderate’ indicia of human trafficking situations.”

Where is the evidence of the mass human trafficking ring? What happened to these cases and how many people were rescued or arrested?

The reality is there is no systematic state or local data on human trafficking. Furthermore, the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) community project that began to collect data on youth engaging in the sex trades in Las Vegas a couple years ago has been suspended for the past year. Previous studies completed in NYC and Atlantic City painted a portrait of youth who were rarely forced into the sex trades by a pimp trafficker, but rather homeless due to lack of a social safety net and participating in an informal economy of sex exchange for financial reasons. Street youth commonly report being abused more by the police than by pimps.

Issue #3: Who stands to benefit? Or follow the money (and motives)…

There is a lot of federal money available for anti-trafficking efforts in a time of austerity and sequestration when many budgets are being slashed. A little known fact is that the Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) that just passed had the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) added to it as an amendment reauthorizing funding though 2017 after expiring at the end of 2011. The U.S. State Department’s definition of trafficking includes any person under 18 found to perform commercial sex and any commercial sex act that is induced by force, fraud, or coercion.

Law enforcement and non-profit rescue industry service providers work together in a closed loop network of funding. Where is the oversight and accountability for waste, fraud, or abuse to prevent corruption? According to a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General Michon Martin, oversight and accountability for the monetary beneficiaries of this legislation are “beyond the scope of this bill.” Hmmm….

Kids Caught in the Culture Wars: Is This Really about Protecting Youth?

Law Enforcement: Is this about Arrest Numbers?

Judge William Voy of Clark County District Court Family Division testified he would keep youth who were arrested for engaging in sex trades in a “controlled therapeutic setting where the children could not run from” or they would forcibly be returned by staff. It was unclear how long they would remain in the “safe house,” but he did indicate until prosecution and vice work with the child as a witness to develop testimony against their “perpetrators.” Does he realize the newly reauthorized TVPA “provides assurance that a minor victim of sex trafficking shall not be required to collaborate with law enforcement to have access to residential care or services provided with a grant under this section?”

The inclusion of all juvenile prostitutes as trafficked has presented obvious problems. U.S. research points out that only a minority fit the “forced by a third party” trafficking profile. There is a clear difference between juveniles who are forced into the sex industry by the sex slavery black market and juveniles who are homeless or living in abject poverty with no other recourse but to sell sexual services. Tying assistance to the identification of a pimp is often counterproductive and fails to help the victims who need it most.

Evangelical Non-Profits: Is this a Moral Crusade?

Lisa Thompson, liaison for the abolition of sexual trafficking for the Salvation Army, during a recent presentation at The Justice Conference stated: “Sex trafficking is a battle of ideas.” The Church in America too often does not do enough to address the ideology upon which sex trafficking is based – “an ideology that disassociates sex from love, responsibility and children.” Thompson explained: “One of the reasons sex trafficking is flourishing is that we, as a Church, do not do enough to address the ideology that disassociates sex from love.” She continued: “Sex is not work. God did not create any woman for the purpose, excuse me, that she be a cum receptacle.”

In her testimony to the Nevada legislature, Melissa Holland said that her organization in Reno, Awaken INC (“In the Name of Christ”) was in the process of getting both a safe house and transitional housing in place for the victims of sex trafficking. If religious education and activities are a compulsory aspect of the services provided to clients, I hope she realizes that could be a human rights violation. It would also go against separation of church and state, disqualifying them from receipt of federal funds for trafficking services. I have to agree, “I don’t think prayer is among the recognized best practices for fighting human trafficking.”

Where are the Real Solutions? Prevention Over Prison

Three simple steps to ending sex (and other labor) trafficking, exploitation, and abuse:

1) Stable sustainable wage income

2) Affordable long-term housing

3) Equitable education opportunities

The major driver of human rights abuses, including trafficking is vast economic inequality. Only rights can stop the wrongs.

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Cross posted from The Nevada View.

Written by Jennifer J. Reed, MA
PhD Student, Department of Sociology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Prison Labor Continues to Jeopardize Small Businesses and Jobs – Nevada Latest Battleground

I’ve written several articles about the rampant and dismaying practice of state prison industries using prisoners as a labor force for private manufacturers.  Recently this battle has centered in Nevada – a state with slow recovery and an unemployment rate hovering at 10%.  Those supporting the practice of offering companies a labor pool comprised of a captive workforce that receives minimum wage or less – regardless of skill set, knowledge or experience – argue that such industry jobs are “training programs.”  They assert these prison jobs are necessary to provide prisoners with a work ethic and skills that will reduce the chance of re-offending after release. Those of us that openly oppose such exploitation argue that these state owned prison industry operations are nothing more than a way of exploiting the labor of convicted offenders while providing huge profits to companies with access to this labor force.

This is an ongoing practice that is devastating our jobs and disadvantaging hundreds of small business ventures that are competing against other companies with access to cheap prison labor, low cost leases and no requirements to provide the typical employee benefits that companies using non-inmate workers have to provide.  From 2000 through 2005 it was businesses in Florida that were outright stolen from their owners by a prison industry corporation.  In 2004 it was a technology industry in Austin, Tx. that fired 150 employees, closed their facility and reopened two months later in a Geo run prison, using inmates to make the same products.  Later in 2008 it was Lufkin Industries in Lufkin, TX. that was forced to close and displaced another 180 workers due to hidden competition from a company operating out of a Texas prison industry.

I have reported each incident, warning that this was going to continue to happen, sucking jobs out of the public and private sectors as more and more industries were coming on line behind prison fences.  Much of this story has gone without notice as more and more jobs disappeared and our unemployment grew steadily.  Finally in Nevada the Governor and key state executives have paused and taken a hard look at the impact prison labor is having upon unemployment and business expansion by non-prison industry companies.  After receiving numerous complaints about losing jobs, contracts and business to companies partnered with Nevada’s Silver State Industries, it appears the Executive branch in Nevada is on the cusp of adopting some much needed regulations to protect workers and small business owners.

To fully comprehend how all this operates we must first realize the power of mass media and disinformation.  Media has reported for decades that crime is rampant, increasing by the month in all categories.  The public is made to live in fear of burglaries, robberies, rapes and murders – and this fear instilled by our media, results in the public sanctioning more and more new laws, stiffer and longer prison sentences for less and less dangerous acts.  We’ve authorized abolishing parole, mandatory minimum sentences, ever increasing drug laws, mandatory completion of sentences imposed and other harsh sanctions.  All of this has been done in the name of “making our streets safer” and under the catchy phrase of “Tough on Crime.”  What this has done is to create a huge labor force of 2.3 million convicted prisoners from all classes, with varied technical skills.  Through prison industries these men and women are put to work in prison industries run by every state and in most these industries are partnered with private companies.  Products that used to be made for state agencies, schools and non-profits are now openly sold to consumers and shipped from state to state to fill orders received from outside each state.  Products are also exported to other countries – while the U.S. continues to claim we disallow those same countries from distributing their prison made goods to the U.S.

Some “wordsmiths” come up with phrases such as the “Patriot Act” and “Free Markets” and “Tort Reform” to force feed Americans a diet of wire taps, surveillance, tort reforms that benefit corporate interests and other acts that violate our rights.  By doing this they have the ability to accuse those who oppose such “American” principals as un-patriotic, un-American or a socialist.  This serves to keep many of us from weighing in or opposing such acts for fear of being singled out as un-American.  It is no different with prison industries.  They continue to advertise that we should be humane and compassionate once we actively pursue, arrest and convict a “criminal” and support rehabilitating that man or woman by providing them with “training” and help to reduce “violence in prison” and “idleness” by putting prisoners to work in these training programs.  They claim these programs allow released offenders to secure jobs and thus not return to prison.  To be gnarly “this is all pure bullshit.”

In Nevada, Florida, California, Indiana and most other states involved in this prison industry scam, they actively pursue hiring prisoners who already have the skills needed by the industry located at each prison; painters, electricians, heavy equipment operators, lathe operators, medical technicians, metal workers, dental technicians, dog trainers…and the list goes on.  How much training is required when the “trainee” is already skilled?  Additionally, these prison industry administrators seek out and employ inmates with mandatory life sentences and those serving 20 years or more.  Many of these prisoners will never have an opportunity to use their “training” upon release – as many will never be released.  In Florida the prison corporation successfully lobbied for legislation requiring them to hire 40% of their workforce from inmates serving more than 10 years.  This helps these exploiters to keep production levels at maximum capacity while maintaining shipping schedules.  It isn’t about training it’s about PROFITS, lower operating expenses, less in wages and benefits…in short, it’s about creating and using slave labor to replace non-inmate workers.

Describing an act or program in terms that lend the appearance of something being done that American’s would support has become the norm.  More often than not once you delve into the actual wording of legislation so innocently named, we find the innocuous sounding label has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual content of a bill  Prison industries and the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP or PIE Program) has become such a situation.  We keep being told these industries are necessary for training, while huge amounts of money and work is diverted from the private sector.  Not surprisingly the participants take great pains to not reveal this “profiteering” to the public and competing companies.

Back in 1979 when enacted, the law was designed to actually promote training of prisoners, helping them reenter society with skills and a way to locate good paying jobs for them following release. Once corporate executives, business entrepreneurs and lawmakers who support those interests discovered PIECP and the existence of prison industries, they determined this could be a literal gold mine for employers; low cost leases of public owned prison facilities, employees with no ability to bargain for wages or complain about working conditions, no requirement to pay prevailing wages, no need for medical or health insurance and no unemployment insurance premiums required.  The perfect work force for manufacturers looking for lower operating and labor costs existed within state prisons in every state in America. Slowly by unerringly the lawmakers and special interest groups took control of all prison industry operations in the U.S. and today have their sights set on establishing similar prison industry operations internationally through the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA).

This private trade association group has members and Directors who sit at the pinnacle of nearly every state run prison industry in the country – and at the apex of this organization sits the Chairman, Brian Connett who represents Nevada’s Department of Correction’s prison industries – Silver State Industries.  Beneath NDOC Deputy Director Connett sits those representing: North Carolina, Montana, Tennessee (Tricor), Alabama, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, UNICOR (Federal Prison Industries), Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Arkansas, Michigan, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Utah and Louisiana.  Those on the BOD represent these states and that isn’t counting regular members sitting on Committees that represent other states.  The total number of states involved in the NCIA is now in excess of 40 and includes several county jails that are now using inmate labor for manufacturing, partnering with private companies.  With the head of this trade association having control over the entire Nevada Prison Industry program, it is no wonder that state’s industries program has recently been subjected to corruption involving, huge industry losses, uncollected leases and payroll (inmate and staff) salaries and wages, failed new industries and is completely lacking in actual state oversight.

Don’t be misled when you read these industries can only sell to state, local or non profits…if they are in the PIE Program, they sell products on open consumer markets.  This link from the NCIA itself provides the industries involved, companies using the inmate labor and products made.  Today the NCIA claims there are 91,000 prisoners working in more than 1,020 separate prison factories in the U.S.  Hundreds of corporations are partnered with them working these prisoners.  How do corporations learn of available prison labor and low cost leases of prison manufacturing facilities?  Prison industries have marketing departments who actively seek new companies for these partnerships.  In their presentations they show professionally produced videos such as this one (distributed by the NCIA) and this one to prospective clients.

Additionally, since the NCIA is the agency chosen by the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance to oversee the PIE Program, oversight over the activities involving the PIECP industries is totally lacking.  One would think that with a state having the head of the prison industry oversight authority (NCIA) heading their prison industry programs, Nevada would have the tightest run ship in the fleet – but not so.  Deputy Director Connett’s management skills apparently does not include business knowledge, practice or a policy of adhering to any regulations or federal guidelines.  After all why should he, his NCIA IS the oversight authority, so who will catch him or Nevada’s prison industry violations with he and the NCIA overseeing his activities?

The situation involving Alpine Steel’s use of inmate labor to unfairly compete against other steel fabrication companies in Nevada has apparently been “cured” by disallowing Alpine further access to the Prison Metal Industry at High Desert State Prison.  However during the research on Alpine, other equally serious activities involving Nevada’s Silver State Industries and the NDOC were discovered.  These include an illegal 5% deduction taken from ALL inmate worker’s wages and set aside to expand future prison industry operations; huge accounts receivable totaling more than $1 million dollars have been sent to collections or are pending collection activities from 2008 through 2013; Industries kept open when they are losing money year after year; a expensive motorcycle program that built several custom motorcycles, sold two to one of the prison industry partners and another four have set for years now unsold. Other discoveries included an industry operation used to import foreign water tanks that were used to manufacture water spray vehicles for use on construction sites.  These were distributed by Thomson Equipment company (later Silverline Industries) using inmate labor.  Silverline was a foreign owned company importing the tanks from Hong Kong.  These vehicles were introduced into the Nevada markets at prices far below comparable vehicles made by Nevada private companies, which caused the closure of more than one competing business.  More importantly, as with the Alpine Steel situation, none of the competitors were consulted or even made aware of the open competition by prison made goods. 

Adding insult to injury, taxpayers have to absorb the subsidies advanced to companies like Alpine and those who have outstanding debts to Nevada’s Silver State Industries.  In addition taxpayer money built the factory facilities at Nevada’s prison units and they are not getting a good return for these expenditures. As any contractor performing work for prisons and jails will attest, those construction projects are more costly than similar projects undertaken in the private sector.  This higher cost is due to the need for security, more inspections, stiffer code requirements and lockdowns that sometimes slow the projects.

In Nevada the nominal cost of leasing manufacturing space is by the square foot and in 2011 that cost was in excess of $.70 cents per sq. ft (today the cost is down to $.68 cents per).  The contract entered into between NDOC Industries and Alpine in April 2011 leased 19,000 square feet of manufacturing space to Alpine for $5,000 per month, or $.26 cents a sq. ft.  The same space outside the prison at today’s rates would cost $12,900+ per month.  A savings of $7,900.00 every month ($84,800 per year) to alpine and an equal lose in income to the NDOC. Combined with the low cost lease, paying minimum instead of prevailing wages, no health or medical costs, no vacations and no unemployment insurance requirements, Alpine and any other business receiving those benefits have a huge advantage over other businesses in their respective markets.  This is the purpose of the NCIA, increasing profits to corporate interests through low wages, manufacturing space at less than 1/3 the cost of their competitors, a cheap labor force that can’t miss work or take time or vacations off.  NCIA members include the vendors and suppliers of raw materials to prison industries, corporations partnered in “training programs” and joint venture partners. The net result is unfair competition, bids and contracts in the private sector going to companies using inmate labor, depressed wages in the private sector, less possibility of employing the unemployed due to a dwindling lack of jobs – and all along the line taxpayers footing the damn bill!

I’ve written steadily about this phenomena for years now and as the topic has been ignored by private companies and workers have lost jobs to prisoners, the industry has grown by leaps and bounds.  Texas didn’t hear about this happening in Florida, so Lufkin lost their trailer division.  Nevada didn’t hear about this happening in Florida and Texas, so they were unaware a problem even existed.  More importantly, the business in the private sector in every state has no idea they are competing against prison industry operations using cheap labor and reduced operating expenses.  These competing companies are required by law to be consulted and give their approval prior to starting industries that could impact their labor force or sales, but they aren’t.  Labor groups and unions are required by law to be consulted and give their approval before industries are begun, but they aren’t.  This is a fact borne out by what’s occurring in Nevada now and in Texas previously.  In both cases, operations went on for years before labor or industry discovered the competition from prison industries.

This concludes my “rant” for today.  Next week if time permits I will begin a lengthy expose series that fully covers this topic and will cover all aspects of this corrupt practice.  Hopefully other state authorities will find the expose and learn from it, taking a close look at their state prison operations.  More importantly I am hopeful that small business owners will begin to ask questions of their state authorities to determine if they are being competed against by a prison industry project or product line.

To complain, one must first discover he or she has a reason and need to do so.  If you own, operate, supply or buy from a prison industry you now have a reason…

Where Each State Stands on Medicaid Expansion

Where Each State Stands on Medicaid Expansion

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion, leaving each state’s decision to participate in the hands of the nation’s governors and state leaders.

A roundup of what each state’s leadership has said about their Medicaid plans

February 27, 2013 Text last updated on Feb. 26, 2013, at 3:45 p.m. ETmedicaid_map

For an interactive map where you can hover your cursor over a state to see the policy of the state, please click here.
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The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion, leaving each state’s decision to participate in the hands of the nation’s governors and state leaders.

Based on lawmakers’ statements, press releases, and media coverage, the Daily Briefing and American Health Line editorial teams have rounded up where each state currently stands on the expansion.

NOT PARTICIPATING (14 states)

  • Alabama*: Gov. Robert Bentley (R) on Nov. 13 announced that Alabama will not participate in the Medicaid expansion “because we simply cannot afford it” (Gadsden Times, 11/13; Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser, 11/13).
  • Georgia*: Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Politico/11 Alive interview on Aug. 28 said, “No, I do not have any intentions of expanding Medicaid,” adding, “I think that is something our state cannot afford.” When asked about the insurance exchanges, Deal said “we do have a time frame for making the decision on that I think, especially on the exchanges,” adding that “we have just a few days after the election in order to make a final determination on that” (Wingfield, “Kyle Wingfield,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/28).
  • Idaho*: Gov. C.L. Otter (R) in his 2013 State of the State address delivered on Jan. 7 said that while “there is broad agreement that the existing Medicaid program is broken,” the state “face[s] no immediate federal deadline” to address the situation. He added, “We have time to do this right … [s]o I’m seeking no expansion of” the program. Otter said he’s instructed the state Health and Welfare director to “flesh out a plan” that focuses on potential costs, savings and economic impact, which he plans to introduce in 2014 (Ritter Saunders, Boise State Public Radio, 1/7; Young, Huffington Post, 1/7; Petcash, KTVB, 1/7).
  • Iowa*: Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on Feb. 23 said that he has informed HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that he will not expand Medicaid in Iowa because of concerns that the expansion “will either collapse or the burden will be pushed onto the states in a very significant way.” Instead, Branstad pressed Sebelius for a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a health care program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low-income state residents (AP/Modern Healthcare, 2/24).
  • Louisiana*: Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in an NBC “Meet the Press” interview on July 1 said, “Every governor’s got two critical decisions to make. One is do we set up these exchanges? And, secondly, do we expand Medicaid? And, no, in Louisiana, we’re not doing either one of those things.” However, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D) and other Democratic leaders after the Nov. 6 election urged Jindal to reconsider his opposition or the state will not be forced to accept a “one-size-fits-all” plan, CBC News “Money Watch” reports (Barrow, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7/2; “Money Watch,” CBS News, 11/9).
  • Maine*: Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Nov. 16 said that Maine will not participate in the Medicaid expansion. He called the expansion and the state-based insurance exchanges a “degradation of our nation’s premier health care system” (Mistler, Kennebec Journal, 11/16).
  • Mississippi*: Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Nov. 7 said Mississippi will not participate in the Medicaid expansion, reiterating previous statements that he had made about the ACA provision (Pender/Hall, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 11/7).
  • North Carolina: Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Feb. 12 announced that his state will not expand Medicaid or establish its own health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. McCrory said state officials conducted a comprehensive analysis to determine the advantages and disadvantages of expanding Medicaid and the right type of exchange option in the state, and concluded that it is “abundantly clear that North Carolina is not ready to expand the Medicaid system and that we should utilize a federal exchange.” He said the review included discussions with other governors, White House officials, health care providers, and leaders in the state Legislature (AP/Myrtle Beach Sun News, 2/12; Binker/Burns, “@NCCapitol,” WRAL, 2/12; Cornatzer, Raleigh News & Observer, 2/12).
  • Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin (R) on Nov. 19 said Oklahoma will not participate in the Medicaid expansion. “Oklahoma will not be participating in the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid,” she said in a statement. She noted that the program would cost the state as much as $475 million over the next eight years (Greene, Tulsa World, 11/19).
  • Pennsylvania*: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Feb. 5 sent a letter to HHS saying he “cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion” in Pennsylvania because “it would be financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers.” He noted that the expansion would necessitate “a large tax increase on Pennsylvania families” (Tolland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/5).
  • South Carolina*: Gov. Nikki Haley (R) on July 1 announced via Facebook that South Carolina “will NOT expand Medicaid, or participate in any health exchanges.” The state Legislature is expected to make a decision on the Medicaid expansion during the 2013 session (Gov. Haley Facebook page, 7/1; Holleman, Columbia State, 11/9).
  • South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) in his annual budget address on Dec. 4 said he does not plan to participate in the Medicaid expansion. “I really think it would be premature to expand this year,” he said, adding that he hoped for more flexibility for the state program (Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 12/4).
  • Texas*: Gov. Rick Perry (R) in a statement on July 9 said, “If anyone was in doubt, we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.” Perry also sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on July 9 asserting this position. The Dallas Morning News reported that on Nov. 8, Perry reiterated his opposition to the expansion, saying, “Nothing changes from our perspective” (Office of Gov. Perry release, 7/9; Gov. Perry letter, 7/9; Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 11/11).
  • Wisconsin*: Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Feb. 13 announced his rejection of the Medicaid expansion. He proposed an alternative plan that would expand coverage to low-income state residents through private health care exchanges (Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal, 2/13).

LEANING TOWARD NOT PARTICIPATING (2 states)

  • Nebraska*: Gov. Dave Heineman (R) in a statement on his website on June 28 said, “As I have said repeatedly, if this unfunded Medicaid expansion is implemented, state aid to education and funding for the University of Nebraska will be cut or taxes will be increased. If some state senators want to increase taxes or cut education funding, I will oppose them.” Heineman on July 11 sent a letter to state lawmakers saying the state could not afford the expansion, but he stopped short of saying that the state will not participate in the expansion, according to Reuters (Office of Gov. Heineman release, 6/28; Wisniewski, Reuters, 7/11).
  • Wyoming*: Gov. Matt Mead (R) on Nov. 30 recommended that Wyoming not participate in the Medicaid expansion, but added that his position could change in the future and urged “everyone to keep an open mind on this.” The state legislature will make the final decision on whether to expand the program, the AP/Jackson Hole Daily reports (Brown, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 12/1; Graham, AP/Jackson Hole Daily, 12/1).

LEANING TOWARD PARTICIPATING (4 states)

  • Kentucky: Gov. Steve Beshear (D) when asked about the expansion in July said, “If there is a way that we can afford that will get more coverage for more Kentuckians, I’m for it.” However, state lawmakers are putting pressure on Beshear to reject the expansion (Office of Gov. Beshear release, 6/28; AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 6/28; AP/Evansville Courier & Press, 7/17; Autry, WYU, 7/5; Cross, Louisville Courier-Journal, 6/29).
  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in a statement on his website on June 28 said he was “pleased the Supreme Court upheld the [ACA]” and looks forward “to continuing to work together with the Obama administration to ensure accessible, quality care for all New Yorkers.” On July 26, Danielle Holahan—project director for New York’s health insurance exchange planning—said the state “largely meet[s] the federal required Medicaid levels already.” Although Cuomo’s office has not officially announced a decision, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 13 that New York will expand Medicaid (Office Gov. Cuomo release, 6/28; Grant, North Country Public Radio, 7/27; Delli Santi/Mulvihill, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).
  • Oregon: Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) said on June 28 that he is confident that the Oregon Legislature will approve a state Medicaid decision. In an interview with the Oregonian just hours after the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the ACA, Kitzhaber said, “We’ll make a decision on whether or not to expand the Medicaid program really based on, I think, the resources we have available in the general fund for that purpose going forward” (Budnick, Oregonian, 6/28).
  • Virginia: The House of Delegates and Senate on Feb. 23 amended the state budget to include the ability to expand the state’s Medicaid program. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the move gives “a green light” to talks between state and federal officials over flexibility in the Medicaid program. Although Medicaid expansion supporters have hailed the legislative action as a victory, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Feb. 23 said, “As long as I’m governor, there’s not going to be any Medicaid expansion unless there is sustainable, long-lasting, cost-saving reforms” (Martz, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/24).

PARTICIPATING (24 states and the District of Columbia)

  • Arizona*: Gov. Jan Brewer (R) in her 2013 State of the State speech, delivered on Jan. 14, announced that Arizona will participate in the Medicaid expansion, which would extend health care services to an estimated 300,000 more state residents. Brewer noted that the expansion plan will “include a circuit-breaker that automatically” would reduce enrollment if federal reimbursement rates decrease. Brewer was expected to offer further details of the plan in her budget proposal, which is subject to approval by the Republican-controlled Legislature (Christie, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/14; Sanders/Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic, 1/14; Fischer, Sierra Vista Herald, 1/14; Safier, Tucson Citizen, 1/14).
  • Arkansas: Gov. Mike Beebe (D) on Sept. 11 said he planned to participate in the Medicaid expansion, the Associated Press reports. According to the AP, Beebe agreed to participate in the expansion after officials assured him the state could opt out later if it faces a financial crunch. Beebe said, “I’m for it. I think it’s good for our people because it’s helping folks that don’t have insurance now that are working their tails off. They’re not sitting on a couch somewhere asking for something” (Brantley, Arkansas Times, 9/11).
  • California: Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in a statement on June 28 said the Supreme Court’s ruling “removes the last roadblock to fulfilling President Obama’s historic plan to bring health care to millions of uninsured citizens.” California got a head start on expanding its Medicaid program in November 2010 with its “Bridge to Reform” program, which aimed to bring at least two million uninsured Californians into Medicaid (Office of Gov. Brown release, 6/28; DeBord, “KPCC News,” KPCC, 6/28).
  • Colorado*: Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) on Jan. 3 announced that his state will participate in the expansion. In a news release, his office said the move would extend Medicaid coverage to about 160,000 low-income residents and save Colorado an estimated $280 million over 10 years without affecting the state’s general fund (Stokols, KDVR, 1/3; Wyatt, AP/Denver Post, 1/3).
  • Connecticut: Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) was among the first governors to sign up for the Medicaid expansion after the ACA was enacted in March 2010. Soon after the Supreme Court ruling on June 28, Malloy said “it’s great … [and a] very important decision for the people of Connecticut. 500,000 people would have lost coverage if Republicans had their way” (Davis, WTNH, 6/28).
  • Delaware: Gov. Jack Markell (D) in a statement on June 28 said, “The Supreme Court’s ruling enables Delaware to continue to implement provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide access to health care benefits for Delawareans.” He added, “On the Medicaid front, Delaware already voluntarily expanded the state’s Medicaid coverage program in 1996 to cover many Delawareans not previously covered” (Office of Gov. Markell release, 6/28).
  • District of Columbia: D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) in a statement on June 28 said, “The District is not at risk of losing any Medicaid funding as a result of this ruling, because District officials have already begun implementation of the ACA’s Medicaid-expansion provisions and will continue to implement the expansion” (Executive Office of the Mayor release, 6/28).
  • Florida*: Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Feb. 20 announced that the state will participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, citing HHS’s conditional support for a waiver to shift most of the state’s Medicaid beneficiaries into a managed-care program. However, Scott said that Florida would only participate in the expansion for three years before reevaluating the decision. Supporters of the ACA heralded Florida’s shift as a major reversal; Scott mounted his successful campaign for governor in 2010, in part, by being one of the nation’s foremost critics of President Obama’s planned health reforms (Kennedy/Fineout, Associated Press, 2/20; Office of Gov. Scott release, 2/20).
  • Hawaii: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) in a statement on June 28 welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling and said the ACA “is our ally” in the effort to “support a health care system that ensures high quality, safety and sustainable costs.” Pat McManaman, director of the state Department of Human Services, said Hawaii’s Medicaid eligibility requirements in July would fall in line with the law’ guidelines, meaning an additional 24,000 people will be eligible for the program by 2014 (Office of Gov. Abercrombie release, 6/28; Garcia, AP/CBS News, 6/29).
  • Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn (D) on June 28 praised the court’s decision and said he “will continue to work with President Obama to help working families get the healthcare coverage they need,” including expanding Medicaid (Office of the Governor release, 6/28; Thomason, Rock River Times, 7/3; Ehley, Fiscal Times, 8/20).
  • Maryland: Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in a statement on June 28 said the Supreme Court’s decision “gives considerable momentum to our health care reform efforts here in Maryland,” adding that the state will move forward to implement the overhaul (Office of the Governor release, 6/28).
  • Massachusetts: Gov. Deval Patrick (D) in late June said Massachusetts is “an early expansion state as you know and we’re expecting further resources from the federal government to sustain the experiment here in Massachusetts.” Patrick called the ruling “good news for us” (Walker, YNN, 6/28).
  • Michigan*: Gov. Rick Snyder (R), in a statement released on Feb. 6, announced that his fiscal year 2014 budget proposal includes a plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The plan would extend Medicaid benefits to about 320,000 eligible residents. Snyder said the plan contains safeguards that will ensure the financial stability of the program and protect against changes in the government’s financial commitment to the expansion (Office of Gov. Snyder release, 2/6).
  • Minnesota: Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said in a statement on June 28 said, “Today’s ruling will be met with relief by the Minnesotans whose lives have already been improved by this law.” Dayton in 2011 used federal money to expand Medicaid early to 84,000 adults with annual incomes below $8,400 (Lohn, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).
  • Missouri: Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on Nov. 29 announced that Missouri will participate in the Medicaid expansion. Nixon said he will include the expansion in the state budget proposal he submits to lawmakers. “We’re not going to let politics get in the way of doing the best thing for our state,” he said (Crisp, “Political Fix,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/29).
  • Montana: Gov.-elect Steve Bullock (D) — who takes office on Jan. 7 — on Jan. 4 announced several changes to outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s (D) two-year budget recommendations, but retained the proposal to expand Medicaid. During a news conference, Bullock said the Medicaid expansion is part of his “Access Health Montana” plan to increase health care coverage for more Montana families. (Johnson, Billings Gazette, 1/5; Johnson, Montana Standard, 1/5).
  • Nevada*: Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) on Dec. 11 announced that the state will participate in the Medicaid expansion. “Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” Sandoval said in a statement, adding, “As such, I am forced to accept it as today’s reality and I have decided to expand Nevada’s Medicaid coverage” (Damon, Las Vegas Sun, 12/11).
  • New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie (R) in his Feb. 26 budget address announced that New Jersey will participate in the Medicaid expansion. The ACA provision is expected to extended Medicaid coverage to about 300,000 uninsured New Jersey residents (Delli Santi, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/26).
  • New Hampshire: Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) in her Feb. 14 budget address said that New Hampshire will opt into the ACA’s Medicaid expansion because “it’s a good deal…[that will] allow us to save money in existing state programs, while increasing state revenues.” A state report estimates that the expansion will cost New Hampshire about $85 million through 2020, but will bring in $2.5 billion in federal funds and help reduce the number of uninsured residents from roughly 170,000 to 71,000 (Ramer, AP/Seacoastonline.com, 2/14)
  • New Mexico: Gov. Susana Martinez (R) on Jan. 9 announced that her state will participate in the Medicaid expansion, which potentially could extend health coverage to nearly 170,000 additional low-income uninsured residents. Martinez noted that contingency measures will be established if federal funding for the expansion diminishes, which would mean scaling back the expansion by dropping newly covered beneficiaries from the Medicaid rolls (Massey/Montoya Bryan, AP/Santa Fe New Mexican, 1/9; Schirtzinger, Santa Fe Reporter, 1/9; Reichbach, New Mexico Telegram, 1/9).
  • North Dakota*: Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) in January said the politics associated with the ACA should not prevent North Dakota from participating in the Medicaid expansion. He is supporting a bill that would allow the state health department to access federal funds allocated through the ACA. Dalrymple also said he will include the expansion in his budget proposal and that members of his staff will testify in favor of the expansion before state lawmakers (Jerke, Grand Forks Herald, 1/12).
  • Ohio*: Gov. John Kasich (R) on Feb. 4 announced that the state will be participating in the Medicaid expansion, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. He made the announcement in his two-year budget announcement, but warned that Ohio would “reverse this decision” if the federal government does not provide the funds it has pledged to the expansion (Tribble, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/4).
  • Rhode Island: Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (I) in a statement on his website on June 28 said, “I have fully committed to ensuring Rhode Island is a national leader in implementing health reform whatever the Supreme Court decision, and this just reinforces that commitment.” According to Steven Costantino, the state’s secretary of health and human services, “The expansion is easy to do and makes sense.” Moreover, on July 12, USA Today reported that Chaffee planned to participate in the expansion (Chaffee statement, 6/28; Wolf, USA Today, 7/12; Radnofsky et al., Wall Street Journal, 7/2).
  • Vermont: Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) on June 28 said Vermont’s Medicaid program already meets the requirements under the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion (Steimle, WCAX, 7/1).
  • Washington*: In an email responding to a query by American Health Line, Karina Shagren—a deputy communications director in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s (D) administration—in early July said “the governor supports the Medicaid expansion—and Washington will move forward.” U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D)—who supports the expansion—was elected governor on Nov. 6 (Shagren email, 7/5; Washington Secretary of State website, 11/12).

UNDECIDED/NO COMMENT (6 states)

  • Alaska*: Gov. Sean Parnell (R) on Aug. 8 said he is guarded on the expansion “because our history with the federal government right now is they cut what they promise to fund.” Parnell said he wants to thoroughly understand the costs to the state before making a decision (Bohrer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/8).
  • Indiana*: Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) in a statement on June 29 said, “Any decision to expand Medicaid in 2014 is entirely the province of the next General Assembly and governor.” U.S. Rep. Mike Pence (R) was elected governor on Nov. 6. In a position statement earlier this year, Pence noted that the Medicaid expansion would double “down on an already broken and unaffordable Medicaid system.” Addressing the Affordable Care Act as a whole, he wrote, “I believe the State of Indiana should take no part in this deeply flawed healthcare bureaucracy” (Office of Gov. Daniels release, 6/29; Pence letter).
  • Kansas*: Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has been a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has not stated whether to opt in or out of the Medicaid expansion, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 9 (AP/NECN, 11/9).
  • Tennessee: Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has not decided whether Tennessee will participate in the Medicaid expansion. However, two lawmakers—Sen. Brian Kelsey (R) and Rep. Jeremy Durham (R)—already have committed to introducing legislation that would block expansion, and the state’s new Republican supermajority in the General Assembly means such a bill could pass (Bohs, “Bohs Column,” The Jackson Sun, 11/9).
  • Utah*: In an email responding to a query by American Health Line, Nate McDonald—public information officer for Gov. Gary Herbert (R), who won re-election in the state’s gubernatorial race in November 2012—said “[n]o official decision” has been made on the Medicaid expansion (McDonald email, 11/9).
  • West Virginia: Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) in a statement on his website on June 28 said, “We know what the law is but as I’ve said before, I will continue to do what is best for West Virginia … We’re going to review the Supreme Court’s ruling, and work with our federal delegation on how we move forward.” In the state’s gubernatorial race in November 2012, Tomblin was re-elected (Office of Gov. Tomblin release, 6/28; AP/Marietta Times, 11/7).

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This article is composed by The Advisory Board for their Daily Briefing.  It can be seen at http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/11/09/MedicaidMap#lightbox/0/
The Advisory Board Company

Media campaign against windfarms funded by anonymous conservatives

Secretive funding network channeled millions to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy

Anti wind farm lobby :  near Shabbona, Illinois

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade, have funded a campaign against windfarms. Photograph: Alex Garcia/Getty Images

(editor’s note:  this article is describing the activities of groups involved in the ALEC/Koch Cabal)

 

Conservatives used a pair of secretive trusts to fund a media campaign against windfarms and solar projects, and to block state agencies from planning for future sea-level rise, the Guardian has learned.

The trusts, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, served as the bankers of the conservative movement over the past decade. Promising anonymity to their conservative billionaire patrons, the trusts between them channelled nearly $120m to contrarian thinktanks and activists, wrecking the chances of getting Congress to act on climate change.

Now the Guardian can reveal the latest project of the secretive funding network: a campaign to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy.

The campaign against wind and solar power was led by a relatively new entity, the Franklin Centre for Government and Public Integrity. The Franklin Centre did not exist before 2009, but it has quickly become a protege of Donors Trust.

The Franklin Centre, headquarters barely one-tenth of a mile away from the nondescript Alexandria, Virginia town home of its funders, received $6.3m from the two funds in 2011. It was the second largest disbursement to any entity by the Donors that year, according to tax records.

The largesse to the Franklin Centre signals a shift in priorities for the conservative billionaires who are funding the anti-climate cause towards local and state-level organising.

The backers of the anti-climate cause have eased off in their support of DC-centric thinktanks, said Whitney Ball, the chief executive and president of Donors Trust. “They are not as prominent any more.”

Instead, it appears the donors are banking on an aggressive anti-climate media strategy, led by the Franklin Centre, to push back against climate action.

In 2011, Donors Trust helped the Franklin Centre expand its media operations to Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, the Centre for Public Integrity reported in an investigation on conservative funding networks.

The Franklin Centre purports to be a hub for a network of “citizen journalists” and “watchdog” groups reporting from state capitals. It claims on its website to provide 10% of all daily reporting from state capitals across the country. It says it is on a mission to uphold a media culture of “transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility at the grassroots level”.

But the Pew Research Centre’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has ranked Franklin’s watchdog.org affiliates as “highly ideological”. Many of the media organisations listed on Franklin’s website as affiliates are ultra-conservative groups.

Among them are several that have been active in the past year or two to stop the expansion of solar power and windfarms.

In North Carolina, the two Franklin affiliates, the John Locke Foundation and the John W Pope Civitas Institute, also led effort for a ban on the term “sea-level rise”. The state legislature eventually voted in June last year to bar state agencies from taking into account future sea-level rise in development planning.

The groups have also led opposition to offshore wind development in North Carolina, organising workshops against windfarms.

Another Franklin affiliate, the New Jersey Watchdog, pushed for the state to drop out of a regional emissions cutting programme.

Other Watchdog affiliates have cast doubt on the link between extreme weather and climate change.

CPI found multiple ties between the Franklin Centre and groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which has been funded by Donors Trust as well as the conservative oil billionaire Koch brothers. Some of the Franklin Centre’s blogs have received funds from AFP. There was also cross-over of board members in the two groups.

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The article was written by, US environment correspondent for the guardian.co.uk,

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.

Don’t Burden Middle,-Low-Income in ALEC Tax Plan–NC to Get Hit Again?

It wasn’t mere coincidence that a day before N.C. Senate leader Republican Phil Berger (R-ALEC)  unveiled a plan to overhaul the state’s tax system that Nebraska’s GOP Gov. Dave Heineman was giving his State of the State address focusing on the same thing.

And it’s not just happenstance that the centerpiece of both plans is eliminating corporate and personal income taxes.

North Carolina and Nebraska are joining a slew of states with Republican-controlled legislatures or GOP governors – we’ve got both in the Tar Heel State – that are grabbing the opportunity to push the idea of tax reform through redistributing the tax burden from those with higher incomes to those with middle and lower incomes. The idea of replacing taxes based on income and from corporations with increased sales taxes that disproportionately affect those with lower incomes has been championed by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
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ALEC – Pushing Nuclear/Uranium Mining

A couple of things came together the past two weeks – a press release about a new report that ALEC sent your ALEC legislator – to get them to deregulate mining – and a story about the disaster that was caused by uranium mining that was documented on Common Dreams.  I always look at coincidences like that as the universes way of telling me I need to put something up on the blog.

First the right-wing nasty side of the story: ALEC Releases “Dig It! Rare Earth and Uranium Mining Potential in the States”
In-depth report details the economic impact of mineral resource development

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has released a report exploring the strategic and economic importance of mineral resource development to the United States. Dig It! Rare Earth and Uranium Mining Potential in the States details rare earth and uranium mining reserves and production, reviews permitting and regulatory hurdles, estimates the economic benefit of developing reserves, and highlights the safety and environmental track record of mining.

“reviews permitting and regulatory hurdles” = DEREGULATION

“estimates the economic benefit of developing reserves,” = ESTIMATES – they don’t know for sure it’s another ALEC experiment

“highlights the safety and environmental track record” – which is a misnomer = because there are VERY FEW safety and environmental track record highlights –  based on real life stories that have been published. More →

McCrory Appoints Art Pope To Head Budget

Here is something of critical importance to North Carolina immediately.

First, excerpts from the article/broadcast at WFAE, the NPR station in Charlotte, NC.  Then, my personal commentary. ‘At a press conference ,,,Governor-elect Pat McCrory appointed …conservative activist Art Pope to be his deputy budget director–the governor’s top aide on budget issues. Pope … is a director of the Americans for Prosperity Super PAC, and he contributes millions to conservative causes and candidates through the John W. Pope Foundation, which he also runs… …”Bob Phillips, the North Carolina director of Common Cause, a non-partisan campaign watchdog organization…”Are folks going to be able to do their job serving their constituents and properly scrutinizing the budget?”… Phillips says he is not opposed to Pope’s new role…” ‘

Now for my comments on this development. More →

Privatizing Government Services in the Era of ALEC and The Great Recession – Section 1, Introduction

PRIVATIZING GOVERNMENT SERVICES IN THE ERA OF ALEC AND THE GREAT RECESSION

by Ellen Dannin 1

I. INTRODUCTION

In Max Barry’s 2003 novel, Jennifer Government,2 there is no public sector:  The world is run by American corporations; there are no taxes; employees take the last names of the companies they work for; the Police and the NRA are publicly traded security firms; the government can only investigate crimes it can bill for.

Hack Nike is a Merchandising Officer who discovers an all-new way to sell sneakers. Buy Mitsui is a stockbroker with a death-wish. Billy NRA is finding out that life in a private army isn’t all snappy uniforms and code names. And Jennifer Government, a legendary agent with a barcode tattoo, is a consumer watchdog with a gun.3

Events in 2010 through 2012 suggest that Jennifer Government might accurately predict our national trajectory. During that period, a number of states, including states with a long history of public-sector collective bargaining—Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin—limited or proposed eliminating or limiting public-sector collective bargaining rights.4 A 2010 “Quinnipiac University poll found that three-fourths of [Connecticut] state voters supported a wage freeze for state workers, and 61% favored layoffs.”5 Public anger also developed in New Jersey as a result of the state’s failure to properly
fund public employee pension benefits by $53.9 billion. Ironically, that anger led to demands that More →