Monday, July 11, 2011

Today's News Clips, July 11, 2011

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News Clips from America Votes

Monday, July 11, 2011

News Clips

COLORADO: Public to testify on proposed Colo. Districts

The Associated Press

A Colorado panel working on the once-a-decade process of redrawing state House and Senate districts to account for population changes will be hearing public testimony.

The panel will hear from residents in several metro-area counties Monday. Those counties are Denver, Adams, Boulder, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Broomfield.

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FLORIDA: Medicaid fraud probe focuses on state lawmaker

Michael Sallah, Rob Barry, and Carol Marbin Miller for the Miami Herald

Months after Florida lawmaker Daphne Campbell promised to crack down on Medicaid fraud, state agents are now carrying out her pledge by focusing on an unexpected target: Campbell’s own health-care business.

The state attorney general’s office is tracing hundreds of thousands in payments by the state to group home companies that were run by Campbell and her husband, according to sources close to the investigation.

Investigators have gathered dozens of financial records from former owners whose facilities were managed by the couple to determine if the money was properly spent over the past four years.

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MICHIGAN: Michigan's redrawn congressional districts take twists and turns

Marisa Schultz for the Detroit News

Detroit is a metropolis that's mostly black, poor, undereducated and a Democratic stronghold.

So what does it have in common with Sylvan Lake, a lakeside Oakland County community of about 1,600 mostly higher-income whites who have college degrees and consistently vote for the GOP candidate for Congress?

Both will be in the unusual "S"-shaped 14th Congressional District that is part of new congressional district maps redrawn by the GOP. The Legislature approved the maps and Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to approve them.

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MINNESOTA: Schools face shutdown hassles

Norman Draper for the Star Tribune

The state government shutdown is creating a swarm of minor problems for Minnesota schools.

Summer make-up dates for tests required for graduation might be postponed. Approval for funding grants has been held up, and licenses needed to get some teachers into the classroom are on hold. And the Minnesota Department of Education -- used by districts as a resource for financial, health and safety, and other school data -- is largely closed.

Thanks to a judge's ruling, most state funding for schools will continue, so the bulk of services, including summer school programs, will go on as usual. Furthermore, school districts had already been making contingency plans to maintain the status quo, either by using reserves or borrowing.

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NEVADA: Democrats may have too many candidates for their own good

David McGrath Schwartz for the Las Vegas Sun

Sen. Harry Reid’s Democratic Party has done a remarkable job preventing contentious primaries over the past few elections. The reasoning: Infighting requires campaign spending on something other than defeating Republicans and leaves internal rifts.

So the congressional campaign outlook for 2012 presents an interesting math problem: For the three seats in Southern Nevada, there are five current or former elected Democrats expressing strong interest in running.

Noting that in 2012 the president will be up for re-election and there will be a U.S. Senate race to worry about, that scenario causes some party observers to worry.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: Unexpected special election win has NH Republicans wondering

Kevin Landrigan for the Nashua Telegraph

The New Hampshire House special election on Tuesday was another embarrassing defeat for establishment Republicans.

Seabrook firefighter Kevin Janvrin won the five-way GOP primary over favored Hampton Falls businessman Lou Gargiulo by 118 votes.

A caravan of heavy hitters got behind Gargiulo, including former GOP State Chairman John H. Sununu and Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, 2010 gubernatorial nominee John Stephen and former Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne.

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OHIO: GOP to run commercials in Ohio hitting Obama on the economy: video

Stephen Koff for the Plain Dealer

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Republican voters haven't picked a presidential nominee, but it's not too early to know what the campaign theme is likely to be. And the likely battleground states are fairly clear.

So get ready, Ohioans, because you'll see a commercial over the next four weeks that hits President Barack Obama hard on the economy. It has lots of numbers -- on job losses, unemployment, taxes, the national debt, and the cost of the stimulus and health care bills.

Visually, you'll see a train derailment, a speeding roller coaster, a car in flames (and another flying off the road into the water), a race car wreck and, as the announcer says, "left turn after left turn."

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PENNSYLVANIA: Nonunionized Pennsylvania government workers upset over paycheck imbalances

Jan Murphy for the Harrisburg Patriot-News

The paychecks of 13,600 nonunion and management state employees have remained virtually frozen since shortly after the recession began.

Meanwhile, gas prices have gone up. Utility bills have risen. Groceries cost more.

The workers had hoped that Gov. Tom Corbett would give them a raise to help with their out-of-kilter household budgets.

But they watched as some of the union workers whom they supervise received pay raises and made more money than they do.

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WISCONSIN: Was senator threatened on budget vote?

Daniel Bice for the Journal Sentinel

Aprominent business leader from state Sen. Rob Cowles' district was stunned when the veteran lawmaker explained why he voted in favor of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget-repair plan.

Cowles had contacted the business leader earlier this year to ask for the person's support in his upcoming recall election.

"He said, 'I didn't like this (bill) either. I didn't like being put in this position. I didn't like anything about the way it was done,' " the business leader quoted Cowles as saying. " 'But the governor's office told us if we didn't give them our support, they would run a tea party candidate against us.' "

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WISCONSIN: Hansen race takes odd twist

Lee Bergquist for the Journal Sentinel

The recall election that most people had expected in northeastern Wisconsin was a battle between a pair of legislative veterans - incumbent Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette.)

But Nygren failed to obtain 400 valid signatures on his nomination papers, and now David VanderLeest, a Republican activist who spearheaded the recall effort against Hansen, is running against the incumbent in the July 19 special election. Elsewhere in the state, there are two Republican primaries that day.

The election will be the first of the state's nine recall races to decide a winner. Depending on the results, the outcome is likely to be interpreted as a barometer for other recall elections.

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MONTANA: Family planning clinics operating with less government funding

Mike Dennison for the Billings Gazette

HELENA -- Family-planning clinics that serve thousands of low-income women in Montana are beginning this fiscal year with less government funding, in the wakes of cuts approved by the Montana Legislature and Congress.

"Every line item in our budget has taken a hit," said Stephanie McDowell, associate director of Bridgercare in Bozeman, the largest such clinic in the state. "We've cinched down our belt so much that we can't go any tighter."

The Republican-controlled Montana Legislature voted this spring to cut all state and federal funds for family planning clinics in Montana, totaling $5.7 million for the next two years. The new fiscal year began July 1.

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IDAHO: Dan Popkey: Sen. McGee’s leadership post looks safe

Staff for the Idaho Statesman

Sen. John McGee’s guilty plea to misdemeanor DUI last week appears to have satisfied his GOP colleagues, most of whom appear content to keep him in leadership.

Among those backing McGee is Sen. Dean Mortimer of Idaho Falls, who lost the race for majority caucus chairman to McGee in December.

“Sen. McGee did an exceptionally good job as caucus chairman this year, better than I probably could have done,” Mortimer said. “I feel comfortable right now with where we’re at.”

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WASHINGTON: Will anybody run against Maria Cantwell?

Staff for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times has a piece in the Sunday paper noting that, so far, the Republicans have yet to come up with a credible candidate to face Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell next year.

Chris Vance, the former state GOP Chariman, told Brunner “right now, it’s very much in doubt whether there is going to be a strong candidate.”

One name mentioned in Brunner’s piece is former broadcaster Susan Hutchison, who lost the 2009 King County Executive’s race to Dow Constantine.

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OREGON: Oregon education reform bills aim to create more flexible, individualized public schools

Bill Graves for the Oregonian

In the typical Oregon public school classroom, students of the same age work at achievement levels that often vary by two or three grades, sometimes more.

That didn't make sense to Mary Folberg. When she launched Northwest Academy, a private college preparatory school for grades 6-12 in downtown Portland, she grouped students the way she did as a dance instructor at Jefferson High, by proficiency rather than age.

That's the seismic shift Gov. John Kitzhaber wants to make in the state's public school system through a package of education bills passed by the Legislature last month.

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FLORIDA: New ad from Rove-affiliated group targets Nelson

Virginia Chamblee for the Florida Independent

Another ad from Crossroads GPS, a conservative group affiliated with Karl Rove, has hit the Florida airwaves — this one directed at Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. The ad is part of a $20 million campaign launched by Crossroads, which includes attack ads in several states. The group spent $15 million on attack ads during the 2010 election cycle.

As previously reported by The Florida Independent, an independent expenditure PAC called Priorities USA Action fired back at Crossroads with its own set of ads, which aim to “inform voters about the source of the Rove ad and the truth about the Republican plan, a Rick Scott-style budget that would slash health care for seniors and cut education for the middle class while giving tax breaks to big oil and the wealthy.”

According to The Miami Herald, the new ad begins to run on Florida television stations today and will air for two weeks.

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MICHIGAN: Underfunded, crumbling Michigan roadways continue to decline

Sam Inglot for the Michigan Messenger

An annual report from a Michigan transportation council shows that Michigan’s crumbling roadways are likely to worsen in the coming years due to lack of funding from the state, with the state’s economy suffering as a result.

The Transportation Asset Management Council releases yearly reports on road conditions and their 2010 update showed Michigan has an underfunded and rapidly deteriorating road system.

According to the Council’s website:

“The Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) was established to expand the practice of asset management statewide to enhance the productivity of investing in Michigan’s roads and bridges. Part of the TAMC’s mission is to collect physical inventory and condition data on all roads and bridges in Michigan.”

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MINNESOTA: Shutdown Roundup: Legislators still getting paid despite lack of progress

Sam Lane for the Minnesota Independent

Here are some of the shutdown-related news items that made headlines this weekend:

• A total of 138 of the state’s legislators have continued to receive pay during the state government shutdown, the Star Tribune reported.

Before the shutdown began, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he wouldn’t accept pay in the event of a shutdown. Soon after, 14 senators and 48 representatives said they’d also deny pay. That means 79 percent of the Senate and 65 percent of the House still are collecting paychecks in July, according to the Star Tribune.

• Rep. Matt Dean (R-Maplewood) wrote an open letter to Dayton, providing suggestions and solutions to the shutdown.

Dean said Dayton should abandon his calls for increased taxes. He urged the governor to call a special session and pass a “lights on” bill that would allow government functions to continue while a final bill is negotiated.

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NATIONAL: Planned Parenthood rebuts claims it misleads women, calls AUL report ‘ideologically driven’

Sofia Resnick for the American Independent

As The American Independent previously reported, anti-abortion rights group Americans United for Life (AUL) released Thursday areport of allegations against Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), some of which date back several years. Accompanying the group’s findings is a call for Congress to begin a taxpayer-funded investigation on Planned Parenthood. AUL has accused Planned Parenthood of misusing federal funds; knowingly violating state and federal laws; and misleading women about abortion, fetal development and emergency contraceptive drugs.

On Friday, Planned Parenthood released a statement to media outlets responding to AUL’s “ideologically-driven publication.”

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